Last night at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont, I joined four other photographers for what amounted to a photographer's version of a dance off. The event, which was sponsored by MTBVT.com, was called the Green Mountain Showdown. Each photographer played a five-minute slideshow of mountain biking images shot in the Green Mountain State between mid July and late August of this year. An eight-person panel judged us on originality, technical excellence, and aesthetic quality.
Bear Cieri took home the first-place trophy, with moody images played to a Tom Waits soundtrack. I was close on his heels in second with shots featuring pro rider Kyle Ebbett, daredevil Josh Gee, and female rippers Ali Zimmer and Kim O'Connell. Check out all five entries below.
Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson (left) warm up as Jonathan Vaughters talks about the course.
They say that cycling is a terrible spectator sport, but that depends on where you’re sitting. On Thursday, thanks to a gracious invitation from Team Garmin-Cervélo, I had the good fortune to watch the USA Pro Cycling Challenge’s Stage 3 time trial from the passenger seat of the trail car that followed Christian Vande Velde up the course. And I’m quite comfortable telling you that there’s nothing—not front row seats at a cage fight, nor even cowboy hat-cam footage of bull riding—more exhilarating than what I witnessed.
The 10-mile alpine time trial up Vail Pass was always going to be one of the best stages to watch: compared to the five-second-long flash and blaze of the passing peloton on a road stage, the TT would treat spectators to an almost three-hour-long stream of racers. It was clear that fans realized this, as cars festooned with carbon bikes choked the highways from Denver to Vail as soon as the sun was up and the bike path from Summit County to the finish on the pass was clogged with picnic-wielding cyclotourists all day. I was among the legion of expectant fans pouring into Vail, though rather than scrabble around in the trenches to stake out a good spot I beelined for the Garmin-Cervélo team bus.
When the USA Pro Cycling Challenge rolls out on August 22, it will have a star-studded roster, including all three podium finishers from the Tour de France. One week ahead of the race, Andy Schleck and his girlfriend were staying in Steamboat, Colorado, where the three-time Tour de France runner-up was preparing for the upcoming race. On Monday morning, Schleck showed up for a community ride, and though the appearance was announced only that morning, several hundred cycling fans turned out to ride with the star. Later that afternoon, Schleck sat down with me to talk about the Tour de France, doping in cycling, and his expectations for the Pro Cycling Challenge. --Aaron Gulley www.aarongulley.com
OUTSIDE: That was a big crowd this morning. Would that many people show up to ride with you in Europe? SCHLECK: I don’t think so, actually. In Luxembourg cycling is very common. I was really, really surprised there was that many people this morning. I know how a peloton looks with 200 people—that’s usually what we ride in—and this morning I just looked back down the road and I was really surprised there were that many. I make a wild guess, but I would say there were maybe 400 or 500 people.
The race is over, and I'm experiencing my inevitable, annual Tour withdrawal. (What fun are mornings without Cadel's awkward-but-effective mutton-busting riding style, a couple of whingeing Schlecks, and the Contador keep-us-guessing feint and dodge?) So this morning, in lieu of Stage 22, I contemplated a few of the new bikes that made their Pro Tour debut in France.
I love that, unlike other sports, in cycling consumers can purchase the same bikes that the pros ride. (Just try picking up Fernando Alonso's F1 Ferrari.) A small stack of money will get you the very same SuperSix EVO that Basso rode to 8th overall at the Tour or a Cervélo S5 identical to the one Thor Hushovd used to win two stages. And for those unwilling to plunk down ten big ones, the good news is that the technology from these bikes continues to trickle down to affordable rides, so you can goggle the top of the line now and likely ride similar technology soon.
In the spirit of yearning for just a little bit more Tour, here are some of the hottest new bikes spotted on the roads of France in the last three weeks.
Liquigas-Cannondale's Ivan Basso went into the 2011 Tour as an outside favorite for the win, though after a strong first two weeks he eventually faded to eighth on GC. He snagged that top-ten spot atop one of the most exciting bikes of 2012, the Cannondale SuperSix EVO. At a claimed weight of 695 grams (that's just 1.53 pounds), this frame is the new lightest bike in production. For perspective on how revolutionary that is, remember that it was just a few years ago that Scott produced the first-ever sub-1,000 gram (2.2 pounds) production frame. For those skeptical of manufacturers claims (and you should be), Cannondale's weight is a normalized figure for a size 56 that has been verified by the independent Zedler Institute.