Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Riding To Lexinton, NC On Christmas Day

Click on the photos to enlarge them
Main Street Lexington, NC

Holidays and especially Christmas offer an unusual opportunity to ride bicycles on roads that normally the traffic is too heavy on. With almost all the businesses in the city of Lexington, NC closed, today was a perfect day to visit the town's historic "uptown" district. The desire to ride to Lexington has been in the back of my mind for quite some time. Today was the day. It was cloudy with temperatures in the very low 50s and NO RAIN. 

Several years have passed since the last time I rode to Lexington and it took me awhile to remember my route.  As I had expected, once I got there traffic was very light. I was able to ride down Main Street in the business area with no problems.

My ride ended up being a  total distance of just under 52 miles. When I started out on my bike this afternoon the skies were mostly clear and the sun was peaking out. It wasn't long before it became very cloudy. The temperature didn't drop much, but I was getting pretty cold by the time I finished riding. I was glad to get out on my bike and thankful it didn't rain!

The city of Lexington, NC was first settled in 1775. Lexington was incorporated in 1828 by the North Carolina General Assembly and became the county seat of Davidson County in 1847.  The North Carolina General Assembly recognized Lexington as "The Hickory-Cooked Barbecue Capital of Piedmont North Carolina" over 25 years ago.

Lexington Style Barbecue:

“Lexington-style barbecue is generally juicier, smokier, sweeter and milder than its counterpart in eastern North Carolina. Whereas barbecue flavored by wood smoke is only an option in the East, in Lexington it is, with a few exceptions, an unspoken but unyielding expectation. The tangy, red barbecue slaw is usually the spiciest part of a Lexington barbecue sandwich, whereas the milder, creamier coleslaw on an Eastern-style barbecue sandwich is meant to balance the relatively fiery chopped pork.”
—    Bob Garner, author “North Carolina Barbecue”
Scattered around Lexington you will find statues of pigs. These statues are part of the “Pigs in the City” Art Initiative. The pigs are usually decorated in different themes to go with the business or city land mark that they belong to. The three pigs in front of the giant Christmas Tree singing Deck the Halls in the photo above are in the town square. The Lexington Town Square is at the intersections of Center and Main Streets.
Just behind the Christmas Tree is Conrad & Hinkle Food Market. They have been in business at this location since 1919. Conrad & Hinkle are known for their vegetables, fruits, fresh meat department and their homemade pimento cheese and chicken salad. Click here to learn more about Conrad & Hinkle Food Market.
This is the Davidson County Historical Museum. It is located in the "Old Courthouse" on the square. Built in 1858, it has been on the Register of Historic Places since 1971. The building is an excellent example of temple form architecture.

This pig, located in front of the "Old Courthouse", is decorated with images of the building and the dates 1858 - 2008. It is wearing a birthday hat to celebrate the 150th birthday of the "Old Courthouse".

When in Lexington you have to visit The Candy Factory. This store has a wonderful selection of candies and also antiques. This business was started in the front room of the Piedmont Candy Company's manufacturing facility in 1978. Piedmont Candy Company was owned and operated by Robert and Francis Ebelein. The store opened in it's present location in 1979. The candy manufacturing business was sold to the Reid family in 1987. Today The Candy Factory store is operated by the Ebelein's three daughters; Jeanne Leonard, Beth Dean and Leigh Foster. Click here for more information on The Candy Factory.
The pig in front of The Candy Factory is painted like a Peppermint Puff.
 The video below provides information on points of interest when visiting Lexington, NC and the surrounding area. 

Of course we have to celebrate the holidays with a music video. This is the 1958 Chuck Berry Classic Christmas song "Run Rudolph Run". It was written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Broom Wagon

Broom Wagon

The Broom Wagon (also referred to as Sag Wagon) is the affectionate name for the vehicle that follows a bicycle road race picking up stragglers (or sweeping them up) who are unable to make it to the finish of the race within the time permitted.

In the Tour de France the vehicle used was traditionally a Citroen H Van. The expression broom wagon is a translation of the French, voiture balai, and it was seen first at the 1910 Tour de France. The broom wagon of the Tour de France did indeed once carry a broom attached above the driver's cab - except in the years that it was sponsored by a vacuum-cleaner company.

