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Monday

Ynot Cycle Make the Best Bags

I'm a "bag junkie" since my high school days. I've had my Gulper (large) for almost a year now, and use it quite heavily. I can honestly say its been the best bag of them all. Ynot cycle offer a great selection and can customize anything on it for your needs. Great service as well. I can't wait to get my next one.

YNOT Cycle - The Gulper from YNOT Cycle on Vimeo.

Preparations for the 2012 Season


I can remember the days of Greg LeMond showing up in the spring classics a little overweight and he would claim that he would ride into form. Meaning that he would use the early season races as training to shed off the "off season" pounds. Times have certainly changed as nowadays, riders prefer to maintain their form right through the off season. They show up to training camps in shape already, not use training camp to "get into shape." I think training camps now are more "honing their skills" versus improving fitness levels. Take for example the Lampre team as seen here, they are already v02 max testing and preparing for the 2012 season. I can't wait !

The Monte Grappa - Veneto Italy




The Monte Grappa is situated in Veneto and belongs to the Dolomites-Alps. Starting from Possagno, the Monte Grappa ascent is 23.8 km long. The Giro has visited Monte Grappa three times. Its one beautiful climb.

Friday

Church of Madonna di Ghisallo - The Latest Monument



In this year's Giro Di Lombardia, just before the professionals climbed the chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo, they unveiled a new monument next to Coppi and Bartoli. October 15th saw a new bust appear for Alfredo Binda, to commemorate his passing 25 years ago. Alfredo Binda was an icon in Italian cycling becoming the first professional world champion back in 1927. As well he won the Giro di Lombardia four times. Its fitting that they would erect a monument in his name, as he pleaded with Coppi and Bartoli (being their trainer) to end their feuding during the 1949 Tour. Maybe they should have put his monument directly between them ?

Thursday

Andy Schleck Documentary - My Tour

I found this documentary on youtube and it was really good. I am a fan of any film / documentary that goes behind the scenes of professional cycling. From seeing Andy shave his legs, to prepare for a colder winter ride with Jakob Fuslang, to his work on his time trialing, was intimate insight into this great cyclist's background. I'll admit, I am an Andy Schleck fan and seeing this documentary made me like him even more but question his DS and team managers' decisions. Unfortunately, I'm watching it after watching the 2011 Tour where he lost the ITT while in the yellow jersey. This documentary made it seem he was working hard on improving his time trialing ? Well if he was, it surely didn't show in 2011 ? Also in the video, I sensed a lack of determination by Kim Andersen and sense of disorganized strategies and workouts. After watching this, I am no longer surprised that Leopard Trek had such a horrendous one year in 2011. Johan Bruyneel will surely turn this ship around. Enjoy the doc.

Tuesday

Giro d'Italia 2012 promo vid

Just more reason to love this race that much more.. Well done to whomever made this video !

Monday

Embrocation Review - Mad Alchemy vs DZ Nuts inHeat

Mad Alchemy Medium vs DZ Nuts inHeat Review:



As the season now switches to colder morning rides, I have taken my arsenal of my winter cycling gear out. New to my arsenal this year, is embrocation. I found that my legs, and in particular my knees developed pain after riding in the cold. After using DZ Nuts inHeat embrocation for few weeks I decided to give the highly acclaimed Mad Alchemy brand Medium and Mad Alchemy Russian Tea (Medium) its first test.

Mad Alchemy (Medium) and Mad Alchemy Russian Tea (Medium);



The only difference I found between these two was the smell. The Russian Tea does smell better but after rubbing it in, you can't tell the difference. They both glide on easily and give your legs a nice shine. It took about 45mins before I felt the warming effects coming on which is quite normal. My legs and knees weathered the cold quite well and i thought this would be my "go to" embrocation for the remainder of the winter months. Not! I'm going to have to re-think this decision, as this stuff is way too hot and painful to deal with after one's ride.

The downside of Mad Alchemy is in its removal. After a long ride, and after shedding my layers, my toes almost frost bitten, as well were my fingers, I just wanted to jump into a nice hot shower. Well that could not be achieved with Mad Alchemy's embrocation on. The water will cause a sunburn effect on your legs. I found that out the hard way. So now my new regiment is before jumping into the shower, you must first wipe with a towel, then use baby wipes or even rubbing alcohol to remove it and then shower.

