A recent bike trip found me near Molas Pass in Colorado. We were biking a stunning section of the Colorado Trail and ran into Nick Hanze, a thru-hiker from Germany. He had about 60 miles to go to Durango and the end of the CT. Even though he had a Lufthansa to catch in a week, he agreed to take a few minutes and answer some questions about his trek.
How long have you been on the trail, and how many miles have you hiked?
Nick Hanze: I’ve been on the trail about 4 weeks, and I’m at about 416 or 419 miles, not really sure.
What do you look forward to eating most when you get to town?
Usually I do a bacon cheeseburger, it’s like the classic, and in the mornings I’m usually looking forward to blueberry pancakes.
Have you had Internet withdraw?
Ummmm, no. No.
What have you been eating on the trail?
On the trail I’ve been doing oatmeal in the morning, a tortilla with peanut butter or Nutella for lunch, and Mountain House for dinner.
What is your favorite flavor of Mountain House?
I like the lasagna.
How have the ladies treated you, have you met a lot of trail babes?
A few but not too many, there could be more (sad laugh)
Favorite piece of gear on the trip?
That would be my spork I would say, just because it always reminds me of eating. When I see it, it means I get some food.
Are you excited about returning to a life where you poop in a bathroom or will you miss taking care of business in the woods?
I would say both, pooping in the woods is pretty fun if you get used to it and practice a little bit.
Have you felt like you life was in danger at any point?
I think it was three days ago, I was on the continental divide when a dark cloud came up, I didn’t want to be there at that point, but the black clouds came rolling to me, so I ran off the trail at the first possible option, it wasn’t even a trail, just getting down to get away from the lightning, I’m not sure if I was in real danger, but I was definitely scared.
The Colorado Trail runs from Denver to Durango, with a total length of 486 miles, and an average elevation of 10,300 feet. Nick is headed to university when he gets back to Germany, assuming he doesn’t fall in love with a Durango mountain girl.
In just a few short days, most of the American bicycle industry will be mulling about a Las Vegas casino convention center at Interbike, drooling over products already seen at Eurobike or on the interwebs. A more entertaining lot, however, will convene at a municipal soccer complex just a few miles west of the Strip. “Soccer?” you ask. No. Not even “futbol.”
CrossVegas has been seen by many as the start of the American cyclocross calendar. Yes, some national promoters have held cyclocross races earlier, but CrossVegas is considered the first real event. What used to be a race for Interbike attendees and U.S. elite racers has exploded into an international phenomenon that attracts racers from all over the world, including the cyclocross motherland of Belgium, and even Cuba.
This year’s event is a particularly big deal because it’s the opener for the UCI Cyclocross World Cup. That’s newsworthy because there has never been a UCI Cyclocross World Cup race outside of Continental Europe.
Every National Federation that cares about cyclocross will be sending their best athletes to race. The United States received a bonus “double” and is allowed to send 32 athletes, men and women. Many spectators will look to the Belgian and Dutch teams to dominate, but the current Women’s World Champion is French. The United States has several racers who have “home turf” advantage.
So, don’t sleep on this event if you’re anywhere in town. The best cyclists in the world are going to light up the grass like Jerry Garcia could have only wished. Plus, it’s at night, under the lights, and there is beer. And Elvis.
Driving through the Dolomites is far less challenging then pedaling them, but not nearly as rewarding.
Tire pressures are checked in the early morning hours.
The Maratona corral is a packed full of nervous energy.
Bikes and views abound at the Maratona.
The winding roads of the Dolomites are attacked by 9,000 riders every year at the Maratona.
Pizza and beer are a just reward for a day spent in the saddle.
It is almost impossible to capture Italy with a camera, no matter how hard you try.
I’m on my bike for the third day in the Dolomites. I’m doing a short ride up over and back on the Passo Campolongo. And by short I mean the minute I leave the hotel parking lot I start going up and don’t stop until I reach the top, 5.8 kilometers later.
Most consider the Campolongo to be a “less-than” Dolomite climb, but today it is just the right amount of difficult, without being discouraging. It is the perfect bit of switchback goodness to inspirational vista, so as to make you fully aware of what the Dolomites have to offer without completely scaring you shitless.
The other little bit of news I have rolling around in the back of my head is I’ll be riding the Maratona tomorrow.
The Maratona is to the Dolomites what the Apple Cider Century is to Southwestern Michigan. It is a ride for which, if you are anywhere near Northern Italy in July, or you have the wherewithall to get there, you have to attend.