The broom wagon is also known as the sag wagon. SAG stands for Supplies And Gear. Cycle touring groups which have a vehicle to carry their luggage and food are said to be "sagged" in that they have a vehicle that carries supplies and gear for the participants in the ride.

1957 Renault Broom Wagon
1961 Tour de Fance Broom Wagon
The Citroen H van (le Tube) is part of cycling history. Used in races as the broom wagon (voiture balai), the last H vans rolled of the production line in 1981. These iconic machines are now highly sought-after. The H van also featured in the film “Belleville Rendez-vous” (The Triplets of Belleville).
The broom wagon in the movie The Triplets of Belleville

Apo Lazarides

Apo Lazarides

Apo Lazaridès (1925 –1998), was a Greek-born French champion cyclist.
Born Jean-Apotre Lazarides in Marles-les-Mines, Pas-de-Calais of Greek ancestries (became French in 1929), he cycled in the mountains as a boy. During the German occupation, Lazaridès used his cycling to transport supplies to the French Resistance.
Nicknamed "Apo", a short version of his middle name, he competed in races throughout France during the war. In 1946 Lazarides finished fifth in the "Ronde de France", then won the most important competition of the year, the "La Course du Tour de France", a 1316 km race from Monaco to Paris. This was organised by the group who took charge of organisation of the Tour de France.
In the 1947 Tour, Lazaridès finished tenth but captured second overall in the mountain class. In 1948, he finished ninth and went on to take second place in the world championship. He retired in 1955 and moved to Cannes, where he was president of the Etoile Sportive de Cannes."
Lazarides died in Cannes in 1998 and was buried there.

Roger Riviere

Roger Riviere

Roger Riviere (1936 – 1976) was a French track and road bicycle racer. He raced as a professional from 1957 to 1960.
Riviere started his racing career as a track rider at the old velodrome in St-Etienne. At the age of 19 he beat Jacques Anquetil for the French national pursuit championship at the Parc des Princes velodrome in Paris. That year, 1957, he also won the world pursuit championship and turned professional. He also set the hour record in 1957 on September 18th at the Vigorelli Track in Milan. Riviere set the new hour record at 46.923km (29.157miles).

He again won the world pursuit championship in 1958 at the Parc Des Princes Velodrome in Paris. On September 23, 1958 he beat his own hour record and became the first rider to exceed 47 kilometers in an hour (29.20 miles). This new record lasted nine years.
Roger Riviere receiving a kiss after winning stage 6 of the 1960 Tour de France.

The 1960 Tour de France was the fourth time Roger Riviere would compete in this race. He was one of 14 riding for France that year. Riviere had a personal war with Henry Anglade, another French rider. Riviere won the opening time trial, but after stage 4 Anglade was wearing the leader's yellow jersey. Despite his teammate leading the race Riviere attacked 112 km from the finish of stage 6. He beat Anglade to the end of the stage by 14 minutes. Only 3 other riders could keep up with Riviere when he attacked. One of those riders was Gastone Nencini of Italy. Riviere won the stage and Nencini moved into the overall lead. 

Riviere followed Nencini wherever he went. He only had to stay with him until the final time trial and beat him by 1 minute and 38 seconds to win the 1960 Tour de France. The first of the 3 mountain passes of the 14th stage was the Col du Periuret. Nencini was the fourth man over the climb with Riviere glued to his rear wheel. Nencini flew down the very technical descent. Riviere hit a low wall and was thrown down the slope of the mountain. Riviere was taken by helicopter to the hospital in Montpellier. He had broken two vertebra in his spine and his legs were paralyzed. He never regained use of his limbs. His bicycle was found with the forks bent back and the frame badly twisted.
Roger Riviere is brought up from the ravine after his terrible crash.
Doctors found pain-killers in Riviere's pockets and more in his body. Riviere at first blamed his mechanic and said his brakes were faulty. He said "I pulled them on but they didn't work". His bike was examined and the brakes were found to be working fine. He withdrew the accusation after being criticized. He later sold the story of his drug use to a newspaper, admitting he had taken Palfium during the climb of the  Col du Periuret . Palfium is a painkiller that could have affected his reflexes and judgement

Many riders at this time had fallen into the bad habit of taking amphetamines and pain killers to numb their legs from the pain of the long hard races. At night they would take sleeping pills to counteract the amphetamines and allow them to sleep.

