Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Lessons learned from the weekend's Cyclo-Cross Race #1: It's a workout. A-can't-stop-breathing-think-you're-going-to-be-sick workout. On Peter's suggestion we started with a five lap race. Tough man that I am, I scoffed. Nine minutes later I was slumped over my handlebars in a pile of self pity. The entire race is essentially a monstrous interval workout with constant changes of pace, accelerations and sprints.

Lessons #2: You really can do a 'cross race on any bike as evidence by Dr. Booth below. Funnily enough, of the eight different styles of bikes present, there was only one genuine cross bike being used. Translation: no excuse to not show up to the next event.

Lessons #3: The format makes for a great spectating event. Since you can essentially run the race in an area the size of a football field people are more likely to come out and support you since they can see the entire race. Secondly, you don't have to bore your significant other when you get home with tales of your exploits - they're there getting bored in real time, but it's O'kay because the course is scenic and the races short. Finally, it becomes a social event. We were fortunate enough that Dave and Zara organized the event and then opened up their house to all with beer and fish chowder afterwards. If you know me, you know I think that occasions like this are the reason I ride.

Lessons #4: On to matters of actual racing, Peter Dunne must have been practicing his mounts and dismounts at home while the rest of us were at work because he's fast. In the individual race, he took off from the gun not to be seen from again, perfectly navigating the off-cambre corners and running up the stair case with ease. Norby grabbed second, and I snuck past Mark Godfrey for third.

Now, no disrespect to Peter, but this fact alone - the sheer thrashing he doled out - is enough to get me out to the next race to try and even the tables.

Peter with full on race face below showing how it's done.

Other things worth noting:
-Mark Godfrey won the junior category and I think he could have a future in this, he was cruising up the grass embankment like it was paved.

-Boltini came out and did the race on his road bike and road shoes but still managed a smile up the stairs. Or is that a grimace...

-While there was a point where I thought my single speed was going to get the better of me, I'd like the record to reflect that in the end the relay race was lost in the last half of the last lap because of a dropped chain on Bevis' Campy equipped Moots. It was sweet relief after grinding out my gears at 55 rpms. Schadenfreude with a Bill Murray like sense of timing.

Prizes: I've decided there aren't enough prizes in Bermuda cycling. They don't have to be much - Peter got a four pack, while Dr Booth and I got two - but it does make you race harder.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 Recap

#1 Present of 2009: is a pair of white BG S-Works shoes from my lovely girlfriend. The over the top PRO styling of these made them pretty high on the wish list, but the sock like comfort of them made them a must have.

Ridiculous accessory I may now need: White shoes equals maintenance, and a quick look at my drive train will show that I'm terrible in that department. I'm seriously considering overshoes a la Frank Vandenbroucke.

I've never thought about them before, but I noticed (and how could you not notice Paulo's) several pairs on the boxing day ride.

Trend I hope is resurrected in 2010: If there was one fashion trend that defined cycling in the early and mide 90's it was outlandish eyewear worn unabashedly. See exhibits one, two, and three. After a decade of black minimalism it looks like the Gaudí is back in. Oakley's new Jawbones are almost so ugly as to be beautiful and their aptly named 'Retina Burn' pair is calling my name.

Promise to myself I'm unlikely to keep: Go no more than two days without a ride. I want to get fast this year. Consistency = improvement. Nothing else really to say.

Surprise of the 09 racing season: I'm not a time trialist - I don't like them because I am bad at them and am bad at them because I don't do them - so I normally only look at the results to see just how much Garth won by. But for a three week span at the end of the summer this year I was hooked. The reason: the fight for end of season wins between Dave Collins and Mark Hatherly. There were three races and all three were decided by less than four seconds. FOUR SECONDS! Rivalry makes good sport and good sport pushes people harder than what they otherwise would. I'm excited to see what Mark can do in 2010.

