Toby Claudio’s Trek Speed Concept 9 Series

I last saw the Speed Concept 9 of Toby Claudio (of Toby’s Sports fame) in Tri United 3 last October 2014. Like myself, he was also doing the bike leg of the relay competition. When I spotted this machine at the Trek Bicycle Store Manila during my Gary Fisher interview, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to whisk it outside to take a few detailed shots of this awesome rig.

The Speed Concept 9 is the top of the line triathlon/time trial bike of Trek. It boasts of amazing integration, taking it a step further from the previous iteration. I myself own a first generation Speed Concept 7.5 so I really appreciate the improvements they’ve made on this version. Since this black version comes with a Dura Ace Di2 build in the Speed Concept 9.9, this is probably a frameset with parts specced to his liking (which you can definitely do if you’re the Trek distributor in the Philippines!).

One of the more interesting bits about the machine is the mono-extension. This ensures that both aerobar extension arms are even. To adjust, you move the entire mono-extension forward and backward near where the between-the-arms (BTA) bottle cage is (and as you might know, I think BTA is the way to go). And if needed, you can swap them out for normal extensions, but I really like how these mono ones are designed. They save weight, don’t sacrifice adjustability and fit, and integrate BTA hydration and computer mounts neatly.

Another super bike feature from the old Speed Concept that makes its way to this new one is the integrated front brake. This version is supposed to be a bit better than the old one in terms of stopping power.

Here’s another look at the cockpit. Toby runs Ultegra Di2 with shifters on both the extensions and the basebar. You’ll also see his Speedplay pedals just peeking out from the bottom right of the pic.

No expense was spared with this set up, with Bontrager Aeolus 9 carbon wheels serving wind-slicing wheel duty.

The bike also has a nice Bontrager Hilo XXX saddle with oversized carbon rails. This model is known for being comfy both upright and seated, and is Bontrager’s highest end triathlon saddle.

No detail is left unexplored, you’ll see that the wheels even have an aero speed magnet which is detected by the integrated DuoTrap sensor in the non-driveside chainstay.

Here’s a shot of the full Ultegra Di2 6880 drivetrain. If I were to invest in Di2 for my tri bike, this would be my setup as well.

Deep Aeolus 9s also up front, with an interesting white front hub. Bontrager R4 race tires are a suitable match for these fast race wheels.

No doubt as to where this bad boy was made. Toby runs a size medium–good thing this bike doesn’t fit me (I use a large), or I might’ve pedaled away with it and brought it home on my car roof rack.

One of the great features of the Speed Concept is this rear Draft Box used for storage. A lot of bikes are fast, but owners don’t have anywhere to place their tools and spares, thereby resorting to some funky solutions. This is perfect for triathlon races because you can just dump all your stuff in the box. They redesigned the Draft Box for this latest model for more volume so you can realistically store a tubular tire in it with room to spare (pun intended).

Toby uses an X-LAB Gorilla cage mounted on the saddle rails, which would also be my weapon of choice for secondary hydration. I also love how the red accents of the saddle match the red Speedplay pedals and XLAB decals, on the otherwise stealth black and white bike. I also found it interesting how the seatpost is oriented backwards instead of the usual forward triathlon position.

All-in-all, this is a dream bike for any Trek fan such as myself. Superb rig, Toby!

Trek Bicycle Store Manila

When I interviewed Gary Fisher at the Trek Bicycle Store Manila, I also took the opportunity to take some photos of the store to give you all an idea of what it looks like. I’ve been a long-time Trek owner so I was happy to see this store finally open.

The store is in a nice area in BGC, with roadside access where you can drop off your bikes. A nice Trek Factory Racing kit is on a mannequin by the window. (Toby, I’m guessing this is yours?)

Of course, for the triathletes out there, we should all be happy to see a batch of Speed Concepts in stock. I own a first-generation Speed Concept 7.5 and I’m really happy with it. Would love to upgrade to one of these babies though!

The interior pays homage to cycling races and Trek athletes. Here’s an awesome photos of the Trek Factory Racing team going over the classics cobblestones. A few TV panels are also displaying some Trek videos for your enjoyment.

