Friday, November 6, 2009

A New Shock for my Mtb.

I found a new supplier of the Dew right next to our warehouse in Germany so I decided to upgrade the shock on this Rize... ps - I love this neon bottle. We used it to light up the warehouse later that evening.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nostalgia... and Rarity

After losing out on a set of Delta brakes that eventually sold for $480(!), I began to wonder if the somewhat fresh pile of parts in my basement that have become obsolete for today's use will eventually be of value to anyone. I mean, production numbers on everything are so high that you can't really consider anything 'rare'. Plus, mostly-carbon fiber Record groups don't hold the same level of mystique that an old Nuovo Record gruppo does.

I can still remember some of the classic Italian steeds I saw on my first RAGBRAI twenty five years ago. Now, a quick ride in my back yard of France will turn out far more expensive (note I didn't say 'valuable') bikes one after another... all forgettable and likely to be replaced within a couple of years!

Don't get me wrong... I love the 14 lb Super Six that flies up the local hills (when I'm able). I just miss the rarity of it all.

Similarly, my Bucs will be playing in their throwback uni's this weekend. I think the only reason I gravitated to that losing team was due to the orange jerseys and lame logo. Mind you, I was six at the time they joined the NFL.

On a South Dakota farm as a kid, the only time I saw Bucs merchandise was when the JC Penny's Christmas catalog came. Remember the stocking caps with the big ball on the top? I had to have it! I can still remember specific games that were broadcast on CBS back in the day before the NFL Sunday Ticket. Of course, they never won any of them.

But it seems that old is new again... the Bucs will be lucky to win a game this year... just like 1976 all over again! They should stick to the Bucco Bruce logo and creamsickle uni's until they win.

Oh yeah, I forgot. Today, we toss out parts boxes whereas we used to save the packaging! I don't think I'll save the wrapper of any new chainring purchases!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A perfect weekend

As I sat at my desk until 5:00 am Sunday morning watching the Ironman coverage, something amazing was unfolding... Cannondale pro riders that I work with were winning almost EVERY race being run last weekend! For years, I've combined the results of all my teams - whether it be the Bucs (now again the Yucks), Iowa State, Saeco/Lampre/Barloworld/Liquigas, or whatever - looking for a perfect weekend. I soon realized that I'd be better off focusing on just one sport... and last weekend it was cycling where I came up aces! What a job!

As to the results? Check it out here and here. These are the releases I was busy writing, bleary-eyed, until the wee hours of the morn...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Ciöcc Restoration Project, Part 1

There was always something unknown about Ciöcc bicycles back in Iowa in the '80s. There would always be a few on RAGBRAI. Beautiful bikes that nobody knew anything about, starting with how to pronounce the name. I mean, c'mon... and umlaut in an Italian word? And finishing with two 'C's'? I heard all types of pronunciations, just that NONE of them were right!

As to the meaning, even HE isn't too willing to give it up. Check online and you'll see explanations that it is local dialect for "poker-faced", "drunkard", "gambler" and other variations. There's even a story that Ciöcc bikes were birthed over a card game among Giovanni, Colnago (the clubs), De Rosa (the hearts) and Pinarello (the spades for some reason). I've even read that Giovanni is now dead and that his sons run the business (not true of course). Oh well, perhaps the imagination of the internet.

I was lucky enough to mention this to Gian Carlo, one of my ex team mechanics. GCB happens to be good friends with Ciöcc himself and made a call to him one day while we had lunch in Milan. An hour later and I was at his shop, drooling over an old frame from an ex amateur named Musone. It had to be mine. Sure, it was a bit rusty and needed refinishing, but the price was right and the old maestro was just as interested in seeing it brought back to life.

As for the man himself, much like Irio Tommasini - another maestro I've been lucky to get to know - Giovanni is immensely proud of the work he has done over the years. He took me to his desk and we spent an hour going through his old photos and designs. He explained to me all the innovations he made through the years, and the countless victories achieved on his frames, including that of my good friend Claudio Corti. Claudio won his 1977 U23 World Championship aboard a Ciöcc in San Cristobal, Venezuela. Those who remember seeing Ciöcc frames from the 80's will remember that the San Cristobal was the name on most of the imported models. Soon, I'll finally have my own Ciöcc... a 1973 model of a successful amateur racer from Milan... Musone! Now if I can just finish my search for the perfect Nuovo Record group...

l'Etape du Tour 2010...

Looks like I have my goal for 2010!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Maiden Voyage On My Birthday Present!