Local Race of the Year: This one is really a no brainer for me. It has to be Scott's ride at the National Road Race Championships. i've seen a lot of races in Bermuda, but never a two hour solo move in the wind and rain to seal it. I only had the back of the pack view, but there was carnage in the group with three laps to go because of the unsuccessful attempt to close the gap; I can't imagine the pain involved in holding off that charge but somehow it all came together.

Promise to myself I'm unlikely to keep #2: Drink less in general and the night before 5:30 a.m. training sessions in particular. I'm thinking my strategy for tackling this one is concentrate on quality wine over quantity.

Funniest Proposition of the Year:

Scene: Having a coffee after 30 miles in the wind and rain.

Brian Drea: I felt pretty good just there. Do you want to go around the back of St. Georges, the Lighthouse and back?
Me: No.
BD: Oh come one. Tell you what, I've got some Fig Newtons we can split. What do you say?
Me: Well that changes everything.

Rode just over 60 miles that morning.

Revelation of the Year - Equipment: I recently asked Chelsea for a handbuilt front DT Swiss 240 and am amazed at the difference it makes to my bike. I just rolls so smooth. I can't go back to anything else now, and if anyone else is looking for a bulletproof set of training wheels, look no further.

Obscure Bike Builder Obsession of the Year: I just think that Sacha White's Speedvagen bikes are so cool. Metal bikes are making a comeback and he's leading the charge.

Revelation of the Year - Product: Some things in life are worth debating (Monica Bellucci or Scarlett Johansson, the Giro or the Tour) others are not. On the topic of the best cycling blog, it's firmly in the latter camp: Belgium Knee Warmers is the best. Period. They are the keeper of all things PRO and their long standing love of Frank Vandenbroucke is ispiring, the origin of the title is explained here:
true hardmen opt to forego the knee or leg warmers and instead choose an embrocation to cover the knees, which provides warmth for the legs chemcially and keeps the blood circulating and the muscles as supple as possible. This embrocation and the sheen created is affectionatley known as “Belgian knee warmers.”

Of course I was curious, so Dave brought some Mad Alchemy embrocation down from Canada. It's only been a week, but this stuff is great. It's like a cup of coffee for the legs and makes getting out the door on those cold morning just that much easier.

Photo of the Year:

Bevis Tetlow and Phil Mace cycled 1836 K's between Buenos Aires and Santiago earlier this year. Geography majors out there will know that this meant a) crossing the Andes along the way, and b) Southern Hemisphere meant the ride was during their winter. It was a bad ass ride and they raised a ton of money for charity (as well as giing themselves a great excuse to buy new bikes). Their photos are incredible, and I probably could have chosen any of them to be the year's best, but I liked this one.

Promise to myself I'm unlikely to keep #3: Stretch every day. I'm told it helps, but all I want to do after a ride is drink coffee.

Exceedingly Optimistic 2010 Event: I don't know if anyone's noticed, but Tom - Mr Grand Prix Bermuda - Barras has found a ride with the new UK Raleigh cycling team. Raleigh used to be a powerhouse team in the European peleton. Their ambitions are a little lower going into 2010 - more Continental Division I level - but they've signed some great young riders. Maybe Tom will convince the managers to have an end of season jolly around Hamilton and do some racing too. Just try and imagine if racers still did this after particularly grueling stages of the Tour:

Revelation of the Year - Racing: The Junior program. The juniors riding now are good. Really good. It's great to see the development and I can only hope that they stay in the sport long enough to become great.

Friday, December 11, 2009


How does an image of an empty road manage to convey fear? This is the halfway point in the Tour of Battenkill. I think plenty of training is in order.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Specialized Roubaix....Christmas is just around the corner....

