• Tom Ritchey: A Tribute to Jobst

    1-tom-jobst-sonora-pass-snowJOBST BRANDT was 6’-5” with a voice like Darth Vader, and he was full of opinions.

    As a young bike racer I was at times very much influenced by the many aspects of Jobst’s personality, which was just as powerful as my own father’s influence in many ways. When you boil it down, Jobst was a tough guy. He wasn’t always an easy fellow to deal with, but he taught me some really valuable things, about cycling and about engineering…his influence on me was certainly positive.

    Jobst was a lifelong cyclist and a fixture in the Northern California cycling community in the transformative 1970's and 1980's. Jobst was a different sort of rider, through and through. He was the force behind these huge, unusual rides happening in Northern California. It was a small, brave and slightly crazy group of us riding road bikes up into the fire roads and cow trails of the Santa Cruz Mountains, long before mountain bikes.

    2-jobst-riders-houseMy dad started going on Jobst’s rides and when I was 14 or 15 years old, and he was introduced to his epic rides and rigid set of logic and principles as a German engineer. His rides went deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains on road bikes, and there were no cell phones of course. Self-reliance was key, in how you rode, and what you rode. If you broke down out there, nobody was going to wait…you really were on your own, so there was an unspoken pressure to not ride any questionable equipment. And Jobst would let you know if he thought your bike wasn’t up to snuff.

    We were all on tubular tires those days and bikes were not as durable or as capable as they later became. The bike industry hadn’t yet developed modern test standards to refine equipment, so from Jobst I learned the concept of ‘personal fatigue testing’. The world may never know how many cranks and BB axles that Jobst broke. He’d try to help, too. While riding in Europe he’d visit Cinelli, DT and Campagnolo and try to share his opinions on how to improve parts, but they weren’t ready to listen.

    3-peterjobstalpinerd1988800Jobst had an impact on the bike industry that not everyone is aware of. For Ritchey, he really helped shape my design and engineering principles. He had a tremendous respect for standards in design, and how standards evolve to be standards for very good reason. Jobst taught me the importance of simple structural and mechanical formulas of triangulation when it comes to frame and component design. He’d reference bridges and say, “See? That’s the strongest way to build a structure.” As an early framebuilder it was an honor for me that Jobst asked me to repair his (quite large) Cinelli frame when it cracked. In time I’d repaired his bike in so many spots that he said, “Well Ritchey, you might as well just build me a frame.”

    In those early years Jobst even redesigned the Ritchey logo. My first bikes had a simple “T.Ritchey” on the downtube, but Jobst crafted the more elegant ‘Ritchey’ that still adorns the downtube of Ritchey bikes to this day, with a bar connecting the “R” to the “Y”.Jobst also designed the shield head badge with the overlapping “TR”.

    butanoridge1981800Jobst also helped the Avocet brand take off. He even named the brand, and he was the first one taking tread off road tires to introduce the first slick road tires. People associate it with Avocet but really Jobst was behind it.

    Jobst was a fountain of new information to me, and not just engineering and cycling. He was a consummate birder. I knew nothing about birds, but Jobst would go on and on about bird sightings on rides. He was also the one to teach me how to find Chanterelle mushrooms. And he was big on cameras, and always had a Rollei 35 with him.

    gate101984800Most notably, Jobst knew rides that nobody else knew. If I found narrow tire tracks way off the paved roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains, I knew they were his. And it wasn’t’ just around here, either. For years, Jobst was taking these month-long mountain trips in the Swiss Alps along with Peter Johnson and Bill Robertson. I didn’t get there until ’87 or ’88. Jobst choreographed my route through the Alps, making sure I rode all these secret roads and old Roman pathways that didn’t exist on a map, so you’d see things that few people even knew existed.

