The Bianchi Talladega was the coolest bike I had ever owned, well with the exception of the Sears Spyder that I had early on. That bike ruled the neighborhood when I was on it.
But back to the Bianchi. I purchased the bike and got a good deal on it because I knew someone who knew someone at the bike store. Actually, the someone at the bike store I think was more interested in the someone I knew which really made me a middleman. So I got a great bike at a wonderful price.
First Trip: First Dent
I had the bike for less than a month and tore it down and packed it up to be shipped to West Palm Beach, FL on the same flight that I was on to do a ride with Ken and Wally and Jan Norris. The ride was from someplace (I’ve forgotten because of a head injury on the same bike, but that comes later on…) to Key West, FL.
I unpacked the bike from the Thule Round Trip Bike Travel Case (that a certain someone from the bike store had loaned someone I knew so that I could ship my new bike safely) and low and behold something as heavy as an anvil had been sitting on the case all the way from St. Louis, MO to West Palm Beach, Fl because there was a noticeable dent in the bike frame. Grrrrrr.
The ride to Key West, Fl was wonderful. Except for the ride across the 7-mile bridge where I picked up some broken glass and got a flat. The tire was ruined, not just the tube. Fortunately, we had our very own SAG. Unfortunately, the SAG was not on the same bridge as I was. So we took the front tire off and someone else (neither of the before mentioned) rode ahead with my tire to meet the SAG in order to get to a bike shop before it closed to purchase a new tire and tube. That left me with having to hoof my new bike across the bridge, a long way across the bridge. Did I mention it was a 7-mile bridge?
First Trip: First Victory Hoist
Here is the first time that the Bianchi was “celebrated” after a ride. It is always good when there is water on a ride and I can ride down to the water’s edge, get off and wade into the water and hold the bike up in the air. People look at me like I am a lemming heading out to my own demise when I do it. Silly people, I suspect they don’t ride a bike.
The Bianchi with it’s strong yet light frame endured a lot in the years that I owned it (with the exception of the dent from the airline). In fact it proved itself to be quite the iron horse on one occasion. Technically it is a stainless steel horse with a mixture of Reynolds 631/525 aluminum and carbon fiber materials. Nonetheless it proved itself to be a formidable opponent when pressed into service.
I Had This Accident…
I was riding on some of the Ozark Mountain hills in Jefferson, MO on the Bianchi years ago while training for a ride that I was going to do in Mountains of Tennessee later on. I was riding alone out on some obscure hills when I had my first accident on the bike.
Two dogs came out of a country lane and while I was used to dogs nipping at the pedals of my bike, I was not prepared for what they did.
They ran right in front of my bike.
We, of course, collided and I was thrown over the handlebars. I suffered a concussion (yes, I was wearing a helmet) and that has left me with some precise short-term memory loss that continues today. The Bianchi on the other hand came through like a champ. A few scratches on the brake hoods was all that it suffered, amazingly because I was flying down a hill when I hit the two dogs. Here is a photo of the road I was going down.
The bruises I suffered are not suitable for posting here.
Best Miles Ever
The TURBOSPOKE ™
It was called the TURBOSPOKE and it was a glorified baseball card in the spokes noisemaker. It sounded great for the first 2 miles of the ride. But after the third mile it was just too much for me and all the other riders that I rode past. Oh sure there were lots of jokes and it was a novelty that provided me with a lot of fun, in addition to never having to say “on your left” when I rode up on anyone. They could hear me coming from quite a distance and did not need any other warning. Riders accused me of having an engine on my bike at first (it was that noisy), but I would just tell them that it was a two-stroke engine that was powering it.
The second day of 100 miles, my group asked that I not use the TURBOSPOKE; it was driving them crazy. Enough was enough and although I kept the TURBOSPOKE on, I took out the plastic card that made the noise for the second day 100-mile ride.
I have hoisted the bike in Armstrong
Three States, Three Mountains
I have hoisted it at the top of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN at the Three-state Three-Mountain ride each year (except this year when I had a new bike).
Giant Ketchup Water Tower
Bianchi's Distinctive Paint Job
Cycling with Lance Armstrong
|Not sure about the 25,000 miles that Matt said I personally put on the bike, but it always rode well (love the granny gear in that triple ring) and when I rode in the 2005 Ride for the Roses in Austin, TX it cut through the same hills that Lance rode on when he was training and THAT day as well without a whimper.
|In fact, here is a photo of me and Lance riding together that day. Lance is the guy on the left of me who is listening intently to my story about hitting the two dogs…and saying to me, “that’s one crazy ride dude.”
|Okay, so maybe I was added into that photo with the help of Photoshop, but I was there on the Bianchi that same day as Lance, I just didn’t raise $15,000.00 in order to have the pleasure of riding with Lance at the front of the pack.
Climbing Tower Rock
|Which brings me to maybe the best Bianchi photos yet. The day Ken and I decided to climb Tower Rock, which sits in the middle of the Mississippi River. Normally there is river water around it all the time, but this particular year the level dropped and so we headed up there to do something we might only have a once in a lifetime chance of doing. Climbing Tower Rock. And why not up the ante a bit and take the Bianchi along as well?
So passing the Bianchi torch to Matt also means passing on the “Hoisting of the Bianchi” as well. I guess I should have gotten that in writing when we were negotiating the price…