DZ Nuts inHeat (Medium):


At the other end of the embrocation spectrum is a relatively newcomer, DZ Nuts inHeat.
I found DZ Nuts taking a little longer to activate. 1-1.5 hours. It does have a nice aroma and goes on very easy. It lacks the "shine" that Mad Alchemy gives and takes a little more effort to rub it in. However, again, it did the job in giving my legs and knees the warmth and protection it needed. When I got home, I used the same repetoire for removal, dawn liquid soap and a scrubbing towel. It came off a lot easier and there was very little "stinging like a sunburn" feeling while in the shower. David Zabriskie, you and your lab are onto something here ?

Winner: Mad Alchemy

Despite Mad Alchemy's difficult removal, I still prefer it over DZ Nuts inHeat due to its smooth glide on application, aroma, and most importantly "even heat dispersion" across my legs. I'm willing to put up with the "sunburn" effect , although I will try the towel off, then baby wipes and then hot shower. I can't wait to try the "non warming" Mad Alchemy next spring.

Tuesday

2012 Tour de france route


The 2012 Tour de France will begin in Saturday June 30th with a 6.1 kilometre prologue in Li├Ęge. Time trials will also feature on stage nine, and then on the penultimate day from Bonneval to Chartres. There will be a total of 96.1 kilometres against the clock, something which will appeal to defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) and, if he succeeds in his CAS appeal next month and can take part, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank SunGard). So basically, an individual time trialist's dream come true. The pure climbers like Andy Schleck will be forced to attack harder than ever in the mountains or develop amazing time trialing skills from now until July or he may once again be the bridesmaid. This route really put Johan Bruyneel in a difficult position with his current crop of riders. But the pressure is on Wiggins and Schleck as they yet to win the big one. Evans has no pressure really as he has one already, and looks like he can win it again.

Monday

Lombardia Climb - Valcava

A great shot of this climb.

Oliver Zaugg wins IL Lombardia 2011


A great race to finish off the year and a great surprise win by swiss rider Oliver Zaugg.
Zaugg lives on the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland Ticino, that borders Lake Como, making him almost at home for this race, as they are the roads he trains on regularly.

The daring move came when Vicenzo Nibali (Liquigas) attacked at the base of the Ghisallo. Many of us thought he would stay clear and ride solo. But the Ghisallo proved to be harder than he bargained for. He had no gas in the tank for the final climb (Vergano) nor the finish. His efforts completely red lined him and he finished 40th. Maybe the final climb of the Villa Vergano included this year was too tough ?



A little unknown (yes little as he's 5'7 120lbs) Oliver Zaugg stayed with the leaders at the back of the pack biding his time, and then made a brave move. I don't consider his win a lucky break or a fluke. He made the lead group, stayed with them, climbed very strongly, and then attacked on the steepest part of the day’s final climb to Villa Vergano and held off any chasers. I was worried at seeing Gilbert right in the thick of things near the end. But a surge in pace and then an attack by Zaugg proved Gilbert was human after all.


As much as I love watching the “heads of state” demolish the peloton, I think its great to see the domestiques taking home a few trophies every now and then. We saw the lanky Johan Van Summeren steal Paris-Roubaix and now Zaugg’s win in Lombardia is proof that every now and then, the big guns can lose. These guys give 110% for their race-day leaders every time. Its nice to know that when they eventually hang up their bikes, they’ll have a win in one of the great Classics to their names – very fitting and appropriate. Its a ride like this, I'm hoping Michael Barry can pull off one of these days.

The 2012 Giro D'Italia Route

So here we go with another formal presentation of a beautiful race which is always overshadowed by the Tour de france.



The Giro D'Italia is the forever bridesmaid. It saddens me that this great race gets such "second class citizen" status but that is how the world of pro cycling considers it. Its always taken a back to seat to the Tour de france. I feel sorry for the organizers and the people who put their heart and soul into the race ever year, only to see their efforts as second rate. I wish some day they can bring more commercial interest and make it as grand as france's ? Its a tall order but I'm sure they can do it. Or on the other side of the coin, maybe they enjoy having it as the more "playful, romantic" race ?

Out of principle they invite the defending champion, and he publicly admits he won't even ride the race in 2012 and prefers to focus on the tour de france. Sad, sad, sad. The Giro will always be in the shadow of the Tour de France.

