Sunday, June 29, 2008

Riding with the Girls, Running with the Foxes

I've been here three weeks and have spoken little about where I am here in Leysin, the encampment for TeamTBB. I was sick during the rainy first week and a half here. Since then, I've gotten a chance to ride south to catch a stage Tour of Switzerland, and southeast along the valleyfor another ride, as well as do some trail running up here in the mountain.

And yesterday, I had a chance to ride north for a flat tempo ride along Lake Geneva. I rode down the mountain for a 60-mile spin with Donna, Erika Csomor, Rebecca Preston, Marilyn McDonald and soon-to-be Beijing Olympian Mariana Ohata to Lausanne and back. Well, closer to 70 for Donna, Mariana and Erika, who met up with Belinda Granger and Chrissie Wellington to ride back up the hill as I joined the McDonald (who's back is recovering steadily from a bike spill) and Preston, who still had Ironman France in her legs for the train ride back up the hill.

We hoped, hoped, hoped the operator wouldn't come back to collect the $14 for the one-way trip with our bikes up to Leysin (And Marilyn hoped the back door of the car wouldn't pop open, pouring her out the back as the train ascended at about a 30 degree angle). Of course, the ticket collector came, and out came the Swiss Francs. Anytime you can get away without having to pay the toll is a victory, but they're few and far between. Regardless, Saturday's ride was probably the nicest since I've been here; it was flat, it wasn't windy, and I could just tag to the back of these swiftly-moving girls and take a scenic tow. And we stopped for pastries and soda once in Lausanne. Donna recalled that we were at the same spot where she did ITU Worlds as an age grouper... and Mariana did it that same year, as a pro.

I took my camera along on the run and at the end of one trail, the trees opened up to the sight below: the valley just north of Aigle, looking toward Montreaux and Lake Geneva. I ran into Belinda on her run out there, continued on a bit more, found some fun old fireroad switchback up to even more gorgeous vistas, then discovered a sweet, rooty, rocky singletrack that bombed straight downhill. So much fun.
On the way back, I spied two foxes on the road ahead, both dashing up the embankment to the hillside above. While one bailed, the other stopped to have a look. It was the first time I'd seen a fox. Not as imposing as a coyote, but equally as skittery. I wonder if there's bears in these hills...

Tomorrow or Tuesday, I'll explore some more on my own, riding the southern edge of Lake Geneva across the French border toward Evian, home of that infamous water company. After seeing the glacial waters cascade off the mountains around here and the crystal blue color of the lake, I can see why this water can demand top dollar.

The weather (for now): epic. Sunny, 73 degrees F. Down in the valley, it can get into the mid 80s. It's idyllic. Of course, as I finish this, the rain has started this evening. Hopefully it blows out.

Mid-week, Morgan Nicol of Oval Concepts will be swinging by to pick me up for a drive clear across France to the Brest region to catch the first stage of the Tour de France. I'm looking forward to getting my first glance at this event, and will share some insights. After that, I'll jump on a bullet train back across to Switzerland to do a bit more work, then join Donna as she gets ready to do Ironman Switzerland on July 13. Then I have just a couple days in Zurich.. and head back to San Diego, leaving Donna behind to do another month of training in the mountains before she heads back stateside.

In the meantime, there's a big race this coming weekend, with Ironman Germany on the docket, the race featuring both Ironman world champs. Chrissie Wellington hopes to make it four-for-four in Ironman wins. And the men's field, headed by Chris McCormack, has the German contingent of Normann Stadler, Faris Al Sultan, defending race champ Timo Bracht, as well as former race winner Cam Brown.

I wondered how Ze Germans would see Macca this time, now with an Ironman world title added to his impressive race palmares. So a little chat with him runs here, at the newly-launched Road Bike Action website. Knowing Macca, it's an interesting read. While it seems things are settled between he and Normann, it's not the case with Faris.

Next update will probably be from France...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I've just returned from a 2.5-hour trip to Leysin from Biel, Switzerland, on press trip to visit with Schwalbe tires and DT Swiss. Biel is the home of DT Swiss, on the German side of town. (It's interesting that on one side of Lake Biel, the lake is called Bielsee, the German name, while its Lac Bienne, the French version, on the other side.) East of the lake, German street signs. On the west, French. Pretty cool. The train trips are great too... rolling past Montreaux, Lausanne and Lake Geneva, and all the gorgeous countryside that comes with this area.

