When I’m out on the bike I get a lot of questions. Mostly they revolve around whatever the newest thing I’m riding, be it bike, clothing or what-have-you. What’s interesting is that the broader, more philosophical questions about equipment come late in a ride. They always have.
After we’ve punched some tickets, gone cross-eyed and been humbled, the late portion of the ride, as we cool down and head for home is when all the most interesting questions come up. They’ve ranged from what my favorite saddle (I’m really partial to the Fi’zi:k Antares) is to whether I’d ride steel on a course with a lot of climbing (um, no).
It was shortly after the Schleck chaingate that a newer rider asked me what group he should buy now that Andy Schleck had demonstrated that the Red drivetrain was defective and in need of an overhaul.
“Easy,” I said. “You should buy the one that never suffers a missed shift.”
Then I gave a hearty laugh.
I hope you’ll pardon me for laughing at my own joke. I laughed long and loud over that. The rider in question didn’t follow me. I left him to ponder what I might have meant.
That belies a common question I get, though: Who makes the best component group?
I’ve got a few thousand miles each on Super Record, Dura-Ace and Red. I can speak to that question. Normally, I don’t like or do shootouts for a simple reason: Someone always loses. That said, there are specific reasons to recommend one group over another depending on your individual needs. For some riders, there may not be a compelling reason to go with one over the others, but for others, there may be a very clear choice.
Needs aside, I believe that each manufacturer is in for some constructive criticism. Each of those groups feature some blemishes that can and should be addressed.
And so, now that RKP’s traffic is big enough that we can’t be ignored, I’m about to embark on a series of posts that could well piss off some really nice people at companies that I previously hoped would advertise. Gulp.
Oh, a brief (but obvious) word on what defines a group. It used to be that a group included shift levers, brake levers, brakes, derailleurs, a bottom bracket, crank set, chain, cables, headset, hubs and pedals. These days integrated headsets are found in most frames, nearly all wheels are sold as complete wheelsets and pedals stopped being sold with groups not long after Look entered the market; a group no longer includes a headset, hubs or pedals.
Like I said, this is going to take a few posts to get through. Keep checking back.
It’s early yet. There is still plenty of time in Grande Boucle 2010 for a violent plot twist and/or turn. Tours de France (see how easy it is to pluralize that?) are pretty much plot twist machines. You just start one up and out come the thrills.
And so, even though it’s early, this week’s Ride is about the Tour that was. This Ride has got to last us all through the weekend and into next week, by which time we’ll have the benefit of about ten minutes of hind sight.
Clearly, this race will be remembered as the one where Lance Armstrong went out with a whimper, rather than a bang, the one where Andy Scheck tried hard, but couldn’t quite ride Alberto Contador off his wheel. We’ll remember Fränk Schleck down on the pavé. We’ll remember everybody and their brother down on the Stockeu. We’ll remember the World Champ riding into Paris with a broken elbow and scores of riders (ok, a few) going home with broken wrists. Mark Cavendish? Poor form, his lead, lead out man expelled, and he still took four stages. Old man Petacchi in green. Chaingate. So many stories here.
Will this be the year that Tour organizers realized their route was causing just that little bit too much pain and suffering? Or is 2010 the year that heralds the return to grand tour as survival race, the way Henri Desgranges envisioned it? Will this be Jens Voigt’s last Tour de France? Egads!
Wrap it up for us, people. Who was the biggest surprise? Who was the biggest loser? What was the best story? What will you remember?
Image: John Pierce, Photosport International
What should or should not have happened following Andy Schleck’s chain-throwing attack has been sufficiently argued and discussed and even apologized for. I don’t wish for it to be discussed any further here. That said, John Pierce sent me a sequence of photos he was able to capture in the seconds following the race’s now most infamous attack.
In and of themselves, the photos are fascinating. Will they or should they change your mind in any way? Let’s hope not; but for those of us who like to dissect things, these images freeze a race-changing event.
I’ve uploaded the full-size images so you can see them in rich glory.
Images: John Pierce, Photosport International