• Tandem Sidecar for Ritchey's Newest Team Member

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  • Jay on traveling and riding in Ecuador

     

    Earlier this year, Jay Ritchey took a trip with his wife to Ecuador for some light bike packing and adventure riding. To test out our new Ascent, we decided to send it along with him for a little adventure of its own. Here's his story:Break Away Pics02

    My wife works in health care and looks for opportunities to improve her medical Spanish. Last year she went to Costa Rica and this year she found an opportunity to shadow in a hospital in Cuenca, Ecuador. The more we read about the area the more it appealed to us; an old bustling colonial town, resting at 8,000ft just East of the Occidental Andes.

    I began flying over the area on Google Earth. I was looking for dirt roads leaving the city and escaping to higher elevations. The topography lead me towards a dirt road pass that crosses the Occidental Divide of the Andes at over 13,000ft. The road turns to dirt just outside Cuenca and leads up through rural valleys. Break Away Pics12Break Away Pics06

    I decided to run Schwalbe Big Ben’s on the Velocity Cliff Hanger 650B rims for a wide, cushy and smooth tread for long days on bumpy roads. I also had a Revelate half frame bag to carry food, tubes and a stick I found to intimidate dogs that wanted to chase me in nearly every community.

    Break Away Pics05The town to the left is Soldados, which is the last town before the road climbs out of the valley and works it’s way to the Occidental Divide.

    Break Away Pics10Break Away Pics07The trees give way to soggy grassy fields as the climb moves higher and higher.

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    This is the Souther portion of the Cajas National Park, which is a Andean highland of rocky peaks and little lakes that are in the shape of boxes, whereby the name “cajas” get’s it’s origin.

    Break Away Pics08

    Looking West, at the highest point of the road (13,100ft). The road continues and drops down the the coastal region of Ecuador

  • TR Does Eroica California

    Tom Ritchey Does Eroica CaliforniaIt is possible Tom’s Eroica ride started with the challenge that came about from contemplating the over exaggeration the market demands of the bicycle. Calls for stiffer bottom brackets, stiffer head tubes, stiffer front ends. The jargon of, aero wind tunnels, and carbon anything washes over the fundamental of whether or not the bike even rides well or if the rider fairs well after the ride. It’s easy to get caught up in the technological whirlwind of advancement for advancements sake when there are fundamentals deeply rooted in cycling history. At the end of the day, these desires produce a bike what rides like brick with cork tape wrapped around the ends. And that’s just it, right? What is it we ride for if not to enjoy the very element we’re immersing ourselves in when riding.

    For Tom, the value is if the bike can forgive the ground and terrain for fighting again the ride; it’s in the bikes compliance. If a bike can comply with the very elements it seeks to tackle. Thus, a challenge to test a new bike of his design that is firmly rooted in the history and ethos of his late friend Jobst Brandt.

    The torch was reignited.

    Tom Ritchey Does Eroica CaliforniaTom Ritchey Does Eroica CaliforniaTom Ritchey Does Eroica CaliforniaTom Ritchey Does Eroica CaliforniaTom Ritchey Does Eroica California

    It was around this time where the invitation to Eroica came about. Eroica harkens back to a time when technology wasn’t so much about money and time spent on CAD and simulators but the brazing skill of the builder and their steady hand. A bike was a bike for the sake of adventure to be had over the miles we traverse and the enjoyment that would follow. This would be the proving for a new design with historical roots. Tom knew a mixed terrain ride of this nature was exactly where the inception for his new bike occurred and where it would test its mettle.

    Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California

    It had been since 1980, when Tom last built a bike of this nature, possibly for Eric Heiden. It seemed only fitting he bring Eric’s helmet with him for the ride.

    Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California

    Finally, Tom’s Helmet would be en vogue.

    Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California

    Most of the others on the ride came adored in classic wool above Italian frames, a few british, and almost no American frames.

    Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California

    Tom opted for the Coastal route, a 85mile journey with over 8500 feet of climbing, 12 miles of unpaved “roads” and some of the most scenic land in California. This route would feature some new roads to Tom- which is rare these days.

    Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California

    What would be a somewhat of a ride ending sidewall cut about an hour and a half into second dirt section. Tom reaching into his bag of tricks, “ I had to get clever to make something work so I cut my number in half...... Interesting way that it somehow took a photograph of the inside casing........then ended up with an additional two more mystery flats around the same area.”

    Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California

    One of the few American builders represented at Eroica.

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    Some of the rest stops offered more emotional support than nutritional.

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    Tom wasn’t the only builder to have fabricated their own bike specifically for Eroica. This fellow in particular opted for a few more bells and whistles than Tom’s classic. Nevertheless, Tom was impressed.

    Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California

    Catching up with old friends, like Mark Pringle, shown here.

    Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California Tom Ritchey Does Eroica California

  • On Tires and Terrain: Rebecca Gross reviews the Ritchey MTB Tire line

    Ritchey Trail and Bite Mountain Bike Tire Review

    Trail Bite/Trail Drive – I took this setup out on the rockiest rootiest trail we have and proceeded to climb a steep 40 minute route to the top that begins with wide double track covered in rolling loose rocks to sandy flowing rollers and ends with slick hard-pack single-track intermittent with large step ups. My thoughts were to use the aggressive side knobs to help with picking the way UP through the very skittish rock gardens. The snowy and muddy patches that broke up the trail on the other hand allowed this tire to shine. The bite into the loose surface was secure and the line choice held with minimal slipping.

    Running this tire under the recommended pressure did make me more prone to pinching a sidewall and I could tell that there was a momentary collapsing of the sidewall in aggressive cornering. Despite this I had zero issues with durability, the sidewalls are thick and able to take this kind of abuse. For the rider who has a steady stream of flats to accompany a body weight that holds a line at speed this tire would be the solution.

    Preconceptions – Aggressive tread with lots of bite
    Setting up – one tire went on (tubeless) with no air compressor
    Pressure – 10-15 PSI (125 lb. rider)
    Ride – Durable, very stiff sidewalls make for less overall grip on rocks
    Best Uses – heavy rider aggressive on downhills and is prone to punctures
    Conclusions – this tire likes mud and fast descending

    Ritchey Trail and Bite Mountain Bike Tire Review

    Z-Max Evolution –The ample spacing between tread makes this tire handle well in all conditions while the large side knobs are great for cornering and lateral control. My first ride on this tire was loose and powdery off camber single track coupled with sandstone rock outcrops. I immediately noticed how well the tires held me onto the trail with zero slippage. Where I placed my wheel was exactly where it stayed. The Z-Max had ample grip on the rocks but felt truly at home on the dirt.

    I moved on to fast rolling pebble/kitty litter granite covered trails and really loved what I was noticing, the tire held the perfect amount of drift in the corners without overshooting of getting bogged down. They handled nimbly at speed and held up on sharp aggressive rocky terrain while taking numerous hard hits. Climbing felt secure and yet again the line I picked was exactly where the tire stayed even at slow speeds. I was able to power out of every climb standing with only minimal rear wheel slipping on the steepest and loosest of the hills.

    Ritchey Trail and Bite Mountain Bike Tire Review

    This tire is light and supple for racing and the aggressive tread would be ideal for adding a level of security in loose or changing conditions. The spacious tread allows for mud clearance so for rides in a variety of conditions or for one all around go-to tire the Z-Max is well versed to take on the challenge.