Biel is also the home of Breitling, Rolex, Rado, Swatch and other timekeeping legends. Its also home to tons of CNC factories. So to say the that Biel is loaded with some of the world's top engineers is a fair understatement. And DT Swiss has a ton of 'em. I had a chance to tour the factory, which was an impressive scene. I hope to have a nice tour story, one that's pretty eye-opening (at least for those who wonder how much work goes into how something as simple as a spoke is produced) at soon. I will never take for granted the lowly spoke again. Or rim, or spoke nipple. Or freehub body. All of which are created right there.

We did a good 3:30 ride, with about 2:30 of that climbing up to Mount Chasseral. Some turned back (the MTB guys.. I'm not naming names), while the rest of us continued up. Actually, VeloNews tech editor Lennard Zinn continued up on his own, ahead of us, eager to reach the massive radio tower at the top, while the rest of us refueled with water from all the little fountains you find in town through these parts of Europe. He said from there on a clear day, you could see the Grand Ballon and the Ballon d'Alsace in France, as well as the Alps. The mount is the namesake for the Mon Chasseral climbing wheelset. It consists of long grinding climb of about 40 minutes, a flat to recover, then another long climb through forest, opening to clear fields, and the iconic cows, bells clanging about their necks, finishing at the massive radio tower you see at top right. The reward is a view of Lake Biel and Lake Neuchatel... a gorgeous view after over 4,000 feet of climbing.

It also marked the start of the flies. For whatever reason that day (Donna said the files were bad in Leysin as well), flies were just... bad. Everywhere. On the climb, I was going juuuust fast enough for the flies to keep pace. Schwalbe North America's Henry Horrocks came up on my wheel and past me, and as I bitched about the flies, waving them off as I struggled to keep the bars in a straight line, he said "the trick is to go just a little faster than they can fly." Hard to do when the pitch is a steady 13 percent and you've been ascending for an hour and a half. Someone said the flies are slower at altitude too, a bit more sluggish. I tested that theory, and easily killed every fly that landed on my arm.

On the descent: blat-blat-blat, they stung the forearms and face. Die, flies. And once we were back to the lakes, we weren't done yet: swarms of gnats hung in the sky, and even going 23mph behind the big figure of Zinn acting as a big cowcatcher for the flies, they still hit you, sticking to sweating skin, getting into the mouth, the nose, the vents of the helmet, inside the jersey. Showering at Rut von Gutte afterward and watching them all swirl down the drain was... just nasty.

That was a minor concern, however. One fellow scribe, Bicycling mag writer Dan Hart, took a spill on our descent from the mountain, overcooking a left-hander as I heard "whoa, whoa, whoa!" behind me. I circled back to find Hart prone on the pavement, his bike 35 yards further down the mountain, on the opposite side of the road. It took a while for the medics to arrive, but they scooped the young guy up and carted him off to Biel... then to Bern. Turns out his little offroad-to-rock-to-pavement adventure netted him three broken vertebrae. He destroyed his helmet and was totally lucid as I kept his mind off his aching back before the ambulance arrived...he was so concerned that his girlfriend was going to be mad at him. But at least he remembered he has a girlfriend. Unfortunately, Dan's first trip to Europe was memorable for the wrong reasons. Maybe he comes with his girlfriend next time!

Spinning the clock back, I was saved on the ascent from blowing up on two counts: gel and drink. I've been using the new Gu Roctane, which is simply awesome.. I think I've talked about that ad nauseum.. it's da kine. but I also sucked down two bottles of the new Fruit Punch First Endurance EFS. They styled me with their two new flavors, fruit punch and grape, and I opted to take fruit punch with me to Switzerland to try.

