You may be aware that Pablove is a charity that works to fight childhood cancer. You may also be aware that Jeff Castelaz, one of the founders of Pablove—and the father of Pablo Thrailkill Castelaz for whom the charity is named—is an avid cyclist and has raised awareness for the work the charity does through rides he and others do.
What you may not know is that as one of the founders of Dangerbird Records, Jeff has a lot of musician friends and they have come together to do an auction on behalf of Pablove. There are a number of amazing items (one or two of which you may need to outbid me on) up for grabs, and among them is the painting artist Geoff McFetridge did for the cover of peloton magazine‘s latest issue, pictured above.
Brad Roe, the publisher of peloton, had one request: “Let it rain money.”
Let it rain, indeed.
Road tubeless from Easton. They are reasonably light—a bit more than 1500 grams for the set—but lose the weight of rim strips and tubes for a net saving over most wheel sets. I’m excited about these and look forward to reviewing these soon.
I admit that I didn’t fully understand the concept of the Castelli speed suits until I saw one. It really is the love child of traditional bibs and jersey with a skin suit. A very lightweight jersey is integrated into the shorts. You get a form-fitting jersey integrated into shorts so the pockets don’t ride up and when you open the full zip in front, only about three inches of material per side will flap around. Now the shorts are based on on Castelli’s incredible Body Pain bibs, which means the front is cut super-low—right at your waist. If you depend on bibs to offer a touch of smoothing for an extra pound (or 20) on your belly, this device is not for you, but for actual PROs, this thing is pure genius.
This Nalini women’s jacket is incredibly stylish and with the faux patent leather yoke I could see women wearing this as an aprés-riding piece, despite its technical function. Nalini does a lot of great work and they don’t get enough credit.
Look did a bunch of national flag-themed framesets. I liked them all, but this one struck me as the best/most attractive execution. I’ll confess my soft spot for the Union Jack here.
Best ‘cross bike I ever rode was a Merlin ti back in the late ’90s. Spent a whole season on it. It was also the best ‘cross season I ever had. Coincidence? I truly think the ti construction had something to do with it. The Moots PsychoX RSL looks like it will be an indestructible ‘cross course killer.
At some essential level, I’m a geek. For most of my life it was considered an essential personality flaw. These days, because I work in the bike industry, I can do things like walk into Interbike, see friends at the Ritchey booth and get excited about a tiny little stem. Now, this forged beauty shown above weighs a mere 105 grams. It features reversed out bolts and a 260-degree opening in its 31.8mm clamp diameter to maintain strength.
My buddy Spencer at Ritte is something of a style factory. I had a pretty technical conversation with him about all the ways he’s working to improve his bikes and grow his business, but it’s touches like the stuff above that attract people to his work. Gorgeous sells. For good reason.
I meet people from time to time who are unwilling to wear (what they think are) the garish designs of many clothing companies. They ask me about stuff that’s calm without looking dorky. Honestly, I rarely have an answer. And while Hincapie is doing lots of stuff that’s right up my alley, what most stood out this year was this jersey because it made me think, “At last, I have an answer.”
I’ve been learning a lot about BH bike lately. I’m not sure who they are working with to actually produce their bikes, but they are using some very cutting edge technology. BH, if you don’t already know, is a Spanish company, but Chris Cocalis, the visionary behind Titus Titanium and the carbon/ti technology called Exogrid, is the mastermind behind BH’s new products and the engineering for this new frame was done here in the U.S.
What I’ve learned from a variety of engineers has led me look for certain design cues when I see a new frame. Small chainstays (like so small you can’t get the can’t get the camera to focus on them), square shapes used sparingly and round shapes used plenty.
The Ultralight is the bike I’m most excited to ride of everything I saw this year. BH claims a weight of 747g for the bare frame.
If I’m going to run an errand on the bike, I wear a helmet, but I fully admit that I positively feel like a dork if I wear something like the Aeon or Prevail with cotton clothing. The new Giro Reverb does several cool things. First, it gives me a basic lid perfect for errands. Second, it’s safe enough to be worth wearing. Finally it gives a nice dollop of nostalgia for a helmet I was wearing back in the mid-90s. That may be the most impressive achievement of all; I don’t get nostalgic for the ’90s.
Je’ ne regrette rien. I regret nothing. A pretty idea, that we might go through all our days without ever committing a faux pas. And yes, we do get to a point in our lives when we see that even our mistakes have served us well. But then, there WAS that one neon yellow jersey I rocked in the early ’90s that still gives me pangs of shame when I think on it.
