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Chris Davidson

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Trade show time at Interbike

By:
Cycling News
Published:
October 03, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:22 BST

Greetings cyclingnews.com readers, It is that time of year again when the manufacturers of all that...

Las Vegas, October 3, 2006

Greetings cyclingnews.com readers,

It is that time of year again when the manufacturers of all that is bicycle converge on Las Vegas to entice the retail world to buy plenty of the latest toys, so that you will have those vital pieces of bike lust under glass in your local shop. It seems that a majority of the attendees of the show are either in the buying or selling category, but for me and a handful of others, the show represents the best opportunity all year to get some face time with the people that keep the racing world afloat. Here is how it went for me:

Living only an hour plane ride from Las Vegas I opted to fly in Wednesday morning attend the indoor show for two days and fly home on Thursday night. I can't say that I missed the outdoor show, as in 2003 and 2004 I worked the outdoor show prepping bikes for demo rides. Two days in a row of eight hours each, plenty of dust and non-stop work. By the time I got to the indoor part of the show I was wasted. This year I hit the floor fresh on Wednesday morning with what looked to be the largest crowd of show goers yet at Interbike to see the new toys. First up for me was thanking those sponsors who I worked with at Ford Cycling this year. It was much nicer to speak to people to just say 'thanks' rather than asking for more stuff. I have been fortunate this year to have a great set of people to work with at various companies that have made my life easier, answered my last minute requests, shipped stuff overnight to hotels, etc.. It was particularly nice to spend some time with Dan Weatherford at Squadra (our 2006 clothing supplier), Matt McClendon of Kenda (our tire sponsor) and Duncan Benning (our inflation sponsor) of Genuine Innovations just talking about the highs and lows of the season from my end.

Wednesday was really busy all over the place inside the show and I wasn't surprised to see the free beer flowing at some of the booths by 3:00pm. I walked by the Gita booth at one point and Dan Schmatz and Pete Lopinto of KodakGallery.com/Sierra Nevada team were sitting next to Eddy Merckx at a table signing posters and autographs. There was a line that stretched around the booth; the problem was 99% of the line was there to get Eddy's signature and the KGSN boys were looking lonely with their stack of team posters. All hail the King.

Before departing the show on Wednesday, it was very important that I secure a pass to the Sinclair party that night. This annual event staged by Sinclair Imports (US distributors of Ridley, Carnac, etc) is the highlight of parties at the show. The invitation-only party was to be held at the VooDoo club in the Rio hotel this year and it did not disappoint. The VooDoo was a two-storey, outdoor bar on top of the hotel with amazing views of the Vegas skyline. Throw in some alcohol, dancing girls, bumping techno music, Mario Cipollini and Magnus Backstedt, and just the right temperatures to make outdoor partying a go and you have the marquee event of the trade show. For the record, I voted for 'Miss FSA'.

After a short night of sleep, I hit the Shimano Tech seminar at 8:00am on Thursday. Day two of the show was much less hectic than day one. I had more time to look around at new parts and such. Given my general survey of the new bits on offer, here are my top three picks for new toys:

Shimano road and mountain shoes: the new top end models of shoes from Shimano feature a new carbon sole, custom fitting inners that are heat moldable, and new graphics. The shoes looked killer and the new changes to the soles and inners should make them fit even better. And they are lighter than last year's models. These were really cool; top marks.

Bruce Gordon cantilever brakes: over in one corner, mixed in with King Cage was Bruce Gordon with a new cantilever brake that comes in aluminum or Ti. Now, I know that canti brakes have been around for longer than I have, but these low profile brakes were the most beautiful rendition of canti brakes that I have ever seen. Fully adjustable spring tension, graceful lines and flawless function made me lust for a couple of pairs for my cross bike.

Time VXRS Pro Team bike: Time was showing a new white with blue and red VXRS 'Pro Team' version of their all-carbon bike. This featherweight, with integrated seatmast, was the best looking frame that I have seen from Time. It is hard to beat the winning pedigree of this company, as it supplies bikes to the 2005 and 2006 world champions, but this new paint scheme on the VXRS really stood out.

So, 40 hours in Vegas, about 18 miles of walking at the show and another year of 'thank yous' spread around. For me the 'face time' I got with sponsors in Vegas was invaluable; I was able to thank people and discuss this past year as well as lay the foundation for next year. The new stuff that I saw should be trickling into your local shop for the rest of the fall and winter. As for me, I am still waiting to nail down the specifics for 2007 as we go further into the fall. The time I spent in Vegas should go a long way clearing the path for 2007. The next month should hold the answers and the decisions should fall, I will keep you updated.

