Interbike Survivor:
Highlights From the Three Day Bike-Geek Bash

Interbike Outdoor Demo

For the VIPs of Outdoor Demo. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike Outdoor Demo

Didn't expect Outdoor Demo to be overcast with clouds and rain but it sure made for a nice pretty photo. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: Speedplay

Road? Aero road? Light action? Mountain? Platform? Speedplay has got you covered. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: SRAM RED eTap wireless drivetrain

Everybody loves the new SRAM RED eTap wireless drivetrain. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: Hans Rey (L) shakes hands with Vittorio Brumotti after Brumotti's trials show

Hans Rey (L) shakes hands with Vittorio Brumotti after Brumotti's trials show (on a road bike) at the Crank Brothers booth. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: Camelbak Palos 4LR

Camelbak Palos 4LR pulling double duty as a water gun holster. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: Camelbak's Outdoor Demo pool party.

Camelbak's Outdoor Demo pool party. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike Outdoor Demo

There's a pump track at Outdoor Demo if you want to jump around ... Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike

... Or you can take the shuttle to shred. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: Alchemy Arktos

Alchemy Arktos: More than happy to take one home. It's beautiful. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: Tufmed

Tufmed's athlete body care products. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: Torelli lugs

Lugs! Who doesn't love lugs?! From the Torelli booth. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: Wahoo's new ELEMNT computer

Wahoo's new ELEMNT computer: A new entry to the bike computer segment. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: Maya helmet from Keli Protectives

Flexible and adjustable visor on the Maya helmet from Keli Protectives. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: CYCLIQ Fly 6 taillight with integrated camera

The CYCLIQ Fly 6 taillight with integrated camera ... was the bike cut in half for this demo rig? Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike

Going to Interbike is a fun job but it's still a job. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike

Really digging that comic jersey/bib combo. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike

Riding for a cause. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike: Thule's Chariot CX

Thule's Chariot CX: You can put wheels and skis on it AND it comes with disc brakes for all you outdoor lovers with a little one. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Interbike

I think he was selling fog-resistant sunglasses. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

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The Element.ly crew Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

I survived my first Interbike.

If you’re a bike nerd, Interbike, or IB for short, is one heck of a bike show. New gear is displayed, deals are made, swag is given (and taken). Plus, free beer. I love bikes and gear just like many of you but it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a three-day bike show. Now that the dust has settled, here is my recap in bullet points.

E-Bikes

Whether you like it or not, e-bikes are going to be around for a while. Plenty of e-bike exhibitors, an indoor test track, plus they somehow work their way into just about every conversation.

Socks

Just a small glimpse of the hundreds of different kinds of socks on the Interbike floor. These are from the SockGuy. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly
Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Oh so many different colors. I am pretty sure I could wear a different pair a day for a year straight if I was given a pair of everything.

Abbey Tools

Abbey tools are totally drool-worthy. It was a small booth off to the side but I actually want every single one of the tools shown. Great guys to chat with too!

Ortlieb bag

Ortlieb's Urban day pack: It doesn't have a gazillion pockets with fancy theatrical names on them but what you get is a minimalist yet highly functional design for your daily commute. Plus, it's made in Germany. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly
Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Roll-top messenger backpacks have been around for a while but what I dig about Ortlieb’s latest offering is its clean lines and simplicity. No more gazillion pockets. It’s waterproof too. (Check out their current bags here.)

Convertible mountain bike helmets

The latest rage for the mountain bike world. Is today a full face or a regular helmet day? Bell, Uvex, and Lazer have got you covered. So enduro, brah.

Vittoria Corsa Speed tubeless

Vittoria's new G+ Isotech tire compound with graphene Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly
Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

The G+Isotech Graphene tire compound is said to be faster, grippier and more resistant to wear. The other cool story is the fact that Vittoria has figured out cotton casing for tubeless road tires. Yes, it looks classy badass but perhaps it’ll be one step closer to bringing the tubular “feel” to tubeless. Can’t wait to test them.

Sir Bradley Wiggin’s hour record Pinarello

Sir Bradley Wiggin's hour-record Pinarello Bolide HR. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly
Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Absolutely gorgeous.

Strong Lanyard Game

Manual For Speed Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly
Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Manual For Speed has the best decorated convention lanyard.

Questionable Products

Not going to name names, but it’s a hard sales pitch when your electrolyte supplement is essentially rebadged sea water (no lie, I read the label).

