Mar 30, 2011

Good things come in small packages

I just received this small package in the mail, today.

Thanks to Les of Peninusula cycles, he had called up Cycles Marinoni for a little (and I mean a little) vial of Medium Blue touch up paint. I noticed a couple of spots that need it: on the top tube and at the top of the seat tube.

Good things DO come in small packages!

Mar 29, 2011

Tara Whitten: Golden... Again!

Tara Whitten flies the Maple Leaf!

Tara Whitten did it again, winning the world omnium title for the second consecutive year in a row at the World Track Championships in Apeldorn, the Netherlands.

She peaked my interest after winning the omnium/points world title last year, quite an achievement. I never knew much about the gruelling event. Held over two days, six discipline event.

There is the flying lap (250 metres), points race, an elimination race, individual pursuit, scratch race and time trial. The cyclist that wins with the least points is crowned world champion and considered the finest overall track rider.

Track cyclists are already tough riding up to 85 km/h over the steep banks around 32 degrees. I first watched it when the Commonwealth Games were held in my hometown of Edmonton in 1978. I believe it was the first outdoor track in Canada.

Whitten won the gold medal with 23 points, eight points from silver medalist Sarah Hammer of the United States. She won the gold at the 2011 World Cup in Bejing and won four medals (road & track) at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Focus is the key. I discovered that breaks between omnium events can be as short as an hour or as long as three hours. The other positive is that she works with a sports psychologist to help her maintain composure throughout the two days.

In 15 months, the omnium will make its track debut at the 2012 Olympics. London's calling for Tara Whitten!

Mar 28, 2011


Paris-Roubaix, 2010

Fabian Cancellara has plenty of horsepower left after systematically dominating and winning the E3 Prijs. In fact, he seems to have just started. So convincing his victory, Flanders is next on his hit list.

Flanders, 2010

To add salt to the wounds of his weary competition, his Leopard Trek team is not riding tomorrow's 3 Days of De Panne. They're just resting, lying in wait and will be back for the Ronde Van Vlaanderen. They're starting to sound like real leopards.

He'll have the same loyal teammates from the E3 victory and that's disconcerting for the rest of the competition. Those same guys, headed by Stuart O'Grady, just know how set up their main man for success.

Garmin's glum boss, Jonathan Vaughters, was candid saying that they have the strongest team but not the strongest rider. They'll be many riders out there, but will they be good enough to give Cancellara a scare?

It's Mano-a-Men and the list of bewildered but determined fighters are lining up: Hushovd, Farrar, Gilbert, Hincapie, Boonen, Flecha...

It will be difficult to beat him but that's where it's all so interesting. Better this way or what Vaughters jokingly said, "With Fabian like that, I don't know, I'll have to hire a sniper!"

I don't believe it's going to go that far... right?

Mar 27, 2011

Behind the scenes with Hans

Two weeks ago, I brought my new Marinoni to have it professionally photographed by my friend Hans. I didn't ride the bike since picking it up and looked forward to this.

I suppose it's the end of my long going Marinoni restoration project. A little sad that it marks the end of it but yet I'm very elated that it's a start to a new life. I started out planning to buy a brand new bike and having my M on the side for only the odd rides. I had to make a quick decision, something I don't have the ability to do, and last November decided on restoring my old friend.

As long as I've known Hans, I have never seen him at work. On countless occasions, I've gone to his studio and chatted about, of course, bikes and races. Inside he was ready, setting my M up on the product table. He has an impressive giant scrim (to diffuse light) that moves automatically by the push of a button.

With everything in placed he was ready, he turned the lights off and started firing away with his digital camera. Two monitors are situated behind where we can see each shot as it downloads. Hans darted in and out of the scene as I stood transfixed to the action. Now, I know why he's so successful at what he does.

Great job by Hans, he came out with excellent definitive images of my Marinoni. It never looked better. To read the post and view the finished images go here.

Thanks Hans for an amazing experience!

All images by yours truly.

Mar 26, 2011

Gent-Wevelgem: The Killer Kemmelberg

Crashes down the Kemmelberg, 2007

Tomorrow Gent-Wevelgem is back and better than ever. Upgraded to UCI status and more hillier. It's often called a sprinters' classic with a flat finish.

