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Reaching goals

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I’ve always love cycling. It gave me a sense of freedom and help me get into shape. At one point in my life, about the time I started blogging, I was quite sick. Cycling became out of reach. Even walking or driving were made near impossible. Between vertigo attacks a few times a week and the lack of energy on top of the recovery time from the vertigos and other health issues made things hard to live through.

As soon as I was able to start getting better I started cycling again. I started out with my hybrid Eclipse. A big bike but it got the job done. Then came along the Miele Alba Lx, which had a broken rim. Then I was lucky to find my Bianchi Squadra in a pile of garbage. It was stock with 12 hard gears on it. At that point I had met Dan at Café Roubaix and his cycling club gave me the chance to be a part of a group. It didn’t took long before I knew I had to get a better bike (the drive train was not in great condition) but I cycled along by myself to improve my strength. When you don’t feel good a 20km ride seems so far and so hard. The area is hilly and it made things quite challenging. But I didn’t give up.

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Bianchi Squadra with old drive train

 

I remember one day where my car broke down and I had to go to work. I took my Bianchi determined to not missed work. I cycled the 23km to my job and came back. I remember clearly how hard the ride back was after a day of physical work. But I didn’t give up.

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Bianchi at work

 

Then I found my second road bike in 2012 (I think). A 1988 Fiori Piquante with 14 hard gears. The 2 extra gears and the much better drive train made it possible to achieve a little bit more with a bit of more ease. Still it was an hard bike to ride but it made me stronger. I rode the Fiori for a full season with a bike club. Do I have to mention that I was always the last one when we started? Practice makes perfect they say. Well, with time and dedication I improved my average speed and I soon found myself in the middle of the pack. At that point I was also commuting to and from work with my Eclipse hybrid. You can read about the first time I climbed the big hill with it.

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Fiore Piquante

Then the Dedacciai came along in 2014 and I made sure I could climb anything on that one. It took me about 2 years to build it, buying piece by piece. I have been riding this carbon bike for 2 years now.  I made lots of improvements to my riding and my strength with this one. I also started riding with the Cafe Roubaix team once more. I started at the back of the pack. The 50kms rides were still hard and I wasn’t very fast on the climbs. The group was very encouraging and help me to keep going. I rode my bikes as much as I can. For the most part, all I was able to to do was 20km during the week as I was still too tired to do anything else. Strength came back and my pace improved. By October 2016, I could go 85 or so km.

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Dedacciai Nerissimo

This year have been a great one. So much progress have been made. My team mates are noticing it. It still feel unreal that I can keep the front at times and lead for much longer period of time. Today another goal was checked off my list. I’ve achieved my goal to cycle 600 km this month. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t without pain. I suffered at times but I made a point of always keeping a smile and remembering where I came from. I am also very grateful to have friends that encourage me through this journey. I’m not sure what is the next step but I think I foresee some cyclo touring. For now, I know the Dedacciai needs a bit of an update on the drive train and a new set of custom wheels is on the way.

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Goal!

 

Small goals and patience made this journey possible. It seems like it was yesterday that I wasn’t able to get out of bed and was barely able to walk. Now, I can cycle 100 km and still have the energy to do other things. I still have my struggles with vertigos and other things but not near as much as they use to be. Cycling and bicycles have always helped me getting through things and I’m grateful I still have that passion burning inside me, pushing me further and further into bigger goals. Never give up!

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All of my bikes mentioned above are still in service. The Bianchi as now gotten a retro fit to get rid of the malfunctioning parts and is now used on club rides and commutes. Steel is real!

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Retrofitted Bianchi

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Roadies Goodies

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roadies1With the decent temperatures we had in the last few days I felt the itch to go for a ride. After the ride I remembered that I had promised my mother a picture of the single speed I just finished building which gave me the idea for a quick photo shoot of my main three roadies cycles. For the first time they are together in the same picture. It made me feel proud. There’s no Campagnolo involved but for me they are worth gold.

From right to left: 1992 Miele Alba LX, 1992 Bianchi Squadra and 1988 Fiore Piquante.

Bicycle comparaison

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A thing I have been wanting to do since a while is to show the difference between 2 bicycles of the same brand. When I say difference I mean quality difference. This might help to be able to shop with more confidence and get a better value for your money. Yesterday I happened to pick up another Bianchi road bike. I already had my Bianchi Squadra road and my Bianchi Ocelot “mountain”. Now having 2 roadie of the reputed italian maker I was able to bring this comparison to life.

Our rivals are a  white 1980’s Bianchi with no model name and a pink Bianchi Squadra from the early 1990’s. The white bike is a level entry and the pink a mid quality one.

