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Tech Talk: Trade shows and cyclo-cross

For VeloNews staffers who cover the racing scene, the Tour, the Giro and the Vuelta are usually the busiest times of the year. But we on the tech side have our own “grand tour” – it's called "show season," and it's about to kick off with the Eurobike trade show, opening Wednesday in Friedrichshafen, Germany. A week and a half after that show closes, we have the EICMA show in Milan. And a week after that, manufacturers descend upon Las Vegas for Interbike (September 25-29). Most have already begun to peddle their wares.

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Comparing the soles. Old on top, new on the bottom.

Comparing the soles. Old on top, new on the bottom.

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For VeloNews staffers who cover the racing scene, the Tour, the Giro and the Vuelta are usually the busiest times of the year. But we on the tech side have our own “grand tour” – it’s called “show season,” and it’s about to kick off with the Eurobike trade show, opening Wednesday in Friedrichshafen, Germany. A week and a half after that show closes, we have the EICMA show in Milan. And a week after that, manufacturers descend upon Las Vegas for Interbike (September 25-29). Most have already begun to peddle their wares.

Sidi Shoes and ALINE footbeds
Just last week the boys from Veltec, Scott Vogelman and Rick Vosper, were out showing us Sidi’s newest, including a new top-of-the-line shoe, the Ergo 2 ($430), which is featured in VeloNews No. 17’s “Just In” section. Sidi has also redesigned the Genius 6.6 ($400), its mainline workhorse. The 6.6 has two Velcro straps instead of the Ergo 2’s Tech 2 buckle, this makes it a bit lighter thus more frequently chosen by the pros.

Pile o’ Sidis. Ergo 1, Ergo 2, Genius 6.6, TR2.6

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Both the Ergo 2 and Genius 6.6 rely on a new one-piece carbon sole and heel security system. The new sole is quite the departure for Sidi, as it has been a long time proponent that one-piece soles are too stiff. Sidi claims that the new shoes have been “elastically tailored” to provide an appropriate amount of flex.

The Genius 6.6 will also be offered with a women’s last and heel cup, and will be included in Sidi’s “pink ribbon” program. As of September 1, each shoe will have a pink ribbon embossed on its toe strap; $1 of each sale will be donated to the Breast Cancer Foundation in the selling dealer’s name.

Veltec has also picked up a line of semi-custom footbeds ($50) made by a company named ALINE. The plastic inserts are meant to support the foot with neutral positioning in stiff-soled sports footwear like ski boots, golf shoes or cycling shoes. By placing the foot into a neutral position, ALINE claims to alleviate “hot foot” and the need to overtighten shoe straps. ALINE uses a laser alignment system to fit the right one of its 16 sizes of inserts to riders. Veltec and ALINE’s staff are teaching Sidi’s authorized fit centers to properly fit the shoes and insoles in tandem. Though the insoles should fit in any shoe, if the fit is snug, they may make things too cramped.

Time for ‘cross
While tech and trade shows mark the busy season for sellers, buyers and tech writers alike, I personally get excited because this time of year marks another change. That chill in the air is a reminder that cyclo-cross season is coming up, too.

This past week, we shot some cyclo-cross photos in a local park for the issue’s gear preview section. Ben Turner, TIAA-CREF’s road manager, and ‘cross honch/shop owner Brandon Dwight were gracious enough to help model some of the new gear. The duo added a bit of authenticity to the production, as both have made the podium at national-caliber races and logged some time across the pond. Turner was a member of the 2004 U.S. cyclo-cross world championship team, while Dwight spent 10 days experiencing and writing about elite UCI ‘cross racing in Belgium last winter. His VeloNews.com rider diary was titled Chocolate, Waffles and ‘Cross.

Turner and Dwight took things in stride when we asked them to don winter attire on a 90-degree day and “use” equipment from manufacturers other than their sponsors, especially considering that each rider has his own new program to be excited about for the upcoming season.

Ben Turner and Brandon Dwight making it look “real.”

