I would never place Irelands mountains in the same category as The Alps or The Pyrenees, but what they lack in height, they gain something back in shear remote beauty. One of the most beautiful passes you can ride there is Molls Gap, rising up out of Irelands garden near Killarney, and along the Ring Of Kerry to a narrow pass at the top blasted out of the Old Red Sandstone. The road winds its way out of Killarney on the N71 towards Muckross, a typically narrow Irish road lined with high hedges. Every now and again the hedges break, giving you a glimpse of Muckross Lake and Upper Lake before the gradient starts to lift up into the hills. Officially you would call it a Category 2 climb, which regularly gets featured in the Tour Of Ireland and the Rás, but the gradient is consistant, and the road pretty sheltered, making it feel easier than it should. Pray for good weather if you are riding it, it is just close enough to the Atlantic that if rains it will feel frigid no matter what month you are riding it, and the wind will add another couple of percent to the gradient. Probably the only way you should ride it in Ireland.
Maybe one of the cooler ways to mark a great day for British cycling, Bradley Wiggins immortalized by the Royal Mail on one of their Olympic stamps. It will make a nice commemorative piece to show the grand kids – although they will probably never have seen an actual stamp or used one, so it may need some explaining.
Our love of steel frames continues. We were introduced to Cyclo Cycles based in Barcelona recently. They offer five different frames, race (featured above, The Mónica), performance, cross, touring and mountain. The frames are handmade in Italy to order and they give the option of TIG welded or lugged builds using Columbus or Dedacciai tubing. Once you have chosen the frame type, build and tubing, you have a choice of nine colors. Depending on the build the frames range in price from 850 euros to 1490 euros. Check them out at the site below the frames have been getting getting great feedback for the ride and build quality.
After years of watching Phil and Paul call the races back home in Europe and here in the US, I feel I have a pretty good handle on what they mean. Over the years I have noticed a few tried and tested terms that have stood the test of decades of commentary, and probably warrant some explanation, if not documentation here. Below are our favorite Philpaulism’s that have now found their way into our own cycling vocabulary and somehow out onto our local rides. Only last week at the JP Grand Fundo I commented on one rider going down a dirt road like a “scolded cat”.
1) “OFF LIKE A SCOLDED CAT” (also could be scalded)
Example: “…and Nibali has gone, he is off like a scolded cat”
Typical Usage: Used during a short burst attack at a particularity crucial point in the race. Typically used in conjunction with a favorite, although not always. Delivery: With the excitement of the finale.
2) “YOU DON’T GIVE HIM 10 METERS”
Example: “David Millar is not the sort of guy you give 10 meters to, you may never see HIM again!”
Typical Usage: Typically when a rider makes one of those last-ditch, usually suicidal, attacks off the front of the peleton in the last 1KM – or during a break when a rider attacks his fellow escapees and gets a gap, usually followed by the other riders all looking at each other. Delivery: Emphasis on HIM.
3: “SPOT OF BOTHER”
Example: “Frank Schleck seems to be having a spot of bother…”
Typical Usage: Usually when a pre-race favorite, or rider of some repute, gets dropped on a climb, when form says he should really be sitting somewhere around 1oth wheel. Delivery: With a very slight hint of sarcasm.
4: “VERY HEAVY ROADS”
Example: “The riding today is being made that much harder by the really heavy roads…”
Usage: As various departments prepare themselves for the passing of the Tour it is not uncommon to resurface the roads. Some departments have more money than others and those that can’t afford the super smooth tarmac carpet choose a cheaper “chip and seal” surface. Unfortunately in blistering heat it feels like you are riding through glue with pebbles stuck on your tires, very unpleasant. Delivery: With a “I have been there, I should know” tone.
5: “VICIOUS ACCELERATION” (See also “Dances on the pedals”)
Example: “….and Froome just put in a VICIOUS acceleration on the steepest part of the climb”
Usage: Typically saved for the steepest parts of the high mountains when the Skeletor-like riders (like Chris Froome) blast off the front for 10 or 20 meters. The gap is usually then brought back very slowly after the riders who have apparently “diesel engines” get up to speed, OR the attacking rider gets a short, curt but very clear message on team radio to slow down. Delivery: With a lot of emphasis and excitement – emphasis on VICIOUS.
