Dave Moulton

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Infographic

Wednesday
Mar182009

Louison Bobet: First Three Time TDF Winner

 

 

When French cyclist Louison Bobet won the Tour de France in 1953, 1954, and 1955 he became the first rider to win the event three consecutive times. His victories came through sheer hard work and determination.

For example, his first Tour de France was in 1947 at the tender age of 22 he was forced to quit when the race reached the mountain stages. He found the going too tough, and it was a lesson the young Bobet would not forget. He trained even harder and became one of the greatest climbers of his era.

The following year 1948 he was the darling of the French press when he took the Yellow Jersey early in the race. However, that was the year when Italian Gino Bartali was unstoppable and came out a clear winner. (Picture below: Bobet leads Bartali.)

 

 

Bobet failed to finish the Tour in 1949, but in 1950 had his best showing to date, finishing 3rd. overall, and taking the King of the Mountains Trophy. However, this showing was somewhat tainted because the entire Italian team quit due to hostility and interference from French spectators. This was when Italian rider Fiorenzo Magni was leading the race. Swiss rider Ferdi Kubler won that year.

Naturally the French Nation expected great things of Louison Bobet the following year 1951. His year began well, Bobet won the Mountains Jersey in the Giro d’Italia. He also won two of the Classic races that year, the Milan – San Remo, and the Tour of Lombardy.

However, his showing in the Tour de France was disappointing when he placed 20th. The French press were writing him off as being a good single day rider, but not having the right stuff to win the Tour. Bobet would miss the 1952 Tour due to injury.

In 1953 TDF Louison Bobet finally silenced his critics, and for the years that followed he became the favorite of the French Nation. 1947 winner Jean Robic took an early lead, but a crash and an all out attack by the French National Team put Robic out of the race. Louison Bobet, took the yellow jersey on the famed stage over the Izoard Pass and kept it.

In the 1954 Tour, the Swiss team led by Ferdi Kubler, Hugo Koblet and Fritz Schaer kept up constant pressure. However, as in 1953, Bobet slaughtered his rivals on the Izoard climb and cemented his second consecutive Tour victory.

For some the famed Izoard climb is synonymous with Louison Bobet. The mythic Alpine climb was crucial to his first two Tour victories. So convincing was he in 1954, he left his Swiss rival Ferdi Kubler trailing by twelve minutes.

In 1955, suffering from a saddle sore, many were pessimistic about the chances of Louison Bobet winning his third consecutive Tour de France. Young Luxembourg climber Charly Gaul (Pictured above with Bobet.) grabbed plenty of headlines by winning Bobet's sacred stage to Briançon. But Bobet bounced back by destroying his competition on the feared Mount Ventoux after a long solo victory. It proved to be the key to his third Tour victory.

Bobet's victory on the Mount Ventoux was of the stuff that becomes legendary in Tour history. At the start of the stage, Bobet is still more than 11 minutes down to the unheralded Antonin Rolland. At the foot of the 21-kilometer climb, the Swiss champ attacked with Raphäel Geminiani and no one could follow. (Bobet and Geminiani picture below.)

However, the Swiss misjudged the difficulty of the climb and faded badly. Bobet, who understood the true menace of the famed mountain, bided his time. In the final six kilometers, above the tree line in under the blazing sun, Bobet caught and passed the leaders. No one could match his driving pace. At the summit Kubler was already 20 minutes down and by the finish in Avignon, Bobet was alone.

By his own admission Bobet was never the same after the 1955 Tour. However, he did win the Paris-Roubaix Classic in 1956. He had placed 3rd in 1955, and had previously placed 2nd in 1951. Louison Bobet won the World Championship Road Race in 1954, was 2nd in 1957 and 1958.

Bobet’s career was effectively ended in December 1961 when his car skidded off the road and hit a boulder. Bobet broke his femur and his recovery was long and difficult. He eventually raced again, but retired the next year at the end of 1962.

