Seasons Greetings From The PEZ Crew!

Merry Christmas: It has been a very strange year for everyone and the world has been turned upside down. Professional sport was crammed into a few months, some people were not allowed to ride outside and others given the freedom ‘to work from home’ and get in the miles. Here is how the PEZ Crew have handled our Covid-19 year:


Richard Pestes – Publisher
Usually at this time of year we take a few minutes to share our personal reflections on a year full of cycling exploits – whether real, imagined, experienced and observed or all of the above.   I imagine like many of you reading this, there’s a part of me who’s not sure we had much worth remembering this year.

I really  enjoyed watching racing almost nonstop from August into November, and never could have imagined so many nail-biting surprise finishes and exploits by the pro peloton protagonisti.

My own year or riding was less than memorable – for the first time in 18 years I had no big ride fueling my training miles, and my overall form will sadly be remembered as among my worst ever.

But I do remember that one day of the season that I always have when I felt amazing on the bike.  Every year there’s this one day when I’m flying… even if every year it seems to take me longer to recover from it – so long in fact that the rest of the season never measures up.

In 2020 that day was May 21st.  My friend Ron called me for a ride in the afternoon, and when he arrived he stepped into the house and looked sick.  As he walked in I quipped “what’s wrong with you?”  Then he told me his mom had passed a couple days earlier.

Yes – I felt like a shit.  We’d all been isolating for weeks, and with covid still raging I didn’t feel right giving him a hug.  Instead we turned to the bikes for our version of two-wheeled comfort… or therapy, or whatever it is we  1960’s kids call it.  The day was sunny and warm – and a solid ride to kick out the emotion was exactly what we needed.

We set off on a climbing extravaganza taking in many short but steep pitches on our North Shore mountains.  Some 50km & 2 hours later we parted ways and I was amazed at how strong I’d felt.  Maybe it was my own emotion to support my friend welling up that boosted my own legs.  But it felt good – good to be out, good to be riding with my friend, good to maybe help him fell a little better too.  When we parted ways, it was with our usual “thanks, that a was a good one.”

The next day my body sort of went into a heavy fatigue for 7-10 days, and that was my peak.  I still remember that ride as clear as yesterday, and that’s how it is for me and my best rides.  Funny how that works, right?

Thanks again to all your readers and the clients who’ve supported us over the years, and especially to the mighty PEZ-Crew who never faltered.  May you and the people who matter have a safe and happy season, and if you can’t be with the one you love, do as Crosby Stills Nash & Young said…


Chris Selden – French Bureau
Wow, what a difference a year can make! Last year at this time I was half way through my one year of travel with the family and we had stopped off at my father’s place in New Zealand to spend a lovely Christmas together and compete in a crazy hard bike race…

This year, we’re back in our own home in France and back to school for the kids but nothing is quite the same as when we left. Masks, social distancing and covid restrictions have completely changed our lives and this Christmas will not be the same as any previous. Still, it’s the festive season and whether it’s just in our small family unit or sharing season’s greetings via the webcam we’re going to make the most of the holidays.

Even if the rides have been few and far between this year, there’s nothing quite like getting out on the bike to make you feel better. My recent ride up my favorite climb was a highlight this year and hopefully we can all enjoy many moments like this in 2021 – just the simple freedom of getting out on the bike and riding – there’s still nothing quite like it. Happy Holidays to all!


Leslie Reissner – Literary Editor
This was a most unusual year indeed. With various lockdowns and all of my more interesting travel plans trashed, 2020 was my Year of Riding A Lot Indoors, as well as Riding the Parkway Loop Over and Over and Over when I did go outside. Although I am only a modestly dedicated cyclist, I have somehow managed to record more than 10,000 kms on my various bicycles (indoors and outdoors), as well as becoming some kind of local legend by completing 130 circuits of my Parkway training loop. These record accomplishments for me were matched by the record number of flat tires that tested my mechanical dexterity to the limit.