The organizers added two more climbs totaling 8 but the real killer will be the Kemmelberg climb, ridden twice. A 20 per cent gradient with a ominous descent. I still remember the awful fall on the pave of Jimmy Caspar in 2007 where he received a broken nose, broken collarbone & broken wrist. In 2007 the Kemmelberg was dry and still it provided many crashes. Hell! ...if it rains.

As monstrous as it is, the Kemmelberg will be the dramatic focal point. And teams will be vying to get safely clear of it and importantly, get into contention for the final exciting gallop into Wevelgem.

Mar 25, 2011

Jens Voigt: Going for the Gusto!

Saturday is the Criterium International, the two day, three stage Spring race in Corsica. One of my favorites will be lining up at the start in Porto-Vecchio, Jens Voigt.

Jens in the final TT, 2008.

I call him the super rouleur. He's a capable, consistent all rounder who can ride well over flat, mountainous and short to medium time trials. His attacking strong style, maintaining a high tempo makes him one of the best rouleurs in the business. 

This race is well suited to him. He's won 5 editions (1999, 2004, 2007-09) mastering the traditional sprinting, mountainous and short time trail stages. The man turns 40 years old in September, and is back to try to break the record (he currently shares with Emile Idee & Raymond Poulidor). It would be a fitting swan song for him to set a new one with most victories. 

Let's not forget the other riders going for the gusto, too. My other favorites for this short but intense stage race are: Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ), Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) & Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo).

The Corsican Flag

Team Leopard-Trek is serious and want to win the whole shooting match. Following Jens into battle are: Schleck brothers, Jakob Fuglsang, Anders Lund, Maxime Monfort, Bruno Pires, & Fabian Wegmann. I'm happy to see Jens back, and it maybe a super challenge for him to win it, but I'm very sure he'll battle with... plenty of his old gusto!

Mar 24, 2011

E3 Prijs Vlaanderen

Here's last years exciting video of the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen won by Fabian Cancellara. Spartacus will certainly be highly motivated to repeat. In fact, I just found out that Tom Boonen is not riding it and his team is placing him into Sunday's Ghent-Wevelgem to maximize World Cup team classification points. Juan Flecha is racing Ghent-Wevelgem, too. So, unfortunately no rematch for last years top three classic men.

This Saturday, Cancellara will be ready and so will his competition. Look out for 40 year old Nico Rambo Eeckhout, and don't let his 'age' fool you. Two Canadians that can't be left out are Dominique Rollin (10th in Dwars) & Svein Tuft (20th in Dwars). Rollin is having a good early season, and I just can't help but think he's ready for a big classic win.

If there's any indication of a team that needs to win, it has to go to super team Garmin-Cervelo. Thor Hushovd & Heinrich Haussler will be two men hungry for cobble victory especially coming from a Milan-San Remo race that was hard to swallow!

Mar 22, 2011

Opening the door to Dwars

Tomorrow a Belgium door opens.

The 66th Dwars Door Vlaanderen will tantalize the riders with plenty of cobbles and steep climbs over 203 kms. An important warm up before grueling classics: E3 Harelbeke (Saturday), Ghent-Wevelgem (Sunday), Tour of Flanders (April 3rd).

That said, the Canadian SpiderTech team will be there, and I believe ready to do battle. Svein Tuft will be leading the young spider squad working for the sprinters, Keven Lacombe and Martin Gilbert.

The Canadian Pro Continental team is half way through their European education and they're producing very good results. The 3 days of West Flanders: Svein Tuft produced a solid 4th in the final TT. Nokere Koerse:   Sprinter, Keven Lacombe in 8th place. Giro di Sardegna: David Boily winning the mountain classification green jersey.

And for the young spiders ... cobble school begins tomorrow!

Steve Bauer leads the spiders...

Go Boys!

Mar 21, 2011

Shifting into Spring

My new very practical rubber bike mat,
Thanks Carolle!