    Amazingly, he was a proverbial camel and never carried water. His bike didn’t even have braze-on’s for water bottles. Despite the desolate routes Jobst would ride, he always knew where the drinking spots were in the mountains. There were North coast rides that he’d decline to do with me…I think it’s because he didn’t know where the water was along the route.

    silverfallsj1988800I’m lucky to have had Jobst in my life, he was a great man and his spirit lives on in the way I ride, and the bikes and components I design.

    -Tom Ritchey

    sierra_ride2_1979 peter_jobst_1982 sierra_ride_1982 longridge1987800 indiantrail1986800

     

    Photos: © Jobst Brandt and Ray Hosler

  • N1NO - the Hunt for Glory - Chapter 2 - "On the Go"

    Being on a professional MTB team, there is a lot of travelling involved- before and during race time. Nino Schurter and SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing spent a decent amount of time in South Africa and California preparing for the upcoming World Cup season, which starts the coming weekend in Nove Mesto / CZ Republic.

    South Africa is where the team heads every year to start their season. Unlike recent years, Nino Schurter kicked-off the pre-olympic race season at the the Bonelli US CUP and the Sea Otter Classic in California. "At Sea Otter, my team mate Jenny Rissveds and I competed in four races, and it resulted in 4 podiums. It was a very cool experience to race in California and definitely felt good to bike where MTB was born," Nino says.

    Chapter 2 - "On the Go" gives an inside view into the team`s life and all the preparation professional racing requires. “Everything we do in 2015 has just one goal: to be the most fit possible for the Olympic Race in Rio in 2016.”

    Check out the youtube channel here.

  • N1NO - The Hunt for Glory - Chapter 1 - "Work Hard Play Hard"

    Nino Schurter belongs on the list of the most successful mountain bike athletes in history. The 3 time World Champion is the leader of SCOTT Odlo MTB Racing, the international XC team run by bike legend Thomas Frischknecht. “N1NO – The Hunt for Glory” is Nino Schurter`s first set of “webisodes.” The new video series features various chapters illustrating Nino`s colorful life as a professional mountain bike athlete during the pre-olympic year. It´s not only about how Nino prepares for the biggest goal of his career, the golden medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, but it‘s also about shredding trails, travelling around the world, and all the fun that mountain biking brings.

    "I am stoked to release the first chapter of N1NO – The Hunt for Glory. My first webisode is all about the MTB racing lifestyle, cool trail riding, my training workouts plus a good amount of behind-the-scene footage of a mountain bike athlete`s life. Rio seems to be far away, but in fact the 2016 Olympic Games are just around the corner. Check out what my Hunt for Glory looks like”, Nino says.

    Check out the youtube channel here.

  • The Rider Side: No Extra Bar Tape – a quick Q&A with Martin Elmiger

    IAMcycling_Elmiger_full-440x440IAM Cycling’s Martin Elmiger rode to an impressive 5th place finish in his 10th time on the cobbles at this year’s Paris-Roubaix---his best placing to date. A pro for 15 years, the multi-time Swiss national champion sat down with us for a few questions the day after one of the most punishing races in the world.

    How are you after 254 kilometers and 57 kilometers of pave?
    Well, I'm already back at home in sunny Switzerland and I can relax and enjoy good success here.

    What do you feel the most?
    My hands certainly, in the end I had always cramping and one tries to somehow hold on the handlebars. My clothes I could hardly take off alone, because my hands would clench into fists again and again. The back you can feel naturally after so many punches, a bit more than usual.

    iam1How long have you been racing?
    I've been racing since 1991 in the Student class. For 15 years, I have been a professional, and at 37, now I’m one of the old rabbits. In the beginning, I was also active on a mountain bike and made it to the national team. I always enjoy the change to my mountain bike. The ideal terrain for freeriding is right outside the front door.

    How long have you ridden for IAM?
    For three years now, since the team started.

    How many times have you done Paris Roubaix?
    Ten times, and without any heavy falls or defects, everything has worked out this time. The bike worked perfectly and I was in the right group.

    iam2Have you experienced massive bike or component failure in the past?
    No, fortunately, I have never seen a frame, handlebars or stem broken.