Riviere admitted taking amphetamines and solucamphor during his hour record in 1958 - including tablets during the attempt. He said he had an injection of solucamphor and amphetamine before the start and swallowed several amphetamine tablets.

Roger Riviere lived the rest of his life in a wheelchair, considered an 80 per cent invalid. He opened a restaurant in Saint-Etienne called 'Le Vigorelli', after the Velodrome Vigorelli in Milan where he twice set the world hour record. It failed and he opened a garage, and finally a holiday camp in the Rhone Valley. Those too failed.

Riviere died of throat cancer at the age of 40.

Claude Butler

Claud Butler was a bicycle dealer and frame-builder who created a chain of bicycle shops in London. His company was one of the most successful of the inter World War II era and during the post war period. He had five retail locations in London before the war and four locations following the war. This was a time when club cycling boomed in Britain and every town across the land had at least one active cycling club offering a full range of sporting, leisure and social cycling activities. 

Immediately following the conclusion of World War II the popular sport of club cycling resumed. In the early fifties demand for bicycles in Britain declined and Claud Butler's cycle shops became a victim of the times.

The cycling historian David Palk says:

By the mid-fifties the glory days were over, with club cycling beginning to lose favor as a popular activity across Britain. Several manufacturers' records show a sudden dip in production from the early fifties on-wards. The phasing-out of war-time rationing, as well as increased affluence throughout the population, brought aspirations towards consumerism and motorized transport. This was at odds with the simple pleasures of club cycling. The ultimate distraction -television- also became  more affordable at this time, with many thousands of households equipping themselves to watch the live broadcast of the Queen's Coronation in 1953. In the mid-to-late fifties Britain's lightweight trade was in serious decline, with several prominent marques relocating and downsizing, becoming amalgated or simply packing up for good. Claud's finances were in a poor state and a large sum owing to the taxman put the final nail in the coffin. 

After a couple of failed attempts to return to business in the bicycle trade, a chronic illness finally claimed Claud Butler's life in 1978.

The name Claude Butler, like many other legendary brands, has been used to sell bicycles that were not like the originals by several different companies. Presently Claude Butler is a name used by Falcon to sell bicycles. 

A restored 1949 Claud Butler
A Claud Butler Advertisement

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

1921 Tour de France

Hector Heusghem (left) and Leon Scieur, in the 1921 Tour de France 

The 1921 Tour de France took place from June 26 to July 24, 1921. The total  distance of the tour was 5,484 kilometers (3,407.6 miles) raced at an average speed of 24.72 kph (15.36 mph). This was only the third Tour de France since the end of World War I and the bicycle companies were struggling to rebuild. The individual  bicycle manufactures couldn't afford to sponsor riders, so they bundled their resources to sponsor riders under the name of La Sportive. The racers were divided into two categories; First Class were the professionals and Second Class were the amateurs

Belgian racers dominated the tour and took 7 of the top 10 places in the general classification of the 1921 Tour de France. Belgian racer Leon Scieur was the overall winner. The French press wanted the French Pelisser brothers to be in the race.

Henri and Francis Pelissier, still at odds with the race organizer and refused to race the 1921 Tour de France. During the 1920 Tour de France Henri Pelissier was given a time penalty for throwing away a punctured tire. At this time the racers had to finish the stage with everything that they had  when they started the stage. In protest of the penalty, both brothers, abandoned the 1920 tour. The Pelissier brothers were the top French cyclists at the time. Many people speculated that the race results would have been different if they had participated. 

Philippe Thys, the 1920 Tour de France winner, was another favorite that did not participate in the 1921 Tour de France. He was recovering from an illness that he had contracted while racing at the Brussels Six Day track race during the winter months.

During the 1st stage Honore Bathelemy had 11 flat tires. He finished the stage in second place despite having to stop and repair all those flat tires. Leon Scieur finished in 3rd place in the 1st stage.

Romain Billenger won the 2nd stage. Leon Scieur finished in 2nd place right behind him. This 2nd place finish put Scieur in the yellow jersey of the race leader. 

