Seasons Greetings From The PEZ Crew!
As many of you will be finishing work on Friday for the holidays, we thought it would be a good idea to pass on our best regards for the 2016 season today, before the party begins! Everyone here at the PEZ Global HQ wish you and your families all the best for 2017 and thanks for reading and making it, yet again, a cycling season to remember.
Richard Pestes – Publisher
“Another year done…” says John Lennon in maybe the saddest Christmas song of all time. We’re closing out our 14th year at PezCyclingNews, but when I look at what we’ve done, there’s really nothing to be sad about at all.
Some of you will remember when I announced the birth of my first daughter. And a few years later the second. My girls are now almost 11 years and 7 years of age. As they grow into young children, I appreciate getting to see the world again through fresh eyes.
One morning laying in bed and resisting the call to wake up, I felt my youngest nudging my shoulder:
“Dada… ” she asked in her little voice.
“Mmhmm?” I mumbled back.
“Did you know that ‘banana’ starts with the letter ‘B'”?
Fresh eyes. Now there’s a concept we could use in cycle sport, and a few more places too.
This year my parents are back to spend the holiday’s with us, but are still in good enough health to drive up from California, and it feels good to have my family together under our roof for the season. The daily 5:00 o’clock migration towards the kitchen and the sound of ice cubes tinkling into glasses that signals cocktail hour has become one of my favorite family traditions. No matter how often they do this, it still seems fresh to them.
My ride hilights this year were conquering several famous peaks in the Alps with VeloClassic Tours – but while I’d seen these cols on tv many times, this trip offered my eyes a fresh look from atop my bike. Our best day was summiting the Col du Telegraph and then the long 26km slog up the Galibier. Even as I plodded onwards in my bottom gear, surrounded by massive snow drifts with still some 4kms to go, I thought how lucky I was to be here and doing just this – hauling myself to the top.
Thanks again to all our readers and clients who’ve supported us over the years, and especially to the mighty PEZ-Crew who still manage to look at the world of cycling with fresh eyes. May you and yours have a safe and happy season with the people who matter.
Ed Hood – Reporter At Large
Heartbreak for Bouhanni and Gaviria, but joy for Démare on the Via Roma; Sagan put that ‘Curse of the rainbow Jersey’ nonsense to bed in the Heartland; Boonen, Cancellara and Hayman kept the flag flying for the their generation; it took a Dutchman to net Sky’s first monument; Nibali would have made Lazarus proud; Froome showed panache; Quintana and Chaves confirmed for Columbia and GVA did the same for Flanders; Cav made me eat my words – again.
Another great season.
The desert was hard work though – but with Quick-Step, Martin and Sagan at the end of the rainbows there can be no complaints about results. I loved the racing, my travels and writing all those words about bike racing – what else would I do?
With thanks to Al, my editor for making it all look so nice; to Ricardo PEZ for those joyous words; “you’ll be covering the last week, again;” to Callum and Dave for putting up with my first waking words being; “remember we need a Gazzetta/L’Equipe, dude?” But most of all to our readers who make it all possible.
Wishing all of the PEZ crew, my family, friends and precious readers a happy, tranquil Christmas – and may 2017 be all you wish it to be.
Chris Selden – French Bureau – Readers’ Rigs
After some silly health problems robbed me of riding time this year and then work/family life also taking any spare time I had, 2016 has been a year where I have ridden the least amount of miles since about……. 1991. Still just this past week I went out for possibly the best 20km ride I’ve ever done. Twenty kilometers isn’t exactly a milestone ride and even if the scenery and the early winter weather were spectacular it was the company that truly made the ride as I completed the ride with my father who has just come back into health after a battle with cancer.
Just a few short months ago I was sitting in a hospital room with my Dad on the otherside of the world watching the Tour de France stars ride through my region in the South of France and we weren’t sure at one stage if my Dad would even see the final winner in Paris. Now it’s December and he’s here in the South of France on holiday and excited like a little boy going on his first ride.
What a ride we had and what a ride 2016 has been. Life is precious, live it the best we can. So with that in mind I hope 2017 has more good times than bad for all our readers out there and profit from every moment you have with family, friends and of course the bike!
Alessandro Federico – Italian Bureau
I realize that another year has passed every time that PEZ ask me to join the group with Christmas Greetings. So this time I choose a picture of my son Mario during his performance as shepherd at the annual recital at child care. I well remember when it was my daughter’s time, long time ago (she’s now 18 years old) and I already was in the PEZ group! So, yes, the years are flowing very fast but what is important to me is to be part of this magic gang of friends that are never together but always in contact. I would like to thanks all the readers that support us in what we do, and all my colleagues from Al to everybody else. And a special thanks to Pez in person that makes the difference, leading us through the years. And, yes, wheels are going to move soon again. Stay tuned!
