Category Archives: Feature

From the Ashes – A Classic Motobecane Super Mirage

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYears ago, when people were cleaning out all the French, English, and Japanese bicycles that they bought during the 70s and 80s, one could find almost anything on the curb in the City of Albany on “trash night.” Now it seems that all the cleaning out is over and the owners are in assisted living or Albany Rural.

All that is left is beat-up mountain bikes from WallyMart.

In any case, on one dedicated night-time venture around 10 years ago, the subject of this post showed up – a Motobecane “Super Mirage” with all the features – SunTour VX, Weinmann center pulls, proprietary drop bars, crank arms and seat, Lyotard pedals with Christophe toe clips, Weinmann rims, Dia Compe brake levers, and beautiful black finish with red and gold highlights. (Other color choices for this model were “New Blue” (dull) or “Champagne Gold” (ugly).)

After a lot of disassembly, degreasing, polishing (and more polishing), waxing, and re-assembly, we have a beautiful example of the many French bicycles that flooded the bicycle shops of the area. (This sample came from the Eagles Nest in Delmar.)

See you on the street …

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Madonna del Ghisallo – Patroness of Cyclists

madonna-del-ghisallo-large-14kt-gold-medal-5986lgMadonna del Ghisallo (Patroness of Cyclists – Madonna del Ghisallo (Ghee-SAL-low) also known as Our Lady of Ghisallo or Madonna of Ghisallo)

The legend is that in late Middle Ages in the Lombardy District of Central Italy (see map) in the hill above Lake Cuomo, Our Lady appeared to Count Ghisallo who was being robbed by highway men. He was praying for help when he saw the apparition. Count Ghisallo ran to it and was miraculously saved.  An alternative legend is that Count Ghisallo was near the village of Magréglio when attacked. Spotting an image of the Virgin Mary in a roadside shrine, he broke away from his attackers and ran to it. There he took refuge, pled for Our Lady‘s protection – and miraculously the vision of the Blessed Virgin scared off the highwaymen. In gratitude, the count started praying to her for protection and told the story to anyone who would listen. He instituted a roadside shrine with flowers and candles.

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The Virgin Mary under this title was originally prayed to for the protection of local travelers. As the story gained credibility among the locals, the count eventually replaced the makeshift shrine with a small chapel he funded. Through the years the legend grew. Once the chapel was built, clergy were assigned officially to maintain it. The patronage of Our Lady of Ghisallo evolved from humble foot travelers to recreational bicyclists. These recreational cyclists passed the idea of the protection from robbers to bicycle racers looking for safety from crashes and injury. They must have documented these cases (i.e., official miracles ascribed the intersession of the Madonna del Ghisallo) because Pope Pius XII established Our Lady of Ghisallo as the patroness of cyclists on October 13, 1949. This was at the request of Father Ermelindo Vigano, pastor at the shrine. There is an eternal flame that burns in memory of the cyclists who are no longer with us, and services are held each Christmas Eve and the Feast of All Souls to commemorate them.

The chapel is fitting because the Giro di Lombardia (Tour of Lombardy), bicycle race goes past the shrine built by Count Ghisallo at the top of the Ghisallo climb (the Passo del Ghisallo). The chapel is the finish line for the annual, one-day classic Giro di Lombardi race, and is a regular feature (once every two or three years) stage route of the Giro d’Italia. The shrine includes a cycling museum and a memorial to cyclists who have died.

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The Chapel

The chapel gathered a collection of cycling memorabilia. Bicycle frames, whole bicycles, and jerseys festooned its walls. Over the years, great champions such as Felice Gimondi, Gianni Motta, Francesco Moser, Gino Bartali, Eddy Merckx, Alfredo Binda, Guiseppe Saronni, Mario Cipollini, Gilberto Simoni, and Stefano Garzelli contributed race-worn gear to the chapel. It was believed that one could not be considered a serious champion or potential champion until one donated a jersey or bicycle for display in the chapel. The memorabilia eventually overran the space, and cheapened the spiritual intent of the chapel. In 2000, construction was started 200 yards from the chapel for a Museum of Cycling with the blessing of Pope John Paul II. When the museum was near completion, Pope John Paul′s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, blessed the corner stone on May 31, 2006.

