Archives for the month of: November, 2008

Last week the Slipstream/Garmin-Chipotle team was in town. I should have remembered because Allen told me when everything was happening, but we’ve been so busy with new Hudz for 09 that it slipped my mind. Thankfully my wife is amazing and out of the blue said, “Let’s go get a drink at the St. Julien and sit by the fire,” since we had a babysitter and were trying to figure out what to do.

So I go with it.

We arrive at the St. Julien and there are three huge Slipstream trailers/busses out back. Hmmm. We get inside and the first thing I do is run into Meatball – the infamous Mike Friedman. Meatball is one of the warmest, most personable guys on a bike. It makes you wonder how a guy so nice, and seemingly well adjusted could want to punish himself for hours in the hardest races in the world. Meatball wants to be a classics guy (or as he tells it, his oversized butt forces him to be a classics guy). 

Of course, then you notice that Meatball is in fact walking around the 5-star hotel in a waffle shirt, perversely tight swim trunks, argyle socks and Chuck Taylors with a set of goggles on his head and you realize that nice and a little nuts can co-exist very well. 

Anyway. It was great to see Maggy and Lucas, and of course Meatball. Dave Z says that we are now friends for life, and all for the low, low price of two pounds of killer coffee. I’m really looking forward to working with the team again this year. Once again, things will be a lot more serious than the year before – but the payoff will certainly be worth it. 

Good luck guys.

p.s. Meatball has promised to forward a photo of him in that getup. It’s classic. Maybe I’ll even post it when it comes…

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I am not a judeo-christian, but the best TV show ever was the West Wing and Jed Bartlett used to quote scripture so there’s a chance that anything he said I can regurgitate.

It’s Saturday morning in Boulder and that means rituals before the ride. Mind you, I’m not saying pre-ride rituals, what I mean is my ever-Saturday ritual of taking Riis – my almost 2-year-old son – out for coffee when we wake up. It’s great because Mom gets more sleep and Dad gets caffeinated while the G-man (Riis) gets a cinnamon roll as big as his head and shows it who’s boss.

This morning we went to Logan’s in North Boulder. We change it up fairly regularly and go from spot to spot. Today we ran into Holly Beggs – one of the world’s all-time great massage therapists and long-time friend – and her boyfriend Brian. Riis charmed the bejeebers out of every person that walked into the place. And the new track tubular officially took it’s place where the Grifo once stood – Riis played with it for almost an hour and threw it all over the coffee shop, sharing it with most of the other people inhabiting the early-morning Mecca.

I certainly look forward to my ride today – nasty gravel roads, rippin’ around the Rez, and probably finding some mud here and there to get the new Alan cross bike as dirty as possible. But it’s amazing how I would miss not going for coffee more than I would miss not going for a ride. 

Fortunately, I don’t have to make that choice.

For the last few days my son has been dragging around a Challenge GrifoXS 32mm tubi. It was slightly inflated and had been stretching on a rim waiting to be glued. Tonight I finally glued it up. Fortunately I also dug out a pair of Conti Stayer track tires that have been sitting in the basement for the last year (the track in Boulder doesn’t open for another few weeks and I haven’t been able to motivate myself to get down to the Springs, and I don’t really like the tires anyway), which is key because if I took away my bicycle-obsessed 2-year-old’s tire without replacing it with something else I’d be in serious trouble. In fact the original Grifo was to replace the $1100 front wheel of my wife’s that he had been playing with previously. 

None of that is actually the point of this post. It instead revolves around the act of gluing up a set of tires. If you are a crosser, there is no avoiding it (Law No. 2 of the Religion of Cyclocross According to Lance – If you’re not riding tubies, you’re not riding cross). It takes a good 45 minutes or so to do a pair, and there’s no suitable alternative (Law No. 3 of the Religion of Cyclocross According to Lance – Tubular tape is an act of hatred, hatred for yourself and for your precious equipment). You actually need to do it often if you aren’t super rich and able to have 10 sets of wheels all glued up with different tires so that you A bike and B bike are perfectly matched and your rims are the proper depth for the course and conditions you are riding. So I had to glue up my tires, and part way through I realized what was going on, I was getting into the Zen of what should reasonably be a tedious and somewhat irritating task. 

This probably wasn’t actually Zen at all, it just seemed like the kind of appreciation for a moment that westerners who don’t truly understand Zen like to call Zen. It was definitely very prop-driven: basement workshop with mediocre lighting, nice tire, a tub of Vittoria Mastik and an acid rush, a good glass of whiskey (cheers to ya Don Farris), and paradoxically enough Missa Solemnis – a Beethoven Mass. 

