Benotto Bicycles – The birth of a hero

Moser with Benotto

Moser - Nurburgring Worlds, 1978

The 1960s to 80s were the golden years of Benotto bicycles. By the mid 1980s Benotto had numerous 1st place titles including 11 world championships and countless local, national and international competitions such as the Giro d’italia. In 1968 Ole Ritter famously broke the hour record while riding a Benotto Bicycle. He road a staggering 48.653 kms in one hour. It took four years before the great cyclist Eddy Merckx was eventually able to beat that hour distance riding 49.431 kms. Wikipedia

Ole Ritter breaks the hour record in 1968
Ole Ritter breaks the hour record in 1968

Benotto Bicycles History And Timeline

Giacinto Benotto, a young Italian racer, aspired to build great bicycle frames. In 1931 he founded Bicicletas Benotto in Turin Italy, the year that Francesco Camusso won the gruelling 1931 Giro d’Italia.

Francesco Camusso wins the 1931 Giro d'Italia
Francesco Camusso wins the 1931 Giro d’Italia

“Typical of great cycling frame makers, Benotto grew out of the passion of racer Giacinto Benotto who was 24 years old in 1931 when he established the business in Turin.” Retrospective Cycles Amazingly, by 1951 Benotto bicycles had already competed in 3 world championships.

Giacintto and Lea Benotto
Giacinto and Lea Benotto with team

Another famous Italian frame builder Cino Cinelli also started first as a successful racer riding for Frejus (1938-39), Bianchi (1940-43) and Benotto in 1944.

In 1948 Giacinto Benotto had read of the newly discovered oil in Venezuela and thought it a good opportunity to bring cycling there. Eager to expand into emerging markets he took with him a shipment of 200 bicycles. At first he encountered opposition in Venezuela as he was told they “drive Cadillacs” not bicycles, but it wasn’t long before he began getting popular press excited about the Benotto Bicycles.

1948 Benotto Bicycle
1948 Benotto Bicycle

It seemed with each move Benotto’s success continued. In 1951 Antonio Belivacqua rode a Benotto to win the famous Paris-Roubaix.

Belivacqua solos to Roubaix, 1951 on his Benotto.
Antonio Belivacqua wins the 1951 Paris-Roubaix on his Benotto.

Felice Benotto, a family member, was engaged in the cycling scene in Venezuela and was able to get a team to Mexico by October 1950. By 1953 Benotto expanded operations into Mexico as they rapidly became Latin America’s most popular cycling brand. At this point Benotto split their operations between Italy and Latin America.

Giacinto BenottoThe Benotto brand continued to grow. Francesco Moser later won his World Championship in Cristobal Venezuela on a Benotto, in 1977. Then in 1978 Roger DeVlaeminck won Milan San Remo riding a Benotto in ’78. In that same year Moser went on to win the Paris-Roubaix.

francesco moser 1976

Benotto was now known as a serious bicycle among the cycling community and was being used by team riders everywhere. As was the case with heroic riders like Freddy Maertens who rode a Benotto in the 1980s SanGiacomo team and Moser who road a Benotto during the 1975 Tour de France.

Francesco Moser in 1975 Tour de France
Francesco Moser in 1975 Tour de France

The production of all high-end racing bicycles remained in Turin until 1983/84. Around this time Benotto made a decision to move both European and Latin American production of bicycles to Mexico.

By 1985 it is reported that all subsequent bicycles were manufactured in Mexico with the possible exception of the Modelo 5000. Steel Vintage

1984 is the last year of the historic “Italian Made” Benottos. Unfortunately some of the Benotto’s built in Mexico during this time suffered from the bottom brackets or head tubes cracking. This was due to inexperienced fabricators overheating the steel during the brazing process. The majority of Mexican Benotto frames on the road today were built well and others have reported that repairing the crack was a simple matter of rebrazing the cracked areas with bronze.

1984 Italian made Benotto Modello 850
1984 Italian made Benotto Modello 850

Some models like the Modelo 800 and 5000 were unaffected. Modelo 800 was made with Hi-Ten steel which can handle a little more heat and abuse while the Modelo 5000 was unaffected as it was still made in Italy during this period. Also, Benotto forks are outstanding forks. So if you do happen to own or come across a cracked Benotto that you don’t care to repair, salvage the forks.

