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    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.

    Garmin Edge 500

    The Garmin Edge 500 is as easy to set up as it is to use when you’re on the road or trail. It’s a compact, feature-rich cycling computer that offers every possible metric you need (42 in all), including the ability to read power from any ANT+ device.

    Fighting the Urge

    --The natural processes of the human body are a strange and wonderful thing. And while I’m no physiology expert, I can appreciate the simpler processes. The flow of energy seems an obvious pathway. Though certainly complex, it makes sense on a superficial basis -- in goes the food and drink, and out comes the waste products. In between is where the magic happens that makes us go fast. In terms of my past successes and failures, I’d say there hasn’t been one time that I’ve reflected on anything that wasn’t on the consumptive end of that routine. Either it was [...]

    - Who amongst us isn’t still in the afterglow of Cancellara’s Paris-Roubaix dominance? The most telling moment of his superiority was shortly after his attack when he caught then tore through the small breakaway ahead of him. The way Björn Leukemans angrily shook his fist at him as Cancellara shed him -- that told the whole tale. (If you look about 90 seconds previous to this shot -- where the two of them take a left-hander -- check out how Björn shakes his head in disbelief, again suggesting the absurd pace of Cancellara.) - A PRO friend who rode in [...]

    It was time for a new bag. Our Sci-Con bag disappeared on our December epic. The cleat didn’t break, the bag didn’t fail, it just went missing. Maybe we didn’t secure it after replacing the tube in a convenience store. We didn’t realize it until we were home and de-icing the bike. The Arundel Dual bag looked like a good solution. Seat bags should be light, unobtrusive, non-damaging to shorts and seatpost, and secure. The Dual seemed to have all these features. As easy as the cleat system was on the Sci-Con, we wanted the extra security of a Velcro [...]

    My Surrogate Belgium

    - A week in Texas. The remotest reaches of Hill Country. Distant from San Antonio, from Austin, from phone, from TV, from internet. It was a week devoted, ascetic-like, to worship of the bike. Kerrville, Willow City, Fredricksburg: An unjustifiable thicket of roads shortening the distance from nowhere to nowhere -- potential journeys (based on the traffic) seemingly taken by no one. Texas: You are my surrogate Belgium. Like Flanders it’s not just wind but a great, hardback thesaurus devoted to the language of wind. Shoving, heaving, bullying. To ride in Texas is an immersion in the lexicon of sailing [...]

    Yesterday, I crashed

    --Yesterday, while filming some video for a POC body armor review, I had a crash. It seems fitting. And while not out of the ordinary, this one left me with a few things to think about. I don’t know the reason for the introspection. It’s not that I’m having an ‘I’m getting too old for this shit’ time in my life. Sure, I don’t bounce like I used to and bruises, aches, and pains seem to stick with me a little longer. No, I think the difference is that my crash yesterday wasn’t rooted in plain stupidity, an overreaching sense [...]

    Climbing In The Drops

    - It cost SRAM a pretty penny to acquire Zipp, but it was a smart move for several reasons. Dissect a high-end bike on a component-by-component basis: Is any single brand for any single component as coveted as Zipp is for wheels? Maybe Chris King once owned the headset with the same dominance. But the proliferation of the integrated headtube makes that ancient history. Otherwise, healthy debate exists on what’s ‘best’ for any other component on the bike. When SRAM acquired Zipp they bought this mindshare, they bought a nice pipeline of future product, and they bought operational infrastructure that [...]