A few years back I sat in a campsite near Bédoin as the sun set over Mont Ventoux and contemplated what was to be my first time over the legend of Provence the following day. It presents an intimidating presence with the radio tower on top serving as a marker for the pain to come. It turned out to be a great day, riding it with two Aussie’s, all of us “Ventoux Virgins”. Of all of the stages in next years Centennial Tour, the Ventoux finish is the one that holds the most potential for me. The idea of two times up Alp D’Huez on paper sounds amazing, but in the end will probably cancel itself out with tactics and strategy. The ASO have set up the Ventoux finish to be an explosive day, for both GC and the stage winner (although they may not be mutually exclusive). It is the perfect stage for a Bastille Day hero. A lumpy approach before the final 20.8km ascent ensures plenty of opportunities for a solo attack, and the French now have in their ranks plenty of riders capable pulling that off. The previous three days favor the sprinters giving any of the GC contenders a chance to sit in and save as much as possible for that final all out slog. And with a rest day to follow, why hold back. So we may well be treated to the spectacle of a lone French attacker being chased down by a group of favorites in the last 5km, with a whole nation screaming him up to the finale. Recognized as one of the hardest climbs in France, and that is when the wind doesn’t blow – if they get hot and windy conditions I expect this to be an epic stage worthy of a 100 year celebration. Then there will be the 3 hour camper van race across to Embrun to get your spot on what looks like being a great TT in the Écrins and the Alps to follow. Those final 8 days might be the time to book your holidays.
We are very happy to give a sling shot to some neighbors here in New York City, SURNAME. A company of two, who make everything by hand, and craft some beautiful components for your ride. Everything they make is made from reclaimed wood sourced here in the city or upstate New York. There is something nice in taking what is tossed aside by the city in the name of “progress” (or maybe storm damage now), and remaking it into something both practical and beautiful. Joists taken from renovated buildings, to the old boards of Coney Island, Surname have crafted a small selection of hand made products. They have a 1-2 week lead time and often do special batch runs of limited woods when they can get hold of them. A Fender, a Straight Bar and a Carry Basket (box). I am going to get a Straight Handlebar made of Ipe wood, not because I have any practical use for it right now, but just because it looks damn nice. More info on SURNAME here.
Nathan Young was good enough to send us this set of really nice shots from the recent Magnuson Park Cross race in Seattle. The course looks as dry as a bone which has to be an anomaly for Seattle. Look out for more shots from Nathan as the season gets a little more “sticky”
Categories: The Other Stuff
I love Trakke bags from Glasgow. Well made, and made local (well if you are in Scotland that is). They have done a really nice line extension in a partnership with Harris Tweed, one of Scotland’s most endearing and world famous brands. A combination of weave and waxed cotton the bags are aesthetically beautiful but also durable enough to survive a Scottish winter. And believe me if they can survive the streets of Glasgow in the winter they are pretty much suitable for anywhere. There are four bags in the line with their classics, and the addition of a new shape called the “Wee Lug” – what’s not to like about a bag called that. More info here.
This weekend I was eventually able to finish the build and get some miles on my recently delivered Condor Super Acciaio. This was the first time I had put together a steel frame in a long time, and after over a decade on carbon I was eager to see how it felt. The build is pretty sensible with really the only nod to trying to save some weight going to the Hollogram SL crank (one of the lightest and stiffest on the market). The wheels are a bomb proof set of early Edge Comps, that after 3 years on them still ride true and strong. First impressions after a 3 hour ride were nothing but positive. I haven’t put it on a scale yet but I can tell you it feels light for a steel build. It rides beautifully on flat and rolling hills, smooth, comfortable and super responsive out of the saddle. It surprised me most when climbing. You don’t get that initial zip of speed you get on a carbon frame with low profile rims, but I soon got the felling that attacking the bottom of a hill with power and settling into a tempo is the way to use it. It actually climbs really well. Next up I am putting the Campy Hyperons on it to see how it feels. If you are in the market for a steel frame you should definitely have a look at the Supper Acciaio. I have a feeling it is one of those frames you keep all of your life. More to come as I spend the Fall on it.