I've never done such a steady, long climb, but I brought the right stuff to sustain it. I had no idea how long it was, but being a triathlete, I settled into my tempo, letting the roadies attack early up the road. And watched some of 'em come back to me as I tapped out my tempo. First Endurance says its aminos (Glutamine, Leucine, Iso-leucine and Valine) helps keep your acuity sharp when fatigued. And it's loaded with 1,000mg of electrolytes and 270mg of sodium, which is what my body craved. For as long as that climb was, I was happy to say I held a straight line, bottom to top. Maybe it wasn't the drink... but maybe it was. Whatever, it tasted awesome, and it was wet. Those two were top of my priority list at the moment.

My wife Donna, on the other hand, is product-sponsored by PowerBar. But it hasn't stopped her from now religiously using First Endurance's Optygen HP, for two reasons: one, she's training like never before, and the stuff truly helps her recovery and ability to work hard, day after day under the TeamTBB regime while she gets ready for Ironman Switzerland. She never takes anything if she doesn't have to, and it didn't take much convincing from me to start using it. Now, she feels she needs it to keep her oxygen uptake and recovery on track. I used it every day when I did my 50-mile ultramarathon, and felt the same, that I had to have it to stay on point. It's really that good.

The other reason: they test their lots. The last thing Donna wants is an inadvertent positive test. The fact that First Endurance goes to the lengths it does via certificates to prove to its customers that its products are clean means a lot. It means it's safe.

Will have more to update... gotta chat about my ride to one mountain stage of the Tour de Suisse, and maybe my trip to the first few stages of the Tour de France....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New 2009 Scott Plasma: A video tour

If you look at the Short Interview video clips to the right, I have a new one at the top, showing the Zipp wheel. That Zipp is strapped to the new 2009 Scott Plasma. That Plasma is toured, front to back, by Scott Bicycles Marketing manager Adrian Montgomery.

I've cut down on some of my 'ums' and uhs'... I hope. I hope to be doing some interviews with some of the athletes here soon. It's be easiest if I do another with Belinda Granger. I can just say "go" and she'll do all the talking.

Meanwhile, here's some detail shots I took of the Plasma when Adrian visited Encinitas before I took off for Switzerland. I think this bike melds some great features from other bikes, while building in their own.. particularly in the chainstays and BB areas.

From my vantagepoint, it looks like it will give the Trek TTX and the Kuota Kueen K a run for being one of the stiffest through the bottom bracket. Montgomery didn't want to get into the comparison minutae against this or that brand, but he said the new Plasma is very favorable in the wind tunnel as drag numbers go, and ranks with the heaviest hitters. "We know now we're amongst the leaders in aero testing, and we know we've made marked improvements on our own design, Montgomery told me.

While this bike will represent Scott's top tri/tt offering, the existing Plasma platform will remain, for a lower price point.

While I know Lindsey Corbin is already aboard, I'll be curious to see who will be aboard this in Kona.

Take a look at the video, as Adrian gives us a look at the finest details on the new Plasma, including those stays, the new nice-and-thin downtube with a smarter aspect ratio than the previous iteration of the Plasma, the scalloped headtube as it sweeps back to the top tube, the clean frontal cable profile and that integrated fork. He did mention, in looking at the seat clamp close-up, that the seat can be moved forward to an effective 79 degrees of seat angle.

A new test ride is expected to arrive in SoCal in the next month. Enjoy the video tour of the Plasma with Adrian.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Felt's latest distraction-UPDATED with new pics and info!

"Wow" is all I have to say about the latest revelation from Felt Racing. Debuting at some small races in Europe is Felt's first aero road bike. The details have been requested, trust me. All I can see is an internal cable run at the front of the top tube, like the DA. There's a narrow seattube with curved radius that follows most of the path of the rear wheel. And I reckon for the sake of real-world convenience, vertical dropouts and standard front and rear brake placement.

The bottom line: this is going to give the Cervelo Soloist Carbon and the Kestrel RT 700 a run in a fairly lightly-regarded category. With triathletes realizing that some courses (Alcatraz, etc.) can be better suited to a road bike, aero road bikes are starting to pick up some steam. I'm excited to see this one when it's made public.

