So it appears that François from famed boutique tire manufacturer FMB has a new tread pattern releasing for this cross season. It is a pure mudder and clearly going after the jugular of the Rhino. What I know of this tire is as follows…
- Called the Super Mud
- Will be available in either 32 or 34mm widths
- Will be available in standard cotton casing or the ‘pro’ (pink) casing on special request basis
- Likely available late mid-season (October/November…in time for mud)
- Pricing not known yet.
My friend Michel snapped some photos of the molds before they went to production as you see here.
Building a startup is…well let’s just say it forces you and your family to be lean. And I mean bone-skinny lean. Ha! And that means saving pennies anywhere you can like driving less/riding more….which I’d probably do anyways….but it is great motivation to keep the car in the garage and ride downtown on one of the 300 sunny days on average Boulder offers.
I had one of these massive laptop backpacks for years. Probably given to me by a previous employer. Way too big, falling apart and definitely not ergo enough. That’s when I saw this guy riding his commuter downtown and had a double-take as to what was on his back: Thule?? Wait. Don’t they just make car racks?? Apparently not!
Sure enough I’d see more and more of them popping up over town. Slimmer, better profiled packs that look like they ‘molded’ to the back better and were smaller in size than my monster pack I’d been using for so long. My impulsivity took over and I scored one to be one of the cool kids. The pack I kept seeing I came to find is the Thule “TCBP-117 25 Liter MacBook Backpack”. Ya, a mouthful! The pack is jammed with features though….and as you’ll see…great ones for those of us with bad eyesight.
First, their spec list is this which I robbed from their website:
- Padded, integrated laptop compartment holds up to a 17” MacBook Pro or PC.
- Heat-molded, crush proof SafeZone™ compartment protects your sunglasses, iPhone, portable electronics and other fragile gear.
- Die-cut EVA shoulder straps with mesh covering provide ventilation and breathability.
- Compression straps customize the bag to the size of your load
- Organization compartment keeps cords and other accessories at hand but out of the way.
- Multiple grab-and-go handles allow for easy transport.
- Side pocket keeps a water bottle close at hand
- Lightweight, durable fabric is also water-resistant.
Here’s my sort of detailed breakdown of the pack…
Smaller profile and compression straps keep the pack better positioned on the back.
I guess you can consider this a scoop…but the reality is ‘cross is such a small world that even the Atlantic Ocean itself isn’t big enough for crossers like me in the US to understand what our friends in Za Motherland are up to these days. And what one of them is up to is ground breaking as far as I am concerned for our sport.
Ben Berden will be coming to race in the United States exclusively this fall. Ben has made some sorties in the U.S. in the past (Cross Vegas as an example) but now he’ll be coming to pin on numbers in the USGP and other UCI races from coast to coast for a full fall schedule.
Ben has an interesting past. His palmares is a long and storied one. A true child of Belgium from Limburg where they drop the n’s off the end of words (say: Erwin Verveck-e and Ben Berd-e) just as fast as their riders drop the rest of the international peloton in ‘cross races. I have nearly 300 bootlegged ‘cross DVD’s from way back in the day and I studied Ben, almost fanatically. He is a classic diesel with hands on hoods, butt in saddle, powering incessantly…except when he takes his hands are off the bar to clear North American riders who are getting lapped. Ahem…
In one of my favorite books,Van Thys Tot Nys (see picture left), you can get an expose of how Ben grew through the ranks, with victories in the Beloften (‘Beloft-e’) or U23 class in 1996. He sky-rocketed from there with an onslaught of victories that was truly remarkable.
Ben also has a past that involved PED’s which may have attributed to some of that sky-rocketing success. He was busted for EPO use in 2005 and served his suspension. He returned to racing two years later with a new attitude…and a boat load of new tattoos.
Ben will be riding for a Oregon-based bike manufacture Stoemper Bicycles this fall, a company we all know little about, the stealth company that they are! The more I learn, I’ll report. Maybe we can get Ben out for a Wednesday Worlds on his trip through Boulder…
Stoemper Photo by Chris Milliman
As I hit publish on this post, it’s June 20th and a snow squall is ripping through the high country. Unbelievable. I don’t think we’ll be doing mad altitude rides for some time. But alas, as they say here in Colorado: “Don’t like the weather? Just wait five minutes…” True dat.
