What's Cool In Road Cycling

BEST OF 2022: Descending Cypress Mtn on Campagnolo Levante Gravel Wheels


VIDEO: The hilight of riding the 2022 Nova Eroica gravel fondo in California was the epic descent off the top of Cypress Mountain down Santa Rita road and its 22km plummet back to the finish on Campagnolo’s brand new Levante gravel wheelset.

I chased Campagnolo’s Arjan Hoogesteger off the mountain, and really got to appreciate the control of the wheels, and power and supreme modulation of Campagnolo’s Ekar gruppo disc brakes as we dropped down pitches over 12%. Then he took the strong headwinds head-on as he towed me to the end – much appreciated. There’s more coming on these wheels – but here’s my full video of this awesome descent.

Click play to watch my video of the descent – all 22km of it, and scroll on down for more photos from the day.  See more PEZ Videos here.

• See more on the website here: Campagnolo’s Levante wheels.

I was at the Nova Eroica California as part of Campagnolo’s new Levante gravel wheel set launch.

The Levante is Campy’s first wheel designed specifically for gravel.  All carbon rim, 30.4mm depth and a very wide 25mm internal width to allow better fitting of wider tires (from 36 – 78mm wide) – both tubeless and with inner tubes.  They’re very light – at 1,485 grams for the set, and don’t require tape either, which saves a few more grams.  That high gloss finish is how they come right outta the molds, and logos are lazer-etched, so there’s no decals that will peel off or scratch.

That’s gravel-pro (and ex-road pro) Nathan Haas’ custom painted Campagnolo Ekar equipped Colnago, sporting the new Levante wheels.  I’m pretty sure it’s the only one in existence.

8:00AM Saturday morning in Cambria – a few hundred people who had to make the effort to get here get ready to start either the 72 mile, or 97 mile long route.  I wisely chose the shorter version, knowing it would be more than enough for my under-conditioned legs.

The roll out south to Cayucos along the Pacific ocean was serene – the early morning start meant the air was calm – unlike it would be later in the afternoon when the winds pick up and blow a strong force inland.

Lack of actual coffee at the official “breakfast” point in Cayucos was solved with a short walk around the block.  Campy’s Arjan Hoogesteger and Nathan Haas reflect the mood.

The top of the first climb at 45km in.  That’s the Pacific Ocean off to the west.

The main feed zone on the short 110km route came at 80km in at the Halter Ranch, but at least has some real food on offer – like this Tuscan bean soup, salami and bread.  Oh yeah, and some decent wines for tasting.  Unfortunately, the lack of course signage contributed to me making a critical directional error, that had me riding in the wrong direction for half an hour.

Some seven hours after I started, I made it to the top of Cypress Mountain, and riding, and pushing my way up the 12% grades of the last few kms of the climb.  From here it’s all downhill to the Pacific Ocean.  Luckily I was joined by Arjan a few minutes later, and he graciously took all of the headwinds blowing against us for the last 10+km.

4:00PM – At the end, this was the start of my rehydration and recovery, which included a few more of these cold ones, and a soak in my hotel bathtub.

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