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    Reviewed: Ridley Icarus

    If you cringe at the thought of taking your race-day bike out for those long, preseason training days, or you’re simply looking to dip your toes into the world of performance cycling without re-financing your home, the Ridley Icarus Shimano Tiagra Complete Bike removes all the heavy lifting from your decision-making process and quickly gets you riding. The Icarus is very much a workman’s steed, being a race-worthy and exceptionally upgradable platform thanks to geometry derived from the top-shelf Ridley Excalibur, and able to take the abuse of day-in day-out training, thanks to the light and strong 7005-series aluminum tubing. [...]

    The Zipp 202 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset is not only the lightest Firecrest clincher in the Zipp war chest, but even as a clincher, it reigns supreme as the ultimate Zipp climbing wheel.

    The new Quarq Red GXP Powermeter is the latest revolution in powermeters; not only by being the first powermeter to be designed into a SRAM gruppo, but also by increasing reading accuracy while decreasing overall weight. If you’re looking to take your riding to the next level, it’s an obvious choice.

    Garneau’s Course Apparel features next-to-skin fit and Garneau’s lightest, most aerodynamic fabrics. The Superleggera kit has mesh inserts throughout to keep you comfortable in sweltering summer temperatures, while the Race kit provides compression to reduce muscle fatigue and enhance performance during competition. The Course vest features a strategic cut-out in back that allows you to access your jersey pockets with ease.

    Ergon designed the SM3 saddle from the ground up. The ultra-thin shell was developed using finite element method analysis to map loads and areas of stress. This gave the saddle its distinctive shape, and allowed Ergon to tune the shell for optimized deflection. The shell has progressive dampening layers that are individual to the different saddle widths. Every size option gets its own layer for rider-specific compression. Adding to the SM3′s trail taming is a nose-mounted micro-damper. This damper, located in between the shell and rails, filters out smaller vibrations.

    - (1) In the literary cult of Spring Classics literature, the most cultish book is Joe Parkin’s ‘A Dog In A Hat.’ The book spawned Joe’s tripidicular blog ’6 Years In A Rain Cape’. It was part Belgie reminiscences, part how-to PRO manual. Somehow, someway, in the time between the Parkin Authorial Apotheosis in 2009 and 2013, Joe lost control of his blog’s URL. Have you seen it now? Bummer. (2) In the bike biz, the Heavyweight Battle of the Titans is Specialized v. Trek. The Wizards of Wisconsin have suffered mightily over the last year. Seemingly every important one-day [...]

    Dear Brendan

    From: Jill Layfield Subject: Getting on the same page Date: March 25, 2013 11:16:01 AM MDT To: Brendan Quirk Dear Brendan - Given how tumultuous last week was, I thought it’d be wise to send you an email summarizing our conversations up to this point. As you recall, upon receiving your resignation/confession, I asked you to reconsider. I suggested that a 72-hour ‘cooling off period’ might be beneficial to you. So for three days you vanished. Upon your return you made it clear you were conflicted. You told me you spent the time wandering the streets of San Francisco — [...]

    Dear Jill

    Jill Layfield, CEO Backcountry.com 1678 Redstone Drive Park City, UT 84098 Dear Jill – I’m writing you less as boss and more as friend. In the same way, this feels less like my resignation, and more like my confession. It’s with a heart heavy with regret that I must tell you my time has come. I’ll forever cherish my 19 months here at Backcountry.com. No other company and no other group of people would’ve offered the same opportunity, challenge and joy. I wish I could remain part of it. But, alas, I now answer to a higher power. You see, [...]

    Skratch Labs is onto something different –a drink mix optimized for hot water. Seasonal flavors are something we’ve seen from Clif Bar and Mountain Dew and elsewhere, but it’s new to the electrolyte drink scene, as is the idea of making something for hot water. This is a limited edition flavor; so next winter there should be something new. And to highlight the unique offering, it also comes with a glass jar, which you can reuse and reuse and reuse. Skratch Labs appeared in late 2011 under the name Secret Drink Mix, or SDM. This was playing on the fact [...]

    - The first in an occasional series highlighting the architecture that helps make the world’s most beautiful races just that, beautiful. We kick things off with a photo from one of America’s toughest mountaintop finishes. The Snowbird Ski Resort is becoming as synonymous with the Tour of Utah as Geelong Heights is to the Tour of Langkawi (please note I did not make an analogy to a European race, thank you.) The dizzying mountains of the Little Cottonwood Canyon provide plenty of drama. But things look that much more otherworldly on race day due to Snowbird’s Brutalist architecture. Let’s be [...]

    There is a fair amount of discussion as to what a chain should do. For some, it’s a disposable small part, and as such, you should buy on price alone. For others, it’s an indispensable part of a bike’s shifting performance. Others still see it as moving mass that should be minimized. KMC’s X10SL chain hits on two of the three points. It’s designed for easy shifting at a light weight to compete with the best chains on the market. At 5.88mm wide, it works with all 10-speed systems. Ever heard of KMC before? We’ve seen KMC chains around for [...]

    - If Bjarne Riis was Mr. 60%, Bloomberg News reports that Lance Armstrong was Mr. $218 Million. Unwanted exposure of his personal finances capped off one of Lance’s worse weeks. It’s bad enough that the US government made public its effort to do what Zuelle, Beloki and Ullrich couldn’t. But could anything burn Lance up worse than the idea of Floyd Landis hitting the lottery because of it? The comic relief ends up as the star. Floyd, Floyd, Floyd…Do you remember where you were a century ago — back in 2006 — when you first heard he failed a Tour [...]