Thanks,

Chris Davidson

Brett Batchelder

NORBA National Series #6, Aspen

By:
Cycling News
Published:
September 28, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:22 BST

Greetings cyclingnews.com readers, I have to apologize for the recent lack of reporting. I have been...

Winding down in Aspen

Greetings cyclingnews.com readers, I have to apologize for the recent lack of reporting. I have been ‘OTB’ so to speak. It has not been for a lack of things going on, rather lots has been taking place, I just have run short on getting it in written form and getting it out. Here is a little update from where I wrote last:

My last entry was just post the Brian Head NORBA, were I drove back to SLC for a short three days at home before heading to Aspen for the last NORBA of 2006. The three days at home were full gas, as I was slated in as the team director for a local composite team in the Tour of Utah that kicked off Monday afternoon. The team was sponsored by a local radio station and featured the best category one Utah riders. These guys are the local legends, so it was great to help them out as they stepped up to some serious pro competition, rather than just reeling in the punishment that they can dish out at the local weekly training crit.

Day one of the tour was forecasted to be hot, with the chance of some brief storms. Less than 20 miles into the stage the caravan was experiencing 50+ mph winds and blowing dust as we passed through some small weather cells. Visibility was zero. I had to stop the team car twice to avoid any accidents, as I could not see anything. The race was blown to bits. After a few minutes of this the race was neutralized as the entire race caravan had gotten off course due to the lack of visibility. As quickly as this storm had developed, it seemed to dissipate. As the race resumed, the field got back together, but many riders had burned a lot of matches very early in this stage due to the extreme conditions and would pay for it late in the stage. Day one ended with a sprint finish under sunny skies after a less than announced number of finishing circuits in Provo. It was evident after day one they we were still working out the details of a brand new race on the fly. All our boys made it in one piece, although what had looked like an easy intro day to the tour had been very hard.

I got to the staging area for stage two on day two early and started packing the team car for the stage. An official made the rounds with copies of the results and communiqués from the previous day. As I read the pages, I found that I had been singled out for penalties for driving recklessly, drafting a rider and disregarding the officials. I was stunned; as we had had a pretty tame day in the team car on stage one, with none of the reported events taking place. I missed holding a team meeting before the stage as I had to spend 90 minutes convincing the officials of their mistake and getting our team car back in the caravan. In the end it turns out that our team car (provided by the organization) had been mistaken for that of another nearly identical team car (Priority Health) and their manager later admitted to the ‘minor driving infractions’. Good for our boys that we got the car back in the caravan, as stage two was over 100 degrees F before the start.

The officials allowed feeding for the cars early in the stage, as the heat was very oppressive. The stage was flat on paper, but headed west out of Provo into a pure desert landscape. The stage finished later with circuits on a car race track and the less than 100 mile stage eliminated a number of riders from the race. In the last 20km, riders were popping all over the place, caked with salt and looking overheated. There was lots of feeding going on from the cars with dropped riders inside 20km to go, but the officials turned a blind eye due to the extreme heat. As Chady said, a little ‘overdone’ with the heat.

Day three was an individual TT, kinda short, but enough to worry out guys about the potential time cut. I had a long day as I took the Ford Cycling team van and trailer out to the venue to setup a warmup area for the guys, then repacked it at the end of the day and headed out directly on the drive to Aspen for the weekend’s NORBA. The boys all made it through the TT intact and will race another day. When I pulled into Aspen after a long day of racing and driving, it was time to switch gears to the dirt. The Tour of Utah would only get more epic in the coming days, as the big climbing stages were left. I was sorry that I had to leave the team car for the crucial stages. But, the last NORBA of the year was on tap, and that was even more important.

Aspen is a great venue, the traditional ski resort venue with very steep climbs and fast descents. The results of the racing are documented elsewhere. Aspen represented the last big outing for the Ford team as our Ford sponsorship will not continue next year. It made each facet of the weekend interesting, as the comments about the last time for everything just kept coming. We had some success in the SuperD, but as a whole we were a little disappointed with our XC/STXC results. Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/VW) gave us a hint of his amazing Worlds ride with a top placing in the men’s XC.

The weekend was not to be forgotten quickly, as the guys at SRAM threw a huge party on Sunday night at a restaurant in the village, complete with DJ and ‘drink tickets’. John Dawson (Head SRAM tech guy) knows how to get it done, as this party had to be shut down at midnight by the Aspen police. But not before I snapped some shots of the festivities, check them out.