At this same time Benotto was at the height of its success. For many of the cyclists from this era a Benotto is a representation of the heart of cycling in the 1970s and 80s. It represented a time of quality craftsmanship meeting beautiful design that enabled human’s to go beyond their natural capacity. In the words of Nigel Dalton, “To be accurate, they are beautiful things” and “a bike dear to [Rob] from the early 1980s in Europe.” (source)

BenoAdL

Benottos are famous for their racing geometry and quality of steel. Their bikes were designed for racing, with almost all models having the exact same geometry. The only difference between the frames was the type of metal used. This is a large reason for their popularity today as their frames are iconic of brilliant bicycle design and continue to be excellent frames for fixies and restorations.

26 Benotto brakes Benotto bicycle 5000 classic Benotto drillium

In 1981 the elite US Amateur team was sponsored by Bicicletas Benotto along with other leading Italian cycling brands: Gipiemme components, Ambrosio rims, Hutchinson tires ad IscaSella Saddles. (flandireacafe.com) The team issue Benotto bikes were a mix of diamond and oval shaped chainstays, a testimony to their tradition of handbuilt machinery.

Benotto’s influence in the world cycling scene could even be witnessed on the handlebars of competitor cyclists. Benotto Handlebar Tap was the the handle bar tape to have in the 1970s and 80s. It was light, strong and bold and dominated the landscape.

Benotto cello tape

US team rider Fast Eddy wrote on his personal blog that he didn’t know where his bike was built and it didn’t matter to him, all that mattered was they were riding the same frame as the bike featured in the opening sequence of the documentary “A Sunday in Hell” and the same frame that Moser won his World Championship in Cristobal Venezuela on, in 1977. They were riding a Benotto.

Fast Eddy
Fast Eddy

Yet by 1986 the glory days of Benotto were fast ending. Coincidently a change was taking place in the cycling scene as a whole. Many attribute 1983 as the last year of classic cycling. 1983/84 marked the beginning of clipless pedals, click shifting, the death of Tullio Campagnolo, a move away from brazing steel frames to welding, introduction of cycle computers, and along with it Benotto’s move to Mexico.

Braun Gregor Winning the 1983 German National Road Race on a Benotto
Braun Gregor Winning the 1983 German National Road Race on a Benotto

In the following years Benotto attempted to enter the Triathlon and 7-speed market with the Shimano 600ex, but it was too little too late having not resolved the bottom bracket cracking problem.

Today Benotto’s classic bicycles are a reflection on a different time. Classic cycling events like L’Eroica that are “born out of that love for cycling” are trying to bring back some of the magic from pre ’84 cycling. In many ways a classic Benotto embodies that pure heritage and passion for cycling and the drive to create the perfect man-powered machine.

Moser with Benotto

Worth reading:

http://www.flandriacafe.com/2011/11/benotto-dreams.html

Worth watching:

Good resources:

A growing list of Benotto Bicycles from 1931-1985

http://www.classicrendezvous.com/Italy/Benotto.htm
http://www.vintagevelo.co.uk/2014/07/26/benotto-modelo-800-dilettante/
http://www.mytenspeeds.com/My_TenSpeeds_1/FREE_SITE_VINTAGE/VINTAGE_4_Component_Clues.htm

Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard?

Kangchenjunga Himalayas

A few years ago I sat in an auditorium listening to David Graham tell the tale of how he, his son, and a family friend were the first Canadians to summit the peak of Pathangtse in the Nepalese Himalayas.

One of the stories he told has stuck with me to this day.

The mountains in the Himalayas are tall and the altitude at the base of them is high to start. The air is thinner, which means there is less oxygen to breath, making climbing there more challenging and physically exerting. As David Graham and his team were climbing their chosen route, it gradually became more technical and difficult. Until finally they reached a section of the climb that appeared beyond daunting, but overwhelming.

One of the Sherpas that was leading the expedition wore a smile everywhere he went. David described this man as enchanting. Whenever their route became harder he would encourage the others with a smile and say, “It’s easy.”

At this point in the route David looked at this man, expecting now he would admit that the challenge ahead was not easy but potentially deadly. Instead, he smiled at David and said calmly, “It’s easy, we’ll need to take it slower.”

David experienced an epiphany from this man. Life doesn’t have to be hard. It is really how we perceive it. This epiphany was clearly contagious because as he shared it I too experienced that moment of enlightenment.

I had recently launched a startup with my brother and friend Art. In the months and years that followed I had many opportunities to make this Sherpa’s approach to problem solving my approach. Often I was asked by the team if the task ahead would be difficult. I enjoyed responding that it was easy, it would just take time. It’s hard to know for certain, but it may very well have been the lessons learned from this talk that accounted for the amount of technical hurdles that we overcame in the first few years as a startup business.

David Graham and  Finbar O'Sullivan Mt. Pethangtse climb.

