Previous Posts

  • Liege Bastogne Liege 2021 April 21, 2021Teocalli4669

    La Doyenne the 106th edition of Liège–Bastogne–Liège takes place this Sunday. The route is 259 kilometres from Liège heading in the general direction of Bastogne before taking a U-turn back to Liège via some of the toughest climbs in the Ardennes.  The final climb is the short pitch up Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons before the downhill finale into Liège.

    Last year’s winner was Roglic followed by Hirschi and Pogacar.

    Mens start list can be found here.

    For the Femmes this will be the 5th edition.  The 141 Km route runs from Bastogne to Liège taking in seven climbs.  As for the men the finish is over Côte de La-Roche-aux-Faucons before the final run into Liege.

    Deignan won last year with Brown second and van Dijk in third place.

    Femmes start list can be found here.

     

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  • La Fleche Wallonne 2021 April 19, 2021Teocalli4656

    Wednesday sees the 85h Edition of La Flèche Wallonne.  Encompassing a number of hills through the Ardennes the route covers 192 kilometres with the finish at the Mur de Huy, a 1.3 kilometres climb at 9.6%.

    Marc Hirschi is the current title holder having outsprinted Benoît Cosnefroy and Michael Woods to the line last year.

    Rider details for the Men’s event can be found here.

    For the Femmes this will be the 24th edition. The course is 126 kilometres and includes seven climbs through the Ardennes before the steep finish at the Mur de Huy.

    Anna van der Breggen holds a record, having won the last six editions. Cecilie Uttrup Ludiwg and Demi Vollering completed last year’s podium.

    Rider details for the Femme’s event can be found here.

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  • New Book Publications via James Spackman April 14, 2021Teocalli4635

    Many thanks to James (aka BlackpoolTower) for the following.

    End to End by Paul Jones was published last week and has been attracting excellent reviews. Its topic is the history of the Land’s End to John O’Groats cycling record, from the mad buggers who did it on penny farthings to the inconceivably fast current record holders with their pointy hats and disc wheels.

    Far from a straightforward sporting history, this book delves deep into the culture and emotional landscape of cycling. Paul Jones himself did the trip, to interview riders (including Janet Tebbutt who still lives on the route and will sit out in all weathers to alert riders to that easily missed left turn near Bristol) and understand it for himself. What results is unexpectedly moving as well as insightful.

    Details via ukbookshop.

     

     

    Far from a straightforward sporting history, this book delves deep into the culture and emotional landscape of cycling. Paul Jones himself did the trip, to interview riders (including Janet Tebbutt who still lives on the route and will sit out in all weathers to alert riders to that easily missed left turn near Bristol) and understand it for himself. What results is unexpectedly moving as well as insightful.

    This book explores the highs and lows of being a self-started team (initially based in student digs) taking on the world, and offers valuable lessons for reverse-engineering any big goal, to find success even when you’re starting with limited resources. As Dan says, “knowledge beats talent”. Out in May.

    Details via ukbookshop.

     

     

    War on Wheels is Justin McCurry’s story of Japanese Keirin (pronounced KAY-rin, dontchaknow?). A sport which, despite now being in the Olympics, has surprising origins. In fact it started as a way for the postwar Japanese government to raise tax money on betting, and to promote cycling as a byproduct. Now it generates billions of dollars in bets and a vast amount of tax. The riders, even the rich ones, have to live in dorms with the windows blacked out and no electronic devices when they’re at race meetings, and rigorous customs and etiquette govern the sport. It’s an insight into blue collar Japan like you’ve never read and a sporting history unlike any other.

    Details via ukbookshop.

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  • #steelisreal April 14, 2021chuckp4626

    Rolling on the new Pirelli P ZERO Race clinchers (with Tubolito inner tubes) on my Hollands.

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  • Amstel Gold 2021 April 14, 2021Teocalli4618

    Photo by Teocalli

    The usual route across Limburg country (and hills) has been replaced by laps of a circuit in the countryside of Valkenburg but the Amstel Gold Race still has many of its renowned features intact.

    This year’s race is over 12 laps of a closed 16.9km circuit featuring the Geulhemmerberg, the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg, all east of Maastricht. The final lap skips the Cauberg ahead of the finish in Berg en Terblijt.

    The race was called off in 2020 leaving Mathieu van der Poel as the title holder from 2019 edition where he won ahead of Simon Clarke and Jakob Fuglsang.

    Have van der Poel and van Aert run out of steam, are they marked out of the top spot?  We will find out on Sunday.

    Rider start list can be found here.

