Wednesday, April 13, 2011
With the pack asserting itself at 10mph on a flat road I could only wonder how tough the day was going to be. With 22-25mph winds howling straight at us we were pedaling in molasses. It is times like this, inside a nervous pack; you start to see what you are made of and what you lack. Bumping elbows and watching for sliding wheels was the order of the day. In what seemed like an eternity we finally hit mile 6 and I turned to my teammate and said “wow…only 52 more miles like this.” He didn’t seem to appreciate the humor.
Soon there was the horrible thud of bodies, skidding of tires and an awful scream followed by some of the most haunting agony vocalized that I can ever remember. As I rolled through the carnage getting hit by a tumbling bike I could only turn to the photographer on the roadside and shout for her to call 911. Still on lap one of three there was work to do.
With the change from road to dirt on and off through the event if your legs weren’t screaming your brain was churning from close calls, attacks to the art of racing a bike. There would be no rest today, just pain. With the split in the pack caused by the earlier carnage of bodies I soon found myself in a smaller second group. It was time to take inventory of the level of riders I would be working with to close the gap to the leaders and hopeful working against to leave behind towards the end of the race. A thought we all silently let play in our minds.
The day wore on and the carbon Tommaso was working like a champ. I had double padded the bars and ran tubeless wheels so I could run lower pressure. I had about 85psi in the front and rear. To be honest the bike seemed to just float along without any abuse to my body. I even made it to the top of the nasty dirt climb that had many a strong rider getting off to walk/run up. The Tommaso just kept going and it made me happy that I was on a machine I could trust. For the tech-heads I ran a 52/36 ring set-up on the cranks and a SRAM 11x 26 cassettes on the rear. In hind-site a compact 50/34 would have been a great choice as well.
Being a part of Tommaso Nation and pulling away from the six riders in my group on a challenging stretch of dirt road made me proud. Not so much that I was able to go off the front of the group but that I was having such a good day on the Tommaso and representing the Nation. When everything seems to be exploding around you and guys are falling off, getting flats, dropping chains and just losing hope I felt I could just keep going and going.
My Tommaso Volo was probably the most modest priced bike in the race. I would guess my Tommaso was about $2,000 less that the bikes I was competing against. We’ve always believed in making bikes that people can enjoy and afford! The Tommaso staff puts thousands of miles on our bikes and on certain days we race them just to throw an extra amount of abuse into the mix. This day was just another test the bike passed that makes us proud to offer it to you-the rider.
There is an added pleasure knowing a bike so well and having so much invested in making it right for so many riders. During this race I thought of the Tommaso Nation and hoped they shared the same love and excitement for their bikes as I do mine. This energy turned into motivation and even though I was beginning to get tired and mentally exhausted I lit up the engine for the long stretch to the finish line waving the flag of Tommaso Nation!
Enjoy the Ride-TR
[By the end of the day the Lady Tommaso finished 9th on her Corvo and I rolled in 19th on my Tommaso Volo. We will be back next year for that elusive cobblestone trophy!]
Thursday, December 30, 2010
It’s the end of the year and the beginning of another. Most Websites are posting Top 10 lists of people or events as a reminder of the 365 day obstacle course we call a year in the life. Here at Tommaso Bicycles we are working on the 2012 bikes. It’s one of the little funnies about this job…you never can remember what year it is!
This year was fun. How could it not be in the bike industry right? Well it is a lot of work and long hours too but in the end it is more rewarding and exciting than anything else I could imagine doing as a career. I even got married this Summer on my Tommaso Volo! Tommaso Nation is a blast too. This year I got to ride with Kampy on his way through Colorado, had great fun with TC (he even shot a video eating a KFC Double Down), and shared jokes and thoughts with Mize, Keenan, Gab Beer, Tomassetti, SD, Jesse, Edsta, KJ, DS, KP, Qba, T-Webb, Cole and so many more!
Tommaso Nation is a big part of our day. Thanks to Facebook we have a nice place to hang out and chat about bikes, rides, news and nasty (yummy) foods. The more we share about our experiences in cycling the richer the community becomes. So many dinners at home start with “You should see what KP said today on Tommaso’s Facebook…” What other bike company talks about their loyal riders on a first name (or initial) basis at dinner? That is the beauty of what we have with Tommaso Nation. Family!
So as a group we will head into next year wheels-a-blazing and shifters firing! We will welcome new members into Tommaso Nation and continue to share the special moments on our bikes. We will train, sweat, fall, race, get rained on and get honked at together. So when the starting gun goes off on Saturday morning and 2011 officially begins we hope you know you have over a thousand friends wanting you to enjoy your first ride of the New Year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
It was dark and cold as I hit the pedal and rolled away from the office and headed home. I turned on my light and followed my beam into the black. As I passed under the street lights I could see my shadow move from my left to ahead of me with each passing of the high placed street lamps. It seems I am always racing someone…even my shadow.
The neighborhood windows glowed warm and I could see the rare family dinner scenes taking place. Mostly it was the constant electric rectangle keeping the attention of the couch prisoners. We all enjoy company even if it comes from a television.
