New kit! 1t4i

For 2012, Skil Shimano has become 1t4i. I can’t say that I know what that stands for, but I’m a bit sad to see the Skil kit leave the peloton. For some reason, I became quite fond of it. Normally, I say “no” to white shorts- they’re often a bit too revealing and rain can make things *really interesting! But this kit makes the white work. The white set off nicely the blue and green and I think the red of the Skil logo really makes it stand out.

The new 1t4i kit, while being  a step down from the old Skil kit, is really not too bad. They kept the white and green of the old Skil kit, but I think the black a nice addition- certainly the black crotch panel helps reduce the risk of embarrassment! It’s a bit more bland that the Skil kit, but overall, I like the simplicity and the colors.

In theory, they’re supposed to announce a new sponsor in the spring. If that actually happens, the kit could change!

EDIT:  1t4i has also fallen victim to the horribly embarrassing team photo. It’s a disease we will never be able to eradicate, I’m afraid. (thanks @KimTMcCall, for reminding me of this!)

2012 Team Roster Read the full post »

New Kit! Team Type 1 – Sanofi

I’m disappointed. Team Type 1 took a great kit and pooped all over it. The 2011 kit was simple and classic. I liked the blues against the white and the understated logos.

2011 kit

Now…now it’s this.

They took the beige of Footon-Servetto, the lime green of Liquigas-Cannondale, the blue of their previous jersey, mixed it all together on an artist palette, then threw it on the jersey. To an unfortunate effect. The beige is really the worst of it, but if you take it out, you’re left with the blue and green, which is basically the Liquigas kit. Oy. I’d say this is the worst kit I’ve seen so far!

On a side note, I wonder what the goes through the rider’s head when they pull out a kit like this (or any kit they thought was ugly) and think, “Awesome. Now I have to spend the whole season looking like a fashion disaster.” I mean, imagine what the poor Footon guys had to go through! It’s not like they weren’t all aware that they were wearing one of the fugliest kits known to man. It had to be a bit demoralizing to get on your bike everyday and know that everyone in the peloton was thinking, “Thank god my kit doesn’t look like that.”  Although…you can guarantee their kit and team will live on in the cycling kit history books for their willingness to humiliate their riders. Kinda like the Castorama kits. Or Mapai😉

2012 Team Roster Read the full post »

New kit! Katusha

I’ve always been a bit neutral about Katusha. I’ve never seen them do particularly well in races, they’ve never had any riders I’ve cheered for, and most of their names are too hard to pronounce. I was likewise ambivalent about their kit. I didn’t like it overly much, but I appreciated the way their kit was different but not ugly.

This year, however, the changes they’ve made have me taking notice. Red is one of my favorite colors (along with blue!) and I love how they’ve forgone the city skyline for solid red. I prefer the more solid red color to the mixed red and blue of the previous kit- it made it too messy, too jumbled. It’s a bright, cherry red that will stand out in the peloton. And putting white as the contrasting color makes it pop even more, unlike the BMC kits, which pair their red with black.

I also really like how they’ve kept their team name in their native Cyrillic script, instead of using the western alphabet. It makes it feel like a true Russian team AND makes me feel cool because I know how to say it.

They’ve done a good job with their national championship jerseys as well. I’m a fan of the white kit and the national colors look good!

Let’s also take a moment to appreciate how they’ve staged their team photos. Apart from the strange stormy sky (that seems to threaten a tornado), they look relaxed and natural on their bikes. Sometimes team photos can get darn weird.

This year, for example, the award so far goes to Astana. They have awkward beach photos

Vino giving a very forced thumbs up

and someone staring moodily through a bike frame.

But there’s still time for another team to outdo them. How could we forget the pillow shots of Quick Step last year?

To sum up- Katusha simplified their kit and made it that much better!

