Tuesday, August 13, 2013


There's a saying that you should never meet your idols, that they inevitably turn out to fall short of your expectations.  That's not true in the cycling business.

Jeremy SyCip of SyCip bicycles in his element.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thoughts on the Tragedy in Boston

It's been a while since I've posted.  In that time, I've been doing a lot of riding, a lot of work, and accepted a new job in San Francisco.  I'm excited to move out there with my wonderful girlfriend and start a new adventure.

In the midst of all this excitement, the horrible events at the Boston marathon, and the similar explosions in cities around the world underscored the danger of the times we live in.  But, as I watched live yesterday afternoon, dozens of first responders, uniformed and civilian alike, rushed to help and evacuate the injured without a second thought, and I was filled with a sense of strength, not fear.  I am inspired by Patton Oswalt's message that the good will always outnumber the evil.  In Boston, and cities around the world, cowards seek to use terror and fear to attack a world that they don't understand.  And they will fail. 

The Boston marathon celebrates incredible human achievement.  Of the tens of thousands of runners that toe the line, only one will win.  And yet, thousands of others challenge their minds, bodies and spirit to run, walk, or roll for 26.2 miles to find the limits of what they can do, and to challenge the limits of "possible".  These people are not cowards.  The thousands more spectators who celebrate and support these countless monumental achievements of the athletes are not cowards.  The people who live in cities around the world that regularly experience such acts of terror and continue with their lives are not cowards.  All of these people embody the greatest spirit of humanity: hope and resilience.  This is what the cowards fear, and what they seek to attack.

Today is Tuesday.  Tuesday is when my group of friends head out for our weekly leg-melting club ride, when for a few hours we can each pretend to be Phillipe Gilbert punching away up the Cauberg, Chris Froome attacking in the high passes of the Tour, or Mark Cavendish sprinting through the pack to take the win.  But really, we ride to push our bodies and minds to become faster, to push back the pain a little farther.  And in the end, each one of us, whether we reach the town limit sign first or last in the group, discovers a little more of who we are.  We find out every Tuesday afternoon that there are no climbs that can't be summitted, no headwind that can't be fought through, and no pain that is too great to break our will.  Cowards, like the ones that build bombs to kill and maim innocents, will never understand this.  Instead, they seek to inject pain, doubt and darkness into our minds.  For me, cycling is a way to battle those things, to exorcise these demons from my being.  It cleanses me, and renews my faith in the humanity within each of us.

Riding a bike doesn't change the world, but it helps me understand what it takes to change the world in my own small way.

Today, I will ride harder than I ever have.  I will grit my teeth as we sweep through the final uphill right hand turn and the town limit sign comes into view.  My legs will ache.  My lungs will burn.  I will rise out of the saddle, and pedal with every ounce of strength I have toward the finish.  And I will push the pain and darkness back a little further.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Keep on keepin on

Hey all, it's been a while since the last post.  In that time, I've been trying to keep logging miles (hard to do with the arctic weather we've been having), riding the rollers a lot (hard to do because it bores me to tears, and that mixes with my sweat and makes my eyes hurt), keep up with my research and teaching at the Naval Academy (hard but fun, and I get to work with great people), and trying not to eat too much (hard to do, so I'm not).

I've got some cool ideas on articles to write, I bought a new bike (well frame and gruppo) that will be my rain bike that I'm excited to post about, and I'm looking forward to the spring season (both mine and the pros) getting started.

In the meantime, while I dig myself out of winter hibernation, head over to the Durham Cycles blog to check out their take on things.  In it, Dave, Geoff and Scottie share some unique thoughts on a broad range of topics ranging from saddle height, bike geometry, and the pros and cons of different wheel types.  Also, they gave my an award.  Rad.

Stay tuned, things are about to pick up again.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Saddle bags do not look pro

Let's face it, a lot of people ride around with giant saddlebags dangling off the back of their saddles.  Besides ruining the lines of the bike, it rubs against your legs, and it swings back an forth like a...well you know.  Seriously, it's an embarrassment.

Seriously, what are you doing?
If I see anyone riding around with a giant saddlebag, I am just going to assume they also have Trucknutz on their car.

Obviously, you've guessed that I don't like saddlebags.  However, since going full time on my 'Nago, one of the problems is that it only comes with 1 bottle cage mount.  Now, this looks totally pro, but forces me to carry my second bottle in my jersey's center pocket.  This isn't really an issue, but in the interest of weight distribution, I had to move stuff out of my pockets.