It is thousands of riders, 9000 actually, spending the day shoulder-to-shoulder, wheel-to-wheel and pedalstroke-to-pedalstroke riding some of the most amazing roads in all the world.
And this is just the start of my extended stay in Italy.
I’ll try to tell you about spending almost a month riding in Italy without sounding like a douchebag, but I also have to tell it like it is. There’s no downplaying it, riding in Italy is amazing. I mean, just from a bike history standpoint, being in Italy is mindboggling.
This is the coutnry that brought us Marco “el pirata” Pantani and the Pinarello, Gianni Bugno and ball bearings, Gino Bartoli and the glass mirror, Fausto Coppi and even the first casino.
Italy is a land frozen in time.
Ok, not exactly frozen in time. They have embraced technology and some modern habits, but from the saddle you get the impression a good portion of the country is as it was ages ago. A time when things were built to last, neighbors talked to each other and the roads were built without consideration for large American automobiles.
Italians drink their Caffe in Cafes. They like their water frizzante and their maps made of paper instead of computerized.
The roads either going up or they are going down. The cars are tiny, the roads well-maintained and absolutely no one honks.
The Italians believe breakfast is coffee and a pastry, lunch is some kind of weird crustless, dry jabon sandwich and dinner is an affair to be savored in multiple course over an extended period of time.
They drink aperol spritzes on the square. Somehow the pizza melts in your mouth.
No one walks around with coffee or food, fountains deliver fresh spring water on almost every square, and the locals do their damndest to understand my horrible Italian.
The cyclist shout “Ciao” as they pass by, plenty of them riding vintage steel steeds and every road seems to lead to another amazing town, village, or cluster of building held in time.
There appear to be no strip malls, 7-11 stores, or Chuck E. Cheeses, only mom and pop all-in-one stores of convenience.
The train will take you anywhere, with surprising convenience and low-ish cost.
I’ve settled into a plodding climbing cadence on the Passo Sella, having gone up and over the Pordoi and heading for the Gardena and I can’t help but think about the fact that I will have only scratched the surface of Italy on my visit.
I will ride in the Dolomites and Chianti and even in Turin, but Italy is expansive and the riding is breathtaking.
I don’t mean to be gluttonous, but I will need more.
Installation on my 2010 Colnago CX-1 was fairly straight forward, provided you RTFM’d, and props to Pioneer for producing an informative installation video. As soon as I had it installed, I was off, and I’ve been using it steadily over the past few months. So far the system has worked flawlessly, minus a few hiccups that were solved by replacing the battery.
Starting it up...
And the inside view of the drive side power meter unit. Notice the slick sensor integration into the crank itself.
The SGX-CA500 is as big as my camera card reader, but I do like its size - It's just right.
The box of the Pioneer SGX-CA500 computer
The box with the power meter unit
The SGX-CA500 computer has also been easy to use and allows you to navigate via the touchscreen or with physical buttons. You don’t necessarily have to use the Pioneer computer—the power meter will pair with any ANT+ computer—but they work nicely together and help unlock the full array of metrics the Pioneer system is capable of producing.
I particularly liked that the Pioneer computer shows left and right leg output, and pedaling efficiency, live. It’s a neat feature and it helped me realize that I need to improve on my pedaling technique. Thanks to the built-in wifi, your workouts can be automatically uploaded after a ride.
CycloSphere, like Garmin’s Garmin Connect, is Pioneer’s online cloud platform where your data gets stored. It’s a treasure trove of information, but not super easy to use. I liked that you can customize what you see in CycloSphere, and I suspect it will get better over time as the Pioneer system gets more popular. Note to Pioneer: as you make improvements, I want to be able to configure my SGX-CA500 settings while plugged into my computer for better visualization.
Currently, the system is limited to Shimano Dura Ace and Ultegra level cranks. At $1,849 for the Dura-Ace power meter and $299 for the computer, it’s not cheap. But if you’re into data, you should take a look. For those who already own a Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 and Ultegra 6800 crankset, Pioneer offers an installation service, where you can ship your existing crankarms in to be converted. This is less expensive at $999.
But I’m in Italy riding your bike, so complaining seems like a bad idea.
The water bottles are full, tires have been inflated, route map has been downloaded to the Garmin, caffe spot has been chosen and pockets are packed full of handmade treats.
And today I’m sporting the new Rapha Pro Team Climber’s Jersey. The first thing I notice is, even though I’ve stuffed my pockets with preparedness, there is very little sag from the packed pockets.