Lee Rodgers – Lee’s Lowdown
Being born in 1972 and a teenager in the late 80s, ‘2017’ sounds way too futuristic still for me. Or am I just getting old? It’s all too much for me to understand. I might be losing it. What’s a PEZ? What am I doing here? And yet here I am, at 44 and about to be 45, on my way into 2017 and, to compound my sense of unease, I’ve just realized I am in fact a MAMIL.
Also, very hard to get my head round…
But there it is, and here I am, still riding and loving it and grateful for every push of the pedal I can manage. I’m also unendingly grateful to all those who read my articles, the lovers and the er, non-lovers too! And to PEZ, to Richard Pestes for his support and to Alastair Hamilton for making sense of my scribblings and presenting them so well.
So, Merry Christmas and all that! May you all pull a cracker, drink too much eggnog and argue with a relative. After all, what is Christmas for?
Oh, and go ride, and be safe, and remember to say ‘Thank f%$k for the bike…’
Sam Larner – London Bureau
It’s been a great year for cycling in 2016. As long as you ignore the Tour de France and the World Championships, which were both poor examples of cycling, despite being two of the most watched races. If you only saw those two then you will have thought the season was one filled with robotic riding driven by oil money, all at the expense of loyal roadside and TV fans. However, if you sat down on 10th April and watched Paris-Roubaix then you will have seen one of the best days of cycling, not just this year, but this decade. It had it all; a deserving and surprising winner, early splits, major crashes and a viral video thanks to Peter Sagan’s sensational piece of bike handling.
On the 11th of April I was positive that I wouldn’t see anything better that year. Amazingly, the Giro and the Vuelta threw up yet more exceptional days. The Giro had a leadership battle which bounced around like a kid before Christmas, Bob Jungels looked like he might be the surprise winner briefly but he fell away when the race entered the high mountains. Andrey Amador then took charge but he was unseated by Steve Kruijswijk, who would’ve surely taken the race victory if he hadn’t smashed into an ice wall on the stage to Risoul. That put Esteban Chaves in pink with a fairly comfortable cushion leading into the penultimate day but he was on the wrong end of a resurgent Vincenzo Nibali who overturned the Colombian’s lead on a truly exceptional day in the French and Italian Alps.
The Vuelta was another example of how good you could make a race if you finished virtually every stage up a hill. Nairo Quintana gained an edge on Froome but surely would’ve been overhauled in the final time trial. He was able to pad his time advantage with a Contador led attack on the breathtaking stage 15. Which again, was one of the best days of racing in the last few years.
For me personally, this was a great year of cycling watching. I made it to all three of the Grand Tours and followed the Tour of Britain across the South West of England. I love watching cycling, the joy of seeing your heroes ride within inches of you will never get old, but the really great thing is the excuse that races offer to go to some of the most beautiful places in the World. Standing with like minded people in the baking sun with good wine and cheese and views over incredible green mountains is something that I plan on doing a lot more of in 2017.
Chuck Pena – DC Bureau
Merry Christmas to all in PEZ land! The holidays are always a hectic and crazy time of the year, but for those of us who live (and make their living) in Babylon on the Potomac it’s even more so as a result of our presidential election. Without diving down a political rabbit hole, let’s just say that the next four years is likely to be a wild ride — maybe something like 77-year old Italian extreme cycling legend Giuliano Calore riding down the 48 hairpin turns of the Stelvio Pass at night with no bars or brakes!?
I’m happy to be celebrating my second year as a member of the PEZ crew. Thanks, Richard, for taking a chance on me and keeping me in the fold! As this goes to press, I just went over the top of 5,000 miles riding this year. So I got all I want for Christmas. The vast majority of my riding is local and relatively short (30ish miles), but I did manage two “epic” rides this year. The first was a 75 mile version of the Blue Ridger which includes the infamous straight up, more than a mile long, double-digit grade climb up 601. The second was 60 miles on Skyline Drive which has “easier” 6-8% grade climbs but where the shortest is 4 miles long. Although I know my younger self was faster, it was heartening to know that I could still climb. And I was thankful for modern gearing because I don’t know how I used to ride up all those climbs with my smallest gear being 39×21.