And how sad it is to be rolling along in your group ride and hear someone say something like, “Yeah, I really wanted this bike. I had to have it, but it was the wrong thing to buy. Ah well, it’s what I’ve got now, so it’s what I ride.”
I can tell you honestly that I regret most of the way I road in my early 20s. What an ass I was, putting myself and others in danger. Disregarding rules. Barking at innocent drivers-by. Self-righteous. Inconsiderate. And proud of it.
Here is a partial list of things you may or may not have had second thoughts about: cycling sandals, Primal Wear jerseys, running red lights, half-wheeling your best friend, cheaping out on your everyday bike, not ever having raced, not racing cross, racing cross, drinking beer as a recovery beverage, eating every calorie you just got done burning and then having seconds, not riding enough, riding too much when your family was at home waiting for you, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad absurdem.
I once drank a tall, cold pint of unpasteurized apple cider after four hours on the mountain bike. I regretted that. And my buddy regretted handing it to me. It’s hard to clean some things off a couch.
This week’s Group Ride asks the simple question: What are your cycling regrets? What do you wish you had done differently? What did you buy that you ought to have left in the shop window? What fad did you follow too eagerly? What mistakes have you made? Share them with us that we may avoid having to make them for ourselves.
Though we probably still will.
Follow me on Twitter @thebicyclerobot.
The last day’s ride was from Mesquite, Nevada, to Boulder City to the Outdoor Demo. That is, for roughly 10 of the riders from our group, that was the plan. There were plenty of us who opted for something a bit shorter. By a bit shorter I mean an estimated 50 miles rather than an estimated 110 miles. In reality, we rode 58 miles while Chris D’Alusio’s entrourage rode more like 120 miles.
Western Spirit Cycling Adventures provided our food for the entire trip. I’ve traveled with a lot of tour companies and I’ve never traveled with one that provided all the food. Western Spirit not only made everything run on time, the food was stellar. Dinner was never less than exactly what a hungry cyclist needed. Their level of organization combined with their laid-back ease gave them the air of Zen masters running FedEx. It’s hard to be that chill and yet that on top of things.
Our transfer to the start of the final day’s ride kept us in the van for a bit and feeling some relief for not having to ride on I-15. That’s Rebecca Rusch at left and media guru Nic Sims in the center.
My neighbors were talking about the water they get in their basement and the constant work it takes to maintain an older home. Both of our houses were built before 1935.
I asked if they’d prefer to live in new construction, all wall-to-wall carpets, flat, smooth sheet rock, simple 1/4″ trim around all the windows and doors. They screwed up their faces in disgust. They would much rather, they averred, pump a little water out of their basement two or three times a year than live in a modern, cheaply made, soulless McMansion.
We all nodded our heads and basked in the glow of our sanctimony, banishing thoughts of sump pumps rattling to life in the middle of a rain soaked night. Better to own a home with some character and style, and do the work to maintain it. Our homes are an expression of our values. The medium is, as we’ve been told, the message.
The metaphor extends.
Would you rather own this car, a 1964 Ford Thunderbird, or a 2004 Toyota Camry?
The Camry gets better gas mileage. It breaks down less. It is, perhaps, more dependable. But no one is ever going to pull up next to you at a red light, look over and yell, “DUDE! SWEET RIDE!!!!!”
In twenty years, classic car shows will still be filled out by the cars built between 1930 and 1970. Architectural Digest will still name check architects who built California bungalows in the ’30s and ’40s. They will still picture the thatched-roof cottages of British yesteryear.
The ultimate complement you can pay a craftsperson is to refer to their output, be it a house, a car or a bicycle, as a modern classic.
For a few years I flogged an ’80s Moser 51.151 around town as my everyday bike. The steel frame had been absorbing road shock for 25 years. There were scratches on top of scratches in the once cool paint job. It was/is a bike at the end of a very productive life. And, despite it’s advanced age and poor condition, guys would regularly ride up next to me at red lights and say, “Dude! Sweet frame!”
Modern building trends in house, car and bike industries are toward cheaper construction, machine-made products, and overall standardization. Such methods do not produce classics. Classics are produced by the hands of men and women who have put time and thought into their crafts. Classics strike a sublime balance between style and substance.
It takes a lot of marketing dollars to pass off a mass-produced product as somehow valuable in classic terms.
Classics sometimes leak and sometimes break down and eventually rust through, but that is true of all things. Entropy is anything if not consistent. With a classic, the quality persists, despite the predations of time. You know one when you see one, set back from the street on an ample lot, idling at a red light, or pulling alongside you on a group ride.