Looking for a last minute gift and have $5,000 to spare? If you do, this may be the bike for you. For reasons explained here, I think that most bike reviews are a waste of time. The exception to the rule seems to be Red Kite Prayer, who's Padraig has more experience and gives more thouught to reviews than I've read anywhere else. He's also given a lot of thought to the scoring process:
I’ll be scoring bikes on a 100-point system. It will take into account every facet of the bike: price, design, effectiveness for given consumer, parts spec, fit considerations, handling, weight, stiffness, road feel and even availability, the idea being a $2000 bike has the same chance of scoring 100 points as a $10,000 bike if it accomplishes its consumer-oriented goals.

I'll admit that I've never been a fan of specialized, but a score of 98/100 and the final comments of,
In a world dominated by bikes made for American crit racing, the Roubaix is one of the most intelligently designed bikes I’ve ever ridden. Easily one of my all-time favorite bikes.

I may have to reconsider.

Click here to read the full review, or talk to Chelsea to find out more.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Question: Is the Corporation of Hamilton the most incompetent body in Bermuda?

Points of Discussion: Internal and petty power struggles over voting and eligibility, private and undisclosed meetings and a "Buy Bermuda" campaign that asks nothing of the shop keepers and everything of the consumers.

The Nail in the Coffin: The terrible state of the roads in the City. Just when I thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel with the paving of particularly bad sections - including Burnaby Hill which we race up - I saw them jack hammering up a section of pavement that's not even a month old.

I know that it is possible for the roads in Bermuda to be worse, but I'm not even asking for repairs, just stop messing up the pavement that is already messed up enough.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Graeme Miller

The Boulder Report is maybe the most insightful place for cycling journalism on the web. Unlike others, it doesn't focus on the obvious and star-centered aspects of the sport; who really cares if Lance and Alberto are friends or where Wiggins is going. It's reporting is instead aimed at better stories that make you want to get out and ride your bike. Logging on this week I was surprised to see an entire article devoted to Graeme Miller. The author, Bill Strickland, had this to say about Miller:
In a career of a little more than two decades, Miller made four Olympics, with an eighth in the road race at Seoul in 1988 as his best finish, but he won races all over the world — just not many that casual fans ever heard of. Instead of the Spring Classics and Grand Tours it was the vagabond workingman slog around the world for Miller. If he’d been a boxer instead of a bicyclist he’d have been going bare-knuckles behind the abandoned factory for a hundred bucks a fall.

And he looks it. There’s that indefinable set to his jaw and in his stance and eyes that the authentic tough guys all over the world have, not preening like the fake fighters who do pretty good until they run into the real thing, and not visibly spoiling for a brawl like troublemakers, but a bearing that comes from a kind of confident — almost resigned — comfort with getting into a fight they’ll more likely than not lose. He and the guys like him are genetically talented sure, more so than most of us can dream of, but because they were missing that last, miniscule final bit of the gift that puts racers over the top, they learned that if they were going to make a living with their bikes they had to ride as if they were knocking the shit out of people.

As a rider who had the shit knocked out of him on a weekly basis by Graeme, it was great to see him paid such a tribute.

The full article can be read here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beer, Christmas, Cycling

Came across this the other day and thought it was one of the coolest cycling videos I had ever seen. Really, you need to watch it right now. And then re-watch it. The crowds. The starter running out of the way. the dismounts and speed. And God, those stairs! How did they do it.

The video is cyclo-cross before there was cyclo-cross. It's racing on the only streets availible, and if that means dismounting to climb 500 stairs and whipping through single lane roads, well that's just what you have to do.

I've thought a long time about why there's no cross on island and am stumped. To me it makes more sense than mountain biking here given the terrain and the circuit courses. Also, initial reports from mountain biking vet Dave Collins in BC are that "you've never really raced until you've raced 'cross."

In that spirit I'm tossing out the idea of doing a fun race towards the end of December around Shelley Bay. The course can be done on a road, mountain or single speed bike and there's a stair case each lap. Dave will also be back to give tips and pointers he's learned. More importantly, a case of beer will be on the line for the winner.

Let me know if there's interest or ideas to make it a better event.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Open Road Race

If you haven't seen it already click here to view the great footage of the Open Road Race.

