Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wouter Weylandt Special Forever!

So ive been meaning to put together a blog post of my latest experiences of life here in Flanders. This season has certainly had its ups and downs, but all this seems rather irrelevant after the events of this week. Cycling indeed has its fair share of tragedies and the death of Wouter Weylandt in stage 3 of the Giro this year is another one added to that list. My first memory of Wouter Weylandt was when I watched a pro criterium in Sint Niklaas back in 2008 and since that night have always been a fan of one of the most popular Belgian riders around. It is so sad that his life would end at such a young age and in such tragic circumstances. Indeed cycling can be a dangerous sport, but you never expect something like this to happen. Just days on it is difficult to think about. My thoughts are certainly with Wouter, his family and friends at this terrible time. Wouter Weylandt will certainly not be forgotten, especially on my rides along the Schelde....a route that Weylandt used, and racing will be in his memory. RIP Wouter Weylandt x
My season has continued on its stop-start path, summed up most notably by a kermesse in Kruishoutem. Having not long been back from injury I was my normal aggressive self from the off and happened to escape inside the first couple of kms. Though the front group was to swell to around 18 riders, this was to be the move that would stay out. Despite my lack of racing, I was very much switched on during the race and was riding strong to cover any threatening moves. Of course I took my own chances to force a further split and with a little under 20km to go I was successful. Going through 2 laps to go I had broken clear and was soon to be joined by 4 other riders...one of them being kermesse king Mario Willems. I was happy to see Mario, in the knowledge that I knew he wouldnt then be chasing us. The five of us were away and so it was to prove decisive. However going into the final corner for the bell lap I was to meet the road....the result of a tubular rolling off the rim at 50km/hr....race over and skin left in Kruishoutem! A race where I had been so strong (and rode so smart), when maybe I shouldnt have been able to so soon, was over for me and to rub salt into the wound (literally) I had to watch the four of them sprint it out for the win without me. My chance for a big result so early on the comeback trail had gone, but if anything this race again reminded me of why I love racing in this country so much....excitement from start to finish....and I was a big part of that.

Though I was to race the following day and find myself in another race long break, eventually ending up 5th with my share of primies, the wound to my hip (and rear!) following this crash in Kruishoutem proved worse than first thought and became infected, resulting in some more days off the bike to ensure that it healed quickly. A pain that seemed to be getting worse and more irritated day by day and training session after training session. So more rest was prescribed, which meant another comeback would be on the cards. A comeback that saw me finish up 11th in Brugge-Dudzele. So given another 'topsy turby' month a 5th, 11th, 14th plus a 'what might have been' in Kruishoutem along with half a dozen primies, wasnt a too bad showing. Certainly if I get the run of the green, I will be expecting to turn some of these strong performances into race wins very soon. With many big races coming up this month, it will certainly be the right time for that to happen. And ofcourse along the way Wouter Weylandt will be firmly in my thoughts! Until next time....



Sunday, May 1, 2011

Onix Aurious....so far!

I have had the added bonus this year of having two bikes. But instead of going for two Azzuro's the plan was to have one of them as the maybe less known Aurious frameset. This makes perfect sense, as now I am able to test and give feedback on the two main models in the Onix Bikes range.

Targeted more towards the 'sportive rider' the Aurious is slightly more relaxed with a geometry designed slightly more for comfort rather than the out and out racer....well this is how it is billed anyway. Again I looked to the geometries and the important thing was getting it matched to that of the Azzuro as closely as possible. For me this meant simply dropping down a size to a 52 in order to replicate the position of the Azzuro. The main reason for this drop down was to achieve the lower front end, because as you would expect with a frameset aimed at the sportive market, the headtubes come up slightly longer. However going down to a 52 really wasnt a problem. It has allowed me to achieve the same aggressive low front end position and with a 10mm longer stem (140mm deda stem) the length of the 54 Azzuro has been transfered to the 52 Aurious.
So once the same position was achieved it was time to test out this Aurious. Now when I first ride a new bike normally I end up having to make little alterations over the first few rides until its where it needs to be...not with the Aurious! From the moment I jumped on the bike it just felt pretty much right. The Aurious has everything you need from a bike whatever your main purpose for it is. Obviously some racers get put off by a bike that is aimed at the 'sportive' market, thinking the performance will not be as good. Well this is not the case with the Aurious. I chose the option of going with the smaller frameset which gave me the same aggressive racing position that I was looking for, taking away its 'sportive' set up in my case.
So what are you getting from the Aurious!? Well my initial thoughts are a well balanced bike of performance, comfort, stiffness and responsiveness. I have been very impressed with how the bike handles....and with all the cornering involved in Belgium, I am very happy about this. Another characteristic that may go unnoticed is the fact that the Aurious is actually the lightest of the Onix range....im sure this is certainly something that a lot of people look to when purchasing a bike. I have already put this bike over some of the most famous bergs and pave sections seen in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and have found it more than adequate for these demands.

The components yet again deliver the expected performance. From the light and classy looking Onix UL1 seat post and BC1 bottle cages through to my trusty Mavic Cosmic Carbone Wheelset equiped with a Cycleops Powertap SL 2.4+ hub, which provides me with all the key data I will need from my riding. The contact points are made up of the ever reliable Fizik Arione, Speedplay Zeros and Deda components at the front end. The groupset again is Campagnolo Centaur, which has been working smoothly from the off. A final addition you will notice are the Rotor Aero Q rings. Something I was eager to try out this year...again living up to there reputation as expected, especially at the higher cadences I am now pedaling at.
What else can I say about the Aurious!? Perhaps this is the dark horse of the Onix range. If you get the sizing right for you and your position then I am sure you will be equally pleased with the performance of the Onix Aurious....and again at a great price! Like all of the Onix range you can customize your own bike build on www.onixbikes.co.uk. Below is the spec of my Onix Aurious. More updates to come as the season progresses!
Frameset: Onix Aurious (52)
Groupset: Campagnolo Centaur 10
Shimano Ult Cranks equipped with Rotor Aero Q Rings (53/39)
Pedals: Speedplay Zero
Saddle: Fizik Arione
Seat Post: Onix UL1 Ultralight Carbon
Bottle Cages: Onix BC1 Carbon
Bars: Deda Newton Shallow
Stem: Deda Zero 100 (140mm)
Computer: Cycleops Cervo 2.4
Wheelset: Mavic Cosmic Carbones equipped with Cycleops Powertap SL 2.4+ Hub