Milano-San Remo 1992: The Legend of Sean Kelly

This weekend is the first really big professional road race on the calendar, Milano-San Remo. Up until now, it’s roughly been the equivalent of spring training, but Milano-San Remo is the first race of the year that really, really counts. It’s got history; it’s a race that the racers’ fathers’ fathers dreamed of winning. It’s got scenery, speeding along the Italian coast in the first rays of spring. It’s long, at almost 300km/185miles. And it’s got speed. The only climbs are relatively shallow and come late in the race, and M-SR would almost be easy if the peloton weren’t just drilling it for more than six and a half hours before they get to the 3km finishing straight in San Remo. The race usually ends in a bunch sprint, but on occasion a wily racer can keep a gap off the last climb, the Poggio, since the descent is sinuous and narrow.

In 1992, the Ariostea team’s leader Moreno Argentin stormed up the Poggio, breaking free of his rivals well before the crest of the climb. The veteran Italian would keep his lead all the way down the descent that emptied into the finishing straight, where he would celebrate his first win at Milano-San Remo.

Or at least he would have if Sean Kelly hadn’t absolutely blistered the Poggio’s descent. We are talking LEGENDARY. It’s not that Argentin wasn’t making a fast descent, though he was being a bit conservative. No, it’s that Kelly was brilliant. He wasn’t even the at the front of the chasers at the crest of hill, but he leaves them all behind like they had opened parachutes. Kelly is on Argentin’s wheel right as they entered the straight, and even at 36yrs of age the former TdF green jersey winner still packed a formidable sprint. It was Kelly’s second M-SR win and the last major win of his illustrious career.

Celeb Framebuilder Swears off Award Shows

Brando Warhol

A builder like Brando

He’s got the longest waitlist of them all (waitlists are how framebuilders measure their worth in this game) and stayed home from the annual framebuilder pageant. The backchannel chatter about NAHBS (North American Handbuilt Bike Show) was more negative this Spring than most shows. I’ll leave the why that is for the people that were there, but this is like Brando swearing off award shows ‘cause it’s not about the art.

Most Y2K framebuilders couldn’t work without a cad program. Or design a frame without a misfitter. Many couldn’t produce a frame without a dedicated fixture, or measure “straight” without a two ton granite table. There’s a whole subculture that goes online and asks OTHER framebuilders how to add braze-ons, what tubes to use, and what brazing rod to buy. These guys aren’t building something as much as they’re assembling material based on a set of instructions. And who among them still makes his own forks?! Things have changed, alright.

Well of course it isn’t. I also don’t expect Sachs to get fat and wear a muumuu, but he does fashion himself as a celeb. One trained in the craft and not playing to some scripted reality show.

Ignore the best lug or ironic facial hair awards and find a builder near you. The best ones I know don’t seek the limelight. They just make bikes, like this one by Bill Davidson and Mark V…

D-Plus in the Gulley

D-Plus outfitted for gravel with those Sammy Slicks

Light & Motion Solite 100

I’ve got this thing going on where Start out the work week sick, stumble through a couple days dead on my feet, become a whirling dervish of productivity for the next two days and then fall sick again for my days off. An old roommate flew in to town to get away from the Deep South for a bit and do some hiking. I had to opt out, but I gave him one of my Light & Motion lights, the Solite 100. It’s a little multi-purpose, USB-rechargeable light that can be hand held, stood on end with an articulating light head, or worn on a strap about a helmet or bare head. You can get a bike-mount for it, but there are other L&M lights that do that better. It’s not super bright compared to my L&M bike lights, but it does provide more than enough light to set up camp on a dark, cold, rainy night out on the Olympic peninsula. And with a 20hr burn time on low, you have enough time to get things done without worrying that it’ll cut out on you. But I still couldn’t be motivated to leave the warmth of my apartment.

I think my friend was just enjoying the novelty of cold rain; he went back to Alabama on a Monday night red eye. Meanwhile, I’ve had all winter to enjoy rubbish wet weather. I’d gladly take some sunshine, and if not that, then at least good health. Literally sick and tired of this.

Light & Motion Solite

Halo Belt in a Bag


A Kickstarter we apparently missed is now in rev 2.0 and it’s an LED belt for cyclists and anyone else out at night. Well how ‘bout an iteration of this concept that lights up a messenger bag? Like this Halo Zero Messenger Bag from Rickshaw we spotted a few years ago during our Mobile Social Interbike.

Glowy Bag

A bag that glows

PDW 3Wrencho

A month ago I wrote about being selective with your portable tools, and I explicitly recommended the Soma Steel Core tyre lever. Funny enough, seems that some people read the prose I spew on this blog; the guys at Portland Design Works took issue with my choice of tyre levers. So I said I’d take the Pepsi Challenge. A few days later a PDW 3Wrencho arrived in the mail.

A little explanation about the name of the tool. 3Wrencho is a play on San Rensho, which was the brand name of legendary keirin (Japanese professional track racing) framebuilder, Yoshi Konno. The name San Rensho roughly translates into “three victories”, where “san” means “3” in Japanese. By coincidence, San Rensho at one time marketed some keirin-specific tools for adjusting regulation track bikes at the velodrome. Though San Rensho doesn’t exist anymore as a builder, the tool is still available (at least a few years ago), and I have one. However, that tool is too big to use as on-the-road repair kit, and neither does it have a tyre lever. And why would it? Keirin bikes only use tubulars anyways.

Back to the actual 3Wrencho tool: is it the best tyre lever ever? Well, it just might be. It matches my criteria in terms of shape, and it is nylon-coated to protect your rim. But it is definitely beefier than a Soma Steel Core, and I’m not quite sure what it would take to break it. Despite this, the 3Wrencho isn’t so thick that you can’t get it under the bead of tight fitting tyres. The 3Wrencho also incorporates a 15mm box wrench to fit track hub fixing nuts, the tyre lever portion is even angled out so that you can spin the wrench on the nut without catching on the bike’s stays. Compared to Surly’s Jethro Tool, the 3 Wrencho is miles better ergonomically for hossing on track nuts while only marginally longer, while the shape of the 15mm box fits better than the Jethro’s on the fixing nuts of certain internally-geared hubs. And the Jethro doesn’t have a superb tyre lever integrated into the other end like the PDW product. The Jethro just has a bottle-opener….and it’s not like there is any great shortage of bottle opening technologies in the world.

PDW 3Wrencho tool

PDW 3Wrencho has a 15mm box wrench end for the fixing nuts of track hubs and internally geared hubs.

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