Fast forward 5 years. Surfing Youtube I stumbled upon a video entitled, “Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard?” by Jon Jandai.

This remarkable talk reminded me of the story I just told you. In the video Jon Jandai describes his life growing up in a poor village in northeastern Thailand. It wasn’t until they got TV that his village suddenly realized they were poor.

To overcome his newly discovered poverty he moved to Bangkok, to work hard and earn a living. However, after moving there and working hard everyday he had very little to show for it. His diet was terrible and he lived in a cramped accommodation. He decided that he needed to make an improvement so he attended university. But university was hard, “because it’s very boring.”

Jon explains that he had a realization at university, “We were taught to make life complicated and hard all the time … but we don’t know how to make it easy anymore.”

So he decided to simplify his life. He moved home and started growing rice instead. He grew 4 tons of rice and it took only 2 months of work. He didn’t need all the food so he sold the rest at the market. He made a pond and now has fish for food year round. He’s since gone on to build a beautiful home with his own hands and has no debt. His friend, one of the smartest people in university, just built a home as well. However, he is in debt for 30 years to pay it back. The way Jon looks at it is that he now has 29.5 more years of free time compared to his friend.

Jon has many profound insights in his talk, one of which probably deserves it’s own blog post, “The four basic needs: food, house, clothes and medicine must be cheap and easy for everybody. That is civilization. But if you make these four things hard for many people to get, that is uncivilized.”

The biggest takeaway from Jon Jandai’s talk is that life does not need to be as complicated as it’s made to be. Jon said, “Now when you look around everything is so hard to get. So I feel like now is the most uncivilized era of humans on this earth. We have so many educated people and our life is getting harder and harder.” I realized that what Jon was saying is true. It’s easy to become absorbed by the demands of life and lose sight of the ease of a simple one. As I looked away from the screen of my computer towards my yard and aging fence I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation.

David Graham learned from his Himalayan guide that a challenging climb can be an easy one. Jon Jandai’s outlook is much the same. A challenging life can be an easy one.

I leave you with this last statement of Jon Jandai, “Now I try to become normal, but people look at me like I’m abnormal. Crazy people. But I don’t care because it’s not my fault – it’s their fault, because they think like that. My life is easy and light now.”

How to replace the front sway bar bushings on a 1999 Nissan Pathfinder R50

If you are noticing a clunking sound coming from the front of your vehicle when going over uneven roads and speed bumps it’s likely that their is play in your sway bar. If your front bushings are worn then your sway bar will move when your wheels go up and down. Resulting in a clanking sound.

Nissan Pathfinder Sway Bar and BushingIt’s really easy to replace your bushings. It’s essentially the same procedure for all vehicles.

Here are the steps to replace your front sway bar (stabilizer bar) bushings

1. Check if there is play in your sway bar. I had Shawna jump up and down on the sidestep of our truck while I checked the sway bar underneath. Sure enough, the sway bars were loose and clunking.

2. You will need:

Replacement bushings. These usually go for around $20-$30 for the pair. You can find them online for less. They are called Suspension Stabilizer Bar Bushing Kit.Nissan Pathfinder r50 replacement sway bar bushings

14mm socket and ratchet

Socket extension

A rag

The nice thing about the Pathfinder is that it’s got good clearance. You won’t need to use a jack for this. (As you can see in the example photo Shawna took)working under the Nissan Pathfinder

3. Remove your skid plate or skid bars so that you can get at the bolts on the stabilizer brackets holding the bushings. (If you don’t have skid plate skip this step).

There are 4 bolts holding your skid plate in place. Remove them all.

Removing skid plate

4. There are 4 bolts holding each of the front stabilizer brackets

Remove them all.

example

5. Once the brackets are removed, your bar will swing freely. Remove the bushings. They have a slit on one side making them easy to slip off.

worn sway bar bushing

You can see the just how much the old bushings have worn when compared to the new one.

worn sway bar bushing compared to new bushing

6. Clean the area on the sway bar where your bushings sit with a rag.

7. Replace the bushings.

8. Bolt the stablizer brackets back in place.

9. Reattach the skid plate with the 4 bolts.

10. Go for a drive and enjoy your solid front sway bar.

This is a great DIY project. Will save you a few bucks doing it yourself and shouldn’t take more than an hour or two. Best of luck

1999 Nissan Pathfinder r50

 

How to change your life without changing anything, the scientific way

adding the outdoors to your life

Every year I look forward to the winter snowfall, the reason is that I love to ski, but that all changed about 8 years ago. My friend was teaching me how to ride a dirt bike. A passion of his. Sadly I shattered my knee.