I'm glad it's Spring & I'm more than happy to have my restored Marinoni. I finally took it out for a late Sunday afternoon ride and to re-awaken my dormant legs. I'm still trying to master the new shifting and I'm finding it tricky. All this means is for me to practice and I'm sure I'll get the hang of it. I haven't reached for my down tube shifters, what I call phantom shifting because I'm too busy on the brake levers. Hans showed me on my Ergopower control levers that by pressing a pushbutton opens the brakes so the wheels can be removed easily.

Carolle came up with a brilliant idea to protect the carpet from my dirty bike. She designed a clever rubber inner tube bike mat. Good thing that it's all black and it will hide most of the crud that I sometimes track in after a ride. All I have to do is wipe the dirt off with a damp cloth.

Last week, I received a little package I ordered from the UK and inside contained a pair of: bibshorts, arm warmers & gloves. I'm ready to shift into Spring!

My new Spring gear.

Mar 20, 2011

The Real Deal

Aussie Locomotive.

I never picked Matt Goss to win the exciting Milan-San Remo. He coyly positioned himself well riding in the slipstream with danger men: Fabian Cancellara, Philippe Gilbert & Allesandro Ballan.

I picked one of those last three for the win but I would never figure on Goss. A great race right throughout especially on the descent of the Cipressa as the impressive FDJ men: Steve Chainel & Yoann Offredo bolted away. I was cheering on the French pair and I thought maybe just maybe a Frenchman can somehow do it. 

But, an amazing sprint finish was the way to settle this great race as Gilbert & Cancellara were eclipsed by a faster locomotive. Matt Goss made history as the first Australian to win the Primavera. Goss will move up considerably in the HTC pecking order and he looks a real lethal threat for further classic victories... Flanders & Roubaix are coming.

Mar 19, 2011

My new Marinoni!

All studio images by Hans Sipma Photography

You may remember one of my last images of my 1987 Marinoni (above) fully dressed in Campagnolo Nuovo Record attire taken on my last ride up to Simon Fraser University. That was November 2010. Like a trusted friend I had my Marinoni right up to the last day before it's restoration. A milestone was about to come to an end.

The original...

With the help from Peninsula Cycles, I decided to send the frame back to it's birthplace, for a re-paint to Terrebonne, Québec the home of Cycles Marinoni. I'm the original and proud owner and I wanted to give my old friend a new look. I went for the new 2011: Campagnolo Veloce groupset (170mm 53/39 crankset, 12-25 Veloce 10 speed freewheel) and Khamsin wheelset. Of course, it would be a travesty for key original parts to sit idly by. So I kept my San Marco Rolls seat, NR seatpost, Cinelli Campione Del Mondo handelbar & stem.

When I picked it up, last week, I couldn't believe the transformation. The Marinoni medium blue is exquisite and I love the retro white banding. My friend Hans expressed interest to photographed my new steel lugged pride & joy. And he said, "Now don't go riding it in the rain before we shoot it!" Damn! I had to make sure not to get it dirty and not ride it until after the shoot was over.

Hans Sipma is one of Vancouver's most established commercial photographers and I was extremely happy of his offer. Friday morning was all fun and it was probably the only time I've had the pleasure to watch Hans in action. In fact, he weighed my bike on a hanging scale and it clocks in at just over 21 lbs. Not bad. I took so many images during the photo shoot that I will have a 'behind the scenes photo shoot' post forthcoming.

I just want to express my deep gratitude and a huge Thank You to: Damian, Les, Simon & the rest of the crew of Peninsula Cycles for helping me guide this project to a winning finish, Cycles Marinoni for the exquisite re-paint, groupset & wheelset, Hans for the striking images and lastly, to Carolle and Guy as my loyal support crew!

Enjoy these amazing images of my new Marinoni!

Mar 18, 2011

Milan-San Remo: My List of Puncheurs

Dominique Rollin...

Tomorrow's the big one. And there's a huge list of strong contenders for Milan-San Remo. I've added a few more riders, I believe, have a chance to win. The Puncheur is a rider able to push a large gear over flat or short, steep gradients. These are monumental days and one of these guys can punch a hole in the final kilometres of this race and be an instant hero. The battle line is drawn ...bring it on!

Fabian Cancellara...

Allesandro Ballan...

Philippe Gilbert...

Juan Antonio Flecha...

Thor Hushovd

Mar 17, 2011

Introducing: 3B's Blog

The new 3B's logo!

