Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wise Words

"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” Lance Armstrong


Just wanted to let everyone know that the team kit from Champion System has shipped and should arrive on Friday. I will try and have everything sorted by individual person so that you can come by and grab everything that is yours. Not everything shipped with this order, but I don't know yet what items are coming later, I will keep everyone informed.

In case you werent aware, the SRAM Force groups have arrived and they are BEAUTIFUL! The cranksets look sweet, and the rear derailleurs are piece of art.

Still no word from Cannondale yet as to when the frames will arrive, but it looks like we are going to get socked with some really lousy weather anyways. Mechanic Rich is chomping at the bit the get the bikes built up for us before the rest of the inventory starts to show up.

If you need components to build your bikes such as stems, handlebars, seat posts etc. please contact Elvis so we can get the order processed as soon as possible.

Rich Delgado has dropped off samples of the Northwave Shoes for us to try on if you plan on getting a pair. If you are please get over to the shop on Friday and let them know what you want.

There will be a team meeting next week, either on Wednesday or Thursday evening at the shop to discuss and plan for the cyclocross event on Feb. 10th. Participation is mandatory at the event so mark your calendars now.

If you ordered Neuvation training wheels, they should be shipping shortly. We should expect them by late this week or early next week.

We are also currently finalizing arrangements with Spinergy Wheels for our racing wheels. It looks as though we will be getting four sets of the Xaero Lites with red spokes, and four sets of the Stealth SS. If you would like to purchase your own set, please contact Damon or Elvis.

Well I can't think of much else that has happened in the last few days. We are getting close on all fronts to having a race ready team. These last few weeks have certainly been frustrating and exciting for me at the same time. I hope everyone can appreciate all the hard work that has gone into organizing the team on your behalf.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hillsboro Registration Opens Jan 30th

Important!!! The online registration for the 2008 edition of the Hillsboro-Roubaix opens January 30th! Do not delay in registering as they put a limit on the size of each field. Last year the race was closed after only 10 days of registration. I strongly encourage everyone on the team who plans on going to register either the first or second day. I would hate to be able to only send down half of the squad this year.

Aint That The Truth

Sunday, January 20, 2008

69 Days To Go

69 days to go until the Hillsboro-Roubaix. Thank god its a leap year, then we get the extra day in February! It looks like we will either caravan it down on Friday or rent a huge club van and stuff it full of gear, either way will be going down a day early. I suppose if we get down there early enough we could pre-ride some if not all of the course. Who knows, doing so may prove critical to how succesful of a debut we have.
It is incredible to think of all the hard work, emails, phone calls, meetings and decisions that have already been made, and we haven't even turned a pedal in anger yet as a team. It has been a long few months since we started talking about forming this team, and I'd like to think we have come a long way. And I can only imagine how much longer we have to go. The good thing is that the team allows Elvis, Tony and myself to make most of the decisions on their behalf. And they actually trust us! Lets see how long that may last. Well back to the rollers for me, I can't wait for the weather to warm up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why We Do It

Why do we ride our bikes? Why do we put in all the hard work we do? I am too old to dream of turning PRO, however, I continue to take my riding seriously. I am careful of the types and quantities of foods I eat, I monitor how much sleep I get, I listen to my body, and I focus on my machine and the equipment I choose. I make sacrifices in life to get the most out of my body and my bike. I enjoy reading about the lives of the PROs and I look to them for training methods and practices that I believe make me a better cyclist. This is why I am drawn to insight about teams and their preparation and the reason I seek out information written by the mechanics, coaches, and the people who care for the riders. Will any of this information actually help me to turn PRO, not likely, will it help me be the best cyclist I can be? Absolutely.

Cycling is one of the few sports where, as a fan, you can be as close to the PROs as possible. A cyclist can watch a race and relate to the pain felt and understand the effort put in during training and the sacrifices made during the season. I have no idea what it's like to get hit by a 300lb linebacker or to hit a homerun and Wrigley Field, but I do know what it feels like to run empty during a long ride, or to suffer during a brutal climb. I have seen 205 flash on my heart rate monitor while bridging a gap or chase down an attack. So, whether you are screaming in a PRO's face on Alpe D'Huez or riding the exact same bike as your favorite rider, cycling is a sport that allows the fan an up-close and hands-on experience.

The parallels between the average (serious) cyclists and the PROs allow us to have an understanding of what is required to compete at a high level and gives us the ability to truly be in awe of these great athletes.

