Monday, July 18, 2011

Round and round we go...

As we wind up our season-ending preparations it's interesting to note the, well, cycles that cycling and the cycling marketplace go through. If you've been around cycling long enough you know that every decade or so, something's IN while something else is OUT. Up until very recently light weight was IN but now the talk is about how "aero" is IN. Seems everyone and his fratello now has a bike in the "aero road" category. These super stiff machines are starting to appear under the pros and with the spate of horrendous crashes in the Giro and Tour this year, talk is whether these machines are to blame. Along with this is talk about bikes simply being too light, too stiff and too fragile as well. None other than Ernesto Colnago has said "basta leggerezza, ci vuole sicurezza!" which roughly translates as "enough with the lightness, we need security" and he means surefootedness in the corners and on descents. Making up time on your rivals going uphill doesn't do much good if you just lose it going down the other side, or worse, crash when your bike loses contact with the road surface in a bumpy corner! So perhaps the cycle will come around again to  bikes which aren't so light but ride and corner well?  We'll see, which brings us to the photo of "Bugno" one of our standard rental bikes. He's been dialed in for Larry in this shot but the only "performance" modification not included on our standard rental fleet is his favorite Vittoria CX clinchers, here in a rather ugly grey rubber edition they market as "extreme" meaning (I guess) the gray rubber on the cornering areas adds extra grip for extreme conditions. They have the same nice ride as the standard black tread, brown sidewall version that is still Larry's favorite. These bikes are anything but light, though we have only the "hoisting it up onto the roof rack" test to go by, this Torelli Gran Sasso feels a fair amount heavier than our personal Mondonico-built Torelli's made from Columbus' NEMO tubing. But once the tires are on the ground and you're riding along, the weight's no longer something you feel, even climbing the Passo Fedaia or Passo Gavia - both were climbed by Larry on this bike this season. And going down the other side, the surefootedness leads to big fun as the roadholding of these bikes is unsurpassed. "Chairman Bill" did his homework with these (sadly, no longer produced) bikes and Larry will bring this one to Sicily to ride there as he thinks the triple crankset setup will be more versatile than the compact double his personal bike is currently setup with. These days Larry gets asked why he rides such a "heavy" bike -- he points to his rather ample middle section and replies that rather than optimized for going uphill, he prefers his bikes be optimized for going DOWN. As Andy Hampsten once said, "the only thing worse than racing uphill without a super-light climbing bike is racing down the other side WITH one!" That might be even more true today?

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