Here’s a Domane endurance road bike, similar to the one rode by Fabian Cancellara to conquer the Ronde Van Vlaanderen this year. Wide clearance, disc brakes, relaxed geometry, and the ISOSpeed de-coupler for comfort.

There’s also a crop of lower-end road bikes, fitness bikes, and cruisers in stock. I already ordered my wife a Lexa WSD road bike and can’t wait for it to arrive!

Here’s another view of the triathlon section together with a crop of Fuel EX mountain bikes.

A few aluminum X-Caliber bikes are also for sale, for that quick MTB fix.

They also have the Superfly, which Gary Fisher helped design for Trek.

I got to use the Farley fat bike during the ride with Gary Fisher the next day and it was so fun to ride! More stable than the narrower tires but still decent in terms of handling. If an MTB is an SUV compared to a road bike, this is probably like a tank!

There are also some Allant city/commuter bikes, one of which was won by a lucky visitor during the Trek store opening.

While I was shooting, Gary Fisher was being interviewed by a TV crew. You’ll see a Superfly behind him as well as a Sawyer.

Trek does a lot of aero testing for their time trial and triathlon bikes in the velodrome. How I’d love to have this wall in my man cave!

Overall, Trek Bicycle Store Manila is a great addition to the bustling cycling industry in the Philippines. I wish them all the best in their mission of spreading Trek bike love throughout the country!

Trek Bicycle Store Manila is at Two Parkade, 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For inquiries, you can contact them at (02) 553-2445.

Gary Fisher Interview

I had the privilege of having a one-on-one interview with Gary Fisher, one of the inventors of the modern mountain bike, during his trip here last week. As you can see, he’s also one of the more recognizable people in the cycling world, and an all-around cool guy.

I came prepared with a few interview questions but once we started going, I realized that this was going to be more of a fun conversation with a revered icon in the sport, rather than a formal interview. Gary settled down quickly and it wasn’t that hard to coax him into sharing a few nice stories, making me feel like I was talking to an old friend.

I’ll share some of the more interesting stories of Gary below, as well as a few of his philosophies and insights into the cycling world.

Race Yourself: I saw in your Instagram that you were in Santa Cruz riding your road bike a couple of weeks ago.

Gary Fisher: Yes. I met this girl on the way down, she catches up with me, just wants to ride with me, sort of like a fantasy. 19-year old girl.

RY: And she pulled you all the way home, right?

GF: Yes, she was very kind.

RY: What kind of riding do you do most these days?

GF: I do a lot of road riding, because you can cheat in a lot of ways if you’re really clever. Where on the mountain bike, there’s no hiding. If you’re a good handler, then that’s great on the descents and single track. But man, on the climbs, strength to weight, not much else–it’s hard to hide. But on a road bike, it’s hilarious. Because I was a road racer for a long time, I’m very good at hiding. I can suck wheel like you cannot believe. I know exactly how to do it, I know how a group works, dynamics, and I’ve got good speed still. Two years ago I rode the Trek 100, a 100-mile ride with 3,000 riders, and I was in the first twelve finishers. 100 miles, four hours and 20 minutes, with stops included, because I know how to draft. I get to the front and I say, hey, I’m pulling through. You don’t expect the old man to pull, do you? So I use every trick I can, and at the end I’m stronger than a lot of the kids because I know how to eat, how to drink, I know my body, and I know how to draft. I can do this (aero on the drop bars position) all day long.

[On bike fitting.] I have a different, funny philosophy on this sometimes. I see these guys with these high stems and I’m like, you gotta train yourself. Flexibility and core strength. Until you get to take care of this problem, you’re not very aerodynamic, and you’re off the back all the time. This is something you’ve got to do. There’s fitting to make it work for you today, and there’s the fitting that you need if you expect to be competitive. And maybe you don’t work on your power and strength while riding the bike but you work on your core strength and flexibility so you can be in that position and not kill yourself. (When I climb) I do it down low to develop that musculature (to stay in the aero position). I go easy on the flats, low on the climbs, and fast in the last hour, because it’s in the last hour that races are won and lost all the time. When I look at Strava, my times are always better in the longer rides because I want to go steady. Although this one time I held this road bike descent in Strava for the longest time because I drafted behind a truck!

