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    If you’ve spent much time riding in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco then you, too, have experienced the strangeness of Ocean Beach. It’s the Pacific Ocean at the western edge of the park, and for all the wonders of the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge both just a stone’s throw away, Ocean Beach was remarkable for its trashiness. In the daytime it was overrun by tourists and at night it seemingly became something worse as evinced by the condom wrappers, tampon applicators, and other pieces of vaguely medical-related plastic suggestive of more-dedicated-than-just-recreational drug use. For such a [...]

    - The two sweetest words in the English language: Nice pull. - Nobody made note of the strangeness that unfolded in the final 1km of the Mt. Ventoux stage at the Dauphine-Libere. As this video shows, it appears that Alejandro Valverde’s pace causes his breakaway companion, Liquigas’ Sylvester Szmyd, to detonate. Note how 10-15 seconds after Szmyd blows up, Valverde stands up and accelerates. And then watch the last few hundred meters to the finish. If you read the post-race account on cyclingnews, Valverde sorta lukewarmly says he gifted Szmyd the stage win. But based on some of his accelerations [...]

    Ritchey Torque Key

    Snap, crackle, pop. That is a symphony of sounds we prefer to hear at the breakfast table rather than emanating from our carbon components in the bike stand. As bike technology progresses, and we continue to move towards lighter and lighter componentry, it has become increasingly more important to monitor our torque values as we install our handlebars, stems, and seatposts. The days of the ham-fisted bike mechanic are long gone and jokes about “tighten it ’til it smokes, then back off a hair” are no longer that funny once you hear that ominous crunch. That first crunch means one [...]

    - When you see the phrase ‘Fantasy Cycling Game,’ I think this is what they mean. - Final Giro thought #1: What’s the deal with Danilo DiLuca and time trial bikes? During the monstrous Cinque Terre TT he rode: Road bike, road bars, everyday helmet, and Campy Boras with only one TT-minded detail, a skinsuit. His average speed was ~38kph. During the Rome TT he rode: Road bike, road bars w/basic clip-ons, an aero helmet, Boras, and a skinsuit. His average speed was ~45kph. Given how gear-crazy the sport of cycling is, and given the truckloads of Lira spent wind-tunnel [...]

    Bang for Your Buck

    While the economy has us all watching our pennies, we ponder what it is that makes a product a good value. What is it that gives us that warm and fuzzy feeling? While there are lots of good deals out there on the web, and we strive to offer plenty of our own, we know that value can be something different. We think a good value product is one that can deliver great performance, come at a reasonable cost, and last for a long time. We encourage everyone to seek value in our specials section, but here we’ve assembled some [...]

    Don’t know about you, but we were blindsided by the public launch of Campy 11-speed. With no warning whatsoever it seemed to just show up at Tour time last year. There was no fawning by magazine scribes in the way they did Dura Ace 7900, which debuted around the same time. We don’t know if this was because Shimano worked harder at appealing to the journos or that the journos were anticipating for the general public, which goes much more heavily for Shimano over Campagnolo. As fans of underdogs, we hoped that 11-speed exceeded hype. We got to test out [...]

    How did you get to work this morning? Chances are good that we all used some kind of mechanized transport. Personally, I rode a motorcycle amidst a sea of cars driven by commuter zombies. This makes me ponder our layout -- the cities we live in and our country in general. I’m talking about our geography. It’s too bad that I didn’t wrap my head around our existing problems at an earlier age, but my first experience with the subject was in junior high. It was a class taught by a prematurely graying, distinguished, and beautiful woman who, beyond her [...]

    Shimano Di2

    Wow. What more can we say? With their new Di2 electric gruppo Shimano finally pulled off what others have been trying to do for years, and the results are simply breathtaking.

