Archive | April, 2013

How The Race Was Won – Tour of Romandie 2013

29 Apr

A hilly stage race that—were it not for some lousy weather—might not have even had a hilltop finish. Still, the tight time gaps lead to some hard chasing and interesting sprints, and a renewed appreciation on the part of yours truly for the skills of Gianni Meersman.

[click for iPad/iPhone/download]

The race was also a bit of a blow for the Sky-is-Doping storyline. Yes, the team controlled the racing, but they didn’t dominate it, relying more heavily on sprinters’ teams and Movistar toward the end of the event, and coming apart almost completely on the final hilly stage.

Yes, Froome still won, but in the decisive moments he had to do it himself, and at least pulled faces like he was earning it with the effort. And while most top talents can hard-nose it through six stages in April, it’s unlikely to be a winning strategy over three weeks in July.

The Perils of Over-Specialization

26 Apr

Script

(not verbatim, contains typos, and sometimes I go off-book)

Today’s rant is abbreviated and delayed somewhat by time and circumstance. If you haven’t been following me on twitter, or haven’t seen the previous post at Cyclocosm.com, then you don’t know that I spent yesterday riding from my home base in Hartford CT, to New York City as part of of the Ride on Washington. If I sound a little different it’s because I’m recording a fabulous Brooklyn studio gazing out over the rooftops at the Kentile Sign and VZ bridge.

As part of the ride, I promsed to raise $500 for Peopleforbikes.org, a goal which I’m happy to announced we’ve beaten pretty handily. But just  for your edification, the campaign will remain open until the stated closing date of Friday, May 17, meaning that you can still collect the IndieGoGo perk of having me rant for 20 seconds about the topic of your choice.

Anyway, what occurred to me as I clawed my way over the 130 miles between the two cities yesterday was that cyclists—actually, that’s a dumb word, and kinda part of the problem. What occurred to me was that people who are in someway associated with bicycles could stand to be somewhat less, uh, specific in how they define themselves.

It’s like the newly minted-racer rushing to assign his or her self a label before they’ve even gotten a Cat 5 upgrade. “Oh, hey, I weigh 180 pounds, I’m probably not gonna be a climber”, or deciding that just because they got their wheels blown off in a prime one time, they must be one of those riders who simply can’t sprint

I mean, of course—to a certain extent, you are the athlete you’re born as. But to another extent more immediately relevant to the mass of Category 3 humanity in which I’ve found myself, cycling is a sport with specific skills you can learn, and where serious training can have a huge impact.

For example, it’s likely even the slowest of the slow-twitch could put themselves into the top 10 of most amateur field sprints simply by getting their nose in the mix and learning that savvy positioning is an able substitute 5-second power. Conversely, a reasonable diet, and some serious training could scrape a few pounds off almost anyone—and according to Tyler Hamilton, and few pounds are easily worth a few units of hematocrit as far as climbing goes.

It something that carries over to parts as well—people thinking they need such-and-a-part to gain such-and-such amount of whatever, when leaning to properly hold a wheel would or pick a line serve them far, far better than any upgraded piece of equipment—but after last week, I’m kinda done on wailing on the industry for a little bit.  Suffice to say, there isn’t really any piece of gear you absolutely need to have other than a helmet—yes even tubular cross tires aren’t inescapably a requirement.

But for me, the biggest problem with this rush to specialization is that it inherently segregates groups of the bike riding public from each other. By and large, the mountain bikers don’t hang out with the roadies who don’t hang out with the bearded touring dudes who don’t hang out with the blinky-lighted commuters who don’t hang out with the tight-pants fixie riders, and really has anyone ever even talked to that guy on the the kmart bike with the plastic bag hanging from this bars going the wrong way on the sidewalk?