RY: Speaking of records, do you still hold the one on the Pine Mountain (Fairfax, California) Repack Course?

GF: Oh yeah, but that’s cause they don’t hold that race anymore. But every now and again someone will go out there but they can’t, and you know why, because it’s a pedaling race. And I was a really fast pedaler. I’ve got a lot of speed still, I always had a lot of speed. And the day I set the record it was like, three days after a good rain so the ground conditions were right, and there was a tailwind, and that makes all the difference.

RY: Which is kinda strange because of all the advances in technology and what not.

GF: It was an old 42-pound bike but it was equipped correctly, and I put short crank arms on it. Downhillers do that now, and I did that in the 70s. If you go to the velodrome, all those track sprinters, I don’t care how big they are, they’re riding short cranks. You can go 10-40 or 20-40 mph, that sort of acceleration. Short cranks are very good in changing pace like that, long cranks are from 0-10 mph.

RY: Where do you get your inspiration when you design bikes?

GF: From a lot of places. I get it through bikes from history, it’s astounding, if you go back a hundred years it’s like everything’s been done. And I get it from, the design stuff, it comes from everywhere. Designers are constantly riffing off of each other. And then it’s also neat things like, the UCI bans things that (make you) go faster, and I like to check out stuff that’s been banned by the UCI.

RY: What do you think of triathlon?

GF: I like the discipline. Triathletes are famous for being totally geeky, totally strict, like an exercise Nazi or something. But I’m all right with that. I’m not intimidated in the least. Cause I’m very good with discipline, everyone that rides with me knows. I’m not much of a runner, I could’ve been a runner but I never got into it. And I learned to swim when I was young, and I relearned to swim seven or eight years ago, just doing lap swimming, and I got ok.

RY: You don’t seem to be one who’s discriminate, like how some cyclists are so divided like I’m a roadie, I’m a mountain biker.

GF: I’m famous for a line, “Anybody that rides a bike is a friend of mine.” I made that up myself. We’re all bike riders, give me a break. Runners or triathletes, I can relate to those guys a lot more than other people. Face it, the biggest problem we have in the 21st century is a sedentary lifestyle. If you think about inventions, things, objects, the bicycle is probably the happiest invention on earth. And the stuff we have today, it’s crazy advanced, military-grade stuff. I used to design tubesets alone, but now you need a team, a computer, and a program, and rapid simulation–there’s so much variety in what you can do. You break the rules, you can have your cake and eat it too. You have something that’s incredibly light, incredibly stiff, and yet it doesn’t beat you up. There used to be not so many ways around it. There’s also a lot of counterintuitive stuff in sport, and that’s some of the most fantastic discoveries you can have–you wouldn’t think this works but it totally works.

RY: Tell me about your whole journey with Trek and how you had your own company, Gary Fisher, it got bought by them in the 90s, and before that a Taiwan company acquired it.

GF: For two years (acquired by Taiwan) and it was a mess. That was a crazy story. I’m very lucky but I did a couple of very spectacular backflips. I should’ve paid attention to my brother. He said “I don’t trust these guys.” And he was totally right. So family’s important, and honesty’s important, people who give you honest feedback. That was a mess, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But it didn’t mean the end, there’s real possibilities, you go through stuff, you’re a failure in some business, but hey, do you learn? I hope so. And that is like the biggest incentives to learn. And boy, I learned from all those experiences, it’s rather marvelous. I learned on that one, be very careful of who you get into bed with. That’s it, that was it.

The Trek guys I’ve been watching them for years. I got better offers, better deals from a couple of other people, but that isn’t who I wanted to be, that isn’t gonna work.

RY: You had a long stint where it was basically the Gary Fisher brand, and it got folded into Trek. How’d that happen eventually?