The bike was a two stroke and my friend was riding ahead of me. I was going up a hill when the belt caught, the front wheel lifted and my knee was driven into a rock as I lost control.

For the next two seasons I sat on the sidelines as my leg healed. Losing the ability to ski, bike, run, walk… taught me how much I took for granted. Fortunately my knee did heal but the lesson has remained.

adventure quote

Recently I learned a second lesson. A friend of my wife and I was sharing how every morning and evening she says 5 things that she’s thankful for. What a great idea! So for the last 3 weeks or so I’ve been doing this as well. In the next bit I will share what I’ve learned.

Before we get into that, Robert A. Emmons published a fascinating study on sleep and gratitude in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. People were asked to keep a gratitude journal everyday for 2 weeks. The subjects were able to fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and feel more refreshed in the morning.

I didn’t know about this study when starting this, but I’ve experienced a similar effect. I’ve also noticed that I have more energy after work.

At first it felt kind of weird saying 5 things I was thankful for. In fact it felt so weird that I had to force myself to do it at first.

Today I heard a guy talking about the fact that so often we look to people that we aspire to be like and we spend our time focusing on that, rather than looking at our own lives and realizing that there are some people who would love to be like us.

Not only can I relate to that statement, but it’s the very thing I’ve been thinking about. As I’ve continued saying things that I am thankful for I’ve noticed that my appreciation for the things in my life has increased. I like driving my car more … I’m amazed that I get to live where I do … you get the point.

But not only that, the other day I saw a reflection of my wife and I driving and a thought popped into my brain, “I want to be like those people”. Again it’s a weird thought, it’s strange even to write about it. But really how cool is that! To want to be like you are.

We live on this amazing planet. Everyday is a gift. So I want to leave you with this thought. There are people around the world who want to be just like you. Who want to live where you live and hangout with people like yourself. By saying 5 things you are thankful for everyday you can live a better, more fulfilled life, and you don’t need to shatter your knee to do it.

What does the symbol “&” “&&” “||” “::” “%” “!!” “**” mean in PHP?

This is the best guide on PHP symbols I’ve every seen. If only something like this existed when I was first learning to code.

Reference:

& =& &= && % !! @ ?: : :: \ -> => ^ >> <<< = == === !== != <> | || ~ + += ++ .= . , $$ ` <?= [] ... **

A list of every symbol in PHP that you’ve ever wanted to know the meaning of.

::

The “::” symbol (Scope Resolution Operator) explained

Is a good life and a successful one compatible?

hiking Crawford Falls photo credit machiine.com

Have you noticed all this focus on the perfect habits of successful people as if the cause for their success can be summed up as a daily 8 hr sleep, 30 min exercise, and 30 min reflection time? But it’s not real.

New Years Eve, Christmas Day, birthdays… we’re pretty good at celebrating important occasions. In between these holidays our days can often be forgotten as the pace of life demands our time for work, errands, exercise, etc.

As a person I’ve gotten pretty good at forgoing fun to reach a goal. Often knowing that a holiday is coming is all I need to keep the sacrifice going.

When a goal is achieved it’s rewarding. It makes the sacrifice worthwhile. Inspirational speakers talk about the impact people can make if they choose growth over comfort and work over fun.

It’s hard not to praise people like Steve Jobs, who epitomized what it looks like to die for your company and dreams. At his end he remarked that it may have been the strain of working as the CEOs of both Pixar and Apple that brought about his cancer.

When you achieve your goals or hit the jackpot it’s easy to look back at that sacrifice and feel it was worth it. Yet, what if the road is longer than you anticipated and you’ve fallen short of your quarterly goals. Even though you are made of the stuff of champions – character and perseverance – the years go by and the goal remains aloof.

Is the sacrifice worth it if the reward is the end?

Sacrificing fun over work makes for a purpose-driven life, but not a good one.

Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying that, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life less than the one you are capable of living.”

I see two important parts to what he said. Firstly, passion is found when you live up to your potential. And secondly, you are capable of living a larger life.

It’s easy for personalities like my own to miss the nuance of his point. Because I’m oriented towards action, when I read Mandela’s words I know them to be true and am motivated to work even harder.

But working harder isn’t living larger. It isn’t really living at all. It’s might even be playing small.

I’ve heard it said that we get to choose our habits and our habits choose our future. I agree with that. I’ve also learned from others that there is a difference between good trade-offs and bad ones.

Living a life that you are capable of requires trade-offs. Each person is unique and their trade-offs will be different. Perhaps it means giving up security for an opportunity. Or giving up the 80 hour work week for time to invest in your family.

