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Spring Classics Season is over: A demo bike sale, and 2 questions

Liege-Bastogne-Liege is over and done, and with that we’re finished with the ’08 Spring Classics season. Isn’t that kind of depressing? The tan, fragile, Little Lord Fauntleroys of the stage racing scene now officially take over, and we begin our countdown to the one day Fall Classics. 100 days ’til the Classica San Sebastian! With the passing of the season, might we take a brief moment to reflect? Three things come to mind as we look back over the last 60 days:

1. Cleaning out the warehouse sale.

You’re not a bike shop unless you have some one-off inventory hanging around that you’d really like to get rid of at the end of the Spring rush. And that’s exactly what we have here. We have ONE of each of these, so act fast if you’re interested. Please email us or call if you have questions, or if you’d like to proceed with a purchase:

P2CSOLD! A 2007 58cm Cervélo P2 Carbon frameset . Built up, ridden as a demo, un-built. It will come to you as a frame, Wolf CL carbon fork, Cane Creek Integrated headset, and Cervélo carbon seatpost. This is identical in every way to a new one, except for the slight, normal wear that comes from building a bike up and riding it a bit. You’ll find some cable rub, some paint imperfections where components attach & elsewhere. But it’s in fine shape. It is the 2007 edition, White/Red. You might note that structurally the 2007 edition is identical to the 2008. $1,399.

P2CSOLD! A 2007 54cm Cervélo P2 Carbon frameset . Built up, ridden as a demo, un-built. It will come to you as a frame, Wolf CL carbon fork, Cane Creek Integrated headset, and Cervélo carbon seatpost. This is identical in every way to a new one, except for the slight, normal wear that comes from building a bike up and riding it a bit. You’ll find some cable rub, some paint imperfections where components attach & elsewhere. But it’s in fine shape. It is the 2007 edition, White/Red. You might note that structurally the 2007 edition is identical to the 2008. $1,399.

Soloist TeamSOLD! A 2007 56cm Cervélo Soloist Team complete bike, Anodized Grey. Built up and ridden as a demo. It is the exact stock build offered in 2007 by Cervélo. Full Ultegra-10, with an FSA Gossamer crankset and BB. Cervélo Mach 2 brakes, FSA alloy bar/stem, and Easton Vista wheels. It’s a good shape, but it has the sort of cosmetic imperfections you’d expect with a bike with some demo miles on it. Except for pedals, it’s ready to ride. $1,399.

P2SLSOLD! A 2007 51cm Cervélo P2 SL complete time trial bike, Anodized Grey. Built up and ridden as a demo. It is the exact stock build offered in 2007 by Cervélo. Full Dura Ace-10 (Ultegra cassette & chain), with an FSA Gossamer crankset and BB. Cervélo Mach 2 brakes, FSA alloy bar/stem, Profile and Cervélo aero bars, Profile saddle, and Shimano R-500 wheels. It’s a good shape, but it has the sort of cosmetic imperfections you’d expect with a bike with some demo miles on it. Except for pedals, it’s ready to ride. $999.

Titus LigeroA 55cm Titus Ligero road frameset. Back when Titus was still keen on getting aggressive in the road marketplace, we brought this frame in to see how well their Isogrid technology lends itself to a road frame (because we’ve long been in awe of Isogrid/Exogrid on their mountain bikes). You can get some background on Isogrid here. This frameset was built up, ridden about 200 miles, then stripped back down. Except for the evidence that it was built up, it is in perfect condition. It will come with a Thomson non-setback seatpost and an Alpha-Q Sub-3 full carbon fork. Measurements are: 53cm C-T seat tube. 56cm virtual top tube, 54.5cm actual top tube. 15.2cm head tube (it is non-integrated FYI). $2,299.

2. A question: Just how awful is cycling.tv? Words are inadequate. I’m not sure what’s more frustrating -- the fact that the site is dysfunctional in every way, or the fact that upon rare, random occasion it works just fine which spawns hope that it might work next time (and, inevitably, it doesn’t).

cycling.tv error messageGiven that we’re in the e-commerce business here, we’re sensitive to website usability. It’s a phenomenon we’re obsessed with, but it’s clear that no one at cycling.tv feels the same. 75% of the time you attempt to login, the pop-up window that arises is no more than a perpetual empty screen with a ‘about:blank’ in the URL field. And the 25% of the time when it does work, your browser is likely to lock up once you hit any other link.