Scieur went on to win the 3rd stage. At this point in the race he had a lead of 12 minutes and 38 seconds over Hector Heusghem, who was in 2nd place of the tour.
Leon Scieur winning the 405 km (251.66 miles) 3rd stage from Cherbourg to Brest.
The 1921 Tour de France was a battle between Leon Scieur and Hector Heusghem. Scieur increased his lead over Heusghem in the 4th and 5th stages to over 29 minutes.
5th stage: The riders stop at the well of St. Magne.
The 6th stage was in the Pyrenees mountains. Hector Heusghem took off on the Tourmalet and was the first rider over the top. He rode across the Aspin and the Peyresourde solo and won the stage. He had finished 25 minutes and 7 seconds ahead of Scieur. At the end of the 6th stage Scieur was still leading the tour, but he was only 4 minutes and 6 seconds ahead of Heusghem.

The General Classification after Stage 6:
  1. Leon Scieur: 93hr 57min 12sec
  2. Hector Heusghem @ 4min 6sec
  3. Albert Dejonghe @ 50min 4sec
Albert Dejonghe on the Tourmalet
Heusghem and Scieur rode the 7th and 8th stages together. So their places didn't change much during those two stages. 

In the 9th stage Scieur added 10 minutes to his lead over Heusghem.

During the 10th stage Scieur had a flat tire while climbing the Allos. There was an unwritten rule that in a situation like that you waited on your opponent to fix his tire. Heusghem took off in an attemp to regain some of the time he had lost. Scieur fixed his flat tire and caught up to Heusghem and yelled at him that he had not acted like a professional racer. Scieur went on to win the stage and added another 6 minutes to his lead. Heusghem was now 21 minutes and 47 seconds behind Scieur. 

 Scieur walks his bike up the Galibier in stage 11.
The two leaders, Heusghem and Scieur, finished stage 11 together. So, there was no change in the standings. Stage 11 crossed the mountain climbs of the Lautaret, Galibier, Telegraphe and Aravis. 

During stages 12 and 13 the time separating the race leaders didn't change. It looked as if Scieur surely had the tour won with only 2 stages remaining in the race.

The General Classification standings at the end of stage 13:
1. Leon Scieur
2. Hector Heusghem @ 21 minutes 47 seconds
3. Honoré Barthélémy @ 1 hour 58 minutes 35 seconds 
Scieur's rear wheel came apart during the 433 kilometer (269 miles) stage 14. His wheel had 11 broken spokes. The rules of the Tour de France at that time were that a rider could replace a part on their bicycle if they could show that it was not able to be repaired. Since there were no race officials around to show his broken wheel, Scieur strapped the wheel to his back and carried it 300 kilometers (190 miles) to the finish to show the officials. He had scars on his back for years from the sprocket on the wheel digging into him as he rode. Scieur finished a few minutes behind Heusghem, but still retained a comfortable lead.

 Leon Scieur rode wisely during the final 15th stage into Paris and won the 1921 Tour de France.

 The top five final places of the 1921 Tour de France General Classification:
1. Leon Scieur (La Sportive): 221 hours 50 minutes 26 seconds
2. Hector Heusghem (La Sportive) @ 18 minutes 36 seconds
3. Honore Barthelemy (La Sportive) @ 2 hours 1 minute
4. Luigi Lucotti (Ancora) @ 2 hours 39 minutes 18 seconds
5. Hector Tiberghien (La Sportive) @ 4 hours 33 minutes 19 seconds  

Leon Scieur , winner of the 1921 Tour de France
Click here to learn more about Leon Scieur.

Hector Heusghem, second place in the 1921 Tour de France.
Click here to learn more about Hector Heusghem.

Honore Barthelemy, third place finisher in the 1921 Tour de France.
Click here to learn more about Honore Barthelemy.

Luigi Lucotti, fourth place finisher of the 1921 Tour de France.
He was the top placing Italian rider up to this time.
Click here to learn more about Luigi Lucotti.

Hector Tiberghien, fifth place finisher in the 1921 Tour de France.
Click here for more on Hector Tiberghien.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Advice for Friends of Cyclocross by Eugene Christophe

Eugene Christophe is best known for his bicycle road racing. He was also a six time French Cyclocross champion in the years 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1914. Below is an article that he wrote as a guide to cross racing. This article has been translated from French to English. The courses and the bikes have changed, but his take on cyclocross is still relevant today. Click here for more on Eugene Christophe.

