Thursday, May 31, 2012

Best Week Ever

So this is it.  I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this weekend might be the best one of the summer.  I’ve checked the forecast, and taken a look at the events calendar and it’s official.  This will be the best weekend of the summer—maybe the year.  The stars have aligned, it seems, to bring us a seriously ridiculous line up of events and weather for the next couple days that will make for an epic adventure if you play your cards right.  So I decided I had to put other topics on the back burner this week to give you a rundown of what is going on in Philly this week and how you should go about planning your epic weekend. 

It has to be some kind of happy accident that two of the best summer events in Philadelphia—the bike race (or the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, as it prefers to be dubbed), and Philly Beer Week—kick off on the same weekend.  The oft erroneous folks at the weather service have also managed to piece together a weekend forecast calling for sun and highs in the mid-70s.  There is a possibility of scattered thunderstorms—but my parade of weekend festivities shan’t be rained on—even if it does in the literal sense. 

Ben Franklin holds the beer week mascot, The Hammer of Glory

Here is everything you need to know to be able to look back fondly upon this weekend:

Check out the Philly Beer Week website for a complete listing of the week’s events in your neighborhood.  The party will be kicked off tomorrow, June 1st, and run through the 10th.  After the legendary Hammer of Glory makes its relay around many of the wonderful beer selling establishments of the greater Philadelphia all day Friday, Mayor Michael Nutter will use the gargantuan hammer to tap the first keg of the festival, Friday evening at Independence Hall downtown.  You can find the hammer’s full schedule of stops along the relay here.  

Here is a video from last year’s relay and tapping festivities:

After you have your first pint of beer week, make your way over to Cadence to take part in our bike race weekend festivities.  Friday we will have a ride with the Fuji Women’s cycling team leaving the shop at 3pm.  Women’s current World Champion, and last year’s race winner Giorgia Bronzini rides for Fuji’s Diadora Pasta-Zara cycling team, and will be on hand.  After a chill two hour ride, Brian Walton will lead an inside look into the pro race back at Cadence.  Come out between 5-9pm to hang out and rub elbows with some of the leading men and women from the pro peloton.  Brian will lead a panel that will discuss all the weekend’s racing. 

Bronzini is in town to defend her title from last year.  In World Champ stripes no less. 

Join us Saturday morning for Cadence’s monthly “Employee Ride” that leaves Cadence at 9am for two hours of rolling hills.  Mavic will have wheels for demo purposes, so if you have been itching to ride a set of the new stealthy Kysrium SLRs (you should be—they are amazing wheels) come out and take a set for a spin on the ride.  Arrive early if you plan on demoing wheels though, as the ride will leave at 9am sharp.  Leave at least 45 minutes for a wheel swap. 

This brings us to the main event! The race is preceded on Sunday by The Bicycling Magazine Open, where local amateurs ride the same course as the pros.  So you’re probably wondering where and when to watch the race.  Well there are several great places along the route.  Each separate place has its own feel and vibe—some with large crowds and a heavy party atmosphere, and others with a chill laid back experience. 

My favorite place to watch the race has been Lemon Hill.  There is a large crowd, without the craziness of the intoxicated masses on the Manayunk Wall. 

Chillin' on Lemon Hill last year. Photo:Some Dude named Andres

If you are looking for a party though, head to the wall.  Hugh crowds line the highlight of the race’s parcours.  The vibe here is hectic and intense—but you will see some of the most intense suffering of the race as the leaders try to blow the race apart on the later laps.

The insanity on the Wall

The rest of the course—save the finish—is more sparsly populated, but still good to watch the action. 

Television coverage will again be on Comcast Sportsnet.  You can check out the airtimes here.  My recommendation is to find a good spot to watch most of the race.  You can check out the finish via TV on delay if you have to see every last second of action—but to me it’s more about the experience of hanging with friends and watching the race roll by with a brew in hand.  You can come by Cadence for our race day BBQ and Party.  That’s where I’ll be.  Check our website for a ticket to the event. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Giro d'Italia Bonus: Todd Gogulski takes us inside the Giro's final stages.