As soon as I hear some word about it (name, geometries, pricing, availability date), I'll have it here.
OK, just got the news, in the form of a press release from Felt Racing:

Irvine, CA (June 16, 2008)Felt Bicycles is very proud to announce the introduction of its all-new road bike - the Felt AR. Conceived, designed and built on the premise that greater aerodynamic efficiencies could be applied to standard road bikes, and inspired by the direct desires of the Slipstream/Chipotle-H3O Pro Cycling Team, the AR successfully debuted in last Wednesday’s 23rd edition of the 210K one-day Dutch Food Classic (1.HC), where Martijn Maaskant finished top-10 after an aggressive day of racing, including time off the front.

The AR combines already-proven Felt TT and track bike solo-effort technology and advantages while maintaining the necessary ride and handling characteristics of Felt premium road bikes. Wind tunnel testing has already shown that the AR is not only faster than all other road bikes in its class, in many cases it is faster than a great number of available TT bikes. In general terms, the new AR offers approximately a 2% savings over a standard road bike when in identical conditions. Depending on actual speed and wind conditions, this equates to a savings of 58-75(+) seconds over the course of a one hour ride.

The new AR frameset includes design highlights such as UCI-legal aero down tube, head tube, chainstays and fork blades, aero “wheelwell” conforming seat tube and shielded internal cable routing. The full carbon fiber monocoque design frame is built with Felt’s highest grade of carbon fiber, Ultra Hybrid Carbon (“UHC”). Aero bladed fork is also built with premium UHC carbon fiber and includes a full length carbon steering column. UHC is a blend of three distinct fiber types (SB60, M30S and T700) each specifically layered and integrated based on their own unique attributes and characteristics. The new AR frameset also includes revolutionary Nano technology, a resin-specific attribute which creates an effective “super-bond” in the carbon fiber material. The end result is an even stronger exterior, one which is considerably less susceptible to crack and impact damage, and offers greater compression and sheer strength than carbon fiber without it.

“We consider the AR another step in the continued and ongoing development of our road bikes” says Felt US President Bill Duehring. “With all we have learned from our various time trial related projects, it seemed like a natural progression for us. Knowing the AR will now be a big part of the team’s equipment arsenal is really very exciting, especially going into the Tour de France.”

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Landed in Suisse

I’ve made it to Leysin and after a few sick days, I’m getting my wheels under me. I guess doing Alcatraz then flying SF/SD/Phi/Zurich and riding trains with three transfers including a missed one) and a trolley will knock you a little sideways.

The town is tiny, built on a hillside, and is very quiet. There has been some grey, cold and sometimes rainy weather these first few days here to remind me of Seattle. I’m bunking in a little room of a chateau in Leysin with my wife and getting accquainated with the place, replacing my “howdys” with “bonjours.” I knew most of Donna’s teammates and were glad to see them after having seen them in the Philippines, but got a chance to meet Andrew Johns and Chrissie Wellington for the first time, both of them are very nice. They’ve now gotten used to seeing me reclined in a beach chair, pulling down a wireless signal from my laptop at the pool as they churn out 5,000 meters for their their morning workout. Or in the case of yesterday, 10,000 meters. That’s right, six miles of swimming. The guys were given 4,000 or so meters of swimming, and a long ride, and shook their heads after they got out, looking on as Chrissie, Erika, Donna, Belinda, Rebecca, and Hillary cranked their arms over to the tune of 100 100s. And Hillary did half the workout with band on, no paddles.

The boys would come up and chat as they headed home after their swim. Justin and I quipped that he could get home, grab a bite, kit up and do his long ride, and still have time to come back to pick up Belinda. Brett came up and gave me a bit of insight and analysis of each of the women as they swam, their strengths and weakness and how he organized their training to their morphologies, genetics, strengths, limitations and desires. While every one of the women in that lane are long-course pros, each has a different regime. All are built and trained for endurance, but some have speed that would be counterproductive to the others. And those with speed would have issues with the higher volume of the ones absent the top-end speed. And watching his charges, Brett can discern the difference, and can thus structure the program to the athlete. There’s no one-size-fits-all program in a binder that Brett goes by. He knows his athletes so well, he knows how to best set them up for races, and what races to focus on. I'm so glad Donna's under his watch. I can't name another coach with this much day-to-day interaction. No emailed programs here.