    Preconceptions – slower rolling
    Setting up – air compressor and latex
    Pressure – 18-21 PSI (125 lb. rider)
    Ride – grippy, light, supple, great traction
    Best Uses – loose conditions, aggressive handling, quick transitions,
    Conclusions – great for fast riding on loose terrain, good grip in mud, great all-around tire

    Ritchey Trail and Bite Mountain Bike Tire Review

    Shield – This fast rolling tire is perfect for fast clean single track but was still able to hold its own when it came to loose or sharp rocks and sand. This tire gripped incredibly well on hard-pack off-camber or solid rock with its minimal rolling resistance and a supple casing. Washed out trail a whole new level of fun as the tire stuck to my choice of line with no sideways movement or slipping. The low profile makes for a great cross country race tire and even feels fast on pavement. A bit more weight was required to keep the rear tire on the ground when climbing short steep pitches powdered from frequent use but the well placed tread allowed for quick and secure cornering at high speeds and ample grip on steep, loose, rocky climbs.

    This tire will be my go to for summer racing, it held up to a number of sidewall hits with no issues of puncturing and no burping off the rim even at low pressure and aggressive riding. Overall light weight and grippy, the Shield holds up to a variety of terrain while providing a fun fast ride.

    Preconceptions – fast rolling tire for smooth single track and minimal resistance
    Setting up – air compressor and latex
    Pressure – 18-19 PSI (125 lb rider)
    Ride – fast, low profile, great sidewall grip, supple casing for control.
    Best Uses – cross-country racing, hard pack trails, riding on solid rock, holding speed
    Conclusions – great race tire

    Ritchey Trail and Bite Mountain Bike Tire Review

  • Jenny Rissveds: Bike Freak Interview

    Jenny Rissveds of the Scott Odlo MTB Racing Team is by far the largest mountain bike talent from Sweden. She topped off her second year as a professional with a victory in the U23 World Cup, winning all heats and picking up the bronze medal at the World Championships XCO in Andorra. Next season Jenny is turning her attention to focus on the Olympic Games in Rio as well as the European Championships in her home country.

    Click here to read Jenny's interview with Netherlands Bike Freak Magazine.

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  • Brian Vernor takes on a Legend: Yorkshire, England's Three Peaks Cyclocross Race

    3 Peaks Vernor 2Brian Vernor is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, photographer, artist and storyteller. More than anything, he’s a cyclocross racer. Here he talks about his experience tackling one of the most infamous cycling events of any discipline: Three Peaks Cyclocross Race.

    Ritchey Design: Three Peaks. What is it?

    Brian Vernor: It’s called a cyclocross race, but really it’s a long distance adventure through the English countryside. The course carries you up and over three significant peaks, all of which force you off the bike for an unreasonable amount of running, hiking and shouldering. I grew up in Santa Cruz, California and at the time it was (and still is) one of the hubs for cyclocross in the United States. I started racing there in high school and I heard whispers about “Three Peaks” from some of the elder statesmen of the sport who’d gone to Europe to race and explore the less conventional rides and races out there. Three Peaks was always discussed with great reverence. And fear.

    3PeaksCXbike-7014RD: Why fear?

    BV: Until I did it, I didn’t understand either. No amount of description does it justice. It’s just 38 miles, but it takes most people over four hours. And these are some seriously fit competitors. You spend half your time hiking and it’s just something none of us as cross racers normally do. It’s nothing like a conventional race.

    RD: Is it an open event? Can anyone ride it?

    BV: You have to apply and not everyone gets in. There are some arbitrary rules and you have to show some experience as a cross rider, and display some confidence that you’ll finish, and that you can handle yourself.

    RD: What’s the start like?

    BV: Terrifying. It’s 600 riders barreling down narrow country roads for the first five miles of the race. And the roads are open to traffic. There’s some hairy stuff going on but it sorts itself out pretty quick. Quite a few riders know they’re in it to survive and burying yourself in the first five miles to stay with the leaders is not worth the energy.

    3PeaksCXbike-6918RD: What are some of the memorable sections of the course?

    BV: Without a doubt, the first peak, Ingleborough. Most of the off-road sections of the course are not open to riding for the rest of the year as it’s a private land, so there’s no way to pre-ride things. As a first-time competitor your understanding of what’s to come is limited. You roll up on the Ingleborough climb, and you realize just what you’re in for once you’re forced off the bike by the steepness. It’s a 20% grade and over a mile long. You’ll be walking for 30-40 minutes. It’s memorable…it’s just not the sort of thing cross racers normally do. The scale of it is in your face, too. When you go hiking, you normally don’t see the top of the peak, but here (assuming the weather is clear) you can see just how far away the peak is, and it’s overwhelming to realize just how far you’ll have to portage your bike.

