Monday, December 07, 2009

I ♥ Italians

Andrea doing some skinsuit testing for Biciclista


you have to love the land that brought us espresso, grappa and the vespa... Italians above all are passionate, every experience I have had with people from the country shaped like a boot has been a memorable one (sometimes I wish I could forget...). Since Gardasee this eyar I have found some new friends south of Austria who are a passionate bunch of single speeding hooligans. In envy I have followed their antics from a far, as they bolg their exploits on LosLobos. Lead by SS-Mafia kingpin Stefano Spedini (whom I affectionately refer to Speedo) who also runs Biciclista, a sweet small manufacture of some of the most original bad ass cyclingwear you will lay your eyes on. They happen also to be our team clothing supplier for 2010.

Andrea Compri and Luca Bassi have recently joined the ranks of ifbikes.de customers, both taking bitchin' 29ers to race/ ride on next season. Andrea went with a sweet rigid 29er single speed steel Deluxe with IF rigid fork, while Luca went with a Ti 29 Deluxe corrected for 80mm - a cross country speed weapon! Speedo has a Planet X thus far, we will have to see about getting him a limited edition Bicilista Deluxe 29er next year...

Others on the team include our good friend out of France David Guillot is also in the mix with a sick rigid steel 29er, can't wait to see his paint!

A new 29er for one lucky Mr. Wenzel

Add Wolfgang Seyfried, Jochen Schäffler, Sandi and myself to the mix, and you have a pretty diverse sick team! We will be killing it at events around Europe next year with some killer Apres event parties... Look out Gardasee, we are coming and will be taking over the place.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

skid marks

coffee ride

Chris Sheppard coined the phrase in one of his training articles that appeared in Mountain Bike Magazine. A coffee ride is when you go for an easy spin around some local trails and end up at a local coffee shop/ café for a good cup of joe. My old buddy DG used to pull this one back in the day when I lived in Germany the first time around, but instead of a café it was a gas station and instead of coffee it was red Bull...



Now serving a delectable variety of delicious singletrack.

After two harder days this week, the legs were asking for something on the lighter side, but the grey matter wanted something fun, besides we have been enjoying super late fall weather via the "fern". Fern is German for hairdryer or warm wind, and that is exactly what we have. The warm air comes pouring over the Alps from Italy making for sunny warm days, we had nearly 70F today!

Would you like another serving?

On the riding menu today was the locals loop which includes a spin out to the Alatsee, climb up to the Kolberweg, a sweet techy single track, and back into Füssen. I ended up making two rounds as I thought I had lost some money on the trail, but instead of stuffing it into my rear pocket, it ended up somewhere down my bibs...

Eine tasse Espresso, yummy

Back in town I rolled the Fußgangerzone in the Altstadt over the cobbles. Füssen is actually a very scenic old town surrounded by spectacular castles and town wall. We are looking forward to the Advent Zeit (Christmas time and markets) here and they have already put up the Weihnachtsbaum.

29er squeezed in at the café

The rest of the week and weekend should be this nice as well. Darn it, I guess I will have to keep on riding...

Füssen Altstadt loking up toward the Schloß. Notice the Christmas tree is up already, top left corner of the picture?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Trick Teil

Ralph Berner(former top MTB World Cup racer) and his brother Timo have made a name for themselves in cyclocross here in Germany both through racing and product design. They design and offer carbon cross frames, but also have an interesting line of side products in addition. Some of these products include aftermarket carbon pulley cages for derailuers that they will install, and even have an 'areo' version for the road. They also have cross brakes, touted as the lightest on the market, but one of the neat little trinkets I found was this carbon cable hangar.

the Berner Cable Hangar neatly goes between your spacer stack and headset

What is cool about this part is not that it is carbon, but rather how it works. The carbon plate flexes under braking aiding in preventing fork stutter, you know that sometimes violent shudder under heavy braking? One German magazine tested the hangar and reported that it increases braking power. While I believ with properly tuned brakes you can have both power and no fork-shudder, this is still a neat little part. It is light weight and looks trick.