Looking back over the last two decades I have experienced so many memorable places on my bike—California, north and south; the Appalachians; the Alps in Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Austria; the Pyrenees, the Vosges and the Dolomites; Mallorca and Sicily; the Fairytale Road in Germany; the hellingen of Flanders; riding over the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges. Yet in 2020 I can say that the inability to travel to an exotic location did not detract from my favourite ride of the year: to nearby Gatineau Park, the epicentre of road cycling for Canada’s National Capital Region. In spite of the park and its excellent roads only being 12 kms away, I had not been there for two years and set out on a very fine August Friday to rediscover some of the best climbs around. It was also the opportunity to test out my latest bicycle, a 2005 LeMond Tete de Course that I had upgraded with some lightweight climbing wheels. 120 kms and 1000m of climbing later, I rolled back home after a relaxed and scenic tour that still netted me a whole lot of Strava PRs. Some days are just so satisfying you never want them to end, even if they are not remarkable to anyone else.

We are approaching the end of 2020 and we are all hoping that the introduction of the new vaccines will challenge this pandemic that has devastated so many lives and economies. I wish all readers of PezCyclingNews, and my fellow contributors, and their families and friends, all the best for the holiday season–good health, much happiness and endless numbers of those truly satisfying days in all the days to come.


Ed Hood – Font of all Cycling Knowledge
As I read the morning headlines on 22nd December it would be easy to become despondent as the scientists call for ANOTHER national ‘Lockdown,’ in the United Kingdom; but it’s a beautiful crisp, winter morning in Scotland and life must go on. I have friends whom the evil finger of Covid has touched and it’s not just the physical aspect of the virus; quarantine comes with its own problems. To all those affected by this horrible thing, you have my sympathies.

I was lucky, I got to my beloved six days last winter and Dave, Callum and I made our annual springtime pilgrimage to the, ‘Opening Weekend’ in Flanders before the world closed down. Again, I was lucky, I was able to sit and focus on our wonderful sport and work on pieces for days and weeks on end, a luxury I don’t usually enjoy. When things relaxed I was even able to get along to a race; the Tour of the Campsies, in the beautiful west of Scotland hills which bear that name.

On the continent we were treated to a televisual feast as the ‘New Wave’ rolled ever onwards in a ‘compressed’ season. No six days for me this winter and it looks as if there’ll be no Opening Weekend either as the United Kingdom becomes the black sheep of Europe. It looks then like I’ll be pestering guys and girls all over the globe for ‘phone interviews again very soon.

To all my colleagues at PEZ, especially Richard and Alastair – and most importantly, to all of our readers who make it possible for me to indulge my passion; have the best of Festive Seasons and let’s all say a little prayer that 2021 treats us all with a wee bit more fairness.


Stephen Cheung, Ph.D. – Sport Science & Training Editor
In 1999, before we started our family, my wife and I were on a bike trip around the gorgeous Cabot Trail on the east coast of Canada when we came across a father and daughter on a tandem on their own bikepacking tour. Ever since then, I’ve harboured a dream of doing something similar with our own children. Life, of course, rarely ever works out according to your plans, but sometimes it’s even better as a result. Our two boys got into gymnastics, and power sports became their jam, so their bikes largely gathered dust along with anything endurance-related. We’ve had great times learning snowboarding together and doing that all over the world instead.

Then along came our latest sabbatical, and our family’s discovery of the sport of bouldering and climbing. It quickly became a shared passion for all of us, one that even a freak accident with a broken and dislocated foot couldn’t diminish for me. This October, our older son Zach – now 20 – and I headed up north for our very first father-son climbing trip, and it was everything I had imagined when I first saw that father and daughter 21 years earlier and more. It wasn’t a case of getting Zach to take up something I already love. Rather, it was the two of us discovering a shared passion together. The time together, strengthened even more by the bond of being on a rope together with its life and death consequences, made the trip even more special. The gorgeous Ontario fall colours in full bloom didn’t hurt either.

In the midst of this pandemic, I wish full health for all in Pez-world and that you find your special moments.