Unfortunately this year tour was marred by a death, but the stages were exciting with hill and mountain top finishes. The new organizer wanted to make the Giro "more human." The 2012 edition appears to be two weeks of sprinter stages and mountains in the final week. I don't understand why a rider couldn't use this as a warm up or consider the double ?




The tour de france has the prestige and the commercial popularity, the vuelta is seen as a "climbers' tour" with it endless hills, but the Giro D'italia to me always has the romance.

Friday

The 2011 Giro di Lombardia (Il Lombardia)

The final monument of Italian cycling is upon us this weekend. The Giro di Lombardia. (Il Lombardia)



It has been rebranded to Il Lombardia this year, and will take place against the backdrop off fallen leaves once more before moving to a September spot on the World Tour calendar next year. The 241 kilometer event spans the northern roads of Lombardy region around the shores of Lake Como. An area of Italy I'm quite fond of. The race begins near Milan and then heads north. New this year, the first climb at the (62km) mark is a ferocious one, the Valico di Valcava. The Valcava marks the highest point of the race, at 1.336 metres, and may start to play a role in who reaches the line first in Lecco. It is 18km in length and has stretches of 4kms at 15% steepness. Wow!




A long windy descent brings the riders towards beautiful Lake Como. They go up the little Colle Brianza a little 6 km climb which is a segway to a much harder climb at the 138km mark, called the Colma di Sormano. While the ascent averages about 10% in gradient, there are truly leg breaking sections at 20% providing an almost "Zoncolan" feel to it. I think at this point it may split the pack and the contenders may begin to arise.



The Colma di Sorma gives way to a technical descent leading down to Lake Como once again. Riders will hug the shoreline as they ride towards the beautiful town of Bellagio, before turning away from the lake brings them to the most sacred church of cycling at the (185km) mark, the legendary climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo - the patron saint of cycling. The mythical ascent takes riders past the famous shrine filled with cycling memorabilia from around the world. Its just over 10kms in length and the steepness varies in stretches of 10% to 16% steepness.



The descent that follows is truly technical then onto another new climb for this year, the Villa Vergana climb, which has been selected as the final climb of the 105th edition. The ascent comes nine kilometers from the finish at the (228km) mark. Its a smaller climb around 3.5km in length but does get quite steep near the end of it, almost 15% steepness.



This leaves the riders who have anything left in their legs, to make a mad dash for the short descent and then three flat kilometers between themselves and the race finish in beautiful town of Lecco situated in the Como district.



One of my absolute favourite races on the calendar.

Yes, the climbs of the Giro di Lombardia are quite steep

The climbs of the Giro Di Lombardia are quite steep. You better have a 34 x or you'll barely make them up.






Lake Como this weekend ?

The Backdrop of the Giro di Lombardia. Simply Spectacular.


Thursday

The Ghisallo climb in 1923

This is what the Ghisallo climb looked like back in 1923. Thanks to Pez for the photo.
That hairpin looks awfully familiar.

The Giro di Lombardia in 1952

Thanks to Pez for the photo. Two cycling legends, Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobbet battle it out on what appears to be the Ghisallo climb in 1952's edition of the Giro di Lombardia.

A day in the life of Triathlete Simon Whitfield

Great video.

Specialized Gran Fondo in California rides w Contador

Specialized head office held their Gran Fondo in California and brought in Alberto Contador to attend. He was the typical classy fellow as always, not turning away any fans and from the photos did they ever appear to smother him. Interesting in seeing him use a Zipp wheelset ? I thought Carbon was for racing, alloy from training ? I guess that philosophy no longer holds in today's world.

Wednesday

Michael Barry during the Tour de Romandie

A decent shot of our hometown hero as he climbs during the Tour of Romandie in April of this year.

2011 Tour de Romandie - Lake Geneva

A great shot here of Lake Geneva during the 2011 Tour de Romandie.

The primarily Italian race but one particular stage had the riders go into bordering Switzerland.

2012 Giro D'Italia Stage 17 - Passo di Giau

The 2012 Giro D'Italia will feature one of the most scenic climbs, the Passo di Giau on stage 17 from Falzes to Cortina d'Ampezzo. Simply breath taking and not too leg breaking as its only 10km in length.


Another Gorgeous Day in Lake Como area - Lombardy

Its another gorgeous day in the Lombardy-Como region of Italy as seen from Team Rabobank out for their training.

I found this quite interesting. Italian TV commercial promoting the 2011 Giro di Lombardia.