Even within subgroups, things can get “catty”—get it, like Cat 1, Cat 2? No? Ok. well, you know what I mean—pros want everyone to know that they’re pro, everyone else wants everyone else to know that they aren’t a fred, despite the practical necessity of every one of us being a fred at some point or another.

in some ways, this segregation makes sense—can’t really ride Porcupine Rim on an NJS-certified track bike, you know? But the specialization rapidly becomes nefarious—for instance, a commuter stops at a red light, but a racer or a messenger or even the walmart bike riding behind guy doesn’t really feel the social pressure to stop because hey, stopping for lights is for the commuter subgroup—not the collective responsibility of anyone riding a bike.

The various bike-riding subgroups also waste a lot of energy in the way that they interact with society as a whole. Everyone on a bike—actually, everyone period—has to deal with the government at some level. Not in the “I want my country back” sort of way, but more along the lines of “this is the established system how things actually change”. New bike lanes, access to trails, the right to ride two abreast—or even ride at all—all require the same sort of signature-collecting, hearing-attending, public promotion, and lobbying, and yet for some reason, the various groups of bicycle rider, while all pushing in the same direction, rarely seem to be coordinated in their efforts.

Yesterday’s ride was pretty sweet for me both because I got to draft behind some serious pro cyclist watts, and to cruise around one of the most massive urban areas in the world on hard won, well-planned bicycle infrastructure. And I think it’d be great if everyone on a bike could experience that sort of confluence more often. Which is kind of why I did the ride in the first place. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in supporting, head over to http://cyclocosm.com/pfb today.

Ride on Washington, Stage 2

25 Apr

Just a quick update: I’m jumping into the second leg of the Ride on Washington today. I’ll be doing my best to live-tweet antics on @Cyclocosm, and, as an added bonus, if you chip in $20 of the $500 I promised to raise, I’ll do a mini-rant cast on the topic if your choice!

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How The Race Was Won – Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2013

22 Apr

Coming into this Sunday, there were a lot of big squads without a classics win, and only one classic left on the table. One came good with some spectacular teamwork and and cool-as-a-cucumber riding.

Also featured—more electronic shifting follies, some road blocking, an arm sling, over-aggressive spectators and a gigantic panda costume. What’s not to like?

[click for iPad/iPhone/download]

The Death of "Trickle Down"

19 Apr

Script

(not verbatim, contains typos, and sometimes I go off-book)


SRAM, SRAM, SRAM, sram…I don’t really dislike you guys—it’s just bad timing. No, I’m not complaining about the ham-handed marketing of having a launch event and then embargoing it for three days in this interconnected, live-tweeted milieu, or that you’re offering hydraulic road brakes—despite being not strictly necessary, and entirely incompatible with everything else on the market, from a mechanical standpoint, they could conceivably address the few pertinent issues present in cable-actuated brakes.

No, my complaint is that you didn’t do anything to your cheap parts gruppos—instead, we consumers get to wait for things to “trickle down”. And that’s stupid. Apex could be a pretty sweet set of parts, if it didn’t sound and feel like you were doing grievous damages to the internals of the shifter every time you pushed the chain onto a bigger cog. This isn’t the time to discuss whether actual damage is being done, or whether this is a problem with ALL your shifters, but suffice it to say, durability is not something I’m expecting to “trickle down” anytime soon.

Do you remember your old “I chose SRAM” commercials—God, I really don’t mean to rip on you guys I’m really sorry about this. I’ll make it up to you before the end—those ads kinda exemplify the problem I’m getting at. You’ve got professional riders who ride essentially on what they get paid to ride, saying they voluntarily chose something. Like, c’mon—in most cases, they chose to sign a contract with a team. They didn’t choose the manufacturers. And if they did chose the manufactures, they probably chose them based on price.

And you know, that’s fine—even if the team manager or some other whatever in some back room really did the choosing, I don’t feel lied to. Product representation is a big part of being a pro. But I don’t really care what the pros ride. I don’t want pro gear because pro gear comes out of a big pile of replacement pro gear in the back of a pro truck, and is, in some cases, literally thrown away the first sign of pro trouble—or, very occasionally, sold for drugs. And possibly legal fees.

