Posted by: jcardillo | 8 September, 2009

The Big Move

Well, it’s kinda-sorta here. One thing is for sure – this will be my last post at jasoncardillo.wordpress.com.

From here forward, my random thoughts and cool things will be up at jasoncardillo.net. You can always follow me on Twitter and/or FriendFeed as well. And if you’re bomb enough, you can find me on Facebook too!

If you’re curious about my work efforts, jasoncardillo.com will be up shortly (hopefully by 15 September or sooner). In other work news, you’ll also be able to see more of my efforts at veloveneto.com very shortly.

Thanks to everyone who followed me here and I hope to see you on the other side!

Posted by: jcardillo | 24 August, 2009

Changes Are Coming

Hey all, I’m just checking in to explain my radio silence here. There are big plans in the works and changes afoot regarding my work situation. In order to accommodate those changes, some other things need to happen around here. So,
– my personal blog will move to jasoncardillo.net next weekend
– jasoncardillo.com will move to my own server and will host work-related content
– twitter @jcardillo will remain a personal account and detail my comings, goings, and thoughts that friends and family will find interesting
– twitter @jasoncardillo will launch as a work-related account with comings, goings, and thoughts related to that

Also, to those of you who laughed when my email experiment failed and I started answering the personal account again – Ha! The crackberry will lose the personal accounts and gain work-related ones. If you’re emailing me on my personal account, you’ll have to wait a day or two for a response. If you’re emailing me personal stuff on the work-related account(s!), you’ll get a severe talking-to!

Until later, that’s all. Sorry for the suspense, but that’s the way it goes.

Posted by: jcardillo | 2 August, 2009

Honest Consumer Relationships

Josh Kadis recently tweeted about Campagnolo’s new chain tool for their 11-sp gruppos. Because of the very tight tolerances involved in such a setup, only Campagnolo’s (at least for now) chain tool will do. You can acquire said chain tool for $300, or more than what I paid for the elements of my last handbuilt wheelset. However, it’s not the price I have a problem with (if you’re dropping $18b on a gruppo, what’s another $300), it’s Competitive Cyclist’s description.

For a long time, Competitive Cyclist has written incredibly detailed product descriptions including backstory, product details, usage instructions, and even some of the issues associated with said product. Whether or not this is a good use of their marketing effort, I’m not sure. At the end of the day, this is not the industry you get into to become rich and if those product descriptions don’t hurt sales while making it more fun to come into work, I say “Rock On!” Not terribly long ago, they also started blogging. The blog is interesting because it’s a no-holes barred stream of consciousness session. Not infrequently, they also provide much more insight into the economics of online retailers and their relationships with suppliers, importers, customers, etc. I find this really interesting and a great way of establishing a trusting, honest relationship with all of those parties.

The product description for the Campagnolo chain tool seems to break that previously established trust. Rather than their typical honest write-up, it seems they’ve applied their wordsmithing abilities in a limited fashion to Campy’s in-house product description and plopped it on the page. For a small bit like this, it seems to pass the ROI test, but in relation to their broader strategy (I assume it’s a strategy) of using content to build an honest relationship with their customers, it seems to fail.

IMHO, a typical description with the standard level of snark would have been more appropriate – something more like this (my edits in bold).

The 5.5mm width of the Campagnolo’s 11 speed Ultra Shift chains makes them the quietest and quickest shifting chains they’ve ever made. It’s also their toughest-ever chain design thanks to the retention force inherent to its Ultra Link technology. The benefits of the Record 11 speed chain are all byproducts of its narrowness, but this narrowness comes with one implication: The installation process requires an unprecedented degree of precision. While, like you, we find the $300 price tag a bit shocking, until the aftermarket manufacturers come up with their own options, this is a required add-on to any Campagnolo 11-sp purchase. We have no doubt in its quality, based on their long history of great tools (we’re thinking of the facing and chasing tools…), and therefore have no problem recommending this until such time as either Campagnolo comes to their senses and/or the aftermarket manufacturers build their own version.

Might it piss off Campy? Maybe. Will it burn a bridge somewhere? Perhaps. Is it worth it to continue and even expand their reputation as an honest dealer that has their customer’s best interests at heart. Definitely.

Posted by: jcardillo | 23 July, 2009

Vineyards and Mountain Passes

Heading to the Passo Rolle with a view of Cimon della Pala

Heading to the Passo Rolle with a view of Cimon della Pala

After the GF Pinarello on Sunday, Monday we headed into the beginnings of the Dolomites and the Passo Rolle. As you are headed up the Rolle, to your right you have a view of Cimon della Pala (which I incorrectly identified on Twitter as Tre Cime Lavaredo). The climb itself is not so hard, with gentle gradients all the way up and fantastic views that keep opening up of the valley below.

After a quick coffee and strudel (the pass was Austrian when the road was built), we were treated to an awesome sweeping descent where we regularly exceeded 75kph. A slog through the headwind in the valley brought us to the bottom of the climb to Croce d’Aune where Tullio Campagnolo, in 1927, froze his fingers trying to change his rear wheel and invented the quick-release skewer. After a short steep bit at the bottom, the climb is easy in the middle, then kicks through the town of Aune where the houses ARE the curb. A quick stop at the top next to the Campagnolo memorial led to another fast sweeping descent where there is a fantastic view over the city of Feltre. Naturally, a ride so nice can only be concluded with beers at the bottom.

Tuesday brought an easy ride through the vineyards nearby Castelcucco, which resembles very much riding through Napa and Sonoma valleys, though on better roads and with drivers who recognize your right to the road!

