Eyes on the road — take a shot

We know what the deal is once you saddle your bike and hit the road. The drivers, they don’t like you. Not all, but a lot of them don’t. They honk, they yell. Sometimes, a bonehead might even chuck a can of Coke at you. Or a beer bottle. Riding a bike in Australia is never boring.

And then some kind of a cycling Harry Potter waves a magic wand in January and transforms Adelaide into Copenhagen except the Australian version is warmer by thirty degrees and most bikes you see on the streets are racing bikes. No one honks and no one yells at you. We reign supreme on Adelaide’s roads for a week because we swapped the boring and the loud Formula One Grand Prix for the fiery Tour Down Under. Fiery to a point where you can fry eggs and bacon for lunch on the bonnet of a race-provided Subaru if you feel like having a snack.

It’s a bit of a cycling paradise in Adelaide every January. Which is why Frank and Nikolai packed up their bikes and flew to the Twenty Minute City to breathe in some of that honk-free air. It’s one reason. The second one was the Fondriest Owners Club of Australia bike ride organized by Claud and Roxanne from the Mega Bike shop.

The bike shop rides. We’ve all done them. Some of them you go once to check out and never come back. Others, you like them so much you become a regular. Something about them that makes you want to ride again and again with the same bunch of people and then some. What it is exactly is hard to tell. It’s personal. Something that binds people together and they want to hang around with you and you with them and you go for coffee after the ride and talk, laugh, and drink more coffee.

That FOCA ride in Adelaide, it ended with pizzas, beer, and some choice wine bought by someone who knows wine.

Well-deserved pizza and drinks

It’s also the brand. All marketing bs aside, people bond closer, something in the relationship clicks when they get together to ride their Harleys or drive their Mustangs. Fondriest, it falls right into that slot of a brand that can bring people closer together. Complete strangers. It’s got that quality and the appeal. Small company. Polished, refined products. Rich cycling culture going back to the beginning of the sport. No bragging. No pompous advertising. Get your ass on our bike and see for yourself what we’re talking about. That kind of a brand.

You hear stories on these rides. All kinds of stories. About kids and families, about work, camping, overseas travel. You hear about snowfalls at the top of Passo di Gavia in June and you start talking about Andy Hampsten and Giro d’Italia.

You meet a guy, Nigel, and he tells you he came down to Adelaide all the way from Mildura two years ago to buy a bike. A Fondriest? No, he says, just a good road bike. He goes around Adelaide shopping for a bike and can’t make up his mind. The bikes, they all look the same to him. And then he walks into the Mega Bike and buys a TF2. Why? Because Claud told him to. His words, that’s how he put it. Claud told me to.

As they say, it takes two to tango. It takes one, the seller, to know and believe in the product, and it takes two, the buyer, to trust the seller that he or she isn’t pushing some bull on the customer.

Nigel, he doesn’t mind a four-hour drive to Adelaide to hang around with other Fondriest riders. He bought a good bike. People who sold it to him have a smile and a handshake for him every time he pops in. He’s welcome to hang around sale or no sale and he likes that. He likes to belong. He said, look at us, same jerseys, same name on our bikes. Don’t we look pro?

And we laughed.

The FOCAs ready to hit the road

We had to pay Frank 1,000 Italian lira to ride a bike that early in the season (he still thinks January is winter)

They said work for two slices of pizza