Archive | June, 2013

Cyclocosm Rantcast #12 – The Mini-Rant Disbursement

29 Jun

Script

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

I bet you’d thought I’d forgot, didn’t you? NO! I’m awesome and on it. I said I get it done in June, it’s still technically June, so…yeah.

if you’re just joining us, perhaps as a new reader pulled in by the link bait on custom “bike seats” earlier this week; I can only assume there are billions, if not trillions of you —I offered 20-second chunks of me ranting to reward those who donated money to PeopleForBikes-dot-org as part of my one entire day—the longest day, I might add—of participation in the Tim Johnson Ride on Washington.

Anyway, here’s how the game works: I’ll read a user-submitted rant topic, and a timer will start when I’m done with the intro. I will proceed to rant until a bell rings, which will announce that the 20 second interval has concluded,—actually, I’m going to use 30 seconds because it turns out you can’t say a whole lot in 20— at which point I will continue onto the next rant topic. Simple, is it not?

And yes, for the new people, normally these rantcasts are single topic as you can see them all on my soundcloud page, soundcloud.com/cosmocatalano, but I had to offer something for IndieGogo donations, and really, stamping buttons or silkscreen t-shirts isn’t my thing. Are we ready? Aaaaaand go!

“Can you please disabuse”—ohh, good word, by the way—“can you please disabuse people of the notion that Brian Cookson is the UCI’s own personal saviour?” Interesting religious overtones, not sure if I can, but I’ll try.

I remember when “Not Pat McQuaid was a twitter account—now it’s a campaign slogan. Seriously ,though— Cookson oversaw a pretty tremendous renaissance in British Cycling—one that was apparently clean in an era when everyone else was seeking Sesame Street-style sponsorship from the letters E, P, and O.

That said—you, me, other internet friends—we are not voting for UCI present. Cookson needs to get the lion’s share of 42 delegates—and that takes backroom promises, and the same sort of noisome behavior we all know and hate, for example, punting on easy questions like Paul Kimmage’s earlier this month. Will Cookson be better than McQuaid? One can only hope. But you can’t exactly expect the fraternity president not to be a fratboy.

Alright, next topic “Wearing matching shorts for a jersey wearer in the Tour de France (in particular polka dot shorts)” Yes—YES. So on board with this.

So apparently, for most of the history of cycling getting any piece of cycling gear in a non-standard color was extremely hard to do—up to about 1985, shorts were more or less always black.  I’m under the impression that this changed around 1990, and people went a little crazy with design freedom, ala MySpace in 2006.

We could point at Carrera or Castorama, but the real casualty came when leaders kits—especially polkadots—became way too over coordinated. The point of the special jersey to show that you—and your team—earned the right to stand out—not to how what special edition gear your sponsor had whipped up. Team-issue bibs and leaders jersey is the way to go, and if you’re worried about clashing, just remember—everything goes with black.

“Can you please let everyone know that tubulars are a waste of time and money—at least for road. I’ve been on road tubeless for two years and loved every second of it”

Ah, I’m really not qualified to talk about this. Last summer, I would have definitely agreed with you, despite the fact that I’ve never ridden road tubeless. That said, I finally made the “leap” to tubulars in cross last fall, and I have to say the “effort” and “mess” involved are massively oversold. Find a reputable website or blog, follow their instructions faithfully, and you’ll be surprised how easy tubulars can be.

Yes, cleaning old rims sucks, and yes, if you do it wrong in ‘cross, you might roll a tire. But tubulars are crazy easy to glue on the road, and tubular rims are lighter, stronger, and cheaper—yes, even including the cost of tires—than their tubeless counterparts. Maybe tubeless wins out if you have to race and train on a single set of wheels, but honestly, that sounds kind of like a dumb idea.

“Something silly, crazy, makes your eyes roll that Pete Webber said or did on the ride that day would be ideal. Like insisting that to save space/weight a couple should bring just one wallet on a bike tour and then you're in Auckland, New Zealand with no wallet at all doing an impromptu performance of an AmEx travel emergency ad”

So, having ridden with Pete exactly one time this scenario seems entirely feasible. If he says five-minute stop, what he means four minute interval of sprinting to accomplish everything you’ve been waiting to do for the past thirty miles.