    - The Giro has come to a close. Its legacy to me is my temptation to change the name of this column from ‘Competitive Cyclist What’s New’ to ‘The Unrelenting Appeal of Neon Accessories.’ - Just curious: What is the Cervélo Test Team testing? - Everybody has a bike they no longer own that they wish they’d never sold. Mine? A Columbus TSX 7-Eleven team-issue Eddy Merckx professionally flogged by Flock of Seagulls stunt double John Brady. As far as I know, Brady is best known for once getting his handlebars kicked out from under him, mid-race, by Roberto Gaggioli. [...]

    The Bucksnort Epic

    We’ve got a great story about kayaking on the Bailey’s Canyon section of the North Fork of the South Platte River in Colorado, but it’s a paddling adventure. We’ll not go into detail here, but it’s sufficient to say that it was huge, a first trip down, and we’d hooked up with a West Virginia lunatic who’d soloed it in the dusky hours the night before. We met him on the highway at the takeout. We did the run and managed to reach the takeout alive and mostly unscathed, albeit alive with a paddling buzz and a little weak in [...]

    Hincapie Denim

    Hincapie Premium Denim combines modern blue jean styling with old world craftsmanship (and a little lycra!) to make sure you look as good off the bike as you do on it.

    - It was two hours mentally dressed up in the war paint then, finally, the day’s final threshold interval was done. Legs and lungs were unwinding. The brain rage required for quality speedwork was fleeing my body. A car passed by. The driver cradled her cell phone as she sat behind the wheel. I got a quick glance of her as I soft pedaled, convinced for an instant she’s the most gorgeous woman I’ve ever seen. Nothing makes beauty more beautiful than knowing the pain, for today, is done for good. - Professor Cavendish teaches class. - Let the record [...]

    If you’ve been around mountain biking for as long as we have, you’ve seen many, many changes. Both bikes and components have been transformed by advancements in design and technology. Most of the time, it feels like progression. Sometimes it doesn’t. We build a lot of bikes and we look at a lot of bike porn on the web. It’s cool to see how different bike builders tackle the same simple problem – how to get the cables and hoses to the right parts of the bike in the best way. It may be hard to profess ourselves as experts [...]

    1986 vs. 2009: Let’s talk about information access for an American in love with Euro bike racing. Back then VeloNews had the aesthetic & the journalistic qualities of The Thrify Nickel. Fresh in your mailbox every 2 weeks was ancient history. Looking for timely Spring Classic or Grand Tour top-10 results? You had to call a 1-900 number or buy the national edition of New York Times. And Winning, while glossier & more attractive, was overly pre-disposed to domestic teams. Coors Light, Crest, Lowenbrau, Schwinn-Icy Hot -- those words don’t signify mass market brands. Rather, as they trip across the [...]

    We are lucky enough to have two IMBA classic trails within an easy drive from our Competitive Cyclist headquarters. The Syllamo MTB trail system and the Womble Trail are both awesome places to ride and we are proud to have them. Each year, a number of events are held to showcase these resources. After torrential rainstorms battered the Ozark hills for a week, Syllamo’s Revenge was held. This is an event which takes in nearly every foot of the roughly 50 mile total of the Syllamo trails. In perfect conditions, it will test you. This year, Syllamo’s Revenge was a [...]

    All of our cycling bottoms are pilled on the left inside thigh. It’s hardly noticeable, but it bugs us all the same. We even rubbed a hole in one pair of tights. The culprit is our saddle bag. Specifically, it’s the Velcro strap that secures the bag to the seat post. Every bag we’ve owned has contributed to this pilling. We hate this, mostly for the one pair of tights we wrecked — and stopped using the particular bag that was the culprit, but all the other bags do the same thing, only more mildly. The strap also does a [...]

    - Let the record show that we’re putting on some bike races in June. A 4-week criterium training series just a stone’s throw from our HQ. Our foremost goal is to create an encouraging, non-intimidating means for novices to pin on a number for the very first time. And we’ve made the ‘A’ race a bit over an hour to make it good training for the fast guys. We’ve gotta give credit to USA Cycling for making it easy & inexpensive to put on a training series (to USA Cycling that’s a technical term: ‘A training race series is a [...]

