1,000 True Fans

This is an edited, updated version of an essay I wrote in 2008 when this now popular idea was embryonic and ragged. I rewrote it to convey the core ideas, minus out-of-date details, that I believe will be useful to anyone making things, or making things happen. If you still want to read the much longer original essay it will follow below this edited version. — KK

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An Italy divided

Two cyclists on opposite sides of the moral compass fought a politically-charged duel that lasted a decade

By Susannah Osborne

The rivalry between Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi reveals the tensions in Italy between the wars. The two cyclists could not have been more different – their riding styles, their moral conduct, their motivations and their physical appearance. Bartali was a heavy-set, strong man with the look of a boxer. Stork-like Coppi was lean, wiry and could break away and never get caught.


Bartali was a Catholic, born in Tuscany and worshipped by working-class Italians. Signed in 1936 to the Italian Legnano team as a successor to Alfredo Binda he won the Giro d’Italia three times, the Tour de France twice (10 years apart) and seven one-day Monuments. After his Tour de France win in 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, Mussolini proclaimed him as living proof that Italy was a master race. The Vatican’s favourite sportsman, ‘Gino the Pious’ was blessed by three different popes.

Coppi was not concerned with religion. He was worldly, outward-looking and non-conformist. Some claim he was the bridge between the romantic days of pre-war cycling and the science-based sport of today; he was known to experiment with his training and his diet. Feted as one of the best riders of all time he won the Giro d’Italia five times, a record held jointly with Binda and Eddy Merckx, and the Tour de France twice in three attempts. When it came to the the Classics Coppi won the Giro di Lombardia a record five times, Milan-San Remo three times, Paris-Roubaix and the Flèche Wallonne; in 1953 he claimed the world championship. Raphaël Géminiani once said of Coppi: “He rode like a Martian on a bike.”

From their first encounter in 1940 until 1949 the cycling careers of Gino and Fausto were intricately intertwined. Coppi was introduced to Bartali as a domestique for the 1940 Giro. But the pair quickly locked horns after Bartali collided with a dog, allowing Coppi to set his sights on the podium. When Coppi attacked on the Abetone Pass an angry Bartali ordered his team-mates to chase him down. Bartali was brought into line by the team manager and Coppi won. It was a result that incensed Bartali.

When racing resumed after the Second World War so did their rivalry. Bartali beat Coppi in the 1946 Giro but it was Coppi who was victorious a year later. The animosity between the riders reached fever pitch at the 1948 World Championships in Valkenburg when the two men focussed solely on beating each other, forgetting they were riding for Italy. Once they had established that neither of them would win they both withdrew from the race. Booed by the Dutch fans and castigated by the Italian media the pair received a two-month ban.

Bartali was convinced Coppi was taking drugs and he sneaked into his rival’s hotel rooms to extract evidence from the bins. Yet surprisingly, at the 1949 Tour, when tensions between the two were at their height, a ceasefire was declared. Misfortune struck Coppi early on in the race as crashes and mechanical problems lost him valuable time. A broken bike in stage five worsened his position and to make matters worse Binda, Italy’s coach, and the team car were shadowing Bartali. Coppi was furious.

Convinced that he should carry on and still had a chance Coppi regained his verve in the mountains. Stage 16, from Cannes to Briançon, featured the ascents of the Col d’Allos, Col de Vars, and Col d’Izoard. In 1938 and 1948 Bartali had proved his dominance on these climbs and, as before, he broke away. Coppi followed but as they tackled the Izoard Coppi punctured. Bartali waited. Nearer the summit Bartali punctured and Coppi waited. They rode together into Briançon, having gained 20 minutes on the race leader Fiorenzo Magni. Coppi eventually won the race and Bartali finished second.

Coppi died of malaria aged 40, his later years overshadowed by the scandal of an extra-marital affair. Bartali died of a heart attack at 85; it was later revealed that he played a significant part in aiding the passage of Jews to safety during the Second World War. In life and death these two men couldn’t be more different.

*Rapha read William Fotheringham’s ‘Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi’, Aili McConnon and Andres McConnon’s ‘Road to Valour: Gino Bartali – Tour de France Legend and World War II Hero’ and Peter Cossins’ ‘The Monuments’ while researching this article.

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Vive le tour!

Vive le tour! é um documentário sobre o Tour de France de 1962 feito por Louis Malle. Segue o que o Wikipedia diz sobre ele:

“Vive le Tour is a 1962 French documentary by filmmaker Louis Malle.[1] It chronicles the Tour de France and focuses on issues such as providing food for the racers, dealing with injuries and doping. The New York Times describes the film as containing “ebullience, whimsy, jet black humor, awe and unspeakable tragedy” and as “a worshipful documentary of a sport made by a man who knew it intimately and loved it.”[2] Vive le Tour won the Dok Leipzig Golden Dove award in 1966.[1]

Jean Bobet, a cyclist himself and brother of the great Louison Bobet, is the voice-over in this documentary.

The 18 minute film is available on DVD from the Criterion Collection as part of their Eclipse series.”

Vive le tour! from Bear Thunder on Vimeo.

Follow the link for an English transcript made by Greg Bocquet on the video’s Wikipedia page.


Neo-Liberalism and its Prospects by Milton Friedman

In his magnificent book, Law and Public Opinion, A. V. Dicey distinguished between the trend of legislation on the one hand and the trend of opinion on the other. Legislation, he argued, is dominated by the underlying current of opinion, but only after a considerable lag. Men legislate on the basis of the philosophy they imbibed in their youth, so some twenty years or more may elapse between a change in the underlying current of opinion and the resultant alteration in public policy. Dicey sets 1870 to 1890 as the period in which public opinion in England turned away from individualism (Manchester liberalism) and toward collectivism; yet he points out that economic legislation was not strongly affected by the new trend of opinion until after the turn of the century.

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On Being Conservative By Michael Oakeshott

The common belief that it is impossible (or, if not impossible, then so unpromising as to be not worth while attempting) to elicit explanatory general principles from what is recognized to be conservative conduct is not one that I share. It may be true that conservative conduct does not readily provoke articulation in the idiom of general idea, and that consequently there has been a certain reluctance to undertake this kind of elucidation; but it is not to be presumed that conservative conduct is less eligible than any other for this sort of interpretation, for what it is worth. Nevertheless, this is not the enterprise I propose to engage in here. My theme is not a creed or a doctrine, but a disposition. To be conservative is to be disposed to think and behave in certain manners; it is to prefer certain kinds of conduct and certain conditions of human circumstances to others; it is to be disposed to make certain kinds of choices. And my design here is to construe this disposition as it appears in contemporary character, rather than to transpose it into the idiom of general principles.

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Startup mistakes

Escrito em outubro de 2006 por Paul Graham, esse Startup Mistakes by Paul Graham é um clássico que precisa ser lido e relido por quem vai empreender.

In the Q & A period after a recent talk, someone asked what made startups fail. After standing there gaping for a few seconds I realized this was kind of a trick question. It’s equivalent to asking how to make a startup succeed—if you avoid every cause of failure, you succeed—and that’s too big a question to answer on the fly. Continue reading “Startup mistakes”