Pete Webber no-nos from the ROW include: stopping when not told to, asking too frequently when the next stop would occur, putting on sunscreen at an official stop when it could have been applied before leaving, taking too long to pee, peeing too quickly and messing around on your phone, and asking for a pee break after not peeing at the previous designated pee stop.

That said, if you need someone to guarantee that group of 15 riders of mixed ability will complete a 130-mile ride in limited daylight, have a good time doing it, and be ready to do repeat the process the next day, you’d be hard pressed to find a better ride leader.

“There has always been and always will be a singular wrong in this flawed world of ours – one that affects each and every one of us on a daily basis – people in cars attempting to cede their right of way at stop signs to cyclists by waving us through. This (passive) aggression will not stand.”

Indeed. This is of particular concern on two-lane roads, where one driver stops and waives, effectively beckoning the cyclist into a buzzsaw of cold steel zipping around the otherside of his vehicle. Not to mention that this encourages bad behavior from two-wheeled novices who need to learn to follow the rules.

Drivers need to think of bikes less as confused children or tottering little old ladies—apparently the only other non-car entities they see in roadway—and more as slow, skinny, maneuverable cars.  Pass them freely but responsibly, do not begrudge them their ability to fit through tights spaces, and yield to them only when warranted.

“A rant about how there are far too many types (i.e. shapes) of pasta. I mean, seriously, WTF?”

ugh—right, so…actually, I don’t agree. Pasta is really the finch’s beak of the food world. Different shapes and styles have evolved to fill different epicurean niches. Lasagnas are structural elements in heavy, layered dishes. Ravioli and toretllini are elegant vessels for a variety of different stuffings, orzo is great for salads and soups, and more complex shapes like gemelli and radiatori hold heavy sauces extremely well.

Even styles that would seem to be functional analogues—spaghetti and linguine, for example—offer different textures and dining experiences to due differing surface area to volume ratios. I’m not gonna go so far as to tell you that there’s a meaningful distinction to be made between penne and ziti, but I will say the free market just wouldn’t allow for “too many” pasta forms to exist.

“My rant request would be about the extreme heel down pedaling styles that continues to result in knee injuries: Wiggins, Boonen (repeatedly), Horner, Vandenbergh, Stybar, etc…”

I’m not really qualified to talk about this. Back when I was 23 and effectively bulletproof, I thought I how a bike should fit. But now that I am…not 23, it’s become painfully apparent that this is not the case.  

If I’ve learned anything through the persistent decay of my own body, it’s that everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, and bad habits. Civilization has wrought a heavy toll to the once-highly conserved efficiency of the human leg, allowing biologically unfit mutations to persist, while heaping on the heretofore unknown evolutionary pressures of obesity, longevity and sitting down at a desk for 8 hours at a time.

My advice is that everyone should consult a professionally-trained and educated fit specialist on a regular basis.

“Revenue sharing from media rights directly to teams (or lack thereof)”

Yes. This is pretty much a no-brainer. The existing system of team sponsorship—it’s more of a patronage, really—is unbelievably unstable and frankly, kind of embarrassing.  Without riders, there isn’t a race, and without a race, and thus no race revenue.

Sure, a lot of events have been folding recently—mostly in dope-happy Spain—but if anything, I think that’s testimony to how friggin’ easy it once was to pay the appearance fees for a handful of top names and then sop up money from sponsors and residuals.

In a rare moment of intelligence, the UCI has restructured rules to encourage teams to be businesses, but a viable business model needs more revenue than a few corporations who think it might be neat to have their name on some scrawny guys chest for the next three weeks.

“USACycling's byzantine rules and processes for clubs, teams, and races discouraging riders from getting into racing.”

 Right, so I’m told by people who’ve been around for far, far longer than I have that the sole purpose of amateur racing in the United States is road racing talent development. Period. Oh sure, they’ll take your entry fees and yearly license registration, but they don’t seem to feel  like they need ‘em.

