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The White Stuff

Oy fricken Vay, man. It continues. This is out my front door. Yesterday, blissful sun and the beginnings of sun tan lines from my helmet straps on my head, to another round of the shite. Rally Sport bikes are getting abused by me.

This AM and this week I went extremely hard. Got to get the bad out. Stazio this weekend but still up in the air for me. I feel great but do not want to deal with knuckleheads and their twitchiness this early on in the season. I do not need to end up sliding into a curb at 30 MPH. That course is fast, somewhat fun, but always has sand and tight corners by the ball fields. These hour efforts in March do not matter. Mol matters. Short track and and having fun matters. My single speed matters. Putting smiles back on my face early in the morning matters so I can come home human and light up my wife and boys faces and not be a surly bitch. Combat the imbalance with balance.

Single Speed Training

Per my post below, sort of cool timing. From Cycling News:

Single speed advantages

Does training on a single speed bring any particular advantages? Obviously riding a single speed leads to pushing harder at times and spinning faster at other times, but does this bring any benefits to the rider when he transfers back to his geared bike?

Terry

Scott Saifer replies:

The single speed does force you to push hard on the pedals, developing power which you can use on your geared bike, and force you to spin higher cadences, which can help you develop your spin for sprinting or routine riding depending how bad you spin is to start with. If you went out and deliberately trained the same variety of cadences on a geared bike, you'd get the same benefit.

The major benefit of the single-speed is that it is different and so can keep training fresh and interesting for a few more hours now and then. I would not suggest using the single speed exclusively. If it is a fixed gear as well as a single speed, avoid spinning out on down hills. The single speed does not help make you smoother when the pedals are driving your feet, but only when you feet are driving the pedals.

Depth

Post Japan, things are going fairly good again. I am in love with my SS and am finding it hard to go on longer road rides when that bike just feels so good.

In the gym I have been going deep on the weights and core. Can't say that I am going to have a six-pack and all that (i think I'm skinny enough) but I can feel the difference in the depth of my breathing just by having given other parts of my body some attention. I have been going fairly deep on the leg presses as well to develop a deeper strength which I haven't done since...well a long time let's say.

So to see where rubber meets road on all of this, I have been doing this route which is great on the SS. Climb Lee Hill, bomb Left Hand Canyon to Heil Ranch, loop that puppy and re-climb up Old Stage back home. Perfect. Mainly as it is all so close to my house. Climbing LH on the single is tough with the 32 x 16 but perfect to sort of continue that core leg strength work I have been doing. Sometimes it feels like I am going to blow the chain right off that puppy but she's hanging in there.

I can not wait for heat. Open jerseys, blaring sun, warm muscles.

Japan killed me...

...A week of travel abroad and I feel like a bloated 'business guy'. Life is interesting for me like that. I kinda do everything at 7 kazillion miles an hour. Family. cycling, work. Don't know any other way. I'll probably have a heart attack so violent some day my heart'll blow out of my chest like that scene in Aliens.

Anyhoo, my pathetic run in Yokohama after traveling across the world did me very little good but my ride back at altitude with G Pent yesterday upon my return made me feel a bit better. Back in the gym today with my beautiful wife. Time to let the jet-bloat drain.

Belgium 2008.

The designer should be fired...

...for missing this glaring f-up. The Upside down/half obscured Discovery on their uni's looks horrible. Who missed that one?

Photo by Velonews.com

"Sven ist de top!"

Yes, those are lyrics from the Sven Nys theme song you'll hear in this video. I do not know weather to laugh, vomit or sing along. There is a GREAT article in last month's Cycle Sport magazine of Sven's "Supporter Club". This is a video from the same club a local TV station did.

"Sven is de Top! Oh yeah! Blah blah bla biddy blah!"

De TGV van Baal...

Quite an advertisement for the 07 WK's:

Many of you have probably already seen that...