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Turner will be returning as the manager of the TIAA-CREF/Clif Bar cyclo-cross team, a sister outfit to Jonathan Vaughters’s developmental road program, Team TIAA-CREF. This year the team is continuing with its mission of developing America’s young cyclo-cross racers, but is also planning to spread a message of environmental sustainability during the season. The team plans to “demonstrate environmentally conscious, sustainable operations and serve as a test bed for how to measure, prototype and continuously reduce our environmental footprint,” said Turner.

To achieve its goals the team will rely upon bio-diesel and hybrid vehicles, operate a recycling program on the team trailer as well as in the team’s warehouse, and support local grocery stores and restaurants that share the team’s values.

In addition, Turner and sponsor Clif Bar have determined the team’s total fossil-fuel-energy needs for the season. Clif Bar has offset them, purchasing wind-power credits through Native Energy, effectively offsetting the team’s carbon footprint. The team is hoping that t its season will be as climate-neutral as possible.

The team has four 2005 world’s-team members and two national champions returning for 2006.

Troy Wells (elite) – 2005 under-23 national champion, member 2005world-championships team

Alex Howes (under-23) – member 2005 world-championships team

Brady Kappius (under-23) – member 2005 world-championships team

Danny Summerhill (junior) – 2005 junior national champion, member2005 world-championships team

Turner has high hopes for his young crew, especially Summerhill. “Based on his performance last year at world’s where he was the fourth first-year junior overall, he has a great shot at winning world’s if he does it right,” said Turner. “That would be the ultimate goal for our season, getting Danny to where he needs to be for world’s.”

After two seasons as a rider-manager for TIAA-CREF/Clif Bar alongside Turner, Dwight has a new sponsor — himself. He will still play the role of mentor to the team’s developing riders, but since he co-owns a bike shop, he figured it was time to do some grassroots marketing and fly the Boulder Cycle Sport colors at the races this fall.

Owning the shop has also made Dwight’s transition into the masters racing ranks rather seamless. Though he will still race at the elite level, he has no qualms or reservations about training on a $1750 pair of Zipp 404 clinchers. Of course, he has the ‘cross-specific tubular version of the 404’s for his race rig.

Dwight handpicked the components to hang from his 2007 Scott Team Cyclocross frame. Highlights include a muck-proof Chris King headset, Zipp 404 cyclo-cross wheels, a Zipp 300 carbon crank, Ritchey carbon cockpit, fi’zi:k Arione saddle and Crank Brothers Candy 4ti pedals. Shimano’s BR-R550 cantilever brake handles the stopping, while Italian tire maker Challenge supplies the rubber. Pretty sweet, huh?

The Belgian way — tubular tape
One topic we reported on last year was tire selection for cyclo-cross, addressing the question of whether to use tubulars for their supple casings or clinchers for their ease of use. One of the cons attached to tubulars is the ritual of gluing them on. A possible answer? Stu Thorne’s Cyclocrossworld.com is selling a generic brand of European tubular tape, and Thorne says the results are impressive.

Photo: Cyclocrossworld.com’s tubular tape and Vittoria Mastik ‘One glue

The tape offers an easier and far less-time consuming solution to the sticky situation of sticking on your tubular tires. Thorne calls it “the hot setup for gluing a ‘cross tub.” It’s a method he picked up in Belgium, where mechanics commonly use the tape for both cyclo-cross and road tubulars.

“All of the top guys in Europe use this method,” he says. “The tape makes a bond that is much better and the chances of rolling a tire are next to nil.”

Other advantages to the tape include ease of use and one-step installation. The tape also does a good job of filling the void found in the spoke bead of some tubular rims. This increases the contact patch for the tubular to adhere. The tape is relatively inexpensive, too – one $5 roll is enough to mount two tires.

The process does still require some glue, but its application is fairly limited. Thorne suggests two coats on a new tire’s base tape, and one coat on the rim. Once the components are layered with glue, the tape goes on the rim and everything is assembled wet. The advantage is that there is no waiting for glue to dry. Using the tape knocks a two- or three-day job down to 15 minutes. Thorne recommends that Vittoria’s Mastik One glue be used with the tape. And waiting 24 hours for everything to dry is still a must.

We haven’t tried the tape yet, but Thorne depended on it throughout last season and called it “phenomenal.” With that type of report from a former world’s-team mechanic, we can hardly wait to give it a try.

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