The lesson from the race; it pays to be at the front if you want to stay out of trouble.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What the Fall is all about

Good writing captures a sentiment that people relate to. By that metric this may be the most interesting/unique/funny cycling related articles I've read all year. I had Carbonara for dinner four nights in a row last week, and that compounded with the fact that weekly mileage has fallen to almost zero is starting to reveal just how much I eat and drink. Something needs to be done stat to turn things around, but not tonight, the Czech beer in my hand is too good.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Notes from the Grand Prix

The wind, rain and the twenty five times up the hill at Morgan's Point made for a great race Saturday. There was great racing Sunday too, and I think the change in time allowed for more crowds than we've seen at a race in a long time.

-Award for best back handed compliment recipient goes to Garth. The lead three weren't asking what the gap to the chasing pack was, they were asking what the gap to Garth in particular was. When it got close I could hear them talking up the hill, "shit, we can't let him catch us. He's really strong."

-I love that you can practically make out the brand of helmet that was worn here.

-Being in a pace line is a beautiful thing. You're in pain and agony, focused on nothing but the wheel ahead. In a race it feels like it is impossible for anyone to ever have been faster, so in the red are you. I took a lot of photos of the day, but I don't think photos of cycling often portray the paradoxical emotions of a bike race. They look like what they are; are bunch of guys riding in single file. That's why I like this photo. Mud and sweat splattered, it captures the pain of a hard bike race.

-I always like to see so many juniors toeing up to the start line. Congratulations to all of them for toughing out the conditions and ending their season on a high.

-Hot Tubes are fast. They are a junior team that tore it up pretty good, but most people have never heard of them. As background, they are one of, if not the best US junior talent scouting teams with their riders graduating to bigger and better things. This year Lawson Craddock was one of the young riders down who finished second at the Junior Worlds this year. A couple of years ago, one very young Ben King was top 10 on GC in Bermuda. He went on to ride for Lance Armstrong's Trek-Livestrong team and is now having a great season with Fly V Australia.

He's still only 20, look for him to make the ProTour jump soon. Maybe we'll see the same progression from this year's Hot Tubes class.

-An interesting race day nutritional option for those who just can't face another bowl of pasta: "Put a PowerBar choc gu in a coffee cup and then pore a shot of espresso over the top. Time prior to departure: when leaving out the door- Get your favourite flavour of PowerBar between two pieces of bread, or fruit toast and place in microwave for 30seconds. The PowerBar melts…this is soooo good." Courtesy of Mr. King.

-Speaking of Grand Prix alumni, it's good to see that Russel Downing who famously won on Mark Lombardi's old bike, has finally been offered a well-deserved ProTour contract with Team SKY. He's always been a good rider, but his performance in the final stage of this years Tour of Ireland was one of the best rides of the year. If you haven't seen it watch it here. Isolated and surrounded by a dozen other riders, he demonstrates that the best defense is a good offense.

-If you see Darren Dowling, ask him about the almost-crash-of-the-year he witnessed. It involved Brian Drea, a superman position, a sideways bike and a 20 foot slide.

-I want to buy a pair of new wheels this winter. I want Zipps - because no other wheel is as fast and well engineered - but scenes like this make me wince. It wasn't any one's fault, a moment of inattention was all it took. I'm now more than ever leaning towards a pair of handbuilts on Chris King hubs.

-Tony Gibbs wins teammate of the weekend award. My mental calculation has him being on the front for 95% of Sunday's crit. In the first half of the race he diligently chased down attacks when they happened. In the second half he set a pace fast enough to deter any attacks. It was an impressive show of force totally dedicated to his teammate's ambition. When the race was done he rolled across the line 30 seconds behind the leaders, content that he had done his job and his team had capitalized on it.

