The Week in Bike #54 – The Season Arc

30 Jan

Catching up, racing overlap, TdU HTRWW, sprinters, Fernando Gaviria, Daniel Diaz, Quintana HOT TAKE, Women’s TdU, Scandolara, general chaos at Hoogerheide, CX Worlds, ozone, the missing U23s, Carytown Bicycle Co, Roubaix, TdF Training, Lance Armstr–.

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How The Race Was Won – Tour Down Under 2015

26 Jan

Ah—it’s road season again. At least in Australia. This year’s TdU made a good effort to include pretty much every aspect of racing—breaks, big sprints, climbs, crashes I didn’t talk about, even echelons. Just don’t cross-reference it to my picks for the race earlier in the week.

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The Week in Bike #53 – CGFYN News

23 Jan

The first installment of our CGFYN collaboration, brought to you by Bombas Socks. Get the dirt on the latest doping scandal, hear in-depth commentary on all the top races, and keep in sync with the hottest tech news. Plus exclusive details on our EXCLUSIVE livestream of 2015 Cyclocross Worlds.

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The Recon Ride Podcast: Tour Down Under 2015

18 Jan

Dane Cash of VeloHuman, whom you might know from this Heinrich Haussler interview, or this Tour Down Under prep piece asked me to collaborate on a race preview podcast and I was all too happy to oblige. Listen in as we share thoughts on this upcoming TdU, potential favoriates, and—of course—Simon Geschke’s beard.

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The Week in Bike #52 – Scaling Up

16 Jan

Tour wildcards, MTN-Qhubeka, Haussler, Australian Road Champs, Thomas Dekker, Hour Record, collarbone doping, keytone doping, Strava, CTS, your mom on Facebook, US Cyclocross nationals, Austin, trees, USA Cycling, the perils of scaling up.

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The Week in Bike #51 – The Short Week

9 Jan

Feels familiar, cyclocross nationals, Australian road nationals, road season?,, Cannondale-Garmin, open bar, dark kits, pirate feeds, Androni-Venezuela, Hoogerland, calumnies, Brad Wiggins, WIGGINS, Dragon Warrior, Boonen, Grand Tours, classics, a modest proposal.

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The Week in Bike #50 – Eyeballs

5 Jan

A year already, the cyclocross holidays,, the best racers racing against each other more often, World Cup, rights management, broadcast coverage, civil courts, Australia, exclusive access, shortcuts.

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Why The Break Was Made

22 Dec

“Why do riders get in the break?” is probably the most common question asked by new cycling fans, and as I started to learn more about the sport I found Phil and Paul’s explanations less and less compelling. So I made my own, complete with examples, new and old.

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The Week in Bike #49 – 19 December 2014

19 Dec

Doping fines, self-enforcement, doping stories, Mauro Santambrogio, “low-T”, ED, Riccardo Ricco, Cycle of Lies, skillz doping, Scheldecross, Zilvermeer, Laurens Sweeck, Steve Tilford, the older generation, motorpacing, van Garderen, “double standards”, TV, The Lance Chronicles, under the Postal Bus.

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Say Hello to Lupo Wolfie

15 Dec

The Giro d’Italia announced a new mascot today. I haven’t been graced with the accompanying PR copy, but I’d guess it’s something along the lines of “Lupo is the perfect mascot to bring this great Italian race to a world-wide audience!”

Lupo Wolfie, the new Giro Mascot

Say hello to Poochie Lupo Wolfie—the new Giro Mascot (via)

Lupo’s arrival marks the end of the road for the race’s previous mascot, Girbecco, whose demise, resurrection, and various zombie states have been a a running gag at Podium Cafe almost since his appearance on the scene in 2008.

Girbecco, the former Giro Mascot

Ah, Girbecco—you were so impenetrably Italian. (via)

Girbecco was always a bit obtuse—a mountain-goat built more like a post-retirement sprinter, with confusing horns that were both under- (compared to the real thing) and over- (for a cartoon representation) sized and that looked more like Big Bird’s legs in multi-colored stockings than anything else.

He was far too smoothly rendered to have been the work of “a little girl” as his origin myth states, something made all the more obvious by the old-timey spare tire wrapped around his bulging torso, and the unsubtle inclusion of “honesty” among the values the mountain goat embodies. “Values,” his press release stressed “which have always been linked to the Giro”.

To say Girbecco did not translate well is an understatement. His IRL counterpart lives only in the Alps and his name (a play on “stambecco”) just doesn’t work in English—except maybe South Africa and countries that compete against them in rugby.

But what Girbecco lacked in comprehensibility and wide appeal, he made up for in Italian-ness. The Giro’s always carried a bit of illogical flare, perhaps best exemplified by the defunct and byzantine Intergiro competition, though you could still see shades of it in the repeated neutralization polemica at this year’s event.

Girbecco was also a massive step up on his predecessor, “Ghiro”. It’s an obvious pun on the name of the race, and the common Italian name for the rodent Glis glis; despite unappealing English appellations like “fat doormouse” or “edible doormouse”, the creature itself is quite cute. Ghiro, however, came out looking like a wobbly-eyed cross between Don Corleone and Master Splinter—which, given the winners through his 2002-2008 tenure, isn’t entirely inappropriate.

Ghiro, the first Giro Mascot

“Don’ you worry, Gibo—I’m a-gonna make Savoldelli an offer he canna refuse.” (via)

Lupo Wolfie marks a distinct and meaningful break from this mascot tradition. He’s clearly a wolf, and devoid of strong-but-disorienting characteristics, with just the pink shirt to link him to the Giro. The wolf has tremendous recognition across cultures, and his name, which employes both the Latin (lupus) and Germanic (wulf) roots should be widely recognizable, too.

But for all his cute, cartoony appeal, Lupo is problematic. He’s a clear statement of the Giro’s intent to internationalize, but with that effort comes the challenge of maintaining the race’s unique character. Lupo checks all the boxes for cuddliness and comprehension, but how does he avoid, like every Olympic mascot in recent memory, becoming an amorphous blob of focus-group approval?

In many ways, the challenge of Lupo is the challenge facing all of cycling—how does the sport broaden its immediate appeal without diluting the unique character, history, and tradition, that make it so enduring?

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