21: For Ronette

Each year the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame (MBHOF) in Crested Butte Colorado has an induction ceremony, voting in a few new inductees. Usually it's held in Las Vegas during the Interbike trade show, but back in 1999 it took a detour across the big pond to Finale Ligue, Italy (on the fabulous Italian Riviera) for a brief stay there. A good part of the collection was frieghted over to Italy to be on display. It was a spectacular setting that our Italian hosts had arranged for us, and a good number of prior inductees were in attendence, including Scot who was inducted in 1990 (he's the one with the Ibis shirt on, duh).

Standing on the upper right are Frishy (Thomas Frischknecht) and Hansy (Hans Rey), and behind Hans' cheek you can just see the down tube of a nice Ibis BowTi. There's a SilkTi on the upper left too (the Ibis distributor organized the event so we were very well represented). The unhappy and confused looking older gents on the upper left are members of the Velo Cross Club Parisien who were also voted in that year. Zap (Zapata Espinosa), with the knit hat is probably holing Paola Pezzo's trophy. Left to right, sitting, there's HB, Joe Breeze, Don Cook, Jacquie Phelan, Zap, Kay Peterson-Cook, Tom Ritchey's mustache and Tom Ritchey. Steve Potts is the one kneeling (probably praying that Scot's elbow doesn't come flying backward all of a sudden).

The Hall of Fame was in a gorgeous old building that had a museum like feel to it. The displays lasted over there for a few months before the returned to their ancestral homeland.

The group got to spend a few days there and go for some nice rides, and take some vacation after that since we were in Italy already. We even had a nice dinner after the big ceremony, with lots of fine Italian food and good cheer.

Ibis distributor Enrico Guala (4Guimp) is on the left there, with Hans Rey pouring something and Jeff Wemmer diabolically smiling.


On the left is Don Cook, who runs the Hall of Fame with his wife Kay. The lovely, always-smiling person on the right is Ronette Espinsosa, Zap's wife. You might have noticed we titled this entry For Ronette and might have even wondered why.

We're very sorry to report that Ronette passed away at home last month (May 2011) after a nasty battle with cancer. She fought hard to the end, and Zap was there by her side along with their daughter Xakota. He kept his friends informed about her condition and was supporting Ronette right up to the end. If you're friends with Zap or Ronette, we have information on a service he's having for her on June 25th in Los Angeles. You can write to askchuck at ibis cycles if you want more info. There's a memorial ride for Ronette as well, on November 3rd. Info on that ride can be found here.

On a happier note, on the same trip we were able to enjoy some nice times with Zap the night before the World Road Championships in Verona Italy. By the way, Zap edits Road Bike Action magazine.

Zap was never much of a wine connoisseur, but on this night it was hard not to be. The wine list was rated as one of the best in the world by the Wine Spectacle magazine. The list was around 35 pages long, and as you might be able to tell, we had dinner in the cellar. It was a special time with a bunch of good industry people. The restaurant was 500 years old and had been through 4 owners (families) during that whole period. The current owner came down, and had a nice chat with us. Our waiter for the night was his son in law. Expecting a lovely story of romance worthy of the Verona opera (100 meters away from the restaurant), we asked his son in law how he met his wife, and he told us "on the internet". Talk about bursting a bubble! This was 1999, when all phones were dumb and internet dating was barely started!

This dinner was before there was such a thing as the Euro, and we were still buying things in Lira in Italy. The total bill came to something like 300,000 Lire, or maybe it was 3,000,000. In any case it was the most number of zeros any of us had ever seen attached to a restaurant bill. We sat down at 8 PM and left the restaurant at 1 AM. Never saw the menu and the wine list was only brought out at the end of the meal when we asked for it.

The following day Oscar Freire, then a total unknown burst on the scene to win the worlds for his first time. The story that appeared in cyclingnews.com was written by Tim Maloney, who is pictured on the left in the shot above, and to whom we owe a gratitude of thanks for finding this great restaurant. That's Steve Swartendruber in there too, our man in Patagonia, and Sheryl Chapman.

Corporate life

Since we're ostensibly still writing about magazines and junkets, we do have to mention that sometimes we'd go visit the magazines and bring them the new goodies to test, rather than take them on a junket or meet them in Borneo or Idaho. After all, you can tell a lot about the corporate culture of a magazine and the team that runs them by taking a visit to their offices. Many of them are cubicle style business affairs, with not a lot of soul flowing out of the workspace.

When Zap was running Mountain Bike magazine down in Burbank, we paid several visits and can report that this was not a cubicle style corporate affair. Here for your viewing pleasure and presented without comment (except that we love it) is proof.

Sorry Greg!

Here's one also from Zap's office, that's NSFW, courtesy of Jeff Holt.

Thanks for the most excellent office decor, Zap. Hang in there, buddy, our thoughts are with you.

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