GF: Well it’s more of economy of scale, they don’t want to have as many sales guys as you needed for two different organizations, they didn’t want to have two marketing teams, so they wanted to combine it all together and save some money, and they did save some money. And my advantage is that now, I influence all of it. People will say, “What happened to your bikes?” and I say “Wait a minute, these are all my bikes.” You can create your own attitude to make things ok. People will say you’re out of touch with reality and that’s true to some degree, but it’s your responsibility to make yourself happy or unhappy, either one you’ve got a choice. Trek is the best bike company out there, but we can be better, always. And I’m responsible for part of it, that’s for sure. And I can always be better. So that’s what we’re trying to do as a company.

RY: What do you think is the biggest advancement in technology in all these years that you’ve been working with and designing bikes?

GF: There’s a number of things. Clipless pedals, index shifting. When I was a road racer, we used full Campagnolo, and we had friction shifters. Before you would get out of the saddle to attack, you would fine-tune and make sure you were right in the middle of a gear, otherwise you could slip and land on your ass. Materials, the bikes I raced on they were 22, 23 lbs. and they were reliable, but not that much. And they weren’t nearly as comfortable or as fast. It’s everything, the total package. The clothing, it’s nicer–people say that wool was nicer–no. The new modern clothing is cut right, fits right, and is so comfortable. Training techniques like with power meters and all those things, it’s insane how I can find out all this stuff on my phone. Before, we had nothing.

RY: Speaking of clothing, what do you wear when you bike? Are you as stylish as you are off the bike?

GF: Mostly team stuff. I’m very careful with what I wear. The thing is that I gotta do my core work and I gotta be fit. I think it’s important that you show respect to the world that you care and you care about how you look, and that means that you care about others.

After the interview, an owner of a vintage Gary Fisher mountain bike walked into the store and Gary willingly obliged.

It was indeed a wonderful experience to talk to Gary Fisher in person. Special thanks to Trek Bikes Philippines for arranging the interview. I’ll be writing a few more posts soon on the Trek store and a BikeTech feature. Til’ then!

Strava Eddy Merckx 1969 Challenge

I’ve always wanted to complete a Strava challenge but have never been able to finish one because of time, schedule, or training constraints. But when I heard that Strava was doing the Eddy Merckx 1969 Challenge to honor one of my all-time favorite cyclists, “The Cannibal”, I just knew I had to participate and finish it. The challenge was to ride 700km in 20 days.

45 years ago Eddy Merckx earned the first of his five Tour de France victories. It was a race he unquestionably dominated, finishing almost 18 minutes ahead of the second placed rider, Roger Pingeon of France.

Beyond the overall, Eddy won 7 stages (6 individual and 1 team time trial), the points classification, mountains classification, combination classification, team classification (with FAEMA) and the combativity award. It was an incredible feat that has never been matched, and likely never will.

I just completed the challenge today, after doing 11 rides. Nine of them were in the last ten days, with eight happening on consecutive days last September 27, 2014 to October 4, 2014. The reason why I had to do some catch up was because we were in Boracay for five days after the challenge started, so it wasn’t as easy as riding 30+km a day. I tried to find people to ride with as much as I could, but four of the rides were done solo because of one reason or another.

Here are a few things I learned while riding the challenge:

  1. The body adapts. There were some days when I was really fatigued, especially when I was doing long solo rides. I would wake up tired, feeling like I would cop out and just do a shorter ride. However, in the middle of my ride, I would feel better and would actually hit some decent splits in some of the Strava segments (considering that I was riding everyday of course). I guess it’s a glimpse of how grand tour riders doing 21-day stage races cope with the stress on their bodies.
  2. Laundry is important. I really had to keep tabs on my cycling clothes because there might not be enough time between rides to get them washed and dried. It’s also nice to be able to cycle through all my kits, especially my socks!
  3. Misery loves company. I didn’t know anyone also doing the challenge so no one could keep me company everyday. What I did was to look for people to ride with on different days and look for different group rides I could join. The extra accountability helps, since you know someone’s waiting for you and you need to wake up and get out of bed. And it’s nice to mix up riding partners and bike with people you normally don’t ride with.
  4. There’s solace in solo rides. There were times when I couldn’t find anyone to ride with, especially on the weekdays. Sometimes people also suddenly can’t make it because of one reason or another, so I was forced to go solo for some rides. But it’s also nice to just go alone, on your own pace, and just have your thoughts for company. I know I can be an extroverted person, but sometimes, I just like being alone, doing my own thing.
  5. Goals get things done. The Strava challenge really helped to get me out on the road and on my bike. Whether it’s the chance to get gear available only to challenge finishers, gunning for a personal achievement, like weight loss or distance, or training for a race (this is a good build up for my upcoming Tri United 3 bike relay), having a goal in mind helps you accomplish things.

