Gary Fisher, Mellow Johnny’s sponsor Hotel San Jose team

Friday, February 26, 2010 3 comments
Team Hotel San Jose, an Austin, Texas-based road team, has two new sponsors for this season, Gary Fisher Bicycles and the Mellow Johnny’s bike shop.

The team’s full name is now Team Hotel San José/Mellow Johnny’s Presented by Subaru-Gary Fisher.

“Having the support of companies that are so easily integrated into the cycling scene is both exciting and satisfying,” said Todd Reed, the team’s executive director.

Gary Fisher Bicycles is supplying the team with Gary Fisher Cronus custom carbon road bikes (custom painted in the squad’s green, orange and black color scheme) with SRAM Red components and HED carbon wheels. Gary Fisher himself will be on hand Friday night at Mellow Johnny’s to showcase his support of the team in an event that is open to the public.

Poor Contador

Thursday, February 25, 2010 4 comments
Alberto Contador isn’t happy about the UCI’s decision to ban his Specialized Shiv time trial bike on the eve of Sunday’s decisive final TT in the Volta ao Algarve.

The UCI notified Astana and Saxo Bank team management via e-mail Friday that the Shiv time trial bike – which was unveiled as a prototype in last year’s Tour de France – did not conform to UCI’s rules.

“I am not happy about it, but we are working together to get something ready. It was a surprise for everyone,” said Contador. “I’ve been training on the Shiv for months and now I have to race on something I’ve never ever ridden before. The other bike is no better or worse, it’s just that it’s a different bike. Tomorrow we’ll just to do the best we can.”

The point of contention is a reinforced section of frame between the head tube and down tube that helps flow air around the down tube and provides extra stability. This section of frame extends beyond an 8cm “box” measured across the cross-section of the tube as outlined in UCI rules.

When measured off the head tube, the bike fits within the rules, but because this part of the frame wraps around to the down tube, the UCI also insisted that a measurement also be taken off the down tube. It was here that the bike ran into trouble and extended beyond the 8cm limit.

The ruling immediately affects riders at both Specialized-sponsored ProTour teams, Astana and Saxo Bank. Saxo Bank riders competing in this week’s Ruta del Sol also will not be allowed to use the bikes. The bike is still “street legal” for use in triathlon.

Company officials in Portugal said they have been working closely with the UCI since last year to assure that the Shiv would be compliant to UCI rules. Dating back to last summer, Specialized twice changed design aspects after the UCI raised concerns and met face-to-face with UCI officials to discuss the frame.

Despite a month’s long dialogue with UCI officials, they insist they didn’t hear about the UCI’s concerns until late January, and by then, the bikes were already in the hands of riders preparing for the first major races of the 2010 season.

“We are extremely frustrated, because we were in contact with the UCI since last year and we never got a clear indication there was a problem with the bike until January 29,” said Simone Toccafondi, sports marketing manager for the road Specialized. “We want to fully cooperate with the UCI and comply with their rules. We believed we were doing the right thing.”

UCI officials could not be contacted for comment on this story, but the UCI has been making noises about stricter enforcement of design guidelines dating back to last year’s Tour of California.

There’s been some confusion and different interpretations of UCI rules language and how they are applied to time trial bike design.

Stunned by the UCI decision, officials from Astana and Specialized on the ground in Portugal put aside their frustration and mobilized Saturday to prepare a new bike for Contador’s defense of his yellow jersey.

Instead of racing The Shiv for the first time, Contador instead will compete on a 2009 Transition TT frame that was modified to meet UCI requirements. Mechanics literally sawed off 2cm of two reinforcements off the bike to fall within the 8cm rule.

The pieces could be trimmed off the Transition frame because they were not an integral part of the frame material. It would be impossible to cut them off the Shiv, however, without damaging the integrity of the carbon-fiber frame.

Contador briefly rode the modified bike following Saturday’s stage to get a feel for the bike and to get the best fit possible. Although other Transition frames arrived, the other Astana riders will likely ride on their road bikes with aero wheels and handlebar extenders because the focus was on pulling together Contador’s bike.