Cadence has a pretty large extended family.  As a member of that family I feel very lucky to know or have access to some pretty incredible talents in the cycling industry.  So when I was looking for a bit of insider info into the final days of this year's Giro d'Italia, I looked to one of Cadence's former coaches and current Universal Sports cycling commentator, Todd "GoGo" Gogulski.  
"GoGo" during his racing days
Todd Gogulski is a retired professional cyclist turned cycling broadcaster, and is currently covering the Giro d'Italia for Universal Sports, his ninth Grand Tour in the past four seasons. Often referred to as "GoGo" from his aggressive style of racing, he will be back in Philadelphia for the upcoming 28th edition of America's greatest single day race, the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, which will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and the NBC Sports Network.  His cycling palmares are just as impressive as his broadcasting, with over 100 professional wins to his name between 1981-1991.  "GoGo" was twice the U.S worlds team captain, and raced on teams with cycling legends like Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong.  

I talked to Todd about what he thought of the last few key stages of the Giro and this is what he had to say:

"Yesterday's stage 17 had about 15,000' of climbing.  Stage 19 has almost 17,000' and then stage 20 has almost 20,000'.  Follow those with the 30km flat TT in Milan and you can see why everyone said this final week was going to be the most important.  There are realistically only four guys left in the race who can win:  Joaquim Rodriguez (note spelling of first name with the letter "m"), Ryder Hesjedal, Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi.  From what I saw today, Ryder Hesjedal was the big winner in stage 17.  He's the best against the clock of the contenders, and he finished another very challenging day in a very enviable position:  only 30" from the overall lead, and not having to defend the Pink jersey.  Rodriguez has said that he thinks Ryder will put 2' into him in the final TT, Basso is thinking he will loose 1' and Scarponi was on the ropes today and is similar in ability to Basso in a TT, generally.  Obviously, there are no guarantees that Ryder would out-perform the others in the TT with the gaps mentioned here, but it looks good for him at this point.  But it's far from over, when you look back at the history books, neither Rodriguez nor Hesjedal have ever been this good this late in a grand tour, so this is uncharted water for them.  Basso knows what it takes as he has two Giro titles (2006, 2010), and Scarponi is also more accomplished over the three-week timeframe in being the defending champion.  What does this all tell me?  This race is still open, but only to these four guys.
Yesterday's Stage 17 profile
"Let's look further into stage 17.  Basso looked the strongest to me.  He set the bulk of the pace on the Passo Giau once he had used up his team.  Though it was a brutal day in the saddle, the fact that it wasn't a summit finish turned it into a bit of a stalemate up the final climb, so it was more of a race of attrition - eliminating some who were previously still in the hunt for the GC like Roman Kreuziger and outsiders like his teammate Paolo Tiralongo.  Michele Scarponi was in big trouble, dropped and cramping, but he retooled somehow and chased back on, and managed not to loose any time.  To see Ivan Basso's strength in the sprint, that was also telling for a guy who's sprint isn't legendary.  
Stage 19 profile. 
"I have also spoken with Joaquim's DS, Valerio Piva, since the finish of stage 17.  He told me that though stage 20 to the Stelvio via the Mortirolo (22% max gradient) is very famous and will be spectacular he actually thinks that stage 19 is harder and will be more selective.  Think about that, more selective than the a stage with 20,000' of climbing, five categorized climbs, including one with a 22% max gradient, followed by a summit finish at 9,000' - the highest ever for a Grand Tour.  Piva actually believes that stage 19 is one of the hardest stages of the Giro in years, and he was there last year when the stages were so challenging that the director of the Giro was relieved of his position after the race.  So what's all the fuss over stage 19 about?  All the big climbs come in succession in the last half of the race, and the Pampeago (which they do 2x), is consistently over 11% and has a 16% pitch just 1.4km from the finish.  So, it's the classic juxtaposition, length of grade verses severity of grade, and we will find out in the next couple days what creates greater separation.
Stage 20 ends atop the legendary Passo Dello Stelvio.
"Here are my predictions:
Stage 19 is going to be a free-for-all.  Rodriguez knows he needs more time for the stage 21 TT in Milan.  He's got the punch to put the other GC men into serious trouble on steep climbs, and there is an actual summit finish for stage 19 on the Alpe di Pampeago so there's no time to catch back up on the run-in to the finish.  It's not a super long climb at 7.7km/4.8mi, and Rodriguez is the best in the world at climbs like that when he's on.  Rodriguez will go on the rampage and leave the others scrambling to limit their losses.  If Rodriguez gains over 1' 30" on Hesjedal, he's in the driver's seat to win the Giro.  But the next day, will he crack after such a huge effort?  On long climbs in a Grand Tour he's always had at least one bad day, and the finish on the Stelvio is plenty long at 22.4km/13.9mi.  So he won't be out of the woods until the Stelvio is over.  