Summer is here and I’m exploring in so many ways. The longer hours in the saddle give me the opportunity to think about where I am on so many levels. Family, career, fitness, racing…it all gets explored. But none as much as the exploring being done on our back roads here. There’s a lot of contention these days going on between cyclists and cars. I’ve written about it before and the tragic death last week of a cyclist near my home, on a road I use 3 x per week (UPDATE: and now investigation of the driver’s prior road rage vs cyclist incident) has me trying to stay clear of pavement, put on bigger slick tires and cruise the insanely beautiful back roads here within 3 minutes of my house. 3 minutes to the dirt worm hole transporting me safely away in the mountains. Maybe a car seen every hour or so. And so I load up the Garmin 500 to record the goodness I’ll post to Strava and I roll. And roll. And roll.
My rule for time ad infinitum has been to put the cross bikes away in January so I re-fall in love with them come August to re-amp me for cross season. But this year…maybe because I’m getting old and crusty…I said “what the heck for?” I love riding my Ridleys why would I want to sacrifice that? I love the way I am positioned on them, the way my hands and arms fit like puzzle pieces into the Ritchey bars and SRAM hoods. You ALL know that zen when you are in perfect syncopation with your ride. Bottle cages get thrown on and I am on my way. I should say, bottle cages and some sensible wheels and rubber for the longer distances and then I’m on my way. I have this EPIC 10 year old pair of hand built wheels: Chris King hubs, Mavic Open Pro Ceramics and 14/15g double butted spokes. Probably one of the favorite things I own to be frank. Finally after a decade and 10’s of 1000’s of miles, the King rear hub said ‘enough!’. To my fault, I NEVER serviced it. To King’s credit, it lasted that long. My good friends at Chris King components sent me an entirely new set of internals which Katie at Boulder Cycle Sport installed and it’s now a completely new hub again. Another 10,000 miles on it please!
Strapped on these hoops is new rubber. A good friend to the Boulder Cycle Sport ‘cross team is Donn Kellogg who is reviving the Clement brand (more goodness later this summer). He has us dialed in on some great training rubber. I’ve been putting copious miles on the Strada LGG road tire (both 28c and 25c) and they feel fantastic. Confidence in the corners and compliant in terms of the tpi being used by Clement (will source the exact tolerances of this road tire soon). I’m running them nice and low…way lower than my normal road rubber. It helps when on these dirt road slogs for sure.
And so I ride. I ride the open, endless and epic dirt roads that call my name and keep me safe. Unbelievable vistas of the Rocky Mountains you literally gasp of the insanity of how beautiful it is. You can not help but be constantly motivated to crest the next hill so you can check out the next valley and its view. I do these rides often alone, or when I can with my team mate Pete Webber, who has been training on these back roads for 20 years. The stories are priceless: Epic bonks, torrential thunder and snow storms in the middle of summer, getting lost with no food, bears, mountain lions, farmers and shotguns…it’s why we live here. Here’s a phenomenal example of what I am talking about. Shorter one but epic nonetheless:
Also, you think with 20+ years of serious cycling and racing under your belt and you think can handle your bike. Not true. Nothing compares to training on dirt roads at speed when trying to corner on skinny tires over kitty litter-like dirt. It’ll teach you tolerances of what you can and can not (or maybe should not) do. I consider it the equivalent of warming up with two baseball bats if you understand the analogy. Come ‘cross season when the sew-ups are back on the bike, I’ll hopefully rail better than normal given what I put myself through to stay smooth and clean during these training rides. Pushing the limits but finding the balance point. It’s also helping chase the demons of last year when not having enough experience on dirt with skinny tires led to ‘that sound’ of my clavicle breaking. Always learning…
Stay safe. Ride the less trafficked stuff near you if you can. You’ll thank me later.
It’s been a while to say the least. A long while since words meaningful enough to be shared out in the wild have swirled around in my brain but alas my experience this weekend was impactful enough to blow out the mental cobwebs and assemble something worthwhile to say out loud. And what it all relates to is….kids.
This past weekend something amazing happened. The Valmont Bike Park opened and was flooded with countless kids…and adults who want to be kids again. All were flowing through this multi-million dollar park on its amazingly designed single-track, technical features, jumps and of course the unique and insane vistas only Boulder can provide. It’s real. It rad. It’s free. My son literally kept asking: “Dad, do we have to pay to be in here???” I simply said: “It’s covered.” And that is thanks to the absolute tireless efforts of Bobby Noyes, Pete Webber, Chris Grealish, Jason Vogel and all the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance folks and the City of Boulder itself for working so cohesively with all the volunteers and committee members.
