Our visit to cover the Tour de France had us stumbling across the prehistoric caves of the Pyrenees, Roman aqueducts of Provence, and the Vauban fortresses that protected Briancon’s eastern pass leading to Italy. All beautiful and worthy of note, however it would be disrespectful if we did not pay homage to a little Tenspeed Hero history at the same time. Crumbling and forlorn yet not forgotten are Tenspeed Hero’s original headquarters, hidden on a mountain somewhere in the Italian Alps.
Those readers familiar with their Hero history know this humble journal started with a blog called tenspeedhero.blogspot.com. Of course as beginnings go there are many along the road of life, and for the Tenspeed Heroes, our history goes back to our grandfather’s grandfathers and so on. At the top was Faustino Bonaminio who ran a two-page newspaper called Il Peccato, “The Sin” in English. It may not be as old as our Milanese brother’s paper, La Gazetta Dello Sport (publishing since 1896, which means they covered the first Olympic games), but Il Peccato started covering local events including cycling in 1902. Il Peccato covered all things under the sun and moon, be it a hog’s birth, or Giovanni Valetti’s 1938 victory in the Giro d’Italia. Sadly, the paper never got beyond two folded pages and stopped publishing in 1939, but it was a daily in its own right.
The newspaper’s name is curious, and why such a damning name you ask? According to our father, Il Peccato meant exactly what it means, The Sin, but not a sin against divine law, but rather a reference to a life where virtue and labor fail against a breeze that rustles no leaves or a shadow where there is no sun; a riddle of course, but one that will take on meaning the more one reads it.
1939 was a bad year for Europe and Il Peccato’s philosophical copy and cycling news did not fare well in the war year’s climate of privation and misery. Today, the building where Il Peccato was printed has the appearance of a rock pile from a distance. We asked our Dad when it had fallen apart and was left for nothing. He did not answer and we did not ask again. So lets say in the year 2011, Tenspeed Hero, the online cycling journal, owes its existence in part to a journal that closed its doors in 1939. 72 years later it is still in our blood.
At one time this building housed a Heidelberg offset printer, an Angelo Moriondo espresso machine, hundreds of sharp pencils and a pencil sharpener (Faustino was obsessive when it came to pencils), and a single bed on the east side for naps. Legend says Faustino always kept a cat. Every time a cat passed away he would find a new one and give it the same name, Marmalade.
Upon our departure we made a small cairn from the stones of the original building as a memorial to Faustino and the future of Tenspeed Hero.