So long, 2016.

Photo: Stephen Lam/

It’s that time of the year, again.

That’s right, yearend recap time.

Luckily, for you, mine is short and sweet.

And might I add, Happy Holidays, to each and everyone one of you.

  • Never mix regular brake pads with Mavic Exalith rims. The squeal will be so loud as to bring tears to your eyes and you will find yourself shedding riding partners like a Saint Bernard in Spring.
  • I know flouro colors are the “in” thing,  but there IS such a thing as wearing too much flouro. Remember kids, a little goes a long, long way.
  • I can’t recall having so many cyclists I know being diagnosed with heart-related problems. Jim even died but came back to tell us his story. Do the annual check up and listen to your body, people. It’s okay to take it easy.
  • I read a piece a while back where a writer complained about the over-saturation of logos on bikes. Well, same thing should apply to cycling clothing. I’m happy to have some logos for shoutouts, brand identity or to add a certain je ne sais quoi, but come on. Slapping on a bunch of logos everywhere is not going to make a pair of bibs ride better, but it will make you look like a tacky moving billboard. Less is more, get it? Kudos to Kitsbow and Ornot for getting it right.
  • Doping is not going away. Is it? Could it, please, go away? As for micro-doping/TUE/motor-doping/mechanical fraud, honestly we don’t need to refer to the AP Stylebook or create another industry category just to describe what is commonly known as cheating. Cheating is cheating.
  • I don’t care how awesome your company’s new bike/component is, it’s a guarantee you will lose me if your site has embedded music or a video which auto-starts upon arrival. I will click it if I’m interested, but it’s midnight here and that happy launch video of yours has just aggressively awoken my toddler. I hate you.
  • Don’t forget to buy an awesome set of screwdrivers. I know, it’s easy to turn our attention to cool tools like a Crombie tool or them Usag T-handle hex keys, all the while using shitty screwdrivers to adjust your high-end, battery-powered derailleur (or chores around the house for that matter). Get a good set. You won’t regret this decision, like will the fluoro skinsuit.
  • Out of all the bottle openers I’ve been given from shows and meetings this year, I absolutely love the one from Paul Component. Meticulously CNCed and gorgeously anodized out of Chico, California, this opener is straight up badass. So much so that I am torn as to whether to leave it in my tool box (it doubles as a 15mm open end wrench/rotor truing tool) or in my kitchen. These are the types of tough decision I am willing to wrestle with during the Holidays.
  • Strava KOM/QOM: Yo! You just did an hour ride at an average speed of 60mph? Bro, you should land that ProTour contract and race the Tour. Or, at least, the Giro. Let’s just all be honest for a second and relax about the KOM/QOM hunting. Shall we?
  • Group ride: Do not, I repeat, do not sprint to the front of the pack and ask everyone to stop for a flat. Especially, after the front just turned up the heat and started ripping up the road.
  • Pro tip: Being courteous on the road/trail goes a long way. Be courteous out there.
  • It’s been fun writing/shooting for this year. It is a struggle at times and a thorough and thoughtful review takes much longer than I would have ever imagined. As a relative noob in this business I’m indebted to the many helpful people in the bicycle industry who have welcomed me with open arms and showed me the ropes along the way. It’s been quite a ride, a breath of fresh air from the photography world, and I can’t wait to see what rolls my way in 2017.

Race to Fitness: Dropping Milk, a Half-Gallon at a Time

Photo: Jim Merithew/

I dropped a half gallon of milk.

Not literally, but figuratively. Literally figuratively.

They say a gallon of milk weighs eight pounds and so with my new plan solidly in place I dropped my first five pounds like a brick.

I’d like to say it wasn’t hard. It just took a little will power and, shazam, like magic the weight came right off.

But this would be a lie.

It was hard and annoying. I needed to change my eating habits and my exercise habits.

And over the last three weeks there has been a bag of open cookies on my co-workers, desk directly behind me.

Calling me.

Taunting me.

I mean, come on. How bad could one cookie be.

But as I am fully aware, just like an addiction to nicotine, Fender guitars, or camera bags, it is indeed a slippery slope.

Slippery like a chocolate malt from the Quick Way.

Anyway, I dropped the first five pounds by doing two very specific things.

First, I turned left instead of right.

I commute by bike and in the past I would leave work, turn right and do the short ride to the ferry for the trip home. Always telling myself I would drop my pack at home, pull on my kit and get out for a bike ride. My success rate was about 50 percent. Partly because there was inevitably something urgent needing to be done at home and partly because, by nature, I am a lazy SOB.