So why do we ride our bikes? Why do we spend time away from our families? Why do we suffer when we should be having fun? We do it because we are chasing a dream. We do it because we know deep down that this is what the PRO's do. They suffer in silence just like we do. They put in the long lonely hours, just like we do. If going out and putting in the time and effort brings me a little bit closer to being PRO, then that is what I will do. If putting in all the hard work brings me just a small bit of glory, then it is all worth it.

Wise Words

"The day I no longer turn up at the start of a race to try and win it is the day I shall no longer dare to look at myself in the mirror"-Eddy Merckx

Monday, January 14, 2008

Team Kits Only 2 Weeks Away

Some of you may have noticed a new logo at the top of our page, at least I hope you have. It was created for us by Eric Nelson from Mango Design. This new logo will be used for new items in 2008 including T-shirts, event posters, and banners. We tried to have the logo placed on the arm warmers, leg warmers, and booties but were notified by Champion System that we were too far along in the production process. Too far along? We just submitted the order a few days ago. Well it turns out that all the fabric has already been cut and they are in fact in the middle of producing our order. What does this mean for everyone? We could possibly see our new team kits before the end of January! At the very least we will definately have them for the Feb. 10th Cyclocross Event at Dan Ryan Woods

Final Equipment Selections

Today we locked in some selections for wheels, hoods, and tape colors. Hopefully everyone will be happy with the choices, but probably not! We are going to split the wheels between the Spinergy Xaero Lites with red PBO spokes, and the Spinergy Carbon Stealth SS. We felt that this was a nice mix of wheels for crits. road races, and even time trials. On race day they will be available on a first come first served basis, however will make sure everyone can use them at least once, if not many more times this year. SRAM cassettes will also be purchased for all race wheels, so that every wheel will have an 11-23 on it. Keep in mind, these wheels are for race day only, we want them to last at least on full season.
An executive decision was also made on the hood/bar tape colors. We would like everyone on the A squad to go with the red SRAM hoods and red SRAM bar tape for a unified look. We will also encourage either a white or red saddle. Personally I like the "euro trash" white saddle myself. Wait did I say "euro trash", I meant PRO!

CX Nationals Dec 11th-14th

Cyclocross National Championships will again be held in Kansas City, KS for 2008. Lets plan on sending a few guys down there this year. I already have a loose commitment from about 4 guys including myself to race the masters race. So mark off your calendar and start booking your flights!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Decision Time

Now that we have finalized what wheelsets we will be getting from Spinergy, we need to decide what color spokes. Should we be total dorks and go with something that matches the bikes? Spinergy offers the PBO spokes in several colors including white, black, red, yellow, and blue. Since our frames are going to be painted white with blue stickers and red trim it seems we have three different colors that would work. Now its just a matter of deciding, easier said than done in some cases. SRAM is also offering us the choice of colored hoods in both red and white. I like the idea of white hoods, but am afraid that they will just become instantly filthy. Sure if we had a team mechanic to scrub down the bikes after every ride the white hoods might make sense, but I don't see that happening. The other thought we were floating around was red hoods with red tape, or red hoods with white tape, or red hoods with blue tape. I know this sounds really bogus, but we want the bikes to look good. Hmm what would a PRO do?


Mark McClusky

Review: SRAM Force Road Gruppo
Courtesy of the very nice folks at SRAM, and especially their media person, Michael Zellmann, I was able to get a chance to ride their new Force group of road components. The high-end component market has been dominated by Campagnolo and Shimano for the 20 years that I've been riding bikes -- in fact, SRAM's gruppo is the first full road group that's been released in that period of time.
Armed with a lovely Specialized Tarmac SL equipped with the Force components and Roval full-carbon clincher wheels, I hit the roads in Northern California to see if Force is a legitimate challenger to Shimano's Dura Ace and Campy's Record line.

The crankset is a lovely piece, wrapped in very pretty carbon fiber. The chainrings are shot-peened, and have a nice grey color to them. Although you can't see them, the bearings for the bottom bracket are outboard, similar to Dura Ace.
I had no compaints with the crank/bottom bracket combo. It was plenty stiff, certainly for the amount of power I can generate. There was no creaking or play in the bearings, and the build seemed very solid. Frankly, there's not a lot that can really go wrong here, and SRAM didn't make any mistakes.

One real problem I've face with my bike (equipped with Dura Ace) is getting it to shift well on a compact crankset. Especially on the way from the large to the small chainring, it's very prone to throwing the chain completely past the chainring, and onto my bottom bracket. Which sucks.
I was very impressed by the front shifting on the Force. There's one front mechanism that's used for either standard or compact chainrings -- but there's a clever way to lower it to make sure that the tolerance is right for the size you're running. Also, the cage is wide enough that there aren't any trim settings to mess with. You just get it to the right chainring, and forget it. All in all, a major upgrade for me.