The second thing I notice is nothing. There is nothing to notice. The Rapha jersey is exactly what is says it is, a crazy lightweight jersey for hot and humid days in the saddle. Mesh panels here and mesh panels there allow this jersey to breath like few others.
Even though it is hot enough to bake a margherita pizza on the pavement the jersey goes basically unnoticed. Which on a day like today is exactly what I want.
Hans ‘No Way’ Rey is a legend. Mountain bike hall of famer, multiple world and national trials champion, freeride pioneer, the guy in that “Monkey See Monkey Do” video — on VHS, of course.
Those were the days where the GT LTS/RTS carbon were the hottest full suspension bikes on the block, The days of 56K modems, AOL 1,000 hour CDs in a tin can, Magura hydraulic rim brakes, print magazines …
Fast forward to 2015. The evergreen Hans is as strong as ever and still goes on epic bike trips across the globe riding in partnership with GT Bicycle. In fact, Hans is the longest GT-sponsored athlete for a whopping 28 years and running ever since the early days of mountain biking.
With that in mind, we sat down with Hans for a quick fireside (okay, a hotel lobby) chat in Park City, Utah.
So how did you get into mountain biking?
I started as a trials rider in Europe when it was just really trendy, kid’s sport really. I was about to retire from that and go to a university when an American trials rider came to Europe. Trials was a European sport then but he started telling us about this new sport in America called mountain biking and how there are always these stage races where a rider has to do downhill, cross country, and trials on the same bike. He said I should come over and show Americans what real trials are and I figured that’d be a great ending to my career.
I was 19-20 years old so I thought why don’t I take a semester off from the university and check it out.
I went over and the guy’s name is Kevin Norton and he had a real big interest in promoting trials and making it bigger. He introduced me not only to the mountain bike world but also into the whole BMX world because at that point trials was kind of living in both worlds. It went so well that I got a contract with GT and then I got hooked up at Swatch. They wanted me to tour America with skateboarder Rodney Mullen together to do shows and stuff so I thought maybe if I stay little bit longer I can take another semester off and it’ll be a great way to learn the language and see the country a bit. One year became two, three and next year will be number 30.
How has mountain biking changed over the years, from your point of view?
If you look at the bikes from back then, you wonder how could you ride down these trails. Some of the trails you ride today are more or less the same trails you rode back then and it makes you sometimes wonder how you pulled it off.
I wasn’t one of the first guys but I was definitely there when the boom started. My roots go deep into all different sub-cultures of sport because I would eventually start racing some downhill, slalom … I even got third place at the Slalom World Championship one year.
I then started doing adventures on a mountain bike that really brought me the respect from the people that everyone who has a mountain bike knew how hard it was to bunny hop up and down a curb and this guy rides over cars and whatever.
The last 15-20 years were really based on changes and technology of the bike. I think the next 10-15 years will be about how we ride the bikes, purposed-built trails for example and all that stuff.
Was it more fun?
Usually when you look back at things you always be like the good old days were always better. You can look at that side too, but I don’t think the fun has stopped.
I’ve always said my philosophy is “I am going to do this as long as I have fun.” That hasn’t really stopped and that’s probably why I am still doing it. I embrace all the new trends, technologies and changes and have fun with it.
I still try to spread my roots. My roots are really deep now after being there for so long and I have a really solid foundation. And I still am interested in all the subcultures. My weekly riding habit involves several forms of riding. I do a lot of all-mountain stuff in connection with my adventure trips, regular mountain bike ride, but I ride trials once a week still. Sometimes I do shuttle runs, downhill runs and I even train on the road bike every once in a while to get some miles in. I even enjoy riding e-bikes sometimes.
Up hill or downhill?
Describe your idea of a perfect holiday.
For me it might be not to touch my bike. But no, I can only do that for a couple of days. My wife always says I get antsy if I am dis-attached from my bike for too long. But sometimes it’s nice to just go somewhere to relax, do nothing, to enjoy nature, and some spend time with my wife.
Any Particular place?
I like to go to new places. I like to go to special remote places, like I went to this really cool island with my wife a few years ago to Fiji. It was just a really nice vacation. Really special place with one-on-one time.
I get to do a lot of the cool biking stuff as my job. Luckily I have a dream job and I appreciate that. My office is some of the coolest biking trails and locations around the world so I don’t necessarily have to do that on my holiday.
If you had to choose a car that represents your personality, what would it be?