    We learned our lesson when we gummed up a freehub with grease, costing us a stage race. It suddenly couldn’t engage, we couldn’t get a wheel in time. Race over. A friend learned when his freehub was screeching as he coasted out his door after servicing his rear wheel. In these situations, it took frantic web searches and anxious telephone calls before the problem was diagnosed. Then, with a little work and the proper lubricant, the problem was solved—though our sticky freehub was never quite the same again. Freehubs are nothing the average cyclist wants to service until he has [...]

    - Australia? Yawn. Qatar? Double-yawn. But the Etoile de Bessèges? When the Bessy arrives it means the bike racing season is officially here. At long last, Euros in Europe being Euro. - With the racing season now underway, some tips for making the most of it: Get epidemiological: Get big-ringing: Get bloodied, but unbowed: Get blown away by the comments, v 1.0. Get a whole lotta love: Get realistic: Which US-based world championship event received more holistic support from USA Cycling — 2013 ‘cross or 1986 road? Sure, this year USA Cycling covered a portion of the Exergy shortfall. But [...]

    - We’re all Lance experts now. But if you flip back to earlier pages of American elite cycling folklore, you’ll find the story where Eddy B, in his broken English, told his riders, ‘Horses are fast, yes? Then you should eat horsemeat.’ - As much as I may try otherwise, I can drum up zero excitement for the annual January blitz of sun-soaked Australian racing. Perhaps shifting from mud-clogged Belgian CX winter to the high heat of Down Under summer is too disjointed. Perhaps it’s that top form is never more useless than in January. Perhaps it’s that no winner [...]

    Hot, Blind Earth

    - Banging handlebars. The treachery of a springtime thunderstorm. Missing a feed. Cars on the course. Moments of terror come to the bike racer in varied forms. But spend enough time living the racing life and you’ll end up experiencing most of the catalog. Much more memorable, perhaps, are the moments of terror that come on the way there and back. As out of control as races may sometimes seem, the world at large can’t be contained in a rolling enclosure. One evening I was high-tailing it to a crit somewhere deep down in Faulkner country. The destination was Tupelo, [...]

    SRAM’s new XX1 groupset is a 1×11 drivetrain that utilizes a 10-42 rear cassette to offer all the gear ratios of a traditional 3×10 or 2×10 drivetrain, with the added simplicity of a single front chainring.

    - Eighty seven days ’til the most underrated classic of the year, the Amstel Gold Race. Your enjoyment will be greatly enhanced through a better grasp of the geopoliticial underpinnings of Holland’s, or the Netherlands’, most important bike race: - Team Sky has become 100% boy band. Like Justin Bieber — hairgelled, gender-bending, awed by their own celebrity. Give me gritty. Give me mean. Give me eccentric. Give me………Hitachi. - At the end 2012 Lampre parted ways with its longtime bike sponsor, Wilier. In its place comes Merida. All-but-unknown to most Americans, the company is a Taiwanese manufacturing powerhouse whose [...]

    Welcome back to our 2012 Year End Awards. You’ve arrived at Part 2 (of 2). Enjoy. - Website of the year: Velominati.com. Or, more specifically, The Rules. This page should get handed out with every road bike sale. My favorite? At the moment, it’s this one: ‘Rule #11: Family does not come first. The bike does. Sean Kelly, being interviewed after the ’84 Amstel Gold Race, spots his wife leaning against his Citroën AX. He interrupts the interview to tell her to get off the paintwork, to which she shrugs, ‘In your life the car comes first, then the bike, [...]

    - History will likely be unkind to 2012. For fans of pro cycling, ’twas the year of perps, snitches, schadenfreude, and nauseating self-righteousness. We all came out as losers. It’s nice to hope that the revelations of the year will cleanse the sport of 15 years of foulness. But optimism is hard to come by when the biggest races — Paris-Roubaix, the Tour de France, the Olympics — were all won by old guard stalwarts. Some have lobbied for Truth And Reconciliation. Maybe instead we should just force retirement on all pros older than 29. With the sunset of this [...]

    To look upon a Time pedal is to gaze upon an empire grasped and lost. Time pedals arrived in 1988, less than three years after Look started the clipless revolution, designed by a guy who helped birth the Look pedal. The fellow French manufacturer went straight after their competition with the tag line Le Defi, or The Challenge. Time pedals had something Look didn’t: float. And if you used Time’s shoes with their pedals, you had a system with a dramatically lower stack height as well. Several pro teams got on board fast. In 1988, Time pedals and shoes were [...]

    Capo apparel began with socks. They, following Alessandro Petacchi’s lead, created a longer-than-average sock for bike riders. It was a hit in the cycling world and a certain Tour de France winner gravitated toward the lengthy hose as well, furthering the trend in long leggings. Once again, Capo is leading with their socks, taking a good idea and making it their own. Compression socks are gaining in popularity, for use in both recovery and performance. Capo has had a performance-oriented, knee-high compression sock for some time. These tall socks we’re reviewing, the Active 12 Compression and Active 15 Compression, owe [...]

    Three Times a Bridesmaid

    - This is the story of a life in balance. And this is the story of one gloriously out of balance. - This week’s best photo ever: - Headline of the week #1: Belgian Classics demigod Leif Hoste announced his retirement. He finished bridesmaid at the Tour of Flanders three times, making him perhaps our favorite-ever underdog. A few years back I saw a photo of him on cyclingnews (I think) in which he was extracting his race bike from the trunk of a jet black Chrysler 300, aka the poor man’s Bentley. This weekend I spent the bulk of [...]

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