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Giro d'Italia champ offers maglia rosa to whoever reunites him with first ride...

Giro d’Italia champion Ivan Basso may get to ride some top-of-the-range Cannondale frames as part of his day job, but in an echo of the fictional newspaper magnate Citizen Kane’s deathbed wish for his childhood sledge, the bike the Italian cyclist wants more than any other is the one he made his first faltering pedal strokes on when he was just four years of age.

Now, the Liquigas-Doimo rider, who has targeted victory in next July’s Tour de France as his main goal for 2011, has launched a public appeal to get that very first bicycle back and complete the collection of all the bikes he has ridden, currently taking up much of the space in his garage.

La Provincia di Varese, the local newspaper for the town on the shores of Lake Maggiore where Basso was born and still lives today, and which hosted the 2008 UCI World Championships where his compatriot Alessandro Ballan won the rainbow jersey, reports that Basso is offering a maglia rosa from this year’s Giro d’Italia for anyone helping reunite him with the bike to complete his collection.

“I’m missing my very first bike,” explains Basso. “The one which my Dad brought home one evening when I was four years old, making me the happiest kid in the world; the one that I used for my first training rides which at the time was just playing, which I used for my first races with the team from the Oratorio di Cassano Magnago.

“I’ve managed to recover all the other bikes, but I haven’t managed to find this one,” he continues. “I remember it as if it were in front of me right now; small, blue, made by Asperge.”

“It’s all I think about,” he adds, saying “it has an enormous sentimental value for me, because that little bicycle is linked to my first memories as a racer.”

The 32-year-old confesses that he has no idea where the bicycle may have ended up. “I don’t know,” he admits. “The only thing that I’ve managed to ascertain is that a few years ago my mother gave it to someone who had asked her for it to give as a present to their son. So it must have been someone close to my family – a relative, a friend, a close acquaintance.”

He continues: “It’s true that years have gone by, and I’m perfectly aware that there exists the possibility that the bicycle may have already been thrown onto some rubbish tip and is now untraceable. But I have the feeling that it’s still out there somewhere; maybe abandoned in an attic or a cellar, covered in dust and unusable. I’d like to try and find it.”

La Provincia di Varese is helping Basso in his appeal, with the cyclist saying, “if whoever is in possession of the bike is reading these words, please make yourself known. In exchange, I’m offering a maglia rosa from the last Giro d’Italia, together with a very special dedication. The condition the bicycle is in doesn’t matter to me, I’ll take care of that and make it good as new. Whoever has my old Asperge, or can help me find out what happened to it, please contact me.”

We’re not sure how extensive road.cc’s user base is in the Italian lakes, but stranger things have happened, so we’re happy to repeat Basso’s appeal and ask anyone with information to call La Provincia di Varese on 0039 347 8222360, or email them at sportvarese [at] laprovincia.it.

In the meantime, this seems like a good opportunity to ask what happened to your first bike? Do you still have it, did it end up on a skip, or did it suffer some mysterious fate? 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

19 comments

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Simon_MacMichael [2497 posts] 6 years ago
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I'll set the ball rolling on this one - my first bike, a Raleigh Tomahawk, disappeared when I left it unlocked outside a friend's house for a couple of minutes.

That led to an interesting afternoon of my late mum dragging me by the ear round the local gypsy site (I know... stereotypes and all that, I blame my parents' generation) and to the doors of various local ne'er-do-wells, all to no avail  20

Nowadays when I'm on a ride, I get nervous if my bike's out of my sight for a few seconds, even if it's safely locked outside a shop I've just popped into.

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dave atkinson [6307 posts] 6 years ago
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I had a peugeot five speed racer. can't remember the model but i do recall it was made from 'Carbolite 103' tubing. wrecked the back wheel doing skids down the rec...

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demoff [327 posts] 6 years ago
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No idea of Brand but it was a deep red with white tyres and a white saddle. It was the one I learnt to ride without stabilisers.

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gvda [3 posts] 6 years ago
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I have it, and he can't have it back.

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gvda [3 posts] 6 years ago
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By the way: in January I posted a story on one of his other first bikes, in this case a red Benati (it's in Dutch but you can use Google Translate to get the hang of it or just look at the pictures of Ivan, the bike and his little son Santiago):

http://italiaanseracefietsen.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/bassos-eerste-race...