In the back, shifting was equally good. There was a very solid feel -- some might argue inelegant. With Dura Ace and Record, you sometimes aren't quite sure if your shift has finished; by the time you're trying to sense it, it's already over. But with Force, there's a very positive action, almost a THUNK, that lets you know for sure. Some people might not care for it, but I like it.
The other nice thing is how unfussy it seems. I feel like after (or during) most rides, I'm tweaking my cables just a bit, trying to insure that upshifts and downshifts happen with the same speed, and equally smoothly. After adjusting the rear once, I didn't have to futz with it at all, even after swapping out the cassettes, which I have a hard time imagining with Dura Ace. One of the things that SRAM is touting in their marketing is that each shift requires the same amount of cable to be pulled (unlike the other groups), and from my testing, that consistent mechanical action does show some benefits.
Not pictured here is the SRAM cassette -- I had to wuss out and put on a 25 in back for the hills around here. SRAM is going to be shipping an 11-26 rear cassette, which is great news, I think. Perfect for compacts in tough terrain like NoCal.

Here's the cockpit. Like Campy Record, all the cables are under the handlebar tape, leading to a nice, clean look. It's a little hard to tell from this shot, but the left and right hoods are sculpted differently, and are canted slightly to fit the hand -- they were comfortable while on the hoods, and provided a good platform on top. They're a little smaller than the Shimano hoods, a similar size to Campy.

In this closeup of the left brake lever, you can see the cant I was talking about.
The shifting on Force uses what SRAM called Double Tap. A small inward movement of the lever downshifs to a higher gear, a longer throw upshifts into a smaller gear. It's was actually completely intuitive -- imagine using the upshift lever on Record for all the shifts, but just tapping is slightly to get bigger gears. Seriously, it sounds much, much more complicated than it rides, and I didn't find myself having to think about it at all, even after just a few miles.

I found the brakes to be really nice looking, especially the cutout in the top arm. Modulation was very good, and the action at the lever was smooth and controlled. Stopping power was harder to evaluate for me, as I was riding a test bike with carbon rims, and therefore had cork pads, and not the standard pad that SRAM ships for most wheels.

Another look at the calipers, this time up front.
Overall, I was really impressed by Force. SRAM's done a ton of work and research to get this right, and it's a hugely ambitious undertaking. It's certainly right there with the top of the line from the big two, and I'll definitely consider it when I need new gear.

Wise Words

"It doesnt get easier, you just get faster"-Greg Lemond

The Kits Have Been Ordered

After dozens of hours of design and several revisions by Ed Garza-"Decade 1324" we have placed an order for our 2008 team kits. The kits are being produced by a company out of New York City named Champion System, and will be a completely custom uniform. As a team we decided that to make the best impression in 2008 we needed a kit that would become easily recognizable from the rest of the peloton. We also tried to incorporate a red, white, and blue theme with a bit of a twist. When we were in the design process we wanted a look that would stand out and have bold color blocking to it. I feel that Ed came thru in all departments and developed a design that not only highlights our sponsors, but also brings a bit of class to the road. In order to have the PRO look we also opted for the full hidden zipper on all the jerseys and jackets, I love being able to unzip all the way in the summer.

All in all it was quite a sizable order for a relatively small team, hopefully Champion System can bump us up in their production schedule. As it stands today we should recieve everything no later than March 9th, just in time for Hillsboro-Roubaix. The order consisted of 15 different items and nearly 200 individual pieces including 41 jerseys.

We do plan on re-ordering sometime this year, however, it is too early to say for sure when. The good news is that the quantities are actually pretty small on the re-order. There has also been speculation that after the Hillsboro-Roubaix race we may have riders interested in joining the team. The opinion is that we will be presenting such a PRO image, not only through our kit, but also through our ability and our level of organization, that riders will come flocking to us.
In the event this does happen, we have ordered some extra short sleeve jerseys.

If anyone is interested in ordering any additional items or would like to see Champion Sysytem's complete line check out http://www.champ-sys.com/. Personally I have my eye on both a long sleeve skinsuit and a cyclocross skinsuit for the fall. Champion's prices are incredible, and their quality is top notch. We certainly will not be disappointed when the shipment shows up in March. Heck if their stuff is good enough for Toyota-United and Jelly Belly, it is certainly good enough for us.