I am a fan of Audi, or a Land Rover kind of guy.
How much would you charge to wash all the windows in your town?
Probably a 7-figure amount.
How many golf balls can you fit in a schoolbus?
Tell us your most embarrassing riding story.
In my downhill racing days which I was never really the guy to necessarily take home the world championships, I did start the world championship three times. I didn’t take it so serious, I was more just doing it without much preparation in those days. You have a water bottle with you and I was even drinking during my runs and stuff. But in one particular one at the Worlds in Italy in ’91, in the qualifying run I started out the gate and forgot to put my goggles on. It was really foggy and muddy … and I had to stop to put my goggles on and then continue riding. Hence the fact that I didn’t qualify in that one.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I like my cocktails and drinks.
Any advice for riders out there?
Well, if you want to make a living and be a professional, you’ve got to be professional. You have to treat it like a job. At the same time you don’t want to treat it too serious. You’ve got to have fun with it. At the end of the day, you have to make it happen for yourself.
We are a relatively small sport. It’s not like there are talent scouts out there looking for you. A lot of the guys who start becoming sponsored at one level or another often don’t understand the big picture — that it’s a business and these sponsors don’t just do it because they like you. There needs to be something in return. That “thing” in return can be in many different ways: It can be with a good
result, it can be with media exposure, it can be being a spokesperson or a communicator for the brand.
It could be in many forms, but you have to deliver that and you have to document it and show it to them. The bottom line is, have fun with it. As long you have fun, you’ve already won a lot.
If you could pick a super power, what would it be?
The hardest part of riding a sub-eleven pound, SRAM equipped, carbon fiber, one-piece bar/stem having, race tuned, fifteen thousand dollar bike is getting off it and giving it back.
I had my reservations about this machine, but when the call back came I didn’t want to give it up.
My wife, on the other hand, is happy to have the Trek Emonda SLR 10 out of the house, as I refused to leave this beauty in the garage.
This bike is light. Crazy light. Shockingly light. Everyone who put their hands on it made the same face. The “what the holy hell” face. And almost everyone who picked it up also asked “what are you doing with that?”
A very good question considering I am right on the edge of the bikes allowed weight limit and no one, and I mean no one, would consider me a climber. The only answer I could come up with is … “Why not?”
It was clear from the very first ride, the build choices for the SLR 10 were going to be an issue for me. The Tune wheels and saddle, although things of beauty, were not designed for everyday use. The Tune tubulars came laced up with a pair of tires more suited for the track than a long road ride and the saddle belonged in an art museum more than under my generous buttocks.
In short order I ate through the original tires and mounted up some excellent 25mm Continental Competition kicks. The more substantial tires fit into the Bontrager direct mount brakes no problem and upgrade the bike ride characteristic substantially.
Oh wait, I also, unfortunately, had to add a water bottle, a cage and a tool bag to my wonder whip adding so much unwanted additional weight as to almost turn the World’s Lightest Production bike into a tanker. But so it goes.
So the ultimate build seemed to be more about the impressively low weight, than the day-to-day ride-ability of the build. And I love that about this bike. It is ridiculous, but glorious.
My friend Cory says this build is for a 110 pound rider, who has a ton of money, a great mechanic and a desire to go fast uphill above all else. And I don’t completely disagree. But I meet none of those criteria, and I love this bike.
This bike demands you pay attention.
It demands you are in it.
You can’t just get on this bike and mindlessly go for a ride.
But if you are paying attention the Emonda will reward you by converting your effort into forward propulsion. Whether it be on long, sustained climbs, a short angry pitch or even hammering along the flats. The Emonda impresses.
Descending is a blast. I know this bike is pegged as a climber’s bike, but I loved tossing the Emonda downhill. Sure, if the road was sketchy the Emonda definitely didn’t soak up the chatter like some of the more all-around bikes available. You have to be all-in if you are going to be riding an Emonda, but you get back what you put in.
The direct-mount Bontrager brakes are powerful and take some time to become comfortable with. In the early going I locked up the rear wheel on a regular basis, but dialed in what pressure was needed to inspire confidence. And I thought they looked pretty cool, until Trek just launched the new Madone with some super trick looking integrated brakes.
So what does this all mean to you? It means Trek continues to make some pretty amazing bikes. Trek seems to have struggled a little bit with their highend marketing strategy in the post-Armstrong era. But now they have three Tour-worthy steeds in their stable: the recently reborn Madone, the lightweight wonder Emonda and the Classics classic Domane.
