Seasons Greetings From The PEZ Crew!
PEZ Holiday Greetings: Christmas Day is under our belts, the dinner definitely is, and now we look forward to a new year and a new season of cycling and cycle sport. As always the PEZ Crew have got together in the virtual World to sum up their 2017 and wish you all a prosperous, successful and an enjoyable cycling 2018.
Richard Pestes – Publisher
2017 was one of reconnecting with my bike, and with some old friends along the way. One hilight was my trip to Italy in May to ride with my old pal Keith Neu, who I met some 12 years ago when he started high-end cycling trips to the Giro d’Italia. After an epic day in Bassano del Grappa where we climbed the insanely long (24km) Monte Grappa to catch a Giro stage, Keith took us for dinner to his pal’s ristorante in nearby Padano del Grappa. The Motoristorante di Maurizio is filled with old Ducati moto paraphernalia – and engine parts (pristinely cleaned and displayed) as decoration for his ristorante where he serves locally sourced food, simply prepared as only Italians can do. His mixed grill looked so good, I had to shoot some video…
I reconnected with Keith recently when I visited Ventura, and while the fires kaiboshed our ride plans, we logged some solid bud time – something I’ve come to appreciate more these days and vow to devote more time to in 2018.
Big thanks to all you readers, our friends and colleagues from around the world for all your support in 2017, and of course the PEZ Crew – without whom none of this would exist. May next year be better than you can imagine.
Ed Hood – Reporter At Large
It would be hard to fault the 2017 Classics season with Belgian hard men Phil Gil and GVA spreading unbridled joy throughout the Heartland.
Peter Sagan continues to amaze and delight.
The Grand Tours saw Tom Dumoulin give us a great race.
The Tour and Vuelta – to use a Sky/British Cycling word, we may have to “re-calibrate” our thoughts there. . .
We lost Phil Edwards, right hand man to Campionissimo Francesco Moser and one of my boyhood heroes; Giro winner, the ever-smiling Michele Scarponi; US road, ‘cross and MTB legend Steve Tilford and another of my boyhood heroes, John Woodburn, a man who could do it all, from The Peace race to the Lands End to John O’Groats ultra-distance record.
Rest in peace gentlemen.
Thanks from me to all of the those who gave of their time to me in interviews; to Martin Williamson, Dave Chapman and Callum McGregor my long term roadside amigos; Richard Pestes and Alastair Hamilton for tolerating my ‘rants’ and to all our loyal readers out in PEZ land.
I hope 2018 is all you want it to be, meanwhile I’ll keep ranting. . .
Chris Selden – French Bureau – Readers’ Rigs
2017 was a big year here in France for the Selden family as I spent most of it tolling away renovating my new cycling gite in my little village of Saint André de Sangonis. It’s been a long held dream of mine to one day have a rental house for cyclists to experience the amazing roads, villages and lifestyle of the South of France but the actual act of turning that idea from dream to reality was a lot longer and more difficult than first imagined – as I wrote about here on PEZ.
Long story short, I basically didn’t see any friends or family this year or spend any time on the bike as all my spare time was taken up with renovations. It was certainly a relief and a very proud moment though when the first client arrived in October and absolutely loved the place. I’m hoping that for 2018 I will have many more proud moments like that as more and more clients come and enjoy all the hard work that I put in!
I’m also looking forward to spending more time with the family and of course getting out on the bike a lot more too and rediscovering my amazing region myself – hope to see you here sometime! Come by and check me out at www.hiddenhouse34.com and keep it tuned to Pez for more from me soon, whether it be more Readers’ Rigs, travel stories or tech reviews… Happy New Year to all!