Ultimately, there is nobody who has yet shown that they will be the winner of the overall in Milan, and stages 19 and 20 can show the advantage swing one way and then the other before the TT settles the score.

Currently Hesjedal has won the battle, but will he win the war?

It's going to be a great weekend."
I couldn't have said it better myself--which is why I didn't even try.  I want to thank Todd for taking the time to give me his insider perspective on what I'm sure will be an exciting few days in Italy. 
Check out Todd's own blog here and be sure to tweet him @BiciGoGo.  Also don't forget to ask your local cable provider to carry Universal Sports here

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Back in the Saddle

So I’m going to start today with an apology.  Last week I was unfortunately unable to post—and I’m sorry for that.  I happened to be on an unexpected trip overseas, to play tuba for the Curtis Symphony Orchestra (one of my Alma Maters) at the opening night concert of the Dresden Music Festival in Germany.  So unfortunately I had no blogging opportunities while there.  Just to prove that this is not an elaborate excuse for missing a post, here is a picture of the orchestra performing in the Frauenkirche in Dresden. 

That’s me in the back—with the tuba. 

So in an effort to make up for lost time, I’m here to give you a rundown of a couple things that you should be looking out for in the cycling world.  Pay attention—I’m gonna move quickly. 

Giro d’Italia: The Final Week

Our own Brian Walton should be proud as his fellow countryman, Ryder Hesjedal, is in the midst of an impressive breakout at this year’s Italian grand tour.  Barring a bad day in the final two hard days (after surviving yesterdays high mountain test), the aptly named Ryder could be in line for a podium finish—maybe even the top spot. 

Be sure to watch Saturday and Sunday, as these final two days will surely decide the race.  The famous Stelvio pass is on the menu for Saturday followed by a 30+Km individual time trial on Sunday to end the race.  If Hesjedal can limit his losses Saturday, the course looks to tip in his favor for a potentially life altering performance on Sunday. 

Are you having trouble getting your Giro fix live every morning?  Yeah, me too.  Universal Sports is airing the race live, but it seems that many a local cable provider has chosen not to carry the channel.  Bummer right? Follow this link and help Universal Sports get picked up on your TV!

Scarponi’s Wilier Zero.7

VeloNews did a photo gallery of Scarponi’s Wilier Zero.7 Giro d’Italia steed this week.  If you haven’t seen this bike yet, check it out.  Personally I think it is probably the best new bike for 2012.  Having built two of them so far here at Cadence, I can tell you that these bikes are impressive.  Scarponi’s is extra slick, built up with Campy EPS and all the lightweight bells and whistles (notice the Fulcrum tubulars).  Check out the photo gallery here and order yours today here. There is also a rumor that Cadence has a demo Zero.7 in the store as we speak...or read...or whatever--and by rumor I mean not a rumor at all.  Come ride it. 

Philly Race Week!

 Race week here in Philadelphia is a fun time of year.  The format has changed slightly this year, but you can still expect a super fun and super fast race event to which many domestic pro teams will come out.  We’ve got a plethora of events lined up for the week.  Check it out:

June 1:

3-5pm Ride with the Fuji Womens Team – Start your weekend early by rubbing shoulders with the women from the Diadora-Pasta Vara pro cycling team.  The ride will be an easy one, but don’t get it twisted: These women can and will drop you if necessary. 

