Previous Posts

  • Lust at first sight December 3, 2018chuckp1876

    WARNING: Bike porn!

    Stopped at Green Lizard on yesterday’s ride. Combination bike shop, workout studio, and coffee/beer cafe. They had this on display. Wilier Cento10 Pro. Disc with thru axles.  Ramato. Needless to say … I want.


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  • It’s beginning to feel like Christmas December 1, 2018chuckp1861

    Yes, I know y’all are going to give me sh*t for not having the chain on the proper gears and leaving my lights on the bike for the pic. But just had to stop and take a pic with these a little out of the ordinary Christmas lawn decorations in my ‘hood because they are matchy-matchy with my bar tape.

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  • Reality Bites by Wiscot November 29, 2018Teocalli1663

    Lead Photo credit: Kennedy Bros. Publishing.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

    So wrote Hoosier poet Max Ehrmann in 1927 in his poem Desiderata. The most pertinent lines, perhaps the most universal, are there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. This is something that cyclists are particularly aware of and professions more than anyone. In his marvelous book Domestique, by Charley Wegelius, he recounts how, after a stellar amateur career, he joined the pro ranks with high hopes of continued success. Alas, it was not to be. However, realizing he wasn’t going to be amongst the next superstars of the sport, he resolved to be the best damn domestique he could be. This he duly did and was in demand throughout his career as a rider who could be counted on to work hard for his designated leader.

    Domestique by Charlie Wegelius

    The lead picture of one of Merckx’s domestiques amplifies the point. There was only one star on the Molteni team: Merckx. The others were there to serve. It’s an extreme case, but when you’re riding for the best, it quickly puts your humble abilities into perspective. And perhaps this is where cycling differs from other team sports: the hierarchy of talent. Not just roles, but talent. Men—professionals—who have talent most of us can only dream about, are told, in no uncertain terms, that their job is to work for someone else, to fetch a bottle, give up a wheel, sacrifice their ambitions so another can realize theirs. It is a role not easily accepted, but one that must be if continued employment is sought in professional cycling.

    Wegelius could have taken the huff and found another line of work but he chose to stay and be the best domestique in the bunch. He discusses how his fame and popularity grew as team captains such as Di Luca succeeded. The cognoscenti knew how important he was, how good he was, even though he never crossed the line first. There is no shame in this; quite the contrary, there is pride in being as in demand as others who win. You have a place in the firmament. It might not be glamorous, but how many of our jobs are? We do the best we can, we collaborate, we strategize to move on, consolidate skills and contacts. Professional cycling is like life and vice versa.

    The fortunes of time change and affect us all. In life, as in cycling, it’s not a bad idea to keep a spare tire and pump handy for when you’re on your own and the last team car has gone by. In short, be self-sufficient in mind and possessions and survive to ride another day.


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  • Anatomy of a Criterium by RobSandy November 22, 2018Teocalli1835

    I, like a lot of racing cyclists, race plenty of Crits.  My local series are both on off-road circuits; Maindy and Llandow.  Llandow is generally considered to be the bigger prize; it’s further away, tends to attract a tougher crowd and the conditions here make the racing harder (and better).

    Maindy Stadium, Cardiff (1960s)

    A motor racing circuit in its other life, Llandow is a 1.3km loop of a vague oblong shape, with a chicane thrown in to make positioning in the bunch crucial, and the finish straight a 1.5% drag to really kick you in the head each lap.  Add in to this its position near the coast, which brings a reliable block headwind down the back straight, you have a race which requires a great deal of determination just to survive and a good amount of tactical nous to compete.  Plus good legs, obviously.

    Llandow Circuit Photo by Research Gate

    The Crit I am going to describe is only notable for one reason; I remember it really clearly.

    Most races blur into one for me but the way this one played out has stuck in my mind.  I was also involved at each key point in the race – which did me a fat lot of good when it came to sprinting for the win – as we will see.  I remember pretty well what I was feeling and thinking at each stage, so I’ll try and describe this to give a bit more of an insight into the race than a pure race report.

