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Wednesday

BMC SLR01 and Impec - My 2 new faves.


I'm more and more impressed with BMC as the years go by. I remember seeing them a few years ago and didn't think too much of that "funny frame" look, but now my viewpoint has changed after researching more into their philosophy.

BMC is headquarted in Grenchen, Switzerland which is not too far away from my favourite watch company. The factory there, have taken a new philosophy towards bicycle manufacturing. The "in house" manufacturing is done by robots. Yes, there are robots making their bikes to the utmost precision and consistency unlike its competitors which are mass produced by Asian workers in a sweat shop in Taiwan.

BMC appear as the pioneers of "the new age" of frame building in cycling. Coming from a traditional Italian mindset, my eyes have been opened up to this new way of manufacturing and thinking. I think they are a serious competitor to the Dogma's, Oltre's and even the Venge's of the world as customer's as myself given the cash, will not hesitate to choose the SLR01 over the Dogma.



I think both the SLR01 and the Impec will become more popular as their bikes enjoy more successes over cobbles, up mountains and through time trials.

BMC is a brand that has grown on me considerably. Often overlooked in the past, but now since their results in the pro peloton tour and the forging of a new direction in production of good quality high end affordable bikes, I situate them in the Focus or maybe above the Focus realm of the cycling world.

The Impec is what happens when BMC takes what they've learned from the SLR01 and combines it with their "in house" tweaks and refinement.



The SLR01 and now the Impec are among my favourites now, if I ever come into some money.

Garmin Team had used the CycleOps Jet Fluid Series


Interesting choice once again as I have yet to see any of the pros use rollers.

CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro Review - 2 Thumbs UP

Review of CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro



I've used the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine for over a year now, and thought it was the best fluid trainer on the market. Well that has all changed now with my acquisition of the CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro. I think this is the best fluid trainer on the market. Here's why.

-way quieter than my kinetic road machine
-much easier to mount bike
-much easier to dismount
-much more portable with the fold in legs so its become my "mobile" trainer

I'm really impressed with the roller and the smoothness of the pedalling and the little noise it makes. They have a winner here, and the extra $$ for this unit over the Kurt Road Machine would be well worth it for anyone contemplating an indoor trainer.

A Riser Block made all the difference

A Riser Block made all the difference



As the title states, to my amazement, a CycleOps riser block made all the difference in my indoor trainer set up. I think I've finally found my perfect indoor training setup for this 2011 off season. I had been using the Cyclops Jet Fluid Pro without the riser block for the front wheel for aobut 3 weeks now and found it unstable especially for out of the saddle "jumping" and "sprinting" intervals. I've been using a mixture of books and pieces of wood. Now since I've added the riser block I am amazed at how much more stability I have ? All the difference in the world from a stupid piece of plastic ? who knew ? I did not think the riser block would make such a difference but its a huge improvement.

Riding in or out of the saddle now feels even moreso like being on the road. Of course the jet fluid roller helps that process as well. I'm really content now with my indoor setup. It makes me want to ride indoors more often. As well, I feel a lot more comfortable transporting my indoor setup anywhere so I don't miss a ride. That is one huge improvement I find my Jet Fluid Pro has over my KK Road Machine, portability. So when I'm camping, at the cottage, or at a relatives house for a sleep over, packing up my Jet Fluid Pro is simple and easy. Its takes seconds to attach my bike to the jet fluid pro, and off I go, never missing a ride.

Tuesday

Jet Fuel/LaBicicletta New Director Sportif

Jet Fuel/LaBicicletta New Director Sportif



For 2012, the Jet Fuel/La Bicicletta has hired Andrew Randell as their new Director Sportif. (thanks to twitter) Will he bring a Saiz approach ? or maybe a Bruyneel approach ? Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to discussing this more with a lot more people. Can't wait for the new team kit to be released as well ? I wondered if it will be more "Spider Tech Looking" Hmmm ? I'm an avid fan and can't wait for 2012 already !


Andrew Randell pt. 1
Andrew Randell pt. 2

E-Motion Rollers are simply the best cycling rollers

E-Motion Rollers are simply the best, here's why.

