So I and a motley band of journalists spent three days riding with Giro staffers and a few other special guests. Normally, when I attend an event of this sort, a company states what their objective is, what it is they want us to write about. As I mentioned in my previous post, all I was certain of at the outset was that we’d ride for three days while wearing Giro New Road apparel. By the end, I was certain of only slightly more.
I can say that I’m certain my colleagues who work as journalists and editors are a terrific bunch. But that was no revelation. I can also say that I’m certain that every ride I’ve done in Santa Cruz has been a 16 on a 10 scale. It seems that I should also say that where cycling is concerned, I seem to be a joiner, though certainty isn’t something I can claim.
If the only clothing in cycling were the earth tones and trim (but not tight) cuts of apparel like Giro’s New Road, I’d know no better. It probably wouldn’t occur to me to invent the skinsuit. But I was comfortable enough in this stuff that I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing comfort. My experience mountain biking in this last summer taught me that in hot weather this can be a bit much, but for Santa Cruz in April, I had as much reason to complain about this as I do a hug from my kids.
Our second day of riding included some dirt climbs and descents; they were long enough and adventurous enough that both the bike and the clothing disappeared beneath me. Those points in a ride where I’m focused on my line, my effort, my traction, are when I want to focus on the riding itself, not my interface between the road and me. The more the equipment disappears, the better it is.
In addition to Giro brand manager Eric Richter, creative director Eric Horton and apparel manager Nathan Mack, our guides were fire chief Jake Hess, Black Cat Bicycles builder Todd Ingermanson (that’s his bike above) and luthier Jeff Traugott. Hess is the found of the SteelWül cycling club, which is a focal point for those who like to take road bikes on less roady roads. He can make the claim that those mountains, those roads are his office because that’s his territory as a firefighter. Hess and Traugott are legendary in the local community for their knowledge of the dirt roads through the mountains. I could ride with those guys every weekend and never tire of it.
Traugott is known for his guitars, instruments that run $26,000. I got to hear one played briefly and all I can say is that he may not be charging enough for them. I’ll circle back on him in another post soon.
As I mentioned, we had a couple of special guests along. One of them was former mountain bike and cyclocross badass Shari Kain, perhaps best known as an Olympian and Ritchey team member. She and her family recently relocated to Scott’s Valley, just down the street from Easton-Bell Sports. She’s still ultra-fit; she and her husband are coaching triathletes. With her stellar form and sunny disposition, she was a fun addition to the group. You may recognize the guy at the right in the photo above. David Zabriskie was in the area and as a former Giro athlete, stopped by their offices. When he saw us assembled, he asked what was up and before any of us knew what was afoot, he was in a kit and pulling his bike out of his car.
The roads for our second day of riding ranged between tiny residential roads that reminded me of Topanga or parts of Marin County to dirt roads through redwood forest that I’ve only otherwise seen in Sonoma County. Without our guides, we’d have been lost in the first hour. Google Earth wouldn’t have helped as we were in places so remote, only a sat phone would have saved your ass.
Above, Zabriskie with Traugott. As pissed as I am about doping, I’m unable to summon any ire for this guy. I’m far more concerned with those who run the system, guys like Steve Johnson, the CEO of USA Cycling, who claims Zabriskie never went to him with information about doping. It wouldn’t be so surprising for Johnson to claim he never heard from Zabriskie, but he also claims never to have heard from Juliet Macur of the New York Times when she inquired about Zabriskie contacting him. It’s a point documented in her book “Cycling of Lies.”
The riding was so beautiful, the company so engaging (and funny) that even though I was tired when we hit the finish, had we not arrived at a predetermined stop, I’d have gladly kept riding. Believe me, I’ve cut rides short because either a bicycle or my kit was making me uncomfortable.
In talking with people about the Giro New Road line, I often hear a concern that there’s an expectation that dedicated roadies will show up on their group rides wearing this stuff. In talking with people from Giro, it’s clear that they don’t want to twist arms. They wear plenty of stretchy clothing themselves. What’s clear to me is that the folks at Giro would have introduced this clothing line without the “New Road” monicker and everyone would have assumed it was a mountain bike line. By calling it “New Road,” they made people pause and think for a moment. I take it as a suggestion; I know when I’m most likely to use this stuff, but one day soon, I plan to show up for our Friday coffee ride in this instead of my normal kit. I mean, if I’m only going to ride easy and then sit at a coffee shop for 45 minutes chatting with friends, then why not?