Katie's secret weapon

Sorry for the delay in posts. Been in Japan working my arse off. This is hilarious:

Schools warn of possible Spike Shooter's side effects

By BRIAN NEWSOME THE GAZETTE

At least three Pikes Peak region high schools are warning students and parents about the potential dangers of a potent new energy drink.

The warning comes after a few teenagers sought medical care after drinking Spike Shooter, an 8-ounce can that contains more than three times the caffeine of a home-brewed cup of coffee and several herbal stimulants.

Doherty High School has banned the drink on campus and persuaded a nearby 7-Eleven convenience store to remove it from the shelves, said Principal Jill Martin. Several Doherty students experienced shortness of breath, heart palpitations and nausea after just one can, she said.

Spike Shooter, produced by Colorado Springs-based Biotest Laboratories, hit convenience stores in mid-December. It’s also sold in California and over the Internet. It contains no calories or sugar and is advertised as a “high-speed energy drink.”

Tim Patterson, chief executive officer of Biotest, said he’d heard of no such problems until seeing an e-mail one school sent out to parents. He characterized the warnings as “hysteria.”

He said the drink is not intended for teenagers — or overuse — and people should heed the labels.

Photo from Velonews
The can contains three warnings about its potency, including one that says it should not be consumed by anyone under 18 or the elderly. A label for recommended use says people should start with half a can to “determine tolerance,” not to exceed one can daily.

“It was an unintended consequence. We don’t make any products targeted to young teenagers,” he said, adding, “It’s really difficult to control abuse of a product.”

Still, he said the company is considering a commercial that would act as a public service announcement to remind people of its potency.

Jared Stevenson, 17, never dreamed a caffeinated beverage could cause him so much discomfort when he downed a can of it Feb. 12.

“I heard about it through friends. They were ravin’ about how awesome and cool it is and how hyper you could get off of it,” he said.

The Aspen Valley High School junior became short of breath. He grew anxious and jittery, and his heart raced. After a bus ride to Pikes Peak Community College, where he’s enrolled in a vocational program, school employees called an ambulance.

Paramedics said his pulse was extremely high. He was sent home with his parents for six hours of observation, and later vomited.

Martin, at Doherty, said several of her students experienced similar symptoms late last week. One girl was transported by ambulance to be checked out at the hospital. Another was “so shaky and messed-up” she was wheeled to the front office in a wheelchair. A third student was taken to the hospital from home, she said.

“One of the things they’re saying is it’s an energy drink, and I’m tired, and this is going to help me in school,” she said.

She plans to send out an e-mail to parents about the drink today. The drink sells for $2.19 a can at another 7-Eleven.

Aspen Valley, in Academy School District 20, and Liberty High School, also in D-20, sent a note to parents warning them about the beverage.

The fruit-flavored, carbonated drink was released in California in October with no complaints, Patterson said, and similar products have been available at stores such as GNC for years. Before being introduced as a drink, Biotest sold a Spike pill.

The company’s target demographic is adults ages 18-34, he said. It advertises on MySpace.com, a social Web site, and KILO-FM 94.3, a local rock station.

Katie Compton, a national cyclocross champion sponsored by Spike, said she enjoys the drink but concedes it should be used in moderation.

“Kids, they make mistakes and they drink too much and they over do it,” she said.

For Stevenson, the scare was enough to almost entirely quit caffeine. He said he now sticks to water and tea. Two friends who had planned to chug a couple of cans to get a buzz refrained when they saw what happened to him. Stevenson’s message to would-be Spike drinkers: Know your limits. “I didn’t know, and I paid for it.”

CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0198 or bnewsome@gazette.com

Single'n in the mucky muck....

The team did a road ride today but after the piss rain ice snow dusting we got and woke up to, this AM, I said no thanks, smiled and called up my team mate who I knew would be jonesing for a single spin. Brad and I hooked up a mini epic that saw us do some fairly heavy climbing (about 4K) going from No Bo up Lee Hill and traversing up Bowman's to Sunshine to Poorman's to some more epic shit. Multiple hours of bliss. It was rad.

