Shoes and helmets get the better of me…
They say curiosity killed the cat but, as I write this, I still feel pretty good.
It’s one of those trivial little technical details that’s been plaguing me this entire race season: why on earth is the men’s world cross-country mountain bike champion wearing mid-level shoes both racing on the road and off? Earlier this year, we saw Roland Green compete in the Tour de Langkawi not sporting Shimano’s top-of-the-line SH-R214 carbon road shoe, but instead, the Canadian was seen donning the single strap SH-TR01 triathlon shoe. Later in the year, we see Green roll up to both NORBA and world cup mountain-bike start lines wearing Shimano’s mid-level SH-M152 mountain-bike shoe. Might it be that the fastest man in the world sports an extra toe or some other “special” footwear need that we’re not aware of?
According to team manager, Eric Wallace, “Roland has pretty wide feet and they’re fairly boney. The 3 strap Velcro shoes without buckles tend to fit his foot the best. Roland also wears the Nike Carnersos shoes for a bunch of events. They fit good as well, but are best for dry conditions.” So there you have it, the fastest man on earth has boney feet prompting him to use “more affordable” footwear from his sponsors. Case closed…
…and another one open. As you might expect, most of our collective attention here at the magazine is focused on the upcoming Tour de France. And while our race correspondents are prognosticating stage wins and last-minute team member selections, I’m stuck here thinking about helmets. What about ’em? Well, this will be the first Tour in history where all riders will be mandated to wear helmets in mass start stages. Which begs two questions: first, what exactly is a “helmet” and second, what about helmets in time trials?
According to the UCI’s release on the matter (Article 1.3.031), “during competitions on the road, a hard shell crash helmet shall be worn.” No further detail is provided on the matter which is surprising considering the intricate detail the UCI normally goes into when addressing technical matters. A “hard shell crash helmet?” That’s leaves the door wide open for interpretation, doesn’t it?
When I contacted Bell and Giro about the matter, company representative Sean Coffey explained that,” all of our sponsored riders wear out-of-box helmets. The exact same models we sell to the public. The only exception is in the individual and team time trials where riders are allowed to wear ‘fairings’ instead of helmets–at least as far as we interpret the ruling.”
When I asked Coffey about the possibility of Giro or Bell producing some extremely lightweight (i.e. potentially not as safe) helmets for its racers, he explained that, “we would never produce a helmet that wasn’t built up to our safety standards–that might not protect a rider in a crash.”
For the United States, that means adhering to the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission). In Europe, that means conforming to the CE standard (not as strict as our CPSC standard). But the UCI doesn’t specify that the helmets worn in competition must meet either of these standards. And certainly there are racers out there who are opposed to the rulings and would risk running extremely lightweight helmets (i.e. not safe) just to satisfy the very vague ruling. Time will tell if the UCI clarifies its ruling, but until they do, it would appear racers are free to wear anything even remotely resembling a helmet.
As for time trials (both individual and team), it would also appear that racers are free to skip safety and stick to the minimalist “fairings” that have become so popular ever since Francesco Moser started the aero’ craze when he broke Eddy Merckx’s 12-year-old hour record in 1984. (Of course, Moser’s Lycra cap wouldn’t even meet the laxest of standards on either side of the pond.) In almost all cases, the fairings the racers use offer almost no safety benefits due to their micro-thin plastic construction. According to the UCI’s ruling, one might assume racers never hit the deck when racing against the clock…again, only time will tell if this ruling develops further. Let’s just hope there aren’t any injuries in the meantime. And now, a dash of product news:
For A Limited Time Only
It’s Tour de France time and that means FSA is ready to introduce a limited edition Team Issue crankset. This year Full Speed Ahead will make available 200 sets of a Team CSC Team Issue cranksets with special team graphics.
These cranksets are available for Octalink 9-speed Shimano or Isis Drive 10-speed Campagnolo. Lengths are 170mm, 172.5mm or 175mm.
Retail Price is $399.99 and cranks are available from any dealer or directly from Full Speed Ahead.
Zipp’s new B2 handlebar said to have a blend of aerodynamics and performance. Precise shaping results in a handlebar that is designed to achieve both comfort and optimal stiffness. There is not a single round cross section in the entire bar. Providing comfort and control, the ovoid cross sectional hook portion of the bar is optimized for the perfect wrist angle while the aerodynamic airfoil top section elegantly hides the cables and provides a comfortable surface regardless of your hand position. Weight is 220g (average wt. for 44cm bar) and will be available in 42, 44 and 46cm (measured outside to outside). 26mm clamp size and suggested retail is $250.