    The women’s race also takes place on Sunday.  The route is over  118 kilometres.  The finish lies 2.6 kilometres after the last climb up the Cauberg.

    Niewiadoma is title holder from 2019, finishing ahead of van Vleuten and Vos finished in third.

    Rider start list can be found here.

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  • Stelbel Part 12 April 5, 2021Teocalli4582

    Crikey, I had to hunt way back through old Posts to find my original Post to find out what update number came next.  As they say, good things are worth waiting for.  I did have 2 opportunities to pull out along the way and I really came close at one point but in the end I’m very happy I didn’t.

    So she is finished – and actually has been from late last Summer.

    The frame is Stainless Steel (Columbus XCr) Stelbel Antenore custom fit via Super Domestique in London.  I put in a slight slope in the top tube to give a little more visual effect of exposed seat post as I am a tad “vertically challenged”.  Also, to ensure I have enough exposed seat tube to clamp in the work stand.  Cable routing is internal for the brake hose but external for the gear cables.  Cable stops are on the head tube to ensure no cable rub on the head tube – plus it looks cool!  Stelbel advised that external routing was better especially as the plan is for an all weather bike with gravel capability.  In fact, they made it pretty clear they advised against internal routing.  In the last respect re gravel, the rear triangle is about 10mm longer than ‘normal’ to give better stability on rough surfaces.  It also gives me the option of fitting a rear fender in the winter and the frame has fender lugs built in.

    Build out is Campag Record Disc 12sp mechanical groupset, Chris King Headset, forks are Enve and Bars/Stem Deda Zero (both being supplied and custom painted by Stelbel), Campag Bora wheels and though fitted with Vittoria Corsa 25mm tyres in the photo I’m currently running Challenge Paris Roubaix 28mm.  BB is threaded British standard – I’ve had it with Press Fit creaks!  Bidon cages, of course, had to be wire.

    Paint is matt finish (tending to satin) and is actually a fade from front to back with the rear triangle bare SS in a brushed finish.  I left it to Stelbel to pick the lighter shade to match my choice of main colour and they apologised as after the lacquer coat the two shades are almost too subtle to see.  They offered to respray or let me ride for the winter and return the frame for a respray.  Can’t really ask for better service but I’ll stay as it is.  One thing about matt finish vs gloss is that apparently the matt can be harder to clean and can get some impregnated dirt over time, so we’ll have to see how that pans out.  An excuse/reason to have to keep on top of cleaning is no bad thing!

    I built it out myself.  Most things were/are straightforward but I had not worked on Campag Disc Brakes before but Campag YouTube instruction videos are great and the build was trouble free.  I did have to buy a few new tools for the build, but as a bit of a tool fetishist (?!) that was no bad thing.  Park BBT-69.2 for fitting the Disc Brake Lock Ring, for wheels (vs BBs) you need clearance for the hub/axle and so need a domed tool.  Campag Disc alignment tool (you could manage without that but it’s probably easier with it – besides it’s red and shiny!).  Hydraulic hose cutter (measure the hose 15 times before cutting – if in doubt go a little long!) and Needle Driver for inserting the end insert in the hydraulic hose after cutting to length (again you could manage without a Needle Driver but it does help keep the thing aligned and gives better control as over inserting the insert is problematic).

    New Tools for Stelbel Build

    The ride.

    I have Campag on all my other rigs from Super Record to Athena and the performance is everything I’d expect from Campag.  The shifting is actually better than the Super Record on #1 (Pinarello Dogma K) which is down to internal vs external cable routing.  12Sp gives me that extra bale out, lower gear which at my age is welcome!

    Disc brakes are nice, I’m not sure that they are any more powerful than Super Record rim brakes but having recently ‘blown’ a worn out rim on #1 it does save rim wear on pricey wheels.  Most folk seem to say that Discs give a better feel but again compared to #1 on Super Record I’m not sure there is a huge difference.  As yet, I have not ridden in the wet (wimp!) so have not yet made any comparison in those conditions.  However, I’m sure that on wet gravel it will at least save the wince of the sound of grinding paste on expensive rims.  Particularly on Carbon Bora ones.  A wet Strade Bianche Sportif was probably the main culprit in my Shamal rims reaching EOL.

