The thought of making your team to ride Paris-Roubaix must bring an incredible sense of excitement, and probably at the same time also a complete feeling of dread. A few years back I talked to some of the triathletes in the New York City Marathon, who described the symptoms of what they called the “Hudson River Flu” – a sickness you get from swimming in a river that quite frankly is not appropriate for swimming in (I won’t go into the details). Paris – Roubaix brings its own special type of “flu“. One that is described as hitting the rider two days after the race has finished, a result of the punishment the body receives riding over a surface that most of us would consider only appropriate for an all wheel drive. A “flu” that pains right into the bones. This all just comes from the surface, the storied cobbles, throw in the distance, 50KM of that over cobbles, some weather and a lot of riders making this their early season goal, it is no wonder the race holds the position it does at the top of the things we love about this sport. This year it is predicted to be rain free, and with some late-week rain probably dust free as well. None of this will reduce the spectacle. Thank the lord for the internet, I will have my Sporza and Eurosport streams flowing on Sunday looking down the line for Russ Downing and Alex Wetterhall, both who have won races back in my home country of Ireland and are now riding one of the biggest races in the world. I wish them luck, safe riding and good legs.
I Remember Toeclips And Straps 03/29/2013
Black leather uppers, with punched holes for ventilation. Black cotton laces. Leather soles, with metal plates nailed to the bottom. Metal toe clips and leather straps locking you in. Being that attached to your bike could sometimes be terrifying.
Categories: The Other Stuff
What To Wear When Cycling 03/25/2013
At this time of year I spend way too much time over morning coffee deliberating about how many, and which layers to wear. For those that have not been following this has been a really LONG winter. So much so that the beginning of Spring has been ear marked with yet another “Winter Storm Warning” and 30 degree temperatures. So I figure anything that can abbreviate the decision making process and give me better odds against bailing on the ride and hitting the trainer is good. Up to this point I have been doing the “Pajama Test” (taking the dog out in the morning and seeing if I can last more than 5 mins outside). And so it was with great interest that I downloaded and opened the What To Wear Cycling App on Sunday morning over a fine Grimpeur Brothers brew (honest this is not a product placement post – just how it was). I was first asked “Are you riding now or tomorrow”. The App then pings the local weather and pulls together a list of appropriate items based on where you are. There is also a nice little personal feature that allows you to customize “Do you usually run hot or cold” (I am a bit like a Haussler in this respect and often ride without gloves because my heart is pumping so bloody much I can melt bar tape). Post ride the recommendations were pretty much spot on (it was also pretty much what I would have chosen myself but taken an hour to do). I figure once you put your faith in it and dial in your personal temperature it is a nice fun way to plan your ride the night before or mess with your riding buddies by saying they all run cold. Now I wonder does it take in altitude….
The Jossette Jersey By Cafe Du Cycliste 04/18/2013
For the days when you can’t make up your mind, because the weather can’t make up its mind, the Jossette jersey by Cafe Du Cycliste is a good option to get you out the door quicker. Now granted when Anton sent me the jersey to test the weather here on the east coast of the US should have been ridable wearing it, but we were still down in the low 30s most days. So the jersey sat in its nice gingham bag while I was still wrapped up in multiple layers. Fast forward and the last few days have seen us get what feels like the beginning of Spring, and perfect riding conditions to try out this kind of jersey. Why is the jersey different? well it sits somewhere between wearing a jersey with a lightweight wind shell or wind vest, but allows you to keep the layers down (with a base layer). It has a high quality membrane layer and waterproof zip giving you insulation against rain and wind, while vents in the armpits and back pocket allow you to open it up to breath when you need it. The fit is pretty snug (although that might have something to do with me coming off the hug of winter with minimal miles in my legs) so it feels like you are wearing a race jersey but with the protection of an added layer without the bulk. It could be the perfect mountain climbing jersey, opened up on the way up to keep you cool, and with a pair of armwarmers good for keeping you warm on the way down. It is no surprise that the guys at Cafe Du Cycliste spend a lot of time in the Maritime Alps, where the climate varies a lot and can be a little bit damp. I can see where the inspiration for the piece came from. This is a really good addition to the kit bag for those days that catch you by surprise.