Chuck Peña – DC Bureau and Sock Guru
First and foremost, I want to wish everyone in PEZ-land a very Merry Christmas (or however you celebrate) and Happy New Year. Wishing y’all the very best in 2021! With vaccines being approved and beginning to be distributed, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But we’re not there yet so that means we can let our guard down. It probably won’t be until the middle of next year that life begins to return to something resembling normal. So be smart, be safe, and be well! #wewillgetthroughthis


Remembering the calm before the storm of COVID and looking forward to everyone coming out on the other end in 2021

While 2020 will be remembered for COVID and lockdowns that forced a lot of riders to do indoor training, it was actually more than a pretty good year for me on the bike. The restrictions in Babylon on the Potomac were not so draconian as to prevent outdoor riding. And teleworking actually allowed me to ride more. As I type, I’ve got over 7,500 miles and 391,000 feet elevation gain for the year. I don’t have my log book from when I raced in the 90s to know how that compares, but it’s a BIG year nonetheless. The highlight for me was a 2-up ride in October with my best riding buddy and former teammate, Bob Goulder aka The Real Bobke. 70 miles and two hard climbs for just shy of 5,900 feet of elevation gain. The first climb is one that most riders in the area know (and dread): 601 aka Mount Weather. There’s the short, steep (nearly 10 percent average) climb out of Bluemont to get to 601 and then it’s straight up for a little over a mile at 7 percent average. That’s followed by a second climb and then about 5 miles of rollers across Mount Weather until the descent. The second climb was a new one for us: Blue Ridge Mountain Road which is 3.7 miles at 7 percent average. This is a legit climb (the Strava KOM is owned by a name that should be recognized by most PEZ readers) with lots of twists and turns and double-digit steep pitches on a semi-narrow road. Because it was my first time up this climb, the one word I’d use to describe it: relentless. Definitely looking forward to having a go up it again in 2021.


Gator golf in Hilton Head

It was also a pretty good year for me on the golf course. I re-discovered my golf swing and was able to keep the score a little closer playing with my daughter (but she still shows no mercy and takes great delight beating me).


Alessandro Federico – Italian Bureau
There was a day last summer when I forgot about everything of the disease, of limitations, and routine of these times. It was the beginning of July and in Italy there were less cases of covid, so that we were all thinking it was going to be over.

That day I was out all the day long with my bike, from early morning to early afternoon together with a friend of mine. Our destination was Arcevia, a town inland, far away from the traffic of the coast roads.

I remember it was really warm that day, especially after 10 am, and another thing I remember was the freshness of spring water we found on the way back home. On the last hills before home we also found a big wall made of hay and I wanted a picture with it. That moment was my covid-free momentum in 2020 and I want to remember it now, wishing you all my Xmas Greetings. Any time the present conditions are becoming hard and sad I remember the hay and myself sat down below. I still can smell it.


Alastair Hamilton, Editor, EuroTrash – Spanish Bureau
What a strange year. I guess none of us have experienced anything like it, but it was (mostly) all out of our control. I’m glad I got to see a couple of stages of the Volta a la Communitat Velenciana before everything went into lockdown, that took the sting of missing the Vuelta a España, as an accredited journalist, for the first time since 2002. The Valencia race has improved in such a short time, since its return to the calendar in 2016. This year, some young guy called Tadej Pogačar won overall. I wonder if we will hear much of him?


The start of a terrific year for Pogačar in Valencia

On the race front; 2020 was probably the most exciting for a long time, but then if you squash most of a season into a few months it should keep the tension high. In saying that, I wouldn’t want it to happen again. Reporting on two races a day was not easy, and had Paris-Roubaix not been canceled… let’s hope the 2021 season is near ‘normal’.


Maybe get to the Vuelta a España in 2021?

On a personal level we have a new member of the family. Robin or Robbie joined us in March, the week before the lockdown. My wife works with old people, which has not been much fun this year, she obviously has to wear the full suit for the safety of the residents and herself, but in a Spanish summer, plastic is not the best material. The old folks home has been very good with only one covid-19 related death. Anyway, back to Robin, he lived with an old man who died at the end of February after a fairly long illness and Robin was with him all the way. A friend of the old man promised to look after Robin, but never came back and couldn’t be contacted. So after he had been in an apartment on his own for two weeks, being fed by my wife, we decided to have him live with us. He has taken over and the other two cats ‘accommodate’ him. So something good has come from 2020.

Look after yourselves and a Happy New Year.

Robbie looking for cyclists:

 

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