Born 1925, Louison Bobet died of cancer in 1983 at the young age of 58. After his death, there was speculation that the saddle sore that had plagued him in his last Tour win, was much more than a simple boil, and may have been cancer. In the 1950s cancer was a taboo subject and no one talked of it. If that was the case, his win showed the sheer guts and determination of the man.

Bobet’s Tour victories came between Fausto Coppi (Above leading Bobet.) and Jacques Anquetil, both men spoke highly of him. Coppi once said of Bobet. “He knows like nobody else how to suffer and his powers of recovery are unmatched. The bike means everything to him. It is truly his life blood and his application to his chosen way of life is an example to every aspiring champion.”

Anquetil (Above 3rd from left, with Bobet leading.) stated “In Bobet’s eyes there were no little races or unimportant victories. Every race mattered and he wanted to give his everything to his public. Bobet knew only one way of racing and that was to race to win, whatever the sacrifices demanded.”

These quotes reflect the respect and admiration of fellow riders and the public. He was certainly one of the heroes of my youth.

 

 

Tuesday
Mar172009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Sunday
Mar152009

It's now 30 years and the National Enquirer still owes me a story

 

What is this strange looking machine? It is a one of a kind special eight-seat bike built by me and commissioned by the National Enquirer for a photo shoot in 1979.

The photo shoot was of the Rosenkowitz sextuplets, three boys, and three girls born January 11, 1974. They were the worlds first surviving sextuplets. I wrote the story of how I came to build this bike, in an article here in November 2005. As a result of the original article, a member of the family contacted me and was kind enough to send pictures.

 

 

The Enquirer told me they didn’t care if the machine was “un-ridable,” they just wanted a picture. Of course I wasn’t going to build something that couldn’t be ridden, even something as bizarre as this.

The proof is here in the picture of the whole family, (From left to right.) Mother Susan, the children Elizabeth, Nicci, Emma, Jason, Grant, and David. Father Colin Rosenkowitz is steering the rig. The children were five years old at the time.

Above is a later picture (Probably mid to late 1990s.) with the same bike, and the six now adults. Note that my name is now painted over with a coat of blue paint.

Below left is a picture of me taken in 1978 at my shop in Worcester, England, with the project under construction.

I have no regrets at being involved in this venture, even though I was never paid. It was and interesting project, one I can tell my grandkids about, and of course readers here.

It was an enjoyable experience to make contact with a member of the Rosenkowitz family.

Out of respect for their privacy I am not about to reveal anymore.

It is now over thirty years, and I’m still waiting for a story from the Enquirer, or a check would be nice.

 

 

Monday
Mar092009

Well, I Guess I’m Back

Lowcountry Bloggers is a site here in Charleston, SC, that does a round up of local bloggers. On Wednesday of last week, they announced, “Dave Moulton breaks from his hiatus.”

Hiatus is an interesting word. I remember many years ago on a first date with a woman. When I asked where she worked, she replied, “I’m on a hiatus right now.” I remember thinking, but of course didn’t say it, “Oh, so you’re unemployed, and I guess I’ll be picking up the tab.”

A hiatus usually refers to a voluntary break, as opposed to being canned, sacked, given your cards, or a pink slip. I guess in my case I did take a hiatus. What made me emerge from my hiatus? Mainly the Tribute Bike. It made me wonder, “Why me?” And why do I deserve this?”

I had a business in Southern California during the 1980s and early 1990s. I hand built racing bicycle frames. There was a lot of competition at that time, and in order to succeed it was necessary that I produced a good product. I was paid and rewarded for what I did, so my thoughts are, “Why am I being recognized and rewarded again?”

I likened it to receiving a bike “Oscar.” It got me thinking me thinking about the Oscars. Movie stars are paid handsomely for what they do, and yet they are rewarded when they do it well.

