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    - My apologies for the sporadic updates here on ‘What’s New.’ Our European excursion was a disruption, and then came the roll-out of our mobile-specific site and the unveiling of our Featured Bikes program . Both were the result of immense work by a lot of people. Sadly, sometimes the blogging must wait. It’s time for some catch up now, and we’ll be back with regularly scheduled What’s New columns in two weeks. - When Paul Kimmage published ‘ A Rough Ride’ in 1990, doping was one of those topics most people in the cycling world strenuously avoided. He was, [...]

    Our Visit to Girona

    It’s not the climbs. It’s the sound of my own nerve-wracked thoughts leading up to the base of them. Anticipatory dread is my specialty. It’s likely for this reason that turning 40 years old never bothered me. What I couldn’t shake was the worry about being worried about it. So I made a plan for the fateful day: Play Peter Pan, which meant a 4 day camp in Girona, Spain with my best training pals and ride myself into the ground every day with the simple sense of purpose that, at age 40, life no longer permits. The art of [...]

    Our Visit to Ridley HQ

    Tessenderlo, Belgium: Heart of Flanders, heart of cycling. Trivial notes: The town was the site of Tom Steels’ 2004 Belgian National Championship and, in 2005, Ludo Dierckxsens’ final race as a pro. Personal notes: It’s home of the first bread vending machine I’ve ever seen and in its January misery (-3˚ Celsius; wet grey skies; a jacket-nullifying wind), it begged one question above all else: How do people here get fit for March racing? Unlike, say, Pittsburgh or Cleveland, the expectation in Flanders is that you’ll be flying-fit in March. Summertime racing is near-irrelevant. Getting hard when it’s hardest: That’s [...]

    Our Visit to Canyon HQ

    Cue in memories of Eurobike 2008, Day 1. It was the first time we ever saw a Canyon bike. Their beauty was obvious, but what mystified us was the against-the-grain way they sold their bikes: Consumer direct. The technological sophistication of their frames was as subtle as a hammer blow; their aesthetic appeal was mammoth; and their corporate branding was crafty. After all, Eurobike has long been the world’s most important trade show. The first 3 days of the show is always restricted to industry-only, then the 4th day is open to consumers. Canyon’s booth was the size of the [...]

    Thermal bib shorts are our favorite secret weapon for cool and chilly days, and none offers better value than the Castelli Claudio.

    Our Visit to Assos HQ

    It’s turning into a tradition: Our mid-winter sojourn to Europe. It’s a time to ride, to visit with great brands on their home turf, and to contemplate changes in the way we buy (and sell) to make Competitive Cyclist that much better for our core customer base, i.e. everyone back in North America. We’ll file a total of 4 reports from our trip. This entry is the first and expect to see the remaining ones every 3 or 4 days – The 9-hour flight to Milan? I slept like a baby. The airport pickup? A Mercedes AMG driven by an [...]

    Indoor riding takes much of the fun away from this sport we love. Even when riding in the cold and wet, you still can feel fast, feel the bike respond to your efforts, feel the g-forces as you go through a turn, fight and overcome the resistance gravity puts on you when climbing. Our preference is to bundle up in our Fugujack and brave the elements. Some days are just too messy to go outside unless you have a fully-fendered mountain bike. Some days are too cold to manage a high-intensity workout on the road. Sometimes, there isn’t enough time [...]

    Assos has completely redesigned their winter tights, and the result is the new LL716. The flexible, soft, and more comfortable fabrics combine to make these tights feel like they’re barely there, but they still keep your legs from freezing even on the coldest days.

    Reviewed: Mavic Fury Shoes We suspected that Mavic’s top of the line Fury shoes would be awesome for racing. We rode and raced with them through the seasons to see how they’d stand up to our expectations.

    The Misery-Hilarity Index

    - January 14th’s Wall Street Journal brought a most non-Indurain-like podium for Banesto. Forget about what it means for the poor souls tasked with finding tomorrow’s team sponsors (so often found in the banking sector.) The larger economic implications of the caption to this photo are staggering – ‘PAIN IN SPAIN: ‘It will be a difficult and uncertain year,’ CEO Jose Garcia Cantera of Banco Espanol de Credito SA said on Thursday, when the Spanish lender reported weak fourth quarter results. It said nonperforming real estate loans rose to 24%, [emphasis added] up from 14.5% in 2009.’ – Wall Street [...]

    Competitive Cyclist

    Looking at this Selle Italia Flite Gel Flow opens old wounds. Selle Italia stepped on a minefield when they retired their Flite design and the shrapnel was felt under cyclists the world over. The saddle, the first of the modern lightweight saddles, was hugely popular both for roadies and mountain bikers, and many of them hung onto their saddles until they broke. Realizing the mistake they made, Selle Italia reintroduced the Flite design. The new shape and rails were lighter than the old shape and rails. And, as they did with the original Flite, and they do with all their [...]