These are objects in whose lines you can see the contours of human thought, if not the sweat their creators shed. They are messages from the past, and encouraging signs that we have yet lost that thing that makes us special.
Follow me on Twitter @thebicyclerobot.
I went into this ride thinking of it as just a fun trip with a few big days thrown in; I really wasn’t comparing it to doing a stage race. My, how things can change.
Yesterday, our ride was to be roughly 60 miles, essentially up one big climb and down the other side. We rolled from Panguitch, Utah, and after less than 10 miles began a climb we believed was roughly 20 miles long and climbing 5000 feet—hors categorie. It’s frustrating to admit, but a pinched nerve in my neck is preventing me from riding as I’d like, and yesterday (this is a double post because the Interwebs were anemic yesterday in Cedar City) I had to stop every few miles to re-set the nerve. By the time I reached the top of the climb, rain had moved in and I began to hear that classic sound of sunflower seeds on glass—sleet.
When the climb topped out just shy of 10,600 feet I thought I’d have an immediate ride down. That wasn’t to be. The great surprise of Utah has been that there are always a series of saddles to roll over before the descent starts. After one really quick drop that took me to just below 10,000 I reached a brake check lane and new the drop was to begin in earnest. I pulled over to take inventory.
Specialized’s Kim Hughes and Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson had ridden with me (and waited for me) though both chose to get in the van. Daniel even turned back from the top of the climb to check on me. Neither had any interest in that drop.
It was foggy, raining, had too much traffic on a narrow road, the temp was in the 40s, my fingers were going numb and it hurt to look up the road for long.
I can do fast descents. I can do rough pavement. I can do rain. I can do fog. I can do cold. I can do traffic with enormous trucks. I can do narrow roads. To do all of those at once seemed stupid.
With nothing other than pride riding on getting down the mountain, I turned around and went back to the van parked a mile back. As I climbed in I admitted to Daniel, “At a certain point doing that descent became a violation of my values.”
I can’t profess to love my wife and son and do something that sketchy. I’ve wondered about the guys who hit the Hillary Step on Everest at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon—late enough that they should turn around—and still press for the summit. Dying for anything—including a dream—when you’ve got a family depending on you strikes me as supremely selfish. I’ve found transcendence in descents and will swear to their power in my life, but I’ve got people who depend on me.
When I woke this morning I really wasn’t sure how today’s ride would go. The menu included 118-, 100- and 75-mile options. I figured I was a question mark at best and went for the 75 option. The ride was mostly downhill, but had enough variety of terrain to keep me moving around on the bike and essentially pain-free.
As these things go, a little accidental detour makes the adventure complete. Four of us made our way downhill and into the town of Santa Clara. We passed “The Ranch” from the show The Biggest Loser. That I’ve heard of this place amazes me; this isn’t my brand of entertainment.
What I can tell you, aside from the fact that the complex is gorgeous and more construction is underway, is that this place is seriously in the middle of nowhere. There are no late-night walks to the Circle K or watering hole. If you’re off the res here, you’ll be easy to find.
Our ride took us through Veyo and its dormant volcanos. We saw giant slabs of black volcanic rock littering hillsides; it was hard to imagine what kept them from rolling down the slopes. There were red rock formations that conjured quintessential images of Utah. But the strangest, most surprising sight of the day was the orange soil we saw along the road before entering Arizona. This stuff was Crayola orange.
The descent off Utah Hill was 12 miles of letting the bike run with no need to hit the brakes for a turn. Apparently, Strava says I hit 54 in there somewhere. Who knew?
Patty, above, works for a Philly-area shop her brother owns, has since ’86. She’s lively, strong and knows her way around a bike and a paceline. She’s been great company all week. And when two yappy dogs came charging for us from a yard somewhere in the Arizona desert, she dressed them down with a voice of such trumpeted authority they turned around and ran back, and I nearly got dropped I was laughing so hard.
This ride has been win, lose and draw, depending on the hour of the day. But overall, it’s definitely been a win.
I’ve long respected the work of Specialized. They’ve had good products and even some bad ones, but more years than not, they’ve had a good product line. The big takeaway I’ve had from this ride is the incredible quality of their staff. This was my first chance to share time with people who I didn’t know at all (like Nancy LaRocque) and people who I knew largely through reputation (like Chris D’Alusio).
My conversation with D’Alusio, who is Specialized’s Director of Advanced R&D, on Saturday was off-the-record. We each spoke candidly of our experiences but what most struck me was his incredible insight. I need to sit down and interview him. I’ve talked with a lot of bike engineers. I haven’t spoken to any who have as much insight into what makes a particular bike do what it does as he. I’ll leave it at that for now.