Cable goes into a stainless steel cable stop.


More info available at: http://berner-bikes.com/

Friday, November 13, 2009

somewhere in between

still chasing the dream
I used to have a saying in my profile on this blog, it read something like "If you write it down, post it on the wall and read it everyday, it will come true," it is something I really believe in. Self-confidence can go along ways, sometimes all the way, in making the difference. There were poinent times in my life where I was sure of myself and my abilities, at those moments little if anything could have stopped me accomplishing my goals. That goes for all facets of my life, not just racing.

The writing is on the wall and I am already on my way along my next journey to the top.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Karlsruhe City Cross

if there were ever 'ideal' cross weather, that is what the conditions were today in Karlsruhe. Cold, damp so moist air that you could almost cut it with a knife, with weeks worth of precipitation softening up the ground. The venue was awesome with a big hill in the middle where one could spectate the whole race from the single vantage point. The course had power sections, up and down and many other varibles with little place to rest. The sand pit was some of the deepest heaviest sand I have ever encountered, wreaking havoc on many.

After a way cool ride on trails with Big Wheel brothers Michael and Justin in the Pfalz the day before, we met up with Basti, Holger and some others for 40 mins of doing circles on grass. I pre-rode with Holger and I have to say his techniques for 'surfing' his singloe fixed cross bike was very impressive - too bad there were no points for style, Holger would have won with those skids and white Sidi's...

Not sure what to expect from the 30+ field, Justin and myself took up spots in the 2nd row. Waiting for your typical sprint at the start, the slow roll off took me be surprise, so I quickly nabbed the hole-shot and ran with it. Not punching too hard, I still strung the field out and quickly made a selection of three riders off the front.

But it felt like I was missing just a tick of speed and could not quite dig in all the way. So one slipped by and rode away. My brakes sucked and I rode timid to put it nicely on the descents, kind of bummed I did not go for it more in the early going. As the race progressed so did my confidence, able later in the going to take faster more aggressive lines.

The third guy wanted my spot, and even took it for half of a lap, but a bobble in the sand trap and I had it back and from there opened the gap. Late in the race I caught Michael to put him down a lap, but he slugged it out. His converted road Schwinn Paramount looked pretty cool, but probably was serving him well on the very slick, steep off-camber sections doted around the course.

A mechanical took Holger out, or so he claims... Justin wasn't that far behind me in the end, something like 6th or 8th. Good race, lots of fun. It will be one we come back to for sure. Next weekend: Rosenheim.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

not yet

we drove up from Bayern today to the Pfalz, the weather is pretty much late fall all across the fatherland right now...cold and wt! We had snow back in our forecast the last few days but still had some great rides in Hopfen.

Sandi & I spun around the villages around her hometown, sandstone famrhouses with red ivy pitted against a grey skyed backdrop provided some cool scenes during our ride. Looking forward to FINALLY racing again, seems like ages since Oberstdorf... Normally this time in the season we have quite a few CX races in the skinsuits and are thinking of off season. This year it seems I am just getting going and the party is already over... Still, we will get our licks in and then get on the nordic skis for some solid off-season training and prep for 2010. We have a very cool group forming for the IF Euro Grassroots program - stay tuned!

Friday, October 30, 2009

the downward swing

these are beautiful days, deep into autumn, thinking about winter (sounds like who cannot think about with all of the early snow around the globe everyone is talking about...). Football (both the round and oblongkind) and cyclocross are in the meaty part of the season - I still have yet to race, but in training I am a champion... Next weekend we get to drill ourselves, and I even conned some unsuspecting cyclists to join me in an hour of pain worship to the grass gods - good times. IF vs. Fixie Inc is the billing, I have carved Holger's name into my EDGE carbon bar and I look forward to taking him to the ropes on his disc-brake, single speed, fixed geared Pure Blood. Sorry Holger - but this ain't bike polo. I still want to see him bunny hop that bad boy.

We live in Füssen which fortunate for us happens to be one of the more beautiful spots on the face of the planet. here are some pics:








Overtime I have built up a tasty selection of gnarly technical singletrails, fast forest road, back-woods cyclocross and high alpine rides to select from - and we haven't even scratched the riding potential surface yet.