Thus, I recently stumbled upon a tidy and totally pro looking solution using an old nylon watch strap.  A double layer of electrical tape is wrapped around the folded tube's circumference to prevent damage from the saddle and seatpost.  This also means I always have 8 to 10 inches of electrical tape on hand, which is really useful.  The nozzle is threaded onto the CO2 cartridge until it just tightens but doesn't puncture.  It's then held in place by a small piece of electrical tape (see a pattern here?  I love this stuff). Finally, a small piece of electrical tape covers the open end of the nozzle to prevent road debris from getting in there.

So far it's proven really robust, with no movement even over rough roads.  Also the whole package is very narrow, so there's no rubbing during pedaling.  Nice.

Rad and pro.  Perfect combo.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Acciaio e Carbonio: Colnago Reborn

With the demise of the Ksyriums for the time being, and the Fuji taken apart (and sold), my need to tinker turned to the Colnago. The Fuji was my race bike, so I've decided to race the Colnago in the DC area crits next year instead. This meant shedding some grams, sharpening steering, improving the aerodynamics and most importantly, looking fantastic.  All these goals were accomplished by swapping to a threadless carbon fork and some full carbon deep aero wheels.

"Deep aero wheels and carbon fork on a vintage Colnago is crazy!" you might exclaim and you'd be right. But as my girlfriend will tell you, I've never let something like that stop me. The new wheels and fork have changed the demeanor of the bike in some very noticeable ways. It's not a night and day difference, the essence of the bike-the long haul grand tourer-is stil there, it doesn't constantly chomp at the bit to go to threshold the way the Fuji did. But just beneath the surface there is a darker, more sinister undercurrent to the ride that wasn't there before. I find myself jumping out of the saddle to shoot for the top of climbs that I would normally spin up. Maybe it's the wooshing of the carbon wheels, maybe it's the slightly muted stiffness of the carbon fork, or maybe it's the slightly more aggressive saddle/bar position. Who knows. If the old version was an Aston Martin DB9, the Colnago 2.0 is a DBS.

I'm also not going to pretend that I'm not a vain roadie (because I am). Looks are important, especially when the frame is vintage. I know that this bike isn't everyone's cup of tea but to my eye, the mix of old and new, steel and carbon, the naked frame with visible brazing and modern drivetrain is just sublime. It looks as at home whether I'm wearing Rapha and out for 200km of discovering new roads or in full team kit chasing prems at a local crit. Not too shabby for a frame that's older than me and was destined for the scrap heap.

A few more snapshots:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Unsinkable Ships...

...sometimes sink.  A nasty pothole on a rainy commute home put a big dent in the of my rear Ksyrium SL.  The wheel wasn't even out of true, and I made it the rest of the 10 miles home without any issues.


For now, I've moved the ROLs over to the Colnago, and the Ksyrium will go in for repair soon enough.  The Fuji is is disassembled down to just the frame, fork and bars awaiting a new parts group and wheelset (DA or Red, Zipp or Enve...yeah gonna be a dream bike build).

Cleaned up real nice-like
Artsy shot of the group for eBay.

In other news, my buddy Ryan over in Italy just bought himself a sweet rig, a Legend Fedala.  Handbuilt Marco Bertolleti steel, Rival/Force mix, Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels.  He says his search for Italian Steel was inspired by my Colnago. Right on.  Congrats, Ryan.  Go forth and crush miles, my son.

Al white, so Euro.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Turning 29, Eastern Shore, and DCCX

So I turned 29 a few days ago, and that was a revelation.  For me, it was a chance to reflect on the good  things in life, as well as the bumps in the road.  And the not so good things in my life really are just that: bumps.  Overall, can't complain about the way things are going.

I decided to gift myself with a long Saturday ride out in the Eastern Shores of Maryland, and man was it gorgeous.  I drove out to Tuckahoe State Park and rode out to Dover, DE and back, making a figure eight.  On the way out (W-E) I had a good tailwind and was flying.  The way home was into the wind and much, much slower.  The Colnago performed beautifully, and aside from a flat right at the turn around in Dover, it was a perfect ride.  The Strava of the ride is below.

Today, I drove out to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in DC to see my friend Erin Silliman race.  Erin's an old high school friend of mine who picked up cycling maybe 5 or 6 years ago, and in that time has rocketed to racing Cat-1 on both road and cyclocross.  Today, she raced hard and finished on the podium alongside (among other all-star women) Laura vah Gilder.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stick around to watch Erin's boyfriend Greg race.  Some pictures I took from today's race (sorry, all I had was my phone with me)

Erin on her way to the podium.  Greg is over there on the right in the blue shorts cheering her on.

No cross race is complete without some tutus

Nice wheels, E!

This is steeper than it looks.

Little downhill that some people got air on.

Lap/finish area.