Posts Tagged ‘tuscany’

L’Eroica 2011 and a Canonet 28.

October 9, 2011

First, let me explain:

I bought a camera, a Canonet 28 rangefinder 12 months ago from a market in Oswestry and instantly I fell in love with it’s small size and ease of use. That week I ran a film through it and the results were O.K but something was very wrong, I had horrible vertical lines and what looked like half frames over 90% of my negatives and consequently my prints too:

I only paid £3 for it but I was still quite unhappy as I knew what this little beast of a camera was capable of, unfortunately for me those capabilities did not translate through to my pictures.

I thought maybe it was the film, so I tried another. The same results. I thought perhaps it was the lab I was using, so I tried another and yet again, the same results.

At this point I’m gutted and beginning to type ‘canonet’ into Ebay every week to try and find a replacement. There were a few of them listed, but none of them £3. I’m about ready to quit.

I grab my DSLR again and begin using that, but in my opinion nothing can compare to the look and feel of film and also being able to fix a moment in time onto something physical is something that pleases me so once again I grab the Canonet and I proceed to open the back of it. I figure either the shutter is sticking or the rollers have filth in them so I use a small brush and some compressed air and I probe and hope that I can somehow accidentally fix the problem.

It’s 11 months now since I got my mitts on this camera and it’s still acting up but I had just messed with it so I cross my fingers and hope that this time my prints will be crystal clear and free from all unwanted lines and blemishes. I run a test film and low and behold, the results are exactly the same! I still have lines and I still have strange shadows and what look like half frames. A ghost in the camera maybe? I doubt it.

I’m now ready to take this heap of junk and toss it into a fire but I was desperate to take it with me to L’Eroica. The problem is it doesn’t work properly and time is running out for me to find a replacement.

I decide to finally take it to two camera stores with a selection of the dodgy prints to see if they can shed any light on my problem. I got nothing but the web address for a man who could “look at it” for me.

Three days now until L’Eroica and it’s not looking good so I have one last blast at fixing this piece of crap and then, after what seemed like hours of me staring into that back of the camera with a torch and a magnifying glass, like an apple falling onto the head it came to me *rolls drum* all along I’v been shooting rolls of film through this thing and it has no light seals, not anywhere, none!

A quick trip to my local haberdashery and I return with black felt and double sided tape for the DIY repair job. An hour later and I think I’ve solved my problem and just in the nick of time as in two days I fly to Italy for Le Coq Sportif’s L’Eroica. I have just enough time to shoot a roll and have it developed to see the results. These next prints will dictate whether this beauty of a rangefinder ends up either in the fire and burned to death or strapped proudly around my neck in Chianti.

It worked! I win! It’s now fixed and I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am, it’s such an amazing little thing, it really is and all for £3 too. If you are ever after a compact, robust rangefinder and you can’t afford a Leica, go for one of these, seriously, they are that good.

And now some shots from my trip to L’Eroica last week with Le Coq Sportif. All of the following photographs were taken using my repaired Canonet 28;

See the rest of the Canonet group here.
Peep the Le Coq Sportif L’Eroica photopool here.
For more of my black and white photo work peep my Tumblr.

Spinwell for Le Coq Sportif. Notes from the strada bianchi.

October 4, 2011

Aaaaargh! The Muscles on the back on my right leg begin to seize and I pull over to massage (punch) the pain out but it’s not working. I say to myself “dude, you have only ridden 40km, sort yourself out” as men twice my age crawl past me up this long and windy gravel road. It’s midday on Race day at L’eroica and I’m suffering, my training for this event has consisted of a daily 5km commute and that’s it. Like a fool I believed that since I had taken part in the event previously, this year would be a ‘breeze’. Ha! A Breeze.

It wasn’t a breeze at all, this race is a toughie. I’ve ridden up some hard climbs in my time but they were on modern bikes, with modern components and adequate gearing, on butter smooth tarmac. There’s none of that round here, let me tell you. You’re on a pre 84 bike, mate. That’s usually with 10 gears, with a frame made of Steel, toe clips and straps for your feet and tubular tyres. Now, I love all of that stuff as you probably know but out there all I wanted to do was cry into my handlebars after my hands and wrists had been shattered to pieces by the famed white gravel roads.

