Cycling, in the grand scheme, is still very much so in the scientific dark ages, even with the advent of powermeters and wind tunnels. It was only 20-odd years ago that we all listened to the crazy Polish guy advocating eating horse meat, because horses are fast. Method and research follows money, something our sport has always been chronically short of. It's why brands who make the effort to try something different and oblique, like our own Q36.5, often end up smashingly successful; wheedling out methodology/engineering/materials from other more lucrative industries. Or, as in the case of Cannondale, completely bankrupt.
It's also why teams fat with cash, clean or not, are able to push the envelope of cycling performance through "marginal gains" and innovative thinking. In short, there's not a lot of competition when you start getting outside the box. Where am I going with this? We've been doing some thinking, some tinkering, and feel good (or be scared) that next week will be highly amusing if you're into The Biggest Loser, all-bacon diets, novel/medically questionable training methodology at a "pro" level, and human guinea pigs all rolled into one.
Is premium alloy resurgent - "again"? I've had two separate, credible industry friends reach out in the past two weeks echoing the sentiment, the gospel of what Cannondale has dubbed "The Aluminati". Let's speak rationally. Frankly, even. Aluminum is still one of the worst material choices for building most frames when cost is not an overt object, with some credit to my qualifier. Those lucky few who've ridden the Pegoretti Love #3 make overt performance claims only Peg devotees are liable to do, and I'm inclined to believe them. But, between the small mountain of alloy race bikes I've owned (I've never truly loved an alloy bike in my stable, even when I've drilled holes in it to run Record EPS), a resurgence of new brands/new models exploding onto the scene, and my own experience with the material's shortcomings (bone-jarringly stiff, pathetically mushy, or miserably overweight - pick two), I'm less than enthused. Before the naysayers emerge from the woodwork, let me say that yes - the framebuilder can tune the bike however they want it to ride, but when we can build a 15lb TrueTemper S3 steel race bike without extraneous effort, alloy in 2015 seems an endeavor akin to turning a Jeep Cherokee into a racecar. But, I really like being proven wrong.
And a portend of things to come.
In happy team transfer news, Phil Gaimon, domestic racing's Miss Congeniality and hero to late-blooming bike racers like yours truly, is reunited with the ProTour and Garmindale after a season plumbing the stateside National Racing Calendar's depths. I just hope he kept all of the Castelli shit he garnered over 2014 before shunting off to the D3 ranks in 2015. But speaking honestly, Phil is one of the coolest, most well-spoken bike racers you'll meet, and his depth as a person is high dive-safe when much of the pro peloton is barely qualifying as a kiddie pool. After his stage one victory at the early-season Tour of San Luis in 2014 with Garmin-Cannondale, nearly every domestic racer and friend of the grassroots sport in the country yelped with joy. My favorite Phil quote? "No one gives a fuck if you win Redlands." The unfortunate reality is that unless a young racer is shepherded through the precious few ranks of junior and U23 development teams (pipelines that require a great deal of opportunity and resources to even have access to as a youth), there is no real path from the Continental level to the "stable paycheck" world of international Pro Tour and Pro Continental racing, even if hugely successful. For every Phil, there's 15 deserving guys who aren't making it. To compare domestic racing to the minor leagues would suggest there's some structure to move up the ranks, but a more apt comparison would be basketball's NCAA and NIT tournaments.