    3peaks beforeRD: How did you feel at that spot?

    BV: You kinda feel screwed. There’s a moment where your soul is crushed. You’re in over your head and nothing you did prepared you for this. The first peak is covered in grass, and the grass is right in your face. You’re crawling on hands and knees sometimes. It’s that steep. But really, it's weird because the same sense of dread hits you on each peak. At the bottom of each peak the task at hand is staring you in the face and it ain't pretty.

    3PeaksCXbike-6907RD: Sounds fun. What about the other side? Any near death experiences?

    BV: The descents off each peak are loosely defined. You just find your own line down…there’s very little course markings. People who’ve done the event a few times seem to know the better lines, so you try to follow riders who appear to know where to be, but they might lead you into a bog, or off a cliff, and then you’re climbing down a pile of loose rocks. You can go all-out and make up a lot of time descending aggressively but the risks are apparent. I’ve ridden cross bikes on trails my whole life and I took quite a few risks but there were still riders going faster. It’s SO rough…it’d be rough even on a mountain bike. You can’t always see what’s coming next, and it goes on like this for 25 minutes. All around you riders are crashing, and people are yelping with fear and pain, and you think “Oh man I’m glad I didn’t hit whatever that guy hit”.

    3PeaksCXbike-8840RD: What’s the ideal gear setup?

    BV: Conventional cyclocross bikes are mandatory, with 700 x 35c tires and drop bars. I chose the disc brake bike and that was a good move. Low gearing is key…I had a 36x34t and a decently wide range, as there are some road sections between peaks and you end up in pacelines working with groups of riders.

    3PeaksCXbike-8800RD: Here comes the standard cyclocross question…what air pressure did you run?

    BV: I ran 80psi in clinchers. Most people with experience recommended even higher than that. Keith Bontrager was there, and he was very firm in telling me to run very high pressure, recounting one experience he had (he’s done the event four times) where he had six flats. And the high tire pressure worked….I had a clean ride, everything worked, no flats or broken parts, just a couple crashes but nothing serious.

    Vernor_by-IzzyRD: This event is pretty personal to you, as a bike rider as well as a photographer and film maker.

    BV: I’ve raced cyclocross since I was a kid, well before I was a photographer and film maker. My first film project, Pure Sweet Hell, was about the US cyclocross scene, which at that time was still pretty small. It gave me an excuse to go deeper with the scene and people and it was a very positive experience. That experience lead me to make more films and also focus on photography. My interest hasn’t changed….much of my photography has focused on cross and it’s what I’m known for. It goes hand-in-hand: riding, racing and trying to capture the essence of it on film. When I’m behind the camera, I know what it’s like to ride and race and it creatively inspires me. Having thought about Three Peaks Cyclocross for 20 years, it was a pilgrimage to do it….but I also wanted to make a film project around this race because its lore and mystique are at the root of why I've raced and also why I picked up cameras. The earliest aesthetic seeds were planted in me by this race and I feel obligated to celebrate it. My film is as much about creativity and inspiration as it is about cyclocross.

    PSH-midwestshow_newThanks, Brian. Look for a new Brian Vernor film documenting his experience with cyclocross and the Three Peaks coming in 2016.

    Brian rode a custom painted Swiss Cross Disc with Zeta Disc wheels and WCS EvoCurve Bars.

    You can view the trailer to Pure Sweet Hell here.

  • Grinduro

    grinduro-mapIt hasn’t been a week yet since we struck out to do the Grinduro- an event orchestrated by Giro to benefit the Eastern Sierra Trail Stewardship. The event page boasted camping, epic views, challenging terrain and beer. Not being ones to shy away from epic events that ask for you to dig deep in the pain cave and be rewarded with libations and fireside tall tales from the ride, we signed up.

