Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Miche and MPI to the Rescue

About two weeks before Team Zanconato's historic run at LOTOJA, Stephen was spending time hunkered down in Wayne Bingham's shop in Purcellville VA lamenting the lack of good lightweight cassette options for Campagnolo 11 speed drivetrains. Wayne is the owner of the Velo Classique bike shop and also the proprietor of Mel Pinto Imports that bring Miche bicycle goods to the US.  Super Record Cassettes were way over the team budget, and all steel Chorus Cassettes are close to a full pound of rotating mass.  In addition, ideal spacings for a mountainous event like Lotoja render most typical spacings obsolete.  Wayne mentioned that the Miche Supertype was a fabulous option....super light weight at as little as 150grms w/lockring and at almost 50% of the retail of Super Record....the best news is that Wayne could work magic and configure most of these cassettes to be the perfect spacing.... and that brings me to the cool part of the story.

Fast forward to two days before the race at our designated Team Planning Meeting (short for a fast tempo 25 and a whole lot of pizza). Stephen surprised the team with a box full of Miche Supertype cassettes...poof, at least 100-150 grams gone off of most of the team bikes, but the best part was Mark Otterson's comments to Stephen.  "Mate", he said. "I have been needing an 11-26 cassette....the 12 tooth top end gear is just spinning out during my sprints, and I could sure do with one more small gear on the low end for the hills in Lotoja."  Little did the team realize how prophetic that verse was from the big Aussie.

Come the big race day and Mark finds himself in a 3 up sprint at the line after 206 Miles and close to 11K Vertical feet, Mark had to throw that big steel Zank in the 11 and go for broke.....Well the rest is folklore.  Not only did Mark win his category by just a wheel, he also finished 3rd overall ahead of every Pro 1,2 registered in the race.

Some may call his good fortunes luck, others would chalk it up to his mind bending 1000KM suicide training week two weeks before the race.  I kind of think the result had something to do with that new fancy Miche Supertype cassette with that 11 tooth cog that gave Mark just the little bit more top end needed to take the historic win for Team Zanconato.

Thanks to Wayne and Miche, Team Zanconato will be well stocked for 2014 with Miche Supertype Cassettes, and other surprises to come.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Zanconato Racing notches an epic WIN at the 2013 Lotoja, and 3rd fastest time overall. Congratulations Mark!

Mark posted the 3rd fastest time overall, completing the 203 mile race in 9:00:33! Mark also won his Cat5 flite / race category.  We also had some great performaces across the board for others on the team.  More to come!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Congrats to Mark: 6th place at the Tour of Park City

Congratulations to Mark Otterson for representing Zanconato Racing so well at the recent 150 mile  Tour of Park City.  Mark notched a 6th place finish, even after a mid-race wheel change, catching the main group after a long solo pursuit, passing said group, and then catching the break away. Aaron and Dave both rode solid support, putting in super efforts! I had to bow out of the race the day before unfortunately (see below).

Watch those NSAIDs

Just had a recent run-in with NSAIDs. Scary, but oh so glad to be alive.  Since I'm now off my bike for the time being, but enjoying life nonetheless, I thought I'd post a little story about the experience. Others might not be as ignorant to the side effects of taking too much ibuprofen, advil, alleve, etc, as I was, but I hope this little story educates those that might be in the same boat. Educated or not about NSAIDs, sometimes our passion for sport, competition, and general love for what is undoubtedly the greatest sport in the history of mankind (yes, that would be racing and riding bicycles...duhh) clouds our judgement. 

Let me also say that if you are a serious cyclist and wish to begin a doping regimen, this is not a recommended way to go about doing that. (heyyyy....I jest!)

click here to read the rest of the story... 

Just say No to the little pill man

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Philosophy of Round...another build complete

As cool as carbon fiber road bikes are these days, there's just something about round tubes...timeless and subtle.  The molding process for carbon fiber allows it to be shaped into just about anything, and just like hairstyles, a carbon bike frame sometimes takes on a look that very much reflects what was cool that year. The popular aesthetics of the moment (which the marketers would have us believe serve some higher performance purpose) are just that..a snapshot of what was groovy at the time. We had the curvy "melted in an oven" look for awhile there, then things got all angular and industrial looking, and now things are getting all organic again. Don't get me wrong, the technology rocks - it's harder to build something as light or stiff using other materials...But how often do you see some carbon fiber vunder-frame and you think, "hey, 2003 called and they want their bike back". 

