Archive | June, 2005

Ooopsie! – News

29 Jun

Looks like a made a boo-boo on the category selection. Seems Paolo Betinni is not racing the Tour this year, making my Cookie’s Revenge category utterly pointless. Ah well. I could swap in some other token Eyetai, but it really wouldn’t be the same. Perhaps more relevant to the larger cycling world, another garrulous Italian, two-time Giro champ Gilberto Simoni, will also be sitting out this year’s race. Given his performance in the TdF as of late, I do not blame him.

Jan Ullrich, however, is doing the tour this year, and apparently wants everyone to know about it. The big, freckly, pink-lipped former-fatbody claims to be at his best ever this year, perhaps finally motivated at his last chance to beat Lance. Perhaps Big Jan lost those final kilos just this week, as teammates Andreas Kloeden and Erik Zabel each took sizable chunks out of Ullrich’s hide in the German weekly Bild. Kloeden was miffed at having to race the German Nat’l Champs while Ullrich rested, but Zabel, 6-time winner of the TdF points competition, had far more pointed words at being left of T-Mobile’s Tour roster:

“I wouldn’t have prevented him from winning. When I become second or third it is a loss, yet other people are celebrated for that.”

All respect due to Mr. Zabel, but those are pretty sharp words from a man who just lost the German Nats to an 18-year-old, despite having 13 teammates in the race. Jan is still on everyone’s (especially Lance’s) radar screens this July, but last time I checked, Tom Boonen wasn’t shaking in his boots about you.

Compact Cranksets – Rant

27 Jun

Ok, geniuses, time for a quiz: Which of the following will NOT make you a better climber:

a) EPO
b) Losing some weight, tubby
c) A compact crankset
d) Training

If you answered C, congratulations; you are now officially smarter than the entire marketing staff at Excel Sports thinks you are. Compact cranksets do not make you a better climber. In fact, they make you a slower climber. “What?” you shout indignantly, having spent 400 dollars on a 50/34 FSA SL-K with MegaExo BB. “I can now make it up [local climb of moderate difficulty] without stopping every 10 minutes.” Hey, good for you. I hope you keep at this whole “cycling” thing. But the fact is, your speed on a bicycle is determined by only two things:

1) Your gear.
2) How fast you can turn it over.

So let’s say we’re riding uphill and we each have identical bikes (700c wheels with 23mm tires and 25 tooth cassettes) and cadences (60rpm – a good estimate for a steep climb) except that you’ve got your little 34 tooth dink ring and I have my regular sized 39. After a minute of climbing, I’m 26.5 feet ahead of you! After a mile of climbing, you’ll be nearly 700 feet back; you still think you’re a better climber because of that crankset?

“Well,” you say smugly, “to compensate for my lower gear, I’ll pedal faster.” Ok chief, 39×25 with 700×23 tires at 60 rpm sends me 205 feet in a minute. Your 34×25 has to do almost 69 rpm to keep up. And the faster I pedal, the worse it’ll get for you. At 100 rpm, you’ll need to spin over 114 rpm; that’s getting into Lance territory. On flat sections in TTs, big Tex has been known to push 120 rpm, a normally lactic debt bankrolled by his superhuman anaerobic threshold. My guess is, since you’re rocking the compact, it’s an anaerobic threshold you don’t have.

“But what about Tyler’s heroic performance in 2003?” you stammer. Well, #1 is Tyler looks like he’s a blood doper. I still think he’s a nice guy, but the evidence is really stacked against him. Secondly, Tyler had a broken clavicle, making it exceptionally painful to yank up on the bars during climbs. Thus, standing and pounding a manly gear at 70 or so RPM, a riding style dependent upon one’s ability to yank, was infeasible. So Bjarne Riis slapped on the compact and Tyler spun lower gears quickly to a 4th place finish, using hard training, good genes, and possibly, someone else’s red blood cells, to make up for the inefficiency.

“Inefficient? Spinning? Never. Spinning is the key to success. Chris Carmchael told me so.” Oh, get a life. Opinion on “best” cadence is constantly in flux. Eddy Merckx claims to have preferred a 42/21 gearing for the bulk of his TdF climbing, while Bernard Hinault used to pound up the first part of mountain passes in the big ring, in order to demoralize his opponents. Eddie Monnier reports that studies have shown the most efficient cadences to be from 50-60 rpm, well below what even the mashiest of the mashers race on. So don’t get caught up on cadence.

What really pisses me off about compact cranksets is that for about 300 bucks less than pretty much any of them, you can buy a cassette with a 27 or even a 29 tooth cog. Yeah, it adds 150 grams to your bike. Suck it up. If you get a compact, and you like descending at speeds in excess of 38 mph, you’ll need to shell out extra dough on a new cassette anyway, so you can get an 11 tooth cog. Why not just plunk down 40 clams for a 12-27, change cassettes and get it over with? Throw your old cassette on a second pair of wheels and have a back-up for pits and wheel trucks; it will still cost less than the Carbon compact, and a change to normal gearing for crits and TT’s will take you 15 seconds. Try swapping cranksets in anything less than half-an-hour. Oh, and if you’re one of those that whines about the allegedly poor shifting of larger cassettes, see how fast your compact pops from 34 to 50 teeth when there’s heavy pressure on the chain. I think you may be disappointed.

