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    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 [...]

    Forget about truth in advertising. We want truth instead of advertising. And that’s why we’re taking one more step here at Competitive Cyclist to give you the highest-quality information about the components we sell. We already write our own product copy. We already take our own product photos. We already conduct our own product reviews. We’re proud to announce today that we’re now measuring the actual product weights of our components. Like, on a gram scale. All of them. Why? It’s because we know that facts (not marketing palaver) empower you in your decision-making process when it comes to upgrades [...]

    - After months of waiting, the motherlode of Cervélo P4 framesets has arrived. In case you’ve been tempted by one, FYI we have them in open stock in both 56cm and 58cm. - More importantly, let’s move on to our awards related to the baddest one-day race of the year, the Tour of Flanders: Comeback Player of the Year: We’ve spent the better part of a year extolling for scouring the ‘net for every conceivable video feed of pro bike races, no matter how obscure. These feeds are godsends, but for high-profile races the bandwidth demand on those [...]

    Our favorite bike of all time? Sounds like a fun drinking game or great way to kill time on a roadtrip to a bike race. Offhand our vote would have to the long-bygone Eddy Merckx Team SC. Made from Easton SC7000 aluminum, it titillates most for its palmares and for the era when those palmares were earned. Let’s see: A 1-2-3 finish for Team Domo on the Team SC in the 2001 Paris-Roubaix. A breathtaking 243km breakaway for Team Domo’s Richard Virenque in the ’01 Paris-Tours. Followed by a crushing solo breakaway win in the ’02 Paris-Roubaix by Team Domo-Farm [...]

    We saw this video for the first time a few months back, and it blew us away. Like a moth to a flame, we keep going back to it. Finally, it dawned on us to share it with you. While it has absolutely nothing to do with bikes or riding them, we can only suspect these guys are looking for the same (or bigger) adrenaline rush that we are as cyclists. TGIF.

    - I grew up with a kid in my neighborhood named David White. Plain name, but he had wicked mean golf skills. As I recall, he got a scholarship to Oklahoma, transferred to Arkansas, and whomped and stomped the SEC through his college career. Then he tried making the leap to pro. He got caught in an endless loop of mini-tour action instead of the PGA Tour (read: Tour de Toona instead of Tour of Flanders), and the only shot he got at the big leagues was by qualifying for the 1997 US Open at Congressional in Washington DC. The [...]

    - We’ve all seen the frontal video of the finishing sprint from Milan San Remo. But have you seen this helicopter footage? It tells the story a thousand times more vividly. Cav’s acceleration is mind-blowing seen from here. - Agony of defeat. - Spring is here, and a boy’s fancy turns to traveling-with-bike. Spring ’08 was the first time I ever paid more than $75 to take a bike on a flight. It was $125 to take it along to Europe last year, and on the flight back (only a week later!) the cost went up to $175. In anticipation [...]

    - News story of the week: Bike Snob NYC is now on staff for Bicycling Magazine. An amazing development indeed, since day-in and day-out BSNYC spews white-hot hatred for the casual poseurs who cling to their $9,000 bikes (and not a penny less!) as this week’s passageway to self-actualization. Yesterday’s yoga mat. Tomorrow’s stamp/wine/cigar collection. Today it’s their custom titanium/carbon Dura Ace 7900 bike bought with a 3-month lead time from a fit studio(!) Yesterday it was Yoga Journal. Tomorrow it’ll be The Wine Spectator. But today they’re dropping a check for $12 into the mail for a year’s subscription [...]

    - If you’re in your 30′s you probably remember the advent of cable TV. Mine was a ‘basic cable’ household, which means that when I was age 15 I spent countless hours with the volume low and my face pressed up to the screen in front of the scrambled porno channel. Today’s Direct TV just gives you a dead black screen and the stark notice ‘You are not subscribed to this channel.’ But back in the LeMond/Hinault-era you’d get purple-pink scrambled signals with cubist-like half-asses and quarter-breasts arguably discernible within the kinetic madness there and once every 45 seconds or [...]

    Wet Trails

    You’re riding down you’re favorite trail, ’round a corner, and there’s a huge mud puddle in front of you. You’ve just driven who-knows-how-long to ride this trail and there’s no way you’re turning around. So what do you do? We’ve all been in this situation before, and chances are good we’ll be there again. Many experienced riders question the best way to handle this scenario. We want to help set the record straight. The best thing to do is ride right through the center of the trail at a fairly slow speed. This keeps the damage to the trail at [...]