The ruling underscores the sometimes thin line that bike manufacturers must straddle in trying to comply with the UCI’s rules, yet try to push the envelope when it comes to bike design and development.

Bruyneel set to lead RadioShack in Tour de France

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 2 comments
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP)—Johan Bruyneel has a new team but an old feeling as he gets ready to go for a 10th Tour de France title this year.

Bruyneel helped lead Lance Armstrong to seven straight Tour de France titles from 1999-2005. He also won eight team Tour titles with USPS and Discovery before winning with Astana last year.

Now, he is the director of Armstrong’s newly formed RadioShack Cycling Team and said he’s happy to have total control after a tough year with Astana.

“It’s my team, it’s the team I built, and it’s going to be a good atmosphere,” Bruyneel said Friday. “That’s the main reason I’m back into my team. Astana has never felt as my team.”

Bruyneel was in Colorado as the featured speaker at the USA Triathlon International Coaching Symposium. During his nearly two-hour speech, he talked about his relationship with Armstrong and his struggles with Astana in 2009.

Despite winning the team title, and coaching overall winner Alberto Contador, it wasn’t a fulfilling experience for Bruyneel. He clashed with Contador and the sponsors, and his loss of control led to his decision to leave the team.

“It was not a very hard decision because of the sometimes stress-filled relationship with Alberto, and the difficulties within the team and with the sponsors of the team. It was a very difficult relationship I had,” he said.

There was tension between Contador and Armstrong, who finished third. Contador said publicly he “never had admiration for Armstrong,” and Armstrong countered that Contador had “lots to learn.”

Bruyneel and Armstrong left Astana to form RadioShack.

“It’s basically the same relationship with the same people. It’s a co-partnership with Lance and his management,” Bruyneel said. “It’s like Discovery and Postal again.”

Bruyneel said Armstrong, even at 38, is motivated to win his eighth Tour. The cancer survivor came out of retirement last year.

“He’s super motivated to beat Alberto, but at the same time he knows it’s going to be difficult,” Bruyneel said. “I think that brings his motivation to a higher level.”

Floyd Landis: Evil Computer Hacker?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 4 comments
A French judge has issued an arrest warrant for Floyd Landis for allegedly hacking into a French anti-doping lab’s computer system, the president of the French anti-doping agency told AFP Friday.

The investigation into the alleged hacking began in 2006.

Pierre Bordry, head of the French agency, told AFP Landis used documents that were “illegally hacked from the authority’s laboratory computer system” in his defense after he was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win following a positive test for drugs. A French judge issued the warrant on January 28 in response to the American’s failure to answer a summons issued in November, Bordry said.

According to Bordry, the warrant applies to those countries, including the U.S., with which France has an extradition agreement. However, French authorities have since said that the warrant applies only to French national territory.

The judge intends to ask him “to explain how he came to obtain certain information that was used in his defense,” added Bordry.

Landis did not immediately return a message VeloNews left on his cell phone voice mail. But in an e-mail to The Los Angeles Times, he denied the hacking allegation and said no warrant had been served against him.

“I can’t speak for Arnie (Baker), but no attempt has been made to formally contact me,” Landis said in the e-mail. “It appears to be another case of fabricated evidence by a French lab who is still upset a United States citizen believed he should have the right to face his accusers and defend himself.” Baker, a former American rider and cycling coach for whom an arrest warrant was issued in November, is also being sought by the French authorities in connection with the affair.

Landis tested positive for a skewed testosterone-epitestosterone ratio following the 17th stage of the 2006 edition of the Tour de France. He had won that stage in spectacular fashion with a solo attack that virtually secured him the yellow jersey only 24 hours after a dramatic collapse on stage 16.

But he was stripped of his Tour win in September 2007, more than a year after he crossed the finishing line on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. He was banned from racing for two years, making his return in January 2009.

During that time he carried on the legal fight to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), sport’s highest appeal authority, which threw out his case in June 2008 and ordered him to pay $100,000 in judicial costs to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

The accusation of hacking first arose when the AFLD lodged legal proceedings on November 7, 2006, after becoming aware that documents belonging to them had been used in Landis’ defense.

According to sources close to the inquiry the electronic paper trail led them to Baker’s computer address.

Contacted by VeloNews in April of last year, Baker denied involvement in the alleged attempts to break into the lab’s computer system.

“I did not hack into, nor did I help or hire anyone to hack into the LNDD computer system,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Landis continues to race. He competed in the Tour of the Bahamas in January and this past weekend raced in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun.

9 Tips to a Safer Ride with Trey Steele

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 2 comments
Stolen from our friends at Jack & Adams and written by Trey Steele. Trey is the co-founder of the Grease Monkey Wipes sponsored Austin Cycle Camp. Some great information...

The roads of Central Texas are bustling with the sounds of cars, trucks, SUV’s, and the lovely hum of hubs, cogs, chains, and cranks that signal cycling hibernation is over and it’s time to start thinking about the 2010 season. Whether you’re a total road rookie or seasoned veteran, the simple fact is that as the number of vehicles and bicycles on the roads increase, so do your chances of being involved in an accident. Here are nine tips to help make this season a safe one.

Tip 1 – If you wouldn’t do it in you car, don’t do it on your bike

We can talk forever about rules of the road, riding defensively, and the like. But the bottom line is that if you’re about to do something on your bike you would never think of doing in your car, don’t. I see cyclists blow through red lights and tempt their fate at four way stops. If you’re trying to see how fast you can go, sign up for a race. Otherwise, set an example for everyone and follow the traffic laws. That’s cooler than ending up in ICU.

Tip 2 – Carry Identification

In the event something happens, it’s important for emergency personnel to know who you are and any existing medical conditions they may need to be aware of. That can be as easy as carrying a cell phone and programming an I.C.E. number (in case of emergency). There are also other options available including Road I.D., an identification band that provides first responders a number to call for your pertinent medical history. In fact, J&A will soon be carrying Road I.D., so drop by and pick one up!

Tip 3 – Ride away from the sun

As winter slowly fades, it leaves the sun at some seriously blinding angles this time of the year. There’s no reason to be riding East early in the morning right now. It’s very easy for a driver not to see you (or even another car for that matter). Get in the habit of riding away from the sun. Not only will your eyes thank you for not having to squint through your glasses, you’ll give motorists a better chance of seeing you.

Tip 4 – Find roads where the traffic speed is slower

A good rule of thumb is if the posted speed limit is 35 mph or slower, you have a lower risk of being in an accident with a car. Simply put, slower moving vehicles give drivers more time to react. If you need to do some training on a road with a faster speed limit, look for shoulders that are at least a car width wide. The usual suspects of 360 and Bee Cave road are good options. INSIDE TIP – watch for right turns. Once the speed of the road gets up, your biggest risk is cars turning right. Find roads with a limited number of right turns.

Tip 5 – Lights are cool

If you’re riding in the morning or evening (like most of us), get some lights. And no, high visibility clothing does not replace a light. Go ahead and get one for the front of your bike as well. I would recommend a rear light that uses LED bulbs and flashes at varying intervals and intensity. INSIDE TIP - try before you buy. If you have a saddlebag that sits at an angle, take your bike in and work with someone in the shop to find a light that works. Bottom line – if it’s flashing at the moon, the big black SUV behind you may not see it.

Tip 6 – The Rear Wheel Rules

When riding in a pace line, if you’re not looking at the rear wheel right in front of you, you’re looking at a crash. In fact, over 85% of all bicycle crashes occur with another bicycle, not a motorist. And if you want to end up eating a pavement sandwich, the fastest way to do that is overlap your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider in front of you. The rear wheel is only part of the “cockpit” you should be checking including left and right of the cyclist in front of you and an occasional glance to the front of the train. If you want to enjoy a respite from the wind by drafting, that begins as far as two feet behind the rider in front of you. The closer you get should be dependent on your handling skills but most importantly, how well you know that rider and what their tendencies are.