 5-9pm Pro Panel presented by Walton Endurance – Come hear what the pros have to share about the race.  Featuring several W.E. coached athletes currently in the pro peloton, our own Brian Walton will lead a panel on the weekend’s pro events.  

June 2:

 9-11am Cadence EP Ride sponsored by Mavic – Join us for our normal EP ride loop at the usual time.  Be sure to make it out for the special race week twists:  A follow car and a trip up the Manayunk wall to end the ride.  Be there, or here, depending on your perspective.  

June 3:

11am-5pm Race Day BBQ at Cadence – Join us for all the madness that is the TD Bank Philadelphia International Championship.  Prizes will be given for each lap of the race, as well as gratuitous grilled meats and drinks on ice.  You need a ticket for this event (don’t worry, they’re free), just print one from our website here.

[Insert proverbial corny, yet witty and somewhat endearing sign-off tag line here because I’m still too jet lagged to come up with one]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lose Your Tubes

I feel like I spend a lot of time talking about wheel and tire technology on Off the Rivet.  It’s alright though, because wheels and tires are very important.  They are your first line of defense against the road—affecting everything about the way your bike rides and feels under you.  So here we are yet again, about to embark on another wheel related post, but don’t let out that knowing groan—thinking you know what’s coming.  You don’t. 

Tubeless technology is something that has sat on the periphery of road cycling for quite some time now.  Mountain bikers embraced tubeless wheels and tires quite a while ago, though the technology was much easily applied to wheels where pressures from 15-30psi are desirable.  Road wheels and their sidewalls must support much higher pressures, and thusly the technology has been more difficult to adapt.  But I’m not here to give you a why and how road tubeless came about.  I’m here to tell you about whether this technology is worthwhile or not.  

For several weeks now, I have been road testing Fulcrum’s Racing 1 Two-way Fit Wheelset.  I tried to approach this testing period with no preconceived ideas about whether tubeless wheels were a good or bad idea, and simply judge them by their performance on the road.  

Fulcrum's UltraFit technology creates a bead where both tubeless and traditional tube systems can be used.

Before I get into the ride though, let me explain a bit of how the Fulcrum Two-way fit works.  Because the bead of a road tubeless wheel and tire have to support several times the pressure of their MTB bretheren, there has to be an incredibly tight fit between rim and tire. 

This tight fit, along with a cup of Stan’s NoTubes sealant, allows you to run the wheels with no tubes.  Not having tubes may seem daunting at first, but it actually works out to be a big advantage.  Less flats and less rotating weight.  Pinch flats are a non-issue on road tubeless wheels—there are no tubes to pinch, and most small punctures are filled quickly by the sealant.  This makes for the possibility of many flat free miles—although they are still susceptible, as all tires are, to large gashes or cuts in the tire. 

The performance and ride benefits of losing your tubes are also numerous.  The absence of tubes gives these wheels a ridiculously low rotating weight that makes the wheels feel light and snappy, despite them being a sturdily built aluminum wheelset.  Their acceleration and responsiveness are these wheels main selling points—no ordinary achievement for an aluminum wheel.  This is all due to the fact that you no longer have to spin up the weight of two inner tubes. 

Mavic's Ksyrium SLR wheels.  The Ksyrium line has long been the standard for lightweight aluminum wheels.

By the numbers, Fulcrum’s tubeless offerings stack up well against their non-tubeless counterparts.  The gold standard for lightweight aluminum wheels has been Mavic’s Ksyrium line for many years.  Here is how the Fulcrums compare:

Mavic’s tube filled Ksyrium SLR flagship aluminum wheelset comes in at 1,400 grams and 1,800 bucks.  Plenty competitive are the Fulcrum Racing Zeros (one step up from the set I tested) who weigh in at 1,460 grams and will set you back $1,650.  These weights are for the wheelsets alone, which means you still have to add tires and tubes in the case of the Mavic wheels, and tires, sealant, and valve stems in the case of the Fulcrum wheels.  I’ll save you the tedious math and cut to the chase:  tubeless set ups come out about 100-150 grams ahead of traditional clinchers when you figure in tire/tube weight vs. sealant, etc.  So the “virtual weight” of the Fulcrum wheels could be described more like 1,310-1,360 grams—depending on which tire you choose.  This pattern bares itself out across the extent of both the Mavic and Fulcrum wheel lines.  The other comparable wheelsets have prices within $50, and weights within 100 grams of each other. 

