Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Holiday Post

My best Christmas gift, painted by my daughter. I've just won the cyclocross race (that'd be the first!), and I'm off my bike with fireworks going off above me while my daughter and wife (superfans) chear. Amazing. I'm pretty sure my daughter does not feel she's second fiddle to my cycling. She loves being a part of the team, and knows I'll be her superfan/coach/mechanic if/when she gets into racing (I'm already a big supporter of her dance). In the very least, we'll have many cycling adventures. But probably not cycle-dance.

Its Monday and Christmas is over. Its nice to have a the week off to defragment, relax with my family, and get some bike related work done. Last Wednesday the majority of the Tall Tree crew met up to discuss plans for 2010. Some of our plans won't be unveiled just yet, but I can share most of them.

First, there will be an official Tall Tree club starting 2010. The details are being finalized now. We'll have them up on the website and here soon. Second, the Tall Tree team will be bigger. We've made some additions, and will have the roster up in the new year, complete with bios and more.

Here's a list of other developments:
  • Tall Tree 2010 Calendars will be available for purchase within about a week. Yes, this is kinda late, but we figured better late than not at all. The calendar is a compilation of the best photos from 2009 of TT riders, and will retail for about $12.
  • a large group of the team will race the Tour of Battenkill in New York in April. We'll have a masters team and Neil will race the pro event.
  • Tall Tree will field three teams at each of the Chico 24hr races
  • the team will attend all the Sunset Series mtb races
  • we'll ride Rideau Lakes, possibly (hopefully) on fixed gears(!)
  • we'll be working on a not-so-secret-super-secret Steelwool development process from early spring through the season. We'll document this process here once it gets rolling.
Tall Tree rides will continue, building on the success of 2009's events:
  • the Ride of the Damned will run in May in 5-person format
  • we'll recon an Ottawa-Tremblant-Ottawa backroad route I've deivsed, toward running a future event (probably about 275k each way....possibly 'epic')
  • the Quintuple Classic will return, with BBQ at Lac Leamy afterwards and family activities
  • the Fixed Frolic will recur, with a tweaked route and less wind
  • the Double Cross will likely run the same route again, but we'll follow the format more strictly
  • perhaps most exciting, we're in the early stages of planning a kick-off event for the cyclocross series.
  • a tweed run is on the backburner as a possibility
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this stuff.

As an aside, check out Competitive Cyclist's 'Bike of the Year':

Bike of the Year : During my November sojourn to Europe I took a side trip in Girona, Spain where I put in good miles with serious PROs and we hit some nasty roads and these guys were on bikes with 26/28c tires and fenders and old wheels and old bars (with only one exception, see above) and there was no sense that using equipment like this was noteworthy in the least. These guys were on bikes of an aesthetic that would get laughed at on the typical local US training ride. They told me they ride these bikes almost exclusively from Oct-March. Seeing that in real life turned my concept of PRO upside down because it was full-blown, first-hand exposure to the notion that a bike is a tool for a job.

This sort of bike -- the racy-yet-not-racy, piggish-but-not-piggish road bike (not a repurposed CX frame), with room for 28's and fenders, but somehow desirable for the fastest guys in the world -- THAT is the bike of the year. This is not Rivendell Reader spew. It's about the lesser-known needs of a racing cyclist. Nothing beeswax and no godforsaken cloth bar tape!

No kinda-big company champions the bike-as-tool-for-a-job concept quite like Independent Fabrication. The Independent Fabrication Club Racer -- mine will be in the Titanium option so it'll be rust-proofed, it'll ride more sweetly, and it won't be self-defeatingly heavy -- this is the bike of the year because it's designed and marketed as a do-everything steed and possessing that quality is newly important to me. This is a man's bike for a man's life.

Sound familiar? It is mildly amusing that this is a revelation, but I must admit, this format didn't really register for me either until I started doing way more road than mtb riding. Before then, I'd just ride my mtb if it was wet out...or get filthy. In case you don't know what I'm talking about right now, I'm connecting the 'Bike of the Year' to the bikes many of us have been talking about for some time now. Rodd was into the whole big tires and fenders thing years ago; his custom True North is just this kind of bike. So is Jamie's Salsa Casserole. My Steelwool Secteur 18 is the a dedicated 'allroad' bike that fits 28s and fenders, and 32 knobbies sans fenders. "A man's bike for a man's life," also great for women who like to ride in all weather conditions.

These are bikes for riding all day in whatever weather. They don't conform to the 'race bike' category, they are not superlight or super stiff. But there is far more to a bike than its weight or 'stiffness'. As Richard Sachs says, "There's no such thing as a 'race bike;' any bike is a race bike if you put it in a race and race it." Its better to have a bike that suits the majority of the riding you do, and fits. Sachs rode D2R2 in the same bike he races cross on. My Steelwool is much the same, albeit with calipers rather than cantis. More on this later....


Anonymous said...

Wow, why the knock on Rivendell? "Spew" is awfully negative (look it up). Riv explicitly says that its philosophy is not for the racer, but is for the majority of people who just want to ride bikes. Good thing those pros in Spain didn't have cloth tape on their bars or you hard-core hero racers would have to emulate that too. I wish I knew everything that is cool.

Matt Surch said...

Wow Anon, this is a pretty scathing comment, especially since the Rivendell wax and bar tape stuff was quoted from the Competitive Cyclist blog, not my words. I can't really understand how that could come across as mine, especially when speaking later on about big tires and fenders.

For the record, since its apparently not obvious, neither I or any of us TT riders are haters. Many of us are Rivendell fans. I personally took up sub-12hours after reading an a Peterson interview. I also like bees was quite a lot, though I don't care for cloth tape.

Also, calling someone, erroneously or not, a 'hard-core hero racer' isn't exactly taking the high road, its just essentializing name calling. Speed is relative, and people don't fit into these simple categories neatly. That's a good thing.

I thought the Competitive Cyclist blog post was interesting because it shows how sensible road bike design is creeping into mainstream road riders' consciousness. Granted, it reads like a case of the ol' keeping up with the Jones's, but that's not really the point. And Rivendell riders have their own economy of cool, just as 'racers' do.

Anonymous said...

love the painting


Pascii said...

I'm just relieved to see that "racing" bikes are finally being put in their place and that people are really opening their eyes to the whole "sensible road bike" idiom.
We truly are entering a new golden age for cycling.

Anonymous said...

I think a road trip to Quebec in Sept./Oct. for the 2 pro races should make the calendar, ride/watch, ride the course if possible or a nice ride along the coast and back to old quebec sounds good....chris

Matt Surch said...

I am all for that, but Hastings is smack in the middle of those. The first race is the Friday, then its Hastings on the Saturday and the second race on the Sunday. Bummer.

rob.parniak said...

And how about Competive Cyclist's climb of the year:

I climbed that thing last winter and couldn't agree more with the writer's opinion. Really, really tough climb. Also, I did it on my "sensible" steel road bike. That must make me, like, Competitive Cyclist's Man of the Year!

Kidding aside, I think the Competitive Cyclist site is excellent. A must read for retailers in my opinion.