There are a TON of videos of the young guns hucking themselves but I thought I’d take the approach of showing what the little kids can experience when out there with this little brief ditty. Sorry about the sound of my Chris King hubs…
Carrying on the kid theme…Knowing how unbelievable it was last season to see my eldest son Aiden enjoy himself so thoroughly in his first cross season inspired me deeply…I’m happy to announce that I’ll be working on the Boulder Junior Cycling Team’s committee. I’ll be helping to get kids stoked on our sport and hopefully creating a new generation of cross nerds like you and I.
Short post…but I am climbing back on the blogging horse. Giddy up.
I dunno what else to say but…
Things have been out of control (in a good way) pushing hard to get our new BlipSnips product out the door. Then, maybe I can have a moment to let bikes flood back into my brain and start writing again. So, this is my public apology.
The past few days have been epic. Simply amazing riding thru the heart of Tuscany. We have continued our southerly course following small roads and portions of L' Eroica gran fondo course. A highlight was the day-long ride from Castlenuovo Berardenga to Pienza... both incredibly beautiful and challenging. The riding was wickedly hilly, always up or down, and usually steep. Plus, about one-third was on the dirt Strada Biancha. I must have shot a hundred photos in the first hour of riding. It was just eye popping. Soon the camera got put away as it took full concentration to pilot the bike on the twisty gravel. During one 20 k segment we saw just one car, one scooter, and one cyclist.
As the miles added up, some of the climbs required walking - the gravel was just too steep and loose. But many hills were topped with medieval villages of ancient stone and stunning vistas, enough to make you forget your aching legs.
Our family team has been awesome. Sally has been riding great, and she's handled the dirt roads with no problem. Ella is having fun, and keeps up a steady banter of comic one-liners from the back of our tandem. The climbs don't seem to effect her energy I guess ; ) The bikes have been flawless, and our lightweight packing choices have been on the spot. I have my new Garmin Edge 800 GPS plus a detailed map on the handlebars, and we've avoided getting lost for the most.
Hope you’ve enjoyed the posts! Thanks for reading.
Hey bike fans!
Our first two days of riding in Italy are complete, and they've been amazing! We arrived in florence without any travel snafus and amazingly our tandem box fit inside the first taxi we tried. It was a tight squeeze! Soon after I was unboxing and building bikes on the sidewalk outside our hotel. Our plan is to leave the bike boxes here and retrieve them before flying out again next week. Pizza and beer at a sidewalk cafe and we hit the sack to catch up on the jet lag.
The next morning we rode thru the center of the the city to meet John Weissenreider at his workshop. John is an old mountain bike racer from Boulder who now lives in Florence and makes his living as a Luthier, a master guitar maker. John went over the maps with us and highlighted some routes for the week ahead. He's ridden and guided on these roads for years, so his advice was key. Best of all, he jumped on his city bike and joined us for the first 10k of our ride, leading us on a twisty escape to the countryside south of the city. We followed him up cobbled alleys and secret roads we could have never found by ourselves. We pedaled thru Batoli's home village and John pointed out faded graffiti that read " viva Bartoli" from decades before. He finally turned us loose and we headed into the famed Chiante region. The next 2 hours of riding were amazing, both scenic and difficult. John had sent us off the main roads, and that meant incredible climbs, narrow lanes, and few cars. After climbing for over 30 minutes in the granny gear, I no longer doubted all the warnings about the steep Tuscan hills!
Soon we arrived in Panzano in Chianti, home for the night. A small B&B with home-cooked dinner was our reward for a hard day on the bikes.
Day 2 we kept riding south on some of the best roads I've ever enjoyed. No traffic, great pavement, awesome scenery, and plenty of steep climbs. We passed thru Radda, and rode portions of L' Eroica, an epic course and tribute to the riders of the last era. Tomorrow we ride more of the course and some famous strada bianca dirt roads.
Tonight was mixed emotions, we watched the sad Giro tribute stage, and felt very grateful for our families and many special days on the bike. We'll ride tomorrow with more appreciation for life.
Til then, Pete
In 1993, I had just begun to truly dive into mountain bike racing. It was obsessive for me. It surfaced all of the emotions I had racing BMX as a kid. It gave me goose bumps to dive back in. I looked at myself year after year becoming stronger. Leaner. Understanding that the attention I was applying on to myself and my health, made me feel better. Balanced. Happy. I rode. And rode. And rode.