Carbon frames incorporate visual queues in the weave designed to remind the rider that the bike between his thighs possesses visceral qaulities well beyond what a bike frame could conceivably possess:  ...It's purpose built for a spec-ops mission! It's a large sea-going beast of prey (huh?) ...It floats. It's weightless....It flies! It's a freaking F22!  It's the very essense of Madonna del Ghisallo herself!

Everyone likes a little design flair to set things apart. But the beauty of a well balanced bike does not come from excessive styling, material where none needs to exist, or any other type of market-driven design navel gazing. It comes from simplicity and functionality and a consistent aesthetic. I'd argue that beauty and functionality can co-exist, and that when the two can succesfully live together, these objects we surround ourselves with are most satisying to look at and live with, not just for the moment, but for years to come.

Hence the round tube. It has served us well for a long time, and continues to do so. I will always admire the F1 car equivalent bikes that Pro-Tour riders use. It's my junk food. I had a really nice CF bike myself and loved it. An Argon Gallium Pro. It was loud, it was light and stiff, but it looked like a billboard. If the "pro-look" is your bag, then I say go for it. But when it comes to something that is going to be pretty, year in and year out, nothing beats round tubes. Maybe I'm just getting old.

8/5/2013 edit: Now that I've had a chance to put some miles on it, how does it ride? Rather than use meaningless superlatives, I think reviews are always better when compared to known reference points. For me, those points of reference would be some of the bikes I've owned in the past, each of which represent a different material. In this case, Aluminum (Klein Quantum), Titanium (Serotta Concours), and Carbon (Argon 18 Gallium Pro).  This is my first custom steel-alloy bike.

On the first few rides I immediately noticed how stiff in the bottom bracket area this frame is.  It's every bit as stiff as the Argon was.  Stomp on it, and it responds immediately.  Get out of the saddle and it just lurches forward as it should...no hesitation or sway in the lower half of the frame whatsoever.  My Serotta and Klein were still adequately firm in the bottom bracket, but not as much as the Zanconato and Argon.  The MAX tubes of the Zank are the real deal here.  -Incredibly solid leading to a feeling of stability through very rough pavement surpassing that of the Argon.  As much as I loved how light and stiff the carbon fiber Argon frame was, I don't miss the typical hollow "plasticky" feel most CF frames have.  The Zanconato is quiet and solid.  It makes no sound.  Dead silent.  Stable and direct. There I go with the superlatives...  Handling: I asked Mike to build the bike with an 8mm bottom bracket drop, so I lost some criterium tight cornering clearance and gain high speed descending stability.  This was a quality I loved in my Serotta and wanted to continue with that in this build.  My Argon and Klein had more of a crit-style geometry with 7mm of bb drop, so I felt a little more "above" the bike, rather than "in" the bike, if that makes any sense.  Needless to say, it handles as it should.  Nothing crazy or unusual in the geometry department.  Mike set up the frame geometry such that it is not overly specific - I wanted something that would work in crits and in longer euro-style races.  Comfort: This bike definitely fits into the "sports-car" vein when it comes to comfort.  Meaning, it's plenty comfortable for me; it smooths out the road buzz just fine, but it has a direct feel not quite as buttery plush as my Serotta was.  It has better road-feedback than the Serotta, which had more of a Grandpa's plush Buick feel about it. Both excellent bikes, but in different ways.

So enough of that. I posted pictures of a few other super-duper-awesome team builds awhile back - for Aaron, Mark, and Dave. After Mike Zanconato delivered another masterfully built frame, this time my own, I spent some time building it up a few weeks ago, took it out on it's first tour of the asphalt, and got some gratuitous pics. Warning, these may be NSFW:

DT Swiss hubs laced to Edge.Enve 1.38 carbon tubular wheels. 1150 grams of sweetness! 

 The "Z" says it all

And the cycling Gods said "Let there be Bike". And Bike was made. The Gods were pleased. (So whoever said assigning qualities to an object like a bike, that it can't possibly possess, was wrong?)  

I don't care what you say about the whole Campy vs Shimano debate. Campy levers are prettier.