I have the craving for slow food as of late and have been experimenting in the kitchen, homemade Pumpkin Raviolis were my last creation, next up, sweet potato/ apple soup.

Sandi pulled her Pro license from the BDR, she's rolling in the big leagues again, lok out Fraulein!

Anyone up form some cross and beers next weekend?

Friday, October 09, 2009

speed of life

Life blurring by

Memorable quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ferris: Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Profound but true. My struggle is to stay grounded, in the moment and it is hard sometimes. My awareness that the days, weeks and years are just reeling off has been compounded by the existence of Colin in my life. He is visual proof we are not getting any younger. He also grounds me, I love every minute with him and it is a refreshing view to see the world through his eyes. There is so much I want to do and share with the little man. Not too mention his own experiences he needs to make.





Year 2 for ifbikes.de is winding down, but there is no sign of slowing down. My dream was always to combine a passion of mine with work and the sum of that is taking the plunge off the deep end not only as a entrepenuer, but in a foreign land. It has had its challenges, but anything worth while does. If it were easy...




We broke away from our daily routine (not that there is anything routine about them) ato take in the fall colors with Colin, gather some leaves and buckeyes, and to stop and look around - sure was beautiful.


Colin and me

Monday, September 14, 2009

Garmisch

The C-Man and me
Me leadingthem through the wiesen
Sandi post race w/ splatter
Back in the day, Garmisch was the highlight of sorts of the season, but then again I hadn't been exposed to Colorado racing yet... But none the less, I was looking forward to this one, racing on some old turf in perfect conditions, wet, cold and sloppy. Like in the old days, there were some fast Germans on hand led by Marathon maverick Andi Stroebl. The field was about 50/50 with US military guys towing the line with some ueber-trained locals, and like in years past, local nation was out front quick. Vying for Andi's wheel were myself and about five others, a little twist of the throttle on my behalf and I had his wheel and the line. Andi and his Teammate led out the first lap and would slowly pull away throughout the race, we were left fighting for the scrpas and podiums. After a bobble from Justin Pocca, Big Wheel team rider, I had a grip on third for the middle sector of the race, leaving Justin to fight off some locals. But in the latter, one guy picked me up and dropped me, while Justin was quickly reversing his deficit to me. With one to go I kept the gas on just enought to keep Justin at bay and preserve my fourth overall and second in the Masters (first American and 29er - right Justin ;P). This was a fun course, no difficult and more like a cyclocross including two run-ups per lap...hopefully Rapha will send my cross bike soon so i can break here in.

Sandi took over on riding duties on Sunday, piloting her way into the mtb marathon scene over here by doing the Oberammergau Mountainbike Marathon. There is a complete seris on along the Alps that inlcudes an early season stop in Grand Canaria for all of the ueber-athletes. Riding the middle distance, there was still over 50km and 1600hm on the menu for here and some fast chicas. Sandi rode quickly to the front at the start opening what would be over a 5 min lead by mid-way. But she would be denied after fading in the latter half, barely getting nipped out for the overall buy a mere two minutes, and would have to settle for second. Still estactic as she should be, she was stoked to be racing and was all smiles afterwards. That was until the totally f-ed up the results leaving us to protest and straighten out the results. which they did fix but here is the kicker, we had to go to the start finish to get things sorted, and then walk 5 min back to the awards and when we got back, they had already done hers. Then the organizers tried to give her a cheap jacket as the prize when in reality she had won money! Fortunately we got that fixed as well.