Not seen the back of Chris yet:
Gordan Cameron – Scottish Bureau
Life hurts us, whether it is a stinging sudden pain like the agony visited on Michele Scarponi’s loving family in April, or the drawn out goodbye to a loved one who is moved from home to hospital to hospice. That is why, despite the risks that we all need to face when we set out for a ride, cycling gives us a chance to really live. To move, and challenge ourselves, to travel, but come home. To experience that childhood joy of mastering two wheels, and grabbing the independence offered. When I think of the delight Scarponi took in his cycling and how he shared that enthusiasm … that’s what I will be trying to re-embrace next year.
Wishing all PEZ readers and their families a happy, healthy 2018.
Jeff Green – Toronto Bureau
Turning fifty this summer reminded me how lucky I am to have discovered my passion for the bicycle thirty years ago. It truly seems like yesterday. Without health we have nothing and I owe my good health to my beloved bicicletta. It’s the hours in the saddle, alone or with good friends, that move the miles by peacefully, beautifully. An escape from the stress and chaos of our daily world. And it’s the holidays, and the opportunities just around the corner, that have us saying “thanks”. Happy Holidays everyone and here’s to another year of beautiful mile, after beautiful mile.
Leslie Reissner – Literary Editor
In January 2017 I finally fulfilled one of my cycling dreams/nightmares and became a Knight of Sufferlandria, which required more than 10 hours of indoor riding in the Pain Cave and got me a nice printed certificate and some bike stickers. But the bigger news was the change in my lifestyle as I retired from active employment after 32 years in the Canadian Foreign Service. This has given me the opportunity to do a lot more reading (as well as lots of time for those long put-off home repairs), but it hasn’t all been Pez book and video reviews. In July I was present for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Dusseldorf, Germany, which also gave me the chance to hang out with old friends and cycling buddies there, as well as a nice ride on a retro Mondonico along the Rhine. These were highlights, but so was my interview with Mike Cotty.
In September another great cycling goal was accomplished when I joined friends from the Washington, DC and Seattle areas for an amazing multi-day ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Asheville, NC, to Waynesboro, VA. Great scenery, impeccable roads and a whole lot of climbing, with a minor interruption caused by Hurricane Irma’s progress.
In addition to these cycling activities, we were able to attend a lot of interesting automotive events with our Corvette in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York and Michigan, as well as locally in the Ottawa area, and have lots of plans for 2018 as well.
As always, it has been great fun to be part of the PEZ community and as cycling continues its steady and irresistible growth I look forward to sharing new stories with colleagues and readers here. There are plenty of new roads to discover, new books to read, and new malt-based high-carb isotonic recovery beverages to try. I wish you all memorable holidays with family and friends and all the best for 2018!
Matt McNamara – Toolbox Contributor
Every Holiday season gives a time to reflect, ponder, plan and wonder at the year now past and that yet to come. I am fortunate to circulate in cycling nearly every day of the year, to ride and write, plan and play amongst a Worldwide group of friends and fellow riders wherever I go.
I go a lot! This past year saw adventures with my team in Flanders for the two greatest classics, a jaunt to Ireland with the US Junior National Team, and a return to China to race cyclocross and be awed. I’ve climbed a half million feet and logged some 7,000 miles. My athletes and teams took dozens of victories, personal and in competition, yet still in all the greatest joys are found in small places; the warmth that seeps into a cold mornings start as the sweat begins, the wind across my face on a favorite descent, tired legs that find one more effort on a steep pitch of perfect tarmac.
My thanks go out to Stephen and Tim for helping me learn evermore about coaching, to Al and Richard for allowing me to continue writing even though it’s rarely on time. To Charles and Ed for writing things I always want to read, and to the cycling community writ large for simply reveling in our mutual two wheeled adventures. May you and yours have yet another year to remember in 2018!
Alessandro Federico – Italian Bureau
The arrival of the New Year always brings the message from Pez for the seasons greetings that gives the tempo. It can’t be new year before I have the chance to thank all the readers that follow us during the cycling season, and over it. I’m passing the last days of the year with the family but also on the saddle, training for the upcoming season. The sun is still shining in Italy and the bad weather has not yet really started. The futuristic Christmas tree in the main square of my town (Fano) is the mandatory transit point of my rides and my PEZ kit fits really nice and keeps me warm, waiting for the spring.
