Monthly Archives: November 2011

Is This The Ugliest Bike Ever?

It is a fine line between what you can do, and what you can, but shouldn’t. There are great examples in design where the envelope has been pushed so hard for performance gains, that a whole new form factor emerged and while it may not have made it into production, as a “One Off “for the purpose it was designed for, it was perfectly acceptable. The Lotus bike that Chris Boardman rode to Olympic glory is a good example (later banned because the performance gains were maybe just a little too good). Innovation and aesthetic can blend to be pleasing on the eye. I loved the massive fat elliptical downtubes of the Cervelo Soloist’s. The slightly arched top tubes and cobra headtubes of the Specialized Tarmac’s. Even the “Wiggle” in the Pinarello Dogma’s forks have grown on me. But the Phibra seems to have them all, literally. This bike is the ultimate Frankenstein.

Any other bike designs out there you find particularity disturbing?

Categories: Design / Rides

Suffering Between The Hedges

When asked what it was like upon completing his first Catford Hill Climb, one rider exclaimed “It was the best two minutes of suffering all season“. Traditionally held on the first Sunday in October, this uniquely British style hill climb is a chance to close out your season with an adrenaline pumping, gut busting effort, mixed with a little “Alpine” atmosphere to push you along. These time trials shouldn’t be mistaken for the European monument climbs of the Alps, or even the American icons of Mt. Washington or Mt. Evans. They are unique in their length, type of effort, and setting. Run amongst the hedgerows and country lanes of England, often no wider than the width of a car, they usually average out at around 12.5% for about 1km. They are venues to win winter bragging rights amongst the cycling clubs of your region.

It is not too hard to define what type of rider excels at these types of challenges. The effort is explosive, and the type of rider the French would call “Dynamique” has probably got what it takes. An ability to suck up the pain is undoubtedly needed, but then again what type of climbing doesn’t need that. Track riders are often seen taking to the hill on fixed gears (I mean riders who actually ride on the velodrome), and powering their way through. Road riders strip down their bikes, get in the drops, and hold it for as long as they can, often crumpling into their saddles just before the top. To take a tip out of Cancellara’s training regime for the Belgium monuments, no out-of-the-saddle climbing until March is probably a good way to prepare. Power is the key to success.

One of the oldest events in the UK, The Catford Hill Climb has roots right back to 1887, and earns the auspicious title of “The Championship Of All England”. To give you a sense of the effort, it is held on York Hill and is “707 yards” (646m) in length. The average grade is around 12.5%, with a few bursts of 25%. The record for the climb stands at an impressive 1min 47 seconds, and has stood for 19 years. One note of interest, when the ride started back in 1887 the bike weight limit was 35lbs, even back then riders were obsessed about there bike weight. Riders travel in from all over the country and make the trip worthwhile by competing in the “4 climbs” series, stretching over the Saturday and the Sunday. The UK has seen a resurgence in the format over the last few years, with the introduction of the Urban Hill Climb organized by Rollapaluza in London. Unlike New York, London actually has a few pretty decent hills, with Swains Lane in Highgate providing the course. This year they had 120 riders tackle the 800m ascent with a height gain of 71m.

These events have been occupying my thoughts in the last few months as I have been riding around the hills of Litchfield County and the Berkshires, and it made me think why the format hasn’t caught on here, or in Europe for that matter. The region certainly has the hills–Great Hill Road or Geer Mountain Road come to mind. I also think I know enough riders who would throw themselves up a gradient in search of a little glory and maybe a little prize money. So the research starts now for us to host a Fall event next year in the Berkshire hills. The “Suffer between the hedges” hill climb time trial. I will work on the route and find the prizes. You bring your legs, lungs, and the lightest bike you can muster (no weight limits here), and we will take it from there.

Categories: Classic / Races / Routes

A New Favorite Brand: Polerstuff

Love this brand, especially when they say things like “It’s for people that wonder why everyone is trying to pretend they are going to do first ascents on alpine peaks, instead of celebrating the fact that they are having adventures that are awesome in their own way”. There collection of products is growing all of the time, with a focus on practicality and quality. Their Adventure photo essays are gorgeous.

Categories: Design / Kit / The Other Stuff

Cyclocross Oldschool

For all you mud junkies out there. If you don’t find the comical falls into the river running down hill funny, the Monty Python like commentary should do it for you.

Categories: Classic

New Kit, New Projects And A New Store

The next round of kit is in and we have all sizes in all the pieces. There has been a lot of interest so get in there early. And along with the new kit we have started up an online storefront to make it easy to order, pay and check stock. You can get to it here You will notice when you get in there we are going to be launching a series of new projects this year and into 2012. The first is going to be ARTBOTTLE. We are going to be doing a series of limited edition bibon designs that are going to be so nice you won’t be able to throw them away in the last 2K. We have also had a lot of interest in the photography on our site, so we are going to be selling a selection of prints under the EL Art Projects section. Hope you like the new stuff.

Categories: Design / Kit