We were both stoked to be racing once again and are looking forward to more, up next for me is the Oberstdorf Marathon on the 26th and then Sandi is competing in our own Crossduathlon (www.crossracer.eu) on the 04, Oktober.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

EuroBike

Eurobike Award
some sick custom IF Dugasts
slick cable hanger from Berner Bikes, it is suppose to stop fork chatter from braking
Joe's 'Tune'ed out Ti Deluxe



Another year, another EuroBike, well almost... This EB for us was awesome. Thanks to economic stimulus from EDGE and IF we ended up in a sweet booth in one of the first halls at the show, the only downer was we were not in the official guide. The booth features two freshly minted Corvid's courtesy of Kevin at IF and Kevin from EDGE. My newly dressed SSX and Joe's Ti Deluxe (which was the real draw adorned in Tune bits - German's like that sort of thing...) rounded out our custom bike palette. The icing on the cake was my, I mean er, Michael's SSR out front at the main entrance as part of the EuroBike Award display having taken home the award for "Best Frame".

Too much happened during the show to comb through it all here, but our booth had all of the major media roll though, bikes went all sorts of directions following the show for photo shoots and articles and there are a few more on the horizon. Beside EDGE and IF, we had Rapha in out booth, not too mention some sweet Fixed shirts complete with IF embroidery. Many players rolled through for meetings and visits, FOX, Rapha, Roleur, Dugast and so on... We also had the pleasure of dining with Rob V from Seven and Bob Parlee and many more industry insiders.

The Leipzig crew was once again in full force, Gerolf and Co. kept us company on serveral occasions and we had the chance to make some plans for 2010. While I did not get to see much of the show myself with meetings all of the time I did get to see a few goodies along the way.

We are still playing catch up from the show, but we can say it was a success on all fronts. Just a little more follow up and we will be ready for some cross racing! MTB race this weekend in Garmisch for me and a marathon for Sandi in Oberammergau on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

EB Preview

Eurobike for us is the biggest show in Europe, a great opportunity make contact with dealers and consumers while gaining all important media coverage. One has to have a nice stand that is a bit creative and stylish to stand out. I don't even want to begin to calculate what the big guys spend on their booths - you could probably wipe out some small third world countries debt...

IF is teaming up with EDGE (which if you know our history there is a bit of irony there) and I am bringing not just the bikes but the 'display furniture' for our stand. Luckily for us we have an awesome friend who is a master woodworker who had built us a stand already for EHBE. Some additions and tweaks, and we will have a sharp stand for EuroBike.

First off on Tuesday is DemoDay, we are teaming up with Connex, makers of some of the finest chains in the industry, where people will have chance to throw a leg over one of our two 29ers or 2 26ers on hand. All bikes are outfitted with EDGE wheels and top kits from FOX, Shimano, SRAM, Thomson, Chris King among other shiny bits. We are building our demo fleet up so that people can try it before they buy it. I was even thinking of providing demo bikes for races next season...

Handcrafted beverages for your enjoyment (if you are so lucky...)

You have to be creative to stand out, and it doesn't always have to cost you a fortune to do that, sometimes sweat equity is enough. If you read this blog on a semi-regular basis (it's not that I post regularly...)than you know I like to make my own schnapps (brandy). Last year we made a small batch of apple and our favorite graphic artist Marco P who designed our new logos made us some sweet brown-paper bag looking labels for the schnapps. We will give these out to soem customers, dealers, media and industry types. Did I tell you how good it is, amazing! The good news is that Sandi & I have already gathered Maribellen (they are like a cherry but more yellowish), and will be doing Plum and another batch of apple as well this year - yummy! I figure the schnapps will be a great gift and someone in the media will pick up on it.

nicht nur "white sex", aber IF-sexiness dazu.

Stunning bikes is another sure fire way to get noticed, which is not too difficult with a brand like IF. Toss some EDGE parts on there and you have show stoppers. But sometimes you have to go extra measures, thus I give you ltd edition ifbikes.de Dugast tires. These white babies would make even Greg lust to be on one of our ferrous beauties. These will be glued up on my SSX just back from the painters and will go on a Rapha shoot in Sweden following the show (now if only the owner could go with...)

Green with envy

hard to tell in these photos, but the IF crown logo on the seattube is out new suds crown logo, we will do lots of pics at the show. If that all were not enough to garner us the spotlight, then walking up on stage to accept the 2009 EuroBike Gold Award for Best Frame surely ought to do the trick. Joe and I will accept the award in the evening on the 2nd for our incredible SSR we did for Wiesmann that is in the current issue of RennRad.