-Peter Dunne has made all of our lives more difficult. He's taken a (previously fun) B Group race, and recruited three teenagers with heart rates that go north of 200 and have a penchant for sprinting and attacking. Dominique got the wins this weekend and I won't be surprised to see him racing in A next year. Treshun and Marquise also showed impressive racing this weekend and with another winter of training can only get faster. Everyone take note and consider yourselves warned.

I don't think anyone would have expected this amount of success from the Berkley programme a year ago. It's incredible and I hope it only grows from here.

-I've already mentioned Garth and Brian, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the great ride that Mark Hatherly put in to hang with the best for as long as he did. He was taken out by a crash on Saturday, but really showed himself well on Sunday.

-Bikes have come a long way in the last ten years. You hardly ever see an aluminum rim under a PRO and almost all frames are carbon as if by fiat. It's amazing then that amongst PROs the one piece of bicycle equipment that has defied the never ending pursuit of lighter/stiffer is the saddle. Check out the saddle that Tom Barras is sporting. It's an old Concor.

-Sponsorship works. After seeing Tom ride wheels I'd never heard of - SL Carbons - I spent time on the web trying to find out more, and that's got to be worth something. They make two wheels, a 50mm carbon deep rim and a Mavic Comet knock-off. The website is pretty disappointing, and the product discription is brief to the point of making a Haiku seem wordy: "round, black and they have spokes." That's it. No weight. No commentary. Nothing. Still, at £595 with the ability to give them a trial run they're worth consideration.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Someone told me I must be crazy for writing that "the reality is that the roads here are pretty good." Argument ensued.

On discussing road quality I'm going to start with stating what they aren't: no cobble stones, no packed dirt, no pitch and seal, no tram tracks or railway crossings and very little traffic furniture. Going on to what we do have, I admit that W&E must have a fetish for re-paving roads to then turn around and trench them up, but the trench is just a couple of inches wide. Additionally, the Corporation of Hamilton may be the most inept group in Bermuda with their roads almost a physical manifestation of that. But really, how much riding to does anyone do in city limits? Finally, there are potholes on the island, but since I ride the same roads everyday I know where they all are and could almost ride around them blindfolded.

My main point at the time was that a bike needs a balance between being stiff and being comfortable. In most cases it’s either very stiff or comfortable. Except if you start getting into the $3,000+ frame territory where the engineering is so good that you get both. But those are pro bikes, meant for people who ride 1,000K a week on Belgian roads.

The roads here are fine for the most part and most people here only ride for 90 minutes at a time anyway so fatigues isn't a major concern. With that in mind I’d rather have the racy and stiff bike at the expense of comfort and save the money.

Saturday, September 5, 2009 is dead.

I love reading the news. Real news - The New York Times, The Economist, BBC - not online compilations. For reasons best explained here by Malcolm Gladwell, opinion is cheap. In depth and resource heavy reporting on the other hand is difficult and expensive. The benefit of the reporting is that the information acts as a check and balance and provides a social good. But newspapers are failing everywhere, usurped by information that apparently wants to be free. A world without good newspapers makes me nervous.

My passion for actual published news doesn't carry over to the cycling world, however. I've long thought that there was very little actual journalism in the traditional cycling publications and I unless I'm stuck in an airport I rarely buy magazines anymore. I'm thinking of Velo News, Cycling News and Bicycling in particular.

Their bike reviews are formulaic and reveal nothing insightful. Just have Chris Boardman or Marco Velo ride around somewhere beautiful and say "the bike was vertically stiff while being laterally compliant." Or, "when you step on the pedals the bike just accelerates without any bottom bracket flex." The problem is that they say this for all bikes, and the truth is that the $6,000 bikes they review don't need reviews: they are all nice. They're all unaffordable too, and don't provide any insight to what the average person looking to buy a bike may want to consider. It's just ripe for satire.

