Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gran Fondo Goodies

Every August for the past 6 years I've made the trip up to Madison Wisconsin for Trek World, the bicycle manufacturers product release party for dealers. This year the show was a bit more subdued than in previous years as most of the product had been pre-released through various channels. The Fisher brand was re-badged as Treks Gary Fisher collection months ago. The new Madone SSL and Speed Concept were released before the TdF, so, where did that leave us?

Let's start with the Gary Fisher Collection. I've been riding Fishers for about 12 years now, love'em. I was a little bummed when I heard we wouldn't be seeing the Fisher name on the downtube anymore. But, what you see to the left is the beginning benefit of the change. We now get three Superfly hardtail options, two Superfly 100 options and an entry level bike around $700.

The other cool thing going on around the booth were all the little things. Tons of new tires, shoes, helmets, commuter clothing, lights and more.

The new limited edition RXXXL shoe was turning lots of heads. If any of you remember the Nike Poggio from a few years back, this shoe is based off of it. One piece upper, ultra light weight. So much so that Bontrager did away with the buckle to save weight. They have an equally cool standard model which is here.

The Cronus CX is everything we hoped it would be. Internal cable routing, ample mud clearance, fender mounts for off-season training, and a new tire called the CX0. I'm pretty excited to give this thing a ride but quantities will be slim to none for another 4 months.

We did more riding this year than we had at previous editions. We rolled into Madison and promptly grabbed the bikes to spin the legs out before the Centurion Gran Fondo. The following morning and day would be plagued by strong storms. As we pedaled over to the start from Capital Brewery it began raining, and raining, and soon the threat of strong storms had us all taking cover in an airplane hanger.  Two hours of cover to be exact. The strong winds and rain as well as lightening forced the promoters to delay the start and cancel the 100 mile, dropping us down to 50.

We finally got lined up and I was back in the fifth or sixth row, ready to get rolling. My only thought, get to the front before the neutral roll-out came to an end. I got their just in time as the start horn blew and the group was immediately single file and in the gutter. It didn't take long before a front group of 25 or so riders was clear. After 10 miles I was relieved to see MT and stoked that he had made the cut. The pace was really high as most of the group looked to be comprised of Cat 1 Wisconsin road racers.

The rain came and went as we twisted and turned over the rolling hills of central Wisconsin. The race/ride/tour was fully supported by Mavic. Lead moto for breakaways and two follow neutral support cars. It was straight out of a pro tour event. Matt and I did a bit of work at the front to help keep the two breakaway riders in check. That was, until the KOM climb. We both got popped off the lead group and after a 45 mph descent in the heaviest rain I think I've ever ridden in we were stuck in the chase group. We were however in quite good company. The man taking charge of our group was none other than 7-Eleven pro rider Jeff Bradley, who now owns a Trek Store in Davenport Iowa.

We were less than 30 seconds off the front group but we had some dead weight in our group which kept messing up the tempo. My plan, attack! and hope that Bradley, MT and a couple of the stronger guys would come with me. I got away easily, problem was, nobody made an effort to come across. After floating off the front for a mile or two I drifted back to our group of 7 to try something again.

By now we were within five miles of the finish and on the last climb I put in a slight acceleration, just hard enough to split the group. This time I pulled Bradley and his teammate away with me. The three of us got to business pretty quick and my mind went straight into tactics mode, trying to figure out how I could handle my 2 on 1 predicament. Unfortunately I wasn't willing to play the cat and mouse game into the finish knowing I have zero jump and sprint. I was going to be the guy you see that's on damage control going into the finish, keeping the tempo high so nobody comes up behind.

The teammates jumped me with 200 meters to go, party over. Fifty miles in 2 hours, with 2700 feet of climbing. Finished in 17th overall, MT rolled in a half minute later in 20th, battling some cramps. Scott Stevens our KC manager had an awesome ride to finish 31st in 2:05 and Bryan chased hard all day to finish 73rd in 2:12, and Miah rode a respectable 2:51 to finish 439th. The event was awesome, I can only imagine what it would be like had it been the full 100 miles. If you get a chance to race/ride this next year, do it, it's awesome.

More on day two tomorrow...Madone SSL, Speed Concept and more.


RF said...

Nice racing!

The Lucas said...

Sounds great! Kinda makes me feel like river dancing!

Shim said...

Cool Bontrager bowling shoes!