    The ride itself is just sublime and silent – with internal routing you always seem to have some cable rattle somewhere.  OK 28mm tyres are a significant difference to 25mm, but even running Vittoria Corsa 25mm on both the Stelbel and #1 the Stelbel has a subtle level of compliance to smooth out the ride vs the Dogma K, which itself was developed in 2013 for the Cobbled Classics by Pinarello and Team Sky.  The general fit is only slightly different to #1 but just feels subtly ‘right’.  The longer rear stays are not noticeable in road handling and cornering – though I’m a bit of a wimp in high speed cornering and tend to stay on the safe side of the adrenaline curve.  The ride is everything I’d expect from steel, given my other steel rigs, but has the instant responsiveness of #1 to power input whereas the other steel rigs have some delay/loss.  Having said that the Bora wheels will be more responsive than conventional spokes on the other rigs.

    The Bora wheels are noticeably more wind affected in a cross wind vs lower profile Shamals on #1.  So #1 will be ride of choice on windy days.  Overall performance is very interesting.  The Stelbel build comes out about a kilo heavier than #1 (I’ll add weights when I find my scales post house move!) and I had expected it to be slower as a result, perhaps the Bora wheels make up for the difference but I’m finding that I’m setting as many PBs on the Stelbel as on #1 (we moved house last Summer so I’m riding loads of new sectors and all at the same fitness (and age!) so it’s quite a good comparison.  I’m also setting PBs on climbs on the Stelbel so even at slower speeds the performance seems to be even between the two.  Given that the Dogma K, though a few years old now vs current aero frames, is no slouch – in fact I can freewheel downhill past a number of folk on supposedly more aero bikes (the rider is of course the biggest aero factor), so the round tubes on the Stelbel do not seem to be giving me much loss.

    Finally, Cafe Cred is good!  Not that there are huge numbers of folk out there who know much other than the major brands but a few folk have noticed that she’s far from a stock bike.  Always nice to get some interest and complements in that respect!

    Big grin ride time for sure.

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  • First outdoor ride in 2021 April 5, 2021Teocalli4580

    Not a bad day for a first outdoor ride in 2021

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  • Another OTRL Triple this week March 29, 2021Teocalli4560

    The Spring events come along thick and fast.  This week we have:

    For Dwars door Vlaanderen riders can be found here.

    The 75th edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen is this Wednesday.  With a route of 184 kilometres with 13 hill sectors incorporating Flandrien cobbles, the race precedes the Tour of Flanders at the weekend.

    The 2019 winner was Mathieu van der Poel who outgunned his fellow attackers Anthony Turgis, Bob Jungels, Lukas Pöstlberger and Tiesj Benoot. The race fell victim to Covid closures in 2020.

    For Ronde van Vlaanderen Men riders can be found here.

    The 105th edition of the Tour of Flanders takes place on Sunday. As usual, the route covers a number of famous short, steep, often cobbled climbs making up the tough route. Starting in Antwerp to a 244 kilometre route concludes with the cobbled combo Oude Kwaremont/Paterberg climbs before the final charge to Oudenaarde for the finish.

    Last year Mathieu van der Poel outsprinted Wout van Aert in a two-up sprint with Alexander Kristoff taking third.  On form, this year could be similar unless someone can pull of a Gilbert-esc breakaway win.

    For Ronde van Vlaanderen Femmes riders can be found here.

    The 18th Edition of the Tour of Flanders – Femmes also takes place on Sunday.  As usual the route is over 150 kilometre with a number of the same cobbles sectors as the Men’s event. The route concludes with the cobbled combo Oude Kwaremont/Paterberg climbs before the final charge to Oudenaarde for the finish.

    Chantal Blaak won last year’s race with a solo breakaway, with Amy Pieters and Lotte Kopecky filling out the podium.

    I don’t think I’ll be going out on a wing with my picks this week – then again I’m going to need a few master picks to make up ground.

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  • A busy week for the OTRL March 22, 2021Teocalli4525

    I scheduled a busy week for the OTRL this week so I decided to simplify it a bit to just the 3 events below.

    The situation could be changing with COVID on the rise again in a number of countries and lockdowns being introduced.

    There is a high risk of some Delgado’s this week…………

    Riders for E3 Saxo Bank Classic can be found here.

    Riders for Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields Men can be found here.

    Riders for Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields Femmes might be updated here.

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  • A Winter Wonderland by Wiscot March 4, 2021Teocalli4456

    For many, a fat bike might seem like an indulgence in a cyclist’s stable of bikes. Some see them as a kid’s bike for adults that is not serious. A frippery within the world of bikes. Those who hold such attitudes do not live in the upper Midwest, or Wisconsin to be more precise. Here, it really is a necessary bike if one wishes to maintain sanity over the long winter months which can stretch from November to late March.

     

    Those months do not just mark time on the coldest season of the year here, it’s winter writ large. Inches and inches of snow. Temperatures that can go below zero with wind chills so bad advisories are issued which basically amount to “if you don’t have to go outside, don’t.” So your riding choices are endless sessions on the trainer or sucking it up and venturing outside – and with the roads being snowy or icy, the best way is on a fat bike.