I haven't ridden on rollers since 1987. Boy have things changed. I've always been an advocate of them as they really help you improve your leg speed and balance on the bike. I had a rare opportunity to ride on these E-Motion rollers last weekend while attending a training session and I was blown away at how smooth, life like and comfortable they are. This particular brand also allow you to get off the saddle like the guy in the video. Revolutionary ! If you are in the market for an indoor trainer in the $1,000 range, I highly recommend them. (www.insideride.com)

The question is, why don't I see more pros using them in warm ups, instead i see pro teams using conventional rear wheel trainers.

Video 1


Video 2

Saturday

Power Meters being used back in 1989

With all the hype of power meters and the use of them in today's world. Look had one back in 1989! Wow! Who knew ? They were so ahead of the game.

Friday

Thinking about the 2010 Tour de France;

Why you ask ? Because this past week will decide its winner. Alberto Contador's hearing and WADA case has been completed and the verdict will be announced January 2012. If found guilty, the 2010 winner becomes Andy Schleck. So that is why I'm thinking about that controversial stage also known as "chain gate."

Here's a recap of what happened.




At 0:04 there is full frontal shot of Andy in flight, Vino in pursuit and AC in pursuit (left hand side of picture). Andy's chain is still on (doesn't come off until 0:09). So, AC didn't attack after Andys chain was off. What he didn't do was stop his response to Andy's attack.

Mechanical or operator error on Andy's behalf, either way AC did not have to wait. That'd be equivalent to halting a formula 1 race because someone blows their gear train or stopping a soccer match because a player has to tie their shoes. Ridiculous. Its Saxo's responsibility to keep bikes in order and Andy's responsibility to use that bike properly. Bit of a shame that this turned out to be a decisive incident in tour but either way AC won fair and square.

In battle, if you pull your sword and drop it, you die.

And this is the "chain gate" debate. Should Contador have waited ? Will Contador lose his title to Andy through the courts ? Will Andy have his 1st tour victory through the courts ? January 2012 all questions will be answered.

this is dedication to a sport

Even the in the cold and rain, you gotta head out, especially when you're a pro. This is the dedication needed to succeed in the sport of cycling.



Monday

The Kickstand Desk , Really ? C'mon now inventors ?




The Kickstand desk caters to those obsessive multi-taskers who want to exercise and work at the same time. Less goofy than a treadmill desk, the Kickstand is tall enough to fit your bike underneath, and sturdy enough that it won’t wobble as you pedal. Why not just use a regular stand-up desk, you ask? Because the Kickstand has a sliding top to let you reach the handlebars or change gears. Interesting concept, but not worth really $2,500 for this ? So not worth it in my opinion. I'd go on cycling vacation with that cash.

1984 Olympic Road Race - Large Revelations



For many of us "older cyclists" we remember the 1984 Olympic road race quite well. I remember being dissapointed to see Canadian Steve Bauer outsprinted by a non "sprinter" and settled for silver. For decades we searched for answers. Finally parts of the story have been revealed.

I found the Sports Illustrated story

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1119061/index.htm

quite revealing, in that there was systematic blood doping done by the U.S. team.

The gold medal winner was Alexi Grewal, the son of a Sikh father from India and a German mother, who became the only American athlete of Indian descent to ever win an Olympic gold medal.

He was this thin ectomorph who I thought was going to get "eaten alive" by Bauer in the final metres. Oh well, it didn't happen and Grewal won the gold for the U.S. Was it an unscrupulous and a selfish act that propelled him to gold ? Eddie B had told the U.S. team , ride for Phinney. Davis Phinney, was the team leader, so did he deny his team manager's orders ?

A bit of poetic justice was served as Steve Bauer went on to have an illustrious pro career, while Grewal struggled even as a domestique during his short pro career. I believe had Grewal not medaled, he would have been out of cycling much sooner. I am not a fan of Grewal due to his poor attitude, but there's always two sides to every coin. After finding out some interesting facts, of which I'll share with you, I don't dislike him as much anymore.