You want me to buy me something? Find me the 20-year-old Cat 2, couch-surfing his way around to big regional and second-class national events in hopes of getting some sort of attention, and show it to me on his bike. Because I guarantee you, it’s gonna be durable, it’s gonna be good, it’s gonna be tough, it’s gonna be easy to fix on your own, and most of all, it’s gonna offer a pretty serious bang for the buck. These are my criteria—while it’s cool, the number of classics a particular part has won plays no role in my selection process.

And that “fix-on-your-own-thing”? That’s important. Really important. I’m a busy little dude. I work a pretty full day, gotta record podcasts, ride when I can, get groceries, and I don’t have the time to for my bike to be in shop when I need it—let alone invest my time in getting it there, or more money than necessary into fixing it. My bike’s gotta be ready to go 24/7, and I need to be able to make it ready. And SRAM, this is where you guys are my heros because your shifters still work by yanking on cables.

Shimano and Campangolo’s recent forray into the world of electronic shifting—ugh, I’m gonna skip over the dropped chains, dead batteries, exorbitant prices—and stick to actual use. When Ryan T. Kelly—of Slam That Stem fame and pretty much the meme-spewing personal incarnation of the internet—is somehow dependant on physically going to a dealer to have some 15 year old shop rat install firmware for him, something ain’t right. To a pro, a slightly bent hanger is the same fix either way—give it to the mechanic. To me, mechanical shifting just is just a barrel tweak and ginger shifting ‘til I can solve the problem properly. On electronic? It’s no bike until I can get it to the shop.

Frankly, I think “trickle down” is kinda off-putting to young-ish bike racers who are extremely active in the sport, but who might not be able to justify spending five or ten or even two grand on a bike. Like, let’s take recent Cervelo RCA launch (gah, another company I don’t want to rip on).

If you look at the photos from this event—the bike is propped up on some sort of platform stand—which, in fifteen years of hanging out with cyclists who actually ride—I’ve never seen. It’s posed against the backdrop of a pool, in what appears to be a walled-in, vine-hemmed backyard. I mean, you couldn’t ask for a more stereotypically affluent-yet-out-of-touch backdrop for a “BRO, DO YOU EVEN RIDE?” image macro. And this, this carbon fiber codpiece is where your development efforts are being focused? Trust me when I say that among my generation, this is doing no favors for your brand.

Yeah I get it—it’s supposed to be a halo bike. In the words of Giant’s Andrew Juskaitis, “these are the products we aspire to." Ah, what quaint mid-century notion. Like if you went to work at the factory early every day, and caught the foreman’s eye with your pluck and moxie you could, upgrade from that Chevy into a Buick, and maybe, if you keep chasing that brass ring, bag yourself a Cadillac! Why, that’s Americana, folks! That’s keeping-up-with-the-Joneses! That’s aspirational culture!

And, in case you’d been in a coma for the past six years, that aspirational ideal put lots of people who were really bad at math in debt up to their eyeballs on credit cards they shouldn’t have had and in houses they couldn’t afford. This caused lots of people who were really good at math to lose a lot of everyone’s money, resulting in record unemployment and an economic downturn the likes of which no one listening to this podcast
had ever seen. Not that any of this interfered with our efforts to kill ourselves with subsidized corn and destroy the planet with C02 emissions—Thanks Aspirational Culture!

This should help those of you who went through your prime earning years when one could throw a dirty sock full of $20s at Wall St and come back 30 years later to pick up a nest egg better understanding of why people my age tend to be kinda down on the whole “buying things” idea. I have no plans to “graduate” or “upgrade” as the kids used to say, to Dura-Ace. The first complete bike I bought new was $1300. I rode it basically until it broke. The next new, complete bike I bought was $1300.  And I’m going to ride it until it breaks and buy—wait for it—another $1300 bike.  

This $1300 price tag basically the cost of entry into racing. Go below that and you’re really not going to find a bike that can hold up to the day-in day-out abuse of not just serious training, but balancing that training with a real job. Some rainy days, the chain’s not gonna get wiped. Sometimes you’re gonna ride on a flat. Sometimes you can’t just up and replace a worn chain. And yet even then, that $1300 is still gonna come with some garbage wheelset you can get online for 100 bucks, and eventually, you’ll have to drop another grand to get “real” race wheels.