I spent some time reworking the single and I can not envision riding any other bike. I've had this frame since 96 ( no poop) and gave it some love with some super stiff cranks and BB, wheels, brakes etc. I am running a more sensible 32 x 16 gearing on this which is just climb-able although the watts must be out of hand I am pushing. My weekly training has been going great and all the wight work I have been doing made me feel super human today even with a slight cold. The irony of the crap weather we have had is all the core I have been doing which is such an afterthought around these parts as the weather is typically like buttah. Even in February.

Anywhoo, for you bike sluts, here's my old Dean with some new decals and some new parts to make me spin nicer.




Geared to Grow

This was the article I mentioned previously I read on the SF to DEN leg of United on their in flight magazine Hemispheres. It is a fairly interesting article and can be applied to lots of great efforts to research trends and push your product line and company to maintain its market leader stance as Shimano really needs to do in the post Armstrong industry slump:

Geared to Grow

In 2002, the American bicycling industry was cranking. Lance Armstrong’s comeback from cancer to dominate the Tour de France was inspiring thousands of bikers to ditch their old-fashioned clunkers and trade up to high-tech models costing $5,000 and more. Few companies benefited more than Shimano.

The Intel of the bike industry, Shimano is a Japanese company that manufactures the crucial components in high-performance bicycles. Its shifters, cranks, and derailleurs propel the top models from Trek, Giant, Raleigh, and other brands. The more multithousand-dollar models sold—TCT Carbon/ZR 9000s, TCR C0s, and others—the bigger Shimano’s bottom line. And at $1.4 billion in 2005 sales, that bottom line is the biggest in the business.

But what would happen when Armstrong retired? A Bicycling Magazine survey had revealed a troubling trend: While the number of “enthusiasts” had more than tripled in the previous decade, the number of casual bikers had dropped nearly 50 percent. “The total number was dying off,” says Dave Lawrence, the marketing manager for Shimano’s American bicycle components division. “We weren’t creating new customers.”

Research had shown that there were more than 160 million Americans currently not riding bikes—an enormous potential market. Why weren’t they cycling? And how could they be persuaded to get back in the saddle? The surprising answers inspired Shimano to design a new bicycle and try to shape the future of the bicycle industry.

Learning a New Language / Shimano knew it was expert at preaching to the converted—the cycling cognoscenti who had no qualms about wearing garish-colored, skintight shorts. But, recalls Shimano American project coordinator Shannon Bryant, it didn’t know how to start a conversation with newcomers.

The “interpreter” the company chose was Ideo, an innovation and design business based in Palo Alto, California. The decision to go with a company known for designing Amtrak’s Acela express train, Marriott’s TownePlace suites, and an ideal shopping cart initially raised a few eyebrows: Shimano didn’t want an object, after all; it wanted a solution.

Ideo’s unique research procedure convinced the doubters. Instead of hosting focus groups or sending out thousands of surveys, Ideo’s team of industrial anthropologists observed and questioned about 50 people in their homes during the course of their day. “We are good at understanding—at a more profound level than they can articulate—how they feel about a given area or topic,” says David Webster, the Ideo manager who directed the Shimano project. “We spend time getting them to show us the things they do for leisure, rather than sitting them in a room and saying, ‘Hey, why don’t you get on a bike?’”

The other deal-clincher was Ideo’s invitation to Shimano personnel to join the project team—literally. As part of this “radical collaboration,” Lawrence and another Shimano manager decamped from the corporate headquarters in Irvine, California, to Palo Alto for months at a time.

As self-confessed bicycle nerds, Webster, Lawrence, and the rest of the Ideo team knew they had to suspend judgment of their noncycling subjects. Nonetheless, they couldn’t help betting that the usual reasons—heaviness and laziness—were why Americans weren’t biking. As it turned out, recalls Webster, “that wasn’t the case.”