And Brett made another point: it’s all quite simple. He has a limited amount of age groupers he coaches for a fee, and they can’t believe they’re not doing 5 x whatever intervals at VO2max, or doing wattage intervals on the bike. Training is as simple as getting the right workout—for you—and doing the miles. There’s a lot of quantity here, but there’s a lot of quality too.

And the focus here is second to none. I thought the Philippines was isolated. This trumps it. There is nothing here to distract, so the team simply trains, eats and sleeps. The food at the grocery is pretty simple and wholesome, lots of fruits, veggies. The only downside is all the smoking by the locals in the cafes and restaurants.

Back in the water, all I heard was the drone of water splashed all through the workout, but was startled when I heard a “woo-hoo” at the end of the pool—it was Belinda and some of the rest of the girls cheering their finish of their marathon swim. Brett’s attempt at quieting Belinda by wearing her out failed miserably. You can read about their intrasquad escapades and chatter (and even chime in with the athletes) this link.

Today I rode with Donna down the mountain to Aigle as she did her run for the day, and I kicked around town. Glad I’m feeling better, as I am excited to do some rides on my own and explore. Friday I’m riding down the mountain and south along the valley for a few hours to a town called Verbier to catch the finish of the sixth stage at the Tour de Suisse. Sunday I’ve been invited to a press camp at Von Rutte Gut by Schwalbe tires and DT Swiss. I hope to perhaps visit with Morgan Nicol with Oval Concepts while here as well. It’s amazing how much bike business originates out of this country—Schwalbe, Oval Concepts, DT Swiss, Cervelo, BMC and Canyon all have bases here.

As I wind down for the evening, all Donna can think about is tomorrow hitting the bakery for the fresh, hot bread tomorrow, her one vice while here. I’m waiting to have my first crepe, but there’s lots of time to get into the cuisine.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Post Alcatraz, Pre-Leysin: Hitting the Road

Planes, Trains and What can Brown, er, Jay—do for you?

Where am I? That’s the question I just asked myself a minute ago. It seemed like I blinked and I was in San Francisco, building up and breaking down two bikes as my brother and I raced Escape from Alcatraz, me in my second effort, he in his first. I did the race five years ago and I hoped to even pull off better splits across the board.

Of course, that didn’t happen. I swam 29, better than before and biked 58 minutes a minute slower than before. But the run, I had dead legs, I think from losing the 25-tooth cassette to a slipped shift cable on my rear derailleur. So I muscled the 23 and paid for it with legs that didn’t belong to me for the first three-plus miles. They came around just before the run turnaround, but it was too late by then and I came in with a 1:04 run—much slower than the 58 I did before. Good for a “stellar” 51st place age group finish in the 35-39 age group. At least I took solace in knowing that there was depth in my age group. When I caught up with pro triathlete Kerry Classen and saw him racking his bike by mine, I realized he was no longer in the pro ranks. Of course he won my age group by a landslide. And Cid Cardoso of Inside Out Sports flew out from the East Coast to finish fourth… and further relegate me down the results list. Thanks, guys.

I was proud of my brother Jon, who finished about 12 minutes after I, on debut. I chalk it up to good coaching… on my part, of course. I was so impressed with Leanda Cave and Andy, watching them fly around the course. I must say, it’s a hell of a lot more fun covering a race from the course than it is from the back of a motorcycle. That race is just a blast anyway. Mirinda Carfrae said she’s never had more fun in a race, which is the same thing my brother said. Alcatraz delivers in a way no other race can even try to match. Terry Davis runs the greatest show on earth.

Below is a shot of my brother (right) and I, chilling on the Hornblower as we headed out to The Rock for the start. There's no scene like the legions of athletes awaiting the start, sitting in jumbles on the open floor. Then it's 2,000 lemmings, leaping into the bay and voiding the boat inside of six minutes.

So back to travel: I just very recently decided to hope a plane and join my wife at her training camp in Leysin, Switzerland. I figured, I don’t have a desk that I am chained do, may as well work with a view of the Swiss Alps, right?

But it was just two days ago I was breaking down bikes in a San Francisco hotel room. Last night I was building them back up in San Diego. This morning, a 3 a.m. drive to LAX. And now, I’m in Philly. Then Zurich in half a day. Then it’s pushing a bike box, a duffel, a computer bag and a bag full of camera and equipment a train to from Zurich to Lausanne, a switch to a small town, then a switch to an even smaller little town up in a ski village, where Team TBB summer training camp takes place. Where I’ll put my Cervelo together, then probably take a nap.

