Sunday, August 28, 2011

USA PRO CYCLING Challenge needs some fixing

Photo courtesy of Gary Bradler

I had planned on attending 3 stages of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge presented by Millennium Promise.  Yes, I refer to it by it's proper name every time I say it, don't you?  I ended up attending only 1 stage instead.  Vail was great - TDF caliber riders, TDF quality backdrop, without the TDF traffic nightmare. So why did I not go to the stages on Saturday or Sunday as planned?  I looked at the route again, and realized the race was all but over after the TT.  Since there are no summit finishes, unless Levi hit an elk on the descent, it was going to be another bunch/sprint finish.  At this point, I have to admit I have been to some big races, including the TDF 4 times.  I guess I am a bit of a race snob, but if I had to decide between riding myself and watching sprinters not named Cavendish or Farrar duke it out, I will pass.  I had considered going to watch the climb on Lookout, but with 60 miles still to go after the climb, it didn't really matter what happened on that climb.

A buddy of mine form Chicago, who is new to the sport, texted wondering if I was at the race today.  I confessed that I was out riding instead.  "What's up?  Why didn't you go?"  So in lengthy texts I had to explain that this race route was really decided by dollars.  I get that the goal is to make money, but I question the short and long term money motivation.  Fans in CO love cycling, it's a beautiful state, etc, but, that doesn't secure long term sponsors and the big money.  Each start/finish town had to pony up $250,000 to host a stage, so you had towns like Durango and Boulder that wouldn't or couldn't front the cash so they were skipped completely on the route.  The $ provided by the sponsor towns is small money compared to big corporate dollars that could follow if you created an amazing and very challenging race.  What we got instead of Alpe d' Huez style finishes is a series of Milan San Remo type stages where the GC race was decided 1/2 way through the race.

What went right with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge?

The fans: They were amazing at this race.  Colorado loves cycling and the fans were passionate and loud. They filled the roads near the top of each climb and in every start and finish town.

The GC field:  You really could not have asked for better GC contenders for a race during it's first edition.  Cadel, Basso, the Schlecks and Levi.

The back drop:  Colorado is one of the most beautiful states, and offers a variety of terrain from desert, red rocks, pine forest, and rocky climbs.

The vibe from Fans and Media:  Those in and around the race have been very positive about this event and the turnout.

What needs to fixed:

The route:  I will give it to the ATOC, Tour of Utah and even the Tour de Georgia they used their terrain to make their race difficult and decisive.  The Tour of Missouri did not have that option, since there were no real long climbs to get into play.  Here in CO, we have plenty of climbs, many of which can be used but were not.  This race was decided on Thursday, yet did not officially end until Sunday.

The field:  If you insist on having a route that allows that many bunch/sprint finishes, then invite riders like Thor, Fabian, Cav, Gilbert and Boonen - at least make it interesting.  With all due respect to Elia Viviani, he is not exactly a household name. As I review this week, one of Thor's TDF style attacks could have won this race.

SUMMIT FINISH:  Let's be honest; that is what makes stage races famous and what shakes up GC!  Alpe d' Huez, Mont Ventoux, Zoncolan, Anglirue, Mt. Baldy, and Brasstown Bald.  You need summit finishes to make your stage race interesting and must see TV.  The USA Pro was more like a series of high altitude Milan San Remos with a few TT's thrown in (1 that was downhill?!).  Don't argue logistics, as the Aglirru is more remote than the top of Super James/ Super Flag or Sunshine.

Social Media director (or even a teenage kid that LIKES/KNOWS cycling and watches the @feed on twitter):  All week long this race has been slaughtered on Twitter about mistakes and typos on their site.  The best part is they have someone tweeting about the race, but they don't read/react to their @ messages.  @Neilroad and @Dwuori pointed out every error found on their website and they still have not fixed it.  My favorite - this line in the Spidertech Team bio: The team features two top sprinters Keven Lacombe and Phillipe Gilbert, who won a stage of the 2009 Tour of Missouri. The team also features American veteran Jon Patrick McCarty, who won the 2011 Amgen Tour of California KOM jersey and up and comer Zach Bell.

If you are going to spend millions and ask start/finish towns to pay you $250,000, at the very least have a novice fan check your website.  I even heard that some of these errors made it into print that was handed out at the race. OOPS?  

Volunteers that had no clue about cycling or what they were really supposed to do:  Give me the Gendarmerie any day, since cycling fans police themselves. I had one volunteer chase me out of the inside of a corner (behind a rusty guard rail and in a group of trees) on the TT course and ask me to go across the street and stand where they might end up if they over shot the corner. When I asked her why she said, "It's a closed course."  I said you, "You know that makes no sense right?" She went back to her post to wave an orange flag. She later  came back over to say, "I really don't know, it's just what they told me."