Alexi has told the story of that day, and I never knew the story of how it unfolded until after reading tidbits here and there.

He said that he "played" every member of that breakaway to convince them that he was just barely hanging-on, when in fact, he felt great. I remember the moment where we all thought Bauer was dropping him on the climb, but that was just the moment where Alexi tricked him into towing him the remaining 2-3 miles.

Alexi mentions the ridiculous vanity of team leader Davis Phinney and his decision to wear a skinsuit instead of a jersey and shorts. Phinney had a very small pocket and carried just one banana that day, and basically, started to bonk. Phinney came up to Grewal and asked him for his food, and Alexi lied to him and said he was out (he wasn't). He felt Phinney would have won easily if it were not for his running out of food. Also, Grewal admits he didn't want to "tow" Phinney and fellow team mate Ron Kiefel to the line and have them take glory. He took an awful risk. He rode selfishly, and rode the opposite of what was expected from him. He was the domestique for Phinney and Kiefel but rode in the most "Non-domestique" manner. He risked outsprinting Bauer and got away with it. As he notes, the good-teammate plan would have meant delivering Kiefel and Phinney to the finish. But he didn't play that role.

"Two laps to go Davis asks me for food. I lied, said I don’t have
any, I justified it in my mind by thinking I might need it myself."

He made a decision to profoundly screw Phinney in that moment.


Others have said, that Bauer was way overgeared. Alexi knew it (as Bauer led it out), and he chose a gear that allowed him to make that killer jump at the end. Again, the jury is out on that one. The fact remains that he did not play the role of a domestique, not even a team player and pretended to weaken.


But there is a flip side to every coin. How is anyone (Alexi especially) expected to have allegiance to guys he barely rode with? Alexi had one allegiance that day and that was to work for himself. It is Phinney's own fault for wearing a skin suit not able to hold food ? Maybe Phinney thought he team mates would help ? His domestiques would help ? Was it the ultimate selfish act in the sport of cycling ?


I wonder what they think of Alex today ?

His Olympic gold medal was stolen a few years ago at an airport in Newark, N.J., on trip to India. The stolen briefcase containing the medal is no longer, similar to his career. I personally think, his own personality sabotaged what could've been a long pro career. Spitting at cameras, having tussles with the media, being "unprofessional" in situations all played factors in his demise. Will he always be seen as this jerk ? I don't know, I'll leave that up to you to decide.

Thursday

Riders Measured like Groomsmen at a Tailor Shop;

An interesting little tidbit.

Did you know, that riders get measured for their team kits, there is no S, M or L, instead the is measured like a tailor-made suit. Part of the sponsoring company's role is to ensure their kit looks good and ensure it hangs right on a pro. Yes the life of a pro.

Dutch Team on Italian Frame for 2012

For 2012, Dutch team, Vacansoleil-DCM will be riding on these beautiful Bianchi Oltre frames. There’s a mix of FSA and Shimano components along with Fast Forward wheels.

Tuesday

Cycling's Hour Record

Cycling's Hour Record;

When cyclists talk about "The hour record," only one man comes to mind for me, Franceso Moser. The hour record is an individual time trial record for the longest distance cycled in one hour on a bicycle. It normally takes place inside a velodrome.


The last record holder on a conventional bicycle frame was Eddy Merckx. He claims that the record should remain as his as he used at the time was a "conventional road frame". However, he did receive the latest innovations for his set up, at the time. And thats what the hour record is, its about, cycling innovation.

Even more interestingly not only the bikes were being tested, but so were the bodies. Back in 1984, Moser was under the guidance of Dr. Conconi who did admit Moser had used blood transfusions, not banned at the time. Wow ? I can't imagine what the record would be like today if PED's were allowed.




Regardless, when anyone mentions the hour record , I don't think of Indurain, Boardman or Obree, I think of Francesco Moser. He truly revolutionized bicycle engineering, aerodynamic design and performance enhancing methods.