This week we will see another new cycling brand launch itself to the world and attempt to draw dollars out of our wallets. This brand stands a damn good chance of doing just that right out of the gate. This brand won’t be making the kit that you or I will see on our local group rides, but instead beautifully tailored technical clothes for the urban rider. The brand is called Upright Cyclist, and has been the labor of love and now full-time job of Philip Siegert. Upright believes that the bike is the best way to travel in the urban environment anywhere in the world. That what you wear while doing it should both serve the need of riding, and look just as good when you reach your destination and take off your helmet. I was lucky enough to spend time talking with Philip, and his story should be an inspiration to the lot of us who have a day job in design, and a passion that lies somewhere in and around bikes. Upright Cyclist is a story of how someone saw a need and coupled it with their passion, to create a brand that at first glance looks like it is going to do really well.
Philip’s background lends itself well to imagining and getting a new brand off the ground. He spent years in the agency world as a strategist working with some of the best brands in the world, Patagonia and Burton to name a couple. But you might have to ravel back further with Philip, to his time as a bike messenger in Chicago, to discover where his deep love of riding began and his understanding of how good kit can make a world of difference on the daily ride. All those hours in the saddle were essentially the start of his R&D process, and have influenced what he is doing at Upright Cyclist.
When asked about his influences, like a lot of us he mentions Rapha–but it is maybe too focused on the performance side of riding, and the price point for a lot of riders can be prohibitive. We also talked about what Levi’s is doing with their Commuter Collection. And how it leans maybe a little too heavily on the style and fashion side. And that is probably where Upright will sit, somewhere between these two brands. Clothes that look cool off the bike, won’t fail when you need them most when riding, and at a price hopefully we can all afford.
Above: Some of the early jacket prototypes out getting a road test (notice the one on the left is still held together with pins)
The design process has been a fast learning curve for Philip. He picked up a lot by watching the brands he worked with as a strategist, but as with most things like this you don’t realize what you don’t know until you try. He ordered yards of fabrics like waxed cottons and had seamstresses work up prototypes to test out on the road. He learned pretty quickly what was working and what was missing. Like getting baked inside a waxed cotton prototype because he hadn’t put in enough vents. From there he enlisted the help of some product designers in his hometown of Boulder, people he met out on the road, to get the first part of the lineup to manufacturing spec and into production.
Upright is going to be a thoughtful brand. As much as the Made In America movement and the resurgence of craft here is taking hold, it is hard for a new brand to foot the difference in the cost of manufacturing here versus Asia. Eventually, if they can get a foothold in the market, they would like to source and produce here, but until then they are finding ways to give back to the community. They will designate a portion of their profits from annual sales and select pieces to both national and local non-profit entities. I am just about to get some of the new products and will post more when I have had some saddle time with them, but until then it is just nice to see someone throw himself completely into creating something, and come out the other side with a great new brand and position. We wish Philip and Upright the best of luck and look forward to seeing their products on riders all over the US. Their site will be up live this week, so go check them out.
ELCYCLISTA EDITIONS: Label! 03/22/2013
The finishing touches for the Elcyclista Editions are falling in to place. We got delivery of the edition labels today that will be part of the packaging for the posters and books. They are looking nice, matte pink Pantone and gold foil, and they will have the handwritten edition number in pencil with each posting. Can’t wait to send the first batch out.
ELCYCLISTA EDITIONS: Ardennes Book Project 03/17/2013
It has been in the making for a while (almost a year in fact), but we have in our hands the first book proof of our Ardennes project. It has surpassed all of our expectations formed over drinking hot chocolate in Maastricht last year and dreaming about creating a limited edition publishing label. Hopefully this (and our poster series) will be the start of something new for us. The book presents a fans-eye view of attending the Ardennes week, a very special time for riders and fans on the annual racing calendar. We just have some final color correction to do and then it is off for the final print run. We are not sure of the number in the edition yet – it all depends on budget and interest, the more interest we get, the cheaper it will be. If you like what you see here drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure you get added to a hold list when the books come in. I will be putting it up in the store soon for anyone that wants to pre-order to secure a copy. Hope you like it – share it around with your fellow bike porn lovers!