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    - The traits of a great bike mechanic: He reads & returns to the manual. He loves his torque wrench. He welcomes conversation about the problem that, at any given point, he’s trying to solve. At the end of the day his bench is spotless. And while I don’t know what makes an amazing surgeon or pilot, I imagine it’s not unlike the work done by the best mechanics: 99% of it is precise adherence to protocol, and the other 1% is a wicked sense for improvisation. For all of the more complicated components handled by a mechanic, none in [...]

    Last year, we were talking with the importer for Continental tires. Small stuff, chitchat, catching up. Out of the blue, he asks, “what do you think of 25mm tires?” We told him of our experience with the Michelin Pro3 Race 25mm tires. He didn’t mention Conti’s version, he didn’t even ask why we hadn’t tried it. He just did a happy dance. A grown man doing a happy dance over a tire 2mm wider than the norm. 25mm race tires have that kind of following. No one is bragging over their tire choice, few are advertising, but when it comes [...]

    - Vanity that is not PRO: Averting your eyes from road to computer to check your speed mid-descent. - Vanity that is PRO: The proper wristwatch. This was a What’s New topic earlier in the spring and I put on display my grandfather’s aged Longines as an example of impeccable on-the-bike style. Several readers -- clearly as mad for watches as they are bikes -- wrote me in a panic, assuring me my Anquetil-era heirloom wouldn’t stand the sweat etc. of a day at the races. So, with that background, a quick watch-related update: Of the many charms of the [...]

    Our quest for faster recovery never ends. This mission is of a piece with going faster on the bike. Riding faster is comprised of many elements, not the least of which is the amount of fatigue we’re feeling before we even get on the bike. And while fatigue is an important component of gaining fitness, it also slows you down on the bike. Faster recovery is better recovery is greater freshness is greater ability to push oneself on the bike is that wonderful feeling when you’re rolling as the wind. Last year, we tested out the Craft compression socks. This [...]

    - ‘Custom geometry’: A PRO phenomenon that died out right around the same time as hairnets. A shame, really, since in all the impenetrability of PROness perhaps the most subtle is a special rider’s special preference in the handling of his bike. Whether it was Steve Bauer’s late-career revelation about the wonders of a 66° seat angle, or the magic of Tafi’s one-off Paris Roubaix Colnago, who amongst us wouldn’t want an hour on a frame tailored to a PRO’s mad idiosyncrasies? A while back I did more than just test ride a custom PRO bike -- I went ahead [...]

    Start designing a bike computer for the power age from scratch. It’s got to offer lots of data at once. It has to offer metrics that are relevant to power. All of the data needs to be accessible easily and quickly. Know that the finished product doesn’t have to contend with wires. Know that it should have a mount that can go on the stem or handlebars. Know that it needs lots of memory. It should also work with both indoor trainers and on rides. This was the game CycleOps played when they went about designing the Joule. We have [...]

    The Proprietor

    - An old-school trend worth reviving: Double disc wheels. You can’t tell me a Zipp 808 front is meaningfully more stable than a disc. And something about a front disc makes you look so committed to the art of time trialing. - Another tantalizing old-school trend: Booze on the bike. Friday afternoon beers at work have led to who-knows-how-many prophecies of weekend bike greatness? The euphoria of well-timed Shiner Bocks is something I’d love to feel mid-ride, rather than the night before. Epic feats I’ve envisioned then never seen through: Plans for a record-breaking Saturday afternoon of hill repeats; the [...]

    RockShox 2011 Forks

    --As much as I’d like to say it was all for fun, the RockShox Base Camp event that I recently attended in Durango, Colorado was still work related. And as such, my duty list includes some reporting. So without further ado, here we go on a thrillride through the sage and scrub oak aboard some hot new items from the RockShox 2011 Suspension Fork product line. Here’s what I personally rode… Revelation RLT Ti — Dual Position Air Spring. Dual Position Air is the easiest to use crown mounted on-the-fly travel adjust available. It will only come on the Revelation [...]

    - The least PRO thing I’ve ever done took place on day 1 of my freshman year of college. It was a break-the-ice-type social event -- a chaste tie-dye party to which I took a classic mid-80′s Campagnolo T-shirt. It was a pure white shirt, apropos of the fact that especially back then Campy is Heavenmade. Haute Phish, the kaleidoscopic color with which I festooned what had once been a thing of beauty. It was a mortal sin of non-PROness matched only by the fact I actually wore it. Again and again. There’s a reason for the U23 category -- [...]

    Hey, Come Try This!

    --Hey, come here and try this. I could be leading into a story of teenage temptation -- the time I got lured around a corner behind the gym lockers for a first smoke, my first drag race on a two lane country road, or the unspoken ‘come here and try this’ in the eyes of my first romance. Those are stories for another forum, like ’round a campfire under a blanket of stars. Today’s story comes from a different kind of temptation. We were recently invited to join the RockShox crew out in Durango, Colorado for a 2011 product presentation. [...]

    A Ukrainian in Iowa

    - Memorial Day #1: If you’ve interacted with Competitive Cyclist, especially in the MTB realm, you’ve surely spoken to or met my business partner & great friend Hap Seliga. On this somber day -- one made up of a solitary stories of devastated lives -- it’s his grandfather I have in mind. Memorial Day #2: Of the many things to appreciate about the sport of cycling, one of the most moving is how our races travel history’s hallowed battlegrounds. This year’s Giro is an example. The Tour de Georgia had the same. And the monumental classics of the Ardennes bring [...]