After six months of collecting parts and slowly building this baby up to perfection, today was the maiden voyage of my birthday present to myself... this new Cannondale road tandem! We took it out for an hour and a half (I've been off the bike for a while, and my stoker even longer). Moral of the story... build your bikes slowly - they'll be perfect on the first ride, and all that waiting will be so worth it!

(I won't be saying how old I am Monday...)

Here's the buildup...

FrameCannondale Road Tandem

ForkFatty R Tandem

RimsAmbrosio w/eyelet and machined sidewall, 40 hole

HubsWhite Industries Mi6 Disc

SpokesDT Swiss Champion, 14g

TiresSchwalbe Durano Plus, 700 x 28c

PedalsCrank Brothers Candy

CrankFSA Carbon SLK Tandem, 30/39/53

ChainFSA, Campagnolo Record timing

Rear CogsCampagnolo Record 10-speed, 12-28

Bottom BracketFSA MegaExo, Cannondale eccentric

Front DerailleurCampagnolo Triple

Rear DerailleurCampagnolo Record, med. cage

ShiftersCampagnolo Record

HandlebarsFSA front, Stoker rear

StemFSA front, Cannondale C3 Stoker rear

HeadsetCampagnolo Record

BrakesetAvid BB7 Road Disc

SaddleFi:zi'k Aliente, Viper rear

Seat PostFSA front, USE suspension rear

Friday, July 24, 2009

l'Etape du Tour!

About 25 Cannondalers (including some retailers and a few friends) headed out to Montélimar, France last weekend to take part in l'Etape du Tour. This is a yearly 'race' ('survival' is more accurate) that covers a stage of the Tour de France (usually a tough mountain stage) and attracts about 10,000 entrants. I'll be posting a video soon of the trip, so I'll just jump right into the event itself...

We woke up at 4:00 to load our bikes and then load up on more pasta and whatever we could stuff down our throats that early. 7-10 hours on the bike burns a lot of calories so it's important to eat, even early. The bus ride to Montélimar was quiet, with everyone either trying to sleep or just nervous about the day ahead. We quickly unloaded, got ready and split up into our starting groups. We were split into four groups (out of eight starting zones). When I arrived, I was struck by a horrible reality... there were THREE toilets to serve about 4,000 people in my closest zones! Oh well, time to ride...

5km in, I heard a pop - Erik's rear tubular blew. Being the one with tubular experience, I stopped and changed it with him. We got going pretty quickly, even though his glue was old and his spare tire had a bump and was already separating from the base tape! 5km later, POP! again! That old spare didn't last long. This time, Jan and Stefan saw us and stopped to wait. I gave Erik my spare and he changed it. That meant I had no spare, with 160km to ride still! When you stop, the thing you realize is that you get passed by up to 500 or more people in an instant! With an already poor starting position, we were now near the back! So we took off and TTT'ed it all the way, blazing past hundreds of riders.

The German-American Express

The first rest stop was chaos, so we decided to skip it and conserve water and food. 45 minutes and one more climb later, we found an oasis on the side of the road to refill. At this point, I started to think about the fact that I was definitely riding over my head with younger, faster guys. I knew my time would come and my ticket would get punched. And it did. Jan was the next to flat - and fixed in short order.

We passed a number of our group on a climb, and a slew more riders on the next. The penultimate climb was when it hit. I just lost the wheel of my guys and told them to go on. There wasn't much left and I'd be alone on Ventoux anyway... and I was. I had a good time at the foot of Ventoux, considering three flats in our group. I calculate we lost 20 minutes to flats. But the real struggle came as I hit the forest at the bottom of Ventoux. It's 7-11% with absolutely zero curves and it NEVER eases up. You are just grinding a steep slope for 20km. Even though I stopped (way too) often, I vowed not to walk one step, unlike many around me. Speaking of, there were lots of walkers, pukers, cryers... and all with good reason. This is a BEAST.

I started to cramp up, which cost me more time resting on my feet. In the end, I was satisfied and more than pleased for that climb to be over. I finished 8:42 and if not for the flats, would've been a bit faster. BUT - I also realize that if I were left on my own the whole way, I would've gone slower to begin with, so thanks for the pace Erik, Jan and Stefan. We formed quite a train!

Of our group, everyone finished in the cutoff time and have stories to last a while. Our ringer finished with an incredible 6:38! It was a great team-building trip. I would like to say we all stayed up until the wee hours drinking beer, but we were all so tired after the ride that I think everyone retired to bed asap after dinner.