There’s only one dude in the world who I will suffer on a compact: Davis Phinney. Because as the first American riding for an American team win a TdF stage, he’s too awesome for a triple, and because he’s got early-onset Parkinson’s. Remember what Mohammed Ali’s arms were doing when he lit the Olympic Torch in Atlanta? Now imagine that happening to your legs. While you’re trying to bike up a mountain. Greg Lemond, fat misanthrope that he is, bailed on cycling when his muscles started to recover slower; despite his prognosis, Phinney still rides, leading bike tours in Europe. I’d gladly put a compact on that guy’s bike any day of the week.

Bottom line: compact won’t make you better at anything (except losing money), and unless you’re Davis Phinney, there are better ways (bigger cassettes, triples if you’re really hurting) to get over hills.

Lance Fell Down! – News

27 Jun

Man, it’s a good thing Lance crashed today. Elsewise there’d be no news (other than boooooring Euro National Championships). The 6 time Tour winner smashed his helmet into two pieces during a low-speed impact before TT training ride, suffering facial abrasions and a black eye. Kind of makes me wonder just how well Giro is testing those TT helmets. I’ll make a note not to crash on one at speeds in excess of 5 mph.

In boring Euro Nats news, people you’ve never heard of won most of the races. Notable winners: Thor Hushovd (TT, Norway), Juan Manuel Garate (RR, Spain), Vino (RR, Kazakhstan; he most likely won because Sports Illustrated used the Hammer and Sickle as Kazakhstan’s official standard. Three weeks of staring at Vino’s jersey during the TdF should set them right) and (drumroll, please) Raimondas Rumsas! (TT, Lithuania). Yes, the 3rd placed finisher in the 2002 TdF, who set off a firestorm of controversy when his wife was caught with a sh!tload of doping products in the final week of the race (don’t worry, they were for his sick mother) but escaped only to be nailed for EPO use in the 2003 Giro, is back (though he won’t be riding for a ProTour team until at least next season). Good to hear Lithuania’s taking a hard line against drug use in sport; now everyone who sees Rumsas race a TT will know it too!

"Crash!" DVD – Review

26 Jun

The product reviews here at Cyclocosm aim to be a bit different than on other sites. We tell you as much as possible, as quickly as possible. The testers decide what traits of a product are important to that product’s not sucking, then rate those traits 1-5, with 3 being the industry standard. No overall score is given, as different people will want different things from each product.

Hosted by Bob Roll, Featuring Lance, Jan, many other riders, Color, 104min, MSRP $24.95.

Originality 4. Nothing new about a bike racing compilation. All crashes, though, is a new development.

Acting: 3. A very hungover (or stoned?) Bob Roll gives insight but little flare to the narration. The flighty, post-race interviews with Lance are ok, and the commentary of Phil and Paul carry the production, but the Oscar has to go to Alex Zulle, for acting like he really meant to ride his TT bike straight into a wall during the ’98 Giro d’Italia.

Watchability: 4. Basically, this category is how easy/fun it is to watch. If you’ve got a 30 pack of High Life and a bunch of guys over, it’s a good time (especially with frame-by-frame playback.) Can’t say I’m motivated to watch it over and over again.

Monotony: 3. It does get old toward the end. The Eddy Merckx section is interesting, but the guitar-riffing-over-crash-footage at the end is just weird.

Final Thoughts: A novelty, albeit an entertaining one. Borrow from a friend or get it free with your Year-Long subscription to Cycle Sport.

Ritchey WCS Crankset – Review

26 Jun

The product reviews here at Cyclocosm aim to be a bit different than on other sites. We tell you as much as possible, as quickly as possible. The testers decide what traits of a product are important to that product’s not sucking, then rate those traits 1-5, with 3 being the industry standard. No overall score is given, as different people will want different things from each product.

Crankset, Aluminum, 53/39, 170mm, 592g, MSRP $199.99 (widely available for less).

Looks: 4. What component draws more attention than your crankset? Machined, black-anodized aluminum looks sweet and industrial in world dominated by shininess and rounded carbon weave.

Weight: 3. Company says it weighs 592g, my pasta scale (non-digital) puts it well above 600. Weight Weenies claims 654g. Still, lighter than Ultegra.

Stiffness: 1. I visibly bend the left crank simply by standing up (I weigh 170lbs). Occasionally, the chain will pop off under max power bursts, which I believe may also be a stiffness issue. Simply unacceptable.

Shifting: 3. Unremarkable. Works most of the time, no more hesitant to shift or prone to accidental derail than any other I’ve used.

Cost: 4. Overlook the stiffness thing, and its a good, low cost upgrade/replacement.

Final Thoughts: Lack of stiffness mars all other traits. Heavy/powerful riders and racers will find it infuriating. Perhaps suitable for the weight/style-conscious cyclotouriste or recreational rider.