    Buy a Titus and get a Free Garmin GPS! That’s right – those who purchase a complete 2009 Titus bike (everything apart from pedals) before the end of June, 2009, can get a FREE Garmin Edge 305 GPS-enabled cycle computer. Eligible models include the XC specialist, Titus X, the Full Tilt Moto, FTM, big wheelin’ Racer X 29, and quite possibly the most underrated bike on the planet, El Guapo. To receive your free Garmin Edge 305 GPS-enabled cycling computer, simply follow these steps: Order a new complete Titus bicycle from Competitive Cyclist. Moto Lite and Racer X models are [...]

    A spring-cleaning attempt to rid my desk of sticky notes: - The hardest thing about bike racing? Staying at the front. Nothing is easier than letting your mind wander and falling back 40 spots unawares. - The #1 way to make your bike feel new: Replace the brake pads. The runner up? New cables. But fresh brake pads are guaranteed to re-ignite your love affair with your bike. Leave your drivetrain overhaul & bike wash for a 3-day weekend. When you need new and you need it NOW, brake pads overjoy. - You asked for it, so now we’re doing [...]

    2010 Fox and More

    2010 Fox Rumor has it we should have inventory on 2010 Fox Forx in just a few short weeks ~ Mid May. The line-up is loaded with options including a full selection of tapered steerer tubes, 15QR options for all 32-series forks including the F29, and a number of new remote lockout options. But the big story for 2010 Fox is the trickle down of the heralded FIT (Fox Isolated Technology) damper cartridges to most every fork they feature. As if Fox didn’t have the best damper on the planet already, they’ve raised their game yet again -- by isolating [...]

    The best spell of the bike race season is now done. Spring Classics season is where the tension between risk & reward is most acute. Unlike the incessant strategic hedging and energy-conservation intrinsic to the Grand Tours, spring is where dagger-in-the-heart aggression is the main ingredient for glory. They’re the most thrilling races, they’re the most visually dramatic, and it’s where our heroes seem most like ourselves: One 30-minute effort where the body screams no -- That one-time brief, impossible conquering of oneself -- Is anything else in life more gratifying? 2009 was an especially good Spring Classics season. In [...]

    - Watched the Flèche Wallone on this morning. Exciting race. I learned that ‘arrière du peloton’ is French for Garm*n-Slipstream. - Did you see the final 1km of Flèche? Nothing quite like seeing a field sprint on a 20% grade. - Students of cycling trends will surely remember back to 2004 when The Almighty Lance showed up to the Tour de France in shin-high socks, which spawned widespread (and arguably unfortunate) fashion emulation by cyclists across America. I’ve seen a similar sort of behavior since this photo was published. Riders who couldn’t hold a line to save their lives [...]

    The big news at Sea Otter this year is that there wasn’t much big news. In recent years, many companies have used the event as an opportunity to unveil their projects to the cycling community — almost another Interbike (only far cooler). While we know industry giants SRAM and Shimano have huge new mountain bike product developments in the hopper, they chose not to launch them at this year’s Sea Otter. Is this a by-product of the economy? We’re not really sure, but it was sure interesting to experience in and of itself. We found few surprises in the manufacturer [...]

    ‘It was the heat of the moment. Telling me what your heart meant…’ What’s more embarrassing: Is it the fact that the lyrics and the power chords from Asia’s ancient & godawful song are still so easily in mental reach? Or is it the very act the song commemorates -- pillow talk -- that arouses self-conscious shame? After all, who hasn’t been stung tomorrow by today’s confessional tenderness? I’m now nearing 40. Pillow talk at this point consists of ‘Do you want me to drive the kids to school tomorrow?’ Momentary effusions of vulnerability are rarer than rare which is [...]