And this is really where development efforts should be focused: dropping that real-race bike to under $1000, or at least getting a no-bullshit spec together. Cannondale—man, I will leave no ally unslappped today—Cannondale has a $2000 “race” bike that ships with Tiagra and two-kilo hoop-sponges. Unless there’s a concealed motor or Peter Sagan in there somewhere, that’s a pretty idiotic proposition.

Ideally, a good cycing product doesn’t need to be titsed and glitzed every year. Or every three years. While Chris King and Phil Wood have offered some new products, their bread and butter has remained largely unchanged since I came across them in Jenson catalogue. At the other end of the price spectrum, Surly, with no major innovations to the frame, has been selling out the cross-check for over a decade.

If Cannondale churned out a model with, I dunno, a CAAD4 frame,  and sold it with house parts, a 105 gruppo and a 1600g pair of off-brand alloy wheels for $1200, I would be totally into that. In fact, I think Tati Cycles may already be doing something in that vein—making a “Zef” $1300 bike with 1200g carbon tubies, or whatever—though it’s hard to tell, since pinning down his/her/its one true online presence is kind of like trying to properly visualize a tesseract.

So yeah—trickle down. It might have worked for a while. It might even still work in the short term now, but you’re selling to dudes who are gonna be dead, or at least not buying bikes, in 20 years. By making midrange investments now—focusing as much on self-servicability and resilience to abuse as performance and weight—you can lower the barriers to entry while creating a customer base who can afford to buy parts for the next half-century.

How The Race Was Won – Amstel Gold 2013

15 Apr

Did a course tweak just work out? Certainly the race-winning move employed the aggression and pluck that had been missing from the (successful) attacks in previous editions. And the cast of characters battling at the front brought some new names and new faces to the fore.

[click for iPad/iPhone/download]

Also, I could have spent all day riffing on the technical errors in the race video production—bad or absent time checks, cameras missing important attacks, and a 5 minute gap in the production feed covered sloppily by 60fps replays—which, honestly, were of such irrelevant things that I wondered a if the producers had ever seen a bike race before.

But I didn’t do that—the race was too good to short-change.

I Fight Fauxthority

12 Apr

Script

(not verbatim, contains typos, and sometimes I go off-book)

So today I’m going to take aim at—god, I don’t even know what to call it. Authority? Nah, sounds too punk rock. Old fogeydom? Well, there’s nothing wrong with being an old fogey, per se—many of them are quite entertaining.  North Korean press release syndrome? Eeeeh, too topical. I’m just gonna give you some examples that’ll hopefully make it a little clearer what I’m talking about.

So this past Sunday—that’d be Paris-Roubaix for those of you out there with short memories—NBC Sports Network was all “hey, checkout our live coverage, starting at 8am, Eastern”. And you know, as much as that network and I have had our differences in the past, I’m gonna attempt to reward the effort, you know? Give credit where it’s due.  

I mean, TV is still so neanderthal that its analytics rely on magical boxes delivered to an allegedly representative cross section of the US audience that is somehow immune to response bias, so it’s not gonna make a difference one way or another whether anyone without a Nielson box watches, but hey—I am an INFLUENCER. I can still tweet an atta-boy or two, maybe polish up that NBC Sports Network Reputation just a touch.

But when I flipped on the ole’ boob tube, I got some serious deja vu. No big deal, I thought, just recapping what happened 20 minutes prior. But then I got the post-Arenberg regrouping. Then a commercial. Then more of what I’d already seen. I tweeted. They tweeted back, said they’d be live eventually, but…eh, that never happened. Didn’t apologize or correct themselves. But they did say, and I’m quoting “Can't win. Go live at 8 miss Arenberg. Everyone complains. Delay + show Arenberg then live. Everyone complains.”