2016 was also a milestone year for me in that for the first time I couldn’t beat my daughter (all of 17 years old) at golf. Of course, my excuse is that I don’t practice and play as much as I used to and she plays on her high school golf team (the only girl playing varsity on the co-ed squad), but still. I knew this would eventually happen and I couldn’t be happier. At least I’m still faster than her on a bike.
All that is a reminder is that as much as we love our bikes and riding them, family is the most important thing. So here’s wishing all PEZ readers lots of fun and safe miles riding and lots of quality time with their family and friends. And don’t forget to mix yourself a Negroni every now and then. If you’re ever in DC, let me know and we can have one at Coppi’s Organic. Cheers!
Forget the bass, it’s all about the Negroni!
Leslie Reissner – Literary Editor
Greetings to the entire Pez family: readers, contributors, editors!
For the first time in many years, my own cycling activity was disappointingly limited as there were no trips to exotic European road races or regions, no new bicycles bought, and not much riding over the potholed streets of Ottawa, Ontario during our ridiculously short season. I did manage to complete the 2016 Tour of Sufferlandria, an epic indoor ride, and am looking forward with anticipation/trepidation to the 2017 version. I will admit that my purchase of a fancy sports car has caused me to spend a lot of sunny weekends on the road instead of pedaling but plans are afoot for 2017 as I will have more time available for riding. These include the 300 km Animalthon, a ride I never managed to complete in 2009 due to horrific weather conditions after the first 180 kms but that continues to call me. I plan to return to time trialling, after a 7 year hiatus. With cycling becoming much more popular in Canada, I am looking forward to rides in a number of places in Ontario and Quebec, as well as neighbouring New York State, as routes are getting marked and sportif rides developed. And I expect to be present for the Tour de France’s Grand Départ in Düsseldorf in July. I did manage to read and review a lot of interesting books and it seems to be the trend that more and more books about cycling—history, travel suggestions, training, personalities—will be coming our way so look out for these in 2017.
Actually, looking back it was a pretty good year indeed! And I wish all those riding this all the best for the holidays and a terrific 2017 with smooth roads and tailwinds.
Mark McGhee – Reporter At Large
As we batten down the hatches here in Western Scotland, and prepare for the high winds and torrential rain of Storm Barbara, it can mean only one thing: cyclocross!
We’ve already completed one full series plus a Scottish National Championship but we’re only halfway through the season, with plenty of racing to come in January, February and March.
Being a soft roadie though, Nuria and I fly out to Spain on Boxing Day for some much needed sun and, for me at least, lots of cycling. It’ll be nice to get some warm weather miles in after another busy race season both at home and on the international stage.
Covering all three Grand Tours for Pez once again has been fantastic and I can’t wait to get into 2017 and my fifth year with the best pro cycling site in the sport.
So, I’ll be thinking of everyone back in the virtual office, and all the loyal Pez fans, when I’m sunning myself on the roads of Andalusia and I’ll like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Christmas…y Feliz Navidad!
Matt McNamara – Toolbox Contributor
I would hope to summarize my year in two words: Appreciation and Adventure. 2016 has been a whirlwind in so many ways, yet when I take the time to reflect on what defines the year for me it comes down, like most years, to experiences on my bike. This year I was so deeply fortunate to have the chance to ride all over the World and share my time with amazing riders and friends! It started off in January with my first team camp as the head coach of Peninsula Velo here in Northern California. Pen Velo has been around for over 40 years and is a true stalwart in the NorCal scene.
To be asked to take over from a legend like Clark Natwick is such an honor! The camp was amazing – miles and miles on the California coast with motivated athletes is such a gift! From there it was on to our first “A” race and an impressive team effort at the Chico Stage Race. We won five or six stages and an overall across a few different categories, super proud!
April brought a personal goal to fruition the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix double. I rode both sportives and watched both races up close and each worth their weight in gold individually. To have the chance to do all of that in a single week, and visit a few days with the fine folks from Zipp and SRAM made for a lifetime memory. I followed that up on June 1st with my second attempt at “Everesting” a local climb known as Montebello road. Starting at 1am I managed 15 ascents for just over 30,000 feet of elevation in 155 miles and 16 hours of riding time. That I could actually do it was incredible to me. Even better was raising over $1000 for the “More Than Sport” organization to use in Nepal! I’ll be back at it this year with a team version to raise even more money! Want to join?