Views from the top of famed and feared Ventoux

What a day. Once home, a few of us treated ourselves to Basel's best kebabs! I said I didn't even want to look at my bike for a week. BUT - and get this - when I unloaded it from the car... the rear tire was flat!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Off To L'Etape du Tour!

Wow, what a week. Thanks to all those who sent the love after seeing my Vs. spots. Yesterday, I hosted a group of about 20 friends from Basel who went to Colmar to see the stage. And now we have Pelli in the dots!

I'm now off to the Alps, where on Monday I'll race with 15 guys from Cannondale, and about 10,000 other nut jobs who want to race the Tour's 20th stage. Not sure how I'll do - I've been climbing as much as possible. Just hope my knee holds out! The stats of l'Etape du Tour are... 172km and 4000 meters (!) of climbing. The finish is on top of the summit of one of the most feared cycling climbs in the world... Mont Ventoux!

Monday, July 13, 2009

More Cannondale Video Love

This is our commercial that's currently playing on Versus. It was filmed during this year's Tour of California.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Me... on Versus

Here's the first of two tech spots I did last weekend in Monaco with Versus' Robbie Ventura.

Wind Tunelling with Ivan and Quinzia

So just prior to the Tour start in Monaco, I had some miles to ride... and fly. First to Park City, UT for a weekend of meetings and presentations (and riding), then back home for a day. On the agenda for July 1st was a bit of wind tunnel testing with the guys from Mavic. Our location was Magny Cours, France at the Aero Concept Engineering tunnel ON the F1 track grounds!

I got my new Kodak flip-style video camera in Park City and am quickly loving it. The guys at ACE said it was the first time a video was posted DURING the testing! Here are a couple vids from the day...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Got A Phone Call Today...

My past keeps coming back to me... in a good way. Today my phone rang. I didn't know the number and the Italian guy on the other end spoke in that Venetian dialect that I heard so much just a few days ago when I stayed in San Donà di Piave, as I so often do while visiting Team Liquigas. I didn't get the name at first (ok, so my Venetian isn't THAT good), but I quickly put 2 and 2 together and got quattro... that's my first cycling hero ever... calling me!

Growing up in Iowa in the 80's didn't provide many glimpses into the world of professional cycling. I remember waiting for Mom to come home from Ames (a few hours away which back then could just as well been Switzerland) for the off chance that she'd bring home an issue of Bicycling magazine, my only look into what was possible on a bike. I saved my money and bought a Raleigh. But it was my next bike that really did it for me... a Bianchi. I loved the celeste color, the exotic sounding name, the history, the racing heritage. What was it about Bianchi that struck a 13 year old kid in Iowa? I think it had a lot to do with seeing some of the exploits of that guy on the other end of the phone line... Moreno Argentin.


Not sure why it's now taking me a couple weeks to get these updated, oh well. Travel does that to you. I may not see home more than a day at a time until the end of the Tour! So, before I head back to the US tomorrow(!) how about a look back at Philly!

Stefano left me in charge of planning the trip and all registration and activities around the race. We visited a couple area shops and ate well at the local Italian bistros. We had a nice 3.5 hour ride on Saturday. One of our guests hit pavement but got up with minor damage. This happened literally a half hour after mentioning to Struve how amazed I was that in ten years of riding on the bike trail with the teams, nobody has clipped a bar or one of those barriers at the intersections. Italian pros unfortunately don't yield the right of way to coming cyclists or joggers. They are, however, incredible bike handlers; however, they don't realize that everyone else isn't! Fortunately, they're only on the tight Philly bike path one day out of the year... sorry Philly!

Tip of the hat to James, my trusted mechanic who leaves us after this race and is head guy in charge of the US national mechanics and material... nice gig! James kept the bikes clean and even changed a wheel... on the second start loop!

That's Struve in the pirate costume!

Joey took this window shot in the waning hours of sobriety Saturday night I think.

James and that wheel change!

Race-wise, we could've done better. There was a crash in the final roundabout which slowed the green guys down. I won't say who may have caused it, but got wind from some of the US directors that it's a bit too common.

Post-race, it was back to CT for some time in the office. Oh yeah, and my real reason for going... Wednesday night world championships! We had sprints for points every three laps after 18 to go. I got two seconds and a third for 5 points and 7th overall. Twas nice to get the legs moving in anger again.

Now, it's off to Park City for some better weather for training (hopefully).