    The Grinduro was hosted by Quincy, a small logging town nestled in the eastern Sierras, about an hour and a half north east of Marysville, CA. It’s the kind of place Carver would have written about, where the hum of the sawmill always abuzz, and the nights come too quickly. In mid-October, the air smells crisp in anticipation of fall, and the trees are turning a blaze from the top down not even ashamed of turning too red too soon. Something about the timing and location of the event created an environment ripe for a ride with about 300 of your closest friend you won’t soon forget.

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    Sean Post duro There are some rides you just know will stick with you. The Grinduro is one of those rides. The climbs went on forever, but so did the descents, and it felt like a way bigger day in the saddle than the stats added up to. The enduro format had me rethinking my pace and effort on non-timed sections, not that it made much of a difference…there was no way to save energy up a climb China Grade. The racing, the music, the beer and whiskey, and seeing all of my Northern California bike racing and framebuilding buddies made for a great weekend that was all over too soon. I want to go back next weekend. Or maybe the weekend after…I’m still a little sore. -Sean Coffey

    Quincy twilightferg and seanbarn with bike

    dusty k before That ish was gnar. So much climbing and descending enough to make you see double. Fire roads, single track, rocks, loose corners, good folks, so much food, Ray Barbee, whiskey, and suffering. The area was epic beautiful with miles of roads and trails you would die for…or from. Much love to Fergus and Sean from Ritchey for crewing up, couldn’t ask for a better or or dirtier team. Next time 650b hardtail! -Dustin Klein

    scenerysean flatinto the valleygearing downwaiting on colbyrock and stuff

    Ferg Prior Here’s the thing about an event like the Grinduro: it’s so far out of my element I really had no idea what to expect. Sure, I’ve found myself riding off road when the signs clearly stated “keep off the grass.” Yeah, I jumped a couple fences in my life to see where the damn road lead to. However, I’m not a man of dirt or gnar shredding some off road trail with any regularity. Rides like this aren’t in my vocabulary; tell me about high-banked tracks and technical crits and you’re speaking my language. Strangely, when Dustin and Sean brought this event up, it peaked my interest. Hell, why not, I remember saying. Cut to me 40 miles in, 4.5k feet of climbing behind me, a number of sketchy baby head laden descents later and I’m feeling like a million bucks. Even after the 18+% grade and fast technical single track, I felt myself hooked on the thrill of the event.

    sucky climbweepy tree house with bikeferg gettin itDusty k nappingdirtypost duro bike

  • Mr. 1000 Watts - Daniel Federspiel - 2015 MTB XC Eliminator World Champion

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    Daniel Federspiel is World Champion again. After 2013, the Ritchey sponsored athlete was able to win the rainbow jersey again in 2015. Daniel, who’s roots are cyclo-cross and mountain bike cross country, has found his true passion in mountain bike eliminator racing since 2012, when he finished third at the world champion ships in Austria.

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    We had the chance to talk to the powerful Austrian.

    How does MTB Eliminator racing work?
    Well, one race is only 1,30 minutes long and there are only four racers per heat. The course is one lap with lots of turns and obstacles.
    You could say it is like the first opening lab of a real XC race. It is full gas start to finish with lots of elbows.

    How many races did you have to win for the rainbow jersey?
    At the worlds, I had to go through five races, including the finals.

    What is the biggest challenge at an Eliminator race?
    Not to break anything or crashing.

    Do you know the watt power you put into the bike during the race?
    Yes, my absolute max was 2515 watts! During the 1,40 minute race I average close to 1000 watts.

    How many races do you do in one season?
    This year 16 plus I raced the Mountainbike Transalp for preparation.

    Any special training you can share?
    Sorry, this has to stay with me, I want to become World Champion again.

    You ride Ritchey bars, stem, post and saddle, anything specially made for you?
    No, it is all standard Ritchey products anyone can buy at a good shop.