    Have your bikes been specially prepared for the cobbles?
    We have Scott Addict frames for the harsh spring classics, which I'm riding, but also throughout the year. (Laughs) You will not get younger and it is very comfortable. For Roubaix we even get a special Addict with a slightly more comfortable rear end. The wheels are encased in 30mm tires. For saddle and handlebar geometry I go with what I always ride---no extra handlebar tape, no additional brake lever.

    No extra bar tape?
    No, I ride with 4.8 bar (70psi) front and 5.2 (75psi) rear. This is always a balancing act between comfort and rolling resistance. The first 100 kilometers of asphalt I ride at this pressure, then I'm just off the bike and I let out 0.2 bar front and rear. All tip-top. Some racers switch the whole machine, they start with 23mm tires and change to 30mm. To me, that is too stressful.

    iam3Is there a comfortable position on the handlebars for you?
    In this race, I constantly change the conductor positions. One position for the relief of the hands, the other positions depend on the racing situation and position in the field. Since I've joined the IAM team, I always get the same handlebar, Ritchey WCS EvoCurve, 44cm wide. It is comfortable and you have a good grip. I always find a comfortable and safe position. This is important to me.

    What was the key to success in your tenth Paris-Roubaix?
    Firstly the bike. Everything is kept together very well, I felt, despite the hardships on the wheels. In addition, despite my age and experience, I tried new forms of training with the IAM team coach. Doing more short interval blocks paid off for Roubaix. The new training with Marcello Albasini got me motivated again to race like a young fox.

  • The Ride with Tom Ritchey

    Take a spin with living legend Tom Ritchey on roads and trails which inspire him.

  • Tuesdays with Tom

  • #BeforeProject : Milan-San Remo

    Guillaume Prébois came to Ritchey with a plan: to ride the Spring Classics and key Pro Tour stages of 2015 prior to the actual race, give his insight on what the pro peloton would experience and where the crucial moves would happen. What unfolded is something Guillaume calls the #BeforeProject. So we put him on our Superlogic EvoCurve bar, Superlogic C260 stem, WCS Contrail and WCS Zeta II wheels- ensuring he would have the best, near-pro experience while over taking these courses. Below is his take on the historic classic Milan-San Remo.

    Milan-San Remo 2015 MapMilan-San Remo opens the spring classics season. The "Primavera" is the longest race of the professional calendar with a distance of 293km (which you must add a 10k transfer from the city-center to the real start at the exit of Milan). This year, the organizers have decided to get back to Via Roma, the old historical course where Eddy Merckx was winning back at the time. The climb of "Manie" has been cancelled (the descent was quite sketchy) and the weird idea to add the "Pompeiana" climb, a short "wall" between the Cipressa and Poggio has been dropped. Even better, the finish line will be downtown, only 2k from the end of Poggio's descent, which preserves the suspense. A better suited scenario than the marginal finish of these last years on the sea-side near the closed train station.

    Milan-San Remo profile1I started my recon at Alassio (km 235), at the foot of the first "capo", the "Capo Mele" (cape of apples), followed by "Capo Cervo" (cape of deers) and "Capo Berta". These climbs are small "bumps" of the coast, insignificant in themselves but the riders already have more than 5 hours in the legs when they tackle them. The hardest is "Capo Berta" where, usually, the riders of the early breakaway are swallowed by the bunch. The strongest riders climb it on the 53 gear but, at the peloton's tail, the selection has started and some riders get dropped. Then a fast descent leads to Imperia where they enter in a very narrow street. To discover these "capi" I offer you a different angle with a camera on the bar of my bike.

    Milan-San Remo grandeMilan-San Remo profile2After a short transition on slightly uphill roads at the exit of Imperia, the riders turn right in San Lorenzo a Mare to start the climb of Cipressa. The ascent is not too demanding (5,6k at 4,1%, max 9%) but the middle section, when you can spot the sea at your left, is often the place where attackers decide to move. The descent, sketchy and fast, is extremely risky (above all if it rains). In a well-known right bend crashes often happens. The famous left corner at the top of the Poggio before plunging into the descent, recognizable thanks to the red phone cabin in the background, behind the signs.