I got all the way through the rims (two coats because they had already been glued before) and the first coat on one tire (two coats because they are new) when this profound feeling of joy at the simple, yet exacting task that I was accomplishing overcame me. Nice.

I finished up and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of my gluing right up to the point where I had to center the tires on the rim. That always sucks, Zen or not. I probably advance my carpel tunnel syndrome a couple years every time I do it. But I came away with a set of wheels that I can ride this weekend, and another set of props that makes bicycle maintenance something that I really enjoy.

Note: Missa Solemnis is by no means the best, or only musical selection for something like gluing tires. I find any classical piece that involves a choir of people singing in a foreign language and sounding like a bunch of sinners at the foot of a god who is ready to smite them to be pretty much the ticket. 

And, as a final note: First snow today in Boulder. Too bad I wasn’t smart enough to have all the cross gear ready to take advantage of a good snow ride. It got up to about 50 today also, so the snow id gone and I can’t take advantage of it tomorrow (not that Grifos would even be the right tire to do it, shame on me).

So one of the fun things that we get to do here is work with great racers. Every now and then – say when the Garmin-Chipotle team is in town, or one of the many bad-ass racers in Boulder needs something they stop by and grab some Hudz, or get some tech info, or just give me a hard time because it’s fun to do.

Today one of the most frighteningly talented women in US racing came by – Amy Dombroski. We sponsor her Webcor team, so when she was in need of some new brake hoods for her cross bike she had her superstar race mechanic ‘Double-D’ get in touch to see if we could take care of her. Of course.

If you don’t know Amy, she is a savage both on the road, and especially on a cross bike. She podiumed at TT nationals this year, raced all over the world, and then started cross season by picking up some big wins including Gloucester – cross world’s of the east coast. Oh, and she’s barely old enough to drink legally.

So watch for Amy cleaning up at a national ‘cross race in your neighborhood with some of our new SoftGrip Hudz on her Sram-equipped Kona cross bike. They’re blue, and if I do say so myself, look the business.

The First Annual Rocky Mountain Bicycle Show has left the building. I can’t even express the amount of relief and elation that I feel knowing it will be almost an entire year before I have to start caring about trade shows again. Having said that, I would have to say that this show is far and away the most fun that I have ever had talking relentlessly for a couple days about the same bikes and parts over and over. 

For the important stuff – Hudz sponsored the prize for Rocky Mountain Builder of the Year ($1000 cash, what you got DW?) which was won by a very deserving James and the Black Sheep crew. I took a couple minutes during a lull in the show (corresponding to the Pro men’s race at the Boulder Cup cross) to take his ‘yarder’ out for a spin. I have no – and I mean a complete and utter lack of – technical mountain biking skills, but I was bouncing my way up steps (ones that I was sure were too steep) and plowing my way over everything in site. While it’s not exactly the most practical bike (34 pounds for the single speed version), it is insanely fun, and I hope to obtain one for my commuter bike soon.

James also doubled up with the Rider’s Choice award, and Argonaut took the Builder’s Choice and Best of Show awards for his beautiful lugged bikes. Courage, Temple Cycles, Victoria, Citizen, and Nobilette also took the honorable mentions in the various categories. All in all, there were some truly sexy bikes on display there. 

Aside from the bikes, I had the best time just sitting around and chatting with other builders there. Hanging out with the custom builder crowd was an incredible experience (I don’t do NAHBS due to a personal conflict with the show organizer, so this was my first custom builder show). The environment really was the polar opposite to Interbike or anything in the mass-production side of the industry. Rather than anyone having the megalomaniacal view that everyone there was competing with them and taking food off their table, it was a crowd of people genuinely geeked about bikes and lavishing compliments on everyone of their peers. 

I really look forward to next year’s Colorado show, and am now seriously considering heading to San Diego in April for Brian Bayliss’ show and possibly the Oregon Manifest next year as well. For a guy that hates trade shows, that’s saying a lot.

Anyway. 

We unveiled the new SoftGrip material for our Hudz at RMBS also. People were genuinely shocked at how different the feel was from our Original Hudz and the manufacturer’s spec hood. We have had cross racers using them for a couple months and the feedback has been great, but it’s always nice to hear press and riders stopping dead i their tracks and saying “Woah,” (cue the Joey Lawrence sound effect).

More work to do, with additional distributors coming on around the world and new designs for DA7900 and Campy 11 in the works. We’re getting close on DA7900 – got the first rapid prototype on Friday and checked out out Saturday night, pretty darn good, just a few contours to work out and we’re ready for tooling design. Campy 11 development starts next week so I had better start logging hours on the new levers right away…