Previous Posts

  • 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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  • Latex vs Butyl February 15, 2021Teocalli4415

    I’m sure most folk (if not everyone) are familiar with the claims that Latex tubes run faster than Butyl but is this really true and measurable?  Well, I recently conducted an interesting experiment.

    After building the Stelbel last Summer I threw on an old pair of Vittoria Corsa tyres and was going to put in Latex tubes but found that the new Campagnolo Bora rims were a really (too) tight fit for the valve stems on Vittoria Latex tubes.  Weird.  Anyway I threw in a set of Continental Butyl tubes instead.

    More on the Stelbel ride later in another article but suffice to say, the ride is fantastic and there seemed to be little difference between the average speed between the Stelbel and #1 Pinarello out on the road.  Given that I’m in a new location I was setting PBs on segments on both bikes though the Pinarello had the edge but the Stelbel, despite being heavier was not far off par even on climbs and I was setting PBs on segments that I had ridden on both bikes.  I suspect the Bora wheels on the Stelbel may have the edge over the Shamals on the Pinarello that may counter the weight difference – but that might only be true at a decent speed when greater Aero would be apparent.

    Anyway, things became interesting over the Winter and in Lockdown when I’ve retreated to the “Gym” riding mainly on Rollers.

    I was somewhat surprised (concerned?) that the Stelbel was 2-3 mph down on the Pinarello at max cruise (Threshold? – I don’t use a power meter).  Initially I thought it was me and down to fitness levels, so I did a swap of bikes on the same session and the Stelbel was definitely slower or more effort for the same speed.  Both bikes run Campag Record Groupset so that did not seem a likely cause but what was noticeable was that the Stelbel definitely felt heavier and sounded “stickier” in respect of tyre noise on the rollers.   Again tyres are comparable with Vittoria Corsa on both though the Pinarello has Graphene vs the older version on the Stelbel and both running at 100 psi.  Also when I stopped pedalling on the Stelbel the Rollers span down to a stop quicker than with the Pinarello.  Weird.

    So out of interest I swapped out the inner tubes for Latex.  Note that the valve is still a tight fit in the Bora rims and I need remove or replace the plastic guide that is making them too tight.  I have ones from a worn out set of Shamal rims that hopefully will fit.

    Anyway, back on the Rollers.  Like night and day.  Rolling at the same max cruise as the Pinarello!

    How much does this translate to road riding?  Well I have no scientific measure but have to assume that there is a difference.  It’s not the 2-3 mph I see on the rollers but it will be interesting when lockdown eases – and the weather improves – and I get back out on the road.  Actually we are allowed out for exercise here but it’s been pretty cold and miserably wet this winter and I must be getting soft with age.

    Also despite having the Stelbel built in Stainless Steel to be bulletproof to weather, I still don’t want to get it muddy!

    So Latex definitely seems to have it, at least on Rollers.  Though I have to wonder whether optimising my speed and minimising effort on Rollers is really the point of indoor training!

     

     

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  • Queen’s Gamit / One Night in Bangkok January 15, 2021chuckp4397
  • Mtns conquered in 2020 December 3, 2020Haldy344385
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    Being a trackie and hence spending most of my summers blasting around velodromes, the Covid times of no racing gave me the opportunity to tackle some climbs here in Washington I haven’t tackled yet. My wife and I got up to the summit of Washington Pass in the North Cascades in June, Then in July I tackled the highest paved road in the state climbing up to Sunrise point on Mt. Rainier

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  • Cazzo di bici! November 13, 2020chuckp4381

    My new ride is a Colnago V3. Comes as a fully built bike, but I did a project up-build for PEZ. The Gulo Composites wheels are particularly sick. All the details here: https://pezcyclingnews.com/features/colnago-v3-project-bike-build-gulowheels-arundelcages-prologosaddle-shimano-ultegra-rotors-rotor-qrings/ Let me know what you think. Cheers y’all!

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  • La Charge by Wiscot September 2, 2020Teocalli4309

    Guilty as Charged?

    As if losing their rising superstar Remco Evenepoel to a horrific crash in the Giro di Lombardia, Deceuninck-Quick Step now have the added “issue” of “the bottle.”  What was the wee white bottle removed slyly by Davide Bramati and slipped into a pants pocket?  What was in it?  It’s been called a bidon but not what we tend to think of when we think bidon.  This was no standard issue water bottle but more of a small flask.

    Was it drugs as so many are speculating?  Frankly, I doubt it.  Deceuninck-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere is not stupid enough to juice up his star young rider with 50kms to go in a race he was favored to win.  Winning a Monument at age twenty and then failing a drug test could have serious ramifications for the rest of Evenepoel’s career.  The official team response was “As has already been stated publicly, the item that was captured being removed from Remco’s pockets was a small bottle containing nutrition products and was removed in order to help him to be placed more comfortably by medical staff on the stretcher.”

    What was it then?  Was it a late race “pick me up” of caffeine, B12 and whatever to give a late-race jolt?  Maybe.  But I don’t think it’s anything new.  Look at this picture of Bernard Hinault descending the Croix de Fer in the 1986 Tour.  Look at his rear left pocket.  What’s that wee bottle?  It sure isn’t a regular bidon.  It’s more of a small flask.  I’ve never seen pictures of a rider being handed such a bidon or drinking out of such a container.  And Hinault never failed a drugs test.

    In the wonderful 1962 French film, Vive le Tour, by Louis Malle, the riders are featured after another hot day in the saddle.  Most are drenched in sweat, gaunt and exhausted.  They talk openly about being “charged” with coffee and caffeine, stating that “it all gets sweated out.”

    Maybe Bramati was safeguarding one of the best kept secrets in the peloton: a late race “jolt” that’s better than a gel but not enough to get you into trouble.  Cycling has enough problems with public perceptions of the riders “all doping” — a hangover from the Armstrong years — but with an exciting crop of young riders coming through, some secrets are still best kept.

    Ed:  Wiscot provided me with the link to this video in a separate conversation but I thought it worth adding here.  Some telling moments and comments from the past and as Wiscot said – some great jerseys.  Hopefully, we can be thankful that medical intervention would be likely these days before a rider got into the sort of state as shown in the video.

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  • Tirreno Adriatico 2020 September 2, 2020Teocalli4312

    As La Tour winds its way through France we have Tirreno Adriatico running in parallel.  This year’s Tirreno-Adriatico will be the 55th running of the race which starts on Monday 7 September and finishes on 14th Sept giving eight days of racing.  With some significant climbing such as the finish climb to Sassotetto on day 5 of 13.2 kilometres at 7.3%, I hope there is some TV coverage.

    Pre Covid, the Tirreno Adriatico was scheduled for 11 – 17 March it now has an additional mountainous stage.

    The top 5 from 2019 were:

    1. Primoz Roglic
    2. Adam Yates
    3. Jakob Fuglsang
    4. Tom Dumoulin
    5. Thibaut Pinot

    So one thing is sure – the top 5 will be very different this year.  It will be interesting to see whether any riders feel they have a point to prove for missing out on TdF.  There is still a potentially very competitive field of contenders for the overall.

    Rider details can be found here.

    Note:  Picks will open for Giro d’Italia Femminile on Friday 4th September.

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