    Milan-San Remo grande2Another uphill road leads to the Poggio, the famous hill where flowers are cultivated, the specialty of San Remo. The climb is mostly easy, numerous curves give opportunities to keep the pace. The critical point where each year the strongest riders attack is roughly at 1k from the top and lasts 700 meters. After 280km of racing, that could be enough to make a break. Then you have to be skilled to negotiate the technical descent on San Remo especially on the oily asphalt because of the intense traffic there all year long.

    My opinion is that, for the first time in years, it's worth attacking on the Poggio. The organizers have understood the secret of this race lies in the suspense of the last kilometers and coming back to the old finish line in the center is a move which encourages the riders to make a decisive gap on the Poggio as now you only have to cover 2k after the descent. No time for hesitations. So, since a long time, we could see a lonely rider winning in San Remo.

    My picks for potential winners:

    Fabian Cancellara: always in the top 10, very often in the top 3. He knows the race well, can power over short climbs, descends like no one and sprints powerfully after 300k.

    Peter Sagan: He won this week for the first time in 8 months; he needs a big win on a classic. It should be rainy and he drives his bike like a god. He just has to be more tactical.

    Philippe Gilbert + Greg Van Avermaet: the fantastic duo of BMC, both are able to attack on the Poggio and make the break. Will they work together or will rivalry harm them?

    Cavendish: If it must be a sprint, then it's for Cav, already a multiple winner this season, and with the strongest team in the race.

    Follow more of the #BeforeProject here.

  • The Rider Side: 10 Q's with SmartStop's Evan Huffman

    evan-huffman-smartstop-podium

    Evan Huffman has been a bit of a local legend in the Northern California race scene for some time, having previously ridden for domestic pro squad Cal Giant where he won the Junior National Road title in ’08 and the Elite National ITT title in ’10. The Elk Grove native then turned world tour pro with Astana in 2013, where he spent two seasons before returning to domestically based Team SmartStop Pro Cycling. Huffman claimed the team’s first win- taking the third stage by solo’ing from a two man break and securing the KOM in this year’s Vuelta Independencia Nacional in the Dominican Republic.

    We got a chance to catch up with Evan and play a quick game of 10 Questions with him before he had to get back to his duties at SmartStop.

    evan-huffman-smartstop-1

    Ritchey Logic: Welcome back to the domestic peloton! I was happy to hear of your signing to Astana a couple years ago, but I’m equally pleased to have you back, as I feel like a rider of your caliber raises the quality of racing domestically. Could you tell us a bit about racing for a team like Astana, versus racing for SmartStop and the perks of being on either team?

    Evan Huffman: There are definitely pros and cons to either team. Being on a big team like Astana is great because you have access to a ton of support (better/more equipment, additional staff, etc.) and every race is pretty important and a big opportunity. The main downside for me is there's a lot more traveling and time spent out of the US and it's difficult to find exactly where you fit in such a large organization.

    On a smaller American team like SmartStop you can miss some of those little amenities like always staying in nice hotels, getting more clothing and equipment than you know what to do with, and always having a ton of staff at races and training camps. The trade-off is you get to spend a lot more time at home and racing in the US. I like SmartStop specifically so much because it's such a great group of people. Everyone here from the riders to the staff to the sponsors are really passionate and invested in being the best team possible. I'm having a lot of fun racing my bike again so it's the perfect fit for me right now and I couldn't be much happier

    RL: What do you nerd out on most with your bike? Or do you just give your measurements to your mechanic and trust they’ll dial you in?

    EH: I used to be really particular about most things on my bike, but spending time in the WorldTour has made me more relaxed. When you're rotating on 4-5 bikes throughout a season you realize it's more of a hassle than it's worth to nit-pick things. My policy is to make friends with the mechanics so you can learn how each other do things and then trust them to set everything up how you like it.

