February 18, 2013

In memory of Glauco Ceroni

Glauco is a legend in my home town of St.Catharines in the road racing community. He was more passionate about the sport than anyone I have ever met to this day, and I have met a lot of passionate people. Glauco was the guy who showed up at the clubride on Saturday or Sunday at 8am, but in his late 70's he wasn't there to ride he was there to follow in his van and offer constructive criticism to anyone who really needed it. At this time, I was a first year Cadet and in my first year riding I really needed someone like Glauco to tell me what I was doing wrong, seeing as there wasn't much I was doing right.

Glauco was the one I did my first technical practise with. He would bring a group of us juniors to the Laura Secord parking lot and have us corner at speed side by side, bump each other side by side, and (although I could never do it then) pick small objects off the ground from our bikes at speed. I specifically remember Brandon Etzl and I freaking out at how scary bumping was, but this summer we were both selected to race the Trofeo Karlsburg World Cup in Germany and that skill turned out to be far more useful than we had thought 3 years earlier. 

Glauco always said if we wanted to ride like the Italians we needed to climb for at least 5km at a time a few times in a ride. This wasn't possible in Niagara so he made it possible. He presented us all with 10ft of rope and directions to a gravel road where some old car tires were hidden. I remember riding there and digging an old tire out of the bush to pull it down the road to simulate climbing for 20 or 30 minutes and then riding home. 

Glauco always really instilled in us young guys that spinning a high gear was crucial to being successful as a cyclist. He would come prepared with a screw driver and lock out half of our cassette if not more. Trying to race with the club at 45km/h at 15 years old was hard enough, being stuck in a 52x19 was ridiculous! After my first season on the road Glauco gave the three cadets of the club a gift apiece, a fixed gear bike. I spent my whole winter riding a track bike outside, with brakes fitted on to be safe. I remember meeting up with Matt Hopkins to ride these bikes. Sometimes we went down hills so steep that we had to unclip because the cadence demanded to go 60km/h while being stuck in a 45x19 was not anywhere near possible for us. Legs swinging wildly to avoid the pedals rotating at around 250rpms while steering and braking in hindsight seems a little dangerous, now that I really think about it my old soccer shin pads would probably have saved me a lot of pain. 

Glauco had many nicknames for people. I was Benny, Matt was Matty so of course Brandon Etzl was.... Brandon. One of his thin climbing former riders was known as String Bean (Warren Tillbrook). Not always because he was one of those guys who was really fond of nicknames but because his Italian accent made some changes to how your name was normally pronounced. Buck Miller was a good example of that, I'm sure you can guess what the B changes into.   

Once Glauco took the three of us young guys up to Ottawa for a weekend for racing. Once there he insisted to sleep on the floor as we were the racers, the hotel room was really small so he didn't have much room to lay down. The neighbourhood was bad, and I remember walking to the store to buy dinner and I remember him yelling at a bunch of scary looking teenagers to turn down their music. Glauco was the man.  
I am sure throughout the St.Catharines Club there are many stories but here is the one that stands out the most to me. As a first year Cadet I really wanted to go to race in Quebec and to do that I needed to be selected to the team Ontario project to Coupe Proco. I made it, so did Matty and Brandon and we did the 16 hour drive to race in the team Ontario van. Glauco drove by himself without telling any of us to come watch and take notes on our riding and racing in real fields. We were shocked he would spend hundreds of dollars on gas, hotel rooms etc just to come watch us, average riders at best.

Glauco, Brandon Etzl and I. At our first big race in Quebec. (2009)

All these events happened in his final years alive, I can't even begin to imagine how much he did for the sport of cycling in his 76 years.             


  1. Wow, that is a very touching post Ben. What a legend. I wish I met Glauco. I wouldn't doubt for a second that his legacy will live on for a really, really long time.

  2. Well done Ben. I was a cadet also once, and Glauco turned many of us boys into men. But not just riding a bicycle but for our everyday lives. He believed in blood sweat and tears and alot of hard hard honest work. Much of what you described he's done for many generations for at least 35- 40 years. Glauco was a second father for many and for purhaps for a few, the only father figure they had. For as long as we enjoy riding our bikes (once in the blood never to leave) may we alway remember the "man" Glauco
    Gregory Seganfreddo

  3. Ceroni was had as steel. I can relate to everything you said about him Ben. He was my first coach and when he wasn't my coach, he still was. No matter what level you reach, he'll come up to you after a race and talk about how it went (for you!) how you looked, wether you "look tires" (tired), how your leg speed was in and out of the corners, how low you were or wern't while in the drops on a solo break. Glauco was always there.

    When I started traveling in the states and to Europe racing, no matter what, I would think of him while dying in the gutter getting pounded by euros, wind and rain, to cherish every pedal stroke, pedal as light as possible, and pretend my chain was made of glass. He believed and taught all of his kids that "cutting a small hole in a bag of sand will keep you with sand much longer than cutting a large hole". I never knew the importance of a pedal stroke and a nice clean perfect circle until I met Glauco, and he taught me the ways of the fixed wheel on long road rides.

    I could go on and on. Many of us could. He's influenced all kinds of riders, some you've never heard of and many you have.

    Long live the tire pulls.


  4. I made pizza with him for 3 years.

  5. Ben,

    I got to read your eulogy from the SCCC memorial link. You present him as a person living his passion to the max and sharing it as a legacy through those of you that he influenced.

    I didn't know him but I applaud him for his zest for life and contribution to cycling. Bravo Glauco!