Thanks to my friends who accompanied me throughout the challenge and entertained me with chitchat and stories: Jimmy Moreno, Jeff Mendoza, Leo de Guzman, Vince Santos, Anthony Balaguer, Gilbert Simpao, Mariela Martinez-Powell, Ani de Leon-Brown, Dan Brown, Raeanna Cranbourne, Nestor Tinio, Vince Corpus, Gabby Lichauco, Anton Lorenzo, and Hans Kristian Juan.

Special thanks goes out to my wife for letting me do this madness!

Track Supermarket

Another shop that I wanted to visit in Osaka was the Track Supermarket. It’s not the typical store I’d go to, because I would normally go to either triathlon or road racing stores. But I realized that they didn’t have many of those in the area, and my friend suggested that I go here to see a different cycling sub-culture. It was good that I was able to carve out some time to go here and look for it, and it actually wasn’t too far from the touristy areas like Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori. I actually wasn’t sure where it was and I thought I might be lost, but when I saw this, I knew I was getting near.

This is what the store looks from outside. There’s a lot of bikes–some are for sale, some are owned by customers, and some are the store owner’s.

As the name suggests, the store is primarily focused on track bikes. And there are a lot!

Here are a few selections from Bianchi, Cinelli, and Durcus One. They seem like they were specced by the shop owner himself, since the configurations don’t look stock.

This vintage Masi is owned by Rene (the store owner) and it’s just one his many bikes.

I also saw this cute (there’s no other word to describe it) Bianchi in celeste green.

Going in the store is like visiting a candy shop! There are a lot of goodies hanging on the walls and cieling, and you really have to look closely to spot some of the gems. I’ll try to point out the ones that interested me, but feel free to comment below if I missed anything!

This section has a few handlebars, rims, and tires. There’s also a nice selection of bar tape and stems.

There’s also a few nice cycling caps. I got my friend the grey Campagnolo one, and I chose the blue Shimano one.

These Cinelli caps were also nice!

A lot of the frames are local Japanese brands used for track and keirin racing.

This is one of my favorite bikes in the store, with vintage Campy disc wheels and a crazy Nitto drop basebar (and it also has a crazy price tag). The stealth black road bike in the background is also Rene’s, it’s a custom painted Cervélo R3.

There are also a few kid’s and BMX bikes for sale.

A huge selection of chains and locks in every color imaginable.

Some classic rims and hubs, perfect for an old-school steel bike.

This is another favorite of mine, the Cinelli Alter stem. I just wish it fit oversized handlebars so I can use it on my bike!

A few frames freshly delivered from the frambuilder.

One of the highlights in the store for me was seeing this 3T Sphinx track drop bar. Definitely a sexy piece of carbon.

A few random wheels from Mavic, Easton, Corima, and ENVE.

Some more bits and pieces like grips and bar tape.

There are a lot of things to make a cyclist’s mouth water in this store!

I saw what looks like a small fit bike in one corner. Interesting to say the least.

A smattering of frames from different framebuilders like Nagasawa and 3Rensho.

A customer’s bike being worked on, as well as some ENVE wheels being serviced.

This is Rene, the owner of the store. He’s married to a Japanese and has settled down in Osaka. I had a long chat with him and he was very accommodating. He even took out some rarer cycling caps for me to look at and purchase.

If you’re in Osaka, pass by Track Supermarket. It’s at 1F-1-20-20 Minami Horie, Nishi Ku, Osaka Shi, Japan. A map and directions are in their website. Have fun!