It’s plain that Specialized does a ride like this as a way to convey their passion for their work. The cynical might see it as a way to serve up their brand of Kool-Aid. The trick here is that this setting is too intimate to fake passion, or competence. It’s the industry equivalent of a blood test. To me, it’s the corollary for why I like their bikes so much. They do a number of very good products, but the Prevail helmet doesn’t have the power to change the quality of a ride. The Tarmac has that power and has done it.
They are an impressive bunch, that crew. I enjoy spending time with them, in the saddle and out.
The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.
The epigraph above is a quote attributed to the great rock critic Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe’s masterpiece Almost Famous. The line was on my mind this afternoon as our entourage ate dinner in Panguitch. I was something other than cool today. I and a few other riders opted to skip the first 30 miles of today’s ride and just do the final 50. My concern was giving my shoulder a chance to relax and avoid some nerve pain. I’ve nothing to prove.
Nancy LaRocque, pictured above, is the Specialized employee who organized this ride. She handled an incredible array of logistics, right down to getting everyone to the start. We rode together today, learning just how small the world is; turns out she and I were at UMASS Amherst at the same time. We’ve got mutual friends.
What we shared today isn’t the point; it’s that we shared. Anyone with any sort of eye on the news has been inundated with reminders of the tragedy that occurred 10 years ago. What happened in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. are horrors too enormous to contemplate in full and too tragic to heal person-to-person. I heard someone say that 9/11 is our generation’s Kennedy assassination. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing.
When I think of those lives that were lost, my mind goes to the hole their absences have left in the lives of others and what the survivors have done in the years since. How does one spend a life?
Some years ago I had to have a difficult conversation with my parents. I was making a big change in my life and I needed to explain to them why. It wasn’t easy and their disapproval was apparent. Finally, out of exasperation, I told them, “Look, I’m on this planet once that I know of. I want to try to get this right.”
The bonds I’ve forged with riders are second only to those I share with my family. When the world seems most empty, most devoid of meaning, I turn to cycling and those friends.
I bonded today and in that, I lived as much as I ever have.
This is a day to honor those who can’t share anymore. Go for a ride.
Go for a ride with a friend.
They told me where we were. I could see it on a map. It still didn’t help. It was the most nowhere I’ve been in a while. We seemed to be the only tourists passing through. Hard to say why; it’s beautiful country.
Strava tells me my suffer score for today’s 74-mile ride was a measly 89. I’d buy that if we’d been riding at sea level. But we weren’t. Not by a shot. The whole day was above 5000 feet, which meant that any time I needed to make a surge, I had a quarter of the pedal strokes available before redlining, compared to what I can do back home.
Highlight of the day: talking bike tech with Chris D’Alusio for two hours. I’m shelled, because to talk to him meant taking pulls just as long as his, but it was beyond worth it. His insight into geometry, handling, bike design and how stiffness can both contribute to a bike’s performance or detract from it was nothing short of a revelation. I’ve heard from others he’s a genius, but what he shared with me today was worth taking notes on.
We saw clouds doing things that gave our riding an extra skitch of urgency.
You can follow the ride on Strava.
I was at a wedding reception. You always find yourself with a random selection of friends-of-friends at an event like that. I told the woman sitting next to me that I was in the bike industry, and that inspired her to tell me what she thought of cyclists.
Mostly she doesn’t like them.
She doesn’t understand why they run lights. She is afraid she is going to run them over. They’re unpredictable. They’re rude.
The woman sitting across from me knows me well, and we’ve had a litany of conversations about crappy drivers, crappy cyclists, crappy roads, etc. etc. She gave me her knowing smile, and I said, out loud, “She’s not wrong. Cyclists can be very annoying and rude.” I think, in that moment, my neighbor realized maybe she had expressed some slightly-too-candid opinions, and the death rattle of the conversation was drowned only by the obnoxious sound of silverware against glassware as someone rose to give an awkward speech about the bride and groom.
Saved by the bell, as it were.
I try to remain realistic and honest about cyclists. They are my people. It’s true. But it’s also true that some of them (us) behave badly. I’m not quite convinced that a few bad apples spoil it for the rest of us, but mostly because I’m not convinced it’s spoiled. My observations of our species suggest that, perhaps, where there are humans, there is mess. It’s how we are.
Having said that, I know what I think it’s wrong for cyclists to do. But what do you think? What are our worst habits? Pardon the expression, but what drives you nuts about cyclists?
Follow me on Twitter @thebicyclerobot.