WIthin minutes of arriving in Gaiole I was drawn like a truckie to chrome to this bike in the distance.
Prior to going to L'Eroica I had a lot of misconceptions about the event.
I had it in my mind everyone would be on bling bikes, have ironic moustaches, and that I'd need a triple with tractor tyres to complete the course.
Wrong on all three counts.
People were riding old bikes. Some were barely held together, some were unique and very obscure, but for those who didn't own a classic and hired one they went into a den which had been converted to house about 300+ 10 speeds.
Italian was the primary language, but walking through the town square every tongue under the sun was heard - even Canadian.
Being an original tough guy, I figured I'd make the challenging route the more so by running 23mm tyres, and only having a maximum of 23 teeth on the rear cog - 42 front chainring. I'd been told to get a 28t, opt for 28mm tyres but whatever you choose to ride, just adds to the flavour of your own experience, punctures and all. If the embodiment of suffering was the spirit of L'Eroica then I was going to grind and slog.
Back to the first bike that caught my eye - A Masi.
The Gran Criterium was the model Faliero Masi took under his wing from the original shop in the bowels of Vigorelli Velodrome in Milano, across the vast ocean to California in the early 70s where he set up business after selling the 'Cicli Masi' name.
The business went pear shaped and Faliero returned to Italy, but now no longer to export bikes to the US under his own name.
Today, Haro bikes own the MASI brand name, and MASI bikes will once again be sponsoring Melburn Roobaix.
Part of the Masi cult is no doubt due to those who rode and won on Faliero's frames and they read like a Greatest of all time list. Fausto Coppi, Felice Gimondi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx.
This is a US made Masi Gran Criterium, and the owner himself from the US.
Set up with Campagnolo Nuovo Record, Cinelli bars, stem, and Unicanitor saddle in suede.
The cranks have been drilled to accomodate a third chainring, and the wheels are low (piccolo) flange hubs with conical end and flat skewers laced to modern Velo Orange PBP rims.
I'll be going again with Peloton Cycling Tours. Check out their site for their comprehensive package which includes just about everything except the pedalling of the pedals. If you shout me a grappa at days end I'll even give you a push up the steep stuff if you need it.
Tell Ashley I sent you.