As 2014 has come to a close here’s what I’ve learned and will be taking with me in 2015. Good luck this year as you pursue the large life that you are capable of living.

  • To attract people to your cause you need a mission and a vision that’s easy to articulate.
  • Find fulfilment in your vision because it will become real.
  • Focusing your attention on growth and development rather than on goals makes the journey worthwhile.
  • It’s hard to control outcomes but it’s easy to control activities.
  • Measuring activities make outcomes more predictable
  • People are motivated and/or held back by fear, security, and fun.
  • Make fun an intentional part of your day.
  • Celebrate everything.
  • Working smarter is better than working harder, combining the two will get you further than either.
  • Working with others who also understand this will multiply everyones efforts.
  • If you are motivated you will be more likely to continue.
  • If you continue you will be more likely to reach your goals.
  • If your attention is on growth you will have achieved success on the entire journey.

All of us have bad luck and good luck. The man who persists through the bad luck – who keeps right on going – is the man who is there when the good luck comes – and is ready to receive it.
Robert Collier

  • Successful people attract success.
  • Life’s a long journey – make time for fun. It’s not a trade worth making.

There is no passion to be found playing small - Nelson Mandela

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Nelson Mandela

The beauty of imperfect

Deer in the forest

What do Christmas, responsive css design, National Geographic and a walk in the forest have in common?

The internet turns 25 and people are connecting via their PCs, tablets, phones, game stations, e-readers, … (you name it). The world of devices has changed. Yet, it feels like only yesterday that I met my first client curious about designing for mobile.

In those days research revolved around Nokia phones (as they were the most advanced at the time) and good ol’ flip phones.

So it felt odd when I realized that the internet was turning 25 years old and this blog wasn’t mobile friendly. Not to worry, Christmas was coming, and if there is one thing I love – it’s a good project. Converting a website to a responsive design is easy… child’s play really.

Maybe that’s how all great miss-adventures start. Pack light, plan for a day trip and then get lost.

Starting with the Mobile First Approach, I created a responsive WordPress theme. This is a really simple approach, simply put, you design the website for the smallest screen sizes first. When you are happy, expand the screen, and use media queries for the larger sizes.

Why’s this a good approach? Well, it reserves media queries for devices that are built to handle them (tablets and PCs). Secondly, the bloated design code that often comes when designing for larger screen sizes extends the clean css in the media queries. This is much better than the Web First Approach. Where the same css code is often written multiple times in order to remove style attributes for smaller screen sizes. As it so often happens.

And so the redesign began.

Off to a great start, the newly minted theme completed, a mistake followed. I asked my wife what she thought of it. Her reply came as a shock, “A bit boring” she said frankly.

I’ve always believed that honest feedback makes for a much better design.

So I took a step back and tried to rethink my approach. Maybe it could be better.

1 week later, 5 major redesigns, and nothing to show for it. I couldn’t believe how tough the redesign had become. Nothing seemed right about it.

Yesterday it started snowing. The mountains looked beautiful. Crisp and clean. And I decided to go for a walk.

Deer jumping in the forest

There’s something magical about nature. Nothings perfect and it couldn’t be made more perfectly.

Spend enough time there and it will reduce even the toughest problems to simple solutions.

I came across this deer while walking through the woods. It was painfully aware of my presence. Beautiful and graceful the quiet forest became alive as it leapt into the distance.

As it disappeared so too did my thoughts.

It seems that we love asking kids the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s possible you were asked this question too. So I’m going to ask you it again.

What do you want to be?

Take a second to think about it. Are you on your way to achieving it? Are you already doing what you love? Maybe you haven’t asked yourself this before.

For me, I love capturing moments. Growing up I wanted to work for National Geographic. I didn’t tell people this because it seemed too much of a dream. Instead I would say a doctor or a scientist. This seemed to please people and I came to believe that this was the answer they wanted to hear anyways.

 There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion Edgar Allan Poe

Photographers from National Geographic seemed to have mastered documenting imperfect moments.

National Geographic I didn’t notice it at the time, but when I look at one of their articles today it seems that they have given up on the idea of perfect and have captured something far richer instead. A story.

This brings me back to web design. By the time I returned home I was full of energy and a new direction. I embraced imperfect, threw out my code, and found a theme called Independent Publisher that was good enough.

In no time at all I had updated my blog and started writing instead. Sometimes running after the holy grail of web design – perfect code and a perfect design – leaves a person with a missed opportunity.

While walking in the woods I saw the analogy to life. At least to my own.