Words by James Startt.
As a professional cycling photographer, I spend a lot of time on the road, travelling, not riding. So for much of my year, I simply do maintenance miles to remind my cycling muscles that they are still alive and will be called upon again. But twice a year, often in May/June and then just after the Tour de France, I try to reserve a block of time – at least four weeks – where I can ride for real, and in those moments, I do 300-400-kilometre weeks consistently.
I’ve found that I need to have those blocs each year, these islands of time, when I can “faire le metier”, as we say in France, to live and train like a cyclist. I get my strength back, my weight down, and for a while, I feel like a cyclist. And I ride like a real cyclist. I require my bike to respond and react like the racing cyclist I once was. I push every descent. I attack climbs and try to hold a big gear on the flats. And to this day, I still maintain a 28kph average speed over a three-hour ride, just like when I was training as a racer.
Those windows each year are small but incredibly important. So naturally, my bike is just as important. The sensations you derive when you are at one with your bike are golden. Having a bike that moves with you and propels you out of each corner is quintessential to the cycling experience, much more important than a couple of grams here or there. And for this, a top-quality steel bike like my Pegoretti Responsorium is unbeatable!
About the Build
I wanted a good lightweight group at a reasonable price point, and SRAM has managed to offer high-performing group sets at a reasonable price for years. Although I must admit that this is my first disc brake group set, I think I will have no problem liking it.
Wheels are central to the performance of any bike, and Roval has earned a reputation for building some of the fastest wheels in the peloton. While I am no climber, the Alpinist are lightweight and handle well in the crosswinds; both are advantageous in any situation.
For as long as I have been riding modern bicycles, I have been riding Ritchey components. Tom Ritchey is a genius bike builder who cuts to the heart of the bike, understanding each component’s intrinsic quality and function. He never disappoints!
I am fortunate to have a great local bike shop in Paris, Alesia Cycles, a great neighbourhood shop where there is soul in cycling. I wouldn’t trust my bike with anyone else.