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ImageThey both have 12 speeds and steel frame. The only notable difference is that the white one is on 27″ wheels and the pink one on 700c wheels. This will not affect the comparison.  First I’m looking at is the lug work. Some bikes are very basic where some others are more elaborate. The basic ones do not mean it’s of lesser quality. In this case they are pretty similar.
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There’s some slight differences but they might just be because of the age difference.

Then let’s look at the headsets.
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The white bike’s headset is made of chrome plated steel. They tend to peal with time and pit. I couldn’t identify the brand of it. Those type of headset are common on 10″ speeds bike of the period. On the pink one the chrome is nice and polished and made differently. We can read Ofmega on it which is a Bianchi home brand for their components.

Now the brakes.
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Both bikes feature a side pull caliper brake made by Dia-Compe. The white one got the 500 series and the pink the 5000 series. The 5000 is of better quality. The 500 got a mat finish to its metal it also doesn’t offer a “release” lever to make it easier when you remove the wheel. The quality of the brake pads is also different. The white one’s got average quality ones where the pink one’s got a longer breaking surface and better quality surface which makes it easier to stop your bike. This is a little detail as break pads are inexpensive to replace for better or lesser quality.

Let’s have a look at the derailleurs.

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The white bike is equipped with Suntour AR which is quite bottom of the line. I’m not saying they are not good but they are less expensive. The pink one is equipped with a Bianchi Premier rear and a Bianchi Ofmega front. Both bikes have similar looking derailleurs but the difference might be the quality of the material. Perhaps the Bianchi derailleurs might be lighter in weight than the Suntours.

The cranks and chainrings.

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The white bike chain rings and crank arms are Custom-A brand. The rings have a kind of chain guard and are made of a metal blend. The rings can’t be removed. The pink one got the Bianchi home brand. The rings re made of good steel and can be changed if needed. The arms are made of aluminum (I believe).

The brake levers.

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First thing I notice is the hoods present on the pink one and none on the white. It’s basically just the metal. There’s worst! The Dia-Compe levers are good but the fact that they don’t have hoods to ride on makes it less comfortable and eliminate a riding position. On the pink bike the levers are Shimano 105 which is a good starter lever. The hoods are made of flexible rubber that are comfortable to ride in. The rubber hoods can’t be put on the Dia-Compe as the levers model is not made to accommodate it.

The wheels.

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The 2 first pictures belong to the white bike and the last one to the pink (both wheels are the same). On the first picture we can read Ambrosio which is a good name to have on wheels. They are made of hardened metal (maybe alloy) and are quite durable. To find this on a 27″ wheel is great. The front wheel on the other hand is a basic chromed 27″ steel. They are easier to bend and require more straightening than the Ambrosio wheel. In this case the Ambrosio was fairly straight and the chromed one wobbly to the point where I’m not sure I can bring it back. The pink bike’s got nice Ambrosio Elite Durex. A good quality wheel made of alloy. I’ve owned and rode this bike for a while and they don’t seem to want to go out of true. Quite durable. Both Ambrosio wheels are made in Italy which is a good sign of quality. The chrome one is probably a china one.

The quills or stems.

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Here both quills have a similar shape both are also made of alloy. The difference lay in the finish the quality of the material. The white bike quill doesn’t show any brand but still seems to be of an ok quality. On the pink bike you can read Cinelli and you can note the nice satin finish. Knowing Cinelli it’s a brand you can trust. This quill is a 2013 one bought to replace the old Nito (another good brand) that had some previous owner issues.

The bars

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The white bike got a KUSUKI (Japan) brand drop bars. The drop is qualified of “vintage” and is made of chromed steel. Not a bad bar but can be heavy. The pink one got a Deda Elementi Piege (Italian) alloy bar with a ergo drop. Again this bar date from 2013 as I needed a wider bar. Note that both the quills and bars are replaceable. In my case I had to invest about $100 to replace the ones that were not fitting me right.

And the last part is a comparison between the two bikes head badges.

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They are the same, only the color change. Some brands have different badges depending on the quality. A good example would be Sekine.

More things you can note to find out about a bike’s quality.
The decals for the Columbus tubing is good to see. Note that sometimes the Colombus decals can be located on the frame, on the fork or both. On the fork means only the fork is Columbus steel, on the frame read the label to know if it’s only the middle frame (top tube, down tube and seat tube) or the whole frame set. There’s also many levels of Colombus tubing quality. It can be confusing but either way Columbus steel is good. Look for the bird.
For an example the pink bike got a nice fork and a lesser quality for the frame (Tri-Tubi).

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Some undesirable things in my opinion would be rust where it can cause problems long term. I’m thinking about the seat post area. You don’t want it to snap one day. Rust is not desirable anyways. It shows a bike that have been in the elements and not well maintained. You can check the chain and other components for signs. A bike that is not well maintain will have the tendency to break often and will cost you more money on the long run than a little bit more expensive bike that have been babied.

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I hope this post was informative.

Cheers!