    We take a wind vest as a given. Every cyclist should have one. It’s an essential piece of every team kit. It’s so intrinsic that we’ve ceased giving them any thought; kind of like socks. We have socks. We wear them. We have wind vests. We wear them. We’ve got spares when one is in the wash. We’ve never worn one out or wrecked one. Thinking about either socks or vests is like, in the words of Omar Little in The Wire, is like worrying the sun’s gonna come up in the morning. Adding the Giordana FormaRed Carbon Compactible Wind [...]

    - The Floyd v. Lance PR blowup has given anyone with a keyboard the chance to weigh in as moral expert. The number of words written has been Tolstoyan, while the amount of original opinion expressed has been less so (maybe with one exception.) It’s not that the thinkers don’t think deeply and it’s not that their feelings aren’t heartfelt. Pro-Lance here, anti-Lance there -- as a whole everyone is hamstrung by the fact that all we have is hype. Isn’t evidence the lifeblood of investigators and journalists? And when it comes to alleged infractions 7 years bygone, is anything [...]

    - Bike guilty of stealing my heart, #1: Olmo Sintex. Columbus SLX tubing, circa 1988. It was beautiful opalescent green -- the sort of paint you don’t see anymore since multi-coat richness like that isn’t friendly to the gram scale. Best part was that it matched the stone in the class ring of the girl I was chasing at the time. Olmo: One of the countless once-great Italian brands gone the way of the dinosaur. - Note to the world: We’re hiring for 4 different positions here. Resumés are welcome. - If you choose to be attentive to such things, [...]

    Last year, I quit. I wasn’t the only one. In fact, of the 244 starters, 113 quit the race before it ended. Many didn’t even get out of bed that day, as the permitted 350 rider field limit was nearly met through pre-registration. I’d signed up, paid the money, and eventually resigned the entry fee as a donation to the organizer. Hell, he always puts on a great event. He deserved it. A ride at Ouachita Challenge earlier this year put at least one demon to rest. I’d quit that one in 2008, due to a bad mental state and [...]

    - With May comes a focus on Italy, and with Italy comes the delight of crostata -- possibly the most versatile food of the pro peloton. Like all good food, it shines in its simplicity. It’s a little pastry filled with mixed berries. It’s served at breakfast; at night add gelato and it’s dessert; and regardless of the pallet’s worth of space-age gels, blocks, and bars present in the team service course, crostatas wrapped in aluminum foil are a feed zone staple, sure to be found in every riders’ mussette in the Giro. Don’t mistake a crostata for a summertime [...]

    Carbon Fiber is a bike material that is enjoying a coming-of-age, or it sure seems that way. While it’s not a new thing, and it’s even an expectation in the road bike arena now, carbon fiber for use in anything but the most expensive cross-country race bikes is something that we’ve just begun to readily accept as an industry in the last few years. I’ve been enjoying an Ibis Mojo SL since last fall and the introduction of the new Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon and Ibis Mojo HD got me thinking over the weekend about my interest for the material [...]

    - Like hunger. Like lust. Primitive forces, fiercely felt: How else to describe my one-time fear of flying? The night beforehand was the worst of it -- when countless scenes of catastrophic system failure went vivid: Simultaneous engine malfunction; mid-air collision; an exit door blowing out like a champagne cork; cuckolded-now-suicidal pilot; wind shear on the glide path. Mine was a typical case of irrational fear of what you can’t control, and my first-ever trip to the Tour de France, back in ’03, only happened because a good customer -- he also happened to be an American Airlines pilot -- [...]

    - I mothballed my SRM awhile ago. Even though I still race and even though I know a powermeter’s telemetry would sharpen my training -- likely making me better on race day -- I chucked it nonetheless. There’s so much joy brought by a bike: The seen beauty of a landscape; the occasional glorious fusion of man and machine where pedaling is a pure expression of selfhood; the meditative silence overwhelming one’s mind. Life off the bike is circumscribed by reminders and tickers and the struggle to manage time. Riding is evermore a refuge from this cacophony of pulsing data. [...]

    POC Body Armor

    The folks at POC expect that you’ll be doing crazy stuff on your bike. When you do, make sure that you are properly protected. POC makes a full range of pads and armor to keep you safe.

    This wheelset marks a new chapter for Easton. It’s called UST. They’re strong and light and you’re guaranteed the best tubeless performance possible.

    Bianchi Infinito

    Bianchi’s Reparto Corse division combined lessons learned on the road with Bianchi’s rich heritage to create bikes that have, as their catalogue eloquently states: “Technology with SOUL”. The new Infinito is a perfect example of this philosophy.

    The Winter of Love

    - My earliest memory of cyclocross is tied to how obscure the sport once was. It was the late ’80′s, my grandparents lived an hour north of NYC in Cornwall. It’s a beautiful town on the Hudson, just on the other side of West Point. It’s tucked in by roadie delights I was discovering for the very first time back then: The endless hills of 9W (‘…the W stands for ‘wicked”), the brutality of Bear Mountain. As I recall, Cornwall was also the home of a tiny shop called the ‘Bicycle Doctor’ -- the sole sponsor (and employer?) of a [...]

    Giro Prolight Helmet

    Rather than simply tweak an existing design by adding more volume, more vents, or just changing the shape, Giro decided to commemorate their 25th anniversary with something special – and the result is the lightest helmet on planet earth – the Giro Prolight.

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