Or at least, they don’t act like it. The example this donor gave was paying for your own background check to be a driver at an event, but honestly, I’m just bummed on what I the ROI is for a race entry in the amateur sport these days. I was lucky to get into this game in college when you raced against the same dudes every week, where everyone had teams, and there were attempts tactics, and awesomeness abounded

The growth of cross has shown there’s definitely demand for amateur bike racing in the US, but USAC’s response—to make cross less fun in hopes of pushing people onto the road—shows exactly how little interest they have in taking advantage of this.

“Patent Trolls”

I do hate patent trolls, but I’m not exactly sure how I can tie that into cycling. Most of my frustration from intellectual property in this sport comes from copyright—because obviously, trying to make the first 150 kilometers of a bike race interesting somehow steals food from Christian Prudhommes’ childrens mouths.

No, with the possible exception of Specialized—even then, I think their tiff with Volagi was based on just insider knowledge rather than patent violation—people in the cycling industry seem to be pretty cool about it. I’ve heard rumors that Shimano owns patents on, uh, everything, but by and large is willing to license and/or not enforce them, because they know their production quality is higher. And in my experience, this has pretty much proven to be the case.

“How about a rant about the gas guzzling, mostly obese, haters who have come out against the newly painted bike lanes in Redlands.  Their complaints include:”

…and he goes on to list the complaints about cyclists not obeying traffic rules, roads being for cars, it not being safe for cars and bikes, etc.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a problem that can be solved logically. A lot of otherwise intelligent, well-meaning people were raised with and have lived their life in pursuit of this car-centered lifestyle because it’s resonant with their American dream. I think from any perspective—health, environment, economics—it’s not something that can continue on its current scale, and I think even its strongest adherents realize this, and view any change to their world as a beginning-of-the-end kinda threat.

But again, you’re never gonna change this talking about pollution, gridlock or obesity. The uniquely rational have already been sway. The trick is associating these bike lanes and cycling generally with that notion of Americanness, and that’s a really hard thing to do—and a big part of why I try and raise money for an org like BikesBelong.

“Um. Why people obsess over Green Michelin Muds.”

‘Cross clinchers. Don’t get me started. Seriously though, I think the green muds have a reputation of actually being a Mud tire—I’m told the knobs are higher and burlier than the now ubiquitous Mud2, making the tire bitier in slop and faster clearing. Personally, I’ve only ever ridden the Mud2, and I have very positive feelings about it, but a mud tire, it is not.

Maybe there’s some allure in it being a clincher that somehow performs in the mud? I dunno, though&m

dash;if you can’t run 22psi, I’m skeptical. I had blast in some seriously atrocious conditions on some far less expensive Challenge Limuses last fall, and wouldn’t have swapped them out in the pits for pretty much any clincher wheelset you can name and a pair of cherry green mids.

Just gonna preface this question by saying it’s edited down significantly—the injustice which has befallen Amets Txurruka. You get bonus points if you can do the rant in Basque—for the record, I cannot. Basque is weird.

Backstory, whichs is going to make this one run long—Txurruka was a rider for Euskaltel for many years, most combative at the 2007 Tour de France, but generally aggressive for selfless ends—getting into breaks, pushing tempo on climbs, etc. In 2012, he was dropped by Euskaltel, probably for not developing into a guy who could win races, despite his obvious talent. Earlier this year, he took his first pro win at Vuelta a Asutrias, on the continental squad Caja Rural and basically told the media afterward, “I’d rather be a domestique.”

Two things, here: one, yeah, I htink it’s totally feasible that a guy would prefer to work. Winning is high-stress—everyone is counting on you, and you’ve got to constantly play poker, scan rivals for strengths, weakness, etc. As a domestique, especially in the hills, you can almost put it into into time trial mode—kill it until your legs are toasted. That’s not necessarily easier or harder, just a different kind of effort, and I see no shame in preferring it over the title role.