2012 Team Roster

Read the full post »

New Kit! GreenEdge

Leigh Howard- easy on the eyes

The newest cycling darling this year is GreenEdge. They’re the first team based in Australia to actually make it all the way to  WorldTour level status. And I quite like their kit. Some have derided the big “G” on the front, but I like it! I really like the greens they’ve chosen and I enjoy the simple design. Once again, it’s very reminiscent of the Leopard kit trend of last year- white torso, black shoulders and arms with accent of color. But I’m okay with that, as I like that simple design. And, again, simple shorts FTW.

It’s a great kit and hopefully the team will great as well…!

Update: GreenEdge has unveiled an updated kit at the start of the Tour Down Under.

I like the unofficial version more. The swoopy “G” gets lost in the vaguely tie-dyed green/yellow that now covers the bottom half of the jersey. The yellow/green doesn’t really bother me on the shorts, but in combination with the jersey, it’s a bit much. But, it still isn’t a bad kit!

2012 Team Roster

Read the full post »

New kit! Omega Pharma – Quick-Step

Okay. This kit is not great BUT it’s not horrible either. It seems to have borrowed from the color scheme that was so popular last year (light blue/black/white) and present on a certain Leopard kit, but that can be forgiven to a certain degree, because it reflects the colors of the Omega Pharma logo. However, that’s were the problem is- it makes the Quick Step logo look so out of place, because the dark blue of its logo is really jarring against all the light blue. It was like they designed this lovely kit, then at the last minute were like, “Shit, we forgot about QuickStep! What do we do?! Screw it, let’s just throw the logo on.”

At least they did the shorts right- unlike Lotto-Belisol team, these shorts are actually integrated into the overall look of the kit. Even though they look a little too much like a certain leopard’s shorts.

If it wasn’t for the QuickStep logo, it wouldn’t be a bad kit- albeit an unimaginative kit. The lines on the back of the jersey are quite slimming (because that’s such a concern for those fattie cyclists) and the lines on the back of the shorts frame the bum well. However, they should’ve made a kit that blended the two colors and logos together.

I put this review up first on Tumblr.

2012 Team Roster Read the full post »

New Kit! Saxo Bank

Ladies and gents, I think we have an early contender for my favorite kit of the season. Saxo Bank has really stepped up this season and took their kit from one of the ugliest to one of the best.

Last year saw the introduction of the “crotch eagle.” No one who came up with the idea of the crotch eagle or why they thought it would be a good idea to make it look like said eagle was coming out of the shorts for a look-around, but it made for some great joke fodder:

Crotch eagle!

I didn’t have a problem with the feather sleeves but the color…! It was as if the soigneur threw the jerseys in with some new blue jeans and the color bleed all over their nice white jerseys. Since Saxo Bank’s budget was decimated by taking on Contador, they had no choice but to wear the slightly blue jerseys. With the crotch eagle.

This year, the crotch eagle is still there, but the color…! It’s fabulous! This year’s bright blue is the total opposite of last year’s washed out blue. The  bold blue is sure to stand out in a peloton sure to be full of minimalist kits. I also approve of the bold branding on the back.

And you know what? The crotch eagle is growing on me. It’s silly and inexplicable but it’s unique and I admire how they’ve stuck by it!

So you go Saxo Crotch Eagle! Kick some butt this season (and for your sake, I hope Bert isn’t suspended…)

EDIT: I’ve since learned that the eagle comes from “Eagle from Herning”- Bjarne Riis’ nickname.

2012 Team Roster: Read the full post »

The Daily Bike: New Year

The first ride of the new year. 

I don’t go crazy over new years. I don’t see how the calendar turning over to a new month, a new year is the magic potion to make people a better version of themselves. I speak from experience- you’ll only make those changes if you’re ready and willing to make them.