It's Hammer Time!

Not that this has anything to do with EuroBike (wouldn't it be sweet to see LA cruising the halls of the show in these pants!), but it is good stuff none the less. I could opt for your standard "Does MC Hammer know you were in his closet?" joke, but I mean come on! Seriously?!? What fashion malfunction occured to make LA adorn a podium in these? Maybe he forgot his pants and these are his girlfriends maternity clothes...

See you at the show!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

WonderBra & Tubes

In preparation for EuroBike, we have been selecting which bikes to have in the EDGE/ IF Bikes stand. There were two obvious bikes that would make it into the show, the new Corvid and the Rapha Continental SSR. Joe's sick sub 9kg Ti Deluxe seemed like another great candidate, so it came down to a toss up between a cyclocross bike and a 29er. Being that the media has finally picked up on the 29er thing, and the EU manufactures as well (I have had a few ask me about sales, performance and geometry), I figured everyone would have one intheir stand this year. Rather than just showing them, we are taking a few to the outdoor demo day on Tuesday (Jeff and Chris D are bringing a couple of Cielo 29er with - curious to see those).

So I decided to refurb my 2 year old SSX for the show. Many riany rides, mud and trails left the once brilliant brushed finish a little dull, so armed with buffing pads from IF I went to work. It did not take long to bring back the luster of the fine brushed finish and in about an hour, the frame looked like new. Another reason I love this material. The ride quality is in my opinion better than any other material out there, it is stiff yet smooth on the trails. Scratch, dent and corrision resistant, I do not understand why you would want anything else, really. Then the fact with a just a little love, your bike can look like new again.

OK, off the soapbox. The bike is heading out for a paint job featuring our new logos to match our soon to be released website and promo materials (not too mention the custom made Dugasts with our logo on them). Can't wait. Besides we are trying to relight the fire of cyclocross here in Germany. You would figure a land that has won World Titles would have more of a scene, but it seems the Germans have a short attention span (think Schummi or Ullrich). If they are not winning (but they are with Hanka), then they are not interested it seems. Fortunately this stereo type does not hold water with small sub-cultures like that in Leipzig, Dresden and other communities where we would like to tap into that passion and build a cross scene.

I also built up Marco's SSX, since his wheels were absent, mine dutifully stepped in and looked good in the process. His bike built up super nice, and the HandleBra is the nicest bar tape I have used. Its musty, rustic smell reminded me of my old local shop back in Iowa, the Cyclery which was in a basement and full of old leather helmets, shoes, saddles and so on. The tape wrapped effortlessly with superb results. It felt great in the hand and looks stunning. We are also carrying this product in our line going forward and look forward to putting this on some more bikes.

Time to build some demo bikes and go for a Sunday ride.







Great looking and feeling HandleBra leather bar tape

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Great Clip

Passing through various wormholes across the net, I came across a great piece of cinematography. this is how cycling videos should be. the shots, camera work, editing and soundtrack add up to something that captures the essence of bike racing. watching this got my pulse going and the stoked the fire to get out there and rub elbows with others. this could be a clip of anyrace, although it is the hallowed grounds of Houffalize, the 'classics' course for mountainbikers. I had the pleasure of racing there back in 2001 on a very rainy, slick course, and it is all it is cracked up to be and more. This is one I would love to make it back to again, maybe next year...

enjoy.

Houffalize World Cup 2009 from Mountain Bike Rider on Vimeo.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dream On...


Pre-EuroBike work and hype have my full attention these days. RennRad Magzin is featuring my SSR in their September issue (on the news stand August 14th), it will be in their Dream Bike article with a full four page spread. It is on its way to the EuroBike Awards to be judged with other bikes. We entered in the Roadbike category, it will be interesting to see what comes out...