    RL: #1 guilty pleasure you indulge in?

    EH: Ice cream

    RL: What races do you look forward to doing in the coming season and why? Conversely, what do you see as being your biggest challenges for the coming season?

    EH: I'm most looking forward to the Tour of California and National Championships. California because I think it's the most important race in America and the first 2 stages are right on my home roads where I grew up training and currently live. National Championships because I've had success there at the Junior and U23 levels in the past, but haven't yet raced the Pro events. My goal is to win the time trial and help the team keep the road race title.

    This season I want to challenge myself to be more of a leader, both on the road and in the results. I know I'm still young and have a lot to learn, but I've come a long way since I was last racing domestically. I also want to get a better idea of what type of rider I am and what I'm capable of achieving in the long term.

    evan-huffman-smartstop-2

    RL: Classic bend bars or ergo bend? Is it preference or science, or both?

    EH: I've always preferred ergo bend. I think it's both preference and science. I ride a lot in the drops and the ergo bend feels more comfortable and natural in that position for me.

    RL: Favorite person to ride with?

    EH: Definitely Nate Wilson even though it's been a while since we last rode together. He's a great friend and we both like to play the highest kilojoules per hour game on endurance rides (strongly avoid stopping and coasting).

    RL: Pancakes or potatoes?

    EH: Pancakes

    RL: Best advice you received by another rider either coming up or recently?

    EH: I can't think of anything a rider told me, but last year a director, Jan Kirsipuu told me, "When you get in a break away, you must immediately think about winning, not just making it to the finish ahead of the peloton," which is obviously great advice and a problem myself and a lot of younger riders seem to have.

    RL: What’s the best part about your bike, and do you have a name or persona for it?

    EH: I can't decide, every part is important. I've never named any part of my bike.

    RL: I heard Nibali wouldn’t talk to you until you slammed your stem- is this true?

    EH: No way. He wouldn't talk to me until I addressed him in Italian, lol. But seriously, he's a nice guy and is always quick to thank his teammates for a job well done.

    Evan, we look forward to your coming season- if this first race is any indicator, you’re going to have a great 2015! Thanks again for taking some time for us- we’re happy and proud to support you and Team SmartStop Pro Cycling.


    Evan Huffman and the SmartStop pro team race Ritchey WCS C220 stems, WCS Carbon 1-bolt seat posts, and both EvoCurve and Logic II bars.

  • Ritchey Commando Takes On Fat Bike Nationals

    fat-bike-nationals-ritchey-commando-2Several weeks ago, Ritchey approached HP and I asking if we’d like to race “Fat Bike National Championships,” in Ogden, Utah. It’s the first year of the event they said, and yes, USA Cycling is sanctioning it.

    We laughed, looked at each other, laughed again, and said, “Hell yeah, that would be fun.” A few conversations and a couple photos later, we were all set for a road trip to Utah from San Francisco.

    After a long drive and a short night of sleep, we arrived at the venue for a course pre-ride. This was important, as we’d probably logged a total of six hours on a fat bike between the two of us, and HP has not spent much time on snow--period. Luckily, the day was sunny and free of wind, a beautiful introduction to riding bikes on the snow. We had a blast shredding through burms and bunny-hopping rollers. The trip was off to a great start.

    fat-bike-nationals-ritchey-commando-3Returning to the parking lot, I looked around for the beer tent. What’s fat bike national championships without a recovery drink, right? I’d seen a beer sponsor for the event on USA Cycling’s website, but they didn’t appear to have come through. A feeling of dread started creeping in.

    “Hey HP, how serious do you think this thing is going to be?” I asked.

    “Probably pretty serious.” She responded. “It’s bike racing, right? And stars-and-stripes jerseys are on the line.”

    I suppose deep down this didn’t come as a surprise. Put a couple racers together, and the most casual situations turn into actual contests. And I’ll admit to being one of the primary instigators. A part of me hoped fat bikes were just silly enough to relax us, but I knew this notion was wrong. I checked once more for the beer tent, and then gave up the search.