Alright, numbnuts, lets game that out. People are upset either way so upsetness cancels. Option A: miss Arenburg, show the race as live. People still watch your show because it’s what’s happening right then and there on the roads of France. You’ll get eyeballs on your higher-image-quality, legitimately paid-for coverage AND commercials which I believe is kind of the point of that hulking dinosaur of a delivery medium—a keyed-in captive audience who never know when the content they want will return.  

Option B: delay the race allegedly so people can see Arenberg—but I think more accurately, so you, with a race running 25 minutes ahead of schedule, can fill the time allotted—especially because Competitive Cyclist bought the last 30 minutes of it. You’d think, after hockeygate and some not-so-commercial free finales in the past you’d have learned selling these things [blocks of commercial free coverage] by time [instead of KM] is a bad idea, but I guess not.

 But most of all, I think you thought you’d still get the audience—after all, NBCSN is showing it on TV and it’s only a 20 minute delay. Why would they ever watch a pirate stream that’s a mere 20 minutes ahead when they could still watch us?

And this is the attitude I’m getting at in this rant. This sort of authoritative obliviousness to the actual state of affairs. Information flows whether you’re willing to acknowledge it or not. Watching the NBCSN broadcast wouldn’t simply be a matter of turning off the pirate feed and seeing a few minutes of racing twice—it’d mean going offline entirely, skipping the fast-paced, sleep-deprived, overcaffeinated interactive routine we’ve been following for the previous seven Sundays. If any of us had planned to just sit there and ignore the rest of the world,  we’d have slept in and caught the 5pm show instead.

I get it NBCSN; you paid good money for the ASO’s events, and you think this entitles you to some sort of control over them. But you just don’t have the power to back it up. They days of fealty to a single flickering sybil in every living room went out with casual workplace sexual harassment and Zubaz pants. And the more you act like this lack of control doesn’t exist, the numb-er you make yourself to the the very obvious demands of you audience, the less people are going to tune in for your product.

We went through a similar thing just this week with the UCI and USA Cycling. There’s a rule that says UCI-licensed athletes can’t race in events that aren’t on national calendars. It’s been around for years, and everyone ignores it because it’s stupid. Aside from the obvious flaws in the rule—it’s impossible to define an ‘event’, it’s impossible to go to every non-calendar ‘event’ to check for UCI athletes, etc etc—it’s a pretty clear power grab. The UCI thinks it should have authority of cycling everywhere.

I try to avoid ranting about the UCI—mostly because it’s like ranting about a moth that won’t stop banging it’s stupid moth head against the glass of a street lamp—but I’ll make an exception here because it’s quick. The UCI has technical authority over cycling, but no actual power. Their nuclear option is to kick people out of all UCI events but they don’t actually own or organize any of the important races.

Pre-Team 7-11, the UCI might have had the watts to kick the US out of the international sport without igniting a firestorm of disapproval from sponsors and organizers. After all, the US presence in cycling consisted wholly of Jock Boyer, and back then riders generally were kicked around like so many heads of rotting cabbage anyway.

But now? Look, back in 2006, Pat McQuaid threatened, and I’m quoting here “Teams who participate in Paris-Nice will be thrown out of the UCI”. I realize that might not make much sense if you don’t know the backstory, but the end result was that everyone raced Paris-Nice and that no one got kicked out. And do you think
the UCI’s power over the sport has increased since early 2006? After Puerto, Landis, Rasmussen, Kohl, Ricco, Schumacher, Contador, Ricco again, Ullirch, the nullificaiton of 7 consecuive titles and a hundred-thousand dollar Sysmex machine donation. Nooooooo. it has not

For USAC, though, their fauxthority—hey, I like that. I think I’m going to go with that—their exercise of fauxthority was more duplicitous than oblivious. In the course of five days, we heard USAC say that they would “ease the transition” for non-USAC calendar events, then followed that up with the dictum that non-sanctioned events were quote “under-insuring the volunteers and/or participants” or “avoiding the USA Cycling RaceClean program”.

It gets cuter—the USAC suggested that riders unhappy with the rule should “contact the UCI to discuss potential rule changes”, but then, when the UCI backed down on the topic—like, as I explained above, they pretty much had to—none other than USA Cycling president Steve Johnson said “USA Cycling listened to the views expressed by the cycling community in America”.

Steve, buddy, we were all right here the whole time; we heard everything you said. You can’t be like “screw off, talk to the UCI” one moment and “we listened responsively the next” or “these jerk organizers are fraudsters” after saying you’re “helping them transition”. I mean, the whole crux of your argument, that “our insurance package is awesome but, aww shucks we can’t do anything about this UCI rule forces you to get it” C’mon man, we may have been born at night, but not last night.

What these Fauxthorities don’t seem to realize is that as of a few years ago, no statement goes unattended, and no access is exclusive. Word spreads readily among we plebeians who buy cable subscriptions or pay registration fees, and our opinions develop rapidly. We know your faults, your inconsistencies and the back-alley shortcuts to undermine your business. If the motivated and tech-savvy can engineer the ouster of a dictator supported by the strongest nation in the world, what sort challenge do you think is offered by men—and you do seem to always be men—so tenuously positioned as yourselves?

if I were you’d, I’d sharpen up, and remember at the end of the day who exactly it is that pays your bills.

How The Race Was Won – Paris-Roubaix 2013

8 Apr

A surprisingly cagey effort from a certain overwhelming favorite, better known for watts than wiles. Startlingly good weather for a race and a year notable for nastiness. Omega-Pharma stacks the front with riders and comes away with…ok, I guess that’s par for the course this year. Did I mention it was the fastest Roubaix in the modern era?

[click for iPad/iPhone/download]

No Pokemon this time around, but some sweet, John Tesh-inspired #jams:

Garmin: The Little Device That Doesn't

5 Apr

Script

(not verbatim, contains typos, and sometimes I go off-book)

Yo, check out this new gadget I got, it’s called a Blackberry.  It’s great for taking care of stuff on the go, like a mobile computer, except that I can’t look at photos or videos or fling cartoon birds at abstractly rendered pigs or really do anything but send emails…but I think it’s pretty nifty because what else out there is better? Yeah, my Blackberry’s almost as cool as this thing I got for my bike—it’s called a Garmin.

Of course, in many ways the Blackberry comparison isn’t really apt. Because the Blackberry, as dull, graceless, and monolithic as it was, actually turned out to be pretty damn good at the one pedantic task it was designed to accomplish. The Garmin, eeeeh not so much.

There’s an old saying—or maybe there isn’t and I just made it up, and if so there should be an old saying—that the best bike part is the one you notice least. For all drool and fingerprints displays cases have caught in their name over the years, Chris King headsets or Phil Wood hubs don’t exactly make themselves known on bike. Unless you’ve been riding something worse—and recently—you’re not going to notice your bike coasts longer or steers more smoothly

But that Garmin—whoof—you better believe I’m noticing it. I’m noticing it when it sits there for three-to-five buzz-killing minutes before each ride, showing me a basically full progress bar, just trying to detect that one last satellite whose absence somehow the other twenty it’s talking to useless. I’m pretty sure, since the damn thing has a tendency to pronounce me 20 feet below sea even in the best of conditions, that that twenty-first satellite really isn’t really the difference between precise tracking and might-as-well-write-a-map-on-the-back-of-your-hand.

I’ve also noticed my Gamrin while forcing my  wrist through the cringe inducing contortions required to access it’s awkward side buttons on a ride. Like seriously—who designed this? The buttons are about two millimeters off the top of my handlebar, another two to the left of my stem bolt, and they’re coated in a relatively stiff rubber material offer nothing in the way of tactile feedback. Trying to operate them on a cold day or through a long fingered glove is like trying to work a typewriter through a the bottom of a trampoline

Of course, I could just move the Garmin from my bars to my stem, but then I’d be staring even further into my own belly-button every time I wanted to see some data from the the thing. You know about potholes, Garmin? Road debris? Curbs? Dead animals? I don’t know if you guys have ever ridden a bike, but gazing into at a glare-mottled, low-contrast screen that’s near perpendicular to my direction of travel ain’t exactly the best way to go about doing it.