As my wife stated when we attended the TT in Vail, if this race was an the final Challenge on the Apprentice, Trump would have fired them.  

The Final GC: When this is your final GC, in a state with so many options to make a race brutal and interesting, you have a problem.  No offense to Big George, I have met him and I enjoy him as a rider.  At 38 years old, he should NOT be in the top 5 GC for a race promoted like this: Breathtaking altitudes, treacherous climbs and 128 of the worlds best riders. It’s the most challenging race held on American soil.

  • 1. Levi Leipheimer, Team RadioShack
  • 2. Christian Vande Velde, Team Garmin-Cervélo, at 0:11
  • 3. Tejay Van Garderen, HTC-Highroad, at 0:17
  • 4. Tom Danielson, Team Garmin-Cervélo, at 0:21
  • 5. George Hincapie, BMC Racing Team, at 0:53

I know the riders rode hard and fans cheered their hearts out.  I just hope the race organizers do their part so that this can become the "Most challenging race held on American soil." Otherwise, I fear it will end up like Tour of GA and Tour of MO.

Thanks for reading!  Check out our cycling tees and use PROMO CODE: VIVACO for 25% off (excludes new arrivals)!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fixing the Vuelta

It's that time of year again - the 3rd biggest stage race in Pro Cycling!  Can't wait to see FRANDY Schleck, Evans, Basso and others battle it out in ..... Colorado?! Who is racing the "traditional" 3rd biggest Grand Tour?  Nabali is there and others GC guys like Menchov and Sastre.  Sold yet? Cav and Boonen are there, but that only draws attention to the flat stages.

The biggest problem plaguing the Vuelta this year is the USA Pro Challenge with it's stacked start list of TDF level talent.  So we thought we would do our part to help the Vuelta get back some ratings:
  •  Webcam of Contador watching the Vuelta on TV from a bunglo in Fiji.  As he does things like send a text message or drink a fruity umbrella beverage it would be considerably more exciting than watching Carlos Sastre go all out on a climb.  He might give the camera the occasional Pistolero or go swim with some dolphins to spice it up "Muie quinte!"
  • Due to the location and time of year, snow can't be a factor in creating must watch TV. So leverage something this country already has down - the running of the bulls.  Let the bulls lose from a side alley as the peloton has 5k to go in a sprint stage.  GC guys will be mixing it up with Cav to avoid  El Toro! The wearer of the Leaders RED jersey will drop some serious watts to save himself.
  • Let Rock Racing Team 2 in with a last minute "special invitation". Skull kits, Lambos, and strippers will lift ratings and add to the road side party! You would hear comments like this:  "I just caught a bag of Haribo candy from the caravan!" "Who cares, I just got a lapper from that Rock Racing chick, Saphire!!!"
  • Carlos Sastre & Denis Menchov should be required to ride handcuffed together.  Apart these two are liking watching old men play chess in the park...chained together, they are way more interesting.
  • Hire Joe Rogan to host Feed Zone Fear Factor for fun like this: Announcers in the booth,"A Crash near the feed zone, wonder what caused it?" Joe Rogan, "Looks like  Beñat Intxausti Elorriaga got a scorpion and a bull dong in his feed bag."
While we don't love the Spanish Cycling Federation, Spain is a cool country.  We also respect the history of the race, and hope it moves on the calendar or does something to lure the top talent back.

* We'd like to state one more time that we wish Levi would go back and ride the Vuelta and win the damn thing!  He has finished 2nd and 3rd and could stand on the top step if he made this his focus for the season.  Like it or not, the Vuelta has more history in the sport than ATOC and winning it would make his career.

Thanks for reading!  Check out our cycling tees and use PROMO CODE: VIVACO for 25% off (excludes new arrivals)!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


We are very excited to share our new line of Tees. People have asked us for more women's options, CX, another logo tee, different colors, a United We Pedal tee and we listened. Hope you enjoy, the can be purchased at . As always, each item we sell has a charity partner these include: Steven Cozza's Race for Kids, Saul Raisin's Raisin Hope, Mercy Corps, and LIVESTRONG.

*Some of these designed will also be available in hoodies very soon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Belgian Badasses Tee

buy the women's tee here:
buy the men's tee here:
We believe the driekleur (Belgian National Champ jersey) is the best looking and most prestigious jersey worn in the peloton. From Leon Houa in 1894 to Roger De Vlaeminck in 1969 to Philippe Gilbert, the names of all of the champions come together to form this flag on this design. Add in the Lion of Flanders and this tee screams Belgian Badass!

