August 23, 2010
In the moment everything seems lost. I skidded along the ground, sliding on the tarmac as if I were seated on a sled but with only a thin layer of Lycra between skin and rock. The initial impact was brusque and jarring — similar to what a driver feels when rear-ended by another car. Then came the impacts every professional rider expects: Riders crashed into me from behind, colliding with my torso as if a thug was kicking it with fury. The riders whom I had crashed into, who were on the tarmac before me, would have felt the same impact.
For months, we had all trained meticulously, sacrificed, dieted and focused to be ready. A slick road, a nervous rider, a careless maneuver can end a dozen riders’ goals. Seeing riders fall in front of me, I feared it could be over. The fear is momentary.
On the ground, I feel the burn of torn skin. But before I look at the damage my body has sustained, I am looking for my bike. I get up, realize it is broken, look for the mechanic who is running towards me with my spare bike, adjust my torn jersey and prepare to climb back on. A dozen riders around me do the same.
The team cars have stopped in the middle of the road, unable to pass due to the crash, as the directors and mechanics look through the bodies and bikes to find their riders. A few lay on the ground holding their arms or shoulders while bleeding profusely. Their faces grimace with pain. From past experience I know that I will see most of them back in the peloton in half an hour. Riders will continue with broken, pummeled, bleeding bodies. Their will is too formidable to give. The sacrifice to prepare for the race has been too concentrated to resign to the pain of injury.
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May 26, 2010
In 1972 my father opened a bike shop with his good friend Mike Brown in the center of Toronto named Bicyclesport. At the time, the bike shop was unique in a city of supermarket bikes as it catered to the serious cyclist. They built custom Mariposa frames in the frame shop, they repaired frames, there was a crew of top mechanics and the sales room was clean, crisp and colourful.
I grew up in the shop. From a newborn to a teenager I spent a significant portion of my life amongst the bikes. The mechanics taught me how to fix my bike, I worked on my frames with my Dad as soon as I was old enough to hold a torch, and the new bikes, which lined the showroom walls were candy to my young eyes. The shop was a warm and welcoming environment in which to grow up. Being from the UK, my Dad always had the kettle on and the cookie tin full.
Almost four decades later, the shop is now closed and my Dad is retired. But, he still maintains a workshop, which has also become somewhat of a museum. He restores bikes from his significant collection and friends constantly drop by to have a cup of tea, chat about cycling, tinker with the bikes, or page through the old cycling volumes.
The teapot is still insulated by a cozy knitted by a mechanic’s mother. She gave it to the shop for the opening as her fifteen-year-old son Ted, who started out as ‘the shop boy’, had been given the job of making tea. Being from England she understood the importance of a good cup of tea and a good cozy to keep the pot warm. It is a simple woolen hat striped with the world championship bands. It has become a bit of symbol for the shop and has somehow weathered the years of use. Cycling brings unique people from all over the world together and many of those gathered in the shop around the teapot.
Attached are some photos of my father’s large collection of bikes, books and parts. The photos only capture a small part of the vast collection. The shop still feels like a home to me and, I think, to hundreds of people who share a common passion for the bike and have sat around the shop and talked over tea and a biscuit.
For more images of the bikes and shop see: www.bikespecialties.com, mariposabicycles.com and www.bicyclespecialties.blogspot.com
May 16, 2010
Our fearless leader rocking out last year. Photos by Camille McMillan.
April 30, 2010
There are few people who can draw, or paint, a bike well. Greg Curnoe, a Canadian artist who was also a keen cyclist, was able to do just that. The photograph below was taken by Greg in his studio. Leaning against the bikes hanging from the wall, is a serigraph on plexiglass of a Mariposa bicycle made for Greg by my father in the 70′s. Greg made ten serigraphs of the bike and one hung in my Dad’s shop for years (it now hangs in their living room). As a young boy it drew my attention for its colour and simple, clean lines. The simple beauty perfectly captures cycling and the efficiency of the bike. The photo below hangs in our apartment in Girona, Spain, along with a Curnoe print of another Mariposa. I love the photo as it somehow captures cycling and tells a wonderful story: the used tubulars, the track bike, the city bike, the racing bike, the spare wheels, the pump and the box of parts.
For more on Greg Curnoe: http://bicyclespecialties.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html
February 26, 2010
There is something in the air: The season of cycling.
We tested the wheels, bikes and legs on the cobbles today.
Juan Antonio Flecha’s juvenile demeanour has evolved into a veteran’s focus.
Cobbles, clouds, mud, embrocation, wind.
Tomorrow it begins.