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  • N1NO Schurter Wins 4th XC World Champion Title

    What a year for Nino Schurter! After World Cup Champion now World Champion as well! N1NO is at his best ever.

    Andorra, in an exciting World Championship race against Julien Absalon, N1NO takes the rainbow jersey back to his shoulders. It's his 4th elite World Champion title- his 10th victory this season. What an incredible way to finish his best season ever.

    At the finish line where he wanted to be: N1NO At the finish line where he wanted to be: N1NO

    The pressure was tremendous. Coming to World Championships after winning three World Cup races in a row made N1NO the clear favorite for the Worlds title. Though, his experience of last year was still in best memories. Also coming of a winning strike from the World Cups, it was Julien Absalon to take the World Championship title in Hafjell 2014. N1NO did not want to have this happen again.

    The race unfolded in a perfect way for N1NO. First lap he managed to get down the technical section in first place while Julien Absalon was held back by some fast starting riders. After two days of rain the sun was out, but in some sections the track was still very slippery. Race deciding technically actually. Non of the racers got trough without little mistakes or crashes. Even N1NO had to get off the bike few times. But less than the rest of the field. He demonstrated once again: When it comes down to tricky sections, nobody can keep up with him.

    nino-2015-world-champ-7After first lap Julien Absalon closed the gap. While Jaroslav Kulhavy was out of contention with a broken rib, his country men Ondrej Cink showed an awesome day. He was the only one staying close to the leading duo and eventually won the well deserved bronze medal. At the front N1NO was playing yoyo with his big rival Absalon. Always gaining some seconds on the descents, to after let him close the gap again. Mid trough the race it started to look a bit different. N1NO made a mistake on a technical uphill and immediately Absalon launched an attack.

    One of the few times Absalon was able to put pressure on N1NO One of the few times Absalon was able to put pressure on N1NO

    Absalon was with no success. N1NO got back on and soon took the lead again. One and a half laps to go it was this one travers in the woods- full of slippery rocks and roots that made the race deciding difference between Julien and N1NO. Even N1NO gained only 4-5 seconds there, it added up to be 10 seconds at the end of the descent.

    A race deciding moment: N1NO looks back and than keeps going. A race deciding moment: N1NO looks back and than keeps going.

    From this moment on it was a race full out all to the finish. Sometimes Julien got closer to like 5 seconds, then N1NO would gain a bit again. One little mistake and the race would be totally open again. N1NO resisted the strong pressure of Julien bringing the 10 second lead to the finish line. The emotions were high, the pressure released and N1NO enjoyed the biggest moment of his #huntforglory campaign 2015.

    At the finish of his dreams. At the finish of his dreams.

    The neo World Champion stated: "This was one big battle all the way to the end. Some moments during the race I was not sure if I can actually win this one. This makes this 4th title a special one to me. It is awesome to win the World Cup but even better to win the worlds. So stoked to be back in the rainbow jersey."

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    "It is awesome to win the World Cup but even better to win the worlds. So stoked to be back in the rainbow jersey."

    Nino Schurter, World Champion- World Cup Champion 2015
    SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team

    Once again the two protagonist ruled the world of cross country racing this season. Even N1NO was ahead of Julien the last four races, we have to give lot's of credit to the best rider in history for still racing at such a high level against N1NO. And it does look like we are going to see more of this great racing next year in the Olympic season, even it is going to be Julien's last one.

    Top: Julien Absalon (silver)- Nino Schurter (gold) Ondrej Cink (bronze). Top: Julien Absalon (silver)- Nino Schurter (gold) Ondrej Cink (bronze).

    After a difficult last month our flying Dutchman Michiel van der Heijden went into the race with little ambitions. His shoulder is ok again, but after not seeing the finish line for quite some time his confidence was not very high. He managed to get trough in ok 34th place. This season in general leaves him room to improve for next year. We have all the confidence in him that he will be back on track in 2016.