CATEGORIES: The Other Stuff
With a fine Belgium ale in one hand and a camera in the other I spent a nice couple of hours watching David Somerville at Ifixbyx put together my C59. It is a pretty unique place to have work done on your bike. Right in the middle of Manhattan’s Fashion district, tucked away on the 4th floor of a shared office block, Ifixbyx is somewhat of a Mecca for the New York racing scene. Not really a bike shop (they only carry the parts that they need and are on demand by the local riders) they offer the service of everything you need done to your existing ride, or starting from scratch. Their attention to detail and dedication to getting it just right is pretty rare these days. If you hang around long enough you always pick up a few gems of knowledge as well. On this trip: 1) To get the perfect rear derailleur cable cover length (from the frame into the rear derailleur) the magic number is 23cm – this makes sure the cable cover goes into the derailleur straight, giving smoother shifting. 2) On Campy cassettes they keep the individual cogs aligned using a little plastic “widget“, allowing you to drop them onto the wheel in one swift movement – as demonstrated by Mark. After putting some miles on it this week I will be back in to have the fork cut back and a few tweaks to the gears – but it is pretty much riding like a hot knife through butter. A few shots from the afternoon in the gallery below.
Last Saturday I joined the Grand Fundo, a charity ride organized by Jeremy Powers in Southampton MA. I had really no idea what to expect other than an as advertised “not a race, on a pretty demanding course”. One swift scan of the car park on arrival pretty much sorted that out. Most riders there could have been described as “serious riders” so you know the competitive gene would emerge in some form at multiple points of the day. The ride is super well organized with quality merchandise (I am drinking from my JAM Fund pint glass as I write). The Fundo is a 64 mile loop, and what it lacked in distance, it made up for in hills and dirt, it is a nice course. Two things left big question marks floating over my helmet during the ride. The first: The ride is described as having “20 miles of maintained dirt roads…”. If that was 20 miles I will eat all of the Jelly Belly bean packets I picked up in one go. I don’t know if it was the fact I haven’t really ridden dirt that much, or the heavy legs from the 92 degree heat, but man those sections felt LONG. The second: A heads-up on Climb 3 would have been handy! The average may have only been 5% – but when you see riders zig zagging up the road in front of you, be rest assured there is a section in the “Wall” category coming. The halfway point is marked by a very special Feed Zone, The Flavor King Truck. I have never been so happy to see an ice cream truck. The heat was slaughtering me and the Strawberry Shortbread ice cream managed to stop the steam coming off my head. Overall this is a great ride, with a great vibe. And to the kids at Rest Stop 3 with the surgical towels soaked in ice water – you are angels.
At the end of last week I was eventually able to get in to ifixbyx with all the bits to put this build together, it has been a few months in the making. I have been looking at the frame for a while, and eventually decided to pull the trigger after seeing it in the “Flesh” at Amstel Gold. The frame was sourced in the UK with the help of Mark from Dutch And Wolf, and the excellent build was done by David Sommerville at ifixbyx. I have only had one dial-it-in ride so far (I went to ride the Jeremy Powers Fundo at the weekend – there was no way this was getting on those dirt roads – not yet anyway) – so I am looking forward to getting out on longer rides this week. The build without the pedals was sitting in the 14lbs and change category, way lighter than I ever thought it would build up to. Super pleased with how it has turned out. I have a nice photo essay of the build coming next that we did while Dave slogged over a Campy cable routing.
A few examples of riders getting adventurous with their bar tape wrap. The classic “Harlequin” wrap, top and bottom, and the retro “Fade” in the center. The “Harlequin” looks like it requires no more than a couple of rolls of color and a lot of patience. If you are interested in getting the “Fade” you will need to find something like the Pelten Shade (There is some on ebay here).
A series of beautiful prints, one for each of the Grand Tours, created by the Netherlands based designer Vincent Vermeij aka Chungkon. Somebody should give his number to A.S.O.