Housekeeping – Admin

Some boring admin. Mechanics have been busy with some software changes that make this site work.

Despite the dramatic photo – Raymond Poulidor having a moment in Paris-Roubaix – there was no crashed website or broken server here. Instead it’s more the equivalent of changing some worn headset bearings and tuning some spokes; in tech terms replacing some old and unsupported code with new alternatives.

And this post is part of the test to see if it works, the equivalent of putting a wheel back in the frame, lifting the rear wheel up and turning the pedals to see if things work. With luck nobody will notice any changes but if you do spot anything unusual, leave a comment or send an email as chances are you’ve spotted it before the mechanics have.

Fingers crossed, all set for 2024.

21 thoughts on “Housekeeping – Admin”

      • That reminds – @Larry T, am thinking of a (road) cycling trip in Sicily this year. But the internet is failing me a bit (or I’m searching badly) – what is the best part of the island to ride in?


          • You might have more overall knowledge than yours truly as our program in Sicily – a) tried to avoid all the real touristy stuff (think White Lotus season 2…yeechhh!) b) was based out of Siracusa, the place we like best, working with a local operator for logistics.
            We started with his basic itinerary and routes, covering all of it a couple of times, then going back and redoing a lot + adding loop routes that we thought would be interesting and challenging for our clients. But I’m happy to share!

          • I’m no expert, just a couple of self-organised bike trips a decade ago. Anyway, I personally liked the area just west of the Etna, around Bronte, then further inland. I’d generally avoid big cities. I was specifically looking for zones away from mass tourism, although sometimes I had the feeling of having gone “too authentic” with people looking at me in the smallest towns as if I was an alien of sort. Centuripe, Agira, Leonforte, Nicosia were scenic and the rollin terrain technically interesting, with barely any traffic at all. I also loved the southern side of the Nebrodi, which I guess could offer interesting routes from the northern seaside of the island, even if I didn’t test that in person. The eastern coast had a lot of traffic when we were riding there (because we felt Taormina was sort of mandatory). We climbed a less famous road on the Etna lava-crossed slopes, between Linguaglossa and Milo. One of the most famous climbs is from Zafferana Etnea. Speaking of Linguaglossa and, again, the southern Nebrodi, I appreciated a whole series of small towns around there, albeit a little more touristic: Randazzo, Castiglione. If one has an opportunity, the Alcantara Gorges are worth a visit (as I just said, tourism intensity can be stronger depending on the season).
            Even more peculiar, perhaps harder to organise for a foreigner, the most western corner of the island is also very fascinating: Erice, San Vito lo Capo, Scopello… a more “natural” coastline offers more option than the Etna side if you love sea. Same for Marinella on the southern side of the same area, crossing the Belice with its memories of a devastating earthquake.
            Generally speaking, weather could be a key factor. Too hot could be awful, too rainy if you meet a “medicane” (thank you climate change!) I’d suggest a careful study of historical records *and* middle term weather models. We were very lucky not to have red hot temperatures at the beginning of June, which was very pleasant with great views of the wheat fields (impressive). If you want to add some swimming, well, depending on your expectations take into account that before Summer the Sicilian sea might be colder than one thinks.
            I’ll leave to Larry tips about the “Sicilian Barocco” area, which I understand to be the terrain where he was working. It’s magnificent, I reckon, but I’ve no experience of cycling there.
            The island offers a lot of different sceneries and options. I’d mainly be very careful in order to avoid the roads where motorised traffic might be too intense or too fast. It’s really a very small part of the total road network of the island, which means you can easily stay away from them.
            If you need it, I could also name 2-3 specific places to stay, but – disclaimer! – lots of things can change in more than 10 years…

          • “The eastern coast had a lot of traffic when we were riding there (because we felt Taormina was sort of mandatory). ”
            Is the “White Lotus” effect I was complaining about. Still remember the first time there (with in-laws in the car…which is why we were there) – so much traffic, so many Germans that I refused to even get outta the car!
            The ONLY time we go there now is to enjoy a concert in the ancient theater. We take the train, book a room post-concert and then return the next day after breakfast. We see cyclists there, but IMHO it doesn’t look like they’re having a lot of fun.

          • Sicily sounds idyllic but it’s more mixed, you can visit a beach and marvel at the clean Mediterranean sea lapping at… rusting washing machines dumped on a beach. That sort of thing. This isn’t to put people off, more to say it’s real place rather than a postcard or Instagram land.

            Agree with Larry about Syracusa, there’s nice variety in the south-easy corner of the island, from east of Agrigento, south of Catania. Taormina is very touristy but if anyone wants to go for a family visit and take a bike with them etc it can make a good base, there’s good riding nearby as you can ride around Etna, as Gabriele mentions Linguaglossa. Etna is a big draw but it’s often better to admire from afar rather than ride up as it’s a big climb but without many features, although in places steam hisses out of cracks by the road.

            Pick your time to go as while it is almost as south as you can go in the EU, it can be windy and wintry. August is like being a hairdryer but people adapt, ride early… or have ice cream in brioche for breakfast.

        • Rather than bore the rest here, send me an email via cycleitalia1 on the gmail platform and I’ll make some suggestions once I have an idea of what you’re interested in. I’ll admit up-front that our R & D on the island was mainly based on the southeastern area so I can’t claim to know everything about other parts, but I’ll throw some stuff at you and you can decide if it sticks or not.
          Happy New Year!

        • The more I think about it, the more I feel that there are… so many “best parts” of Siciliy to visit on a bike (or not). As I said, I just went a couple of times, but now I sort of recall also the many many plans we were making, too, but which never became reality. So much to enjoy there!

          • “…so many “best parts” of Sicily to visit on a bike (or not).” gets no argument from me! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said over and over I’d live pretty much anywhere in Il Bel Paese rather than anywhere in the USA but Sicily was a compromise – my wife really wanted to move to Greece, which I don’t much like due to (mostly) boring food and lack of cycling culture. But on this side of Sicily she gets the “philosophy Disneyland” aspect she wanted in a place that once rivaled Athens while I get to enjoy the much more interesting food/wine and a cycling culture that produced Nibali, Caruso, Visconti, etc. A win-win for sure 🙂

  1. Let’s hope Pou Pou was on a flat stage the day of the picture. The freewheel on the removed wheel looks like a six speed straight block (one tooth difference between cogs). And the Nuovo Record cranks of the day could fit a 42 tooth inner ring, no smaller.
    Funny: my first “pro” bike was a well-used Legnano, with the earlier Record crankset… smallest inner ring could only go to 44 teeth. Now: my last commuter bike had a 44 tooth big ring!

    • According to inrng, it was Paris-Roubaix, so Pou Pou would have otherwise been fine, wasn’t it for the mechanical!
      The first time I climbed my local climb as a youngster I rode a Bianchi replica of Gimondi’s 1973 Worlds winning bike (it was already vintage!). 42×21 was the smallest ratio it had to offer, and I carefully “saved it” for the hardest parts (technically nonsense, of course); now it’s 39×21 on the easiest slopes, and then obviously 23, 25… maybe even 27. I’m faster today, anyway! …although the fastest version of myself was the one which rode the whole climb on a 39×21 only, with a brief section at 39×23 at the beginning.

  2. Even the maintenance notes are a pleasure to read on this blog. I’m also going to save this page in case I ever go cycling in Sicily and need Larry and Gabriele’s comments

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