    One big thank you goes to our two mechanics Yanick Gyger and Richard Nieuwhuis who worked day and night on N1NO's winning weapon: The SCOTT Spark 700. Also huge thanx to SCOTT, DT Swiss, SRAM and Ritchey and the rest of our sponsors for delivering the World Champion winning parts needed to make such an success possible.

  • #BEFOREPROJECT : Stage 11 of 2015 Vuelta

    Originally published on 31/08/2015 by Guillaume Prébois

    Stage 11 of Vuelta 2015 (Andorra - Encamp On Cortals)

    Our man, Guillaume Prébois, is back at it previewing some of the hardest stages the pros will tackle in the grand tours and giving us a layman’s perspective from his saddle. Tomorrow’s stage of the Vuelta has been touted as the toughest stage ever created in the history of this Grand Tour. Read on for Guillaume’s opinion.

    This is the first real mountain stage of the Vuelta 2015 and what stage! She would have been directly inspired by Joaquim Rodriguez, who in the Principality, is a national hero. All climbs are also marked by signs where his name appears. Andorra is a handkerchief wrapped into a tourniquet, the stage looks like the Amstel Gold Race in the sense that the race wraps around the same area and returns several times to the same place.

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    I urge all fans to come to compete in this relatively short route (138km) but muscular (altitude 5000m) and gorgeous (if the sun shines if the Andorran bowl becomes hellish cauldron and descents are Fast and dangerous).

    The pros have the chance to perform on closed roads, it is not our case. If the climbs are very quiet, the central axis that runs through the Principality suffers from heavy traffic mess of which there is little pleasure.

    I had already climbed twice the Coll de la Rabassa in the challenge 3 Great Tours in 2008 as it was in the Vuelta program. I have however discovered the Collada della Gallina (11.7 km at 8.5%) which was specially borrowed pouring asphalt for the Tour of Spain. It is classified "Especial", the equivalent of Hors-Category Tour de France, notably due to a very narrow and steep kilometers to 12% average.

    The beginning of the climb is dry, it rises quickly above the roofs of Sant Julia de Loria. It's easy to find a rhythm through many laces and switchbacks along the rise.

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    The slope remains high, at around 10%, before reaching a false flat that does not last more than 500m. Come to a junction where a small chapel is located, we take the right to attack the piece of resistance, recently asphalted (before this pass could be climbed by the east side). The road is very narrow, perfectly smooth and black, with a constant slope (12% over 1km) with the exception of a few hundred meters to 15%.

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    There is still 4km to the summit, still very demanding, until the last 500 meters, when it becomes
    much easier.

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    At the summit, altitude 1910m, a monument marks the passage of the neck.

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    I repeat, if the rain falls on Andorra for the 11th stage of the Vuelta, Paradise will turn into hell. I was struck by the speed of descent and the few straight portions. The turns are often on slopes and call for good technique. At the bottom of the descent, it falls on Sant Julia de Loria, 500m from the foot of the ascent that is the other side of the tunnel.

    IMG_1513_grande

    The riders then head to the Alto de la Comella, classified in 2nd category (4 km at 9.5%), an intermediate collar, dry and stiff, which is mainly used to avoid the center of Andorra la Vella.Everything will depend on the climb to Els Cortals Encamp (8.7 km at 9.1%). I found the foot of the ascent particularly hard. After such a long stage, it will be ultra-selective.

    IMG_1514_grande

    IMG_0986_grande

    The first part of the climb is begins in the city, but it quickly comes out in a wooded area which then gives way to alpine pastures. In the middle of the climb, is a short ledge, but the slope again very quickly to the summit where a solitary cable car is located. Breathtaking views and sumptuous sites greet you at the top.

    IMG_1041_grande

    In conclusion, the Vuelta has a legendary stage. Rarely have so many passes been condensed in so few kilometers. The ascents are never long, but still harsh!

    Guillaume Prébois rides our Ritchey Superlogic C260 stem, Superlogic EvoCurve bar and Superlogic post.

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