In fact, the findings were unexpected. “It was one of those ‘Eureka!’ moments,” says Bryant. “We had never thought of it that way.” Adds Lawrence, “That’s why the process with Ideo was so important. We got to the essence of why people didn’t ride.” The most surprising insight was not that people didn’t like bicycling. On the contrary, they loved it. Or, rather, they loved their memory of it. “Everyone rode a bike as a kid, and we didn’t have a single interview where they had a bad memory,” says Lawrence. “Every single person had a smile.”

The strand that all the subjects shared was a memory of a simple pleasure, an elemental enjoyment. “That was the biggest insight, because that is at odds with anything you could access within cycling at the moment,” says Webster. “If someone walks into a bike shop with that image in mind, it’s immediately contradicted. Usually, there will be a man in the shop who wants to talk about technology and performance and give you loads of options about gears that you don’t understand.” As a result, Webster says, “these people were just turned off by cycling. They weren’t seeing a way to enjoy a bike the way they used to.”

With that revelation, the research team stopped viewing its market the way it used to. Although the team was disappointed that people just wanted to putter around rather than become fitness freaks, the group realized it had tapped into a potential gold mine. Lawrence recalls thinking, “Wow, that opens up a much bigger market than we had thought.”

Back to the Future / But how do you reach a market that emphatically rejects what you’ve been offering? The initial answer: Design a new bicycle— one that looks to the past to change the industry’s future.

There was just one glitch: Shimano doesn’t sell bikes; it sells components. To realize its vision of bringing cycling back to the masses who had abandoned it, Shimano would have to convince the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that this was no mere marketing gimmick. “We didn’t want it perceived as Shimano thinking up a new thing and forcing it on the industry,” says Lawrence.

The team set out to build a prototype that would epitomize what the research suggested people wanted: something simple, comfortable, affordable, and always ready to use; something traditional yet innovative; something designed less for fitness and more for fun.

Any and all ideas were considered. An attachment enabling you to Velcro the bike to your car. Built-in coffee-cup holders on the handlebars. Built-in reflecting lights on the tires. A built-in flower vase. A bell with electronic ring tones that could be downloaded and customized. At one point, Webster recalls, “we were riding in the alley behind our office on a bicycle with a steering wheel.”

The finished Coasting bike, as the new model was called, doesn’t look at all outré or even particularly innovative. The handlebars are high enough to enable the rider to sit upright, and the crossbar is low enough to let the rider step naturally into the seat. On the whole, it’s a bike that blends into the background.

The difference is in the details. All the mechanics—the gear and brake cables, the drive train—are completely enclosed. You don’t see them and don’t have to wear trouser clips or worry about chain grease on your leg. The three-speed shift system is powered by a dynamo in the front-wheel hub that senses your speed and automatically shifts up or down and defaults to first gear whenever you stop. The brakes are the same foot-operated ones—just pedal backward—that were standard on bikes everyone had as kids. The whole thing weighs less than 30 pounds and costs less than $400.

Shimano presented the prototype to Raleigh, Giant, and Trek in late 2005 and encouraged them to tailor it to their own company style. “You have to think of design as a tool to influence rather than control,” says Webster. “We had to provide the OEMs with a reference design but then let them build their own versions.”

Raleigh, for instance, designed a front rack that can hold a pannier or basket for a small amount of groceries. Trek created a peel-on color kit in six shades and a pocket in the seat for storing a cell phone, wallet, sunglasses, and lipstick. Giant added a cell phone holder, an MP3 holder, a front handlebar bag with a headlight, and a rack in the back equipped with a foam-protected attaché case for a laptop and a file folder.

Meanwhile, word of the Coasting bike was spreading among dealers. “We were being asked about this project before the bike hit the street,” says Chris Speyer, the director of group product development for Raleigh America. And when dealers finally got a chance to test the prototypes, the OEMs knew they had a potential winner. “People were riding them around in the hall at TrekWorld, and they all got off smiling,” says Chad Price, the pavement-bike product manager for Trek Bicycle.

