Currently In Love With Stoemper Bikes 10/13/2013
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.
The Fireflies West Ride 2013 10/04/2013
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”?
Rich Sachs Redesign By House Industries 09/20/2013
The previous Richard Sachs identity was maybe one of the most established identities in the sport of cycling, so no small task to take on the redesign and make it equally iconic. Time is the only thing that can decide if a piece of design becomes an icon, but the guys at House Industries (one of our favorite font makes here at HUGE) have done a really beautiful job. Right down to the color mix by Joe Bell the red is special to the brand. It is a finely considered piece of design done by people who understand the nuance of the sport and the intricacies of frame design. Shame they have to cover that frame and kit in mud.
That Hill 07/28/2013
That hill. We all have one. You might ride it every week, or maybe just once a season. It is the place that lets you know where you are at. Ahead or behind where you need to be, or should be. Some days you ride it like you have no chain, with the wind in your back and fresh legs. Fluid. On other days it is like riding through glue, your legs refusing to turn and feeling heavy. The burn. But that hill is your test ground, you go back because you know it will make you suffer, the only debate is how much. There is no fooling anyone but yourself on this hill. It will always give you an honest and blunt opinion. It won’t cushion the feedback, it will just tell it like it is. Yes, you are better than last time, last season, you are making progress, keep doing what you are doing. Or, come back in a few weeks and try again son and maybe then we will see. Drop a few more pounds that might help. We all have that hill where we go by ourselves some days. Today when I got to the top of my hill I found this mitt (My hill is Mt Washington CT, up from Egremont to Bash Bish Falls – down to Copake Falls and back up to Bash Bish). Looks like someone dropped the gauntlet or tossed it aside in disgust at themselves, but it seemed like a fitting marker for the top. Today was a good day on the hill. The legs felt good and the drizzle kept me cool.
The 2014 Condor Super Acciaio 10/13/2013
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.
The Next Ride 09/27/2013
If I am completely honest I have had a little bit of creative block for the last 6 months. Loosing a parent impacts all of us in very different ways, for me one of those ways was a loss of joy in the things I used to find enjoyment in doing. This blog, brand, photography, publishing thing was one of them. But I feel different this morning. I am just kitting up for a 6 day 550 mile ride down one of the most beautiful rides in the world, PCH. I woke 3 hours early with nervous energy. If that wasn’t enough I am doing it with a bunch full of creative minds, all for the cause of raising funds for the City Of Hope Hospital. My father will be riding with me in spirit (he is actually taped to my stem, literally) and I know he would have loved this. I think this ride is going to give me a new burst of creative energy, so be warned I am going to bore the shorts off you with posts about how beautiful bikes are and how happy I am that the UCI has at least for now someone who seems to want to give us our sport back. Ride on….
The Anniversary “Sessanta” From De Rosa 08/29/2013
It is the 60th anniversary of one of Italy’s best loved bike brands, De Rosa. To mark the occasion they have launched a new series called ”Sessanta” - this special edition or “Black Series” are made in the four materials of frame building, Steel, Titanium, Aluminum and Carbon all in one lush dark color. My favorite is the Aluminum version above, although I think it is a miss to not include one of the best logos in cycling on the down tube. From the launch site it reads like the frames can be custom tailored for size in all four materials, all made in Italy.
Purple And Gold In Madrid 06/23/2013
Walking around Madrid today it was obvious somebody hut the mother load of vintage bicycles and parts. Every commuter that passed was aboard classic lovingly brought back to life and adorned with vintage parts. Two favorites above. An immaculate purple Alan and these beautiful gold brakes from Mafac.