Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Henri Van Lerberghe

Henri Van Lerberghe

Henri "Ritte" Van Lerberghe (1891 - 1966) was a Belgium racing cyclist who raced as a professional form 1910 through 1923. He is most famous for his win of the 1919 Tour of Flanders. The  third edition of the race. 

His racing style was to attack at the beginning of races. This usually didn't pan out for him, because it left him exhausted at the end of the race and unable to compete for the top places. Van Lerberghe was popular with the spectators, because of his aggressive riding during the early part of races.

"Ritte" won the fifth stage of the 1913 Tour de France.  He was racing in the category of an isolated cyclist. (individual cyclist, not part of a team) The "isolated cyclists" started fifteen minutes after the racers that were  members of a team. He was able to catch up to the lead cyclists and then go on to win the stage.

Henri finished in second place overall at the 1914 Tour of Flanders. Racing in Europe was put on hold for several years at this time because of World War I.

No one considered Henri Van Lerberghe a possible winner of the 1919 Tour of Flanders. World War I had just ended and he traveled from his military assignment straight to the starting line of the race. He showed up without a bicycle. After  borrowing a bike from a local, he announced that he was going to ride all the other racers to death (off of his wheel). His statement amused the other riders and they laughed loudly at him. Van Lerberghe never had many great race results and wasn't thought to be much of a threat to the top racers. His reply to their laughter was that he would 'drop them all at their own front doors on the way to victory'. As soon as the race had begun, in true Ritte fashion, he attacked as hard as he could. 

The other riders didn't chase after the attacking rider for a some time. Pitying him, they wanted to allow him a breif moment of glory. Once they decided to catch up to him, it was too late. 

Henri Van Lerberghe was intent on not being caught and rode in a fury. He came upon a train stopped across a railway crossing. Determined that nothing would stop him, he dismounted his bike and ran through an open train car with his bike across his back. Once through the train he jumped back on his bike and continued his ride. When he saw the velodrome, where the race was going to finish, he knew he had a huge gap on the rest of the field. He decided to stop at a pub outside of the velodrome and have a beer. It tasted so good to him that he ordered and drank several more. He was finally convinced to finish the race. After making his way across the finish line and winning the race, he was so intoxicated that he had to walk his victory lap instead of riding. He then announced to the crowd of spectators "You can all go home! I have a half a days lead on the others!" He actually only had a lead of 14 minutes on the rest of the racers. 14 minutes remains the biggest lead of a break away rider at the finish of the Tour of Flounders to this day. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Gunnar Roadie - Project Bike - Two Year Ride Review

Gunnar Roadie on the scales.
Gunnar Roadie

It's been two years since the build up of my Gunnar Roadie Project Bike. Thousands of miles and many component swaps have taken place on the Roadie in this time. 

A quality steel frame and fork, such as the Gunnar Roadie frameset, make for a bike that can be ridden a lifetime. (with reasonable care and baring any major accidents) 

Over the past two years I have changed many components on the bike:

  • Went from Shimano Ultegra 6700 10 speed group to an Ultegra 6800 11 speed group.
  • Swapped out the Pro Vibe 7 handlebars for FSA SL-K carbon handlebar 
  • Still using a Pro Vibe 7 stem, but added one that is a centimeter longer.
  • Built up a set of  Hed Belgium clincher rims with Powertap G3 hubs front and rear. These took the place of the original wheels that were built with Velocity hubs and A23 rims.
  • Added a NiteRider Solas rear light. 
  • Added a Bar Fly mount for a Powertap Joule bike computer.
  • Since this bike is ridden on a CycleOps Virtual Reality Trainer, I added a CycleOps ANT+ cadence sensor.

I expected the bike to have picked up some weight, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it had actually lost one once from the original build. The original build had the bike weighing in at 18 pounds and 13 ounces, now the bike weighs 18 pounds and 12 ounces. Even though I added a few things to the bike the overall weight has gone down. I think part of the lighter weight can be contributed to the Shimano Ultegra 6800 crankset.

The Gunnar Roadie has been my go to bike for the past two years. It has a nice smooth ride, corners like it is on rails, is light enough and very reliable. 

This is just one great bike. Several bikes have come and gone from my stable while I have had the Gunnar Roadie. After putting several thousand miles on it, it is just my go to bike and will continue to be so. I highly recommend a Roadie to everyone. Buy one, you'll be glad you did!
NiteRider Solas light is rechargeable using a USB cord.

Bar Fly computer mount for a CycleOps Joule bike computer.

Powertap G3 rear hub.

CycleOps cadence sensor.

Gunnar Roadie by Mallard Lake in Tanglewood Park.

Gunnar Roadie with horses at Tanglewood Park.

This horse is curious about the Gunnar Roadie!

He enjoyed me rubbing his long nose. I hated to say goodbye!
Click here for more information on Gunnar Cycles.
Click here for more information on this Gunnar Roadie frameset before it was built up into a bicycle.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall ride bikes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Antonin Magne

Antonin Magne
Antonin Magne (1904-1983) was a French cyclist who raced as a professional from 1927 to 1939. After his retirement he became a director sportif for the Mercier team. Magne was a mentor to many great riders. 