Next years plans are the same as the last ten, fifteen years. Strade Bianche, Tirreno, Sanremo and Giro are my favorites and those I know best. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a good idea for the report, worried by the fact that I risk to write always the same arguments, but at the end any race is different from anyone else and the days at races are really unique. Unique as the website I write for, that gives me the opportunity to interpret the cycling in my own way, and to enjoy it at the same time. My best wishes to all PEZ colleagues, to readers and to riders, thanks to them we have this passion to share!
Mark McGhee – Special Correspondent
Another Brick in the Wall
Those of you who have followed my race reports on PEZ for the last few years have probably noticed that I’ve been quite quiet of late. In fact this year’s Fleche was my last report…the fact of the matter is that my wife and I welcomed two new additions to the family in the spring and life has been pretty full-on since then.
I may not have managed to cover too many international races but I’ve been keeping busy with the domestic calendar here in Scotland. My company, The Press Room, once again produced over 20 race reports and images for the governing body Scottish Cycling, and if there’s one standout performer from the year it has to be John Archibald.
Now the name Archibald is not unknown in the cycling world and John’s sister Katie is a World and Olympic Champion…and now John is on the way to emulating her success. He’s already posted the qualifying time in the 4K Individual Pursuit for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia and at home John broke the long-standing 10 mile time posted by Jason MacIntyre. With his Pro Vision Scotland teammates he also obliterated the Scottish Record for the 4K Team Pursuit. He’s on his way and his name will become more familiar to a wider audience in a very short time.
It would be remiss not to mention the various Team Sky debacles that have surfaced this year and it brings home something that I’d been saying for a long time…there was always going to be a conflict of interest between a professional trade team and many of the same team working with British Cycling and the national squads. Without going into all the detail (once again), it just shows that our sport, and sport in general, can never be black and white no matter how much fans may want it to be.
The Chris Froome story is one that will play out and I for one hope that it works out in his favor. That said, the fact that he rides for Team Sky probably won’t help his case as association with the once-clean team is beginning to look a bit toxic.
Whatever happens to Chris Froome, it’s actually the outcome of the Bradley Wiggins investigation that has left a sour taste in the mouth. Testimony from Doctor Freeman has never been heard and now looks likely never to be put up for closer scrutiny…and Sir Brad himself has remained quiet on the subject despite promising to tell all. Perhaps that will be covered in the next book… It seems all too easy to defeat those who are trying to clean up the sport if something so anomalous as the jiffy bag scenario can so easily be washed away.
I’ve heard and read so many disillusioned fans saying that all our professional riders are at it but I think we have to remain positive. For all the negative stories there must be lots of guys giving their all day in, day out and how they must feel about being tainted by the doping stories one can only guess. I think we have to believe in our heroes even if so many of them fall by the wayside after the fact. I believed in Lance, I believed in Tyler, (I never really believed in Floyd), I believed in Dave Z…and I’ll keep believing in Sir Moptop and Sir Chris until it’s either proved that they’ve doped…or they later confess in a lucrative publishing deal.
That’s five years down for PezCycling and, like Valverde and his five victories at Fleche, I’ll be back for more in 2018!
Mark at the Scottish cross champs:
Darrell Parks – North American Photographer
Happy Holidays to all the PEZ fans around the world! 2017 has been a a wild ride full ups and downs for me yet again. The staple stateside stage races were awesome once again as I was able to shoot the AMGEN Tour of California and the Larry H.Miller Tour of Utah for PEZ. The inaugural Colorado Classic brought a new stage race for 2017 with a new format and some new scenery to shoot as well. Unfortunately my favorite one day US classic, the long running Philadelphia race, had to take a break for the first time since 1985! Fortunately it looks like they will be back for a 2018 edition.
Darrell is the winner!