Tip 7 – Communicate

If I’m riding behind you, I’m not easily able to see road debris, obstructions, or any obstacle that could cause me to touch pavement. It’s your responsibility in a group ride to communicate these to the riders behind you. If you’re new to cycling, you’ve probably seen riders using hand signals to communicate these obstacles to one another. Just like the opening scene from A Few Good Men, theses gestures should be passed along quickly. And if someone points out something on the road, that’s a good time to move slightly in the opposite direction of the point. Don’t be a rubbernecker! Just pass the gesture along and move aside. Likewise for any verbal command passed forward. “Car back” means just that. Slide over, position yourself single file, and allow the vehicle to pass safely. If in doubt, Point or Yell it out.

Tip 8 – Get off the road

At some point in your cycling career, you will encounter a mechanical issue with your bike. It could be something as simple as a flat or more complex like a broken chain. In any case, it’s important to assess the situation and perform your repair OFF THE ROAD. And this goes for anyone else on the group ride who has stopped to wait for the repair. I’ve seen more than one rider stick their “tail” out in traffic during a mechanical stop completely oblivious to the fact. If you’re on a group ride and everyone stops for a mechanical issue, get yourself completely off the road.

Tip 9 – Be Vigilant, Not a Vigilante

If you do end up in a collision with a vehicle, try to remain as calm as possible. It’s easy to find yourself in a state of shock and the next thing you know, you’re trying to take matters into your own hands. This is usually more the case if you’re part of a group ride and someone else in your group is struck. If the vehicle involved in the accident stops, call 911 and provide detailed information about your location. If they don’t stop, do your best to get a vehicle description, license plate number, and provide that to authorities when you make your call to 911. Then turn your attention to keeping everyone calm until help arrives.

Being safe is a responsibility we all share. If you work on it the same way you do any other part of your training, 2010 should be one of your safest ever.

Great stuff Trey...

Trey Steele is a USA Cycling Certified Coach and Co Founder of Austin Cycle Camp, providing fitness camps and skills clinics to cyclists of all ability levels.

Racing this week: Mallorca, Qatar and Tour Med

Monday, February 8, 2010 1 comments
February is a time to clear out the cobwebs, stretch the legs and get back to the business of racing.

It’s common to see Australians and Spanish riders take early-season victories, thanks in part of the mild winter (or summer, for the Aussies), which allows them to train almost uninterrupted throughout the off-season.

Some riders come in guns a-blazin’, looking to notch some confidence-building wins and hone form for the spring classics. Others are just looking to put some race miles in the legs for goals further on down the road.

In either case, everyone seems glad to be back at race speed. This week, the Mallorca Challenge in Spain’s Balearic islands and the Tour Mediterranéen along France’s Med coast fit the bill. And then there’s the Tour of Qatar, entering its ninth edition of one of cycling’s most exotic locales for a race.

Post Shark Tank Update

Monday, February 1, 2010 12 comments
For those who are curious, the response from Shark Tank was greater than we ever imagined. We thought we would share a few stats:

1) Grease Monkey Wipes was the #1 most searched term on Google the night of the show, and #3 the following day.
2) Web traffic to increased by over 6,000%.
3) We nearly tripled our sales from 2009 in 1 week.
4) We have received thousands of emails since the show. Tim & I are trying our best to personally respond to each one. (We're finally just about finished)
5) We now have people knocking on OUR door, versus us begging them to answer theirs.
6) Our little company has legs, and we are so much closer to creating a global wipe empire!

For anyone curious, we talk with Barbara, Chelsea (who works with Barbara) and/or Robert at least a few times a week. The deal was real - and they are amazing mentors.

Tim & I are counting our blessings every day... and again extending thanks to all of our supporters. THANK YOU!