$1 from every tee purchase will be donated to Steven Cozza’s Race for Kids. 
BUY IT HERE:Belgian Badasses

Monday, August 15, 2011

@shaunasmash shares her take on (Riding to remember & Riding to forget)

Dig the Tee? You can buy it here:

There was a recent Twitter bet between @ShaunaSmash and @rutgers79 about the Yanks vs Socks.  Shauna won the bet and a guest blogger spot with us:  Hope you enjoy!

The concept of “Sometimes I ride to remember, Sometimes I ride to forget,”
appears to be universal to anyone that loves to pedal on two wheels.
However, what is remembered and what is forgotten is the unique aspect,
and it took me a while to discover that riding a bike was a better fit for
my therapeutic needs than running.
I’ve spent four years discovering myself after losing 80 pounds. Part of
that discovery was figuring out what exercise best fit for a lifestyle.
I went from 200+ pounds and unable to jog more than five minutes to a
distance runner. I ran three half marathons and a marathon after two
years of hard work. Running became a reminder of the path I was taking.
Every step was a reminder of the effort I put into changing my entire
life. Every completed run was a triumph. People don’t quite understand
the shock of losing a lot of weight and suddenly becoming athletic. I
looked in the mirror and it was like I was a different person. I’d run
10 miles and just stop and ask myself “how did I get here?” Exercise was
the path to my physical and emotional transformation, and running was
the easiest, most effective method. I bought some running shoes and all
I had to do was step out the door. I was fit, I was happy — and I could
be alone for hours. That’s the joy of being an endurance athlete. If
there was ever a time to clear the mind in a healthy manner, endurance
sports is the way to go. It was just me and the road.
Unfortunately, my body broke down. I kept giving myself new challenges
with running and decided to run a marathon. Slight problem: I increased
volume and intensity at the same time. That’s a major no-no of training,
FYI! What was once therapeutic and empowering became painful and
intimidating. By the time I ran my marathon, I was so severely
overtrained I got sick. I couldn’t walk up steps for a week after my
first 26.2 miles (the ING Hartford Marathon). Earning a marathon finisher
medal remains my most proud accomplishment. However, I lost the true joy
of what got me running in the first place. Pain is one thing. Injury is
another. I had to walk away from running and let my body heal.
Cycling is different. It’s still a test of the human will, but the impact
of the exercise is not the same. I can stay healthy and fit. I can go on
my own for hours. Yet, I can still walk once I’m done. I lost my own
personal therapy once I stopped running. I found it again on the bike.
It’s important to note, though, that I couldn’t even leave a parking lot
on a bike when I first started. It was scary! Skinny little tires felt
like nothing compared to the four wheels of several ton cars everywhere.
I felt so vulnerable. Some of you are so lucky. You rode all your lives,
so the bike is second nature. I still have issues clipping in and out at
traffic lights. Regardless, I didn’t give up on my passion. I knew right
away I loved cycling the first time I watched a women’s bike race.
Slowly, but surely, riding replaced running as a spiritual, physical, and
emotional remedy.
I ride to remember that feeling I had at my first bike race. I loved
running, but it didn’t give me the same rush as watching a bunch of
awesome women climbing mountains and flying effortlessly around tight
corners in a criterium. I also ride to remember how far I’ve come in just
a few years time. Riding 50-60 miles with any kind of speed might be easy
for some of you — but just know that this would have been impossible, or
perhaps laughable, not too long ago for me. I also ride to forget
everything except me and the road. It used to be me and my running shoes.
It’s now me and my bicycle. There’s something to be said about feeling
like your mind, body and spirit are finally balanced. I keep my balance
by riding.

  Bike riding, oddly enough, got me fit enough to slowly build back
running into my life. I thought I would never run again once I stopped
and my aerobic fitness returned to baseline. I just ran five miles for
the first time in two years on Sunday. However, it’s merely something I
do for fun, whereas cycling is now a HUGE part of my life. This time,
I’m taking the endurance base building slowly. Here’s the kicker: I
used to have to throw on music during my long runs to keep from getting
bored. I have yet to need music for a single bike ride, and I’ve been
by myself for four and five hour rides. All I need is the fresh air and
some beautiful surroundings. I think that says a lot for how much
riding is a joy of mine. Also, riding helps me remember that the person
I see in the mirror, who used to be the “new” me, is now simply the
“real” me. I ride to remember my happiness and health, and ride to
forget everything that tries to get in the way of that.

by Shauna Staveley

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Heidi Swift and @Hbstache crew team up on a TEE

Flat tire... post manicure
We have long been impressed by the pics, tweets and blog musings of Heidi Swift.  We have been talking about doing something together.  We paired up one of our favorite pics of the year from Heidi with our super soft tees to make the 1st ever Grit & Glimmer tee.  We were moved by this Grit & Glimmer  post and this line More than 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died of starvation in the last 90 days in southern Somalia. We are donating $2 per tee to Mercy Corps helping feed families in the Horn of Africa.