July had me once again coaching tomorrow’s stars at the USA Cycling Regional Talent ID Camp in Davis, CA. Working with these junior and U23 riders inspires me every year to keep working hard and giving back. If they are our future, I’m confident we will be in good hands for years to come. September saw my first trip to China for the UCI Cyclocross races near Beijing. What a blast! I’m not sure how I got lucky enough to go – I’m not much of a cross racer anymore – but I certainly appreciate the experience and hope to go again next year! The Great Wall, Tianamen Square, and an impromptu 45 minute detention by the Chinese military certainly added to my list of memories! Of course that China came on the heels of a week long cycling tour of Taiwan made it all the more adventurous and amazing! I met, go figure, more great folks on bikes, got to ride over 400 kilometers of gorgeous Taiwanese countryside and then write about it all for Pez! I then returned to Taiwan in October for a second crack at the Taiwan KOM Challenge, and was once again blown away by the hospitality, culture, and amazing experience of riding up 10,000 foot mountain in one shot! I’m heading back there in 2017 with a small cadre of adventurers…wanna go?
I hope that all of you who read Pez have had a year full of great memories too! There has been much to bring about angst this year as our lives sometimes feel like they are spinning out of control…but a few hours on the bike always sets me back to myself and re-asserts the fundamental value I find in simply pedaling. My wish for you in the year to come is more miles on two wheels and the ability to live in each of those moments completely, for it is in the appreciation of each moment that life is truly well lived!
Darrell Parks – North American Photographer
Happy Holidays to all. 2016 is almost in the books and I can’t say that I’m going to miss it much (and I’m not even referring to that silly election circus we had here in the States). 2016 certainly has had its ups and downs. On the down side, we lost another amazing USA stage race with the cancelation of the US Pro Challenge in Colorado. On a personal note, I experienced some really close calls with a couple of automotive accidents and had a few scares with family illnesses. Fortunately we all managed to escape relatively unscathed and alive, so for that I am truly grateful. Please remember to tell your family and friends how much you love them as often as possible.
On the up side, I was fortunate enough to get my entire family together for a vacation this summer. The last one was quite a few years back and we had a blast partying together in Mexico this time around. From a cycling perspective, I really enjoyed shooting the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah for the first time this year. What an amazing race with plenty of exciting lead changes and breathtaking scenery. And what of the news of new races in Colorado and Virginia this year? I can hardly wait for more details to come out on those. I’m also excited about next year’s version of the AMGEN Tour of California. Its new World Tour status should bring some high caliber racing back to the states. Thanks again to all the PEZ fans that I ran into at the races this year. It’s always nice to hear your support for all things PEZ. Happy pedalling to all…
Gordan Cameron – Scottish Bureau
2016 hasn’t been a great year for many reasons … Brussels attack in March and now horror in Berlin, misery in Aleppo, global economic problems, Brexit and its assorted mayhem and mysteries, Bowie dying (and I was only just getting over Lemmy leaving the building), the Chapecoense air disaster …
Perspective is formed, and I realize how lucky I am when I get the chance to roll out on the bike for an hour or two. Now, it’s a howling gale as I write, lashing rain on the windows. Not very Christmas-like, but the feet-thick walls keep the elements at bay, the log basket is full and the stove blazes. A little hand-made reed Rudolph the reindeer from our friend Sarah will survive the flames …
From 2016, I’ll remember Fabian Cancellara and Kristin Armstrong riding into retirement at Rio with gold, and Annemiek van Vleuten thankfully recovering to have a storming autumn. Sagan’s joie de vivre and Megan Guarnier’s big year. So many great stories, and let’s hope for more like them in the next 12 months.
Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy 2017.
Alastair Hamilton, Editor, EuroTrash – Spanish Bureau
It’s been a funny old year. The Tour de France was predictable, but most other tings were not, I refer to the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Brexit and the US elections – the Classics weren’t bad either. Top man of the year would have to be Peter Sagan with Greg Van Avermaet also showing his best, even with crashes. In the real World, things don’t seem to be getting much better with wars and terrorism still hitting the headlines (nothing changes).
Cycling looks to have turned the doping corner, but all eyes are looking at Sky, TUEs and ‘that package’, who would have thought it? Money coming into the sport from diverse sources is a good thing, but what happens when the rich guys get bored of their new toy?
But it is Christmas and good will to all men, and all that. Thanks to all the readers, contributors and, of course ‘The Pez’ himself for making it all work. Let’s not forget the riders, teams and race organizers for giving us a years worth of entertainment.
My best memory of 2016? It has to be the thousands of Colombian fans at the Vuelta a España. They were loud, wanted to be seen, happy to be at a bike race and were the most friendly people you could ever meet. Feliz Navidad – Merry Christmas.