Sapim CX-Carbon spokes

CX-Carbon spoke from Sapim. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly
Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Time will tell whether carbon spokes are here to stay. Priced at about $16 for a 3 gram Sapim CX-Carbon spoke, it’s probably the most expensive way to shed grams off your bike and the quickest way to lighten up your wallet ’cause who buys a single spoke anyway. But my, they are pretty and cool.

Schindlehauer Ludwig

A Schindlehauer Ludwig chillin' against the wall. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly
Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Totally stumbled upon one that was leaning against a wall on the last day. Maybe it’s the Brooks saddle, maybe it’s the seattube cutout. Not only did it look stylish but it was also packed with plenty of tech like a belt drive and your choice of an 8 or 11 speed shimano Alfine hub. Slick.


Hincapie Mercury Kit Brings the Heat, Keeps You Cool

Hincapie Mercury kit
Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

There’s a short way to describe Hincapie Sportswear‘s Mercury range: Not for the faint of heart. It’s lightweight, close-fitting, features plenty of mesh areas … and it’s white. This is a kit for your top form, when you’ve shed the winter weight, dialed in the tan, and can afford to draw some attention.

It’s a well-designed kit with plenty of tech in it aimed at riders who are focused on performance. There’s ample amounts of wicking, UVA/UVB protection, heat reflecting materials, and ventilation so it’s perfect if you want to go hard under summer sun.

This particular hack gave the Mercury bibs and jersey a few spins during a week climbing the Italian Dolomites, and it functioned perfectly. The chamois was comfortable all day, the tight-fitting extremities stayed in place, and it stayed cool—even on some exposed climbs where the gradient hit double figures. And the icing on the cake? It received a few begrudging compliments from the bunch.

Check it out the Hincapie Mercury kit at Competitive Cyclist.


Opening for the Pros at the Cyclocross World Cup

Cyclocross World Cup, CrossVegas
Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

The start chute falls completely silent. None of us are friends anymore. The referee’s whistle cues my entry into the most painful 45 minutes I have felt since last season. One hundred of us are grinding away, already turned up “to eleven.” Not even 15 seconds pass and I hear front wheel spokes grinding on a rear derailleur two bikes to my right. Then swearing. Two guys I wont have to worry about again. I adopt the Reagan-era defense mantra of “Trust, but verify.” One hundred of us rolled the start line and I only know two other racers. Some guys have skills, some just big motors. I am hoping that clean technique plays well. I need all the help I can get.

This is CrossVegas, the USA Cycling version. One hundred Category 1,2, and 3 racers have paid to race on a course that will later host a World Cup battle of an international peloton of professional cyclocross racers. For me, however, this is simply about seeing how I measure up to my peers. As a middling Cat3 CX racer, I do not expect to blow anybody’s doors off.

The “real cyclocross” debate will never end. Some people think there has to be mud, or tree roots, or deep beach sand, or epic rain. My experience has taught me there is “fast” ‘cross and there is “technical” ‘cross. But it is never “easy.” After my first warmup lap on this year’s CrossVegas course, all I could think of was Marty McFly. “This is heavy, Doc.”

Thick, ripe, wheel-grabbingly lush Bermuda grass covered the entire 3.4km course, save the two plywood flyovers and five barrier/stairs sections. In other words, no rest for the eyes-blown-out-of-their-skulls weary. The diabolical course designer sent us up and down the ramps of this desert retention basin park walls more times than I can remember. But with each racer who pulled off the course ahead of me, crying “Uncle!!,” I mustered the motivation to pedal on. “I beat that guy.”

Cyclocross World Cup, CrossVegas
The author keeping his eye on the prize. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

With two excruciating laps down and two to go, the grenades start blowing. Fit, skinny, carbon-bike-riding young-uns start moving backwards. I relish every second. A guy wearing a hydration-bladder base-layer is complaining about the heat. At 85 degrees Fahrenheit, this is the coldest ride I have made in months. But I am dying a slow death, as well. Very shortly into Lap One, my tongue took the form of a wood rasp rubbing on the 100-grit sandpaper of my soft pallate, and a dry hack now interrupts my gasping. This is so fun. I paid money to do this.

With the ringing of the last Lap, the grudge match ensues between the five of us fighting for 50th place. Yes, 50th. I have no idea who these guys are, but the gradual sifting of racers through the grid has matched us as equals today.