 

One of the great talisman for both professional and amateur bike racers and for cycling enthusiasts all over the world is the Madonna del Ghisallo bicycle medallion. The medal incorporates a crank ring, and the Madonna and Child are framed by a bicycle chain. Even Pope Benedict was the recipient of a custom wooden bicycle with a Madonna del Ghisallo badge affixed.italy_bike

If you are a cyclist or know someone who is, you can purchase a small medal as a reminder of Our Lady’s protection.

Legend – http://saints.sqpn.com/madonna-del-ghisallo/

Museum – http://museodelghisallo.it/

Passo del Ghisallo – Bellagio –

The Climb – http://www.climbbybike.com/climb.asp?Col=Passo%20del%20Ghisallo%20&qryMountainID=2905

See also – Notre Dame des Cyclistes – The chapel of Notre-Dame des Cyclistes is situated in the commune of Labastide-d’Armagnac in Les Landes département in Aquitaine, France. The chapel is all that remains of a 12th-century fortress of the Knights Templar. The Château de Géou was razed by the Black Prince in 1355. It was listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture on 27 February 1996. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre_Dame_des_Cyclistes

See also – http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=748190

The (Motor)cyclist’s Prayer [SOURCE: http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=2115] – O, dear Father, I ask for you to watch over me as I ride from Point A to Point B. Help all other motorists to see me clearly and help me to stay out of their way. Bring me back to my family in one-piece dear God, these things I pray. Amen.

Blessing of a Wagon or other Vehicle [SOURCE: http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=368] – Be gracious, O Lord God, to our prayers and bless this vehicle with Thy right hand. Send Thy holy angels to accompany it that they may keep from all evils those who ride in it; and as once Thou didst grant faith and grace through Thy deacon Philip to the Ethiopian riding in his chariot and reading the word of God, so now show the way of salvation to Thy servants that, always given to good works, they attain to everlasting joys after the vicissitudes of the journey and of this life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Translated by Most Reverend J. H. Schlarman Bishop of Peoria)

madonnaBlessing of the Bicycles – Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, we come to you in prayer and thanksgiving. In a world burdened by motorized transportation and consumption, we give you gracious thanks for the wondrous bicycle, on which we enjoy the goodness and beauty of your creation while improving our fitness and health. We ask you to protect the children who ride or who are learning to ride. We ask you to keep all riders, leisure riders to elite athletes, safe from accidents. We ask you to protect all riders from anger and theft. We ask you to give us skill to ride in all sort of conditions, and to help us forgive those who are negligent and mean. We ask you, in thanksgiving for those who build or repair bicycles, that you will guide them to be diligent and competent in their work. Heavenly Father, be with us now and bless us as we dedicate these bicycles and their use to the preservation of lives to your honor and praise. Grant us faith to know your gracious purpose in all things. Give us joy in them and lead us to use all your gifts, including our bikes, with wisdom, compassion, patience and love. We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr. Michael Gorchov, Rector, Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, 58 Third St. Troy, NY 12180
8/13/16 ~ http://stpaulstroy.org/

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Dress Sharp to Be Sharp

ABC T in Classic Colors

ABC T in Classic Colors

Dress sharp to be sharp – wear the “ABC colors.”

You can now order Albany Bicycle Coalition apparel through our new online store. Simply go to https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/ , click on “ON-LINE ABC STORE,” and select and order the items you want. We currently are offering men’s and women’s long- and short-sleeved T-shirts in various sizes and colors. All products are emblazoned with ABC’s logo that is recognized around the world. 

All products are locally sourced and reasonably priced. A portion of the revenue will help fund ABC’s advocacy projects.

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Sometimes I Take the Sidewalk

From “Let’s Go Ride a Bike,”  8/29/09

Bikes belong in the street, not on the sidewalk. In fact, it is illegal for anyone over the age of 12 to ride on a sidewalk in Chicago*. Riding in the street is generally safer because you are visible, while on the sidewalks you encounter pedestrians, cross streets, alleys, and parking lot entrances where drivers don’t expect to see bikes. Riding in the street is also generally faster and smoother, on better-maintained pavement instead of concrete blocks. Finally, riding in the street sends the correct message to drivers: that bikes belong.

Despite all of this, sometimes I take the sidewalk. Very rarely and only on the arterial streets when there is no way around them. This is the type of Chicago street where you’ll find the Targets and the McDonalds. Four lanes, two in each direction, no shoulder, definitely no bike lane, high speeds, and ginormous potholes. Meanwhile, the pedestrian-free sidewalks beckon. For these reasons, if I absolutely cannot avoid taking these streets, I usually ride on their sidewalks.

The most recent sidewalk expedition was on Thursday night, as my destination was on an arterial street and it’s the only way to get across the highway and river dividing the east and west sides. On top of everything, it was dark and raining. After studying Google maps in preparation for the trip, I decided that I would take side streets as far as possible and then hop on the sidewalk.

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I am more interested in getting from point A to point B safely than in sending a message or exuding street cred (which is hard to exude on an Omafiets, anyway). 98% of the time it is safer to ride in the street, and even when I decide to take the sidewalk, it is only safer if I follow these rules:

  • Ride slowly.
  • Watch out for pedestrians and either slow to a crawl or walk your bike past them (if a sidewalk has a lot of pedestrians, don’t even try riding your bike on it).
  • Keep an eye out for alleys, driveways, parking lots or any other place from which a car could spring. Be extra cautious and look both ways.
  • At cross streets try to cross with the light in the cross walk. Assume that drivers do not see you. They certainly don’t expect anything faster than a pedestrian. Look over your shoulder for turning traffic.

This particular ride was more stressful and took longer than normal rides in the street because I had to slow and stop at so many intersections. Although I passed no pedestrians, I passed a few bikes – a couple on the sidewalk and a couple in the street. Did I feel a little sheepish when I passed the street riders? Sure, but not sheepish enough to throw myself in a situation where I did not feel safe.

The problem is that the city traffic design completely disregards bikes at the most dangerous areas, such as crossing rivers and highways. (Read about this problem in more detail at Chicago Bike Blog, where the author eventually decides to take arterial street sidewalks for a particular route with her son). So for those who are passionately against sidewalk riding under any circumstances, I respect that, but don’t hate the player, hate the game.

SOURCE: Let’s Go Ride a Bike,  8/29/09

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*NOTES: New York State appears to be typical in that the Vehicle and Traffic Law 5 does not regulate sidewalk bicycling. It appears that the General Municipal Law (Section 180) 6  states that NY municipalities can regulate bike riding on sidewalks. They cannot require that bicyclists use a sidewalk instead of a public roadway, but they can impose limits to sidewalk bicycling. ALBANY CODE – § 359-4 Riding on sidewalks prohibited; exceptions. – No person shall ride any bicycle, tricycle, velocipede or other vehicle of propulsion on or over any footpath in any of the parks, or on or over any of the sidewalks of any of the streets or avenues in this City, except if it is to go into a yard, lot or building; provided, however, that the foregoing provision of this section shall not apply to children under 10 years of age; and provided further that this section shall not be so construed as to prohibit the riding of any bicycle, tricycle or similar vehicle upon or over the unpaved portion of the sidewalk of any such street or streets outside of the thickly settled part of the City as shall be designated in writing by the Mayor.  Every designation so made as aforesaid shall be filed with the Chief of Police and may be revoked by the Mayor at any time in his discretion.

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Raw Talent . . .

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This year’s gift idea comes from the talented hands and mind of local artisan, Oliver. You can see and purchase this handsome tree ornament (jacket pull, or necklace) at the Downtube Bicycle Works.

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