Secondly, their race reporting is terrible. Whatever race is up this month is the biggest race of the year even it's the Tour of Qatar. They then go on to to pick favorites that are beyond predictable. How can you justify getting paid for picking Cavendish in a bunch sprint or Cancellara in a TT? That's like picking England to not win the World Cup; it's a foregone conclusion. The real fun of race reporting is to pick the up and comers or the wildcards: Fuglsang at the Vuelta, Boasson Hagen at the Worlds, Brent Bookwalter or Dominique Rollin in the Spring Classics next year.

These two things - bike reviews and race reporting - should be the bread and butter of the official cycling publications. But they aren't. I've also noticed errors in reporting coming up. Two in today alone. 1, "Sanchez...his home Tour is the focus of his season by putting in the best time trial performance of his career to take sixth on Saturday's rainy test." Surely his best TT would have been when he won the final TT in 07 to snatch 3rd on GC from Evans. 2, "Pozzato...third in Paris-Roubaix." He was 2nd.

To make matters worse the websites of the all these publications have gotten progressively worse and navigable.

Luckily, unlike news that actually matters there's a wealth of sites that have filled the void. Foremost among all cycling writing is Red Kite Prayer, put together by the man responsible for the great BKW. For race predictions there is Pave, and then there is the everything site of Pez (with the accompanying Daily Distraction). Different medium, but Cervelo is offering some amazing insight into their team at, from Hausler trying to explain what it's like to lose San Remo by an inch or Sastre explaining why he pulled Deignan back from a break he was sure to win.

It'll be interesting in the next year to see if the major publications make their read more interesting or if they begin to fade away. In the mean time, I'm going to keep trying to offer a different perspective on things. Acknowledging that this site is far from perfect, it's also completely flexible so let me know if there is anything anyone would like to see reported more.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bavaria 8.6

There are undoubtedly better ways to spend the night before a hard ride than drinking, but none of them put you in the same win-win situation. Ride well and you can feel great in the knowledge that you did so in spite of last night. You're a killer seemingly immune to the affects of alcohol. Get dropped on the first acceleration, and well, of course you did, you're hung over. Don't beat yourself up over it.

In preparation of tomorrow's ride I'm having Bavaria 8.6 as my fuel of choice this week. The first time I bought this stuff was from the liquor store on Queen and Church. I asked the guy there if it was any good, "well, it's strong so we sell a lot of singles to them" pointing out the window towards the City Hall homeless crew. Not exactly a glowing review, but if it's good enough that they're making the switch from tried and trusted Heineken and Elephant I'm intrigued.

Initial reviews are that it's got legs. Too heavy a beer for the summer days perhaps, but come winter this could get revisited. It's not on the same level as a Leffe of Chimay - too sweet - but it's in the same family, more available here and cheaper. It's a Dutch beer, full flavored and strong. I'm thinking stews, roasts, generally anything slow cooked.

Update from next morning
This gives a severe and crippling hangover. Lesson learned.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I'm an in-the-closet-fan of knuckle tattoos. Not that I want my own - I don't like pain or tetanus and don't know how they'd go over in the office - but they're cool. They require dedication, no doubt about it. Dedication is a prerequisite for any serious cyclist, so I can respect the commitment. On a spectrum they're just slightly above getting out the door to do intervals in the rain.

That's why I was so excited by the Knog gloves Chelsea has brought in over at Bicycle Works. They're leather gloves, great quality and have "LOVE" and "HATE" across the knuckles. Here too, I think any cyclist who's ever done a time trial can relate to the inspiration here. On top of that they're ironic and it's rare in any setting that you have clothes that require both attitude and a sense of humour to pull off.

It's easy to get carried away with cycling gear and outfit yourself in carbon soled shoes, $200 bib shorts and the rest. I get sucked up in it all too, but think I may get a pair of these as a reminder to keep it real and leave the pro stuff to the pros.

Knog is a small brand, but their website is worth a visit to learn more. All I'll say is that it looks like the love child of a bike store and a skate store with a small serving of soft porn.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dave's Leaving

Dave Collins is leaving the island today to go back to school and I think that Bermuda cycling will miss him. Not because he's fast - though he is - but because he brought such a fresh attitude to the race scene here.