The three event Brian Head/Tour of Utah/Aspen back-to-back-to-back left me roasted. Time to come home for a few weekends. But the work never stops, 2007 is just around the corner. Time to start moving some 2006 equipment and thinking about next season. As I mentioned above, Ford is stopping as a title sponsor this year. This has left me to consider new opportunities for 2007. I was flattered when TMobile women’s team called recently to offer me a job for 2007. The offer would require me to move to Germany starting near the first of the year and I have too many things going on domestically to up and move. Other opportunities exist that I am considering; the next week should prove interesting.

The Interbike trade show started today in Vegas. I am heading down there on Wednesday morning to make the rounds at the indoor show. Much that will be new for 2007 will be discussed, drooled over and contemplated there in the next few days. Including my future for 2007. The buzz awaits.

In the short term, I am a finalist in the Dickies American Worker of the Year contest and it ends on October 7th. If you can, head over to this website and cast your vote for me: www.workeroftheyear.com. I would appreciate it. More soon after the trade show, I hope that your 2006 season went well.

Thanks-

Chris Davidson

The tops

Logistical problems at altitude

By:
Cycling News
Published:
August 11, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:22 BST

Day two at Brian Head opened up with awesome weather, not a chance of rain and mild temps. Despite...

NORBA National Series #5, Brian Head

Day two at Brian Head opened up with awesome weather, not a chance of rain and mild temps. Despite the temps below 70 degrees F, the altitude made the sun feel like it was frying you even if you were only out in it for a while.

The one big loop made logistics difficult: Two feed/tech zone that were a ways apart. The feeders for the first zone had to leave before the race started and after I finished up on the start line, I had to quickly close up the trailer and head to the second zone. The second zone was a few miles up a tight single lane dirt road that had been recently washed out. I was the last of the pro mechanics to get there and when I walked up with all my supplies the other mechanics were talking about how one of our riders (Sara) had crashed badly and had to be hauled out on a four-wheeler. Not good news. I fed our two pros and was surprised to see Melanie Meyers crushing it with a top 15 placing through the second feed zone. I almost missed her feed because I did not have any bottles out for her, as I didn't expect her that early. Awesome ride for her, she has been struggling since her MCL tear at Sea Otter and it was great to see her ride well.

After the feeds, I got back in the truck and headed down to the start/finish to see what the word was with Sara and what the finishing placings were. I gave TJ Grove a ride down to the start/finish area as he had to stay a little longer in the feed to get all of his riders through. TJ is her working for the U-23 national team guys. TJ is one of the most experienced mechanics out there and a super nice guy. We talked about Worlds in NZ as TJ is going to be one of the USA team mechanics. The American team will be very fortunate to have TJ turning the wrench for them.

Back at the trailer, I found that Sara got banged up pretty badly; she had to go for x-rays. This is really unfortunate as she was heading for a top-ten placing. She is amazing, she lives in Boston (a city with zero degrees of elevation), yet her best placings are at the highest altitude venues. She proves that it can be done, even if today was not her day.

Mechanic stuff

These are a couple of things that have been on my mind lately:

1. Nitrile gloves

I got some of these earlier this year for brake bleeds, as we are on Avids, which use DOT fluid that stings the skin. They offer better protection for my hands. I now use them all the time for washing bikes, lubing chains, repacking bearings, etc. They are really durable and still give me good dexterity, all while keeping my hands from getting dirty and dried out. I highly recommend them for dirty bike work, as a step up from latex gloves. Check the fit though, as they as not a stretchy as latex gloves.

2. Toolboxes

I went around the pits at Brian Head and shot pics of a bunch of different mechanic's toolboxes. Surprising as we all assemble the essential tools separately, yet the kits look much alike. Well, except for Mark Mattson's (Kona) but he has always been a little different. :

Day four and the STXC

A fast a brutal course with lots of asphalt and then some very slow up and down dirt sections. Our battle-weary crew went to the task in a tough race. Luna had four girls in the front group, but Sue Haywood (Trek/VW) stole the show in the end, congrats to her! The men's race was a little crazy at the start as they offered two $50 primes for the first two laps. This made it even more insane from the beginning.

The races over, we packed quickly and headed for home. A forest/grass fire on the highway home created a 100-mile detour that got me home even later than planned. Little rest, for on Monday morning we started the Tour of Utah and it was time to get back in the team car.