Stage 2 Bikes, Books & Beers Podcast is well under way and I'm happy to introduce the new: 3B's blog!

I'll still have the links to Vimeo and iTunes on my site but now, we will offer more detail product reviews and full posts on each podcast. It's new and we're excited to officially launch it together with the stage 2 Podcast!

Mar 16, 2011

Pointing the way

I had a good feeling after stage 6 of Tirenno-Adriatico that Cadel Evans could pull off the overall. He did that on stage 7's TT ... and more.

Evans' amazing win up into the scenic town of Macerata placed him into the new position as the man to watch. The next day, he clinched the overall by 11 seconds and took his first race of the season in front of Robert Gesink. I wasn't surprised that Monsieur TT, Fabian Cancellara won the stage.

Hard to believe that Evans last stage race win was back in 2008 of the Settimana Coppi Bartali.

He is on top of the international cycling world rankings sharing with Paris-Nice winner, Tony Martin. The Aussie certainly is setting his goals for this July at the Tour. Could it be his last chance at the big one? It may be, but I have a good feeling Evans will be there when it counts!

Keven Lacombe

Team Spidertechs' sense tingling...

Today was the semi-classic Belgium race, Nokere Koerse and Team Spidertech is fitting in nicely, thank you very much. Spider, Keven Lacombe sprinted to 8th overall giving the Canadian based team a huge positive result. I can see a win coming!

Mar 14, 2011

My Marinoni is Back & Devils on Wheels!

My beautifully restored 1987 Marinoni Columbus SL
with 2011 Campagnolo Veloce groupset, Khamsin wheelset.

When I receive the phone call from Les that my Marinoni is finally ready to pickup, I was ecstatic. Actually, I still am. I quickly went into delirium mode and I can only imagine my emotions feeling like Cadel Evans winning today's exciting Tirenno-Adriatico stage.

I had a feeling Evans huge stage victory was a good omen, at least that's what I believe. He's going great guns and he certainly put his stamp on the last few metres. I watched the live feed off Eurosport and saw how important it was for Evans to have exceptional teammates in George Hincapie and Allessandro Ballan. Those two were devils on wheels putting Evans in the right position to strike. He did, and with the last excruciating steep kilometre remaining, the Australian put the hammer down and won spectacularly!

Cadel Evans...
first BMC win of the season.

My new Marinoni...

The 2011 Campagnolo Veloce gruppo is a beauty to behold. The silver finish gives my retro blue the perfect vintage look. And, I entered into a new era of technology. I now will shift at the brake levers and I admit, I  will find myself at times reaching for my downtube shifters. I'll name that the phantom shift. The 2011 Campagnolo Khamsin wheelset is a cool black, and I can't wait to roll on them.

In hindsight, my Marinoni restoration was full of many details, liken it to a birth of a brand new bike. I had to give it plenty of time and patience. There were times that my patience was running out and I just wanted to ride my bike. However, as I pleasantly discovered, all good things take time. I'll be posting more pictures very soon and a detail test review.

Welcome back... Marinoni!

BMC's devils on wheels...

Checking out my new Veloce brake levers
on the turbo trainer. Notice yellow
pages in place of a block of wood.

Mar 13, 2011

A Very Good Wake Up Call

Thomas Voeckler,
dressed for success.

Paris-Nice was just the wake up tonic for a night of unrest, I told myself not to miss it. I couldn't help but think of yesterday's grisly stage full of calamities. This Race to the Sun it's not. The day was cold and wet with plenty of slick roads.

The Belgian Bullet does it again!

In fact, yesterday's horrific crash of Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) lying under the parked truck is not as bad as I feared. I still cringe watching it (last posted here). He suffered eight stitches to his face and no broken bones and sent home for rest.

For French National Champion, Thomas Voeckler another rain soak dangerous day wasn't going dampen his spirits. I'm very glad he portrayed that magical word, panache. A French rider riding aggressively in Paris-Nice is a joy to watch as he soloed to his second stage win. Tony Martin's overall victory alerted everyone that he's a real threat for the Tour.