How to (right), and how not to (left) cross a ditch

Cyclocross is the physical education of the cyclist. I do not speak here about the cyclist who has achieved glory or even notability, about the champion who distinguished himself by fine exploits. I address the young cyclists, the beginners, the professionals and the amateurs, all those who love cycling and who love their bike as a horseman loves his horse, as a hunter loves his gun and his dogs.

The first advantage of cyclocross is to teach the adherents of this sport to handle their bike, to not have trouble with it, in any case. I know remarkable cycling racers who have become famous either on the track or on the road, for whom the bike becomes a discomfort and a burden, as soon as they must dismount to cross a level crossing or a railroad freight car which blocks their passage. They are not familiarised with their machine; they do not know how to carry it, to put it down, to use it as a lever; they look clumsy and always seem to fear damaging their mount or fouling up. If they had ridden cyclocross, the bike would be a practical object for them.
An improper and a proper climb of an embankment

Second, cyclocross is a good method of training for the cyclist during the winter season. The professionals of cycling, who filled the long races during the summer, such as Bordeaux-Paris, Tour de France, or even simply the series of Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Tours and the circuits of provinces or departments, contracted, during painful races, a certain lack of flexibility of the limbs and the body; they are stiffened; they have tendency to develop a stoop; muscles, those of the wrist especially, are weak and soft.

Cyclocross, a sport of short duration and much variation, is a refreshing exercise; it helps them to recover little by little in form, because it makes them work all muscles at the same time; it is raced sometimes on the bike, sometimes on foot; it makes its participants run or leap gymnastically in paths and impassable tracks and in plowed fields; it requires them carry their machine to cross barricades or hurdles; this corresponds then to weightlifting and demands equilibrium, suppleness, dexterity, stamina. It teaches the cyclist to descend on foot from hills, by slowing down and by taking the saddle of the bike under the arm, to not be pulled by the speed of descent and to prevent the bike from bouncing. So the amateur of cyclocross executes different movements of lifting, leveraging, walking, running and jumping. For him, the bike is not an embarrassment, but an extremely valuable assistant. Did not I tell you that cyclocross is the physical education of the cyclist?
Incorrect and correct descent of a steep path

Another advantage of cyclocross, it is that it does not last for a long time. A cyclist who wants training through the winter, for example, a fifty kilometre ride in two hours, is made to travel considerably away from his starting point, or where they left their spare clothes. If a small accident were to happen, they risk getting cold and getting sick. Cyclocross occurs in a confined space; the racers are always in the area; besides, they are always in action: when they are not cycling, they walk or run on foot; they must keep moving.

Many times I have heard the argument: "I have heard that cyclocross is fun and practical, but dangerous!" Dangerous, yes, but for the clumsy, for the daredevils. Never will a daredevil succeed in being champion of cyclocross! Can't they simultaneously ride quickly and remain careful? Compare the champion drivers who race at mad speeds and break neither their car, nor those of others, and the drivers of taxis who, in spite of their weak pace of 30 kilometres per hour, are a danger to the public! The first are masters of their vehicles, the others are not.
One often saves time by dismounting the bicycle

Now that I have hopefully persuaded you of the interest and advantages of cyclocross, I would like to give you some advice that I owe to my own and long experience. A cyclocross racer draws a more or less large value from their aptitude to judge the terrain; the best racer is the one who reads the lay of the land fluently and surely, and who shapes his ride from this information. He will know how and when it is needed to dismount, to carry his bike above the plowed fields, to ride it on rough lands, to roll it on the front wheel with the saddle in hand on steep paths; he will see gutters and ditches in his path and will be able to either cross the obstacle on the bicycle, or descend with a bit of fancy riding and conserve his momentum to remount the  still moving bicycle. Quick observation is a main quality of the cyclocross racer.

