11 October 2007

Forgotten Hero

While racing the Giro this year, we had a start in a very cool little town, up in the north of Italy. The town called Cittiglio is pretty famous for a few of it’s riders, but none as famous as Alfredo Binda. Right on the start line of the race was this tiny little museum, full with stuff dedicated to the dude. He won pretty much everything in his day, and with a bit of looking found these couple of good sites,
with some more info on him, the hall of fame, and as much as I hate it Wikipedia has a nice little article as well.

The man himself, Alfredo Binda

From the hall of fame site. “Alfredo Binda was born in the village of Cittiglio near Varese, Italy on August 11, 1902. He was born in Italy, but was raised in Nice, France.
Binda was a keen cyclist in his youth and used to ride on the track in Pont Magnam, France. Binda was good on the track, but better in the mountains. He was a born climber. Binda’s claims to fame is that he was the first cyclist to win the Giro d’Italia five times, the current record, and the first cyclist to win the World Championship Road Race three times, including the inaugural event in 1927.” Plus a few other races that will really surprise you.

A couple of nice old jersey's won on a couple of bikes, nice.

The museum was pretty sweet, for a whole Euro, there was plenty to see. A few of his bikes are here, some just like he stepped off them many years ago. Legnano bike factory is just up the road, and by the looks of things, he was sponsored by them most of his career. Actually the World road champs are just up the road in Varese next year, so the area is thick with history. Plenty of old bits and pieces were kept in pretty good order, and the bikes were sweet to check out. Some very nice little details to spot as well.

Some cool cranks, a spare oil can, just in case.

One claim to fame for him, was a pretty cool, but one of those ‘why bother’ inventions, an semi automatic chain oiler. This was back in the day of early drivetrain experiments, so anything to help last the distance was a good idea. Most of the racers were lucky to have a mechanic out on the course, and definitely no spare bikes waiting for them either. The invention was pretty simple, he carried a small oil can in his back pocket, which when needed, poured it through a little hole in the seatpost. Then the oil dripped down the seat tube, when it was diverted through a small, foldout funnel stem kind of thing. This was directed right on to the chain, much like we saw about ten years ago for the mountain bikes. He was pretty smart, but if he preloaded the tube with the oil, and when the tube was lowered it would slowly siphon out on to that chain, that would have been way cooler. But all the same, he was thinking.

Here you can see the oil can to the right, just sitting on the top of the chain tensioner, and hiding under the lever is the oil spout, you can just make it out.

One of his track bikes, or fixie for the road more like it.

There was some very cool pictures around the walls, and for such a small town, it was a wicked find. The race was about to start, as the girls were lining up outside the window, so I headed out. The race left and followed it’s way to the surrounding mountains, it was very nice in the hills, lush forest and some pretty good looking view form the top. Just past the halfway up the hill, I spied a memorial wall, covered in cranks and messages. But would you believe it, I missed the shot with my camera, not once, not twice, but thrice, oh well, there is always next year.

The girls are getting lined up, must be time to say goodbye to Alfredo.

I have a few more pics loaded up right here.

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