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Tony Farrelly [2897 posts] 6 years ago
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My first bike was more of a toy than a bike, but I still loved it - a Triang with a plastic Lambretta shell over the top (murder to get the chain back on) that I got for Christmas in 1965. I've still got a picture of me belting (well, relatively) along Central Road on Wanstead Flats on Christmas Day. Looking every inch the proper mod… stick that in yer pipe Wiggo.

Next bike was a Raleigh with 20in wheels and a coaster back brake an absolutely superb skidding machine bought from a real old school bike shop in Katherine Rd, East Ham.

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WolfieSmith [1381 posts] 6 years ago
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That's nice for you Tony. I had my sisters old bike: red with white tyres. I took the tartan basket off the back and the pennant off the front but it didn't fool any of my mates who were on their siblings cast off Tomahawks and choppers. It probably explains my pathetic attempts to heal the mental scars by buying Condor after Condor.

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simonmb [491 posts] 6 years ago
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Purple Raleigh Hustler with 3-speed Sturmey Archer. Mid-70s. May not sound like much of a bike, but to a ten-year old boy it was the dog's wotsits. I used to ride round pretending to be Barry Sheene. Hadn't heard of the Tour de France by that age. As I rode it I watched it progressively rust away over three winters of salted roads in Lincolnshire. I loved that bike.

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paslemeilleur [66 posts] 6 years ago
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A purple Puch Mini Sprint: curly frame, single speed, mudguards and rack, white wall tyres. How I loved that bike!

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Simon_MacMichael [2497 posts] 6 years ago
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The white wall tyres seem to have been quite popular, while Raleigh gets a lot of (first) love.

Get Dave though, all proper Continental with his Peugeot  3

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Tony Farrelly [2897 posts] 6 years ago
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A Raleigh Hustler was my third bike, mine was metallic green and gold - what a great bike, I wasn't kink to it though, at various points the drops came off and I fitted mighty cowhorn handlebars and a red Chopper-style seat… that was a look. It was the mid-70s is my only excuse bad things happened.

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Shaun Audane [137 posts] 6 years ago
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Mine was a Raleigh Elf back in 1976. Metallic blue with solid tyres, rod brakes and rubber pedals...Alas I had yet to discover Waxoyl  2

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jova54 [676 posts] 6 years ago
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My first bike was my Mum's old HC Strudwick tourer. She'd belonged to a local cycle club in the early 50's where she met my Dad and they went all over the place. It was a proper mens frame made of reynolds 531(?).
I stripped it completely and had it sprayed metallic purple, well it was 1973, and fitted with Weinmann components. Last seen in West Germany in 1978, I had to give it away to a mate as I couldn't get it in my car to bring it back to the UK when I was posted to Catterick.  2

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OldRidgeback [2786 posts] 6 years ago
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Had a green bike of ancient vintage with dodgy rod operated brakes that was passed on to me from my elder sister and my brother before her. I didn't much like it at the time and saw it as a stepping stone to a 'proper' bike but I assume it'd be worth something now amongst collectors of all things old and vintage. It did have a leather saddle. My fondest memories of it are of hacking round my parents' back garden pretending I was on a motorcross bike.

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timbola [248 posts] 6 years ago
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My first bike was actually a trike. My dad used to take me out on it in Portsmouth to see Hugh Porter ride the track. I was 3-ish and can only remember it being black and white like our telly !

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awkward [64 posts] 6 years ago
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My first bike was a Raleigh Gresham Flyer from J.E. James in Sheffield. I remember not being allowed stabilisers and mastering it in an afternoon.

My next bike was a Viking Warlord. 5 gears, drop handlebars, shorty mudguards and a downtube shifter. It was my pride and joy and I rode it absolutely everywhere, including some 30-40 mile jaunts into the Peak District with my mates (not bad at 12 years of age!)

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cat1commuter [1422 posts] 6 years ago
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My first bike was a single speed (ooh, how trendy!) with solid rubber tyres and a front brake only. I could belt along the pavement, jam on the brake, and the rear wheel would lift excitingly into the air.

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Grizzerly [365 posts] 6 years ago
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Why would Ivan Basso want my first bike?  39

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Low Speed Wobble [156 posts] 5 years ago
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My first bike was actually my sister's old bike. I must have been 8 or 9. My dad got it stripped, resprayed, new saddle, cool handlebars. It was very kind of him to go to so much effort. But I still knew, deep in my heart, that it was a girls bike. I think my friends knew that too  2