    The Competitive Cyclist global HQ is 25,000 square feet devoted to the blisses of bike riding, bike racing, and gear-obsessing. The location of our building -- on central Arkansas’ traffic-free Millenium Trail loop, alongside the trails at Burns Park -- is a daily dose of temptation to ride more per day than we really have time for. Take a video tour of our headquarters. We’re often asked the question, ‘Do you have a showroom?’ Yes! It’s a great place to see amazing bikes for sale; about to be fit to their new owners; or assembled-and-waiting for a photo shoot. Bikes [...]

    - Looking for some help here. There’s a word out there -- maybe it needs to be invented -- What’s the word for dressing for today’s training ride based on the forecast for today from 2 days ago? On Saturday I tried to re-enact ‘Into the Wild’ or ‘Alive’ or some other tale involving loss of sanity & digits to frostbite because I dressed for mid-50′s temps…despite the fact it was 38 and raining at the beginning of the ride. There must be a word for fixation on 2-day old forecasts. - Party like a rock star. - Great 20 [...]

    - A lot of great racing happened at the ’09 Tour of California. But none was more thrilling than the finale of the 2nd and deciding stage of Tour du Haut Var in France, which took place on the same day as the Palomar stage at the ToC. Check out this highlight reel. Turn up the background porno music loud. If you’re pressed for time, fast forward to minute 7:00 of the video. The uphill attacks are sick. Utter violence. How do people race uphill this fast? - Based on what I hear and on what I read, is [...]

    - Stimulus: For the bike business, what will it mean? We’ve seen some chatter about using taxpayer lucre to build bike paths and other varieties of ‘alternative transportation’ infrastructure that, in theory, will have the long-term ripple effect of causing people to buy more bikes and lights and baskets and such. But I think I speak for most Americans in not caring much for 2011 at the moment. What I’m interested in is 2009. February, 2009 for that matter. While the big banks are burdened with toxic assets on their balance sheets, the bike industry has two burdens of its [...]

    There is a certain sort of durability to the stuff we sell -- impact-resistant rims, clamp force-impervious bars, framesets with stiffness galore. But durability defined this way shouldn’t be mistaken for permanence. I can’t say we ever sold a Pinarello Prince Carbon or a set of Zipp 404′s with the assurance that 15 years from now you’ll still be eager or able to ride it. Take any of the million recent photos from the Tour of California peloton, and consider the tight fleet of bikes you’ll see there. In their speed, their iridescence, and their technology…Does any of it suggest [...]

    As we’ve stated before, Truvativ HammerSchmidt is one of those products that we could barely wait to get our hands on. When we finally did, there was no doubt that the HammerSchmidt was a high-quality execution of a clever design. Truvativ has brought a planetary two-speed gearbox to the masses. We have loved it, both out on the trail and at the local freeride park. One thing we can’t stop doing is thinking of different ways to do things here at Competitive Cyclist. While we don’t claim to be engineers, we do like to tinker. We had an enthusiastic local [...]

    - The most intriguing detail on the new Cervélo S2 and S3 is its cable routing. Instead of feeding into the frame in the downtube, Cervélo made things more aero by feeding the cables into the top of the top tube, directly behind the headtube. Cervélo’s design is a clever one. But after building up a few S2′s and S3′s and getting some mileage on them, we identified opportunities to do some nip & tuck work to the design. For starters, the tension of the cables cause them to pull outward as they loop by the stem. This puts them [...]

    So we just got our hands on a Santa Cruz XC Carbon. Wow. Let’s just say that the bar just got higher. A lot higher. First, the large sample that we received tipped our scale at 4.49 pounds with the Rock Shox Monarch air shock. That’s a good 3/4 of a pound lighter than most XC bikes on the market. While that’s super news for all of us weight weenies, the design isn’t just about being light for Santa Cruz, it was clearly about building a better bike. Their attention to detail on the Blur XC Carbon is first rate: [...]

    - Dueling derny videos. I don’t know which one I love more. Belgium or Texas. - The real race season has arrived. Kneewarmers. Mud-splatter. Overcast skies. Something about February racing in France warms the soul. How many days ’til the Ronde? - The podium at the Tour of Qatar is an awfully tantalizing place. - More proof that no such thing as real cycling journalism exists, did you see regurgitate the Andy-Pruitt-as-messiah story that appeared on two weeks previously? In every element -- the photos, the storyline, the servile flattery to the Genius Of Specialized Body Geometry -- [...]

    Late January Dispatch

    - Much gossiping about the impending Lance vs. Landis battle at the Tour of California. The hot rumor we’re hearing is that the pick-to-click is, in fact, Tom Danielson. Word on the street is that he’s flying. He’s proven in the past that he knows how to rock February. It’ll be interesting to see if he can get Team Garm*n some podium time. - Had some requests to do a weigh-in of the top-tier components from Campy, Shimano, and SRAM. Happy to do so. What you see below are actual weights done on our gram scale, not the manufacturer purported [...]