The Classics

The Ronde van Vlaanderen has come and gone, and Paris-Roubaix is on tap for this weekend. Can anybody stop Cancellara? Will Hincapie bring home the cobble and velodrome glory? Can Lotto finally grab a classics win? The showdown begins "Sunday, Sunday Sunday"...

Photo dump from the Ronde van Vlaanderen Museum in Oudenarde, BE. More to come.


Stybar's Ride

So you think Cyclocross Magazine had the inside scoop on Stybar's new whip? Well, here's another look at his bike.

There's no mistaking who's tent this is.

And the new decor added to his camper.

And matching bike:

Here's a look at his two bikes during the break after the Espoirs race. He has Pipistrello 34s on the bike now, but would later switch to 32's for the race. Also, it seems as though Stybar has a favorite saddle too. The San Marco on the new Rainbow bike looks to have considerable wear.

Stybar had the Avid Shorty Ultimates on his bike. The Pipistrellos are also the "older" model with the large side knobs. These features were removed for the 2009 model, but the pros seem to favor the grippier tread of the previous generation.

A close up of the PMP hub. Even though Stybar is a Sram sponsored rider, he choses to use a Sram 1070 cassette instead of the Red model like many of the top domestic pros.

A view of Stybar's cockpit. Sram Red shifters decked out in a full white setup, on anatomic drop handlebars. Notice the slight bulge of the cable pushing out the bartape slightly.

The stockpile of wheel bags leaning against the trailer.

Each bag is labeled so the mechanic can figure out which wheels are in the bag, without having to open up each one. This one is the 34 Pipistrellos that we saw earlier on Stybar's bike.

A front view of the bike Stybar raced. Check out the fully integrated handlebar/stem setup and the low profile carbon hoops. I'm surprised that Stybar chose to race on these wheels (compared to the deeper profile ones) considering how sandy the course in Lille was. I do love the Czech inspired spoke pattern.

View from the rear.

Another view from the rear. All of the top riders are interviewed before the race. Cyclocross is a big deal in Belgium.

The man and the machine.

Stybar throwing down during the race, seen here on the B bike.

Stybar went on to finish second to Nys in a two-up sprint. Stybar would go on to finish second again in Ostmalle at the last GVA race of the season to Bart Wellens. He would also finish second to Nys in the series overall standings. Not a bad season though; several high profile wins including the Superprestige overall and World Championship title. I bet he earned one of these. That's right, Stybie cakes!


Hair Hot Pants

I grew up riding mountain bikes, and even raced a bit when I was a junior. I didn't start racing road bikes until I got to college. After several years of racing on the road, I thought it was time to get back on the dirt and start racing some cyclocross. I had a couple of friends who raced cross and they gave the sport a solid thumbs up. So one summer, I bought a cross frame and pieced it together component at a time. By August, I had my first cross bike ready to race. I had no idea where the start learning about the sport.

This was before the dawn of Cyclocross Magazine, so my exposure was limited to the internet. Sites like Mud and Cowbells kept me informed so I didn't look like a total tool at my first race. I soon ordered a couple of DVDs; Transitions 1 and Transitions 2. The latter chronicles life in Belgium as a US cross racer. Along with following the tales of the Euro Cross Camp riders, it features Brandon Dwight. I've never met Brandon, but he runs Boulder Cycle Sport and is also a master's cyclocross national champion. Indirectly, he taught me a lot about cyclocross, as I learned about the intricacies of barrier technique from the old Velonews videos.

While escaping the New England winter and trying to get in shape for spring, I started watching Transitions 2 again. In one of the opening scenes, I noticed one of the largest faux pas of being a cyclist...the dreaded hair hot pants.

This happens when one neglects to shave the entirety of his or her legs, stopping only inches above the tan line. Hairy Short Shorts!

So please readers, next time you're cleaning up your legs before the big race, just go that extra step and so it doesn't look like your wearing hairy hot pants. You'll thank me next fall when you roll your shorts up to apply the embrocation and it goes on silky smooth.