And if logging in is like fending off a plague of locusts, what can we say for the actual act of attempting to watch a race? Watching a live race is agony. The fits and starts and hiccups with the audio and video are remarkable. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Regardless of what bandwidth you have (in our case a T1), or what stream you’re trying to access (256kbs or 1200kbs), the ever-present chop is everything that web-based video can’t and shouldn’t be. Surely they have a ocean-size demand during live coverage, but they seemingly refuse to invest in a bandwidth pipe bigger than a Glad Flexistraw.

And when it comes to their ‘on demand’ coverage, i.e. you watch the race afterwards, not when it’s live, the experience is no less painful. In theory their bandwidth demand should be substantially less than when we’re all trying to watch it live. No dice. On demand is just as bad.

We used to be a sponsor of cycling.tv. In the past we paid some serious cash -- about the same as what we pay for a month of advertising on cyclingnews.com -- in order to sponsor the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix live coverage. NEVER AGAIN. At least not until their site evolves past its current circa-1999 state. I must ask, what value do Speedplay, Cervélo, Cannondale, and their other few current sponsors believe they derive from this? Why didn’t they follow our sprint to the exit door?

When cycling.tv was acquired by JumpTV about a year ago, we figured a meaningful infusion of capital was en route, and we’d soon delight in trouble-free coverage. Negative. It seems like JumpTV wants to keep things cheap, cheap, cheap -- perhaps in hopes of being acquired themselves. Too bad for the hardcore bike race fans of North America.

Our prescription? We think World Cycling Productions (WCP) needs to come to the rescue. They already own the rights to DVD sales for the best races in the world. How big of leap could it be for them to serve these races live? Surely the online rights can’t be that expensive. They always do a great job with their videos, why don’t they do the same for live coverage?

3. Another question: What is going on at cyclingnews.com? Speaking of acquisitions, as many of you know cyclingnews.com was acquired late last year by a company called Future Publications. Cyclingnews.com had long been the authoritative cycling website for breaking news, feature stories, and tech info. Their audience is huge, and the sale price was reportedly over USD $4mm. It was a big deal.

cyclingnews.comFuture is a UK-based company that owns a mess of websites unfamiliar to North Americans (e.g. bikeradar.com) and magazines generally unknown or ignored by them as well (e.g. ProCycling, Mountain Bike UK). Future’s idea, as always, was to use cyclingnews.com to create ‘global synergy’ between all of its media properties. The reality, though, has been anything but synergistic or positive for the cyclingnews viewership base. Rather, at the peak of this year’s Spring Classics Future upended the age-old layout of the Cyclingnews home page. They’ve taken the single-most important news item -- race results -- and stuffed it low on the homepage beneath a horrifying 300×250 Flash ad box, requiring you to scroll down the page to find the race results. In addition, the cyclingnews masthead has been squished over to the left corner in order to make room for a top-of-the-page ad banner. Cyclingnews has always been a site very dense with both news content & advertisements. The addition of these two banners has had a transformative effect: It makes the site aesthetically awful, and thoroughly unfriendly for headline-scanning

velonews.comOver the last 18 months or so, velonews.com has been gaining a stronger-and-stronger reputation for scooping cyclingnews on features and breaking news, and they’ve done a better job at providing complete race results more quickly than cyclingnews. They’ve effectively embraced video (whereas cyclingnews has done so begrudgingly and poorly), and they’ve done some neat stuff with GPS in conjunction with their live race coverage. And, perhaps most importantly, in January velonews rolled out a beautiful, easily-navigable website.

In speaking with our customers, a lot of people are making the transition we’re beginning to make: When we want our racing-related news, and we want in now, rather than going to cyclingnews we’re going to velonews. It’s an 8-year habit we’re breaking here. Not too long ago, velonews.com was piss-poor. The tables are turning. A monument of our sport is in decline, and a new true news authority is emerging.