Here are some pics:




Friday, July 03, 2009

Heimmat

from on top of the Breitenberg (yes there is some singletrack up there...)
We are finally getting into the groove in sued-bayern, our new heimmat. The riding has been sporadic with running a business, a 21 month old, and what ever else life has to throw at you, but luckily I squeeze some in here and there. Prior to our first riding clinic down here, I was given the kitchen pass to recon some rides for our guests. We have decided to focus on the Pfronten area for our clinics and hopefully will be able to build a parcours there soon, and help build/ expand singletrack options there as well. There are some singletraks, but mostly they are for hikers, even though bikers get on them too, but there is a definite need for more and even separate trails for bikers, not only to mitigate conflicts, but Pfronten markets itself as a mountain bike area.


my twenty9er on some rare Pfronten singletrack - yes I am a convert now - anyone want to by my brand new Ti Deluxe single speed frame?

My brother in law is in town, so I took him around the Forggensee today and up to the front door of the Neuschawnstein Castle. The climb up to the castle you are on a grade of around 12% and with all of the tourists, it gave you the feeling of riding through the crowds of a major stage race in the mountains... Except I don't think some of the tourists thought it was as cool as we did. We were on the cross bike and had a good mix of road, gravel road and trail, it had just rained so it was just a little on the sloppy side.

freshly soiled and full of sweat, the aftermath of my cross ride today

Tomorrow Jochen and I are hitting the Breitenberg, should be good times...

fresh off the jig in sommverville - another soon to be very satisfied ifbikes.de customer bike waiting to be built

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Käse-Deutsch

You know how when you hear your voice recorded, you sound different than you think you do? Well, here is one of me, not only do sound different, but pretty darn funny. If you can understand German than you can hear me just slaughter the language. Nails screeching across a chalkboard sound more appealing! If you can't understand German, still watch, it is a good laugh. The only positive I can say is atleast the laid over some music to partially drown our my Käse-Deutsch...

Bike Sport News Interview

Monday, June 15, 2009

1/2 way point in the year

I am a little numb... the past three months have been a flurry of activities and a blur of events (some if not all great ones), a quick trip to the US (as seen in digital imagery in my last post), our first fahrtechnik training in Pfronten/ Alps, and this past weekend our rival of a classic XC race in the small corner of Hochspeyer.

Our trip to the US was sparked by a request to help out a budding local roaster in Telluride, Tomboy Coffee Roasters. RC was one of the original roasters for the fabled brand Stumptown, and he continues to turn out some of the best beans I have had. We also spent some time visiting our good friends Mike and Soph (who graciously turned me on to Eastbound and Down, thanks to record on demand I caught all six episodes in three sidesplitting sittings). Mike also had a dinner one evening for a local magazine who will be featuring his home in Rico and a little on his catering business. It was an evening of good food, lots of laughs and a variety of spirits. Gunni was also on our itinerary this time around, we stayed with Dan and Cathy while trying to catch up with others and I was cut off premature in a mtb ride when some black clouds unleashed a spectacular showing of lightening follow by a downpour. Some fresh coffee the next morning at Mochas and getting zinged by Jerry (a local lifestyler that happens to be married to the proprietor), and we were off to Denver to have a short visit with my parents before flying back to the fatherland.

Back in Germany, I spent the following week reconning trails and a parcours for our riding technique class. We found a sweet hotel to work with down in Pfronten and I found some good singletrails, but still have a lot more riding to do before I can honestly say i know my way around. It is a tough job but someone has to do it...

This past weekend we organized our first mountainbike race. My cyclocross influence came through as we put together a power course with some sharp climbs, techy descents and fast fire roads. We spent a week pushing in some new singletrack , and what I think is a course with good fluidity and pace. Riders raved about the course, some not so much...but the feedback was 90% positive on the course. We have some dialing to do on the organization side, but all in all it was a great event that left all involved stoked on the sport. I even met an old racing buddy, Wolfgang who was still riding his Yo Eddy, still speced out exactly the way it was when I last saw it, not too mention it was super clean and pretty.

Today it is back to Fuessen and life on the land in Bayern...

Martin Schmidt = Sieger des Elite Rennens
Wolfgang charging his YoEddy down the fresh singletrack
Our brutal short steep climb on the backside of the course