Around that time I started following the exploits of Jason McRoy. A former BMX’er. An up-and-coming dual slalom and downhill rider. He was doing stuff that only a handful of folks at the time would even dare do on the primitive equipment being ridden at the time. Launching himself so gracefully. No footers. Flowing through corners. Floating. He was, and I say this unabashedly, beautiful. You couldn’t help but see this young life and smile. He radiated. You emulated his look, his moves, his style.
Jason died in 1995 riding the first cool thing he got as a sponsored rider for Specialized: a Harley.
The feeling I had was very surreal. I did not know him, but the image of him…of me…dying so tragically deeply saddened me. it was the first time in my life literally, that I could see how I could be stopped…as I felt unstoppable. How could that specimen of fitness, of life, just evaporate and stop existing? How could we never again be allowed to see his moves and flow on the mountain?
Today these feelings happened again.
Wouter Weylandts died tragically at the Giro d’Italia. Looking at this young boy, he just oozed pro cyclist. A sprinter. A prototypical Belgian powerhouse. Another example who likely was inspiring a new generation of riders with his panache as McRoy did for me. I could not bear to see the images of him on the tarmac with paramedics working frantically to try and save him. I saw myself for a moment lying there. I saw one of my friends for a moment lying there. It drove such a deep pain through me to see this life who moments before was flying, his tubulars gripping the corners of a typical Giro descent. His legs spinning. His hands in the drops. Suffering but he was suffering in a Grand Tour so the pain had to be sweeter…or so fans like us dream as we watch our heroes like Wouter do what we simply can not.
And now he is motionless here on earth.
I pray that Wouter experienced nothing when it happened. That he simply transitioned from this life to another…continuing to fly down the descent, reaching the finish line with arms up in victory. Like we all dream. I pray for his family and friends. I pray that they can harbor the feeling of his beauty and the excitement he gave us fans and not the the unspeakable fear Wouter experienced today. A fear that we all tuck into the recesses of our brains as cyclists. I pray for us, that we…our families, our teammates, ourselves…never experience this.
My sincerest thoughts are with you Wouter. Rest peacefully.
Hey everyone, another adventure is about to begin... this time a family bike tour to Italy! We'll send updates to our favorite website mudandcowbells.com and maybe it will inspire some fresh adventures for you readers!
The packing is almost complete and we're headed to the airport in a few hours. We'll fly Denver-Frankfurt-Florence and then comes the fun part: ride town-to-town for 8-days thru the bicycling nirvana of central Tuscany!!
Our plan is to make a loop south of Florence. We don't have a specific route or towns picked out, but we have a good list of recommendations and plenty of guidebook info. Tuscany is a huge tourist destination, and perhaps the most touted bike touring place in the world, so there is plenty of info available.
We are going super-light, with a credit card and one change of clothes. After a bunch of tours over the past 15 years, we've got a system pretty dialed. Travelling light allows us to ride normal bikes, cover some miles, and not suffer too much with extra-heavy loads. If you choose the right gear, you really don't need much. Our packing list is pretty short: one set of riding kit, one set of casual clothes, and various nic-nacs, toiletries, maps, and of course a bottle opener. All our stuff, for 3 people, will fit in just one set of panniers and one rear trunk. I think it is like 15 or 20 pounds total.
Our last big tour was 2008, two years ago, in the Netherlands. We did 12 days, hitting some cool places and enjoying the fantastic bike trail systems. In that tour, I rode my cross bike with Ella on the tag-a-long behind me, and Sally on her road bike. Ella was only 6, so being on mostly flat bike paths away from busy roads was perfect. We saw the height of spring flowers, the North Sea, plenty of canals, and even took in the Amstel Gold classic and sportive ride.
Ella is now 8 years old, and she'll be riding on the back of our tandem road bike with me up front. She's too short to reach the cranks, so I installed a "kid back" or "kiddie cranks". This is an additional set of cranks mounted on the stoker seat tube, above the normal cranks, with a chain linking them together. I also installed a kid's saddle and handlebars, so it is pretty comfortable and easy to ride. Using a tandem is much more stable and easier than a tag-a-long. It is lighter, faster, and we can actually work as a team. The downside is that it is kinda tricky to set up, and travelling with a tandem is difficult.
That's all I've got time for now, gotta catch a plane!
Pete, Sally & Ella