    This particular race was a Category 3/4, meaning it was more or less open to complete beginners and also some decent racers too.  It was on an evening at the end of May so it wasn’t particularly warm, but it wasn’t particularly windy either.  A blessing at Llandow if you plan to be on the front, or off the front at all.  Though of note, the wind was coming from the opposite direction to usual, i.e. down the home straight.

    We had a decent size team, 5 of us, and had a vague plan before the race which was mostly to get in any and all breaks that were attempted and assuming the race was all back together for the final, to try and set up a lead out.  I have to be honest and say that I was hoping that it’d be me that got led out – I have a good kick especially from a reduced bunch, so if someone could give me a wheel and get me near the front I’d fancy my chances at finishing in a good position.

    One of my team mates went off the front almost from the gun, taking one or two others with him.  I was pleased about this as it meant all I had to do was sit in the wheels towards the front of the bunch and watch for any moves to bridge the gap.  For the time being, I wasn’t working and the few laps he was away for gave me a chance to warm up properly.  My memory is that this stage of the race felt pretty easy.

    My team mate was brought back pretty quickly and there was a bit of a lull while everyone looked for someone else to do the work (especially up the home straight, into the wind and up the hill).  I rolled through at the front but was careful not to pull too hard.  Another break went shortly afterwards and this time we got 2 riders into it; again I tried to sit up near the front, taking shelter in the wheels but not riding on the front or peeling off quickly when I got there.  I wasn’t actively blocking but I wasn’t helping either.  My feeling was the break was too small to stay away for the whole race (which would be about 45 minutes long) so I was happy to bide my time, watch and wait.

    The speed of the chase was quite high, so it wasn’t easy maintaining a position near the front, but it was better to burn a few matches doing that than drop back too far.  The pace went up and down as the break was caught and the cat and mouse on the front continued.  Then, after about 25 minutes of racing, as we rode around the last corner into the home straight, the whole front of the bunch seemed to collectively decide that they didn’t want to be on the front going up the hill into the wind and moved over to the outside of the track.  I was left coming out of the bend carrying plenty of speed and a clear track in front of me.  I didn’t think twice, and didn’t really change my pedalling, but clung to the inside of the bend and pushed on up the hill.

    I quickly saw I’d caught the bunch napping and opened a gap, over which one rider bridged before the end of the straight and we immediately started working together.  As he pulled through to take a turn I tried to work out what sort of a rider he was, what sort of a breakaway companion he’d be.  I did this almost instantly and without even thinking about it; I checked out the state of his bike (clean? Aero?), his kit (I think I noted he had a skinsuit on – good sign), his pedalling stroke and whether he had shaved legs (this is true and he did and it was a good sign).  I probably even tried to spot if he was riding with a power meter or not.  All of this went out of the window as he took his turn on the front and I was instantly doing 400w just to hold his wheel.  That first turn told me all I needed to know.

    So we rode together for a while, always keeping a small gap on the bunch, which shrank for most of the lap and then stretched out while the bunch played the usual games of no-one wanting to do the work up the hill.  We were committed at this point so riding more or less full gas the whole time.  We quickly fell into a rhythm of doing 2/3rds of a lap turns – so we alternated who led up the drag.

    I can’t remember how long but we’d done a good few laps when another few riders bridged across.  I think it increased the group size to 5 or 6 and as we still had a gap I now started to feel we had a chance of staying away.  I made sure I pulled hard at the front, keeping the speed smooth and as high as possible but not doing too much work.

    There were 4 laps to go when I glanced around at the top of the home straight and realised that we’d been caught – the bunch was back on our wheels.  Part of me was immediately relieved – now caught I could slip back into the bunch, into the refuge of the wheels to see if I could recover enough to contest the sprint.  I was sitting 3rdwheel and the 2 guys in front of me, glanced back, realised the break was over, and pulled to the side.  I was now on the front, more or less soft pedalling and waiting for the bunch to come swarming around.  But they didn’t.  The whole bunch, after chasing a 5 man break for ten minutes, sat on the wheels of the break.

    I was suddenly furious.  Did they expect me to lead the sprint out too?  I suddenly went full-Hinault and stood up on the pedals and kicked.  Hard.  As hard as I could.  I think I probably growled and I definitely said ‘fuck em!’ out loud as I did my best to ride away from everyone.