Wednesday

Campagnolo - EPS is just plain gorgeous

I've always been a long time fan of Campagnolo. I always yearned to have an Italian frame adorned with Record components. Maybe one day. Last week, they released their competitor to Di2. Only time will tell if its on par or better. The folks over at Bicycling magazine have a different view. They don't seem to think this is the right move for Campy given the current economic times. They don't see the future of Campy staying a float. The article showed a rather bleak existence for Campagnolo in the day and age of mass production in Asia. I personally don't know the current company's situation, but I do know they are hand made in Italy and in Romania. There is nothing "automated nor mass produced" in Vicenza. Its actual workers, sitting and making things by hand. Its always been like that, and I don't see it changing. The article also mentioned that the new kid on the block, SRAM winning the Tour has also put increased pressure on Campagnolo as they haven't seen the podium in many years. It was back in 1998 with Pantani, that Campy has won the Tour. But admist all the doom and gloom from the Bicycling Magazine article, I think of Campy as the Ferrari or Lamborghini of the cycling world. A high end product, catering to high end frames for the high end crowd. So as much as Bicycling Magazine bash Campagnolo, I'd take the Rolex over the Casio any day.


Tuesday

Book Review -Johan Bruyneel, "We Might as Well Win"


Any cycling fan, knows who Johan Bruyneel is. He is the most successful Director Sportif of our time and maybe of all time with his 9 tour victories, and seven of those being consecutively.. A brilliant mind in the sport of cycling and he has written this book. I must admit, I haven't enjoyed such a book in a very long time. Actually, I’ll go on the record to say this is my favourite book to date !

We the reader , are privy to his philosophy of which will open your eyes to one of the great “cycling thinkers” of our time. For those looking for answers to controversy, or ammunition to continue criticizing Bruyneel (or Armstrong,) you will not find it here. There is NO other coach, manager, director or even player that comes to mind that has the winning track record owned by Johan Bruyneel,. Seven consecutive Tour de France wins , and then returning and winning again in the 9th year borders on the supernatural. If you want to learn how to win, or become a winner at something, this is the book for you. His relationship with Lance is heart warming to read. The perfect example of “two people clicking” or “hitting it off” right from the get go, is magical. If you re-watch the Tour footage as you read this book, you will see a completely different picture from what Liggett and Sherwen are mentioning.

Johan's writing takes you behind the wheel of a director sportif and into his mind during his race preparations, and race decisions. Its nothing short of brilliance. I don't care what people think or say of him, his record speaks by itself. Its very insightful in how he manages, directs and motivates his team. We all can learn by his methods. I know I certainly am. At times, I felt as I was in the front row seat in the team car during races.

Johan has a fantastic talent in the way he could analyze riders and situations in a race. His talent is held by a few and the only other I can think of. before his time would be Cyril Guimard. Cyril had that same keen eye to spot talent and bring the best out of cyclists. This could not be more evident in his poaching of a young American Greg LeMond , and we all know how that story went. Johan has a passion for winning at everything he does in life. Its not a competition, but more rather along the lines of never settling and becoming complacent. Striving to be better at everything you do is his motto. This could not be more prevalent in project F1. Johan and his relentless pursuit of perfection , had every single piece of Lance’s gear analyzed and re-analyzed. Everything right down to the helmet straps. Then he took it a step further in wind tunnel testing. He found and brought in a body double to simulate Lance on the test bike to test all the bike equipment in the wind tunnel, so Lance’s training would not be disrupted. Who goes to that length ? Talk about thorough ? When I read this, I really thought this guy’s methods are simply revolutionizing the sport. An athlete John Litherland turned out to be the exact body dimension of Lance. So he was perfect in the wind tunnel testing. Again, only brilliant minds go to these extremes ? No other team even thinks of these kinds of methods. Well I’m sure they do now after Johan’s methods were made public.

Johan introduced another huge shift in training methodology and that was reconnaissance riding. He had Lance doing reconnaissance rides of the Tour de france route from January. So when they rode the same route in July, Lance would know ever corner, every road surface and gradient beforehand. Now almost all teams have adopted this early / off season regiment.