Earlier in the day I had some company of my own. I was trail running and came across a coyote. We both stopped and looked at each other. We probably shared the same thought: Is he going to attack me? I moved along to the south and the coyote headed east. It was a nice moment and on a long trail run a visitor is a welcome site…even if it is a coyote.
Getting closer to home I was watching the light on my handlebar reflect of my front wheel and sending wonderful silver flashes off of my spokes. It was dead silent and I could hear every motion of my bike-the rubber on the road and the revolution of the chain. We were just humming along, just me and my custom white Tommaso fixie. Outside of the human element my bike is my lifelong companion. It has been since I can remember. Sure I was lured away like many others by the freedom of a driver’s license and a gas pedal but I came back. The bike has always just felt right.
So tonight on my nightly return home I found myself happy and smiling. Joyful to be a grown man riding a bike in the dark following a little beam of light home in the cold. Thankful to not be in a car, thankful to be experiencing life from my bike and thankful that coyote was friendly. Mostly I am thankful for my wife, family, my career in cycling and for all the friends at Tommaso Nation.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I’ve seen a lot of wonderful things from my saddle this year. I raced grueling events that tested me almost as much as an Ironman. In riding my bike to work I've seen great mountain views and little details like foxes and falcons. I climbed Mont Ventoux (twice) and I even got married on my Tommaso bike on the top of a mountain! It has been an amazing year and I am very lucky. There’s a saying about luck: “Luck favors the prepared.” Basically the more you prepare for a certain result the better chance you’ll get that result.
The year tuned out to be amazing because I make cycling such a big part of my life. From the commute to work, the lunch ride, my career and the time spent tinkering in the garage I am surrounded by bikes and like minded people. My friends work at VeloNews, Hutchinson, Specialized, Trek, BMC, Shimano and SRAM. My wife loves to ride bikes as much as I do (she’s even racing cross now!). To say I am “into cycling” is to say Captain Ahab liked to fish.
It is in this life that my life takes place. Going to the store is a trip on the bike. Date night to our favorite restaurant is a trip on our bikes. When we decided to get married our first thought was what mountain are we going to ride up and tie the knot? And of course the honeymoon was cycling the Tour routes in France. Daily life with a bike is something that will stay with me forever. I have good days and bad days but they are all bike days.
Another big part of this life is sharing it with all of you on the Facebook Fan Page and on Twitter. Do you think I’ll ever forget Todd Cooper eating a KFC Double Down on video? I’m thankful that Qba checks in from Afghanistan and crazy Jesse gives shout-outs from Florida. I look forward to comparing notes with Kenneth and Steve during the classics and Tours. I even got to ride with Kampy as he traveled across the US on his way home. Yes, lucky man!
So as winter approaches get out the cold weather gear and continue on with the good life. Make plans for the upcoming year and set some goals. Prepare a route in life that includes cycling and soon you will find that we are all pretty lucky.
Thanks for reading-TR
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I would like to say the mountains met me with gentle conversation but they did not. Their cruelty began early and livened our time together with sharp grades and undulations. For I am the traveler the mountain understands. I am the lone traveler with the human powered engine and the cooling sweat that drips onto the thirsty parched pavement.
Those bigger vehicles with their metal pistons and fake atmosphere would not understand this journey as I do. Those “others” float fat on gravy seats hastening the throttled explosions under the hulking hood while portly maneuvering around the bends made so generous for their proud obese fenders. Those damned vehicles that will someday deliver my doom. Curse them all!
My eyes are hollow now and I look through my eyelids for respite ahead. As the snow appears I feel the cool promise or relief but know it is a lie told only to the weaker pockets in my brain to keep doubt at bay. At 9000 feet the only relief is at home, thousands of feet below.
The serpent dance has begun on my pedals as I am standing looking to find the mythical rhythm to get me through the kick and deliver me to a gentler bend. In truth I want more. Suffering is the way, the badge, the life. Here on this road built by men long dead and surrounded by monstrous boulders I am searching for a moment of my own and the only souvenir I can carry home is the suffering.
Cresting the top I tug at the zipper on my jersey providing the only protection I will have on the cold descent back to the toil of cars and bustle. I lean, bend and contort my body into shapes to steal any precious speed I can find. The wheels are whirling now and the room for error was vacated at the top. Lean left and push hard on the right pedal. Pick that line and carve, carve, carve!
The ride down is the drive home from the hot date. The real action was on the way up but the way down gives me a chance to relish in the hot sweat and love. It’s a beautiful dance of pain and desire and the mountains are always a wonderful partner. A brief break for refreshments and it’s time to go again. The orchestra begins to play a waltz I will never tire from and I will always answer to with lively legs and a pumping heart. The glory is in the mountains.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
You would probably find Floyd Landis in a Radio Shack Team kit before you would find me participating in a community wide, 22-mile (free-for-all) path ride…but there I was elbows out praying for safe passage like Michael Rasmussen trying to descend during a 2005 Tour de France time trial (I’ll take obscure TdF references for $200 Alex…). The bottom line was the kids wanted to ride and I was going to make sure they did. It’s not every day that you can get teenagers away from video games and I was not going to miss this opportunity. Red Dead Redemption be damned! We were riding!
