Touring in Germany with the Marinoni
When I first began to relate the travels of the Tin Donkey, life was much simpler as I only had two bicycles: my 1991 Bianchi Limited and my custom-made 1998 Marinoni Ciclo. Now I have, uh, six bikes in my apartment.
For those unfamiliar with them, Marinoni bicycles are built near Montreal by Giuseppe Marinoni and when I first began to get serious about cycling in the mid-1990s they were the dernier cri for Canadian cyclists. Stylish, nicely-finished and nearly affordable, they came in a range of models. My bicycle was the entry-level version and was constructed with lugged steel tubing (Columbus Brain O/S, to be precise). I had it set up with a Campagnolo Athena group, a Racing Triple and Campy Atlanta aero rims. The bicycle has extra-long chainstays, an extra set of water bottle braze-ons and braze-ons for a rear rack and fenders. It is with this bike that I have ridden most of the Tin Donkey adventures and we have covered nearly 20,000 kms together so far. The bike, by current standards, is pretty heavy but it is amazingly comfortable and excellent for lightweight "credit card" touring.
Riding the Frankenwald Radmarathon in August 2001
This was the first bicycle I ever owned with integrated shifters and a triple chainring. Although I had done a few warm-up rides in Ottawa before I left for my German posting in 1998, my first introduction to serious cycling came when I was riding near Berlin in Brandenburg and got somewhat lost, turning what was supposed to be a 90 km ride into something approaching 150 kms. However, the Marinoni was so comfortable I felt that I could have just kept on going forever and this is when I realized how important bike fit is to a comfortable ride. And this is the bicycle I used for very long rides (224 km in one day in Holland; 220 km in one day around Lake Constance) and for hard climbing in the Swiss Alps and Sicily, as well as my epic ride along the Camino de Santiago.
En route to Castrojeriz
The bicycle is starting to show signs of wear and tear, but for a very reasonable amount the people at Marinoni will refinish it for me and we will continue to ride the scenic roads. The bicycle was a major investment for me, costing C$ 2000 but when I consider the immense pleasure it has given me since 1998 I consider it money well-spent. And not only is it painted in British Racing Green, as I requested, but the lettering is done in Sahara, a light gold colour and my name is even painted on the top tube. O Bliss!
There is a lot to be said for lugged steel bikes. They are high on the style quotient, with truly classic good looks. There is a Cult of the Lugs developing in North America and it is apparent at events such as the Cirque du Ciclisme and the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Not everyone wants to race their bikes (I do that too!) but just to sit back and enjoy the ride. Pride of ownership means a lot with something as personal as a bicycle, which was a significant milestone in industrialization yet remains a symbol of strong individualism.