Another story that stood out for me in the book, was regarding the Tour in 2001, after an Individual TT. Lance unfortunately did not hydrate enough, and bonked to the point of losing 15lbs of body weight after the 29mile test. Fifteen pounds after only 29 miles ???? Wow ? Talk about “Depletion” I thought that was a misprint but Lance dehydrated himself to the point of almost losing the tour. It was a one of Lance’s dark days during the tour. But Johan being the Director extradordinaire, vowed he needed a way to find some positive out of it and he did and it allowed his No. 1 charge to resurface and eventually go on to win the tour.

We the reader are also privy to Johan’s deep generosity , when he sites the example of trying sign a rider (Max Van Heeswijk) on the team. There was no room in the budget and Johan was denied signing Max. But he felt so passionate about this particular rider, that he paid the rider out of his own pocket !! Actions like this speak volumes about his character. I don't know of any DS who would ever take a pay cut to accommodate a rider ? Its something Bjarne Riis should learn if he wants Contador to have any chance in 2012.

There are quite a few similar stories as this, showing Johan’s brilliance. This one in particular stands out for me. Any professional cycling team is made up of 1 to 3 team directors (coaches as we call them in North America). Teams are racing and training in different parts of the world and have allocated staff to go with them. One story leapt out at me as Johan had to “coach a coach.” When he had to motivate his other team director (Dirk de Mol) to keep the team Dirk was managing focused on the job. Its one thing to have to worry about one team, but having to worry and motivate another director is phenomenal. Talk about spreading yourself thin. In North American translation, iIt would be similar to a coach in the NHL , NBA or NFL being responsible and coaching not one, but two teams simultaneously. That’s simply unheard of in today’s professional sports. But its Johan’s reality.

The only item I had wished he addressed in more detail, was the departure of Floyd Landis and the doping allegations by Frankie Andreu. But I guess he has his reasons.


I love this quote by legendary cycling commentator Phil Liggett:

Johan Bruyneel could inspire a tortoise to sprint! His tactical reflexes and sharp coaching eyes have honed his athletes into the most calculating winning machines of all time.
-Phil Liggett



This book is inspirational to say the least. Its not only about cycling, its full of real world advice taken from Johan’s own personal high and low points. Indirectly, he teaches us how we can go from 'good' to becoming "Great" at all aspects of our life. I know I sound like an Oprah episode, but I'm not joking.I believe, this book can relate to every person in some factor or another. Whether it be a competition, a relationship, or just striving to better oneself. I anxiously await to see Johan under his new team RadioShack –Nissan transform Andy Schleck in 2012. Go Johan !

A great quote about Johan’s philosophy:
You never know which moment of success will be the one that ends up changing your life, so they’re all worth fighting for.

Monday

Steve Bauer - First Season as a Team Manager


Admist all the debt crisis talks, occupy talks , and overall economy discussions, it just proves my point ,that the world is fixated on MONEY and without it, we can’t do shit! The sport of cycling used to be blue collar, a poor mans sport. I used to read tell tale stories of the poor working class cyclist, rising up in the ranks. But nowadays, if you don’t have the money for the right equipment, you’ll never make it. I’m glad a Canadian Cycling icon, Steve Bauer has openly said the most important thing for he and his team right now is MONEY.

When are people going to wake up and understand the MONEY makes the world go round ? From professional cycling to anything in life, its all about money people. Its not about the size of a mayor’s waist line, its about the “budget.” Its not about the principle of the war, its about how much money can be gained from it. I can go on and on, but this article about Steve Bauer’s first year as the team owner of Spidertech really sent a clear message about the importance of money in cycling.

I’m sure he wasn’t so fixated on money, when he was riding 8 hours a day with LeMond along quiet Kortjik Belgium roads. But now even his view has changed and I’m not surprised. I just wish more people knew that cycling has become all about money and its no longer a blue collar sport. Here’s the Globe and Mail article.

You’ll have to pardon Steve Bauer if he’s a little worn out at the end of a long season.
The former Canadian cycling great might not be racing the bike anymore, but as the manager of Team SpiderTech powered by C10 in their maiden season on the Continental Pro tour he certainly had an awful lot on his plate. It’s the first time Canada has fielded a team at that level of pro cycling.