The beginner imagines that he must stay on the bike at all costs, under the pretext that he will be faster on the bike than on foot. But he often confuses speed with haste, and while believing to be gaining time, he loses it, because he falls or because he damages his machine. One should also not take the opposite course to what I have described, and run like a cross-country running specialist. A cyclocross racer makes use of cycling and  running interchangeably, as its name ["cross-country cyclo-pedestre"] indicates. However, a runner will not succeed in cyclocross: I need only name as examples the fruitless efforts of two fine professional cross-country runners who had believed that thanks to their racers' qualities on foot, to perform well in the sport which I represent.
How to run or jump down an embankment

The cyclist can use his racing bicycle with tubulars in cyclocross: it is advised, nevertheless, that he reduces his development to 5 metres or 5 m. 20, which is, I assume, 5 m. 50 in the summer. Why this reduction of gearing? Because after a run or a hard walk, muscles are tired, and because development always seems bigger than actually it is. The freewheel is not recommended, if only for the positioning of the pedals when one wishes to remount. What I have just said looks like a detail, however, it is to a detail of this type that I owe my win over Tribouillard, in the 1911 French cyclocross championship. My redoubtable and valiant adversary, who made light of me in training, was remounting at the same time as me, at the top of an steep climb; he was on my wheel. I heard him grumble; I risked an look behind me and saw that he was losing contact with me while trying to get into his pedals; I seized the opportunity to increase my effort and lead; I kept them through the end of the race.

The beginner must also avoid remounting too quickly at the top of a climb; he may sometimes believe to be on a descent or the flat, while the slope still inclines at 3 to 4%; he exhausts himself in vain and gains no time.  Regardless, as soon as one has remounted, it is necessary to make very strong turns on the pedals, to regain speed and be in a position to recover well in the saddle.
The manner of crossing a thicket

A last bit of advice: of caution. Always have brakes - good brakes. Use your brakes, not only while riding, but also in descents on foot. Watch out for the slightest irregularity in the landscape, for the slightest clod of earth, for tufts of grass, for tree trunks. Be wary of roots: I tell you that, recently, in the cyclocross of Choisy, on frozen ground, I took a superb flip after my wheels got caught a small root, hard as a rail. Be careful, but also decisive. A cyclocross racer should not be a fanatical specialist, but it is essential that they know their business well if they want, one day, to be a champion.

Anyway, one should ensure that cyclocross remains an exercise, training, without ever becoming overwork. And when the road racing season arrives, one will notice, to their pleasure, that their bike seems lighter and their pedaling smoother.
Running along a steep track

- But, you will say to me, you address only the professional cyclists; you give them an occupation, an entertainment, a means to dispel inactivity and of training for the coming season; you deplore the scarceness of professional cyclocross racing. All that is very well. However, will you not address the amateurs, those who like cycling and who ride in the guise of recreation?

 Here, I shall answer that you preach to the choir. For a long time I have known that the general public's interest in cyclocross will attract more audience than the fifty passers-by and curious who attend our starts and finishes, that amateurs will definitely wish to participate in this easy and quite variable sport. The public will begin following the competitors; it will realize that the race is engaging and eventful, they will have a good time; the time will fly past. It is impossible that it will not develop a taste for it; it will follow other races. And, as well as people who like like to sometimes leave the road for quieter and less dusty tracks, also the amateur cyclist, enticed by cyclocross, will no longer content himself with riding up and down the monotonous and trafficked road; he will ride through the thicket as easily as the pedestrian, he will learn to handle his bike and he will see that he can pass untroubled everywhere a pedestrian ventures. He will understand that a bike should not necessarily follow the road as a train follows the railway. His admiration and love for the bicycle as a mode of locomotion, can only increase following such experiments.
How to cradle the bicycle

Participate in cyclocross; encourage your friends to participate; popularize it around you.
There is another means to augment the popularity of cyclocross: it consists of creating new races. The number of cyclocross races appears quite small and there is a feeble quantity of racers when we compare the amateurs of cyclocross with those innumerable cross-country runners! I feel no animosity against the youth who participate by the hundreds in foot races in the Saint-Cloud woods; however my old cyclist's heart would be delighted to see a party of these beginners coming to our camp, with all their ardour and sportsmanship!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Victor Fontan

Victor Fontain 
Victor Fontan (1892 - 1982) was a French  professional road racing cyclist. His started racing in 1910 and became a professional racer in 1913. He retired from racing in 1930.