    It worked.  Kind of.  I dropped the bunch, and pulled maybe 7 others with me.  I dug deep and burned a whole load of matches but we got a gap and all started riding hard.  The bunch wasn’t far behind but I started thinking again that it’d be possible to keep a small gap right to the finish, so the win could be contested between us.  I also noticed that my original breakaway partner was still out front with me.

    Then, the mistake happened that blew my race.  We took the bell, the bunch still gapped but not far behind, when a rider from the breakaway jumped away.  I was on the front at the time and I made a snap decision to chase him.  It hurt.  I was already in the red but I didn’t want him to get away.  This wasn’t the mistake – the mistake was a few hundred metres later when had closed the gap a bit but not caught him.  I looked around to see most of the break still on my wheel, and at that point I should have swung off and let someone else help with the chase.  But I told myself that if I lost my position it would prevent me contesting the sprint.  So I stayed on the front, and at the end of the back straight riders started coming past me; guys from the break who had been watching me blow myself up and also some strong guys who had bridged across.

    The Winner

    Beyond thought at this point, I dug as deep as I could to stay within touching distance of the riders ahead of me; I’d done so much work off the front I didn’t want to come away with nothing.  I came around the last bend, realised I was probably already too far back to contest the sprint but also desperate to at least get in the top ten, so I opened my sprint and pushed and pushed and pushed until eventually I managed to cross the line.  At that point I more or less collapsed across my top tube.

    7th.  3 points.  I said on Strava that it was a brutal way to earn 3 points.  For the last 5 minutes my average hear rate was 168 – significantly beyond what I’d aim for in a 10 mile TT, and I set a new max HR at the finish – 179. I averaged nearly 340 watts for that period with a few peaks of more than 1,000, and with an average of around 800 for the last 30 seconds.

    Brutal.  3 points.


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  • Why we never forget how to ride a bike. November 20, 2018GrumpyGrimpeur1846

    This article popped up in my RSS feeds the other day. I’ve not read the full paper yet, but the the snippet seems like it’d be really interesting if you’re into psychology/neurology at all.

    Article here [via Boing Boing]

    And in case you don’t want to click through, here’s the header photo which I found rather endearing:

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  • My review of The Pursuit on PEZ November 18, 2018chuckp1828



    If you haven’t seen this documentary by James Poole, you should. Cheers!



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  • Roubaix 2019 – Back to the cobbles November 16, 2018ChrisO1826

    Was it 2013 I did the Keepers Tour – just the weekend to ride the cobbles to Roubaix and watch RVV the next day?

    Anyway, I’ve signed up to go back next year. Doing the 145km version, Roubaix to Roubaix. That’s of course if we’re still able to get to Europe in April 2019… might have to be Australian again for a few days.

    A guy I’ve been riding with here is moving back to Lille in France and was keen on a few of us coming over so I’ve taken up the invite. It’s the day before the pro race so we’ll watch that the next day.

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  • Ready to go Tubeless? November 15, 2018Teocalli1797

    Tubeless setup on Mountain Bikes is now pretty much the majority case, at least for the more serious recreational or sports Mountain Biker, but what about Road?

    I first experimented with Road Tubeless in 2013/14.  Initially I was well impressed and thought it was the way to go.  I could see places where tyres had small slivers of flint/stone that are prevalent in my area where I had not actually flatted.  Then I started to have doubts.  First, it was hard to prove whether or not I really would have punctured if running a tube.  Second I was finding some of the early tubeless tyres were actually quite porous, much like Latex Tubes they would loose something like 5psi per day and so need pumping for each ride.  This was not leakage around the rim seating but the tyre itself, as I discovered one day when cleaning the bike with soapy water and noticed loads of micro bubbles around both tyres.  Hopefully that manufacturer has improved things but it put me off their tyres – and they were not cheap.  Third, I started to get punctures that, while not huge, simply would not seal.  At the time I was running Schwalbe 1.  I have to say that they were a fantastic ride, probably the best tyre I have ridden.  However, I did find that I picked up too many flint and stone slivers resulting in punctures and getting those tyres off and back on to fit a tube mid ride was an utter ‘mare.  The soft rubber of the Schwalbe seemed to pick up way more slivers than my mate running Conti’s and it always seemed to be me getting the punctures.