My point is that many ordinary people do what they are paid to do, and do it extremely well. Yet they never receive any recognition or reward for what they do, other than a paycheck; neither do they expect more.

There are doctors who save lives, firefighters who save lives, humanitarians of all kinds. Right down to the average working man. If you do a job well, you are after all, doing what you are paid to do.

Doing a good job is sometimes like peeing on yourself in dark pants. It gives you a warm feeling, but no one notices.

No one, least of all me, expects a reward. However, when it comes as this one did, it is a wonderful but humbling experience. When I quit writing last August there was no criticism, just an outpouring of love and well wishes from the regular readers.

A lot has happened during my six month hiatus. A lot of water has passed under the bridge as the old cliché goes; and unfortunately a lot of turds floated by. The world’s economy is in a far worse condition, and people are loosing their jobs.

I had a very nice little part time job; I worked three days a week in the engineering department of a large manufacturer. I enjoyed working three days, then taking four days off. I also enjoyed the extra cash it brought in.

I was laid off from that job last October. Luckily, it was not my entire source of income so it has not affected me greatly. In fact, I have decided to take advantage of the extra time to ride my bike more, and get myself in the best physical condition I can.

I have decided not to participate in this recession. It is beyond my control, so therefore there is no point in my worrying about it. In an article I read the other day concerning the news, was the following quote:

We all know the news is bad; it makes us feel like crawling under a rock.

The cure is simple; quit watching the news. I haven’t watched TV news in years. It always dwells on the negative, it is depressing.

People who have followed me in the past know that I usually try to place a positive slant on things. What is needed right now is more love and compassion for our fellow man. I try to look on my neighbor’s situation; there is always someone worse off than I am.

We are all in this together. So humbly, if my sometimes-inane Internet postings entertain, make you think, or simply distract you from what is going on in the world. It is the very least I can do, and it is actually all I have to offer at this moment in return for the love and recognition that has been shown me.

As the water flows under the bridge, I will do my best to replace the turds with beautiful swans.

 

Friday
Mar062009

Fuso Components

I am often asked, “What was the standard component package on the Fuso?” or John Howard, or Recherché.

The answer: There was no standard component package. The reason, I only sold frames, not complete bikes. The frames were ordered by bicycle dealers, usually for a specific customer, who then chose the components and the bike shop ordered these in and built the bike.

Often what happened was the customer could not afford an all Campagnolo or Shimano Dura-Ace equipped bike. So the dealer built the bike with lower priced components like Sugino, Sun Tour, or Shimano 600.

The thinking was, (And I agreed.) the frame is what determines how the bike fits, handles, and feels to the rider. Wheels are the next important factor, but after that a Sugino crankset, or cheaper pedals will, for the most part, feel no different than Campagnolo. The main difference is the quality of finish and the durability of the product, not so much in the ride quality.

The theory was, get a newcomer on a quality frame, get them hooked on cycling and they would come back and upgrade to a better quality component later. This was a smart business move for the Bike Dealer, and it sold frames for me.

For about the same price as say a mid range Japanese or European import, a customer could get on one of my frames with lower priced components. And of course when the customer compared the mid range import and my bike on a test ride they could feel the difference.

That was the theory. In reality what happened in many cases, the bike purchase was an impulse thing, and after a short period, the bike ended up sitting in the garage where many still languish to this day.

From time to time such a bike comes up on eBay, often with a mish-mosh of cheap components. If you are buying such a bike, realize that you are basically buying it for the frame. If you strip the components to replace them with, say Campagnolo; these left over parts will have little or no resale value.

On the other hand, many may not want such a bike. If you can buy it at a bargain price, you can ride as originally intended and upgrade the components as they become available.

All frames I built were measured center to top which is approximately 2 cm. more that the center to center measurement. For example frame stamped 58 under the bottom bracket shell, would measure 56 cm. center to center. Also, if it is a Fuso and you ask the seller for the frame number, you canlink to my website here and get the approximate date it was built.