Monday, 8 March 2010

Jens

It's (almost) always great to see pros of a certain age do well, particularly when that pro is Jens Voigt. Whenever you need to rekindle a spark for bike racing, watch the guy do anything. It's awesome.

There was only one ride for me this weekend, so I'm glad it was a fun one. How many people were out for Saturday's 10am? A shitload, maybe a shitload and a half. The pace was pretty quick, but it didn't feel bad. I can't remember having gone through the Glen Road section at that kind of pace while feeling that mellow about it. The false flat on Esworthy is really the tougher part of that zone. A lot of people can't pay the toll to get to Travilah on time, but the front stays together. The guys who push the dagger on Esworthy cause the alarm bells to ring much louder. Once again, River got a bunch more animated but everyone kept it in their pants for the most part. There's a team that's gotten much larger this year that apparently will only work in breaks where they have exclusive representation. A few people noticed this.

If you need to figure out what to do, please watch Super Dave ride. I really dislike commenting on real actual people who you might run into, but I'm breaking that rule. The way he rides must be a case of very solid discipline. There were a bunch of hills where his position was compromised, but then absolutely every time, as soon as the section was over and I'd think "now here's a spot where you could move up," boom, he'd whiz right on by back up to the front.

Sunday was a day for bike shopping. The bike for which we were shopping is not for me. It's a challenging process. The day was very interesting and informative and everything, the primary outcome of which was reinforcing my opinion that the CAAD 9 paradigm is the smartest thing going for racing, bar absolutely none.

Most brands have several different levels of frame, concurrent with spec level. So a Tarmac that has 105 has a frame that's inferior to the Tarmac that comes with D-A. Some brands even change geometry as you go up the food chain. I'm very sure that they have charts and graphs to back them up with their product management decisions but it doesn't work for us. Cannondale puts CAAD 9's out there with Tiagra and Dura Ace and everything in between. The frame is the same throughout the range except for color scheme. When you get down to the Tiagra level, the fork gets an alloy steer tube. The most you can spend is around $3k retail, for which you get a pretty insane spec. I'm a long - LONG - way from being ready for any race where I'd feel outgunned by material if I was sitting on that bike. Throw your bad ass wheels on and you're at minimum weight, too. For half of that, you get an imminently race ready ride that wouldn't be out of place a few steps up the ladder from where I race now. If you decide you need to get rid of it, you can do so. If some stuff breaks/wears out on a lower level one and you want to spec up a level or two, have at it. If you wipe out and break the frame, you get a new one with minimal beating of breast and gnashing of teeth. Cervelo does a similar thing by making their aluminum S-series frame available as a component. It also helps that both of these brands have generally very good reputations for quality and that the top teams endorse their geometry and brands. One of the odd-duck possibilities out there is a Pinarello that is sort of the same deal - an aluminum frame that many teams were racing on just a while ago, with exceedingly raceable parts and it's under $2k. I know that it benefits the builders and the shops to sell ever zootier and more expensive stuff, I was the guy on the other side of this equation for a long ass time (although the actual specifics of that situation reinforce my CAAD 9 love - it would take a book that I'm not going to write to describe why). But it just seems silly to me to pay $5k for a bike for local racing, no matter how good you are.*

So at the end of a very long day, we have some options in hand and were it not for the cruelties of inventory never being what you need it to be, we would probably have come home armed. But we didn't.

Also, I'm very sure that fit theories and guidelines vary no matter the size of the rider and the more you get away from the median the more they probably vary. The opinions that we got were all over the scale, and in the end it was only test riding that was of any marked benefit. I came to believe throughout the course of that day that I am more inclined to trust fitters who are not allied with sales in any way. I know there are exceptions to this, so go ahead and read the * below.

*This station knows and accepts that the opinions expressed above are offensive, dumb, and/or inapplicable to some or many, yet still takes full accountability for the opinions.

Working at night, on balance, sucks the royal high hard one.

4 comments:

c said...

The CAAD 9 is such a good frame. Kind of wondering how the overseas manufacturing is going to effect them, but whatever. My next bike will be a Caad 9

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

The CAAD 9 with the Ultegra spec may be the best value in racing. I've seen 'em going for $1600 or so. Ridonculous.

Of course they were selling De Rosa Nero frames on Bonktown a few months back for $3100, and Pinarello Prince frames for something south of that. So there are values there. Y'know, if you feel you can go to your trusted LBS with a straight face and ask them to do an $80 build job on your $9k bike that you obtained for $3k from discounters...

Nick said...

I've had my new CAAD9 for a week now. It's wonderful.

Of note - they don't come (stock) with Ultegra - the midrange is a Rival setup.