Team Rabobank Recon Lombardia Ride

Team Rabobank earlier this week, did their recon ride of this weekend Giro di Lombardia.

Michael Barry (CAN) at the World's in Copenhagen 2011

This one of the rare times I see Michael Barry in a different skin suit. He's also wearing an "aero" helmet cover. I prefer him in Team Sky Colours. Team Canada skin suits need a makeover.

2011 Vuelta a Espana Stage 17

In my opinion, this was probably one of the most exciting stages to watch all season. Froome vs Cobo. Chris Froome a rider who came outta nowhere showed real guts and determination. Cobo probably digging deeper than he ever had to in his life. Dan Martin reminded me of Claudio Chiappucci climbing. I'm equally impressed with Jurgen Vanden Broeck as he got everything going with his late attacking showing great tenacity. Cobo chases with Froome on his wheel. Oh the crowds going crazy. Froome attacks hard, Cobo hanging on, then it appears Cobo is dropped like Roche getting dropped by Delgado in the 87 tour. But somehow, like some miracle Cobo climbs back ? What could this be true ? Cobo actually recovers, and then near the last few hundred meters, puts Froome in trouble. So then Froome digs deeper and counter attacks, and finally gets the win. Phew! Wow! what a stage ! Bradley who ?

The Buck Stops Here - Insanely horrible luck for this mtn bike rider

Cavendish signs for Team Sky



In the worst kept secret in cycling, Mark Cavendish finally announces his signing with Team Sky for 2012. One downside is he must give up his lovely Specialized "Venge" for a Pinarello Dogma 2.

2010 Lance on Diet & Training

I found this piece on Lance discussing diet and training. He looks really "thinned down" almost Wiggo like in 2010. He is spot on however with regards to cyclists and dealing with diet and "power to weight" ratios. I tell everyone the hardest thing about my training, is dealing with my weight. Its what so many people don't understand about the sport. Its also what so many people do not understand about losing weight. Yes, you do have to go to bed hungry some nights!!! Yes, you have to be that disciplined about it. Diet plays a HUGE factor.

@1:39- I love what he says at about "power to weight" ratio. So many people don't understand this
@2:02- "go without meals" - yes we must do so.
@2:43 "go to bed hungry sometimes." - yes we must if we want to improve

Friday

Endras BMW - A dealership of the Information Age.



I feel compelled to write this blog because its rare in today's world to see a dealership so involved in the information age, provide such good customer service and to give much to the sport of cycling.

Hearing the news of an auto dealership sponsor the sport of cycling warms my heart. In today's world of debt crisis' and pending global recessions, one would not expect such a level of commitment. As we know in the sport of the cycling, sponsors come and go like the seasons. However, I am really impressed with Endras' BMW and their commitment to cycling. (La Bicicletta/Jet Fuel Racing/Real Deal Racing Teams) I had the pleasure of attending and riding a Gran Fondo earlier this year, that they helped organize and it exceeded my every expectation.

I was greatly surprised at the generosity and the high level of customer service they gave us. Staff showing up on early on a Sunday morning and going beyond the call of duty to make us feel welcome from the time we arrived to the time we left, was just unbelievable to witness. Kudos or shall I use the European term "Chapeau" to the entire staff at Endras BMW , as you all exemplify great customer service, generosity and passion.

Not only are they a sponsor of cycling, but they appear to be the only dealership I am aware of , who have "woken up" and are "with the times." With this I mean, their degree of social media involvement and their "on line" presence. From their industry first , “iPad Lounge” to the many blog postings, they have truly embraced the information age.

Nowadays, having online presence is crucial to any business, as its how the world works and communicates. Endras BMW understand this as there is not a time where you can send them an email, twitter message or facebook post, and it will not get replied. I don't know of any other dealership who are so progressive in technology. There are true pioneers and are carving a new niche of how customers interact with dealerships. They are leaving those dealerships who are still "pen and paper," in the dust. Kudos to the person or team , who decided to take this route. We are still in the infancy of the information age, but Endras BMW have embraced the technology and are poised to become , if not already , the benchmark of how other dealerships are measured.

So Mr. Endras, I haven't had the pleasure of your acquaintance, but hopefully one day our paths will cross where I can formally shake your hand and say "thank you."
Keep up the great work and I wish you many successful quarters.

Simon Jagassar