 His career was interrupted by World War I which began in 1914 and lasted until November 11, 1918. Fontan was shot twice in one leg while fighting in the war. He returned to racing when he was demobilized in 1920. 

Victor Fontan first raced the Tour de France in 1924 as an independent but did not finish. He was 36 years old and considered by many to be too old. 

In 1928 he raced the Tour de France for Elvish Bicycle Company, a local manufacturer. The race organizers had set up seven flat stages of the tour that year as team time trials. Fontan's team was lacking in talent and he had to nurse the other team member's along on these stages. During the mountain stages, where he could race alone, he was able to show his true abilities. He won the 7th and 9th stages of the race and came in 7th place overall in the general classification at the end of the race. 

Victor Fontan raced as an independent during the 1929 Tour de France. Without having to look after slower team mates, Fontan was able to race at his on pace.

 During the 7th stage of the 1929 Tour de France he was in a breakaway with 8 other riders. All the riders in the breakaway were awarded the same finishing time for the day of racing. Three riders had the same accumulated time for the stages raced so far. This presented a unique problem for the time keepers. They didn't have anyway of deciding a tie. Victor Fontan, Nicolas Frantx and Andre Leducq were all awarded the yellow jersey of the race leader. This was the only time there were three racers all wearing the yellow jersey during a Tour de France. Having three racers all wearing the yellow jersey only lasted for one day. The next day the yellow jersey was awarded to Gaston Rebry. Now they would look at the fractions of seconds in the time trial stages and declare a single race leader. 

The 9th stage of the Tour de France included the climbs of the mountains the Aubisque and the Tourmalet. Fontan finished this stage in second place and regained the yellow jersey of the leader of the Tour de France. 

The 10th stage of the 1929 Tour de France was 323 kilometers (200.7 miles) and due to it's length began before daylight. Early on in the stage Fontan had an accident and broke the fork on his bicycle. There are several versions as to the cause of the his crash. One account is that a dog ran in front of him and caused him to fall. Another is that he ran off the road and crashed into a ditch. His machine was not ride-able and according to the 1929 race rules he had to show his damaged machine to a judge in order to change bicycles. All the judges had passed by and he didn't have a second bike. He reached a village and went door to door, before dawn, asking to borrow a bicycle. He finally found one and set off to try and catch the race with his damaged machine strapped to his back. He chased for 145 kilometers (90.1 miles) through the Pyrenees mountains before giving up and abandoning the race. He was sobbing and wearing the race leader's yellow jersey at the time of his race abandonment. The next year the race organizer, Desgrange, changed the rules to allow spare bicycles or a rider being able to give a teammate his bicycle.

When racing the 1930 Tour de France Victor Fontan was 42 years old and unable to make a difference in the race. He retired from racing in 1930.

Victor Fontan's racing career would have surely been different if it wasn't for World War I. He had only raced as a professional for one year when the war began. During the war he was shot twice in the same leg. 
Victor Fontan, leading the Tour de France through the mountains
in 1928.
Victor Fontan carrying his broken bicycle at the 1930 Tour de France.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cerevellum Hindsight 35 - first test ride - Tabaccoville Park

Click on the photos to enlarge them
Cerevellum Hindsight 35, new in the box.
My friend, Buddy, contacted me with an offer to try out the Cerevellum Hindsight 35. Buddy has been using one of these systems for a while now and had a brand new one in the box that he generously offered to let me try out. He has enjoyed the one on his bike and felt I would also.

The Cerevellum Hindsight 35 consists of a display screen attached to the handlebars of a bicycle and a unit for the back of the bike that houses a camera and a red light. The camera/light unit is connected to the head unit by a wire that is zip tied to the underside of the top tube of the bicycle. The rear red light can be turned on or off and set to a steady red light or a flashing red light from the control buttons on the side of the display.

 This system is also designed to be used by the stoker (the rider on the back) of a tandem to enable the stoker to see what is going on in front of the bicycle. The stoker's view is blocked by the captain (the rider on the front).  The camera would go on the front of the tandem when used for a tandem stoker. There is an option to flip the image on the display. Everything would be backwards if you didn't flip the image when the camera is mounted on the front of a bike.

When set on record the system continually records a five minute loop of what is displayed on the screen. The head unit contains an accelerometer that will stop the recording and save the preceding five minutes of video if the bike falls over. Evan, the developer of the Cerevellum, came up with the idea for this system after he was hit from behind by a car while riding his bicycle. 

