Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012: The Year When the World Didn't End

A little more than a year ago, I took over this blog.  Admittedly, I didn’t really fully understand what I was getting myself into.  I had no idea what it was like to create content on a regular basis, even if it is only once a week.  Once a week can be trying when you are also wrenching full time, in addition to juggling a professional freelance career in the amazingly robust world of professional tuba playing.  That being said, it was a great year and I had more fun than I anticipated writing Off the Rivet. 

The Olympic Games: One of the highlights of 2012

For 2013 I am working on trying to expand Off the Rivet even more, with additional contributions from the rest of Cadence’s expert staff, as well as a more diverse look into every aspect of the sports we love.  Before I start off down that road, though, I want to pause for a minute to review the year that was 2012—what a year it was!

One of my first posts on Off the Rivet was a look into things that I thought would be big in 2012.  So lets start by looking at how wrong I was…

It’s easy to look back at this post and say “What was I thinking with some of this stuff?!?” But in truth, I wasn’t that far off with where I was going.  Though Shimano’s electric shifting did become far more accessible with Ultegra Di2, the real story of the year was Shimano’s release of their new 9000 and 9070 groupsets—taking them into the age of 11 speed. 

Not to be outdone, Sram had a group of their own released, which was a big step forward from previous generations of Red.  Even though Sram is still without an 11-speed road group and electric shifting, their contributions in the component industry have come through the introduction of the first 1x11 MTB group, XX1, as well as the long anticipated road hydraulic disc brakes.  The later of which has the potential to completely reshape both wheel and frameset design. 

Sram's hydraulic road levers were spotted first on Tim Johnson's Cannondale cross rig.

To be honest, outside of the Olympics—which was firmly placed on the calendar well in advance—and Mountain Biking, which grew in popularity as I thought, my predictions were a bit askew from there on out. That’s okay though.  I harbor no ill will towards 2012. 

Boonen wins at Gent-Wevelgem

On the race calendar, 2012 was a doozy.  Tom Boonen had a spring for the record books—winning the overall at the Tour of Qatar and finishing 2nd at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.  That, however, was only the beginning of Tommeke’s scorching spring.  He went on to win a stage at Paris-Nice, before going on a tear of major one-day classics wins at E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders, and an epically dominating win in “The Hell of the North,” Paris-Roubaix.  He is the first rider ever to win those four cobbled classics in the same season, as well as the first rider to ever do the Flanders/Roubaix double twice in their career.  It was his third win at Flanders and his fourth at Roubaix, putting him in the most exclusive company for those races alone.  2012 may have been the year that Boonen made his case for the best classics rider of all time, and certainly of his generation. 

While the crafty Belgian dominated the spring, riders of the Commonwealth would dominate the summer stage races.  Ryder Hesjedal had a break out performance at the Giro d’Italia, making him the first Canadian to ever win a Grand Tour. 

The real star of 2012’s multi-day races though, was the now-recently knighted Sir Bradley Wiggins.  Wiggins logged what was arguably the best stage-racing season of all time winning the Tour de France, Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné—the first rider ever to win all four races in a single season, in addition to being the first British rider to with the Tour.  He capped it off by winning his 7th Olympic medal, becoming the most decorated Olympic athlete in British history—a record he shares with fellow cyclist Sir Chris Hoy. 

Unfortunately, despite all of this, 2012 will probably be known for another event, of which so much ink has already been laid to paper.  I won’t waste any space here to talk about it, other than to say that it is a complete shame, if there ever was such a thing.  In the long-term, this may be good for cycling, but currently there is a multitude of major cycling figures with a whole mess of egg on their faces without a paper towel in sight. 

Things are looking up though.  The world didn’t end after all—as so many idiotic doomsayers suggested.  So that’s good.  Maybe we should all just be happy that there is cycling at all in 2013—or anything in 2013 for that matter.  I can’t wait until some civilization in the distant future discovers a diatribe by some lunatic from today that predicts the end of the world and thinks that somehow we knew something they don’t.  Or maybe they won’t be that stupid.  One can only hope. 

So let’s raise a glass…

Here’s to 2013: May it be whatever you want it to be and more—but I’ll settle for some good times and good beers.  

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