I was also able to spend a bit more time on the bike this year and gain a level of fitness I hadn’t had in years. So much so that I was able to take the top step of the podium in one of my local mountain bike races in July! Of course it was in the clydesdale category as it seems the more I ride the easier it is to have a beer or two afterwards. Then in September I managed to receive the most common of all cycling injuries, which I have somehow eluded for my past 45 years of cycling history, as I ended up with a broken collarbone. After three hours of surgery, two stainless steel plates, eighteen screws and two ounces of cadaver bone putty, all six pieces of my fractured clavicle were united as one again. It feels great to finally be able to ride my bikes again even thought the fitness level has taken a direct hit.
I’m currently having a blast Celebrating Christmas with my wife in New Orleans to close out 2017. Looking forward to working with the PEZ crew once again next year. Happy Holidays to all and Peace on Earth.
You can order your “Darell Parks 2018 Cycling Calendar” HERE: www.darrellparks.com/Calendar
Sam Larner – London Bureau
Merry Christmas to all loyal readers! In 2016 I attended all three Grand Tours for Pez, 2017 has been more low key – in fact, I haven’t been to a single Grand Tour this year. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, the best I could do was a few weekends away so I decided to stock up for 2018. I had also planned a ride from St Malo to Bordeaux with a mate but he was offered his dream job and we had to cancel just a few months before. Despite this, I still managed to fit in my regulation quota of cycling watching and overall, I think it’s been a decent year.
The Froome news probably confirmed something that we all thought about Sky; that the British team push the rulebook to its absolute limits and have fallen well short of the totally ethical stance that they had promised when they were first added to the sport. It will certainly be something to watch even if I don’t think it has a massive bearing on cycling as a whole. Cycling in the UK has gone from a niche sport to one of the more popular ones and that growth has resulted in more Sky fans who believe whatever the PR team pump out, equally, cycling on the continent is not that kind to Sky or Froome – the dial won’t be moved on either group because of this news.
The plan for 2018 is straightforward, watch more cycling. I’ve never yet seen a Classic but I will be heading over to the north of France in April to watch Paris-Roubaix. My parents have recently purchased a camper van, a dream of theirs for the past few years, so I plan to spend two weeks at the Tour sampling the real roadside experience. I’m also planning on making it over to the Dauphine and Vuelta before the end of the year. The St Malo – Bordeaux trip is back on the cards but that is likely going to happen in 2018 rather than 2019. Before all that though, I’ll be experiencing some major cols in an unorthodox way as I head to Europe for back to back to back ski trips. In short, after a couple of hard years of work, I plan on stretching my vacation time to the absolute max this year – see you all in France!
Chuck Peña – DC Bureau
2017 will go down in the history books as the Year of the Coffee Ride. My friend, former Kodak and Coppi’s teammate, and long-time riding buddy, Bob Goulder aka the real Bobke, threw down a challenge at the beginning of the year. Between the two of us, we had to visit 100 different coffee shops (so 50 each) that weren’t Starbucks while on bike rides. And — because we’re coffee snobs — they had to be places that serve up espresso. Chains (national, regional, or local) were fair game, but once you visited one outlet that’s the only visit to that chain that counted towards the challenge. So lots of coffee rides with my wife — the best kind of rides. As of this writing, I managed to ride to 66 different coffee shops — all of them in the local DC area. Bobke, however, is hopelessly behind and not even close to 50. However, he managed coffee rides on city bikes in Prague and Vienna. And rented a road bike to visit Maglia Rosa in NYC. So what he didn’t have in quantity, he made up for in quality. In 2018, the challenge is to visit all of these 47 “essential” DC area coffee shops. And because you can never have too much coffee, I also participated in Mary Gersemalina’s Chasing Mailboxes 7th annual Coffeeneuring Challenge.