Want to do the mountain bike series but don't have a mountain bike? Easy, tear it up on your day-glow cross bike. Never done a road race, win your first ever and lap the field in the process. Then five more. Straight. Then bag an A category crit. No power-meter, Carmicheal plan, no tactics, just good hard riding.

It's not to say that the man is without flaws. He's the one that chased down his own team-mate's break on May 24th. Ask him why he did it and you get the same answer you get when you ask why he went so hard he now can't get his shoes off: "I don't know, I just wanted to ride hard. So I did." It's refreshing. So many racers spend time saving themselves for some other race in the future instead of chasing the group going up the road. I'm a victim of this too of course, but I got into cycling because when I was a kid it just felt so good to ride my bike, to go fast, get lost and have fun. Dave rides like a kid, and that spirit is infectious and to me is what cycling is all about.

He's planning on racing in BC and doing the cross scene there over the winter (and introducing to Bermuda in the future?). He'll be contactable and reporting when he can on his races at his site

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Cannondale System Six, Review and Thoughts.

What I love about my bike is that I don't particularly love it. Let me explain. It's not my bike equivalent of a death row meal in the way that an IF Corvid, Prince, or a Parlee Z1 are. Those bikes are all beautiful, hand crafted, fast and pull at the heartstrings. They have a relationship with the rider that is practical and sentimental. That's great, but it's not what I want or need. I want a tool. A bike to log training miles on. Not let me down on Saturday rides and town sign sprints (which I never win, but that's not the bikes fault). So it's not a dream bike, but it scores higher on the emotionless utilitarian checklist than more expensive bikes.

My requirements are pretty simple: I want the bike to be stiff, which it is. It's front half is carbon with a huge head tube. The rear half is aluminum with massive, simple round chainstays. Bike snobs are a fickle bunch and use 'sexy' as an adjective to describe a the chainstays of a bike like the Pegoretti, Love #3, but never mention a CAAD 9 in the same breath. They should, these are awesome. It's plenty stiff for my needs, but that's not saying much, so I defer to Kent, who raves that it's the stiffest riding bike he's ever been on. It could probably more comfortable, but the reality is that the roads here are pretty good so it's not an issue.

Affordable. At $2,500, my Rival equipped bike is less than half the cost of a top tier frame or a nice set of wheels. Included in that price is one of the best warranties in the business against defect or crashing. And while Rival is entry level, the frame is the exact same one that has had Tour, and Giro success. It's a great bike, but if I crash it, I'm not going to bankrupt myself.

Build Kit. Mostly good here. I was an early convert to SRAM and plan on writing more about it later so I'll keep it short here. The Rival groupset just works. It's lighter than Shimano Ultegra SL and about 35% cheaper: and it's their third-tier groupset below Red and Force. It's still good enough for the pros - take a look at the left crank arm this Cervelo rider is using. I know this second example is FSA, but if Cancellara thinks aluminum is better than carbon for cranks then I believe it too: check it out. Elsewhere on the bike at this price point it's rare to get a set of Mavic Aksium's which while not the best wheels out there haven't need a truing in two plus years. The only disappointment in the build is the FSA bars. They're too deep which forces your position to alter too radically when on the drops and they have an ergonomic bend without a sweet spot. Fortunately Cannondale - and seemingly the whole industry - is moving away from un-Godly ugly "ergonomic bend" to shallow curved bars (there's a joke here about how I like my bars like I like my women, but I won't go there). The best thought process on the pros of traditional bar shape can he found here.