    I tried an experiment with those sticky string kits.  Not a good outcome.  At home, I put some in a tyre that had punctured to try them.  Pumped back up to 100 psi and after a few mins the string was simply blown out of the tyre – and I had left plenty on the inside – messy in the conservatory.  Conclusion, that stuff may work for MTB pressures but not for Road.

    Net I switched back to tubes with Vittoria Corsa (Gum Wall) and more latterly Vittoria G+ (again Gum Wall) both running latex tubes.  The G+ give a great ride and genuinely seem faster than previous tyres as when I switched to them I started to set PBs all around my normal rides.  My conclusion being that while the ride with Tubeless was great, the sealant technology was not there yet for Road pressures.

    I’m starting to wonder now though whether it is time to try again.  I run Orange Seal in my MTB with no issues – though I can’t say I’ve been close to puncturing since running that sealant – but I started using it mainly as it is supposed to last longer between having to be replaced and was less prone to Balling/Coral.  There are now a range of newer sealants available, one of the latest being from Finish Line which is guaranteed to last the length of your tyre.  I have not yet heard any reports on how effective it is but will run this on my MTB at its next sealant change.

    So I’m really tempted to give it a go again on #1 but the thing holding me back is the lack of Gum Wall Tubeless tyres.  Style counts!  Vittoria make the Vittoria G+ Corsa Speed Tubeless Ready.  I’ll bet that is a great tyre vs the ‘standard’ Corsa G+ but it is less puncture resistant.

    Would the tradeoff actually work?  Is it time to try again?


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  • First really cold ride of the season November 11, 2018chuckp1816

    Should warm up a little by the time I head out the door in ~40 minutes, but it’s still going to be f*ing cold! I know, I know … #9 … HTFU … but I still hate riding in the cold.


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  • The Softer Side by Wiscot November 8, 2018Teocalli1661

    Photo:  Hinault by Miroir du Cyclisme

    In the unofficial professional (male) cycling Hall of Fame, the conventional wisdom puts Eddy Merckx on the top step of the all-time-great podium. (I say male, because if gender was ignored, Marianne Vos would be right up there). Fausto Coppi is on the second step and Bernard Hinault on the third. The Frenchman’s palmares are many and astounding in variety, matched by a personality that requires an equal number of adjectives: surly, angry, committed, bloody-minded, generous, selfless, arrogant, prideful, domineering, deceitful, loyal. Whatever words you choose, he was one of the hardest men the sport has produced.

    Evidence? This was the rider who flew off a cliff in the 1977 Dauphine-Libere, remounted and won; the man who won the 1980 Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the worst conditions in modern times; the rider who punched protestors in the 1984 Paris-Nice; the rider who won the Tour in 1985 with two black eyes from a fall that smashed his nose; the rider who was, from the early years of his career, the undisputed “patron” of the peloton, and the ASO employee responsible for managing the Tour’s podium ceremonies who unceremoniously pushed imposters off “his” turf.  Yet this was also the team leader who could be tremendously supportive of younger riders and who was a great teammate who gifted them stages or rode as a domestique for them from time to time – just so long as it wasn’t a race hewanted to win. (Just ask Jean-Rene Bernaudeau).

    Hinault was one of the best paid cyclists of his day (and back in the day, that salary was a pittance compared to today’s stars), but like many top riders he had sponsorships to supplement his income. Patrick shoes and Look pedals were two companies that paid the Badger to use their gear. However, in 1988, two years after his retirement, he perhaps surprisingly put his illustrious name and tough guy reputation on the line by endorsing a nice little line of gold jewelry. It might not have been quite the chunky, masculine accoutrements that might have been expected, instead it was a tad on the dainty side if truth be told, but time has a gentle way of softening the harder edges of youthful bravado. Long before Michael Matthews earned his nickname “Bling”, the Badger was way ahead of him. So what’s the moral of this story? Every coin has two sides, but they all go in the bank.


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