This was his last and probably best Classic victory .
It’s often said that life is too short to spend your time doing something that you do not enjoy . To spend eight hours per day five days per week doing something which you do not enjoy must surely be an example of a form of madness .
Luckily Ray and myself get to go to work each day without ever getting that feeling of dread which many people get at some stage . To have a job which revolves around your passion is a very lucky position to be in . Working in a bike shop also means you get to meet your friends and fellow cyclists regularly . The amazing thing is that sharing your passion with others is actually a good way to make a pretty good living . An incident which happened in the shop yesterday really made me think about this .
A customer came in who was thinking of buying a road bike . I spent some time chatting with him to find out what type of riding he would be doing and trying to get a feel for what bike may be best suited to his needs . Initially I suggested a Giant SCR 4.0 for 539 euro which would have been a good value entry level bike . However as the customer had a slightly bigger budget a Kellys IRC 3.9 with the new Shimano Tiagra 10 speed groupset which is very similar to the 105 or Ultegra setup especially when paired with the carbon forks and seat-stays really caught his eye . At just 1155 euro it is really good value and he actually decided on the Kellys .
As we were chatting the guy told me that he was in a large bike and car accessory shop in Limerick the day before, also looking at bikes . He said that the sales assistant was less than helpfull and gave some interesting replies to his questions . When he asked what size he would require the guy told him that they were all the same size and that you just had to raise up the saddle . This was on a 600 euro road bike which was designed by a former Olympic champion and multiple TDF prologue winner !
There is no adult bike in any bike shop which only comes in one size let alone a road bike .
Then when the customer asked what the difference between the models was ,he was told that he should make up his mind which one he wanted or they would be there all day .
Needless to say there was one less sale that day in the chain store shop .
Obviously the sales assistant had zero interest in bikes or cyclists . To him it was just a job and a way of getting his hands on some minimum wage .This was where the difference lies . Like most bike shop owners we like to help someone to find a bike which suits their needs . The right bike sized properly will be used much more than the wrong one and will lead to another fellow cyclist on the roads .
So there’s the difference , a cyclist in a bike shop can make a living by sharing his passion for the sport whilst a dis-interested person in a bike shop will be frustrated and clock watching and loose his employer potential sales .
Shimano’s new carbon Dura ace chainset looks like the next piece of kit for my bike . Release date is spring 2008 but no price as yet . It weighs 709 grams and is 10 % stiffer than the current alloy version .
It looks as though this will be a good winter for those on the road to be venturing off road . Shimano have just launched a new version of their XT groupset which is now 25 years old . The new version looks cool but the old one really looks like a museam piece now .
Gerry Ryan is back on the radio this morning extoling the virtues of shopping in New York and the value to be had in designer clobber which can be purchased at a fraction of its normal prices in outlet shopping centres such as Woodbury common and Jersey gardens .
Cyclists tend to be a fanatical bunch when it comes to their bikes and equipment where weight and colour co-ordination along with responsiveness and sharp handling are all important . Cycling specific clothing has also of recent years become more and more technical .
The days of wooley jersies that would hang down almost touching the rear wheel when they got wet are long gone . They have been replaced by hi-tech materials which have opened up a whole new dimension to all weather cycling .
An indication of just how far advanced cycle clothing technology has progressed was when former Formula one multiple World champion Michael Schumacher turned to Assos to make the padding for his car seat . The same chamois which is used in the Assos fi-13 shorts was adapted to fit the Ferrari seat . Assos have led the way when it comes to comfortable shorts with a range containing the f1-uno for €110 and the f1-mille for €145 with the assos logo on the side which looks well . Then it is topped off by the fi-13 which at €189 is not cheap but is the ultimate in comfort . When combined with the Assos chamois cream even the ultralight Selle Italia Slr saddle can feel comfortable .
Cycling has also led the way when it comes to waterproof , breathable technology . The Assos Micro – clima rain cape leads the way in this regard . The texture of the material actually changes when it gets wet as it bubbles up very slightly . This enables it to expell any condensation caused by perspiration whilst blocking out 100% of the rain . At €169 thay are not cheap but they always prove their value . One night last winter I was doing a couple of laps of the by-pass in constant rain when I got a puncture after 90 minutes or so . A normal rain cape would have kept out much of the rain but the internal condensation would have meant that once you stopped you would quickly begin to freeze . Not so with the Assos micro-clima cape . I was truely impressed by the fact that after 90 mins of constant rain and then stopping to fix the puncture I was totally dry underneath and felt warm and comfortable . Altura has come up with a pretty good alternative in the form of the Strada cape which at €75 is good value .
The base layer is another area which has been greatly improved . The days of sopping wet cotton t-shirts have been replaced by merkalon mesh t-shirts which wick away every ounce of sweat when combined with breathable jersies and jackets . The Giordana base layer t-shirt is light and works well for €39.95 .
Finally comes the item which revolutionised winter cycling , the Assos Airblock jacket . I have often used this jacket in December / January with just a base layer underneath and felt perfectly warm throughout the three or four hour spins . The current Airblock 851 jacket is not cheap at €229 but may well be the best money spent on any piece of cycling equipment or clothing if you want to train all year round .