That morning I left for a quick primer of 50 miles with Turbo-Mom and we told the kids to drink plenty of water and be ready at 2:30 to ride. As we were leaving out the door I noticed the boy eating two big burritos…It was then I decided I would be pulling the whole way. We finished our training ride and took a quick nap while the junior cycling squad got ready to roll. I took quick inventory before we left. Water, sunscreen, helmets, patience and I took some gels just in case.
Of course I only had my team gear to wear (I did tone it down with black bibs). Paul Sherwin would have commented that I looked “resplendent in my team strip” but in the crowd of YMCA t-shirts, cargo shorts and baseball hats under first generation Bell helmets I stood out like the Pope at a Slayer concert. Even though certain portions of the route would not be paved I still rolled out on the Tommaso Volo…If I could race the Boulder Roubaix on my carbon Tommaso dream machine I think I could handle some gravel paths and 50 soccer moms…
The team (family unit) and I quickly fell into formation and headed out into the sea of T-shirt, tetanus threatening drivetrains and…well…bad bike handling. At 10 mph there is going to be some weaving. Throw in some children, hot sun and poor course marking and it all goes right into the Port-o-Let.
Right from the start we were having fun. There was laughing and zero shaved leg, “don’t ding my $8,000 bike” aggression. Dads were sitting way too low on their bikes and Mom’s were busy telling little Jimmy to stop cutting off the other riders. It was a Cat 1 racer’s nightmare…I thought it was hysterical! Where else would I find myself being pulled by a girl in a swimsuit on a cruiser and a guy on a mountain bike wearing a cowboy hat smelling like some summer ale? Not at the local ACA event that’s for sure.
As the miles wore on we laughed and surged through the carnival pack and came to a rest stop. It was time for the teenage girl to have an energy gel to get her through the next hour…she balked. She did not want to eat the gel. It was like Joe Regan trying to get some Fear Factor contestant to eat a live centipede. Amazing…the kid can eat popcorn, orange juice and 4 scoops of ice cream drowning in chocolate sauce (in one sitting) and you can’t get her to eat something that tastes like 1.1 ounce of vanilla pudding. With some encouragement from the group and a switch to chocolate she survived…barely.
Full of renewed energy and rest we were heading towards home. We counted off the last remaining miles out loud and hit our street at exactly 22 miles! We had survived the baby strollers, weavers, criers, drunkards and the course. Most importantly the kids finished their longest ride ever in one piece. Their Mom and I shared a quick glimpse of joy as we parked the bikes in the garage.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I’ll be the first to admit to my shallowness as a cyclist in the past. As I get closer to completing my second decade of riding I have learned to tone down the trash talk and keep the “finger” under control. I’ve put away the silly finish line celebration and can even be downright pleasant to ride with on the bike. In the past I was a brash little punk who used cycling as release therapy for my inner angry-man...or angry-child as my friends would joke. I actually thought I was going to be the next Cipollini and I had the ego to match…and you thought the “tools” were only at Home Depot.
Now that I am older and my rear cassette has grown from 7-speed to 10-speed I have gained some knowledge and humility. My ego has shrunk and no longer has its own solar system. I bark a lot less and pull a lot more. I stop to check on cyclist parked on the side of the road looking for karma from past transgressions. I still have a lot of competitiveness in my bones but try to save it for the times I pay to pin a number on my back and try to look good for my 1-woman fan club.
Now…I do have one little pet peeve I still can’t let slide. I am sharing this with you in hopes you don’t fall into this bad habit. Here it is: If you are going to “aggressively” pass a fellow rider (namely me) on a climb you better have the milk to make it stick. Don’t race past me and then blow up like a cheap bottle rocket 10-feet out of the bottle. Blowing by me like Lance Armstrong only to fall back to earth like Neil Armstrong won’t win any points with me. In fact there’s a good chance…like 100%...that I will come after you. Yes, I can be that shallow...like a kiddie pool. There won’t be words but there will be the back of my jersey for you to look at…well, for a little bit.
Cyclists make mistakes. Newbies wear bibs over their jersey. They get squirrely trying to get a gel out of a jersey pocket or drop a bottle on a group ride. Some kickback 5-feet when they stand to climb…these things happen and should be addressed tastefully as a learning moment and not a screaming match. But seeing a fellow cyclist shoot up the climb and thinking your “inner Marco Pantani” is going to teleport you past a fellow roadie into another zip code is just wrong. Pass me like a pro and you will get a cheer..pass me for show and you will get a jeer…and I will hunt you down.
I think we got it now. Jersey over bibs, hold your line, shift down one gear before you stand and climb like you love the mountain more than the attention you want to have on yourself…that’s all I ask.
See you out there!