For further reading, please see the old Ask a Pro Column on the ECCC site:

Only one week till the World Championships. Who's going to take it this year?


Second Thoughts....

I ran cross country in high school and I know how tough it can be. I was never a great runner. I just ran because it was the only co-ed sport and I used it as training to get in shape for other sports. The following essay reminded me of it all, and also kind of reminds me how I feel at the end of a cyclocross race; defeated and exhausted. Have a read....

By Oliver Davies of Viking
The clock reads 4:24. Four minutes, 24 seconds into the most painful run of my life. 36 seconds left. 36 seconds to break five minutes in the mile.

If all the sub-five minute milers in America were to come together to promote breaking this difficult milestone, I have a feeling I might just be the spokesman for their campaign. I can almost see it now, big billboards and posters put up all over cities, buses and sports arenas with a picture of me, with a big caption underneath reading, "If he can do it, anyone can!"

I am a runner, but by no stretch of the imagination do I consider myself elite. I haven't been blessed with a body like Usain Bolt or Steve Prefontaine, but I've ran cross-country for the last four years, and have made do with my God-given talent (or lack thereof.) As this year's season came to a close, I decided I would aim to do what I never thought possible, and judging by the gaping expression on the faces of my peers, what they never thought possible either: breaking five minutes in the mile.

With a team of seniors, (plus one cocky junior Varun Kohli,) I warmed up that fateful Wednesday, aware that whether or not I broke five minutes, I'd either fail embarrassingly, or pass out on the track, unable to revel in my glory.

Conditions were perfect. The temperature was around 60 degrees, no wind. The fans packed the stands to cheer us on. In retrospect, they might have been there for the soccer game: it's still unclear. As runners lined up on the track, the silence was unbearable.

Before I knew it, the watch had started, and there we were, 200 meters into the most painful 1600 meters of my life. If everything went according to plan, adrenaline would take me a lap into the race, while the last three would be dependent on guts and pain tolerance. So why was it hurting already thirty seconds in?

Panic hit me like an egg on Freshman Friday. Thoughts like "Should I just get it over with and drop out now?" and "This could be a bigger fail than Michigan's football season," went racing through my head. Considering I had organized the race, I now had a pack of angry runners going after not only the five-minute mile, but me as well.

Like a bad dream that wouldn't end, I found myself at the end of the first lap, 3/4 of a mile left. My quadriceps were ripping apart as I strained through the first lap. The pack pushed on. I focused on sticking with proper mechanics and kept telling myself that in less than four minutes, I would be home free.

Jeff Billing, Paly's former boys' cross-country coach, used to repeat one thing throughout his infamous motivational speeches: your body can handle so much more than your mind believes. Herein lays the motivation of running, of stressing the body far past the peak of exhaustion: to see whether you can break the body-mind disconnect.

Two laps in, I honestly thought I could.

Pain moved past my legs and engulfed my entire body. The pack was falling apart, but I didn't dare turn around fearing what lay behind may only discourage my efforts to move forwards. Regardless, I pushed on.

In miler's folklore, the third lap serves to destroy every personal record, every shot at glory, and provide an immeasurable amount of pain before the final adrenaline rush kicks in at the finish. I strove to push on the third lap, but found myself helplessly slipping away from the steady pacer, cross-country coach John Welsh, as I closed in on the last 600 meters, one and a half laps left.

I had all but given up on my hopes of breaking five as the fourth and final lap came around. I knew it would take a miracle. 300 meters left and my legs were numb. Then, as I passed the halfway point, with half a lap left, my coach screamed "36 seconds left!" 36 seconds. Just like that, the dream was once again alive.

In those 200 meters, I don't think I've ever tried harder. With 100 meters left, the race became an all out sprint. Desperately trying to catch the lead man, I've almost got him.

Five seconds. Four seconds. This is my last shot. I sprint, no, I tumble, I collapse, through the finish line.