So now, instead of turning right, I turn left. I start my ride straight from the office door, whether I am in kit or commuting clothes, whether I really “want” to or not, I have committed to the post-work romp at least three days a week.

And it has worked wonders. Even though we have been experiencing crappy and cold conditions I am having a blast.

I have taken advantage of my Garmin 1000 computer and Strava to download/upload routes around San Francisco I have never ridden before.

It turns out I need to go and if I find any reason, no matter how insignificant, it can derail my best laid plans and my motivation.

So, now I turn left.

Secondly, I have taken a good solid look at everything I am putting in my body and consciously made the decision to look at it as fuel.

The hardest part, as I have stated previously, has been the baked goods. Walking past my neighborhood bakery and not popping in for a blueberry muffin has just about killed me on several occasions. Especially when I am tired and I am, it seems, tired a lot.

I’ve also switched from lattes to espressos, the hardest part of which is not constantly having my cup in my hand. I found the same thing to be true years ago when I quit smoking. Even though my body missed the nicotine, it was my mind not having the actual activity of smoking which drove me bonkers.

Which leads me to my final realization as I continue down this path. And this seems weird event to me. But having dropped the first five pounds has made me feel fatter and less “in-shape” than I have in years. I guess it could be partly the fact I realize I have carrying around so much extra weight for so long, or it could just be paying so much attention to these two things has made me hyper-aware, but whatever it is it not something I wish to celebrate, just yet.

Unless the celebration includes a pint of Ben&Jerry’s Chunky Monkey?

Anyway, I’m off to try and drop another half gallon of milk.

Wish me luck.

“Put Me In Any Race”: An Interview With Laurens Ten Dam

Laurens “Wolfman” ten Dam is a slightly more groomed these days, in comparison to years past. Photo: Jim Merithew/

Laurens ten Dam wasn’t voted most popular in his high school yearbook.

“I was already racing my bike by 17,” he says. “Which was considered pretty weird in comparison to drinking beer and smoking pot. But then maybe you were a little bit the outlaw because you were really into sports.”

Ten Dam, who now rides for pro tour team LottoNL-Jumbo, is no longer the outlaw and he certainly does not lack for popularity. He has over 75,000 followers on the popular athlete site Strava and those same followers gave his nine mile ride to the grocery store last week 1660 kudos.

“I just try to be myself,” he says. “I don’t try to make up something to be popular.”

We caught up with Ten Dam outside the world headquarters of Strava. He was making a quick appearance between a three-week training camp in Tahoe—part of his Tour de France prep—and his flight back home. While he was in Northern California he made sure to secure the Donner Pass KOM on Strava to add to his virtual trophy shelf.

“Getting those KOMs is like any other mountain top finish,” says Ten Dam. “I had to just sit down.”

Ten Dam asked to get a peak at the famous bike closet during his visit to Strava. Photo: Jim Merithew/

He sipped on his macchiato (“This is good coffee.”) and when we asked if he would like some fruit or something else to eat, he declined. He is watching his weight (or lack there of).

During our brief time together, we tried to get the answer to the questions the main stream media are afraid to ask.

What’s your spirit animal: They call me Wolfman. He says he got this nickname a few years ago when he showed up at the tour with a full beard and long, long hair. “Like an animal.”

Toilet paper, over or under: Over

Stemware up or down: I just had to put it down while I was in Tahoe, but at home, up.

Favorite color: Red, um no Yellow.

Three friends using three words to describe you: My best friends would say I am a pitbull, never giving up. I’m honest. And I’m a pain in the ass. I can trigger them. Always moaning and bitching. Always bitching.

Boxers or briefs: What’s a brief? Oh. Boxers.

Favorite food: BBQ Steak

Least favorite: Sugary foods. I like them, but I don’t eat them.

Favorite race: Tour de France

Least favorite: I love racing. I’ve even done the kermesses in Belgium. Actually you can put me in any race.

Favorite non-bicycling activity: enjoying a nice Belgian beer.

You seem to be very popular with the dudes, but not so popular with the ladies: I don’t know maybe they see the ring on my finger and I’ve been with my wife since I was very young, so I don’t know. You will have to ask them.

Longterm plan: I want to ride my last professional year with an American domestic team. Maybe live in Santa Cruz, ride four hours, go the beach and bbq some steaks.

Ten Dam gets the star treatment while being interviewed at Strava Headquarters. Photo: Jim Merithew/