I took a ride because it was my first day back after being home for holidays. And let me tell you about my new favorite website: MapMyRide.com. Most of you will probably be thinking, have you been living under a rock?? Yeah, yeah. I’ve been on it awhile, but just realized how it can help me.I’m not very good at just going out and riding- I need a plan or general route. And MapMyRide is perfect for helping me find rides in the area that other cyclists have done. All you have to do is type in an address or town and it will find all the routes people have logged. It’s great for inspiration and ideas. Today I went somewhere totally new, but other days, I’ve used it to help link up rides I often do with new areas and routes. This helps keep me excited about riding. I get bored if I’m riding the same routes all the time. So while it isn’t perfect (I haven’t figured out how to get those routes I bookmark to show up on my phone), it’s making me excited about riding again!

New Kit! Lotto-Belisol

January 1st means lots of things: hangovers, resolutions to break, a crowded gym, etc. January 1st also means new team kits! The first of the year is when everyone can finally wear their new team kit. Before this date, riders are contractually obligated to wear their kit and ride the bikes from their previous team. Now, as the racing season starts with the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic in Australia this week and the Tour Down Under on the 17th (the first official UCI race), all the teams are officially revealing their new kits. And all the armchair sports fans, like myself, are officially critiquing them! So, first up: Lotto-Belisol. This is one of the teams to come out of the break up of Omega Pharma-Lotto.

Not Jedward

Separately, I like the parts. I like the colors and the design of the jersey and shorts on their own. However, the two design teams clearly didn’t consult each other, as there no continuity between the two! There is no flow from the shorts to the jersey and it just looks mismatched. The shorts are all vertical and the jersey is all horizontal. I wish they had done a better job integrating the two, because this coulda been a contender for a standout kit of 2012- based on what I’ve seen so far, the Leopard-Trek theme is holding strong. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s relatively unimaginative.

Anyway, here’s a comparison picture of the Omega Pharma-Lotto kit from last year. I like that one better. Takeaway lesson- keep the shorts simple.

EDIT: Here’s a roster of the team, so you know who will be wearing this kit!

  • Greg Henderson (from Sky)
  • Lars Bak (from HTC-Highroad)
  • Jurgen van den Broeck
  • Jelle Vanendert
  • Adam Hansen
  • Andre Greipel
  • Jurgen Roelandts
  • Bart De Clercq
  • Joost Leijen
  • Brian Bulgac
  • Frederique Robert
  • Dennis Vanendert
  • Jonas Vangenechten
  • Mehdi Sohrabi
  • Sander Cordeel
  • Gaetan Bille
  • Tosh Van der Sande
  • Kenny Dehaes
  • Marcel Sieberg
  • Olivier Kaisen
  • Frederik Willems
  • Jens Debusschere
  • Jurgen Van De Walle
  • Vicente Reynes Mimo
  • Francis de Greef
  • Maarten Neyens
  • Jurgen Roelandts
  • Gert Dockx

Dress for success

On Thanksgiving, I went on a ride around DC. It was suggested by someone who is part of one of my meet up cycling groups. I love riding around the city when there isn’t any traffic and Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect time for that. While it wasn’t as empty as I thought it was going to be, we were definitely able to ride on roads that are normally car choked! The weather was amazing- it started off pretty cold, but warmed up pretty quickly. Cyclists are obsessed with the “right” gear for the right weather. Summer is easy- you just wear as little as possible, while maintaining some decency! But all the other seasons require finding that delicate balance between being warm enough and not overheating. Winter is complicated, requiring, at a minimum, a base layer and a wind breaking layer on the top and some sort of fleece lined tights on the bottom. Various other layers can be added depending on the conditions and your susceptibility to cold. Then for your extremities you need covers for those well ventilated shoes and have sufficiently windproof gloves, so neither your toes or fingers fall off. For the top of your body, you need a gaiter or scarf for your neck and a hat or a headband for your ears. Even though it’s a lot, during the winter, you pretty much know what you’re getting when you go out, so the weather is not a surprise. Fall and spring, on the other hand, are much more of a guessing game. There are any number of garments which can be worn in these seasons- arm warmers, long sleeved jerseys, vests, light jackets, leg warmers, knee warmers, knickers, light gloves, heavy gloves, hats, headbands. It’s a game of mix-and-match to find exactly the right combination to suit your body temp and the outside weather.