    There’s no more important cool and cold weather accessory than the arm, leg, and knee warmer. Castelli’s NanoFlex material revolutionizes this fundamental piece of cycling apparel.

    We offer several different iterations of thermal bib shorts, but none are as well executed as the Assos T.607 S5.

    Last week we took a look back at the year in bike racing and fanhood. This week we take a look at our highlights from 2010 specific to gear and the people who earn their keep by making & selling gear. - Product of the Year: It’s as much the ‘Brand of the Year’ as ‘Product of the Year’. Garmin didn’t just devour the bike computer market, but thanks to the functionality and variety of their computers (and price points) they grew the bike computer market tenfold. That’s great news, and perhaps this is what we should’ve expected from a [...]

    - The rule isn’t clear about these year-end reviews — whether they’re best done at the end of said year, or better kept under wraps ‘til the new year comes in. With that one solitary bit of uncertainty in mind, I hereby bring you an otherwise utterly self-confident act of judge, jury & executioner, a.k.a. our 2010 in review. We offer it up in two parts. Part 1 pertains to the year of racing and fanhood. Part 2, coming next week, pertains to product and bike industry stuff. - Crash of the year: Dwars door Vlaanderen. Hell hath no fury [...]

    One of the best developments in shoe design we’ve seen in the past few years is the return of four-bolt soles on the bottom of cycling shoes. This design means those who ride on Speedplay pedals don’t need the three-bolt plate that attaches to the Look three-hole bolt-pattern sole common throughout the cycling world. The reason we’re excited about this development is we’re Speedplay users. It also might be we think that if we can lose weight and increase efficiency just by switching shoes, we probably should do it. So praise is due to DMT for making shoes with Speedplay-compatible [...]

    Mavic has been a quiet entrant to the computer wars. It seems largely by design on their part. Their Wintech USB units don’t have the features that magazines like to salivate over: they don’t read power, don’t have GPS, don’t have a zillion data streams on display, and, while wireless, don’t run on the ANT protocol. They have four features that together give Mavic computers a unique spot on the bike computer matrix. Those features are unit shape, mounting system, transmitter, and interpretative program. We chose the HR iteration, with the e-Skewer transmitter. First is the unit shape. It is [...]

    The Last True Monasticism

    - A century after Good Housekeeping Magazine introduced its Seal of Approval the UCI has unveiled its own variation. Good Housekeeping’s test program lacks the fanatical independence of Consumer Reports. But the magazine does make good on the warranty promised by its seal when products it endorsed prove to be duds. Don’t expect any guarantees from the UCI’s scheme, however, In fact for cyclists and the bicycle industry it looks as if it may offer nothing more than more added headaches and expense. And the only obvious beneficiary is, you guessed it, the UCI itself. The plan is the latest [...]

    We tested the Candy 3 Pedals to see if the new design with bearings made them better than their older pedals… it did and they are.

    Finding the right transitional top to wear when spring and fall hit can be tricky, but the Assos IJHabu Jacket is near-perfect when the temperatures range from 45-65F.

    - Charleroi is best known around here as being the start town of the Fléche Wallonne. The Wall Street Journal tries to make it famous for other reasons, naming it the ‘ugliest’ city in Belgium. - For those of you who don’t dig PRO, here’s some ammo for you: What’s the deal with photos of real pros in the wintertime who wear earwarmers, but not gloves? That seems to defy all laws of on-the-road thermodynamics, and is a PRO idiosyncrasy I totally can’t advocate. Hands first, always! - The meltdown of Team Pegasus has been akin to your first interval [...]

    We thought the Garmin team made a huge mistake when they chose Mavic as their wheel supplier over Zipp. Yes, the selection probably has more to do with bundles of cash than it does performance, but considering how Garmin claimed they were giving their riders the best tools, from physiologists to powermeters to yoga mats to recovery modalities, it was odd that they didn’t go the route of the Highroad team, go without a wheel sponsor and let the riders or directors choose what’s right for the given conditions. Mavic, to us, leans toward the solid side of solid performance. [...]

    If you’re looking for an affordable way to fly with your bike, Pika Packworks offers a lightweight and durable case that protects your bike like a suit of armor.

    - The entire literature of ‘How To Train’ boils down to the same key concepts we all know: The 3 Types of Riding (intensity, intensity, and decidedly unintense); when & how often to do each; what to eat; fitting your bike; channeling the holy trinity of fate -- luck, superstition, or divine intervention (you pick.) What the literature tends to avoid, though, is something of similarly lofty power. I’m talking about the unacknowledged might of a serious night of sleep. For most folks I know, 6-7 hours is a luxury. Thanks in the very least to fitful kids, jobs whose [...]