But two, I can also see Euskaltel dumping the guy. They need wins—not much to show since the heyday of Iban Mayo and…I probably don’t need to clarify why that’s different. Yes, Txurruka’s a huge asset, but if he doesn’t have a top-flight GC guy to work for, he could be pretty heavy strain on a team’s budget. I get there’s a lot of romance associated with the de facto Basque national team, but if the focus isn’t on top WorldTour riders getting top WorldTour results,they shouldn’t be taking up space with a WorldTour license.

And finally: Do a rant on Phil and Paul.

Actually, I like Phil and Paul—call it sentimentality, I suppose, but for all the Lance-backing, blown rider IDs and occasionally cultural insensitivity, I think they can do quite well vocally conveying the important aspects of a bike race, and putting them in context of the history of the sport.

The big issue for me is the eight inch rut they’re in—time to Bust that Cycle, as ZeFrank would say. Get a stats guy and a rider spotter or someone to feed them off-beat, challenging questions, from the internet where governing bodies, or a major team or sponsor might have to take some push-back, and for the love of all that is holy, throw the stupid tourism guide out the window.

Aaah. And I think that about does it. The Cyclocosm rantcast is written, produced, and narrated by me, Cosmo Catalano from my wicked high tech studio in Hartford, CT. In an outright refutation that the profit motive holds any sort of economic validity, I blog at Cyclocosm.com and there produce a number of lovely things, the loveliest of which can be viewed at vimeo.com/cyclocosm. It’s hot and I’m running out of both daylight and witty things to say, so I’m just going to leave it there and go ride my bike.

You Won’t Believe These 12 Outrageous Tour de France Bike Seats! [PHOTOS]

27 Jun

Earlier this week, Spanish Journalist Laura Meseguer tweeted a photo of Joaquim Rodriguez’ custom saddle (that’s the technical term for “bike seat”) for the Tour de France.

It’s pretty crazy, but it’s is far from the boldest we’ve seen. Here are 10 other outrageous bike seats from other professional cyclists:

1) Marco Pantani – The Pirate

Pantani custom saddle

Marco was a pioneer in many ways.

(via rainorshinecycles, late 90s-early 00s)

Pantani—nicknamed “The Pirate” for obvious reasons—was one of the first riders to have a custom saddle, with fairly disastrous stylistic results—thought keep in mind, it was the 90s. He was also one of the first riders to find himself unceremoniously kicked out of a Grand Tour with a commanding lead due to a bad blood test. He was a flamboyant, exciting climber, and complicated, emotional man. He committed suicide on Valentine’s Day, 2004

2) Filippo Pozzato – Blond Angel

Pozzato Blonde Angel Saddle

I can’t help but feel something was lost in translation

(via cyclingnews, 2006)

Sometime-classics contender Pozzato has always been a bit weird, but to be fair, he did ride this “Blond Angel” saddle to a win at the 2006 Milan-Sanremo. Bonus fact: Pozzato has a sprawling script tattoo on his back that says “only God can judge me.”

3) Alexandre Vinokourov – The Thing

Vinokourov The Thing Saddle

This isn’t too far off…

(via Cozy Beehive, but I’m pretty sure he stole it from somewhere else, 2007)

Not a bad match for the stocky Kazakh, who did seem to launch every attack with “It’s clobberin’ time” and was indeed imbued with extra-terrestrial powers—though from blood transfusions, not the Van Allen Belt. Vino’ gets additional style props for sticking with the style for most of his career, as this 2011 photo shows.

4) Tom Boonen – The Thing (again)

Boonen The Thing Saddle

I’d be clobberin’ that logo, too.

(via cyclingnews, 2011)

Aside from the fact that this branding is already spoken for, “The Thing” is wholly inappropriate for Boonen, who is a rangy 6’4″, and known for his ability to ride with impressive finesse on rough cobblestone surfaces. At least Prologo got the right comics universe—Boonen’s Autobot allegiance is well-established. Specialized would sort out a proper saddle for Boonen the following year, though there’s no indication he ever rode it BOOM—dude totally rode it.

5) Brad Wiggins – Union Jack Scooter

Wiggins Scooter Saddle

Just…ugh

(via Team Sky, 2010)

This could have been a kitchy bit of Austin-Powers mod. Instead, Prologo hired the airplane safety pamphlet guy and got Wiggins, on top of scooter with four headlights, crouched on a track & field starting block, waiting at a stop sign that’s apparently in the middle of the Chunnel somewhere. No wonder Wiggo (the 2012 Tour champ) could only manage 23rd place on this thing.

6) Andy Schleck – The Schleck Brothers Tour

Schleck Brothers Tour Saddle

It’s 3000km miles to Paris, we got a bus full of bidons, half a pack of clif bars, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.

(via Bike Radar, 2009)

So there’s a Tour, and some brothers, and really, the similarities end there. The Blues Brothers were elegantly plump, the Schlecks are awkward and gangly. Still, with little less literal interpretation—glasses on Andy’s saddle, hat on Frank’s—maybe? Alas, shoddy execution makes the duo look like refugees from a Brad Neely cartoon—which, I guess isn’t actually that bad, considering the year Andy’s been having.

7) Alberto Contador – El Pistolero

Alberto Contador Pistolero Seat

Like shooting fish in a barrel. With a finger gun.

(via Bike Snob, but he stole it from Pez, 2010)

Do I really have to say anything about this? I mean, it’s a finger…under his taint…shooting little colored squirts for each of the Grand Tours. No, really. The best that can be said about this design is that its successive versions were far less suggestive.

8) Danilo DiLuca – The Killer

DiLuca Saddle is Clearly a Shark

I’m sorry, but this is clearly a shark.

(via cyclingnews, 2007)

DiLuca, nicknamed “The Killer”, has the nearly-unique distinction of being suspended for doping on three separate occasions. In a similarly unscrupulous move, he rips off the nickname of fellow Italian and reigning Giro champ Vincenzo Nibali—known as “The Shark”—with what are obviously shark graphics. More on Nibali below.

9) Vincenzo Nibali – Insieme si può

Nibali's Insieme si può saddle

A pictographic microcosm of the difference between DiLuca and Nibali

(via BikeRadar, 2011)

Despite the nickname, Nibali himself is known for his soft-spoken personality. In a lovely contrast to DiLuca, he’s ridden with a saddle supporting the Insieme si può charity.

10) Ivan Basso – what we hope is a flower

Basso blotch flower thing

I mean, did anyone consider the placement?

(via BikeRadar, 2009)

Basso lost his mother to cancer in early 2005—her battle with the disease even moved the cold, dead heart of CancerBot to gift Basso a Tour stage in 2004. The green/red spot at the tail of his saddle is supposed to be a single flower in tribute, but it’s awfully, uh, abstract. And taken in light of the whole cyst thing from this April…just maybe hire a new graphic designer, ok?

11) Giovanni Lombardi – Pulp Fiction

Lombardi Pulp Fiction Saddle

“I want you to go into that bike shop and find my saddle”

(via Bobke Strut, 2006)

The best lead-out man for the best sprinter ever, Olympic gold medalist, triples up on Grand Tours from time to time, and poaches a stage win every now and then just ‘cuz he can. Giovanni Lombardi is a bike racer’s bike racer, and has the saddle to match. (And thanks—we know it’s fake).

12) David Millar – Autographed by Mark Cavendish

David Milar's Mark Cavendish-signed saddle

The early work of a fashion icon.

(via Eff Yeah Mark Cavendish, 2010)

Cavendish, the dominant sprinter of his era, launched a new clothing line just last week. But some of his earliest fashion work can be seen here on the saddle of David Millar, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Seems Cav felt inclined to remind the Scot of his consistent superiority over Millar’s Garmin teammate, Tyler Farrar. The gamesmanship had little impact on Millar, who won the time trial and third in the road race that year

Cyclocosm Rantcast #11 – Peak Fondo

17 Jun

Script

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

Yeah, I’m back. needed a little post-Giro, post-How-the-Race-Was-Won vacation, to cool the engines, ride my bike to Montauk, not get fired from my day job, and—oh yeah, sleep, which is, for the record, what I am not doing now.

Let’s start by going back, way back—back before NBC Universal was called Versus, when cycling was an incongruous block in a non-stop stream of redneck infotainment called the Outdoor Life Network. The sport appeared there because some point, OLN bought the US rights to the Tour—either 1999 or 2001, depending on if you believe NBC Sports’ Wikipedia page or the New York Times (yes, that is a serious question)—I can’t really say because I didn’t start watching until 2002.  

And apparently I wasn’t alone. More and more people were watching. History was being made. Three tours? Lance was only the second American to do that. Four—eh, I mean, that’s pretty good. Five was a record and all, but it was really close—so six would be huge. And of course, the ever-escalating celebrity of the man himself—dating rock stars, rumors of a movie in the works, and of course, those yellow wristbands—about 80 million dollars worth—on the arm of basically every public figure on Earth.

In 2004 OLN went big for the Tour. Really big. I mean, we’re talking Inland Empire, subprime ARM, buy-now-or-be-priced-out-forever–big. They hired that guy who used to be cool from all those badass movies by that other guy who used to be cool and put together “The Cyclysm”. The marketing firm that executed the project actually has a pretty stellar set of  documentation on the effort, and in hindsight it was kind of awesome to see cycling get so much exposure.

But we—and by “we” I mean, the cycling fans on the Internet, who were legion even than—hated it.  I know everyone knows about trolls and the aimless destructive rage of comments sections these days, but back then, it was worse. Imagine an internet where baby sloth videos and LOLcats are replaced by crummy forum software and browsers that crash every 15 minutes. Plus Facebook hadn’t convinced all the normal people to go online yet, so basically, everyone there was pissed off and bitter 100% of the time.

And granted, there were some things to be pissed about. Like The Lance Chronicles—that detailed Lance’s busy, exciting life, from filming Subaru commercials to getting art for his house in Girona, to charity receptions to…wait a minute, what does this show to do with cycling again?

No no, that’s not fair. There was plenty about cycling in the show. Like Lance accidentally revealing that he uses Assos chamois cream, or that Trek reps make sad faces when Armstrong doesn’t ride their special bike, or that low carb-diets just wouldn’t work for a guy like Lance…oh Chris Carmichael, how I’ve missed your fitness wisdom.

And come Tour Time…whoof. People started appearing for no apparent reason—like Swiss trials pioneer Hans Rey, who by his own account didn’t seem to know what he was doing there, either. There was a show called The Roadside Tour featuring a bunch of American jackasses called “The Cutters” that was so bad, OLN cancelled mid-way through the race. Amazingly, there seems to be no trace of it online so if anyone out there has got footage kicking around I would love to see it.

But for me the worst sin of the Only Lance Network (get it? OLN? That was what we called it…) was the “expanded” coverage during the evenings that consisted of Al Trautwig asking painfully obvious questions to Bob roll for 90 minutes during primetime, heading off the network’s fears that a more general audience would put off by Lance not constantly kicking everyone else’s ass, or y’know, British people.

Anyway, the ‘04 race was a dog, the ‘05 race was worse, and as you might imagine, the whole house of cards came tumbling down in ‘06 because—duh, no Lance. Maybe if OLN had invested for the long term, and treated the sport seriously, instead of piping the monotonous drone of Armstrong’s greatness, they might have retained a few viewers. I personally know several fans converted by daily, non-expanded coverage of the ‘03 Vuelta and ‘04 Giro in those heady “let’s show the racing years”.

Writ large, the Tour’s overproduction was classic bubble behavior—the slow burn of Lance exploded into frenzy, more content was being produced and than could be sustained by the income of the ad revenue. Not that OLN cared—the Lance blitz gave them profile, and a tiff between the NHL and ESPN soon turned the channel into the home of hockey. This in turn gave it enough profile to be bought out by Comcast, who would later merge it with NBC sports, because Comcast would really, really like there to be a viable sports competitor to ESPN, who makes their money by reaming the cable provider on subscriber fees—you can learn all about this in Rantcast #2.

But to cycling the industry, the absence of Lance, or perhaps the over-focus on racing generally that became the norm in his era, would leave a lasting wound. In the early aughts, you could sell a bike because it was ostensibly Lance’s bike. Or—as Competitive Cyclist’s “It’s not a Trek” tagline once proclaimed, because it’s not Lance’s bike. Marketing became a predictable, mostly idiotic and wholly unverifiable game of one upmanship about lightness, stiffness, yaw angles, and the like.

But more and more, I think, consumers became steadily less enthusiastic about marginal technical advantages. No matter how much they spent, they were still Cat 3s. They were still finishing mid-pack. While their bikes may have been getting faster and more advanced, their backs were getting sorer, their necks more kinked, and their daylight hours progressively less easy to occupy with things like training.

Combine this with a steady stream of drug positives, professional and amatuer, and general ineptitude from the sport’s international and US governing bodies, and you’ve got group o

f people distinctly less interested in bicycle racing, but who still loved riding, trying cool gear, and imagining they can set the roads on fire like the pros.

When you’re on a bike, there are basically two ways to feel like Fabian Cancellara. One is to train a whole bunch, get super fit, and find that extra gear in a race, closing some crazy gap, making the winning move, or, if you’re incredibly lucky, crossing the line first. The other, significantly easier way, is to find any unpaved road and ride somewhere in the neighborhood of uptempo. Slowly but surely over the past decade, more and more people have figured this second route out.

You could see the trend coming for a while—Grant Peterson, clairvoyant industry heretic, has been spouting some version of the doctrine since 1994. The words  “sportive” and “fondo”  began creeping into the sport’s cultural lexicon, and on a technical front, after decades of narrowing and straight up lying about widths to play the gram game, rims and tires were getting wider, pressures getting lower. Tinkerers and manufacturers alike were  constructing weird workarounds to make disc brakes run on drop handlebars.

And there’s nothing wrong with this—people on practical, versatile bikes? Can’t complain. Wide availability of tough, durable parts that work well for a variety of cycling endeavours? Sounds awesome. Putting in six hour rides just to see what’s out there? More power to you.

This rediscovery of the humble awesomeness of just going out and riding has been accompanied by a host of new brands focused more on the ineffable qualities of riding than actually competing in a race. Rapha, much as I may tease, was a much needed injection of competent style in an arena where pro apparel can make 4% body fat look like a beer belly; not surprisingly, it inspired a slew of imitators. Publications like Rouleur spring up—again, with imitators—and even Bicycling rebranded, taking on a more upscale, refined image…for their monthly tips on weight loss.

In fact, there seem to be a bunch of blogs, websites, magazines, and other semi-professional publications that have gotten really into gazing at their own navels on spectacle, or majesty or whatever bike-related this-is-so-meaningful-ism happens to strike them at the time of writing. By and large, these pieces are of such gobsmacking banality that I can’t help but feel I’m experiencing some sort of Bizarro World Lance Chronicles.

Which brings me, at long last, to the point—I think we’ve reached peak fondo. Think your Gravel Grinder is underground? The Times, as they say, is On It. Outside just published a list of the 12 best US Grand Fondos. Google “tips for sportive ride” and you’ll find a healthy spattering of “evergreen content” full of useful information like “drink water” and “pace yourself”.  One of the more important US UCI races even replaced itself with a Fondo this past winter.

It’s not that  racing is of inherently greater value than a sportive, or a fondo, or a gravel grinder, or just going out and hacking around on your bicycle—it’s that at the moment there’s way too much product—gear, bikes, articles, events—being pushed under the auspices of fondo-dom, to be sustainably consumed. And as someone who both came into the sport during the Only Lance Era, and who was hired to blog about real estate in the earliest days of 2008—I think I would know.

The Cyclocosm Rantcast is written and produced by Cosmo Catalano who politely request that you do NOT forward any real estate questions his way, especially not about his current local market of Hartford, Connecticut. His website on cycling is called Cyclocosm.com, and it has all sorts of fun videos and other features, plus a placeholder image of a doping Twitter bird at appears just before the latest Tweet from his @Cyclocosm account. He’s also on Tumblr at cyclocosm.tumblr.com, and promises that this is the last outro he’ll record fully in the third person.