Good thing I brought some sleeping pills.

So when the news went out that I was headed to Europe, the requests from Donna’s teammates came in, and Jay’s International Shipping Service went to work. I began taking orders. Since Big Brown failed to deliver the triple crown, UPS stocks plumetted. And I got busy.

Xterra speedsuits for Erika Csomor. A pair of Oakley Radars for Chris McDonald. Beaker Concepts compression socks for Chrisse Wellington, Erika and Donna to try, as well as the new Hydrotail H.5 for a collection of athletes to try on their Cervelos. A visit to Nytro to pick up shoes, goggles, tubes for Rebecca Preston.

And it seems Belinda Granger wants to give the Roth Challenge a go while wearing Oakley Thump Pros (they don’t subscribe to WTC rules, so she hopes to pull off a first and rock a win while rocking out—literally). So Greg Welch sent me with those. If customs cracks open my bike case, they’ll find a veritable bike shop in there. You'd think I was smuggling bodies in my bike box, it's so heavy of, just.... stuff. Hope it doesn’t happen, because I don’t want the tariffs that might come along with it. And if there are bodies in there... hey, it wasn't me.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bringing Style: Art of Tri

I met Toby Jones a year ago when the one-man-show behind Art of Tri, a fledgling brand, made a leap of faith by taking a carload of t-shirts stateside from his home in Hong Kong. "Brave," I thought, as the British ex-pat cold-called the Triathlete offices to chat to us. I was impressed equally by a line of nice t-shirts and pullover hoodie sweatshirts.

To be fair, they're not just triathlon t-shirts—if it was just a triathlon shirt, it might end up like a fair bit of mine do, which is as convenient rags to clean my drivetrain. They're not emblazoned with event sponsors, and they don't hang off you like a Hanes Beefy T... that is, like a potato sack. The cut is athletic for both guys and girls tees, the look bright and bold.

The element I think that sets them apart is the design—simple, clean, and either delivering a simple message of inspiration (like "One World/One Sport), or harkening back to the days and locations where our sport was forged. His Mission Bay '74 shirt recalls the location and year of the first triathlon, at Mission Bay's Fiesta Island in San Diego. And Hawaii '78? You'll have to ask Commander Collins what that one's all about.

He's just come out with a new tee for 2008, the '78 down the center stripe of the shirt, again recalling the first Hawaii Ironman. He's got a few other designs he talks about in the video clip interview with Toby to the right, where he talks about the genesis of the brand.

No, there's no tech fabric—there's enough of those tees out there, Jones says. This is more about represnting the sport, with a sense of style that is lacking in a sport where people often find their identity by what they pull on. (And to the French guys in Kona wearing their Beauvais Triathlon Club tees, paired with a pair of Speedos and leather sandals...alright, we get it. You're hardcore, you're a triathlete. Now put on some pants and stop bumming us out.)

Instead of being a piece to show how many races you do, Art of Tri is the stuff you can wear before and after the race, representing the sport, while not looking like the rest of the lemmings in race tees. Toby has been generous to offer several pros (many of them top-five Hawaii finishers) apparel to wear, without asking for an endorsement. It's enough for him to see the athletes wearing the goods, because it's comfortable and looks good.

And as evidenced by the hand-tied Art of Tri hang tags on each piece of apparel (each lovingly tied up by Toby himself), the brand stays true to being a 100 percent organic brand, from sourcing the super-soft cotton to the ink they use to screen on the designs.

Where to check it out? The line is getting picked up in stores primarily on the West Coast of Cali at places like Edge Cyclesports in Laguna Woods, Triathlon Lab in Redondo Beach and Zoom Multisports in San Francisco since thats where he's made his first solo push, as well as

But to give it a greater reach across North America, Toby wanted to put out there a special little deal: since you're a loyal Workbench reader and obviously enjoy the finer things in life, Toby wanted to extend all y'all a cut: a 20 percent discount on any gear—tees, hoodies, whatever—at Not a bad offer on some stylee threads. It'll be good through June. When ordering, ender JAY068 in the promo code, and you'll get the discount.