Bauer reflected on the team’s rookie season in a recent telephone interview.

“It’s a challenge for our guys to compete against world tour teams,” he said. “I consider ourselves a Continental Pro team Division II and we’re racing often against Division I teams in the bigger races. We’re the little fish in the big stage.

“I think the guys rode well. We have some talented young guys that stretched their legs against some of the best. We took our knocks, too. We had injury, we had illness, we had to fight through. I think the results the guys got were decent, but I think the team is much better. With a little more experience, I think these guys can raise the bar much more and I think we’re looking forward to seeing what they can really do.”


The good news for the team moving forward is their major sponsors are sticking with them as they try to climb the ladder, particularly SpiderTech, whose owner Ray Arbesman was a driving force in getting the squad up and running. But to reach their goal of the Tour de France, they’re going to have to convince more big Canadian companies to believe in their dream.

Inevitably, it comes down to the almighty dollar,” said Bauer. “You can enter the pro tour if you have the financial resources to hire the players and build the infrastructure to make it happen. But if you don’t have the finances to hire the players with the points, with the sporting values to reach pro tour, it’s just unrealistic, right. We can compete as a great Canadian team, but we won’t be on the Tour (de France), plain and simple.

“If we were a French team, we would obviously have a much better shot at a wildcard invite, right. Just like Europcar this year was a Continental Professional team and they had a invite, as did all the other French Continental Professional teams. Maybe we have to adjust our status to be French to get a better shot.”

Bauer laughs when it’s pointed out they have a good quota of French Canadians on the squad.
“I don’t think that counts when you’re talking about the Tour de France,” he said.

Among the highlights for the team this year, Bauer points to 21-year-old David Boily from Quebec City winning the mountain phase of the Giro di Sardegna and nearly capturing the Tour de l’Avenir; Hugo Houle, 20, of Ste Perpetue, winning both under-23 races at the Canadian road championships; American Pat McCarty winning best climber in the Amgen Tour of California; and Canadian veteran Svein Tuft winning the Grand Prix Stad Zottegem in Belgium.

Bauer said they’re not at a level where they could hope to keep Tuft for another season, given he has only a few years of racing left and is clearly a first division, UCI World Tour rider. Tuft signed with new Australian team GreenEDGE.Bauer acknowledges it’s hard competing with the big boys of cycling. “It’s a tough job to get it all done when you’re small,” he said. “We could really use double the infrastructure to get the job done. We’re really stretching our resources.”

But the dream of making it to the Tour de France remains. Their original short term goal was 2013, something Bauer believes could still be done if they landed a key sponsor in the next six months. Otherwise, he said they’re looking at 2014.

“The exciting part is we continue to believe we can make this happen,” he said. “It’s really exciting, the challenges we have before us. If we don’t aim for the top, we’ll never get halfway. It feels really good to be leaders in something that’s very challenging in Canadian sport. Who knows? Maybe that’s why I’m doing it.”


It seems quite clear that if Bauer cannot secure more sponsorship money, his dream of leading a team in the Tour de France will never happen. Money, money, money and mo money ..

Friday

A BMI to shoot for

A BMI to work towards. Rarely do I see cyclists' abs.

Because I'm Fanatical about the Stelvio Pass

Yes, i'll admit, I'm fanatical when it comes to this historical climb in Italy. I simply can't get enough of it. Earlier this week, some lucky folks had a chance to climb it and took this sensational photo of it. Tuesday November 1, 2011, the Stelvio Pass in Italy never looked better !!!

Thursday

Coppi up the Stelvio Pass in 1953

The "Cima Coppi" is what its named for and here's the man who gave it its name. Italy's greatest cyclist, Fausto Coppi going up the Stelvio Pass. It was the first time the Giro had been up this climb.

More Beauty from the 2011 Giro D'Italia

Tuesday

Need help adjusting your rear derailleur ?

Sometimes even the pro mechanics need a little help. Leopard trek mechanics needed help and they called in the big guns from Shimano. Super mechanic Magnus Hedvall showed them the way. Wow ! I wish this guy could teach me.