Monday, July 28, 2008

Congrats Carlos the Wrist Wrapper, and the Superlegerra!

I've been back from Switzerland for a little while and just trying to get my wheels under me with work. A very gracious Brian Long of the Triathlon Club of San Diego allowed me into the Solana Beach Sprint Tri this weekend on a whim, and I was quite happy to finish fifth in my age group, especially considering my last swim (prior to a little open-water swim with my coach Hux's group at Moonlight Beach Friday) was in San Francisco Bay at Escape from Alcatraz. And my last run was at Alcatraz. Donna says I still have the altitude from training and living in Leysin for a month still with me, and I think she was right.

But when you show up to a race with a Specialized Transition S-Works, a 1080 on the front and a Sub-9 disc, I better have had a good bike. While I rolled it into transition, one guy stopped me and said I had no excuses.

Now that the Tour de France is over, I must say that I'm happy to have seen Carlos take the malliot jaune. The guy is one of the most humble guys. I recall emailing him for some quotes for a story I did in Triathete magazine about three years ago, and I didn't expect to get a reply, so I continued crafting my story, not expecting to get his insight. But a few days later in my inbox was an email from him.

Last year I had a chance to meet he, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck and Bjarne Riis at the San Diego Low Speed Wind Tunnel. I started speaking to him in fractured Spanish, and he replied "we can talk in English if you want to." Whew.

At the time, I thought his presence in the tunnel was token, that they were there to split hairs over Cancellara on his TT position. But Bjarne, Phil White of Cervelo and Andy Ording of Zipp Speed Weaponry were really on it with his position, too.

One thing that I recalled as he was sewing up his race win with a solid TT was that tunnel session. Phil and Andy (he's in the black shirt below) were toying with his forearm position, but ultimately were going with the flat-level option that he has always run.

But it was his wrists that were an aero culprit. It seems that when Carlos starts applying power in the aerobars, his wrists wrap under the extensions, turning the inside of his forearms skyward. The engineers found his drag rose, significantly enough that they had to remind him to keep his hands straight, that it wouldn't affect his power. "But I always want to do this," Sastre said. Bjarne said "no, you have to do it this way."

I was straining to see shots of Carlos, if he was keeping those forearms straight instead of wrapped—the shots weren't too great, but he looked pretty dialed—great position, and yep, straight arms. Looks like Cancellara knew who the star of the show was gonna be. Great work, Carlos, and congrats to the entire CSC /SaxoBank squad.

On a product note, I just got the details on the new Louis Garneau helmet that debuted with French Bouyges-Telecom team at the Tour—I know we all saw the dimpled golf-ball front of this one.

I think this helmet ought to get some more play. For one, it recalls the old Troxel aero helmet, which also had a bit of dimpling. If I recall, Paula Newby-Fraser rode that helmet, like, really fast. Maybe there is something to the dimples.

But this helmet has probably the most ventilation, while maintaining a slick aero profile. For those that must wear an aero helmet, particularly at a hot venue, this ought to be high on your list. LG says it will be available in 2009 (I'm sure we'll get to touch and feel it at Interbike before then), but no prices as yet. But I cant expect it will be a whole lot more expensive than the existing $179 Rocket of the same shape and design, absent the dimples.

Now that I'm back stateside, I think I'll be able to update this blog with some more regularity... it was just hard when I would sit at the computer and Donna would say "hey, want to come ride to Evian, drink a bottle of the namesake water and eat a fresh eclair from the boulangerie? I mean, who could pass that up? Now I have no such attractions (until Donna arrives home in a month), and can get back to work.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ironman Switzerland

Been a bit slack, but been a bit busy. The Tour de France was a whirlwind trip, followed by a TGV to Paris, a night there, and a train back to Switzerland.

I posted much of my tech/gear stuff at, so not a lot for me to show here.

I've since moved on to Zurich, doing a bit of kicking around, checking out the scene at Lake Zurich, getting in a little swim with Donna and Rebecca Preston. Other than that, it's been quintuple checking the bike and laying on the hotel room bed, watching the Tour.

Since I have no tech for you just yet, I thought I'd give you this: a journalist (me) photographing another photojournalist (this guy) at the Tour.

I told Donna that they gave me race credentials for the tour "this time" but that I would have to come back with "cool facial hair." She said no. Damn, I wanted to rock this. Oh well, whatever the boss says...

Will have some stuff from Ironman Switzerland... the expo has revealed some gear we North Americans don't get to see a lot of.