Living in this area, you can’t help but climb and our next ride was to Foza, climbing up from the River Brenta over 21 hairpins (slightly longer, but less steep than Alpe d’Huez). At the top, a quick stop for a Coke and then left up to Enego 2000 (nothing up there is anywhere near 2000m, making us wonder about the name), a small ski resort filled with grazing cattle in the summer. This alpine-like meadow looks very much like a Heidi/Sound of Music setting and is something worth the 5k climb to see. The first Sonoma county-like pavement brought us down to Enego, at which point the pavement smoothed out and we dropped down another 21 hairpins (different road) to the Brenta.

The day of the TdF’s final TT brought us a day off, which we used to go to Bassano del Grappa. We made a quick visit to Cavalera, “our” bike shop plus custom frame manufacturer, for little odds and ends and then cooled off (it was 95F+ today) with a tasty lunch in town after walking through the weekly market. A short walk across town brought us to the Ponte degli Alpini, which was originally designed by Palladio in 1569 and rebuilt to honor troops from WWI who fought above the town in the Dolomites, known as the Alpinistes. We then shot quickly across to Marostica, where every even-numbered year, a chess game is played with people as the chess pieces, a tradition dating back to 1923. With no chess on the cards for us, we were forced to sit down in the AC for gelato and espresso before returning to watch the end of Le Tour.

All in all, a nice and necessary day off. We’ll be doing a couple of rides the next few days before racing on Sunday!!!

Ciao for now, everybody!

(A quick note: I forgot to bring the cable to connect my camera to the computer, so updates to the flickr account and images in these posts will have to wait until my return to SFO in August. Sorry)

Posted by: jcardillo | 19 July, 2009

Straight Outta the Blocks

Straight outta the blocks is how I would describe both my trip as well as today’s Gran Fondo Pinarello. Doing the Gran Fondo itself within 36 hours of arriving is certainly a fast start to the trip. Like most Gran Fondos, the Pinarello starts with the chaos of about 2500 people heading out through the streets of Treviso (in addition to the 1500 that already left on the long course of 210kms). With that many people, most start well back, including me, so they absolutely DRILL IT at the start to get as far up as possible. I hooked onto a group and rode the tail at ~50kph past about 1500 people (leaving about 500 in front of us) for 25kms to the bottom of the first climb out of Susegana.

The first of the climbs was fairly uneventful and a quick descent took us down to Pieve di Soligo, which saw us racing through a narrow, single-lane cobbled street in the town center with 100s of residents out cheering us on, possibly the coolest moment of the day. The views from the tops of the climbs were stupendous, looking out over vineyard-dotted valleys and with vistas of Monte Grappa and Monte Cesen in the background. Once we settled in, the group I was with stayed pretty much the same all day, some dropping off and some catching on, mostly at the rest stops. Each of the rest stops was staffed by 10-20 people with water, Gatorade, tea and various fruits, bars, etc. to fuel you up.

If there was anything (aside the fantastic roads and scenery) to note, the organization was superb. On the way out, oncoming traffic would pull over and stop to wait for us to come by before heading back out, so we had a virtual full-road closure. The rest of the day, each traffic circle and intersection was staffed and traffic was stopped. The course was well-signed and staffed to make sure nobody got lost. On the way home, our group (about 500 riders back from the winners) had a lead moto for the last 10kms and a TV bike. That’s about as pro as I’ll ever get.

Porta San ThomasaAs we flew to the finish through Porta San Thomasa (15c) in the original Treviso city wall, I told myself I needed to come back again to better soak in the beauty that is a gran fondo.

Next up, Passo Rolle!

Posted by: jcardillo | 16 July, 2009

Off to Italy!

For those of you who haven’t been following my Twitter stream, I will be off to Italy with Velo Veneto from 16 July until 28 July. Internet access will exist, but spare time will be, well, spare. I also won’t have access to my phone, thanks to T-Mobile’s ridiculous foreign roaming policies.

I’ll try to get my Twitter on and post pics when I can. Fist up, Gran Fondo Pinarello on Sunday. 205kms through the Dolomites. Yikes!

Posted by: jcardillo | 17 June, 2009

Surprise Winner

This is the only way I will ever win a bike race again.

Surprise Winner, posted with vodpod

Posted by: jcardillo | 9 June, 2009

Brat Pack Movie Mashup Video

Soundtrack by Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’s single “Lisztomania”. Video by AvoidantConsumer. Hat-tip to Rolling Stone.

Posted by: jcardillo | 2 June, 2009

Creative Destruction

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.”
-Henry Ford

Hopefully, for the sake of his competitors, the founder of the only Big 3 company not to go into bankruptcy was right. For far too long, the leaders of GM and Chrysler have been trying to deny the reality that you can’t make cars people don’t want, on costs you can’t recoup, and expect to stay in business. Perhaps a managed bankruptcy funded by the US Government (also known as your wallet and my wallet) was not a good idea. Perhaps the best idea was a liquidation, where new companies with new ideas could acquire the necessary assets to begin again building cars that people want at prices they can afford.

Why are we hampering the Fiskers and Teslas of the world for the sake of holding on to the creaking and crotchety old GMs and Chryslers? It is precisely this type of destruction, where those who have failed provide the sustenance for the next generation of successful companies, that drove our rebound from the Tech Bubble bursting (and a half-century of remarkable growth). So why are we so intent on preventing that from happening this time?

Hopefully Mr. Ford was right, and the reformatting of GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy produce viable companies. Hopefully the sales of their unneeded assets can help Tesla and Fisker and Saturn. After all, Mr. Ford’s wisdom flows through to us in other areas than automobiles:

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.
-Henry Ford

Posted by: jcardillo | 29 May, 2009

Little Kids Are So Smart

Mad props to Julian. Apparently NASA was already considering this, but they’re going to send him a prize anyway.

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