Oh yeah... keep an eye out for a future series on this space. I am getting my Italian bike restoration fix in this year. I just bought a Ciöcc from the 70's from the man himself. I'll try to document the restoration as much as possible and update as it goes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back to that crazy ITT in Cinque Terre

As you may have seen on my Tweets, I had been given the chance to drive the follow car for Liquigas' Gorazd Štangelj. How's that for a name? First, since the guys at Liquigas butcher his name, I went to Wikipedia to analyze a little...

A caron ( ˇ ) or háček (pronounced [ˈhɑːt͡ʃɛk] in English, [ˈɦaːt͡ʃɛk] in Czech), also known as a wedge, inverted circumflex, inverted hat, is a diacritic placed over certain letters to indicate present or historical palatalization, iotation, or postalveolar pronunciation in the orthography of some Baltic, Slavic, Finno-Lappic, and other languages. Š/š (pronounced [ʃ] — similar to 'sh' in she.


So after all of that Greek (actually Slovenian), Gorazd told me how to properly pronounce his name (I like to be as accurate as possible). It's "Shtongel" with a soft 'g' like 'go' and an 'o' like in 'on'. There you have it... back to the race.

Mrs. Masini and our 'children' were present as well and I can guarantee that I was the only follow car with two dogs as co-pilots.

There was some confusion from the start, as the Italians have their own ideas about directions and start areas. However, we arrived with about five minutes to spare...

And we were off...!

The course was as bad as everyone else has said. Up and down the whole way. The co-pilots got just a little bit of motion sickness and Gorazd dropped me on many of the descending hairpins. The old VW Sharan minivan doesn't quite handle like a team car, especially with me at the wheel and two complaining wiener dogs to make sick. The crowds were awesome as usual, filling the road at the top of the climbs, and also scattering themselves out into some of the more remote spots.

Gorazd finished 123rd out of 186, 10:52 behind stage winner and new maglia rosa Denis Menchov.

After the finish, it became apparent why logistically it was the right choice to follow, as there was literally one road going anywhere near there! I continued past all the other team cars and parked around the curved cliff road 1km away... and I arrived early. Others had to continue even further and walk. In the end, it wasn't too bad. It was a spectacular place for a stage. If you're ever near Genoa or La Spezia or even Pisa, then Cinque Terre is worth a trip for the hiking and the sights. This is the fourth time I've been there, but the first with a bike race.

After the race, I said good bye to my guests from the US, Tim and Caterina. They had a difficult week ahead of them, staying in Corniglia (one of the Cinque Terre, or 'five lands') to enjoy the view. Of course, we didn't have it too bad either, heading off to Florence for the weekend! I studied Italian there many moons ago and was finally able to eat tortellini again at the Palle d'Oro. The owner still remembers me as the American who ate the same thing three times a week for lunch back in 1992!

Oh yeah, Daisy made more friends and Tucker enjoyed the gum and food left on the old streets of Florence.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pre-Giro Bike Launch

Last week I stayed at CastelBrando in Cison di Valmarino for the launch of the new SuperSix. The place was fantastic, as was the riding. Journalists from all over the world were there to test the bike. Some articles are already showing up. Here are a few...
Road Bike Action
Velo News

Some of my extra duties involved our guest riders, Jacopo Guarnieri and Roman Kreuziger fresh off his Tour of Romandie win, and some Cannondale Giro extras like some of the special bikes and the pink jerseys from my personal stash. Here are a couple of articles about those events... Seems the American guys liked the access to those things a bit more!

Road Bike Action

We rode some of the roads that featured in the Giro's stage 3 to Valdobbiadene. My Giro has been great so far. We took the journos to the Lido di Venezia for the TTT. I didn't take too many photos, but trust that a good time was had. Oh yeah, we managed to eat great Italian food for the duration!

Here's me at the end of our ride... note the looming clouds and our castle on the hill behind. Yeah, work sucks!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ramping Up!

Skies are full of pollen, and l'Etape du Tour is coming sooner than I realize. It's time to get more distance and climbing in the legs, so I took two days off and set out to do just that. Thursday was four and a half hours with 1500m climbing. Friday was short to rest a bit, and Saturday was another four and a half hours, 100km and 1300m - and windy. Granted, not terribly long or fast, but I'm starting to feel good. I was finally able to navigate to the Passwang, which isn't incredibly difficult, but is close to home and has a few twists in it.

Both rides here...

The view from the top of the Passwang. It was getting pretty late by this time, luckily the road home was downhill... a little!

Notice the vertical jump when I forgot to restart the Edge 705! Also the Biel Benken wall with 12% at the end of the ride.

Even with a Garmin, it is faster to navigate with the tried-and-true tape on the top tube!