Mmmmmmm...A nicely glued tubular. Courtesy of Steve.

In the foreground, hangin off the bars is the SRM "brain". I'm so not worthy to be rockin one on my bike.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

B4K Stage Race

Here are the official B4K Road Race Results....

Click here for rider race reports.....see below for pics

Mark Otterson 9th
Aaron Branham 12th
David Baker 29th

Stage 1: Criterium
Mark Otterson 7th
Aaron Branham 14th
David Baker 18th

Stage 2: Road Race
Aaron Branham 11th
Mark Otterson 12th
David Baker 29th

Stage 3: Time Trial
Mark Otterson 9th
Aaron Branham 15th
David Baker 30th

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Soul Crusher Rises: The Dawn of Dominance

Dave Baker's write up on Mark's new ride and the RMR criterium:

The latest addition to the Road Team arsenal made its debut this week: Mark Otterson's weapon of choice -- Soul Crusher.  The name stems from the directive penned on the top of the shipping box: "Mark, Crush some souls! -Zank". 

Soul Crusher did not have a 'Maiden Voyage'; it had a 'Primordial Conquest'.  Rather than a simple 40-mile morning commute, Mark sensed the need to satisfy its hunger, so he got an early start Monday and took a detour through Emigration Canyon east of Salt Lake City.

Tuesday evening Mark gave Soul Crusher (SC) plenty to devour at the RMR Crit.  Here they are near the front, early in the race.

And here.

And here.  Mark and SC are on the wheel of Don from Biker's Edge, who gets my vote for Most Combative for attempting two breakaways (one of which Mark and SC chased down).

Once again near the front.

A bit of back story: this weekend I pulled a hamstring doing some household repairs.  Apparently I need to stretch first.  Anyway, even though I wouldn't be racing, I wanted to see Mark and SC deliver some punishment.  On the drive over, I decided to stop at home and bring along my wheels as spares - just in case. 
With 5 laps to go, SC got a flat on the back side of the course.  Mark hoofed it across the midfield over to the pit at the start/finish line.  We swapped the front wheel, and just as Marked checked in with the race official, the peloton went by.  Even though he could have taken a free lap, Mark sprinted after them and proceeded to close a 10+ bike-length gap.  By the time they came around again, he had moved to the middle of the bunch.
On the bell lap, Mark and SC were in the front 5.  Down the final straightaway, Mark jumped and Soul Crusher responded.  They began to pull away...and stayed away.
The blur below is Mark and SC crossing the finish line in First Place.

And then...


The arrival of crushed, defeated souls...as foretold.

 Warrior and weapon reveling in a hard-fought and well-earned victory.  There will be more.

Ride on.

Friday, May 31, 2013

B4K Stage Race Starts Today! Stay Tuned....


Stage 1 Murray Valley Criterium is today
Stage 2 Road Race Circuit is tomorrow AM
Stage 3 Time Trial tomorrow afternoon

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Training Camp 2013

No one had to twist any arms once it was decided the western contingent of the Zanconato Racing team was going to do it's inaugural training camp in Moab, Utah.  There are few settings (at least in this half of the lower 48) that would have been more ideal. 

Itinerary, Highlights, Training, etc

Rides: Dead Horse Point, Arches, along the Colorado River, and all throughout Moab

Two Zanconato Team frames (for Aaron and Dave) delivered to Moab waiting for us. Steve, with token assistance of the rest of us goofs, built 'em up completely Friday evening at our rented Condo in Moab. Steve did an excellent job with the build and they were on the road the next day! Thanks to Mike for making it happen...the frames are beautiful and the bikes are perfect!

"Casually Deliberate"

"No Lance, it IS about the bike"

Learning the Art of The Descent...prefaced by an excitting run in with a series of steep hair pin turns in Canyonlonds / Dead Horse Point State Park.

Steve introduced us to the essence of Training with Power, using the power meters provided by our team sponsor, SRM. This is a whole new world of training for most of us. I think we're all excitted and a bit overwhelmed at the same time to get into it.

The thought of 4 guys cartwheeling down sand dunes in cycling bib tights...gahhh!...bad image!....bad image!

There are few times in life when you can enjoy such generous quantities of good food, guilt free.

Moab in the spring is cycling heaven.

L-R: Dave, Mark, Steve, Aaron, Wayne