     

    I’ve had mine for about three-and-a-half-years. A pretty standard aluminum Motobecane that’s had a few upgrades: carbon fork, carbon bars and stem and decent tires. Even then it’s still a bit of a beast. But, I take the attitude of “it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it,” and mine sees some serious action over the winter on days that are either too cold for road rides or the roads themselves are too tricky.

     

    Our neighboring state of Minnesota might boast of having 10,000 lakes, but Wisconsin must run it close. They’re everywhere and our culture embraces this. In summer they are popular with boaters, skiers, sailors, fisherfolks. In the winter it’s ice fishing time. Lakes become mini villages covered in shacks (the size of a nice garden shed) dragged onto the ice to provide shelter from the elements as fishing rods and spears are lowered through holes cut in the ice with augers or chainsaws. Patience is a necessity and if you can wait in a nicely furnished “shack” then why not?

     

    My favorite fat bike thing to do is to ride ON the frozen lake and my favorite place to do it is Lake Winnebago, located about 40 minutes north of me. At 215 square miles, it is roughly 28 miles long and 10 miles wide at its widest. “Winnebago” translates as “people of the stinking water.” Does it smell? Hard to say when it’s covered in 20 inches of ice topped with a generous helping of snow.

    Winnebago is famous for its two-week sturgeon season which just ended. They reckon there are 40,000 of these pre-historic-looking fish in the lake and quotas are carefully set for these prize catches. The roe that are harvested are a particular delicacy. Hundreds of keen fisherfolk drag their shacks onto the ice in the hope of spearing a trophy. And when I say trophy, I mean a fish that can weight upwards of 150 lbs and be six feet long.

    That’s a Fish!

     

    To make this pilgrimage possible, local fishing clubs literally plow roads on the lake and mark them with old Christmas trees every tenth of a mile. You don’t have to park your shack next to the road (most don’t), but it makes getting on and off the lake much easier and safer – especially as there are a couple of big pressure cracks that form and steel “bridges” are laid down to facilitate vehicular access.

     

    Now, anyone who’s ridden a fat bike on fresh, undisturbed snow will tell you that it’s the toughest workout around. You’re doing single digit speeds and sweating a ton. But get on some nicely groomed trails and it’s a joy – and the plowed roads on Lake Winnebago are just that – just find a nice bit of road with a dusting of snow and you’re all set. Well, that and tire pressures around four psi. Fisherfolk going on or off the lake look at you like you’re crazy but none ever fail to give you a wave – a nod to a fellow traveler who embraces the winter.

    January here in Wisconsin was relatively mild, but the first three weeks of February were nasty – savagely cold temperatures and bone-chilling wind. I didn’t ride outside for three weeks. But a beady eye on the forecast said February 20th was going to be my day. Cold but sunny. Little to no wind. So off I set in the early afternoon – it was 21 degrees. I parked at my usual spot in the gas station parking lot at the foot of the lake. They plow parking lots on the ice but why risk it? It took me 20 minutes to get the bike ready and all the gear on: multiple layers on every part of me. Then it’s but a short hop onto the lake and the ice road. Perfect! Smooth with just enough grip for the tires. The ever-slanting sun gave great definition to the ice and snow surfaces, a critical detail as I’d ridden a few weeks before on a dull, overcast day which rendered reading the surface very difficult. As I rode north I got a wave from every driver coming off the lake.

    I rode 16 miles in maybe an hour and 45 minutes. I had a nice chat with some kids who’d never seen a bike on the lake before. Then I rode back to the car to my thermos of hot chocolate. I’m sure some of the drivers got home and told someone “hey, there was a guy on a bike on the lake today!” I was that guy. I was that happy, happy guy.

     

    Postscript

    The day after my Winnebago ride it was 32 degrees and overcast so I rode on the local trail which is much used by snowmobilers. The issue with them is that their tracks do a nice job of fluffing up the snow so while it leaves a consistent surface, it’s soft and slippery. It’s really not ideal for riding on but it improves your bike handling no end. A couple of days after my Winnebago ride, it really started warming up into the 40s. A week later it was almost 50 degrees. The lake is still seriously frozen but I’m not sure about the “road” conditions, so I rode on the real roads on my winter bike – a fendered aluminum ride that might not be too light or too fancy, but just the job on roads that might still be a bit wet with salty melt water. I’m not sure if I’ll lake ride again this season but whatever happens, I had a wonderfully memorable ride and that’s what counts.

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