One race was over and stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico started. I was already into my second cup of coffee as this exciting race turned for the worst for two escape riders: Andrei Amador (Movistar) & Davide Malacame (Quick Step). Wout Poels (Vacansoleil) caught the breakaway and snuck up on the two riders in the last hundred metres looking like he would steal it. No one could see, it happened so fast, that Philippe Gilbert was again the Belgian Bullet and blasted passed everyone to win the stage. I think he looks untouchable in Milan-San Remo. Cadel Evans finished in the chasing pack and with very strong support from his BMC teammates, he took the blue jersey away from Robert Gesink.

There's two stages left, the top five riders are separated by seconds and Evans never looked better for the overall... it promises to be a great finish!

Mar 12, 2011

Paris Nice: Steely Nerves.

Looking more like a classic race or boxing on wheels, today's stage 7 of Paris-Nice was more than epic.

Those haunting images in ugly conditions complete with crashes of all sorts could only favor the brave. Rémy Di Gregorio deserves high praise for winning a dramatic and at sometimes scary to watch stage. He switched to Astana from his under achieving time at FDJ and even thought about changing careers. Well, this win is amazing for the 26 year old Frenchman and I hope he doesn't even think of quitting cycling.

Because of the apocalyptic conditions, many had to quit. Frank Schleck & Peter Sagan abandoned. Classic specialist, Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Cervelo) fell and broke seven ribs and his dream for possible classic fame disappeared. His teammate, Heinrich Haussler crashed into a cement wall but finished the stage. Robert Kiserlovski slid under a parked truck and you can hear his bone chilling screams. Xavier Tondo slid before the finish line and ended up walking over it. Rémy Di Gregorio almost wiped out over the ice rink road, but today he owned the wet roads ...with steely nerves!

Yell for Cadel!

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

This morning, I woke up to catch the shenanigans of stage 4 in Tirreno Adriatico. I thought I would do myself a favor and wake up early (6:30 AM) to take it all in. I miss timed it & was too late.

Many stars made this stage possible; Hushovd, Gilbert, Cherel, Visconti...

No matter, I was further inspired with the twitter message from Cillian (irishpeloton), "You missed a great stage finish." I finally had the chance to watch the last 8 kms off YouTube and I saw a fantastic race to the finish in the village of Chieti.

Looking rather intimidating, Michele Scarponi attacked with 2 kms left and pulled away in his patented attack to score an impressive victory (he won the same stage last year). Not bad for a guy who has only six days of racing so far this season. I'm sure he's looking for revenge from last year's race where he lost valuable intermediate sprints points to winner, Stefano Garzelli.

I'm liking how Cadel Evans seems to always be in the mix. He attacked and put in a great challenge but finished a strong third behind the Little Prince is back, Damiano Cunego. The race turns interesting with new blue jersey holder, Robert Gesink in the precarious lead. Evans is second (10 secs) & Scarponi slots in third (25 secs).

Tomorrow's stage will be another 240 kms and more excitement is in store. Now, I'll have to remember the time change not to miss it. I sure as hell do not want to be late for this one!

Mar 10, 2011

Welcome Road Holland!

The Arnhem from Road Holland.

Guy dropped by this morning to have a chat for our next Bikes, Books & Beers Podcast set for next Thursday ... and to pass along something extra special!

I'm very excited to receive a brand new long sleeve jersey from our newest sponsor, Road Holland. The cycling company is founded by avid cyclist, Jonathan Schneider of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. You can buy their cycling jerseys here or just click on the Ad button.

The jersey is light and very well made from; merino wool & polyester. Wear it over a base layer, perfect to ward off a chilly ride. I have the classic road black with 'Road Holland' embroidered on the right shoulder. It's called 'The Arnhem' named after the Dutch city and notably has a striking orange raise piping wrapping around the left arm. Very classy.

I haven't seen Guy's short sleeve jersey, yet, but we'll be showing both of them on our Podcast next Thursday. And, very soon we'll take them on a road test to see how they perform complete with pictures for an upcoming post.

This is a cycling jersey made with the cyclist in mind. Fitting comfortably not too tight, with a full length zipper, and plenty of rear pockets. There's a very clever rear zipper pocket for valuables, too. One of the better made cycling jerseys I have the pleasure to own!

The Utrecht

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