Reporters are Lazy – News

25 Jun

Have you ever noticed this? The closer we get to the tour, the less news we hear about it? I mean, sure, like the day before you get a freaking deluge of Tech news, inside information course previews, etc., but right now, it’s just a huge empty news vacuum. The only thing I can find that’s even remotely interesting is that Sandy Casar crashed “over a wall” in the recent French TT Championships. “Over a wall.” Good to hear he didn’t half ass it by just bumping into the wall and falling down.

One of only a handful of Frenchman with any shot at taking a Tour stage, Casar was later revealed to be fine, and can be placed among the favorites in the upcoming French RR Champs. The eventual winner of the TT, Sylvain Chavanal, smoked his countrymen, putting the chrono tricolor on his shoulders for the next 365 days, and a minute-eighteen on the second place finisher. Even though all the competitors were French, that’s still a good gap.

Dauphine Smack -News

24 Jun

So I read today in Sports Illustrated that Lance “doesn’t plan on losing his 7th Tour.” Damn, the news business is easy these days. Inside, there was a painfully basic (but well written for a layman audience) on the outlook for this year’s TdF. Items of note: Floyd Landis describing this year’s Discovery Tour sqaud as “The weakest team I’ve seen since I joined [Lance’s] team,” and all but promising a Phonak victory in this year’s TTT. Floyd also got in a nice product placement, suggesting after Lance popped out of his pedal during the Dauphine TT that he “try one of my Speedplay pedals.” Nice.

Lance’s DC team certainly isn’t short on big names, but it does seem starkly different from the 2002 squad Postal put together, which Lance rated as his best supporting cast in his book Every Second Counts. I know Brunyeel wants to season Popo for future Tour glory, and there isn’t a DC fan out there who doesn’t want to fellate Savodelli at the moment, but I really don’t see these guys chipping in much for Lance. Sure, they’ve got the all for one mentality, but they can’t climb as well as Big Tex, and Savodelli at least sure can’t crank it up like Benoit Joachim or Eki. Pavel Padernos is the only dedicated watt-producer, with Hincapie on his skinny July form. A very beefy CSC looks much better suited to support a single threat (Basso), while T-Mobile looks to be thios year’s superteam, bringing 3 prodium finishers (Vino, Kloden and Big Jan) to the line. SHould be a sweet race.

Weeeeee…I'm Back – News

23 Jun

So by “News” in the title of this post, I mean, of course, that after a week in the wilds of Alaska, there is none. Aitor Gonzalez won the Tour de Suisse. Big deal. “The TerminAitor” (as the Aussies style him; only an antipodean could so mangle English to make that beleagured moniker make a lick of sense) wins like one important race a year and then takes the slow boat back to No-Result Island. Fresh off the “Even Older News” file, another Orangeman, Inigo Landaluze, took the overall win at Dauphine (the “other” TdF tune-up), ahead of such no-names as Levi Leipheimer, Alexandre Vinokourov, Santiago Botero and Lance Armstrong, leading me to believe that Landaluze will now go on to b the first man to win 7 consecutive Tours de France between now and 2011. Remember, you read it here first.

In less tongue in cheek ‘you heard it hear first” reporting, word on the street is that certain 40-something Adult Contemporary recording artist (let’s call her “S. Crow” – no, that’s too obvious – “Sheryl C”) has a certain one-nutted cancer survivor (hint – not John Kruk) just weeks before the final professional athletic endevour of his career. No confirmation yet, but then again, it’s not my job to check. If it turns out I’m wrong, boy am I ever going to get it on this week’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Levi Who? – News

9 Jun

After years of being “oh yeah, that guy,” American Levi Leipheimer is looking like a big threat to Lance’s quest for number 7. The Gerolsteiner rider took second by a second for the second time in the Dauphine, bested over the 47k TT only by Phonak’s Santiago Botero, who is himself looking no chump for the upcoming race. Lance was 3rd, 26 seconds back, which based on the Texan’s past Dauphine performances, doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot. On the next stage, which sent riders to the top of Mount Ventoux, Levi remained calm, losing no more than a handful of seconds to his GC rivals, while Alexandre Vinokourov took the stage win. Botero lost over two minutes, boosting Armstrong to second on GC, some 21 ticks back.

I should be out of the office for about 10 days. Nothing exciting is happening except for the Tour de Suisse, which is basically the same as the Dauphine, only with Jan Ullrich as the star attraction. Keep thinking about your Tour picks and I’ll be back before you know it.

Absence Makes – News

8 Jun

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so you are all no doubt bummed to see that I am no longer absent. We have some catching up to do. Dauphine – Hincapie wins the prologue, one of four Americans (Leiphiemer, Landis and Armstrong were the others) in the top 5. Lance plays superdomestique for a day while Thor Hushovd takes the stage, until stage three when four frenchmen broke away, the eventual spoils going to Sam Dumolin.

USPRO – A mid-race move leaves favorites Bobby Julich and Fred Rodriguez SOL. Chris Wherry sneaks away for a solo win and Stars and Stripes jersey while Danny Pate and Chris Horner watch each other lose. Americans dominate their own national championship race for the first time ever, while HealthNet snares the Wachovia trifecta.