Earlier that morning I had felt good and strong, I had my English Le Coq Sportif jersey on and like all of my fellow team mates I felt proud but right now I’m just about cooked.

Unlike last year it’s hot as hell, my body feels like it’s been in a microwave and I need water. My bike (an early 70s Cornale) feels like it’s made of lead pipe and I’m going nowhere fast. I’ve eaten well all day at the L’Eroica food stops, Tuscan bean soup, bananas, apricots, bread and jam, the lot but I’ve nothing left, I’m on empty.

I get back on the bike and press on before anyone else passes me and demoralizes me further. There’s 30km to go and I think to myself “there can’t be much more climbing after this hill, surely”. Mike Routledge of the UK team said later on that day that “ he felt like he’d been climbing so much, he should soon be at the moon” He was right.

I’m faced with a wall of white gravel and in my head I can hear the mother out of the Belleville rendezvous film whistling my pedal strokes like a metronome. One-two-three-four… one-two-three-four. I reach into the back of my soaked LCS merino jersey and pull out some sweets that I had stashed from an earlier food stop and jam them into my mouth, right now I need the sugar. I could need these later on but to be honest, I very much doubt that there’ll be a climb as steep and as loose under tyres as this one.

I wonder where the French team are? My English team partner, Patrick and I had been riding with them earlier but we managed to drop them somewhere after food stop number one but I’m sure, given my performance today they will be along soon. I expect them any moment, all of them in the Blue, Blanc, Rouge of the Le Coq Sportif France country jersey, swallowing me up like a massive wave over a fallen surfer.

I want some Coca Cola, the elixir of life, but it’s Sunday and I’m in the wilderness. It’s not going to happen and I accept it.

Suddenly I see Patrick on the side of the road, he’s stopped for me, and we continue up and over the crest and into the descent. I always feel like I’m in a computer game during descents and this is no exception. Some hate dropping down off of hills, I for one love it. I’m an ex downhiller, I should.

With this decent and all of it’s fun comes a fresh perspective. My legs feel a little better and I no longer concentrate on the pain, instead I focus on my surroundings, Tuscany, its utterly beautiful here. Picture postcard country. So the sun is cooking my body, so what, would I rather it raining and blowing a gale? I think not. So the terrain is demanding, so what, would I rather be cycling in Worcestershire? Nope.

At the end of the day I finished the race with no scrapes or techinicals, I also finished ahead the ever-strong French team. I have no idea on how long the 75km took me, I didn’t care. I had finished and I had a cold beer in my hand. I had that elation coursing through me and I was beaming from ear to ear. Sure, I couldn’t quite get my legs to work but I had nowhere to go anyway so it didn’t matter.

- – – -

Now, that was just a taster of what’s to come, I’v plenty more to post from my weekend’s activities in Chianti, so expect more words and lots of pictures!

Special thanks go out to:
Mike Routledge and Marc Chamberlain of Le Coq Sportif UK.
Patrick and Christophe of le Coq Sportif France.
Patrick, my podna from Oi Polloi.
Ed and Brian of Hanon shop.
Beth from Tea and Cake.
Max from Tokyo Fixed Gear.

I must also give a massive shout out to the whole LCS family, UK, Italy, France, Spain all of you, thank you! You all made the experience truly unforgettable.

Peep more at the Le Coq Sportif facebook page.

You can also read my account from last year’s event here, and here.

Thank you LCS!

January 28, 2011

I had this limited edition jersey through the post this morning. Stoked to say the least. Fits well, good choice of fabric and roomy pockets at the rear… lovely.

Keep your eyes on Le Coq Sportif in 2011 – Their commitment to classic cycling continues.

Stall Holder Pass.

December 3, 2010

We headed up to the ‘tradesman’ entrance where the flurry of smug faces with badges on chests that read ‘stall holder’ entered empty handed and exited with frames slung over shoulders. Each time I turn up to a cycle jumble – normally an hour or so before official opening and for reasons I still do not know – I can’t help but look on in absolute envy at these men who trade goods before the curtain goes up.

