I love old cycling jerseys. If I have any regrets in life, it is that I have not purchased more jerseys during my travels. I have bought too few but I now plan to buy one, or more, on each of my upcoming trips. Each time I pull one on it is like a bicycle trip down memory lane.
I bought this Mapei cycling jersey some sixteen years ago when I purchased a Mapei team replica Colnago Master Ti bicycle. I sold the bicycle last year but I still have the jersey. The team was home to the best Belgian and Italian classic specialists of the 1990s such as Johan Museeuw, Michele Bartoli, Andrea Tafi, and Franco Ballerini. The team won Paris–Roubaix five times. Three times they even won the top three places. In the 1996 race, the sprint for the line was decided 15 km from the finish. Directeur Sportif Patrick Lefevere, called Giorgio Squinzi, the owner of Mapei, who said that Museeuw was to win the race. Considerable controversy followed that call as news of how the race was decided leaked out.
I bought this ONCE jersey because I liked how innovative the team was and the fact that they switched from their traditional yellow jersey to this pink jersey for the Tour de France. The team suffered a series of doping scandals as it evolved into the current Kazakhstan-based Astana Team which has also had a few doping scandals. Still, I love the jersey.
Italy is one of my favorite places to ride and I have probably cycled there more than any other place outside the US. The folks at the Hotel Baltic were just incredible. Each time I wear the jersey I have warm memories of riding with a group of students and friends who traveled to Italy with me in 2007.
Alla and I returned to Italy in 2013 so I could ride the Gran Fondo Nove Colli. It is a huge event that travels over many of the roads and hills that the young Marco Pantani trained on as he grew up in Cesenatico. We arrived a week early to adjust to the time difference and so I could ride the course. On the morning of the Gran Fondo, it was 50 and rainy. The hotel owners and my wife convinced me not to ride. As the hotel owner explained, given my start position, I would be behind 7,000 riders at the first climb and the ride would stop as several thousand walked up the climb. As I moved ahead, I would have to descend 9 climbs with at least several hundred riders who lacked the experience to ride those hills in the rain. They convinced me. I still have a nice wind vest and memories of a week of riding in Italy.
The SpiceRoads jersey is great memory of riding in Thailand. I have posted on that trip a few times and I am looking forward to more rides, and more jerseys, with SpiceRoads in Thailand and Vietnam later this year.
In two weeks I am going to Hawaii. During my last trip, I hesitated at buying a Hawaii jersey. This time I am definitely going to buy one. What better way to remember the Islands than a floral jersey.