I hear the announcer call the Finish Sprint as we are still just half-way through the course. Almost there. Kill me now. One guy jumps, I try to follow, and three fall off. Bury it. Stay clean through the stairs and maintain. Just maintain. I can hear the huffing behind me through the last few chicanes, but I keep my wheels gripping and grind on. I cross the line head slung down, an anonymous also-ran.

The announcers are talking about the ex-ProTour roadie who placed second and the upcoming Wheelers and Dealers race. I am nobody. Just a guy from Arizona who likes to race cyclocross. All I wanted to do was finish “under par.” I started 69th of 100 and finished 51st.

What does it all mean? Regular Joes can’t play a pickup game at the Staples Center ahead of a Laker game. Nobody plays two-hand-touch on the field in Foxborough before the Patriots. But I can race cyclocross before the best racers in the world rip up the course and remind me that I am just a regular guy with a day job. Why? Because it is there.

Cyclocross World Cup, CrossVegas
Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

CrossVegas brings first cyclocross World Cup to America

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Always appreciate late starts. Better yet, super late afternoon starts.

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Reigning US Cyclocross Champ Katie Compton (R) chatting it up before the Wheelers and Dealers race.

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What's not to love when there's a shark racing on a bicycle and a Jack Daniel's handoff?

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RV awning makes a good place to stash the stationary roller.

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The BKCP-Crendon boys relax by the CrossVegas cooler

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Plenty of wheels for the Telnet-Fidnea cycling team

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Custom paint job and custom shoes for the legendary Sven Nys. Oh and check out that slick chain guard

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Warming up on the new Feedback Sports Omnium portable trainer

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Erica Zevata of Maxxis-Shimano waits as her mechanic does a last minute adjustment

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Sometimes the best viewing spot is away from the main crowd.

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A pro man checking out the pro women's race

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High-speed high-fives during course inspection

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Ellen Van Loy warms up between RVs

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Noosa Professional Cyclocross team mechanic Daimeon Shanks power washes one of Meredith Miller's race bikes minutes before start.

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A well-organized tool case is crucial for a smooth running pit.

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Photographers getting ready to shoot the women's start

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Sand pit!

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Meredith Miller (Noosa) and Georgia Gould (Luna) push through the sand pit

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A spectator-friendly run-up

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Waiting for the racers to come.

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Katerina Nash solo to the first CrossVegas World Cup win

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Boulder Cycle Sport / YogaGlo's Crystal Anthony rests on the grass after finishing 7th

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An exhausted Arley Kemmerer at the finish

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The winners of the women's CrossVegas World Cup

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And here comes the pro men.

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The always chaotic start

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The pit at CrossVegas saw much less action compared to a typical Cyclocross World Cup which is usually held in colder and wetter conditions (and in Europe), but teams took zero chances and had multiple backup bikes and wheels

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The king welcomes the racers and dusts through the sand pit with open arms.

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... Another reason to have a backup at the pit.

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Corne Van Kessel gives chase through the barriers

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Eventual winner Wout Van Aert leads Sven Nyst through the Raleigh Ramp...

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While reigning US Cyclcross Champ Jeremy Powers opts to ride on the grass instead

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The top of the Sram race truck makes a nice race vantage point.

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Anti-doping controls. Don't ever miss this.

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The winners of the men's CrossVegas world cup

Over this past year or so I kept asking myself what draws me to want to photograph cycling. I love riding my bike and thanks to my understanding wife (love ya babe) I was able to do some very cool projects. Gravel Worlds, Tour of California, and now CrossVegas.

The beauty of photographing cycling is the access and the creative freedom it allows. With the amount of PR and handlers involved, access to pro athletes is such a rarity these days. But at CrossVegas, you can just walk up to pro guys like legendary Sven Nys and Katie Compton and say hello, check out their fancy super bikes, talk more trash, and make fun happy snappies. Trying to do that at a NFL/MLB/NBA game will result in your credential getting pulled and never to be seen again.

We at Element.ly were fortunate to go behind the scenes with Team Hincapie at this past Tour of California and we’re stoked to photograph CrossVegas given that it’s the first time that a WorldCup Cyclocross race is taking place in America.

Shooting CrossVegas after spending a day on the show floor at the annual InterBike convention is really akin to working a second job after a long day at the office. But the crowds! The crowds were amazing and the racing was straight up badass. Wout Van Aert and Katerina Nash drilled it.

Anyways, time to head back to the InterBike show floor. Enjoy the gallery and stay tuned for our InterBike coverage!


