– The phone? In airplane mode. The computer? Kept further away than arm’s length. The TV? Off, off, off. As dusk settles on the evening of Tour of Flanders, nothing is so sweet as a successful media embargo.
The NBC Sports TV coverage is predictably stuffed with commercials. It’s bliss to turn that two-hour broadcast into an hour fifteen and to watch it properly but guilt-free (that is, drinking Belgian beer at 7pm rather than 7am).
One for the Ronde. One for the DVR. One for friends who know when to leave you alone.
Doing a big ride rather than watching live race coverage is to choose between two glorious things. But big-ringing it on Cloud Nine, though, doesn’t make you bulletproof, as I discovered Sunday morning. I was searing the road as I approached a stop sign at an unfamiliar intersection. It seemed like it should’ve been a four-way stop so I hardly tapped my brakes. And then I saw a Tacoma fast approaching from my left, clearly not slowing. I locked it up and skidded to a stop with only a few feet to spare.
The result was a feeling familiar to us all. The sickness at the pit of my being wasn’t just because the collision that nearly happened. It’s that it would’ve been of my own doing. I didn’t just ruin my ride, but I ruined the rest of the day. Three days have now passed, yet the sickness still lingers. A reminder: Being careful by and large means not being stupid.
– I escaped Sunday unbloodied. Two-time Ronde winner Stijn Devolder can’t say the same. These five Sirotti photos (scroll down four or five photos to see them) are the most remarkable I saw from the race. No one would debate that the Ronde is the whole point of Devolder’s season. Because of this, it’s heartbreaking to see his post-crash shock, his realization that the race has left him, and it’s all but tragicomedy to see a teammate hand over his bike, one that’s so clearly 7cm too big for Devolder.
– White hot lust struck on Sunday. Good Lord, did you see Pippo Pozzato’s shoes? I’ve never wanted to own a bike remotely as much as I want those shoes. It’s the stuff of young men, this head-spinning need for possession. Love’s my only crime. Any sin, any cost. The neon Ergo 4’s will be mine!
– More neon.
– The name of this photo is sacrilege:
Taking a road bike to Moab may seem insane given that people travel across the world to ride on the area’s famous mountain bike trails. So let me set the record straight: The road riding there is amazing. Moab sits at 4,000 feet and it’s surrounded by road loops that climb into the La Sal mountains upwards of 8,000 feet. Climbing Spanish Valley Road aka ‘The Big Nasty’ is to take on a climb nearly 20 miles long. And since the La Sal range reaches nearly 13,000 feet, snow-capped peaks make you think you’re in the Italian Alps. An added bonus is the absolute absence of auto traffic.
– If you’re considering a training trip to the Mountain Time Zone, another amazing climb to sample is the Peak To Peak highway on the outskirts of Boulder, Colorado. Peak to Peak is in some ways less formidable than what you’ll find around Moab. Unlike Utah, savage steepness is less frequent. But in exchange for mild grades you get interminable duration. One popular refueling spot is Ward, Colorado, which approaches the lung-crushing altitude of 9,500ft. One other challenge around Boulder is the traffic. As cyclists we’re connoisseurs of emptiness. The roads around Boulder could stand to use more of it.
And while the riding quality of Moab might nip out that around Boulder, Boulder’s après-ride culture shines with unequaled brilliance. For the bike-mad, no other city can touch its wonders. There are the overt highlights: Two bike shops on every street, including PRO retailers like Vecchio’s and Pro Peloton; innovators like The Pro’s Closet and Skratch Labs; along with oddities like an electric bike-only shop.
But what gives Boulder its sparkle is how the non-bike businesses always seem to come back to bikes. The best restaurant in town, Frasca, is co-owned and run by Bobby Stuckey, a Master Sommelier who was once a pro for Shaklee. The best wine shop, Boulder Wine Merchant, is rife with clues of the owner’s passion for Euro bike racing. And my personal favorite is Cured — a gorgeously-done foodie emporium owned and run by ex-Garmin pro Will Frischkorn.
Sorry if this video begins with a commercial. But it’s worth the wait: