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.
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.
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.
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.
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.