SUP Bro: How I Got Hooked On Stand-Up Paddleboarding

BIC Dura-Ace Paddleboard
Photo: Nathan Hurst/Element.ly

I was a hater when the stand-up paddleboarding craze hit. At the time I was an intern at Outside magazine, and the attitude there was very much “Oh God, here we go.” Like it was going to be somewhere between rollerblading and crossfit (a little bit ridiculous, cultish, and misunderstood). Except my officemate, who wouldn’t shut up about the sport.

I gave her too little credit. Now I’m hooked. Who’d have thought my 83-year-old grandma would be the catalyst? She’s always been a great enabler, gifting sporting goods to her clan before we even realized we needed them. Kayaks at the lake, a snowboard upon which I immediately broke my arm. When she suggested selling the old motorboat in the wake of my grandpa’s death, and replacing it with a couple paddleboards, it seemed … perfect.

And it was. I didn’t feel nearly as ridiculous as I would have expected just a couple years ago. I didn’t fall in. It’s actually decent exercise, especially for the core. You can do it with a back injury. The “Hey! This is fun!” moment came virtually instantly.

The boards we bought were two $750 “Dura-Ace” paddleboards from Bic sports. (Somehow, Bic makes pens, lighters, and paddleboards. One of these things is not like the other.) “Dura” because you can knock it about without too much worry, and “Ace” because … it helps your poker game. Or something.

BIC Dura-Ace Paddleboard
Photo: Nathan Hurst/Element.ly

This particular board sits atop the water, rather than cutting through it like a kayak. Pretty near the whole family tried it, to great success. It’s less ideal for long distance and carrying gear. But I’m pigheaded enough to go for miles around the lake in all directions.

My daytime fantasies now consist of loading one of these up with a couple dry sacks worth of gear and setting off on a long-distance adventure, portaging my way through northern Minnesota and maybe Canada.

They’re slow, of course—a kayak will outpace you without even trying, especially into any kind of wind—but if you’re chasing solitude, they’re great.

As you become more comfortable, the anchor of your feet to the board transitions from a firm plant to a symbiosis, and you roll on the chop underneath the board like you’re one with it. At night, after a long day on the board, the waves keep passing beneath you in bed.

People around the lake always comment—everybody seems like they’re thinking about buying one.

BIC Dura-Ace Paddleboard
Photo: Nathan Hurst/Element.ly

Wind is maddening. Especially when you need to get somewhere fast, like that time I got caught in a thunderstorm and had to seek shelter on a little island. Overreacting? Maybe. But it seemed unwise to be out on the water with a seven-foot carbon-fiber paddle lightning rod.

I’ve noticed I’m seeking out more alone time. And during that time, I think. Or I don’t. The movement and the swell of the water takes the place of your problems, your consciousness. It’s liquid meditation.

This isn’t unique to paddleboarding of course. That’s what bicycling does, too. That’s why I put on headphones and snowboard alone. But it’s my new favorite escape.

So here’s my promise. The next time someone talks up a trend to me, I’ll be a little more forgiving. Maybe I’ll even try it, and now wait several years. Except of course fat bikes. Those are ridiculous. Get out of here with that.

BIC Dura-Ace Paddleboard
Photo: Nathan Hurst/Element.ly

We Get Into the Head of Kali’s Founder to Find Out Why He Protects Yours

Brad's favorite tool? This giant vernier caliper.

Brad's favorite tool? This giant vernier caliper.

With a sign this big you won't miss it if you're driving by.

With a sign this big you won't miss it if you're driving by.

Bryan pulling a demo helmet off the shelve for a coworker.

Bryan pulling a demo helmet off the shelve for a coworker.

There's also this half pipe amongst all the helmets in the warehouse.

There's also this half pipe amongst all the helmets in the warehouse.

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You can always find something interesting at Brad's workbench. Here's a part of a prototype rig Brad made to demonstrate how Bumper Fit 2.0 works in their line of helmets. It's an early rough prototype, but a really cool demonstrator at least.

A prototype Kali Tava aero helmet overloaded with Armourgel

A prototype Kali Tava aero helmet overloaded with Armourgel

A fully-equipped bike work area

A fully-equipped bike work area

Wall ride anyone?

Wall ride anyone?

Helmets, and more helmets.

Helmets, and more helmets.

Sample room.

Sample room.