So the numbers add up, but what about the ride?  Well I have no complaints.  I rode these wheels in as many situations as I could.  Through gravel, rain, rough roads, and a couple local crit races, the wheels performed admirably in all conditions.  Considering the way my brain works, this is saying something.  I tend to be quite judgmental when it comes to bicycle components, especially ones that are on my personal bike, so when I came back with a verdict of “pretty good” and “no specific complaints” that is somewhat of a ringing endorsement. 

My tire of choice for my testing period.

Well, actually, let me back track a second.  I do have one specific complaint.  There are not enough tire choices.  Only two companies that are readily available make tubeless compatible tires: Hutchinson and Maxxis.  I chose the Hutchinson Fusion 3 23c tires.  I would normally opt for a larger diameter tire, but the only 25c tubeless tire available is a rather heavy long distance training tire.  If there was a high performance 25c tubeless compatible tire on the market, this review would literally complaint free. 

By far the most impressive part of these wheels is the way they accelerate, both uphill and on the flats.  I noticed a substantial difference between the Fulcrums and my everyday wheels.  Normally a wheelset with such twitchy response will mean making a sacrifice in the durability of the wheels, but I had no problem riding these in pretty rough conditions—rough gravel roads and a rainy crit race.  I’m not the biggest most powerful rider in town, but these wheels were plenty stiff.  All without a single flat.  

The ride quality is something unlike I have ever ridden.  It feels different on the road than both traditional clinchers and classic tubular tires.  The ride is smooth while still feeling wonderfully in touch with the road.  The absence of tubes means no internal friction between inner tube and tire, which leads to a smoother ride and lower rolling resistance.  This video from Fulcrum’s marketing department has some interesting illustrations as to how rolling resistance is reduced by losing your tubes. 

I experimented with a wide range of tire pressures, starting high and working my way down until I felt I was in danger of “burping” the tire.  Burping a tubeless tire happens when the bead or the tire momentarily separates from the rim, resulting in a sudden loss of pressure—though usually not enough to cause a completely flat tire.  Burping is a fairly common occurance on MTB tires because of the large diameter of the tires and the leverage that provides on the bead, but I never once burped the Fulcrum road system.  I felt rather nervous about burping when I was riding the tires as low as 65 psi (on a 23c tire!!), but I never actually burped the tire.  My sweetspot for the tire pressure came in around 80-85 psi.—far lower than I would normally run my 25c tube filled tires.  At this pressure the ride was wonderful and stable.  Cornering was sticky and predictable. 

Overall I was quite satisfied with my tubeless experience.  It is certainly a viable technology for both racing and training.  The market simply needs more options.  More tires to choose from, more techs who endorse and install them, and more riders who are willing to embrace new developing technology.  Soon enough we might see tubeless occupying a decent market share, but that takes commitment from manufacturers as well as consumers—something I think could be coming sooner rather than later.  For what it’s worth, you can count me in. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wait....It's May?!?!

I’m still kicking myself for not following my winter training plan like I should have.  I’m still trying to find time to take some real long rides so I can build my “base.”  If you asked my legs what month it was, they would look at you inquisitively and say, “Why it’s February of course!” No it’s May.  Wait, did I hear myself correctly? May?!?!  Where does the time go?

I suppose I could rail against it, but time—passing as it tends to do—can’t be stopped.  So I’ll embrace it.  I will embrace the fact that May is upon us—even though my legs wish they had more time to find themselves.  The classics have passed and we are in the throes of another long and difficult cycling season.  April showers have brought us May flowers—although it seems as though we are probably in store for some more May showers.

In cycling, May means one thing: The Giro d’Italia.  May brings us the grand tours.  The hard men of the cobbles have had their day in the sun—or rain—and now it is time for the small men of the mountains to do their thing.  