I am just suggesting if you are looking for a new Trek, a new race bike, or you love riding a bike with a little bit of a persnickety personality, then go throw your leg over an Emonda. Look closer at the SLR8 with a solid Dura Ace build and not-so-jaw-dropping price.
We hinted at the arrival of an unnamed Ridley whip in our 10 drool-worthy items list and now it has finally arrived, name and all.
The all-new Ridley X-Trail.
The X-Trail is a Swiss-army knife of a bike that can do it all. It’s the Belgium bike maker’s answer for the growing segment of all-road riding.
My time with the then prototype X-Trail was limited to a few short rides during Bike PressCamp but the bike was impressive to say the least.
The X-Trail is a disc-only, using Shimano’s new flat mounting standard for a cleaner appearance. It will be using the Pressfit BB86 bottom bracket standard. By running PF BB86, Ridley engineers were able to allow more tire clearance while keeping the Q-factor at a minimum. As such, the X-Trail will accommodate up to 40C tires.
The frame is also nicely integrated with the fork similar to the Noah SL for better stiffness and aerodynamics. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly
The front uses a 15x100 thru-axle that's a popular standard in mountain bike fork. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly.
The rear uses the proven 12x142 thru axle for security and stiffness. All cables are neatly routed internally and it's compatible with both mechanical and electronic shift systems. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly.
Originally dubbed the X-Project, the X-Trail sports a full carbon frame build with Ridley's 30T and 24T High Modulus Carbon, as well as a 27.2 seatpost for better bump compliance. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly.
The Ridley X-Trail. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly.
Ridley had test samples loaded with 27C and 40C Challenge rubbers at BPC. With each different tire width comes a slight change of the bike’s personality, narrower for more road and wider for more gnar. The 15×100 front and 12×142 rear thru-axles also stiffen the bike while making wheel changes a faster ordeal. The fork weighs in at a claimed 490 gram while a medium frame weighs competitively at about 1055 gram.
It’s as if someone threw a Helium SL, a Noah SL and a X-Knight into a blender and out came the X-Trail.
The bike feels like a road bike and cornering was very planted during the initial road test. With its bottom bracket placed in between a road bike and a cross bike, the X-Trail had the best of both worlds. Switching to the off road trails around Deer Valley was seamless and the X-Trail was eager to take up whatever challenge I pointed it towards. With the 40mm tires installed, it was reminiscent of an aggressive rigid 29er that doesn’t beat me up at the end of the ride, largely thanks to Ridley’s use of a 27.2 seatpost. The Shimano brakes were also confidence inspiring. I knew I’d be able to stop when I needed to with nothing more than a light squeeze at the lever. We also love the fender mounts for the wetter days.
They really mean it when they say it’s an all-road bike. We can’t wait to test the production version for a more thorough review.
<Text Message From Mom>
08/02/15: Brian passed away peacefully at 5:20 today with the whole family around him.
There was way too much in my head, crowding around, jostling for my attention. Work. Death. Bills. Fatherhood. Family. Retirement, or lack thereof. Relationship. Dreams. Nightmares. I had to get out. I needed silence. So I left work Wednesday afternoon and rolled for an overnight on Mt. Tamalpais. As the din of San Francisco started to fade, the only sounds that mattered were that of my own breathing and the bicycle underneath me. Slowly, very slowly the noises in my head started to be replaced by solitude, exhaustion and, eventually, a sense of peace.
Sometimes we get out overnight for the camaraderie, or for joy or for exercise. Every now and then, I personally just have to go and try to find a little slice of silence to live in, even if only for a mere 12 hours.
The POC booth at the 2013 Interbike show was a showstopper. There was so much buzz around their booth, you couldn’t help but be excited about what they were up to. They had appeared on the bicycle scene with a scream, arriving out of nowhere.
Even if you weren’t crazy about orange as a color, their bright aesthetic and safety-first spiel was infectious. The helmets, and even the sunglasses, started to appear everywhere, with a whole pack of riders embracing their non-traditional style with a vengeance.
The apparel line on the other hand seemed to land with a little bit more of a whimper. This seemed to be part availability and part, if the internet is to be believed, early quality and sizing issues.
The Raceday jersey uses what they call 3d fabric. It feels like a quilted material and wicks the sweat away from your body. It also keeps you cool under the hottest of conditions. The arms and waist stay in place and the color, although not the bright, neon orange of their early kit, looks great in person.