What's Cool In Road Cycling

MailBag: You Talk We Listen

Seems about time to flush out the ol’ Mailbag at PEZ HQ, here’s a somewhat random smattering of reader thoughts and questions on George Hincapie, the USPS training ride, our Tech Help Line, how critical are we, and a little reader love…

George Hincapie – Super-Nice Guy
I’m an avid old fart cyclist who lives in the Upstate area of South Carolina. In Fall ’02 I did a century ride and managed to hang with Glen Thrift (who’s a bit of a local legend) to the finish. He and I are about the same age. Glenknows George both from cycling and ‘cuz George uses “his” gym facilities at Furman.

Just after that century ride, I got hit by a car while on a training ride. I sustained a fractured spine, broken pelvis, broken hip, broken ankle, some major lacerations and road rash.

So I’m layin’ in my hospital bed in a morphine-enduced stupor and word is starting to get out about my accident. The phone is starting to ring.

“This is George Hincapie.”
” … ”
“Uh … sure. I’m on drugs and all, but who is this?”
“No … this really IS George Hincapie.”
“(stunned silence and a moment of realization … followed by childlike screaming and commotion as I tell my friend in the room … ‘you’re not gonna believe who this is …’)”

Anyway, it really was George. We had a very nice, but short, conversation. He explained how Glen had told him of my crash and about how well I was riding when it happened. He really encouraged me. It was a very nice gesture – especially considering that he didn’t know me from Adam.

And FWIW, despite some serious surgery, a couple of months of rehab and some new titanium body parts, my 2003 season was full of personal best times!

– Bob Chambers
Calhoun Falls, SC

Read our PEZ-Clusive Interview With George Hincapie here.

US Postal Ride At The Bicycle Ranch
Last year’s US Postal training ride in Arizona turned into a Forest Gump-like tag along, as literally hundreds of local riders jumped in and tried to ride with the boys in blue, basically screwing up some quality training time for the Posties.

One of our readers had this to say:

“One of the poseurs even knocked Hincapie off his bike?!? Did you manage a photo of that jackass? His moment of fame in the “fred’s hall of shame” should have been captured on film and widely disseminated. What a loser. Great story by the way!”

Well the good news is that this year, well meaning cyclists behaved like well meaning cyclists and let George and the boys ride in peace.

Critical Reviews?
I’m a little worried about the critical aspect of your product reviews. In fact, I don’t think I read one serious criticism of any of the products tested. Some objective examination should find some flaw in some product. It also will help the reader in feeling that a rational analysis was done. I, for one, am skeptical when I hear on rave reviews on every product.
– Dave Michaud

A good question that deserves an honest answer!

Pretty much everything we test is at the high end of the spectrum and the best stuff made by the various manufacturers. At this level, the differences between the various products really are very small, and often only noticeable to a very small percentage of riders who have the luxury of being able to compare 2-3 different brands side by side, simultaneously. So there’s usually very little to be critical of – expensive hi-end gear is expected to perform, and we’ve yet to see anything that didn’t do what it was supposed to.

Too often I see reviews where the reviewer is picking away at some miniscule detail, just to find something negative so say. To that I say ”give me a break”, given the differences in rider weights, riding styles, road conditions, weather conditions, and everything else affecting a bike ride, what one rider experiences can very easily be completely different from the experience of another…

This is not to say we do not make small criticisms, because we do. You‘ll notice in our upcoming review of the Zipp 303 Carbon wheels, that we’re not happy about the rattley axle caps (this was actually written in BEFORE I received your letter..). Many of our other reviews contain similar critiques.

Finally, we don’t presume to pass absolute judgment of the gear we test. We review, take a good close look at it, and offer our opinion, which may be different from yours or that of another reviewer. The things we can not pass judgment on are readers’ personal tastes or preferences, all we do is tell you what we think.

Thanks for reminding us to stay objective, a little encouragement never hurts…!

PEZ Launches Technical Helpline – Sort Of
Do you have a technical help line? I have generic question about the longevity of Mavic GP4/Campy Record Victory Crono (old stuff) and Al road racing wheels in general. How many times can they be re-laced safely? How many miles can I expect to ride them? I imagine, with proper care, the hubs will last “forever”. Is this true?
I appreciate your site – great stuff. Thanks.
Andre Go

First – we don’t have a technical help line, but we do try to reply to as many emails as we can…

To answer your question, unfortunately there is no magic number for mileage etc, even with perfect maintenance. Rider weight, where you ride, how you ride are all things that will determine how long things will last, especially with older Aluminum which tend to be of a little lesser quality metal mixes and purity… Aluminum can give up the ghost on you, and can do so with little warning.

I would head to a shop and have them do a rebuild while you watch (a good shop will teach you while they do things) just to see what you need to do and how easy it is. I would also buy a magnifying glass that allows you a clear / large view of your gear. Have your shop show you how to check for cracks at the nipples, and also along the breaking surface, as you can actually wear through it (it also heats up and cools a lot…).

It’s nice to have stuff for quite a while (I have a set of training wheels with more than 800 hours/15,000 miles) but it’s critical to maintain it and know what to look for to stay safe. – Charles

In Quest of Saeco Movie
First, congrats for the GREAT site!! I’m looking for the “The Quest” film that follows the Saeco team at the Giro d’Italia 2003… but can’t seem to find it!! I was wondering if you could help me here…

Well, only minutes after posting this question in today’s MailBag, PEZ Reader Chris Fedo dropped us a line with this info:

“Here’s the link for “The Quest” … Seems it’s still in final editing. There are trailers that can be downloaded and look interesting.”

Thanks Chris!

And Finally – Can You Feel The Love?
I’ve been reading Pez for a number of months, and it’s been fun to watch you expand the scope of your cycling coverage, but also see the broader audience you’ve been picking up. Having Hincapie point out that his girlfriend has been one of your “daily distractions” and having Lance admit to having you bookmarked on his computer…all in the same month.
Big steps indeed. Keep up the good work.
– Kevin Eldridge

Thanks Kevin – and to everyone else who has dropped us a note of encouragement – believe me – knowing we’re appreciated really is appreciated! – Pez.

Gotta Comment?
If you’ve got a comment or opinion you’d like to share, send us an email and we might just publish you in glorious pixelated black & white! Letters may be edited for grammar, spelling and length.

Send your comments to: [email protected]

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