If the classics embody all that is the suffering of cycling, then the grand tours are all the verve and panache—and The Giro may be the vervey-est and panachey-est of them all.  The Tour de France may be the oldest and most revered of the three, but The Giro is the most beautiful.  It has the most life.  It’s spirit and flair make it unique among the grand tours and are a mark of pride for Italian cycling enthusiasts everywhere.  It’s no surprise either.  The Italians’ grand tour is a reflection of their own vigor for life—think: Cipollini’s sometimes outrageous skinsuits.  

Though not as old as The Tour, The Giro is not far behind.  Its first edition was in 1909, only six years after the first Tour de France.  Like many of the major bike races in Europe, it was created by a newspaper—in this case La Gazzetta dello Sport looked to compete with another Italian newspaper, Corriere della Serra, which had just created an automobile race around the Italian countryside.  La Gazzetta, with its iconic pink pages (thus the pink jersey for the race leader, although that did not come about until sometime later), staged the first Giro d’Italia in May of 1909.  

Alfredo Binda, here in the 1927 Giro, would go on to win the race 5 times.  One of only three men to do so.

Italy has an incredible history of domination in its home grand tour, taking every overall victory from its inception until Hugo Koblet won the overall classification in 1950.  And if you think this domination has waned recently due to the “globalization” of cycling—think again.  The Italians recently strung together 11 straight victories from 1997 to 2007.  Of the 20 cyclists who have won the race multiple times, only 4 of them are non-Italians.  Italy has won the overall classification an incredible 67 out of 94 editions of the race (there were no races held during the two world wars).  The country in second place? Belgium—with only 7 wins.  

Fausto Coppi in the 1957 Giro.  Coppi is the second of three men to win the Giro 5 times.  The other? Eddy Merckx.

On the list of overall stage wins, only two Belgians crack the top ten: Eddy Merckx and Roger de Vlaeminck—with the most flamboyant champion of them all, Cipollini topping the list with 42 stage wins.  

The Giro can also boast some of the most creative race programming of any of the three grand tours, although last year’s edition was probably a bit too hard for its own good.  Think of stage 7 of the 2010 edition.  Cadel Evans won a mud-ridden stage of dirt roads in the rainbow jersey.  Epic.  Definitely one of my favorite stage race stages I can ever remember watching.  The Giro takes risks like having stages comprised of many dirt roads, and it often makes for great racing.  

Vino and Cadel in stage 7 of the 2010 Giro d'Italia.  Evans would go on to win the stage.

This year’s edition is admittedly easier than last year—as it should be.  It features three time trials—two individual, including the final stage in Milan, and one team endeavor—as well as a multitude of mountains and interesting flat stages.  Here are a few stages of which to take note:

Stage 2: Herning-Herning (206km)

An uninteresting profile, for sure, but this is what has me interested in this stage:

 There is some very exposed coastal riding there, which could make for some nasty crosswinds.  There is potential for this stage to be your average sprint stage and a “W” for Cavendish, but the winds could potentially split the field. 

Stage 4: Verona-Verona (32.2km) TTT

Despite it being early in the race, there is nothing like starting with a deficit to your nearest rivals.  It’s important for favorites to do well here.  

Stage 14: Cherasco-Cervinia (205km)

The first true high mountain stage of the Giro.  This stage is the first time the race will go over 2,000 meters in elevation—expect that to make a significant selection.  Altitude can wreak havoc on riders who are not accustomed to riding there.  This will be a mountain top finish to mark on the calendar, no doubt.  

Stage 20: Clades Val di Sole-Passo dello Stelvio (218km)

One of the most legendary climbs in all of cycling ends this penultimate stage during what is a brutal final week of The Giro.  The day before the final ITT, look for the climbers to make a final decisive blow against the strong TT contenders.  Fireworks are all but guaranteed.  

So if it isn’t terribly obvious, we’re all pretty excited about The Giro around here.  Follow Off the Rivet throughout the race for special Giro-themed posts, as well as some pretty exciting surprises we have in the works for you guys in the month of May.  Catch the Giro starting Saturday May 5th, on many live streaming channels on websites like or watch it live on NBC Sports

I’ll leave you with a video featuring 5 time winner of the Giro d’Italia, the cannibal himself, Eddy Merckx.  Enjoy: