2009 The Year in Review

Overhauled Enigma and Fav Kit

2009 is freewheeling to a close. There's little urgency to these last miles. I've been coasting since Levi's Granfondo in early October, feeding off the momentum of an incredibly busy year. I sat down yesterday to try and encapsulate the last 12 months but instead ended up outside working on the bikes. I pulled the bottom bracket apart on the Enigma, cleaned and lubed the entire drive train, replaced the front brake pads with new Swiss Stop yellow stoppers, peeled off those magic white Continentals and reshoed with new Continental GP4000s (black). The Cervelo got a new 90mm Oval Concepts stem to reduce the reach a touch. My hands got dirty, the bikes got clean and I began to think about next year.

Stem swapping

Changes are coming and shots will be fired (with cameras of course). There will be a lot more assignments in 2010 and it's rumored I'll get to Europe once or twice. I don't know what that will mean for Velodramatic yet, but it's likely there will be more race coverage and multi-day experiences like the Ride to Vegas. I'm a little worried what it all means for my riding. Might just have to get a travel bike with couplers.


Though my Garmin stopped reporting accurately mid summer, I've probably logged another five or six thousand miles this year. I was 5 lbs lighter than in 2008 and I noticed the difference, even if no one else could. I'm still hoping I can shed another ten without having an upper body that looks like its made of twigs (you remember that picture of Michael Rasmussen with his shirt off).

I didn't get to ride with Brendan that much but it was great to see him work his way back from last December's surgery. He's planning to ride the Davis Double next year so I expect we'll get out more in 2010 as he ramps up his mileage in preparation. He's not getting me out there with him though, I just can't see myself sitting on a bike for 15 hours. My back and I are barely on speaking terms as it is.

Best Kit

2009 Selects

2009 was less about gear, and much to the Juli's delight, the TAB seams to have reached cruising altitude. In the clothing department Rapha continued to dominate on the bike and off. The Fixed Shirt has become a uniform of sorts. It washes and dries within a few hours, looks great without ironing and packing two of them, alternating between brown and navy, is all I need when traveling. If we're lucky we'll eventually see a long sleeved version of this wardrobe essential and perhaps another color or two.

Then there were my Panache Houndstooth socks. No single item of kit provided as much fun, comment and humor along the way (except Brendan's spectacular chrome shoes). The other standouts that gave stellar service were Rapha's ¾ Bib Shorts and Stowaway Jacket. When winter has run its course I'm sure the new Overshoes and Rain Jacket will join that list. I've worn the Rain Jacket over Rapha's Winter Jersey and baselayer down into the low 40s these last few weeks and can attest to its lightweight windproof value. Last weekend Velodramatic friend Willy Nevin rode the last half of a 200K in the pouring rain and reports the rain jacket kept him dry. That should seal it for any of you sitting on the top tube regarding a purchase.

Whatever the weather Rapha's backpack was there for every one of my 200+ commuting days in 2009. The switch to the second gen Large Backpack gave me plenty of additional room for occasionally heavier loads without sacrificing the compact, low profile design of the original. I've had no issues with zippers, shoulder straps, fabric or stitching with either bag.

Rounding out my selects are Campagnolo's C281 BaseLayer and Specialized Ridge Long fingered gloves. The Baselayer is more form fitting than my merino options and it has a fabulous fabric treatment that keeps it smelling fresh after a hundred washings. The Specialized gloves are notable for their exceptional fit, perfect inside seams and good value at $35.


By my reckoning I didn't take a single "great" picture in 2009. I do feel I did a lot of good work, and took some major steps towards shooting full time. And there, I put it in writing, that's my goal. Highlights included three stages of the Tour of California, photographing the magic of Phil Wood for Embrocation, joining Daniel Pasley and the Rapha Continental project for four days, documenting Lance winning Nevada City and covering Specialized's inspiring Ride to Vegas. I published a book of images from the latter. It's been well received and there's a Velodramatic Annual nearing completion. More on that in the next few days.

Velodramatic Annual 2009

I took my first stab at video, and enjoyed the process even if it was very difficult to alternate between the still & moving disciplines. There will be more attempts to follow next year and I'm very grateful for the editing help of Dave Christenson and the support of Steve Weiss at Zacuto. I can't wait to put my 1D MKIV and the Zacuto Z-Finder to the test.

Final Thanks

Last week my good pal Brian Palmer at twmp wrote persuasively about his decision not to publish comments on the post and I can't say I disagree with any of his logic. Forums can bring out the worst in people (and frequently do) when anonymity and poor reading comprehension combine to produce a particular blend of aggression and stupidity. I think 2009 was a good year for commentary at Velodramatic. There's a great group of cyclists who regularly add detail and color to the experiences and imagery published here: they/you do so with uncommonly good humor, style and generosity. I've had the chance to ride with some of you and hope I get the chance to meet more of you.

During Levi's Granfondo several riders recognized me and said hello but the funniest was the guy who spotted me just as the suffering on King's Ridge Road began, and yelled "Hey Velodramatic, you cost me $3000" (in Rapha of course). We rode together for a few pitches and chatted between deep inhalations. I like to think that's the point of all this writing and pedaling. Wishing you all a great holiday and the best on the bike in 2010.

21 Responses to 2009 The Year in Review

  1. Jon Moss says:


    That guy who yelled at you about costing him $3000 got off lucky. The Moss coffers have pillaged from the moment I stumbled upon this site: Rapha, Enigma Bikes (2 of them – I told you it was bad) and Outlier being the culprits.

    In all seriousness, I have thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts, writing, photos, reviews and humour. Well done on a top year, and I do have to disagree with your strongly on your opinion of not taking a decent shot in 2009. What total rubbish! ;-) My fave has to be the one on the Vegas ride with the rolling roads and blue sky.

    It seems we have a lot in common, and I would like to leave you with one piece of advice, which we both agree on:

    “life is too short for crap gear”

    (Credit to Mr Kelly).

    Have a wonderful Christmas and a top 2010!


  2. Stefan says:

    comments are a mirror of our societies. sometimes they are “aggression and stupidity” sometimes “good”. most of the time people are not able to accept a opinion what is not conform to the one of author of a post.

    for what comes now, maybe you will think that the brain behind this is stupid ;) I want to say that I like to read your posts. but when they come down to glorify always the same products, to me it sounds like a publicity megaphone of the brands you glorify. same at twmp, thats why I deleted twmp from my reader.

    wish you nice days! wonderful Christmas to you and your family. S.

  3. chr15 says:


    Just popped by to wish you a very merry Christmas and a joyous new year. Thanks for all the awesome content on your site!


  4. nick holbrow says:

    Michael thanks for your blog you and brian keep me going with my cycling fix.
    Have you thought about a calender i can’t find a cycling one for 2010 no sign of rouleur one.
    The big Guy in the red suit is bringing me Rapha for Christmas so as soon as the ice goes and my derriere heals out i go. Have a very merry Christmas and a prosperous new year to you and all your readers

  5. kurt says:

    What can I say…..
    Cycling can sometimes be lonely business. Long base miles alone, daily commuting challenges or group rides hanging on for dear life. There are few people with whom to share and even fewer that care.

    I found your site around March of this year and immediately identified with your point of view. Humorous stories of TSB, shocking (yet somehow) normal events on your commute, 30 days of Rapha and epic events kept me laughing, blogging, reading and dreaming. In a word, Inspirational.

    A blog is something that starts out as innocent fun but can spiral out of control. You did a great job of reeling in the stupidity with discipline and respect while allowing the freedom to express. The content speaks for itself.

    Your readership is a collection of passionate and sophisticated cyclists with a sense of style. A nice collection individuals with whom to share opinions and experiences.

    Cycling is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle.

    The Holiday brings a new custom wheelset from epic wheelworks. Complete with cycleops power meter, Phil wood front hub, HED ardiennes rims and aero DT spokes the builder hugged them and told them personal secrets before packing and sending them off to me. The Mooney is prepared for some serious training in 2010.

    Ventoux in 2012.

    You have really done something special with this blog Michael.

    Merry Christmas and prosperity in the new year to you and Juli…… and you too Brendan.

    Ride on

  6. Redvers says:

    What a nice end of the year review and for what it’s worth, I’ve found the comments list to be most positive, informative and often humorous. Keep up the good work!

    A very Merry Christmas and happy rolling in 2010

  7. randomactsofcycling says:

    Merry Christmas Velodramatic!
    I too discovered your blog sometime mid-year and I have enjoyed your contributions to my cycling world. Thanks! Don’t stress too much about perceived negative criticism. At least people are passionate enough to let you know their opinions. It is always worse to be ignored than to be criticised. Besides, it’s your blog! Edit! It’s not as if we are paying you a membership fee for the right to comment.
    Thanks again. ‘See you’ next year. Hope it’s another good one for you and yours.

  8. jorgen says:

    Merry Christmas Michael.

    Yet another year with great pictures and writing, keep up the good work. You’ve got one of the more enjoyable and inspirational cycling blogs out there!


  9. Dan says:

    Hi Michael,

    A very big thank you for what you have shared with us in 2009, I sit and wait in eager anticipation for what you have in store for 2010!

    Enigma with S & S couplers?

    Have a good Christmas,


  10. BR says:

    My days would be much longer and certainly less entertaining without this blog. I am no judge of photography but I have been moved by dozens of photographs that exist here. I am lucky to have worked, ridden, and hung out with Michael since 2000. The bike has been a big part of my life for a long time and I won’t forget the day when Michael & Juli pulled up to show us their new trail bikes . I had no idea how much fun would follow. I immediately noticed that they had top of the line bikes but I knew it wasn’t a case of trying to be something you were not but that you both have high standards. These were the first dollars logged on “the tab” and the rest is history. It’s so great to ride with a friend and re-discover a new view on an old road, find new roads to explore, and bank some great memories. I have seen him organize and pull off amazing feats that touched 1000′s of total strangers in their darkest days. I got through some dark days by revisiting our prior adventures, reading about many of you and your exploits, and ultimately learning more about fabric and stitch patterns than I ever need to know! Michael – keep the standards high, follow the camera to the next great adventure and keep the stories, reviews, and observations coming. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you and look for some more great stuff here in 2010.

  11. Franco says:

    Michael: Great thanks for the writing and photography shared this past year. Eager anticipation of your next postings in 2010.

    And, my first order has been placed at Perren Street this evening – ultimate bundle plus some additional accessories. Thank you for the introductions and reviews. Eager anticipation of receipt now and riding in Rapha for the remainder of the cold season.

    All the best in 2010 and realizing the passion for photography (and riding)!


  12. Dad says:

    Here’s to 2010 Velo my boy. You know we’re rooting for you. This review, while quite short, did give your readers a taste of what 2009 was about for you. As for the comments, please keep ’em coming they add much to every posting. Even the snarkey ones. Best to all your readers everywhere.

  13. Mark Rushton says:

    Happy New Year and looking fwd to your site in 2010. if you make it to Europe, post on your site and maybe we can all meet up. We might even get Brian Palmer off his island and get his his bling bikes out on the mainland

  14. Josh says:

    Have you gotten your hands on the Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves? Any thoughts on them?

    • Hi Josh,

      Yes I’ve got a pair. Love the outside, the leather padded palms are just the right thickness and the clean lycra back is classic Rapha. They’re not intended to be winter gloves… I’d rate them as perfect between 50-65F, depending on your circulation you might be happy with them into the mid 40s.

      My one quibble, is the inside seams. Again depending on how fussy you are, you may or may not notice them. I’d like them to be less apparent. Much cheaper gloves from Specialized and Oakley have better inner seams. This was the issue that compromised last year’s winter gloves for me and these are substantially better but there’s still room for improvement.

      • Josh says:

        It doesn’t really get much colder than 45 here so they should work for me. Thanks for the info.

        Have you used the Giro Lusso/LX glove? I love the look of this glove but reading some early reviews they seem to problem with discoloration and the overall build quality seems to be very poor. I’ve read some reviews of the gloves falling apart after a couple months. I spoke to the Giro reps at Interbike and they claimed they were fixing some of these issues for 2010 which might be the reason they changed the name from Lusso to LX but I don’t know for sure if anythings changed.

  15. Pedale.Forchetta says:

    What Stefan said.