Wherever they are, find them, they serve the best brew in the city. Although I have a sneaky suspicion they will be positioned somewhere nice and convenient for the prologue, and maybe even up on the Glens for the road stage (I hope that H Van can make it up the grade). There are the usual coffee chain suspects all over Belfast now, but there are a few speciality brews worth searching out if you take your coffee seriously. ATTRIDGE AND COLE have been around for a few years now and have established themselves in the community and amongst the cycling community. Presented in a beautifully converted Citroen H Van they serve up Bailie’s Coffee freshly roasted and ground alongside their home made pastries. Believe me it will become your morning and afternoon brew as you drool over the carbon and team buses during the Giro.
Cambium: A layer of delicate meristematic tissue between the inner bark or phloem and the wood or xylem is the name of the new Brooks rubberized saddle. Made from vulcanized natural rubber and organic cotton canvas, with an additional thin layer of structural textile added for protection, they have created a very unique looking and functional saddle. The outer layer is made to be waterproof and combined with a rubber under-layer gives the same comfortable feel usually associated with a well broken in leather saddle. The frame that all this is wrapped around is designed to be completely replaceable by the rider. As will all Brooks saddles this one is designed with longevity in mind – a saddle for life. The saddle shape follows their famous B17 saddle and eventually a narrower version will be on the market that follows the narrower B15 Swallow saddle (one of our favorite looking saddles). The overall look is one of a fine crafted piece of art. I would love to see it in black.
Categories: The Other Stuff
Just over a year ago I was lucky enough to sit in on a meeting at HP/Labs and have them demonstrate their expertise in sensor technologies. It was pretty amazing what they were able to detect, and at the time I wondered how some of this type of tech would trickle down to the consumer (and rider). See.Sense is a great example of sensors being applied to an every day use, and making it better in the process. The See. Sense light first off doesn’t have a switch, it just detects your movement and switches on. It tracks you as you ride increasing its use and intensity when you need it most. It does this by sensing you in situations like approaching a road junction or passing through a tunnel, and increasing the lights intensity and blink rate to make you more visible. This increases the lights run-time by only putting it at full strength when you need it most, allowing the design to stay in a relatively small package.
See.Sense has also added a couple of design features that I think take this light further again. Most of the lights we use have a narrow single direction beam, which is great if you need to be visible from that direction. See.Sense introduced a Fresnel lens to the product that opens up the beam allowing it to be seen from the sides as well, illuminating the rider and the road around them. They are getting a 12 hour runtime (it is USB rechargeable) with a front light giving off 150 lumens and the rear light 90. See.Sense is currently raising funds via Kickstarter and have a very detailed production and business plan put together. Check out their site for more details at seesense.cc , and you can contribute to their Kickstarter here. This is a very cool project that makes technology affordable and impactful for everyone.
Categories: The Other Stuff
Hand made in Portland Oregon and designed to be and look fast, beautifully crafted with a fine layer of paint. Steel and aluminum Cross and Road frames, with a motto of “If you’re reasonably serious about your riding but not too serious about yourself, give us a shout. We’d love to build you a bike.
For 2014 Condor have made some significant updates to their already amazing Super Acciaio steel frame. The custom rolled Columbus tubing is now 150g lighter and the oversized steel press-fit bottom bracket is made from a single piece of billet. A frame that is designed with Crit racing in mind the chain-stays have also had a curve added that prevents “chain-slapping” common with corner accelerations when the chain slaps against the inside of the stay causing it to chip. I currently ride one of the older frames and on the medium hills around here is handles itself really well, I can only imagine the 200g savings on the frame and fork on the new model it will climb even better. The frame was recently tested in the Tour Of Britain with the Rapha JLT team, when Kristian House raced it in the last stage. The one below has been tested on various terrain this year with team rider McCallum who went through 15 variations to get the frame to feel the same as his carbon Leggero rig.
And so it is over. 6 days and 550 miles later we have completed the Fireflies West 2013 ride. Right now I would say I am suffering from a little bit of post-ride blues (probably mixed with saddle fatigue). As a group we traveled down PCH in a bubble of adrenaline and chamois cream protected from government shutdowns, saddle sores, news, and our jobs. For 6 days all that mattered was getting up, getting breakfast, getting to the lunch stop, getting to the hotel and Chocolate Milk, repeat. Perfect roads, perfect weather, and the wind on our backs (mostly). If you are a rider, is there a better way to spend a week? But none of these things are what made the ride special for me; in the end it was the people I met and rode with. We are all used to suffering in the saddle, some more than others, but few of us express or show how we have suffered in life. Every rider had their own special cause, someone they were riding for. A lost parent or a friend, or in some cases actually riding with cancer. Some were open and wore it on their sleeves (or in my case on my stem), others didn’t need to say anything, you just knew. The feeling of giving something of yourself and contributing to such an amazing charity created a very special kinship. No one was left behind, no one crashed, we just took care of each other and rode together. What we gained in safety we made up for in flats – especially the “King of Flats” – which all being said isn’t a bad trade.
Massive thanks has to go to the organizing crew for picking out such a great route. Right from rolling out of San Francisco to pulling in to The Mill in LA (although we did manage to roll right past the welcoming party and the Brazilian band), the route never got boring and stayed challenging. There were moments that will go into the catalogue of unforgettable rides. Rolling into the Redwoods of Big Sur after a 98-mile day. Climbing up Stage Coach with Ben in the pre-lunch sun with a perfect tempo. Ripping up the Cabrilo rollers on a tailwind into San Simeon and looking down to see my dad’s face smiling up at me and getting that little extra (he knew exactly what was going on:). Rolling out of Ventura on the front and looking back on a bend to see about 40 Fireflies on my wheel, incredible. Riding in the group with Mick into Solvang over what became known as the “Magic Carpet.” A stretch of road that felt like it was going down hill, but didn’t look like it, on a surface that looked like it had been laid down 2 hours earlier (in fact it felt so good we rode right past the vineyards).
Going into a 6-day ride mentally feels like a big effort, but on reflection it actually went by really quickly. Once you get past those first few days, you and your legs slip into a routine. You know when you can push yourself, and you know when to back off. I rode always leaving a little bit in the tank to make sure I wasn’t on my knees by LA. Although there were always those moments when you say f@*k it! Like riding into Santa Cruz on the back of Vlasta the “Czech Vespa” at 34 mph. Sometimes you just have to go, right? On the last day I slipped away at the rest stop and rode up most of the Mulholland climb by myself. Just me, my thoughts, and my dad on my stem – it was a very special moment. Then I was back in the ride again as I heard gears and panting behind me and the climbers rolled past – that might have been the moment where I moved on.
The photo above says it all, the regroup at Father’s Office in LA. A beer in hand and a closing speech from Mick, we were all happy to have finished, but also maybe just a little sad we were done. Bittersweet – although the ice cream Tracy bought me helped. If you ever want to challenge yourself on the bike and do some good in the process, the Fireflies is a damn fine place to start – I recommend it to everyone. There was one thing that made me smile maybe more than anything. So many people commented on how good a wheel I was to ride behind, how consistent and safe it felt. After 3 decades in the saddle you would hope I got it right :), but really it comes from riding behind my father who had the most perfect souplesse pedal stroke crafted from years on the track and touring for weeks at a time. He was a good study and I know he would have been proud of the compliments as he worked hard to get me there both in the saddle and in life. Thank you so much guys for those words, they meant so much. The ride has reinvigorated me, and made me want to get lean and fast again. Here’s to next year – hell maybe even the Alps.
Did someone actually say “Should we keep going to Tijuana”?