A (Tarmac S-Works SL3) gets diverted

20 09 2010

Andy Schleck hurries toward Avoriaz - Specialized v Specialized

The massive ballroom was relatively empty as the conference centre staff reset for the lunch buffet. On large movie screens is stage 8 of le Tour de France streaming live and Lyno and I have snuck in during our demo of Specialized 2011 road range. As he said, “what would a road ride be without a coffee stop?”. Low and behold we had company, very exclusive company. Mike Sinyard and his team are glued to their seats. We’re talking the guys who designed the very bikes that current star’s Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador are racing on and the characters that get their autographs. As the decimated peloton headed under the red kite Schleck fired an acceleration that only Sammy Sanchez could follow and the atmosphere in the ballroom turns electric. On the finish Schleck’s Specialized Tarmac has a last final surge to take victory and the noise in the ballroom almost lifts the ceiling. “Hey Lyno how about we go ride one of them, they look alright eh?”…

Tarmac S-Works SL3 now in Outside Sports Team colours...

To help set the scene here, we had already spent an hour that morning rolling on the new SL3 Roubaix, and I’d already declared that I needed a new bike (see testing above); to replace another bike I also love. So our ride was to be an easy cruise. We heard that a few ‘miles’ down the highway out of the Keystone village was a scenic, gentle rolling road that sided a beautiful Colorado Rockies lake. Sounded like the perfect destination, so once sized up and bike underneath a-rolling we went. Meter’s later I was on a racing bike. I mean earlier I was on a racing bike – the same as the one that in the previous three April’s have one the Queen of the Classics. But now I was on a racing bike, like one that just won a mountain stage of the Tour! Across the gravel car park, everything was felt – as one. This machine moves together like nothing else I’d ever thrown a leg over; back wheel rolls over a rock you feel it at the handlebars, front wheel rolls over a crack it gets translated through the pedals; you know what this bike is doing underneath you, at all times – and I was still only doing 10k/hr…

"Looks great, you go first"

OK lets hit the road, oh yeah that’s better. Americans do build a good road. Damn this bike is stiff. Hey look a pedestrian crossing. Man this is lightning fast. I’m not a big boy so my sprint is never going to rip a bottom bracket free, but then neither could Cancellara when he twisted the throttle up the Muur or when Vinokourov flattened Roche aux Faucons. This bike has ridiculous credentials and it’s easy to see why. Accelerating on it gives you the same ‘oh my god’ reactions of joy you get when your right foot hits the floor in a Porsche 911. I swear my arms were sore from holding on as the g-forces wanted to pitch me off the back. Then after (momentarily) satisfying my new addiction we wandered the streets searching for the lakeside trail, but alas we found better, and none of you will be able to guess what happened next…

Ever heard the term “Cycling is the new Golf”. I have, it’s funny, really. But the fact is Golf is the new Cycling, you with me? Lyno was…

OK, so here’s where I add the disclaimer that we were lost. We had come to a dead-end. You know, the kind where you turn around and re-set your Garmin. However this colder-sac had a secret door to an escape route, and I suggested that we do the back 9. Don’t worry if you don’t get it; neither did Lyno. You see, (good) Golf Courses in the U.S of A have smooth bitumen cart paths that link up the entire course. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to fulfil a recent dream. So off to the 10th!

Anyone seen the highway?

Like a scene of manufactured splendor, this elevated Par 3 was our starting point. immediately into a twisty technical single track for roadies, joining onto the 11th tee and on and on. Flowing corners, sharp power climbs, open chicanes brushing close with flowering gardens, winding through manicured forest, this yellow brick road had it all. I swear probably the most entertaining ‘road’ I’ve ever, well, ever. Of course there was the bike still beneath me; oh yeah, that light weight human-powered rocket. While it’s only fault was that smashing the big dog full gas was such thrill I was getting smashed in the process, don’t apply if you like your easy spin – this bike will trick you into just one more sprint. Cornering (trust me we tested the cornering on the Keystone GC) was as solid and sure planted as they come; point and shoot.

Who wouda thunk it?

Suddenly we were coming up on the 17th green, one final climb up to the 18th and we were outta there. Talk about saving the best for last. Getting to the final hole was a 15%(+), 8 switchback climb, Lyno was loving it. One last hole. I teed off first and the shot landed right on a yard marker painted onto the path. 150 – that means sprint right? So off I go, head down flat-out for the line (where ever that was). A quick glance up and I see an electric Golf Cart coming straight for me – ah crap… I lock up the Dura-Ace stoppers, bike sliding side ways and just before impact I let go of the brakes, regain traction and steer around the mammoth in my way (they were in the wrong), arm glancing the windscreen… Oooh that got heart beating. Lyno caught up (still laughing) imagining the story I’d have to come up with if I took this S-Works back to the Demo tent in 2…

I can't show you his face, and his name has been changed to protect his family

On return it was hard to hide our giddy good times. While some had stories of climbing the epic highway pass up to 12,000″ in the other direction, we had just done our test in a mini Ardennes, landscaped to the max. I’ve still got a Roubaix on order, but that’s because I’m now mostly winning vet’s trophies (that’s right 35 baby!). If I still had the absolute desire to be on the fastest road bike in the world, it’d be pretty hard to argue against this golf cart beating weapon of the star’s.

Putting the Tarmc through it's paces - at least the bike coped fine...

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