We cyclists will not stop until we find that perfect combination of clothes for any weather. We will endless debate at exactly what temperature one should wear knee warmers versus legs warmers or arm warmers versus a jacket. We will spend a significant portion of our bike budget on finding the right clothes for the right weather. We will do all of this because we love to ride our bikes. Most of us cannot stomach the thought of putting away our bikes for the winter, not to ride again until the snow melts and temperature rises. Some will brave the nastiest and coldest of weather if only to avoid using the dreaded trainer. I love riding in the winter. I like bundling up, I like how the cold invigorates me, I love coming home and warming up with a hot shower and a hot drink. But best of all, I love having the trails to myself.

Another way to get the streets to yourself? Ride on Thanksgiving morning.

For the Love of Twitter

When I say I use Twitter, the usual reaction is “Oh geez, one of those people, thinking every minutiae of their life should be disseminated in 140 characters.” As is the case with most things, getting people to change how they stereotype things isn’t easy. So, sometimes I just let it ride and say, “Yep, I know my 600 followers hang onto my every ‘going to the bathroom now’ tweet!” Other times, I try and take the time to explain to them what Twitter means to me.

I’ve explored this topic before, but from a “how to use Twitter to watch pro racing” angle. Twitter is an invaluable tool to helping one enjoy pro cycling to the fullest. Now that’s it’s been a little over a year since I started using Twitter seriously, I’ve discovered how it’s so much more than just a way to enjoy pro cycling. It’s also a place to make friends and find motivation.

Not only is Twitter a place to participate in pro cycling, it’s also a place to discuss the many facets of cycling. You can use Twitter to follow along while races are happening.  You can dissect race results and tactics when they’re happening and when they’re over. You can follow breaking news and developing rumors. You can discover cyclists to obsess over. You can dish over all the hot cyclists!

Twitter isn’t all good, all the time. It’s easy to get lost in the minutia- any event, race, rumor, comment, is discussed and argued and picked apart down to the smallest detail. It’s often easy to get caught up in the negative sides of the sport (the doping, the cynicism, the corruption). And as anyone who’s spent any time on Twitter knows, it’s impossible to win an argument in 140 characters, so it often devolves into name calling and insults. As a person who doesn’t deal well with lots of negativity, I have to be careful to not let myself get sucked into that part of Twitter.

But, Twitter is more than just racing and tactics and rumors. I have, dare I say, made friends on Twitter! Some scoff at this idea, saying you can’t be friends with people you only know as a Twitter personality, or asking how do I even know that these people are real. In truth, I have no way of knowing if these are real people. They could all be robots, or impostors, or scam artists. But my trusting nature and the length of time I’ve known many of these people leads me to believe they are real. And the fact that I’ve meet a few of them in the flesh (@cyclebordom, @iowakathy, @theepicride) helps reinforce this idea. But the main reason I think they’re real? They care about me. They care about the ups and downs of my life. When I tweet that I’m having a shitty day, they reply and want to know what’s wrong and hope I feel better. When I tweet that I had an awesome ride and feel great, they reply to say congrats or ask about the ride. When I tweet sometime discussion worthy, they’ll engage me in conversation and debate. Those are the things that convince me they’re real people.

However, the best thing I get from Twitter? Motivation. I don’t have many people to share my cycling obsession with in the real world and on Twitter I can be as cycling nerdy as I want and my Twitter friends will share that with me. They want to know about my rides, my progress, and my adventures, so I want to ride to have something to share. When I started following cycling, I didn’t have a bike. The more I got into Twitter and saw how much those I followed loved their bikes and riding, the more I wanted to be part of that. Once I got my bike, I wanted to share how I felt and my Twitter friends were there for that. If I’m ever feeling sick of my bike, or I don’t feel in the mood for riding, I just hang out on Twitter for awhile, and I remember why I love it.

To be riveted by all my bathroom journeys, follow me @bloomingcyclist.