Lying on the ground, with my heart pounding like it might just give up and stop altogether, the timer reads the final time from his watch:



How to be Prepared in the Pit

At the Cycle-Smart International, I was able to take a peek at the pit kit of one Christopher Zigmont. Chris is currently the CEO and of Pedro's, manufacturer of environmental friendly bicycle care products and tools. He also previously served as the director of sales at marketing at Mavic.

Chris knows a thing or two about 'cross. You can find him on the microphone at the key New England Verge series races, and he even takes a break to strap on his cycling shoes and hop in the master's race. Chris taught me two important lesson before I started racing cross. One, having new and clean cables is the easiest way to keep your bike functioning. Two, always be prepared for whatever a cross race can throw at you.

At the CSI, Chris was pitting for Mitchell Hoke of the Clif Bar Cyclocross team. Save for a crash at the start on both days of the men's elite race, Mitchell avoided major mishap and pulled off an impressive 17th and 23rd place over the weekend of racing.

Let's take a look at Chris' tools.

Upon first glance, you'll find the standards tools found in everybody's tool box. Looking at the center of the kit, you can see a set of metric allen keys, screwdrivers and a spanner wrench. But also in this kit are tools that I would never have even thought of bringing to a pit. Let's tackle this by drivetrain components:
- Tire Levers
- Front Skewer
- Rear Skewer

- Screwdrivers
- Various Pliers (likely a needle nose and Breaker-grozier)
- Pedro's Vise Whip
- Cable Cutters
- Scissors
- An extra set of allen keys

Other Nice Touches:
- Zip ties
- Permanent Marker
- Handy carrying case

I'm sure there are plenty of other tools hiding in all of the pockets of the bag, but this is just an idea of what to bring to be prepared. We all bring clothes to make sure we're comfortable for every 10 degree change in weather, and we bring tires to accommodate the unpredictable conditions of a parcours, so why not bring a set of tools to make sure you have every possible mechanical covered. After all, what's the point of driving over 200 miles for a weekend of racing if you break your bike riding a warm up lap.


It's All About the Details

There are several levels to being PRO. It's one thing to align the tire label with the valve stem, but it's an entirely different thing for your entire bike to match, functionally and cosmetically. No, I'm not talking about hipsters on fixed gears with Velocity Deep V rims or Aerospoke wheels. I'm talking about Mo Bruno Roy's custom Seven Mudhoney SLX, prepped by her husband and mechanic, Matt Roy. Check them out at mmracing.org.

The first thing that pops out at me is how all of the colors are coordinated together perfectly. The blue on the Seven logos match the bar tape. Not only are white hoods sparkly clean, the handlebar tape is finished with white electrical tape too. The white accents on the Sram Force shifters and cranks don't hurt either.

Mo's choses a Fizik Vitesse HP saddle, in matching blue of course. The black and blue combination of the saddle compliment the blue Seven logo on the carbon downtube. You can also see just how good the white hoods, blue bar tape and white electrical tape looks.

Now this image here highlights all of Matt's attention to detail. Take a look at the custom blue anodized bolts holding down the TRP Euro-X carbon brakes. The cables are also all capped off with blue cable ends. At the top of the cable hanger, sits a rubber boot to help seal the brakes against any mud, dirt or grime.

Mo currently holds the Verge leader's jersey and is having a fantastic season with five wins and eleven podiums so far. Not only is she fast, she and her husband are some of the nicest folks you'll meet at a bike race. So give her a shout and show her your support as she tears around the race course.



Cyclocross is a game of chances and things can always go wrong. Day 1 saw a broken chain, and a rolled tubular taking out several riders while stalling half the field all within the first 300 meters of the race. Day 2 saw a crash occur right out of the starting grid, sending a handful of riders to the ambulance. This story was no different for Richard Sachs' rider Dan Timmerman. With the Verge Series leader's jersey on his shoulders, Timmerman found himself in the lead group of three riders after the first lap on day 2. A rolled tire soon stymied his chances of a win. He still rode the race as if it were his, finishing seventh on the day. Here, Richard Sachs himself gives his rider encouragement as he passes the pit.