In the land of Zoots, Orcas and 2Xus, I've been impressed by Toby's moxie in promoting his brand. Thankfully, North American consumers can appreciate style elements and design in an apparel line. After all, we're all driving Mercedes and Porsches. (No, wait, that's just John Duke). Well, some of us are driving a CR-V and riding everywhere else.

And hopefully the French and German and Brazilians can figure it out by Kona and put on a cooler shirt—and hopefully some shorts. Until that day, the tragedy of the Underpants Run forges forth...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Limited Editon Cervelos: Black, white and... SRAM Red

Some months ago I got to build up my dream bike, which was a magazine test: a Cervelo SLC-SL. That bike sits in a case, surrounded by Pringles, spare tires, boxes of Kashi GoLean and bubble wrap. That's right, I'm talkin' road trip.

I'm doing Escape from Alcatraz in San Francisco this weekend, and while that course, with its hills, technical corners at the bottom of said hills makes it heaven-sent for Alcatraz, I'm not riding that bike there. No, I've road-ified the PK Racing Guru Crono (which you'll see in the July issue of Triathlete and you'll see on this blog in a few days in way more glorious detail than Triathlete delivered. If you're at the race, look for the blaze vermillion and silver rocket, strapped with Zipp 808s. Hard to miss.

No, that bike will sit in its box while I race Alcatraz. Because two days after the race, I'm on my way to Switzerland. Thanks to this MacBook, I can do my work from anywhere. So I'm gonna spend a month being my wife's soignieur, cook and grocery-getter while she's doing the Team TBB thing with her team in Switzerland.

So I'll be damned if I'm not bringing the baddest road bike to ride the Swiss Alps for a month. The Tour de Suisse passes nearby for a stage finish and start too, so I gotta check that out for sure.

So this test Cervelo SLC-SL delivers pretty much all I, as a triathlete, look for in a road bike. Light weight, great steering, tight compact design, and the thing few other road bikes offer: aerodynamics.

Sent as a frameset, I got to put what I wanted on it. I've been a big fan of what SRAM has accomplished in short time with its road offerings, and the new Red group was gonna make this thing... perfect. A Zipp Vuma Quad Crankset, Fizik Arione saddle and Flashpoint Racing 60 carbon wheels with alloy rims (in my opinion one of the most underrated wheelsets in the sport), and I'll be damned if I don't have one of the baddest bike around. I wish I was racing it in The City, but with a day turnaround, It would be impossible to pack it with all the other stuff Donna and her teammates are asking me to schlep from Encinitas to Leysin.

When I told the Cervelo folks that I built what I considered the perfect bike some months ago, they nodded, then said they had something up their sleeve. Those that know Cervelo know they only deal in Shimano. This year, as a bit of a test, Cervelo is doing a limited run of three models kitted with SRAM. Here's a traveler sheet with the info on the SLC-SL, outfitted with Red:

Love it, love it, love it. I wonder how many have swapped their Shimano spec for SRAM to complete their masterpiece on their own. Now, in an "act now!" kinda way, Cervelo plays liek Burger King and says you can have it your way, offering SRAM.

There's gonna be only 300 Cervelo RS bikes available kitted with SRAM Force, as well as 215 R3-SL kitted with SRAM Red. And my "dream bike," the SLC-SL, outfitted with SRAM Red? Just 180 of 'em.

Like I said, "act now," and save yourself from having to build it up. I sure hope Cervelo finds this to be a good litmus test as to whether they ought to be spec'ing SRAM. Not that they're having any trouble selling their bikes as it is.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to having fun in San Francisco. My younger brother Jon is doing the race for the first time, and I'm gonna try to steward him through the swim for a bit. While he knows pressure (in '95 he kicked a game-winning field goal with 22 seconds left to help our alma mater, the University of Arizona Wildcats, knock out a Jake Plummer-led Arizona State Sundevil team—in Tempe no less), he's making himself a ball of nerves. Just like I tell anyone else, just enjoy the experience...the boat, the bay, the sand ladder, Crissy Field, all of it. Because I've been to races around the world and there's just one race—Monaco 70.3—that rivals Escape from Alcatraz for sheer beauty. I'll be taking this one in, while tracking the race leaders on the course. You'd be surprised how much of the race you can follow on the bike and run while racing.. so look for a stellar race report at after the race.