Actually, I do know that you guys ride bikes because you have a part that solves this problem—a tiny piece of injected molded plastic that juts forward from the handlebar and lets you keep an eye on your data and the wheel in front of you simultaneously.  You probably should have shipped to every owner of a Garmin cycling unit with an apology card as soon as you got the first crate over from China. But no, you didn’t want to do that. Instead, you’ve decided to sell it to your long-suffering customers, as an add-on, despite the fact that cheaper and faster-to-market versions from other companies already exist.

And you know the worst part is—it’s that all that stuff I just mentioned, it isn’t the worst part. Actually, I guess that’s the SECOND worst part because the worst part is your GPS device isn’t reliable at being a GPS device. I’m not talking about drifting off course a little, or mysteriously shutting down mid-ride as sometimes happens. I’m talking about the days where you turn it on, you start it, you ride with it, it functions normally, you come home, you go through the stop/reset/off dance routine that somehow passes as “save to disk”, plug your device into your computer and suddenly the previous two, or three, or seven hours of your life are mysteriously gone.

I mean, maybe you’re so used to high-centering motorists on railroad tracks, or leading them down logging roads that no longer exist, that you think your customer base is just willing to   accept some range of error. But I don’t think you understand what these rides mean to the people using your devices to record them.  

Cyclists sweat it out in grungy basements all and cobweb-ridden attacks all winter long to for to shave two or three seconds of their favorite climb, or sustain an extra watt or two. Even people who aren’t competitive and who don’t care about the numbers still like to see where they’ve gone, and to share and compare routes with their other weird cyclist friends.

And When riders take a Garmin on their bike vacation to the Rockies or Europe or some other, even further removed locale, they’ve probably spend hours pouring over Google Terrain maps to plot that one, perfect route—because in a lot of cases, it’s a once in a lifetime visit. For us, the data we collect while riding is as integral a part of the trip as the pictures we take or the unpronounceable beers we drink. To my mind, you thinking the current failure rate is acceptably doesn’t just make you a bad company—it makes you guys [expletive].

But hey, maybe I’m being too harsh. You did step up to sponsor one of the most ostensibly progressive cycling teams in recent memory, and even five years after one of the more notable retailers in the Industry began refusing to speak your name, you’re still at it.

And to be fair, I have technically only experienced legacy devices–abeit legacy devices you still sell for the princely fee. I burnt through three(!) Edge 305s before getting bumped up to to the 500 I currently use. So maybe the new devices are better…but I doubt it. from what I’ve read, you do have front facing buttons, but reports of laggy, low-contrast screens, a janky user-interface, and a general recommendation not to upgrade if you’ve got a 500 and make me think that not much has changed. And the alleged killer feature—real-time location tracking that requires a smartphone—doesn’t make any sense . There’s already a bevy of smartphone apps that offer this feature in a cleaner, more sharable format, for free—and that don’t require a batter

-burning requiring a bluetooth connection to get the job done.

And maybe this is kinda the root of the problem. I don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel, or think outside the box or ask “What Would Steve Jobs Do?”. Honestly, I’d be willing to suffer  through all the other crap—bad buttons, ugly screen, whatever—if you could promise me a device where riders who’d ever experienced data loss were the exception rather than the rule. And I don’t think that’s too much to ask—because if you guys can’t come up with it, you can sure as hell bet that someone else will.

How The Race Was Won – Tour of Flanders 2013

1 Apr

Don’t want to come across as too unimpressed with the new course, but the gaps between the hills are such that it plays out a lot like a cobbled Amstel Gold—mercifully, without the finishing climb so riders feel at least slightly motivated make a move rather than wait for the inevitable selection.

[click for iPad/iPhone/download]

Only Lotto really contested the pre-race storyline, and did a pretty nice job of it, putting their lieutenants in control of the break all day, and giving their trump card more than a fair shot against the two most impressive riders of the season so far.

Oh, and yes—I really did make a Pikachu of Flanders flag.