Finally - and I think this is absurd but necessary criteria - it has PRO race heritage. Like I said, cyclists are fickle and it doesn't matter how good a bike is because the fact is that if pros aren't riding the brand it loses invaluable credibility. Just two or three years ago Colnago was the bike to have. It had the history, was one of the first carbon manufacturers and was being ridden by Rabobank and Milram under such stars as Freire, Zabel and Pettachi. But 2008 was the first time in 30 years without representation in the peleton and in its place Specialized, Cervelo and Scott have devoured market share. Getting back to the point, Cannondale has been in the PRO ranks for almost 15 years now and I can't think of another brand save Pinarello that can say the same. It's been ridden in techno-colour by Gotti and Cipollini, Cunego, Soler,'s polka-dot year and this years Liquigas stage race rich team of Nibali, Krueziger, Pellizotti and Basso. That's 15 years of PRO feedback on how to make the best bike possible and that's got to count for something

There's a certain satisfaction at getting a bike that performs at a high level without getting to the point of diminishing returns on cost. To use a terrible term, the System Six has great bang for buck, rivalled only by the Cervelo S1. It's a throw down race bike at an everyman's price. It's not to say I don't want the $6K work of art; there is something incredibly un-romantic about appreciating a bike for it's sheer practicality. I'm sure that one day I'll suffer a mid-life crisis and purchase a bike that I love and can't afford. Picking the right one is something I can think about while I'm logging many, many happy miles and slogging through races on this bike and ones like it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bermuda Rapha

This has got to be a co-incidence. Last week while looking up the Rapha Continental update I noticed that the hospitality in Montana was decidedly Bermudian. Okay, they call it Ginger Rum and not Ginger Beer, but nobody's perfect.

Anyway, it got me thinking that the competition of summer racing has taken this element out of my riding. To me, winter riding is all about long slow rides while enjoying good conversation that often finishes with a beer in hand before I'm out of my kit. Some of my best winter memories this year involved post ride drinking with Brian where entire bottles of champagne are consumed in-thirst before noon. Somehow, even though the rest of the afternoon is spent napping after a huge breakfast and one glass too many the day still feels like a success because I went for a ride. But now in an effort to get to the top of hills a fraction faster or hold the wheel a little longer, conversation on the bike is more grunts and huffs and the only drinking is HEED and water.

I like the fitness that comes with riding all summer, but as August drags on I'm getting tired and looking forward more and more to the slow days of winter and dark beer.

I've gotten distracted from my original purpose. I thought it was cool that Gosling's was the drink of choice for the Continental. But it was awesome to see a Bermuda write-up by Charlie Pearch on a reputable site about a race that I took part in. You can read it here yourself: Rapha in Bermuda. Graeme and Garth both get appropriately sized up as the locals to keep an eye out for. Peter gets a nod his junior efforts and Mark Lombardi gets special mention for his race face. I thought the Father's Day race was great, and something I'd like to see repeated next year, congratulations again to Rodney and Kent for their awesome ride that day.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cup Match Century

Doing a Century ride in Bermuda isn't the greatest: the route is the same route you always do, you just do it again and again and again. What the ride lacks in adventure, however, it more than makes up for in the sheer element of difficulty that the heat adds. Where we thought we'd see the whole island on a beautiful day we instead met every gas station worker from Dockyard to St. Georges filling up on water or just standing in front of the opened freezer doors. Along Middle Road, Paget I seriously worried that my kidneys were failing. South Shore, Smiths I was wondering if Dave would notice if I just reached out and grabbed onto his seat post for awhile. Then finally, on the last two miles I rode up McGalls hill entirely on the wrong side of the road just for the relief of the shade. I was desperate.

The ride To Dockyard was beautiful; a gentle breeze, sunrise over the ocean. We even had Phil Mace acting as our very own derny for the first 45K.

The routine of the day.

This is what hot looks like, Dave never seemed to get there.

I often joke that I ride early in the mornings only because I like the fresh coffee at Rock Island. By the same logic it wouldn't be a stretch to say that I did this ride for the feast that Dave concocted. A slow Moroccan roasted lamb shoulder days in the making, with a ridiculous serving of cous cous and chickpeas. A thing of beauty. Oh, and beer, and wine, and a float in the sound with noodles for desert. It really was all worth it in the end.