Expanding the Experience / Designing the product was just the first step in revitalizing the bicycle industry. “When we design, we try to think not just about the object, but also about the experience the object enables,” says Webster. The Coasting momentum would come to a screeching halt unless the retail experience was also redesigned.

Ideo equipped team members with hidden cameras and had them follow ordinary people into bike shops. The results were revealing. Consumers often were confused by the myriad offerings: road bikes, racing bikes, hybrid bikes, comfort bikes, recumbent bikes, and mountain bikes, just to name some basic categories. Many were intimidated by the staff as well. “It’s scary to see this shaved-leg, extremely fit cycling guru who talks in jargon and technical terms and say, ‘I just want a bike,’” says Ray Keener, the president of Growth Cycle, a producer of training programs for the bicycle industry based in Boulder, Colorado­.

The typical reaction? “They run out of the store screaming,” says Jay Graves, who owns The Bike Gallery, the largest independent dealer in Portland, Oregon.

To give bike aficionados a taste of their own medicine, the Coasting team gave OEM representatives and a select group of dealers an assignment: Go to a cosmetics counter and buy $50 worth of products. The memory of facing down a battery of face creams and hair gels still makes Trek’s Price cringe. “I was genuinely uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to ask for or where to start,” he says. “It was exactly the same feeling I saw in the people in the Ideo videos—‘I have no idea what I’m doing here.’”

Obviously, not every bicycle dealer has the time or the resources to send sales staff in search of high-end grooming products. But Shimano aims to make dealers more sympathetic to—or at least aware of—the needs of noncyclists through online training and DVDs. If sales staff can transfer their enthusiasm from carbon composites to the wider world of cycling, the hypothesis goes, then they can speak the same language as Coasting customers. “You’re not selling equipment; you’re selling the sport of cycling,” explains Keener, whose Growth Cycle created the training program. “The gear is a means to an end.”

Bikes and Ice Cream / The final and perhaps most crucial component of the Coasting campaign will be ensuring that customers have a good experience riding the bike. Safety was an enormous concern of the people interviewed by the Coasting team. “They’d say, ‘I don’t care what the bike is like. If you expect me to get on a road with those crazy SUVs, you must be kidding,’” says Webster.

Fortunately, the number of protected pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians has multiplied in recent years. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with nearly 14,000 miles of rail-trail paths completed and another 14,000 miles in the works. (Rail trails are former railway lines that have been converted to paths for recreation.) More and more cities are adding greenways and designated safe routes to schools. “Had we tried 10 years ago to do a program like Coasting, there wouldn’t have been enough trails,” says Shimano’s Bryant. “Today, there are so many more safe places to ride.”

Shimano’s next push is to inform casual cyclists of the routes’ existence. A Web site, coasting.com, will serve as a community bulletin board with information about routes and rides in 15 cities around the U.S. Authorized Coasting dealers are required to submit at least one Coasting-specific activity in their area.

Portland is one of the cities chosen for the initial Coasting campaign, kicking off this month. Jay Graves has plenty of ideas for attracting customers, including providing Coasting bikes for monthly First Thursday tours of the city’s art gallery district or holding demo days when people can stop by for a free tryout. “On other days, we’ll do a bakery tour or an Audubon tour or an ice cream shop tour on Coasting bikes,” he says. “People think ‘bikes and ice cream,’ and they’re in heaven.”

Will the Coasting campaign persuade 160 million noncycling Americans to start peddling and relive their childhood dreams? With Armstrong’s retirement from competition, this may be the best hope for the American bicycle industry not just to survive but also to thrive. OEMs are optimistic. The Coasting model, says Price, “looks like it will be our No. 1 bike by volume by the end of 2007.”

Catherine Fredman has collaborated on five best-selling business books, including Use the News with Maria Bartiromo and Direct From Dell with Michael Dell.