Bibendum on the Left, Bibendum on the Right

by Chikashi

Only 4 weeks to prepare for l’Eroica…  Scotsman Ian seems making some real progress in his preparation to ride 205km through the hills of Chianti.  I am supposed to meet up with Dutchman Peter V, who is also planning on riding the 205km course, to hit some hills for a training ride, but I have some doubts that my knee will be up for a proper ride through Wallonia.  I have signed up for the 135km course but have a feeling that I will end up doing the 75km course with some of my friends who ought to be joining the jaunt.

Given tha nature of strade bianche, I installed a fat, vintage Michelin ‘World Tour’ tyre on the front wheel.  It is from an era when they were still made in France and is labelled a 35 width, but appears wider than a contemporary Schwalbe labelled 37.

I rode to Knokke yesterday with the fat front tyre.  It was supposed to be about 105km but was probably about 110km because I missed some turns and got lost a few times.  The route was mostly on tarmac, and the front tyre’s rolling resistance was considerable.  However, on gravel, sand, cobblestones, hard packed soil and mud, the fat, knobby Michelin was very reassuring.  Bibendum on each side of ‘Michelin’ is the sort of subtle but charming detail that is no longer favoured these days.

I was riding fixed and did not have the rear brakes functioning.  The front brakes are more effective in stopping, but the rear brakes are better for slowing down as one approaches a bend.  Going through some gravel paths, I was reminded of the usefulness of rear brakes.

I still need to sort out the drivetrain.  I got the shifter and a 5 speed block that is not as big as hoped, need to refurbish the rear derailleur, but still need to find a 42T chainring.  After everything is in place, I need to get accustomed to the set-up and do some tweaking.  There is not much time left…