    Then next morning was much colder and windier. The spring skiing vibe from the day before was notably absent. We grabbed coffee and donuts for breakfast--figuring that was appropriate nutrition for the event, and made our way up to 9,000 ft, where the start/finish was.

    fat-bike-nationals-ritchey-commando-1HP went off at 9 AM, and kept calm in a small field of “Masters 30-39 women.” She got several compliments during her race, including “Whoa! Ritchey steel!” from another racer on the course. In a world where fat bikes have already gone carbon, we’d earned a little respect for something different.

    fat-bike-nationals-ritchey-commando-4I went off at 1 PM, in a field of 18 “Pro” (a very generous designation) men. I lined up between Ned Overend, Mitch Hoke, Travis Brown, and a guy from Moab wearing baggy shorts and hiking boots. There were more skinsuits and carbon wheels than I’d expected, but it was good to see some baggies too.

    The race started, and after about three minutes of pacelining through a nordic ski trail, we entered the most fun section of the course: a burmed descent that finished over a roller and into the one section of “singletrack.” I got a little too rad coming out of the last burm, went wide over the roller, and just barely put my front wheel into the soft snow next to the singletrack. It sunk in, I tipped over, and that was that--race over. I got back up as soon as I could and gave chase, but the next section was wide open, and I couldn’t manage to close the 50m to the main group that had echeloned across the trail ahead of me. Turns out that on a fat bike, a 50m gap is about as many seconds.

    For the next hour, I asked my sea-level lungs for all they’d give--which wasn’t much. I’d look ahead at a seemingly small gap to the next rider, only to realize that at the speed I was moving, that gap was 30 seconds. Everything was in slow motion. In a moment of clarity, I realized that one of the reasons I like bike racing so much is the speed. I knew in that moment that while riding fat bikes around in the snow was fun, racing them was much less so.

    I rolled through the finish line with a big smile on my face, and gave high fives to a few other riders and friends who were there. I changed out of kit, looked again unsuccessfully for the beer tent, and waited for podiums.

    The next day we went for a ride on the Shoreline Trail in Salt Lake City. We ran into another fat bike rider who was very excited to see us. He mentioned that his fat bike was his primary choice these days, despite the lack of snow. HP asked “What do you like about it?”

    “It just puts me in a different headspace, you know? I ride in my flat pedals, and the rides that used to take three hours now take four. You just can’t be in a hurry.”

    - Kurt Wolfgang

  • Ritchey Commandos Invade Snow Epic

    AssosWerksteam1e

    First Snow Epic Fat Bike Race in Switzerland

    Just as the first Ritchey Commando fat bikes are shipping to bike shops across Europe, two Commandos will be participating in the first ever Snow Epic Stage Race, a five-day event around the mountains of Engelberg, Switzerland taking place between January 14th-17th.

    Italian Giuseppe Ribolzi and Canadian Jean Francois Clermont from Assos Werksteam will take these bikes to the limit. With years of global experience in road and mountain bike stage races, like the famous Cape Epic in South Africa, this will be the first time the Swiss and Canadian members of Assos Werksteam will race on fat bikes in the snow.

    Ritchey Commando Fat Bike Ritchey Commando Fat Bike

     

    “We are longtime friends and this is exiting for both of us – first time fat bike racing in the snow. We like to challenge ourselves and the product we ride with – in this case it will be the Assos clothing and the Ritchey Commando fat bikes,” Ribolzi said. The main challenge for both riders is having to prepare on separate continents and the current lack of snow in Europe.

    Ritchey is excited to partner with the Assos Werksteam on this first time experience, where Ribolzi and Clermont will push Ritchey Commandos at race level.

    You can follow the daily adventures on....
    https://www.facebook.com/RitcheyInternational?fref=ts
    http://instagram.com/assosmangayio/
    http://snow-epic.com/

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