Tour of Utah: A new race on the calendar, close to home for me and I will be pulling team director duties in the car for a local composite team. The team is sponsored by a local radio station, 101.9 The End, and contains the best local Utah riders (http://tourofutah.com/teams.html)

I will have more from the road tomorrow. Thanks.

Chris Davidson

Here comes the rain

By:
Cycling News
Published:
August 05, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 21, 2009, 11:56 BST

The Second day here at Brian Head should be a slow day; the riders will all get in there last...

NORBA #5 - Brian Head, UT, August 4-6, 2006

The Second day here at Brian Head should be a slow day; the riders will all get in there last pre-ride, make final tire choices, etc. It should be an early day for me, clean up and go for a ride. Not so.

The morning starts for me with the quest for internet access. Not easy at this venue. I haven't had cell coverage since we arrived, but the internet access proved even harder. The phone line didn't work as we are isolated enough that none of my dialup numbers work. I ended up doing a little driving and paying a little too much to get access. Ah, the price of reach out to the outside world. Regardless, the morning stated early, as I got the internet thing done and headed to the trailer before 8:00am.

I got two riders out on the pre-ride, when the first of many short powerful storms blew thru. Raining sideways, the organizers and worried about riders isolated out on the course, as this is a single 27 mile loop course. At the time I was building a wheel at the trailer as the rain hit and I scrambled to get things inside. The two riders made it back, but the bikes were toast and they were wet and frozen. More riders showed up later in the day, some had ridden on their own and brought back trashed bikes, other chose to ride the trainer and wait out the rain. It rained on and off the rest of the day.

My last rider didn't show up until 3:30pm, as Sara Bresnick-Zocchi was going to contest the SuperD at 6:30pm. I like to joke with Sara, and the SuperD competition was a great excuse to treat her like a downhill rider rather than a XC star. All the joking aside, the weather cleared up nicely to get the SuperD off on schedule and Sara had an awesome race, taking 2nd to current national champ Sue Haywood[Trek/VW]. Sara has two podiums in SuperD in two weeks, she is a rising threat in this relatively new discipline.

The warmdown/podium/packup took hours longer than it should have, leaving me with just over 12 hours at the trailer today. I felt like the only thing that I actually accomplished at the trailer today was building the wheel, as the cycle of washing/tuning bikes just keeps going in circles: I work on the bikes, riders ride, I clean and tune, riders ride, etc……

Two feed zones on a huge single loop course tomorrow will involve me at the start line for the riders start and then some rally driving on some dirt roads to get to the zones before the riders. It should be fun. The forecast doesn't change for the next couple of days, which means some intermittent rain.

Back at it before 8:00am tomorrow, I look forward to it. I will try and capture some pictures of the action tomorrow. See you there-

Chris Davidson

Results - NORBA #5

9,500ft and up; Day One in Brian Head

By:
Cycling News
Published:
August 04, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 21, 2009, 11:56 BST

Wow, on the scene in Brian Head on day one of the NORBA weekend and what a change from Sonoma . I...

NORBA #5 - Brian Head, UT, August 4-6, 2006

Wow, on the scene in Brian Head on day one of the NORBA weekend and what a change from Sonoma. I think that the high temperature here today was like 68 degrees F. Beautiful blue skies with a few clouds and awesome trail conditions, this feels like a real mountain course. The air is thin here, you don't necessarily notice it standing around the trailer, but if you ride your bike or walk up stairs, instant redline. The XC race course starts at 9,500ft and instantly goes directly up to 10,500ft, OUCH!

It was an easy day today for me, I got to sleep in my own bed last night, then a <4hr drive down to southern Utah and I was ready to start setting up the tents, wash vehicles, etc. Due to the high elevation a number of teams/riders are staying in a town called Parowan, at the base of the climb up here to Brian Head. It is only 20 minutes away and the elevation is almost 4,000ft less. I talked to the Trek/VW head mechanic, Zack Vestal, today and all of his riders are staying down low. Two of my Ford riders are trying the 'stay low' approach, while two are staying up here at the venue. We will have to see how the two approaches work. Next weekend the venue at Snowmass is at similar elevation, but with no option to 'stay low' anywhere near.

At the end of the day today I got to go for a little road ride. The riding up here is awesome, miles of small highway and forest service roads with amazing views. We are right next to the Cedar Breaks National Monument, and the surrounding area is part of an old volcanic formation. Some stretches of road look like the surface of the moon on both sides, others look like a dense alpine forest. Plenty of killer climbing too.