80 Days to Go!

In my opinion the countdown has officially begun. Countdown to what you might ask, Hillsboro-Roubaix 2008 edition. From what I have heard this is the toughest race in Illinois and that gets me excited! A 44 mile course with rolling hills the entire race, pave' sectors, and the possibility for really bad early spring weather, I can't think of a better combination to race in. Not to mention the fact that this will be our first race in full kit, on our new bikes, and the days can't countdown fast enough. We will probably be bringing down at least 6 guys so we should be able to stir things up a little. I say bring on the pave', bring on the hills, and even bring on the rain!


It looks like we may have finalized everything with Spinergy. We still have to decide which wheels we will be using next year but we know for sure we will be getting 8 pairs of wheels. While the Stealth wheels are pretty sweet, I think we will probably go with the Xaero Lites which are a more practical wheelset. Not bad for a few phone calls and a couple of e-mails back and forth. Now we just have to come to a consensus as a team and figure what tires we should all be riding on. I guess that is n't too big of a problem to have though, all things considered.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Best Photo of 2007

You just gotta love the smile during a 'cross race


Since there is a very good chance I will never actually be PRO, I figured the next best thing I could was to look PRO. Not to mention the fact that in about about a month we will have 8 identical team bikes. The Cannondales should be getting out of production soon, and the SRAM gruppos will only take about a week to get here.
Now if we could only get Pro-Lite to send us seat posts, stems, handlebars, and cages. Looks like we have a few more phone calls to make! If you'd like to get a set of your own PRO quality frame stickers check out http://www.vcgraphix.com/

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Spring Classics

Okay, so maybe it wasn't one of THE Spring Classics, but it was one helluva ride. 56 degrees, 30mph cross wind, dangerous railroad crossings, and just a bit of mud and water thrown in. Well at least the new kits haven't arrived yet. I would rather get someone else's kit dirty. A nice little training ride for Hillsboro, with about 4-5 miles of rolling hills thrown in. Average wattage was 247, with a peak of about 450. Not bad for the first week of January. It sure is interesting to see how our bodies are reacting to a full season of 'cross racing. Looks like 2008 might be a good year after all!

Cyclocross Event Feb. 10th

USAC has approved our request to host a non-competitive cyclocross ride in order to fulfill our requirement with them. The info for the ride is posted in the link. As a Team we have been training at the Dan Ryan Woods Toboggan Runs, and we believe that this will make an excellent course and hope to be able to host a race there as part of the Chicago Cyclocross Cup Series. The course is about 3/4ths of a mile and will feature a run-up that will make the hill at Montrose look like a small bump. The course will also feature two barrier sections as well as some off-camber turns. This is a USAC sanctioned event therefore licenses are required. If you do not already have a license a one-day license is available for $10. //http://www.chicagobikeracing.com/fliers/veepak.pdf

55 Degrees in January!!!!

What else is there to say? 55 Degrees on a Sunday in January, life is good. The weather Gods are smiling upon us. Tomorrow is supposed to 65! Sweet!!!

More Good News for 2008

So far 2008 has gone pretty well for the Beverly Bike-Vee Pak, Inc. Racing Team. While we haven't actually competed we have had some victories.

The first was being recognized by USAC as a team. To do this we had to host either a race or a non-competitve ride. We chose to host a cyclocross training ride at the Dan Ryan Woods on February 10th. Hopefully there won't be any snow on the ground, otherwise we may have to fight off a bunch of 8 year olds with sleds!

We also recieved a sponsorship deal from SRAM! While we won't be riding the RED Group in 2008, it does look like we will all have the Force Carbon groups on our bikes. Ed and Jose from SRAM came out to the shop one Thursday evening and put on quite a presentation. They brought one of their neutral support bikes, all 3 gruppos and a few other toys for us to play with. Needless to say, we were like a bunch of kids in a candy shop.

While the deal is still in the works, it looks like we may have also secured Spinergy as a sponsor as well. It is a bit too early to say for sure, but things are definately rolling along with them. We also recieved word that SIBEX Sports would sponsor us for our 'cross season. Apparently, if you just ask people are willing to give you stuff. Who knew? As of today, our sponsors now include: Beverly Bike and Ski, Vee Pak, Inc., Cannondale, SRAM, and SIBEX. Now if we could only find a sponsor for seat posts and handlebars, looks like I have a little more work to then.

Once the team hears from Spinergy, we will also be placing our order for our team kit from Champion System. The kit should arrive in time for our first race of the year which will be Hillsboro-Roubaix.

My First Time

This may hurt a little, but I am going to try it anyways...Yay!!! My first blog