One morning, this morning, the early rise had paid off. As my partner and I stood, watching the line of items enter and exit the building like leaves carried by an army of ants, there was an opportune gap. The man who had been standing there, guarding the door had gone for his flask of tea. My girl, now standing beyond the golden threshold gestures at me to enter also, me, being a softy, I shake my head from side to side, she grabbed my hand and pulled me along behind her. I was in and it was 8.30am, not the 10am advertised on the flyer, and all thanks to the wife.

Did I manage to grab the vintage cycling bargain of the century? Nope, not really. I actually spent 50p. Right before we were escorted from the beige leisure centre and consequently shamed by the stern organiser, I managed to pick up one of my most treasured possessions today; A book, the 1979 published TI Raleigh story, 52 pages of printed wonder and all featuring the magnificently dominant TI Raleigh team of the 70s. My favourite. Now, having been read, and the pictures ogled it now sits proudly on my bookshelf.

I recently visited Tuscany for Le Coq Sportif’s L’Eroica and, while I was there to ride the race, I was mostly looking forward to the jumble. I wanted to see how the Italians do things and, well, it was mostly the same as here in the U.K but in another language, and outdoors, and hot, with more good stuff. I wandered around, a few paper Euros in my pocket, eyeing up Delta brakes, boxed gruppos and complete bikes dripping in Campagnolo but I found myself, after a few rounds, settling at one stall.

He had, as well as the obligatory sea of componentry, a large and fruitful selection of golden era magazines, badges, bunting, stickers, catalogues, mascots and postcards. Dandy. He wore an oil stained blue jumper, sleeves rolled up, with grey hair and chunky fingers and he chatted with his apple-eating friend. I leafed through a section of Pink Cyclisme cards. On the cover, Maertens, Thévenet, Poulidor, Hinault, to name but a few and all with penned signatures. I pick them up and enquired as to the price of said items. Then, after a lesson, shouted in Italian and pointed out with sausage fingers about the greatest cyclists of all time we agreed on €1 each. I bought ten.

I love a cycle jumble, me, I think they are great. All of that goodness under one roof, the hardware going for an asking price and not to the highest bidder, where you can handle the items and not just be reliant on jpegs on screens, the folks you meet have knowledge and enthusiasm dribbling off of their tongues and relish any opportunity to inform you of the origin of any item sat on their wooden wallpaper pasting table, you can slice their delight with a knife. It is also a social gathering where friends meet, you’ll most likely come across many unmanned stalls as Barry will be over there chatting with Pete. Unfortunately for me there won’t be one around these parts for a good few months as they only seem to spring up in the warmer months, but I suppose that leaves me with plenty of time to garner one of those ‘stall holder’ passes.

Spinwell for Road.cc.

October 18, 2010

I wrote some words about my recent trip to L’Eroica for road.cc and the piece has just gone live! So if you fancy a read about the perils of riding along wet chalk, go take a peep.

L’Eroica, meaning ‘The Heroic’ is a race held every year in Tuscany, giving up to 3000 like minded, fanatical individuals the chance to ride and race on the ‘Strada Bianche’, the famous white gravel roads of Chianti and to spend two days wallowing in pure cycling nostalgia. In true heroic style only pre-87 bikes are allowed. So there are no auto-indexing gears – this is golden era cycling where shifters are mounted on the down tube, where tubular tyres are also favoured, alongside chrome, cloth bar tape, solid colour paintwork and water bottle holders that attach at the front and where the woolen jersey reigns. Any man interested in the traditions of the Italian cycle race can certainly get his fill here.

Read the rest.

L’Eroica 2010. Spinwell for Le Coq Sportif.

October 5, 2010

What a weekend. Unbelievable, awesome, rad, mega, ace!

Having never been to L’Eroica and only having seen pictures on the internet I didn’t fully know what to expect but what came was among the best all-round cycling experience I have ever encountered. The atmosphere the whole weekend was electric, where 3000 like minded, fanatical individuals descend upon Gaiole in Chianti for two days of pure cycling nostalgia. Woolen jerseys and steel bikes aplenty, any man interested in the traditions of the cycle race can certainly find his fill here.