The route I rode today is part of a stage race down here in a few weeks. If you like high altitude climbing and great race courses, you should check out the Tour de Gap[www.tourdegap.net]. Tell Andrey that you heard about the race on cyclingnews.com from CD when you sign up for it. It is a really well run race, killer courses, very worthy of the drive to southern Utah.

The forecast calls for some afternoon rain each of the next three days, and rain in the mountains at this elevation can make things pretty ugly in a hurry. We were blessed with the weather today, I hope that it holds out. As always, if you are up here for the race, please stop by the Ford trailer and introduce yourself. We are right next to the start/finish line.

See you tomorrow-

Chris Davidson

Results - NORBA #5

Kelli Emmett (Ford Cycling)

A tale of two NORBAs

By:
Cycling News
Published:
July 19, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:22 BST

Hi Cyclingnews.com readers, back to back race weekends in searing heat with national champion's...

NORBA #4 & #5 - Deer Valley, UT, July 7-8, 2006 & Sonoma, CA, July 15-16, 2006

Hi Cyclingnews.com readers, back to back race weekends in searing heat with national champion's jerseys at stake most recently, and I am a little tired. Two very different places, some very different results and some cool stuff along the way. The details go like this:

Similarities: It was hot in both Deer Valley and Sonoma, close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in both places. There was some challenging racing.

Differences: Everything else. Deer Valley was just above 7000 feet in elevation, Sonoma was about 70 feet. Deer Valley is home to 200+ miles of killer single track trails, Sonoma is home to the Infineon Raceway.

Deer Valley had some killer trails that unfortunately eroded quickly over the course of the weekend. By the time the SuperD was done on Friday the braking bumps going into the 180 turns were developing deep ruts. It was also really green and overgrown in Utah from all the rain they have had this year. The plants and trees were in full effect, making the trail tight and passing difficult.

Sonoma was wide open, very brown and freshly mowed in some spots. Not really very trail-like, but better than the previous NORBA National here in 2004. Getting offline was costly, as loose terrain and potential flats were just inches away on both sides of the course.

Deer Valley saw big fields in both the men's and women's races, including a very fast female contingent from New Zealand. Sonoma hosted just the US racers for the National Championship, smaller fields and reduced depth.

My weekend in Deer Valley was enjoyable for I got to sleep in my own bed at night with a little commute down to Salt Lake. It was a very busy weekend as well with all my local friends stopping in. I had to repay a few favors as the local authority. We had some interesting team logistics as well as some of our riders wanted not to stay at night up at altitude, but rather reside down in Salt Lake. The weekend moved by rather quickly and before I knew it is was Sunday night and time to think about the next race.

With the Sonoma event being upgraded to the National Championships, all talk about an altitude disadvantage [the former site was Mammoth Mountain, California at 9,000+feet] was gone. However the XC races were on Friday to allow the SuperD to take centre stage on Saturday. Makes for a short week with the travel.

The XC was difficult for our team and others. Hot, dusty and filled with flat tires. In the tech zone at the end of lap one, we counted 12 flat tyres in the women's pro race. This really served to alter the shape of the race early on. Add to that one crash with a bloody knee and some vomiting and our team had a less than stellar day.

Saturday looked better for us as we lined up three girls for the Super D, including last year's national champion, Kelli Emmett. At the finish line the four leaders sprinted like a breakaway group in a long road race and we got second [Kelli] and fourth [Sara Bresnick-Zocchi] - a great day.

Sunday brought a great day of STXC with an interesting course. In 2004 at this venue that STXC was 90 percent pavement and Carl Decker [Giant] won on a road bike; this time the course was really long [3+ minutes] and included some of the 4X course berms. Kelli had a great day for us and made the front group to sprint for third place, to finish on a high note.

Another tear down in the heat and a quick trip to the airport for a Sunday night flight. Sonoma left me with some great visions of wine country of Northern California, but I am looking forward to some down time before the next two races. After a little break we head to Brian Head and Aspen, both 9,000 feet+ venues for the last two races of the 2006 NORBA schedule. I hope that it is cooler up there.

Hopefully the pictures will make up for the lack of text, the heat really got to me the last couple of weeks as I can remember only a fraction of what transpired. Until Brian Head.

Thanks

Chris Davidson

Author
Chris Davidson

Leaving his post from a 'Shimano MTB guy' to a SRAM/RockShox/Avid/TruVativ fella will form the basis of wrencher Chris Davidson's new gig, where he has been contracted to work for Ford Cycling in 2006. However, some things stay the same. One of those will be his informative diary contributions on Cyclingnews, where you'll often receive the inside scoop on all things tech. Australia UK USA