Disclaimer: This post is written in good-hearted fun with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Don’t take any of it seriously. Like seriously don’t.
An informative question and answer segment featuring retired World Class Italian bicycle racer, Rocco Vaselino
Some of you may know of Rocco Vaselino…some may not. Okay, you’ve never heard of him. Rocco toiled for almost two decades as the premier domestic for the now-defunct Italian road racing team, Gruppo Sportivo d’ Eggplant Parmesano. In the sixties, whenever there was a breakaway in a European Classic, Rocco could be seen moving quickly to the front of the peloton to unselfishly block for his teammates; often gesticulating wildly to distract the other riders. This legendary racer was famous partially due to some of his rather unorthodox habits. Rocco enjoyed fine Italian cuisine, and often in a race he would grab a musette filled with lasagna, rotini with marinara, bottles of Chianti, and entire loaves of garlic bread. Always conscious of the importance of good dental hygiene, he is credited with starting the now common Italian custom of flossing while on the bicycle.
Curiously, his love of food contributed to Rocco’s early retirement from racing, at the age of 44. While descending the Colle Dell’Agnello at 55 miles per hour in the 1988 Giro de Italia, Rocco reached into his jersey pocket for a cannoli and a quart of soft spumoni. This momentary distraction drew his attention away from the stalled Fiat directly in his path. Although Rocco’s Colnago Master was unharmed, the 1975 Fiat Mirafiori 1600 CL was a total loss, and so was the rest of Rocco Vaselino’s racing career.
After years of rest, recovery, and serious carbo-loading, Rocco decided to move to America; to Utah. Which is almost America. A shadow of his former self, Rocco can be seen riding on weekends, usually on a well-worn steel Torelli Corsa Strada with a Campy 7-speed straight block (a 12-18, of course, and I know you counted on your fingers just now.) Although often incoherent, sullen, and muttering to himself, Rocco has agreed to share with us his years of experience in this latest edition of “Just Ask Rocco”:
Alice B. Toeclips asks, “As hard as I train, I have trouble climbing long hills. What can I do to improve?”
Rocco: If you are well trained and still can’t climb, weight is your problem. Assuming you are not plumper than a Ballpark Frank, here are some tips:
Many riders pump their tires to 120 lbs. before a ride. Instead, try pumping them to 70 lbs. This way, you will save 50 lbs. per wheel, and have a total of 100 lbs. less to drag up the mountain!
And here’s an old Italian trick: Drill out your water bottles to reduce weight. Put around a hundred half-inch holes in each bottle. Plastic is heavy. Voila! Or, as they say in the string section of the orchestra…viola!
Speaking of water, a gallon of water weighs 8 lbs. If you carry two bottles with you on a ride, you can be dragging around as much as three pounds of water! Pro tip: Just as you get to the beginning of the climb, quickly drink all your water; every drop. You will notice how much easier it is to climb with two empty bottles!
Rusty Crankarm asks, “I am curious. I read that Bradley Wiggins broke the hour record on the track last year, but I have not seen his time published anywhere, not even in Velo News. How long did it take him?”
Rocco: This is a good question, and I am unable to answer it. It is curious to me that every assault on the hour record has resulted in the same time, :60:00:00. Not even the great Italian bike-deity Francesco Moser could do it faster. If any readers can explain why the hour record always takes exactly 60 minutes, contact Rocco, and I will pass this information on to others. I am baffled.
Lou Scravel asks, “I am fascinated by the romantic-sounding names of Italian bicycles. Can you tell me where some of these names came from?”
Rocco: With pleasure, my stop sign-running friend. Rocco has made a study of the origins of the names of many manufacturers, and here is what their names mean:
Masi: Masi means “cowardly warrior”, and was named after an Italian general who was chased out of Ethiopia by a twelve-year-old boy with a stick. Even so, they are sturdy frames. Plumbing tubing is very strong.
Colnago: Many are surprised to find that this revered name means “tasteless paint job.”
Bianchi: Despite their frames being the same color as the mouthwash Binaca, there is no correlation. Named after Edoardo Bianchi, the company’s founder, the odd frame color, known as “celeste,” was first used because all Edoardo had at hand was surplus military paint. That is actually a fact.
Faggin: Although pronounced “fah-JEAN,” after founder Marcelo Faggin, the oft-mispronounced bike name often resulted in fisticuffs, especially in rougher neighborhoods. This may explain the limited popularity…and ultimate demise…of this Italian brand.
Lane Weaver asks, “What is so wrong with buying bike stuff on the Internet?”
Rocco: I will excuse your ignorance, as you do not possess the wisdom of Rocco. Internet prices are usually not much less than a good bike shop’s prices. Here’s what you don’t get from an Internet dealer: First, you don’t get to see anything in person. Second, you don’t get a mechanic who can mold that maze of components together into an actual bicycle, and drop everything to do a repair while you wait, you selfish little ingrate. Third, you unappreciative jadrool, you don’t get a salesperson who will stop you from buying stupid stuff that will mark you as a geek, like that bag that fits between your aero bars, or those really big handlebar mirrors, or energy bars that taste like sawdust mixed with glue, or that really dorky Betty Boop jersey. Wouldn’t you like to know which composite wheels break when you torque off a cassette? Or what frames crack between the head tube and the down tube? Or which water bottle cage will hold a bottle even when you’re traversing a cattle guard? You won’t find the answers from the Interwebs! Rocco shops at his local bike shop, Red-a Rock-a. Support your local bike shop! Now beat it, punk…
Ron Stanza asks, “I ride my bike over 45,000 miles a year, mostly at night. Batteries for my lights are costing me a fortune. I’ve tried candles, but they keep blowing out. I even tried taping a Mason jar full of lightning bugs to my bars. They died. What can I do?”
Rocco: This is a problem, but you have wisely summoned Rocco for advice. There are five things you can do:
One: Use rechargeable batteries, and run a long extension cord from the outside outlet on your neighbor’s garage to your charger. Don’t use one of those bright orange extension cords; he’ll see it. I discourage this solution if your neighbor has an NRA bumper sticker on his truck.
Two: Strap a 90 amp Sears Diehard under your saddle. I don’t suggest using this setup in the rain as a short could severely damage your “stuff.”
Three: Become a “Jeopardy!” contestant and come in third, which should be easy for you. Third prize often is a year’s supply of Duracell batteries, or a year’s supply of Nexus hair products. Either way, you’re a winner.
Four: Buy a 100 watt halogen work light and 500 feet of extension cord. You will have to do rather short laps, but this will also help to hone your cornering skills.
Five: Have someone follow you closely in the car with the high-beams on. Caution: Rocco tried this, and during a nocturnal session through the hills of Calabria, Mrs. Vaselino dozed off (she says) just long enough to pin me under the front bumper of our Alfa. She claims to this day it was an accident. She is a Sicilian liar.
I’m sorry I can’t answer the thousands of questions I’ve received, but don’t let that discourage you. Send any questions to “Just Ask Rocco” at firstname.lastname@example.org (This is a real e-mail, feel free to send Rocco your questions). Until next time, I hope the only thing in your life that’s double-butted is your Specialized frame!