You can buy these shirts at:

Here is Heidi's blog about the tees:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Our USA Pro Cycling Challenge preview

We have lived in CO for about a year and half, and I am still amazed by the scenery, terrain and the weather.  The latter I feel will be a deciding factor in this 1st edition of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Most of these riders are aware that this will be the highest stage race they have done (until the ASO figures out how to add Tour of Tibet to the calendar).  Many non-CO pros are already out here acclimating to the altitude.  To give some perspective to the lack of O2, the arrival line on Alpe d'Huez is at 1860 Meters (6,102 ft).  Several of the start towns at this race are already a 1,000 ft above that.  For those riders that are not yet here getting used to the altitude, it will be a bit of a shocker.

Yesterday I went for a ride and already had 5,000 ft of climbing in when the wind picked up.  It was 95 degrees w/30mph wind on my way home.  I was in the hurt locker and was thinking about how the wind can and will change the US Pro.  You just don't know when and where it will hit you in CO.  I have been in the middle of ride that started with no wind to speak of, only to get blasted on a descent with 35+ mph gusts.  As Nick Legan and the Rapha N. America crew pointed out in their stage 1 preview (Rapha Stage 1 preview), the wind here can change the game.  That said, to win this race I believe it will require a strong GC contender and a very smart/cunning Director Sportiff.

Who does that count out?  

LEOPARD TREK and the Schleck brothers: 
Cunning and tactics are not the norm with the Lanky Lux boys.  They can climb, which is a very good thing for this race, but descending is not at the top of their skill list.  Add in some wind, rain, sleet, snow on 12,000 ft descents and this could cost them the race.  Not to mention what will happen when another team makes a move on a flat section with a wicked side wind.  We have wondered if the LEOPARD TREK director is playing Angry Birds during a majority of their races (Amstel Gold as the Schlecks escorted Gilbert to the line, or in the Pyrenees at the TDF as Andy and Frank looked for each other like Bert and Ernie). Add in the stress of their "Hotel Demands "we highlighted earlier in the season, and it might be just too much for this team. I think these two have their sights set on the 2nd and 3rd step of the podium.  Expect a quote like this at the end of August:  
Schlecks "happy" w/ 2nd and 3rd again.
Constantly Schlooking around for each other.

“We would have hoped to have one Schleck on top of the podium, but we’re proud of each other and proud of ourselves.”

Who does that favor?

Radio Shack:
They have had a very Jekyll and Hyde season so far.  They very quietly won early on in the year, but followed that up with one of the worst TDF's in recent memory.  Johan Bruyneel has many fans and an equal number of detractors, but you can not deny he knows how to win stage races.  We normally think of his victories in the context of Grand Tours, but he has dominated the US races as well.

Tour de Georgia:
3 of 6

Tour of California:
4 of 6

Tour of Missouri:
1 of 3

Levi is not a true climber by any means, but he can hang tough with most of them.  He has shown he can handle the extreme altitude with his victory at the Leadville 100.   It does appear that Levi has better "luck" on this side of the Atlantic, so we will have to see if that continues here. Levi raced against many of these riders at ATOC and his team won the race in dramatic fashion.

After a very impressive TDF by Tom Danielson, they look poised to shake this race up.  As a CO based team, they know about the altitude and the weather they will encounter.  I predict that this team will animate this race from start to finish.  They have 3 cards to play with Ryder, Christian and Tommy D.  Teams won't be able to mark all three of them, and a breakaway move on a hot and dry day when the wind picks up could actually steal this race.  Ryder fits that bill perfectly and I would expect he gives it a go on several occasions.

This Dutch team knows a bit about how to deal with wind and the elements.  Robert Gesink is a world class climber, if he is recovered from his TDF injuries, he could be on the podium.

The big ?'s for me:

Cadel Evans:
Will he be riding this to maintain his World #1 ranking, or as a glorified post TDF criterium to help his US based Team add to their marketing strategy?  It is hard to imagine that one would come to race at this altitude and not be here to win.  A Tour win is a dream come true for any rider; there has to be a bit of complacency that sets in right? Since 2009's Worlds, Cadel has surprised us, so I would expect him to throw us another curve ball in CO.

Dark horse:
Could an "unknown" win this thing?  The GC guys might let a solid domestic climber go away and gain minutes only to regret that situation later.  Even at the TDF, they almost had a surprise from Voeckler.  This race is not that long, if 3-5 min. is given, it could stick.

We are sure of a few things; this race will be beautiful and filled with the highest level of suffering any cycling fan can wish for.  VIVA CO Cycling! VIVA USA PRO CYCLING CHALLENGE!

Thanks for reading!  Check out our cycling tees and use PROMO CODE: VIVACO for 25% off !(excludes new arrivals)