A couple of enquiries from followers about my trip to the Campagnolo factory last month which I never reported.
It was rather overtaken by the earthquake in Bologna, and also because it was actually somewhat underwhelming.
I don’t know what I expected exactly. In my mind’s eye the same engineers that built gears for Coppi, Bartali and Merckx are handcrafting bike parts like Swiss watches in a factory that has carries the heritage of Italy. I conceived that at least the boardroom would be a shrine to one of the greatest cycling brands. And I might have put a small dab of chewing gum on my shoe in case just a single ball bearing stuck as a souvenir.
The reality was very different, but perhaps in its own way a reflection of 21st century cycle engineering. In a pelting rainstorm we drove out to an industrial area on the edge of Vicenza where an anonymous road was the site of a large unmarked grey factory. I had no idea we had arrived until we passed a relatively discrete sign and passing through security to a modern, minimalist reception area. At least in the reception area there was a picture of Tullio Campagnolo and a group set, but up in the board room ……. Nothing. Niente, Nichts, Rien.
Except outside the door one of the original carts that the family used to deliver parts to local shops in the 1930s. My one souvenir photo of a visit to a legend.
There were some very substantial cabinets closed behind wood panels which could easily have hidden some glories, but overall the impression was discrete, sleek, wood, leather and stone. Actually the boardroom of a company that prides itself on being modern, discrete and efficient. Heritage, what heritage?
And as we drove away I remembered where I had seen that image before. SPECTRE. The boardrooms in which Ernst Stavro Blofeld plotted to rule the world, only to be foiled time and again by James Bond. Perhaps our gears are programmed to rise up against us one day. And now they are electronic. Isn’t that how it starts. Tullio Campagnolo – Blofeld – who knew?