Basic bicycle computer functions are displayed at the top of the screen. Displayed are: current speed, average speed, maximum speed, time of day, elapsed time, trip distance and odometer. Current speed along with one other option are displayed all the time at the top of the video screen. The unit comes with a wireless speed sensor. Heart rate and cadence are optional accessories. The Hindsight 35 is ANT compatible. 

The video screen is 3.5 inches and is transflective. Transflective means that in bright sunlight the screen reflects the sunlight back to light the screen and display the video.  The LEDs that are used to back light the screen turn off when it is using sunlight to back light the video images. This saves battery life.  The screen is not for use with polarized sunglasses.

The Cerevellum Hindsight is powered by a rechargeable internal lithium - ion battery. It should have a run time of 5 hours when set at the highest resolution.

Soon you will be able to purchase and download modules to add even more functions to the Hindsight 35. These will be like adding apps to a smart-phone. The first module that will be offered will be power. In addition to displaying current wattage from ANT compatible devices such as SRM and Powertap, the software will graph measurements in real-time. 

Retail price of the Cerevellum Hindsight 35 is $329.00 at this time. Click here for more information on Cerevellum.
Buddy holding up my bike to show off the Cerevellum screen.
The yellow unit is a Powertap computer. 
The camera and rear light system attached to the seatpost .
Buddy's sidekick, Max, is to the left of the bike.
In the video below Evan tells about Cerevellum during an interview at the 2011 bicycle trade show Interbike.
I had heard that there were some riders leaving from the Tobaccoville Park at 2:00 this afternoon. I thought that riding out there to join in the ride would be a good opportunity for me to try out the Hindsight 35. My ride to the park took me across Winston-Salem on city streets for about 8 miles. This was my first time using the system and it was very helpful during this cross town ride. It was nice to not have to look over my shoulder to keep an eye on traffic behind me. At one stoplight I saw in the video screen that the car behind me had it's right turn signal on. I moved my bike over to the left side of the lane while I was waiting for the light to change and the car was able to turn right on red. Once I got across town I had approximately 10 more miles to ride through the country side to reach Tobaccoville, NC and the park. The Hindsight was useful on the country roads also. 

I arrived at the park a few minutes before the 2:00 departure time.

The planned route of the group was from the park to Lewisville, NC and then back to the park.
Riders are ready to get riding and enjoy the beautiful 60 degree day.

That's Pam and Jimmy in the middle of the photo. They are well known cyclists from King, NC who organize rides and encourage many riders.
Riders at Tobaccoville Park ready to get going.
The Tobaccoville community got is name because of a plug chewing tobacco factory that was operated by Charles Orrender in the 1870s. The factory was located about one mile south of the Tobaccoville crossroads on what is now Doral Drive. 

The park was started in 1994 on 14 acres of farmland that was next to the Village Hall. The official name of the park is "The Village Park". Most folks I know call it "Tobaccoville Park". 

We stopped and regrouped a couple of times during the ride after the group of  riders had gotten a little separated. I snapped this photo of a few riders who had stopped to wait on riders that had gotten caught by a stoplight.  That's Bill at the front ready to go.

I glanced down at the video screen occasionally while riding with the group to see what the riders behind me were doing and to watch for cars approaching from the rear. This worked out very nicely. I did have a little trouble telling what the distance was between the back of my bike and rider behind me a couple of times. I think that is just because this was the first test ride of the Hindsight.
We stopped at the Lewisville Town Square and everyone got off their bikes to chat and some used the restrooms while we were there. After this short stop I broke off from the group and rode back home. I got in an additional 12 miles from here. My total ride for the day was a little over 44 and 1/2 miles in length.  
An up-close look at the Cerevellum Hindsight 35 screen. 
An up-close look at the camera/rear light unit.

The video is 5 minutes of what was displayed on the Cerevellum Hindsight 35 during my ride home from Lewisville. This was downloaded from the Hindsight straight to YouTube.
Music: Blue Moon by Alan Glen & Roger Cotton

Poor ole' Joe kept me company while I cleaned up my bike.
All cleaned up and ready for the next ride!