Then the SLC-SL and I have a plane to catch...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Macca's call to arms for a friend...

I got this email from Emma McCormack, wife of our reigning Ironman world champ,
Chris McCormack. Given that Chris lost his mother, Theresa, to breast cancer in
1999, he has a true connection to making the fight against cancer known.

It took on a sudden urgency when his friend Dave Baigent, also a triathlete,
was diagnosed with cancer. So, he's getting word out to help out Dave and
Allana in this fight.

"Chris and I are trying to raise money for a very very special couple, Dave
and Allana they are very close Friends of ours and are very wellknown in the
tri and firefighter world.

Dave got the worst news ever that he has cancer. It is a very hard time
for them as anyone. We would like to help them out anyway we can. Allana
has had to cut back on
work to be there for Dave, as his treament is getting longer and more
intense due to the type of cancer he has chemo daily. He soon will
need to have radiation to the brain. We have put a fund together for
them to raise money to help them get though this time. If we can raise
$5000 the Talbert Family Foundation will match it for us. We are in the
process of getting a ABN for Australian tax deductions so it would be a
gift at the moment. If you are in the USA it is all set up for tax

For those who don't know Dave, he is often referred to as the
"Oldest Teenager in the job!" This is due to his active
involvement in any activity causing sweat, pain and requiring extreme
endurance such as Ironman triathlons, 24 hour relays etc. Many will also
be aware of the time Dave gives to anyone wishing to mend or tune their

Here's Macca and Emma's plea for help. Given that he is racing Ironman 70.3 UK
to donate the prize winnings to Dave, you can be he will be racing his ass off.
I don't care of Faris and Simon Whitfield showed up; I wouldn't be against Chris.

If you can help, please do so.


Hi everyone,

Many of you know Dave Baigent and many of you do not. If you are an Australian
triathlete you would know Dave from all the races around the country with his
smiling face, caring heart and absolute love of this sport and the people in it.
He is one of the souls of the earth and a very close friend of mine. Dave was
recently diagnosed with a Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma type T-cell cancer which is very
aggressive. The main tumor is behind his heart but the cancer has spread rapidly
into other parts of his body including his spine. The treatment required was
immediate and heavy and Dave has been hospitalised for most of the past 13 weeks
fighting this cancer. Cancer has forced Dave to have to leave his job as a fireman
which has put huge financial stress on his family. Dave a servied as Firefighter
for over 20 years he has also been there for the public.

Dave is an absolute fighter and is determined to beat this crippling disease. I
lost my mother to cancer in 1999 and have been a strong supporter of fighting this
disease ever since. In this time I was able to link up with the Talbert Foundation
in the Unites States. They are a non for profit organization who help families
raise money in this time of need and take off the financial burden that can cripple
them when a member of the family is struck by this disease. For the first time ever
they have been able to offer their organization to assist someone out of the USA.
I cannot thank Julie and Lloyd Talbert enough for their help here.

Anyway guys and girls, please help us all raise money for Dave and Allana. The
Talbert foundation will match dollar for dollar the first $5,000 we raise
so if you make a $10 donation that is really $20 and every single cent helps.
Our aim is to raise enough money so than Allana and Dave can focus only on fighting this
disease and not worry about anything else at this point in their lives. Everything raised goes
directly to Dave and Allana so please find it in your hearts to go past this website we have
set up for Dave and make a donation. I will be racing the UK Ironman 70.3 race for Dave and
donating my entire prize purse to Dave and Allana. I hope you all can help us in some way
make a huge impact on this family. They are just incredible and need our help now. For
people in the USA, this is tax deductable. For Australian residents, we are waiting to get
this set up should be done really soon. So it would have to be a gift for now.

You can make your donations through this foundation site we have set up.

If you have any questions please email or the foundation. Also
if anyone can donate any services to auction, that would be fantastic.

Thanks everyone,

Macca and Emma

Best of luck in the fundraising, but most importantly, best of luck to Dave in his fight.