Speaking of espresso, me and local hero Joe Dombrowski at the Rapha DC Pop Up store where he gave a talk and demo on the fine art of making espresso on a way cool, one of a kind Fausto Coppi edition Rocket espresso machine, as well as the ins and outs of using an Aeropress coffee maker
On a lark (thanks to the suggestion of my friend, Felipe), I decided to give Freezing Saddles a go in 2017. Except for the first three days in January (when I was down and out with the flu), I rode every day (at least one mile because the first mile of the day is worth 10 points) throughout the winter. In the process, I racked up 1,100 miles, which went a long way to helping me get over the 5,000 mile hump (just barely) again this year. Plus Freezing Saddles was a two-fer because a lot of those winter rides were 2017 Bobke Coffee Challenge rides. Freezing Saddles is a competition but it’s more about the fun and camaraderie, so I organized a few group rides where the reward for freezing your ass off was the best wings in DC at Duffy’s. And I even got my wife to brave the cold on a handful of rides. But more importantly, I acquired a lot of new and fun cycling friends from all walks of life and who do different types of riding than I do. As I write, I’m getting ready for the 2018 edition of Freezing Saddles and might even end up being a team captain.
A not so Freezing Saddles day in January showing off the PEZ Verge Strike kit
My favorite rides of the year were my Wednesday night hill rides where I lead an intrepid crew on a ride of only 20-some odd miles but 2,000+ feet of elevation gain — each week being a different route with different sets of hills. The newbies are always amazed that there are so many steep hills (quite a few are double-digit grade) in Arlington, VA! In 2017, we started a new tradition of ending the ride with Operation Dinner Out at a number of different cycling-friendly eateries — epitomizing the motto: “I ride, therefore I eat.” And as if one hill ride a week isn’t enough, I also became a frequent member of the Conte’s (Falls Church, VA location) Saturday hill ride led by my friend, Brian Crowe. Whereas my hill ride ceases at the end of September (due to lack of enough daylight), Brian is keeping the Conte’s hill ride going through the winter. Cold and hills … what’s not to like?
So Happy Holidays (whatever holidays you celebrate) and Seasons Greetings to all in PEZ land! Without you, we wouldn’t have anyone to read our stuff! I hope 2018 is good to you, both on and off the bike. If you ever find yourself in the DC area, come ride hills with me. I may not be able to keep up with you in my old age, but I’ll make sure you have fun, i.e., hurt!
Alastair Hamilton, Editor, EuroTrash – Spanish Bureau
2017 is coming to an end and when you look back, it has not been a great year for the sport of cycling, but there has been some high points. The Classics were outstanding, the Giro d’Italia showed how good Tom Dumoulin can be and Peter Sagan taking his third World championships in a row was just phenomenal.
On the down side: Chris Froome and Sky again dominated the Tour de France and Froome managed to do the Tour/Vuelta double, but his, the Sky team and Bradley Wiggins’ reputations have been sullied. What will come of the ‘FroomeGate’ case is anyones guess, but it seems too late to change people perceptions.
Frankie and Michele
The death of Michele Scarponi was probably the lowest point of the year, the misery was repeated just last week with the news that Jason Lowndes had been killed in an accident not far from his home in Australia. Two professional cyclist taken from us in a road ‘accident’ like so many other people every day of the week.
On a personal level; it was great to see my local race, la Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, going from strength to strength since its return to the pro calendar in 2016. With riders like Tony Martin winning stages and Nairo Quintana taking the overall, the future looks good for the early season opener.
Valencia stage win for Tony Martin
Then there was the Vuelta a España. Froome repeated his win in France with a strong showing in Spain, but had it not been for Alberto Contador making a big show of his final race, the Spanish Grand Tour might have been turned into Skyfest. Next year ‘Berty’ won’t be on the Spanish (or any other) roads and he will be sorely missed.
Depending on the Froome case, next year could be very different and we should see some new faces and winners. Whatever happens in 2018 it will all be worth following, one thing you can usually bet on is surprises in cycling (Sky allowing).
Thanks for reading PEZ and all the best for the coming year.
Best wishes from everyone at PEZ for 2018.