An early helmet prototype in Brad's office

An early helmet prototype in Brad's office

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Prototype Bumper Fit layers in various shape and sizes. These never made the final cut.

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With a growing line of products Brad is pretty busy nowadays, but he still rides as much as he could. Motorcycles, bikes, or in this case, a skateboard.

If you want to talk about helmets, fighter jets, motorcycles, carbon fiber and beer in one conversation, Kali Protectives’ head honcho Brad Waldron is your guy.

Coming from a successful career building some of the most well-known fighter jets currently in existence and later as director of engineering at Specialized, Brad is the type of CEO that loves to get his hands dirty. Not from the comfort of his air-conditioned office but in his R&D “lab,” deep in the back of this cavernous warehouse. There he plans and prototypes the next big thing, hidden behind rows of helmets, in front of panels of whiteboards that he absolutely cannot live without — so much so that all the walls in his office are covered with them from top to bottom.

Intense right?

Well, Brad knows how to party too. He commutes on a skateboard around the office. There are dirt jumps on a purposely-built dirt track out back and he even has a half-pipe in the warehouse all in the name of fun. So we made a trip down to Morgan Hill for a quick visit and chatted over burritos.

So what do you really do for work?

You know, you start the stuff you do thinking you’re going to ride all the time. It’s like I am now in the industry, I’ve got my own company and I can ride all the time. But the reality isn’t that. You steal your time away right? That’s why we built the half-pipe, dirt jumps in the back so we can ride.

The first thing you would do on your first day as a captain of a pirate ship?

First we’d kill all the lawyers … I used to live on a sailboat, I love the ocean, I love ships. But first thing I would do is just set sail, course, destination and enjoy.

If you can get a boat right now what would you get?

It’ll be something like a CT-41, a tall rig, something that can handle blue water cruiser anywhere in the world. Wouldn’t be brand new and super plastic—it’d be much sturdier.

Uphill or Downhill?

Oh damn, good question. Downhill. But l like to earn it.

Friend’s coming over, what would you cook?

Ribs. I’d slow cook them in beer for four hours, steam them for four hours before I throw them on the barbeque and lather on the barbeque sauce. It’s easy.

Brad Waldron, Kali Protectives
Brad filming his next video on Kali’s Composite Fusion Plus technology. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Describe your idea of perfect holiday.

Wake up early, do some riding whether it’s on the motorcycle or a bike. Something to get your blood pumping. I am a little bit of an adrenaline junkie. So something that kicks your day off before the family gets up. You get home, you’re juiced up from that adrenaline and you bring your wife coffee, as she wakes up.

What would you be your chosen superpower?

Unlimited muscle recovery so you can just go forever. So if you want to climb straight up for eight hours you can do without thinking about it. Wouldn’t it be nice? I don’t need strength, I don’t need flying, but to do the things that you love to do and never get tired from doing them, that’d be pretty cool.

Guilty pleasures?

Carne asada burritos.

What are you most proud of?

Obviously family. But when it comes to Kali, I am most proud that we never have to make a compromise. We never compromise anything about safety and nobody has ever put me in the position that I have to say I wouldn’t wear this or I wouldn’t put this on my kid’s head.

What is the transition like from building cool planes to helmets?

I was super fortunate because I was in R&D and working with military aircrafts, so I got to spend unlimited timelines and budgets. But when you move to consumer goods, it is very difficult because now there is a defined timeline and a defined amount of money you can spend. I am still accused from time to time of spending more time getting products ready than some people would like.

I would tell people when I was the director of engineering at Specialized that if I saw my own resume, I would have chucked it immediately because that transition from high-end aerospace to consumer goods is not an easy transition. You have to change your mentality. You have to think in shorter timelines.

When we were building an aircraft, I was able to build some that never saw the light of day, you did’t care what color it was. You didn’t care what the esthetics were. You just care about performance. Purely about performance.

Helmets are safety products. But in addition to that, they’re also fashion products. It’s something that if it looks stupid, people aren’t going to wear it. You have to have the balance between aesthetics, colors, graphics and everything like that.

I think it’s a very exciting time for helmets. We are really big into using softer foams. But the way the test standards are built, you have to use a hard foam to pass the test.

So engineers like me were always whining, “Oh the standards aren’t really good because they make our helmets too hard. We should change the standard, especially on the motorcycle side, the foam density is too hard.”

But what it started to do is force us to start looking at how to take care of the things that are important such as low-G impacts and smaller impacts without changing the standard. Instead of going about whining that the standards are wrong, it’s now like how do I accomplish what I want and still fit the standard. You’re starting to see a lot of people paying attention to low-G impacts.

It’s not required by the standards but we believe in it. We believe that foam densities are too hard so therefore how do we attack that problem and still pass the standard as they’re written.

Some companies start their design as an art project. So they start with a shape and then build in the engineering. We go the other way around. Giro did this great video on how they design helmets. It’s how we did it at Specialized, it’s how most people do it. It’s a good video. It starts with a designer, he started sketching out designs, started claying it, and then they brought in the engineer and said make this work.

While this is how helmets have been designed forever and it’s run by the design side, we like to start with the engineering and materials first and then see where we can fit it into the aesthetic side. You can’t do it without both. It’s got to be a marriage between performance, engineering, and the aesthetics.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

All out morning. I am dead by 10 o’clock at night but 5 o’clock in the morning—love that time. Nobody’s out, it’s that adrenaline junkie time. I get a lot more done in that time of day. How did that happen? I don’t know.

What is your favorite cocktail?

I am a beer guy at heart. But if I am going to have a cocktail, it’s going to be a Hendrix gin martini.

What about beer then?

How lucky are we living in northern California. I love a good micro beer – So many great options. City Beer is a great place, right next to SF Moto and has all the beers you want. My day-to-day beer is a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Kali Protectives
The lobby at Kali Protective’s Morgan Hill Headquarters.

What is the one job in the world you would love to do?

This one, without all of the administrative part of running a company. I love being a designer, an engineer, and making new products. So if you would have told me 5, 10, 20 years ago that I’ll be doing this today I would have done anything to have this job.

Had I known all the other parts of this, I might not be quite as excited but I feel very, very fortunate to be in this position.

Favorite book or movie?

Not a huge movie person. I do love the Bourne series. I love action thrillers with a twist.


Trail Tales:
How to Hike the Colorado Trail
Like a German

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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.

The Colorado Trail
Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

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.

What pack and boots are you using?

The pack is the Osprey Atmos 65, I’ve been really happy with it, and the boots are Lowa Caminos.

Have you had people dropping food for you?

No, I just buy food in town.

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.

The Colorado Trail
Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

American Cyclocross Kicks Off at CrossVegas

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Photo: Mark Bibbey/Element.ly

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.


I Can’t Lie, the Biking in Italy Is Bellissimo

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Driving through the Dolomites is far less challenging then pedaling them, but not nearly as rewarding.

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Tire pressures are checked in the early morning hours.

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The steeds.

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The Maratona corral is a packed full of nervous energy.

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Bikes and views abound at the Maratona.

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The winding roads of the Dolomites are attacked by 9,000 riders every year at the Maratona.

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Pizza and beer are a just reward for a day spent in the saddle.

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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.

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Bike dealers from around the world lined up to have their photograph taken with Fausto Pinarello during a rare tour behind-the-scenes at the Pinarello factory. Everyone was in town for the famous La Pina Fondo. Photo: Jim Merithew/ELement.ly.

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.

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Exploring is an essential part of the Italian experience and the further off the beaten track you are willing to go, the more the country will reward you. Photo: Jim Merithew/ELement.ly.

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.

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There is nothing in the world quite like sipping an Aperol Spritz on the Piazza del Campo in Sienna, Italy. Photo: Jim Merithew/ELement.ly.

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.

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The cobbled streets of Treviso are a shoppers paradise.

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.

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A trip to Italy would not be complete without a boat ride in Venice.

Review: Pioneer Power Meter Gives You All the Data

A view of the Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 crankset from the drive side, with the Pioneer power meter sensor built-in.
A view of the Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 crankset from the drive side, with the Pioneer power meter sensor built-in. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly.

It feels odd to have Pioneer in the power meter market since they’re known for making things like car entertainment systems and DJ equipment. But I was excited nonetheless to see a giant box show up one day with their power meter mated to a Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 crankset as well as a Pioneer SGX-CA500 computer.

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.

Pioneer SGX-CA500 computer

Starting it up...

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 crankset

And the inside view of the drive side power meter unit. Notice the slick sensor integration into the crank itself.

Pioneer SGX-CA500 computer

The SGX-CA500 is as big as my camera card reader, but I do like its size - It's just right.

Pioneer SGX-CA500 computer

The box of the Pioneer SGX-CA500 computer

Pioneer Power Meter

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.