His original dreams and passion, as a boy, were of locomotives and railroads. He was latter introduced to bicycle racing while working as an apprentice at a bike shop. Through hard work and dedication he was able to begin racing at a professional level in 1926 and the following year competed in the Tour de France.

Through out his life Antonin Magne lived by the prescript: "The glory is never where virtue is not." Integrity, camaraderie, modesty and righteousness were his values. 

Magne was one of the first to understand the importance of diet in the practice of high performance sports.

During his career Antonin Magne was very successful racing the Tour de France. He was the overall winner during the 1931 and 1934 editions of the race. Some of his first place finishes and his placings in the overall general classification at the Tour de France are listed below by year.


1st. in stage 14
6th. overall in the General Classification


1st. in stage 13
1st. in stage 21
6th. overall in the General Classification


7th. in the General Classification


1st. in stage 12
3rd. in the General Classification


1st. in stage 9
1st. overall in the General Classification


8th. overall in the General Classification


1st. in stage 17 
1st. in stage 21 
1st. overall in the General Classification


1st. in stage 20
2nd overal in the General Classification


1st. in stage 10
1st. in stage 21

At the 1931 Tour de France, the French Team was a powerhouse. Antonin Magne was on the team with Andre Leduca and Charles Pellissier. Magne and the French team had to cover many attacks by the Itailian team during the Alpine stages of that year's tour. He never lost his lead during those stages.

The greatest threat to Antonin Magne's lead during the 1931 Tour de France was on the penultimate stage, from Charleville to Malo-les-Bains. This was a day of racing over rough cobblestone roads. Magne was worried the night before this stage and was keeping his roommate, Andre Leducq, awake. Leducq suggested to Magne that he read some of his fan mail. As he read, one letter caught his attention. It read:

"Monsieur Antonin Magne,
"I am writing to warn you that Rebry [one of the Belgian riders] has written to his mother saying that he'll attack with Demuysére on the stage from Charleville to Malo-les-Bains."

The following day, the Belgians attacked over and over, while riding on dangerous cobbles that were wet and slick. Despite falling once, Magne was able to stick with the pair of attacking riders.  

He went on to win the 1931 Tour de France. The effort was so fatiguing that Antonin Magne didn't start the tour the following year.

Antonin Magne receive help from a spectator in the 1934 Tour de France

In Antonin Magne's second tour win, the 1934 Tour de France, he took the lead in the second stage and never gave it up through the rest of the race. He wore the yellow jersey of race leader for a total of 22 days that year. 

Magne's success at the 1934 Tour de France would have never happened if his teammate Rene Vietto had not made sacrifices. 

During stage 15, from Perpignan to Ax-les-thermes, Veitto was first over the big climb of the day. Magne crashed on the descent and broke his front wheel. Veitto dutifully gave him his front wheel and waited for support. 

Magne hit a rock and crashed again on a descent during stage 16. This time he broke his rear wheel. A motorcycle marshal rode ahead and told Rene Vietto of his team leader's plight. Vietto turned around and rode back up the mountain and gave his rear wheel to Magne.
Antonin Magne about to start  and win an eighty kilometer individual time trial 1934 Tour de France. This was the first individual time trial ever in the Tour de France.
Antonin Magne's bicycle while racing for the 1939 Mercier-Hutchinson team.
Antonin Magne at the 1934 Grand Prix des Nations. He won this event in three consecutive years (1934, 1935 and 1936).

Antonin Magne

Friday, October 3, 2014

Jean Mallejac

Jean Mallejac

Jean Mallejac (1929 - 2000) was a French Bicycle Road Racer who raced as a professional from 1949 through 1959. Before become a bicycle racer he worked in a munitions factory.

He is best know for his performance in the 1953 Tour de France. That year at the tour he won the 5th stage and wore the yellow jersey of the race leader for 5 days. He finished in 2nd place overall in the general classification. 

The 12th stage of the 1955 Tour de France was from Marseille to Avignon and crossed the climb of Mont Ventoux. Mont Ventoux is a barren mountain and the highest in this region of France. The wind blows at over 56 miles an hour at the top for over 240 days of the year. Jean Mallejac was ten kilometers from the summit when he began to zig-zag from one side of the road to the other. He collapsed to the ground with one foot still strapped into the pedal of his bicycle. His free leg was still pedaling in the air. Unconscious on the side of the road, his jaws were forced open to force some fluids into him. After being given oxygen and an injection of  solucamphor, he regained consciousness and was hauled to the hospital by ambulance. He claimed he was given drugs against his will and threaten to file charges of attempted murder.  Mallejac recovered and rode the Tour de France 4 more times.

Jean Mallejac retired from professional bicycle racing in 1959 and ran a driving school in Landerneau. 

Jean Mallejac during the 1953 Tour de France
Jean Mallejac - 1954
Jean Mallejac on Mount Ventoux 1955