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Hey Folks,

Last month, on the 7th of September, I was about as honored as a framebuilder-guy could get. I received a visit from my friend and old-school mechanic (for Gino Bartali) Ivo Faltoni months ago. He was passing by to give me a shout and bring me some flyers for his annual Ciclo Pellegrinaggio, Pedalata per La Pace solidarity ride he organizes to commemorate Gino Bartali and his service to the Jews during the Second World War. We were chatting about bikes and bike history (he has enough stories to fill an encyclopedia) and at some point he asked me about a bike he’d seen on my website some time ago.

It turns out that I had built a bike dedicated to Fiorenzo Magni, epic Italian racer who inspired me to build this machine, complete with manual front derailleur, beech wood rims, and some other ecclectic parts like a discontinued Sella Italia Storika riveted saddle and some old Campy and Cinelli parts. No doubt, for those of you who follow The Classic road races each season, you’ll know of Magni’s struggles and suffering as he won multiple Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tours of Flanders) as well as Giri d’Italia. He is know as the Lion of Flanders in cycling circles.

Fiorenzo Magni – Giro D’Italia 1956, Stage 13 ITT,
from Labicicleteria (Flickr)

In the photo above,  Fiorenzo Magni relieves stress from his broken clavicle while executing the 13th stage of the ’56 Giro. He’s biting an inner tube to counteract the pedaling forces that would otherwise be (more) painful if using his hand/arm. Magni suffered injuries in the previous stage (12) from Grossetto-Livorno. The idea of using the tube came from Faliero Masi, Magni’s mechanic at the time.

Well, it took Ivo about 5 seconds after seeing the bike to call his good friend and colleague Fiorenzo and start organizing a presentation to hand-deliver the bike that had been relegated to my closet for the past 4 years (I originally showed the bike at the EICMA bike show in Milan years ago).

Weeks later I get a call from Marco Torriani, one of the three sons of Vincenzo Torriani, epic organizer of the Giro d’Italia from 1946 til 1989. I got tapped to personally present the bike to Magni, who was being awarded the Torriani Prize along with Ugo DeRosa, Michil Costa and Bernard Hinault. Talk about a modest group of cyclists! I couldn’t refuse the offer to deliver the frame in Viareggio at their yearly ceremony.

I was asked to bring along any American friends to celebrate the event and while it didn’t really take me that long to realize that I don’t have many friends, especially American friends, I figured I’d go for broke. I emailed Andy Hampsten, hero in his own right and winner of the ’88 Giro d’Italia as well as Tours of Romandie and Switzerland. These days Andy is busy running his successful company Cinghiale Cycling Tours, albeit at a different speed  as days past. He gratefully answered my request and brought along his friend a pro photographer Arnaud Bachelard from France

So I scrambled to get the bike ready, hopped in the g-ride (g stands for geriatric) with my friend Marino Moretti and we took off for Viareggio. Here are some photos that Arnaud took, together with some phone-shots by Marino.

L-R: Bernard Hinault (checking tire pressure), self, Auro Bulbarelli (Director of Rai Sport and host for the event), Andy Hapmsten, Ivo Faltoni and Fiorenzo Magni.

Listening to my amusing story of why the hell an American guy would take the time to build a bike for the Lion of Flanders..

The Lion, not sure about the tire pressure..or that Ivo charms the crowd.

I remember his words were…”it is indeed a very strange bike..” I guess that means he loves it and is just at a loss for words.

Close up of Fiorenzo Magni, cycling hero and legend.

Magni probably asking me why I don’t eat more…or where my jacket and tie went.

L-R back row: Crisp, Hampsten, Faltoni, Torriani, Moretti – L-R front row: Costa, Hinault, Magni

I would suspect with some certainty that I’m the least famous guy in this shot.

Davide Cassani, nicest guy award winner as well as the most informed cycling commentator of all time. Amazingly well-informed with a 500TB brain. This man, multiple Giro stage winner as well as accomplished stage racer, kindly posed with his two biggest fans at the buffet that followed (I’ve got the death-grip on his jacket and wouldn’t let him eat until we got a shot in). He also took the “Cuore d’Argento” Memorial Aldo De Martinoi prize home, too. I can say without a doubt that cycling on Italian tv would be much less interesting and exciting without the presence of Davide. He’s the presenter for all the national and international cycling events on Italian tv. He IS cycling.

So what is Sig. Magni going to do with the bike now? Well, I’m getting it back to racing condition, going to box it up, then head up to the MUSEO DEL CICLISMO DELLA MADONNA DEL GHISALLO (Madonna del Ghisallo Bicycle Museum) where the bike will find its final resting place, fittingly in the museum where Sig. Magni is the head curator.

A big shout out to Andy Hampsten for coming along and hanging out with us and to Arnaud Bachelard for the great photos. Thanks for taking the time to spend an evening with us and for the memorable event.

Thanks for checking in..


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  1. Britt Reply

    I had seen these pictures, but had no idea the story behind them. I am so glad you wrote about it. Of course I remember that bike well, and the story of finding the guy to make the wooden wheels. What a completely serendipitous “end ” for that beautiful bike.
    I would have jumped at the opportunity to stand by and watch this exchange.
    You are a hero,

    • darren Reply

      Hey Britt!!!
      yea, you’ve probably seen the bike a few zillion times. for a year it was in the living room, then i was told we needed to access the couch, so i moved it to the laundry room. then when mila was born, we renovated the laundry room, so i moved it into the cantina. i got to the point where i was about to break it down and sell it for scrap and parts when Ivo came by and took control.
      it was a surreal experience. i never thought i’d share a stage with Magni, Hinault (won 5 Tours, 3 Giri, and a couple of Vuelta’s as well as Classics like Paris-Roubaix), nor Hampsten (Giro, Switzerland). sure made me want to ride my bike.. 🙂
      btw, you know NAHBS (custom bike show) is in denver 2013?? i know you’ll be going, right?

  2. Arnaud Bachelard Reply

    Good job Darren !

    See you somewhere in Tuscany, Chamonix or wherever !

    • darren Reply

      Thanks to you, the photos you took at the event (and the official photos of L’Eroica) are special. Thanks for capturing the experience and opening a new door into your world of images.
      Ci vediamo presto!!Ciao!

  3. Miguel Reply

    Excellent post Mark (I really enjoyed it) and great job too with that Magni´s “re-edited” bike.
    You certainly look happier than a kid in a candy store surrounded by those legends, so why any need for a tie?
    As a young kid I used to follow Hinault (a good part) and Hampsten´s epic rides. They both were the perfect gentlemen on the road.
    Un abrazo,

  4. Ash Reply

    G’day Darren.
    Wow, what an honour for you. Well done.


    • darren Reply

      HI Ash,
      Yes, it was quite a thrill. Thanks for checking out the blog. I look forward to hooking back up with you and meeting your lucky riders on Peloton Cycling Tours!! See you soon!

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