Day one on Saturday sees the flea market come into town, I say flea market it is a great big cycle jumble in English terms. Stretched out either side of Gaiole’s main road this jumble is big and not only is it big, it is good, very good. Everything you ever needed for your period build and all the accompaniments to go with it can be found here. Even the rarest of the rare is on the tables, it seems that the cream of Italy’s cycle merchandise dealers have landed in Chianti for the day to bless all of the hungry with their wares. You simply do not get a selection this good in the U.K.

If you are unhappy to ogle pantographed cranks and embroidered jerseys all day then you can visit the museum, where books, posters, videos and actual race bikes will greet you. Maybe taste and buy some local meat, fresh pasta, wine made in these hills, the food here is, well it’s just the absolute epitome of rustic goodness. This is, after all a cycling ‘holiday’ so it must be approached as such, take your time, see the sights, chat to the locals and the not so locals. Sometimes trying to speak to someone about your passion for cycles and cycling can be tiresome, remember though that every one here, each of the 3000 are more than happy to exchange verses on the virtue of the spoked wheel and tubed frame for they too are here for the exact reason you are.

The evenings see most people go off to their hotels or chalets to eat food and wine bought that day but we saw Le Coq’s Citroen HY van, looking fabulous in red, white and blue crank up the soundsystem for a grappa fuelled ipod party, but not after food with the stars. A sit down dinner with speeches from Italy’s cycling greats, it was like come dine with me with Fausto Coppi, yes, these were very old men.

Day two sees the cycle race along the fabled white gravel roads and Le Coq Sportif, my hosts, did a perfect job of organising cycles for everyone ( I rode a Campagnolo equipped 1977 Paletti ) and the registration procedure was just seamless. You need a number on your back, one on your bike and a stamp card and you are good to go, good to enter ‘race mode’ or ‘sportif mode’ for a day jam packed full of excitement and surprise. Depending on how your legs feel you can choose to ride either 38km, 75km, 135km or 205km but every one will be as pleasurable an experience as the next. Should you have any technical difficutlies someone will be along to help you out soon enough, such is the kinship on the road.

The roads ridden upon are made up of mainly white gravel paths called the Strade Bianche, fairly narrow in width and rutted like an ice ravaged mountain pass these roads are not to be taken softly. I have never ridden them but I can only imagine it to be like the cobbled straights of the paris-roubaix. Hang on tight, it’s going to get bumpy!

Along your way you will find a handful of food stops fully stocked up with local edible delights and alcohol too should you have the stomach.

Is it a race? Is is a ride? Who knows? But there are all levels out on the road, from the locals who hurtle past you and the vintage service car in front like a roller coaster coach direct and unrelenting to 90 year old men in full woolen suits being pushed up hills by boys half their age. This ‘race’ is legendary and I now know what the fuss is about. The moment tickets go on sale next year, I am buying one, or two.

Big thanks go to:
L’Eroica.
All the team at Le Coq Sportif. Check out their blog.
Matthew Sparkes of the Guardian
Andrew and Phillip Diprose the brothers of The Ride Journal.
The lovely gents from Hanon shop
And everyone else involved. Thank you!

Find many, many more L’Eroica images on the S P I N W E L L Flickr spot.

L’Eroica.

September 27, 2010

I am going to L’Eroica next weekend to do some work for Le Coq Sportif. I am riding the 74km route mostly on white gravel roads and I have a bike there waiting for me. I wonder what it will be? The De Rosa above should suffice.

My excitement is becoming almost unbearable. More info on my travels to this weekend’s L’Eroica to come.

L’Eroica x Le Coq.

September 20, 2010

It’s coming… Another year of the great L’Eroica and as I said this time last year… One day I’ll make it!

See more of Le Coq’s 2010 involvement right here.

Rapha x L’Eroica.

October 8, 2009

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Nice images. My favourite and the one that made me chuckle was the last photograph… The gentleman in the line up of Black jerseys who has the Black Wayfarers on looks like someone I would like to converse with as anyone who enjoys a post ride cigarette is OK in my book.

Via the Rapha Flickr.


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