2016 Tarmac Pro Ui2 Disc

Fast and quick.  These two words best describe the characteristics of the bikes that I just test rode.  Turin bicycles, here in Denver, offered me the opportunity to ride a 2016 Tarmac Pro Ui2 disc and I jumped at it.  I’ve been riding a Venge for the past 2 1/2 years and wanted to see what the other flagship bike from Specialized had to offer.

The weather here in Denver has been hit and miss lately.  26F with snow everywhere to 65F and cloudy with wind.  The day I took out the Tarmac it was the latter.  My training plan called for 4hrs of zone 2.  Perfect, I’ll take this beauty up into the mountains.  From my house, it takes around 35 minutes of riding west until the real climbing starts.  One of my favorite canyons are here averages about a 2% grade for 10 miles.  It’s a climb that is suited to my style. testride

I tried to restrain myself from going too hard because what I had planned for myself was going to require most of the energy I had. The bike felt very planted underneath me.  If I stood up and put some power to the pedals, it responded immediately.  I ride a 58cm frame and currently weigh in at 190lbs.  As I like to say, I’m not a climber.  Duh.tarmac

I guess I picked a good route for this bike.  From my door, I essentially climbed for 34 miles and gained 4,500′ with the steepest bits towards the end.  The bike did everything that everyone says that it does on the climbs.  Where I was surprised was on the descent.witter

I really metered my efforts on the last few miles of the climbing.  The downhill that awaited me was one of my favorites.  6.5 miles of twisty mountain roads with gravel in the corners but almost no traffic.  I tend to cheat a bit when I descend.  I use the maps on my Garmin 1000 so I can see what’s coming at me.

I took the first few moments to get my legs use to a different pedaling style than I had just been doing for the past 3 hours.  Ok, legs are feeling good, let’s ride some tempo.  The disc brakes allowed me to brake a bit later going into the sharp corners and with less effort.  The lever pull initiated in a different spot than it does on my other bikes but that was easy to get use to.  I’ve also gotten in the habit of shifting into an easier gear before the corner and allowing myself to get my feet up to speed sooner.  The Tarmac really accelerated out of the corners quickly, it felt much different than my Venge.  I ended up setting a PR by 14 sec on that section of road and I didn’t really feel like I was going that hard.

The rest of the way home I just rode a moderate pace.  There are some nice long sections of downhill where it’s easier to do a “super tuck” than it is to pedal.  This is a position that I use all the time and am very comfortable when in it.  I’m happy to report that there is more room to fit your body comfortably on this bike than there is on my current Venge.

Bottom line: I liked the bike a lot, however I would not buy the disc version.  I just have too many other wheelsets that are not disc.  If I was just getting into the sport, I would probably feel differently.  Disc brakes are a good thing, and I’m sure they’re here to stay.  I would love to have them in wet conditions where I’ve had some scary rides on carbon rim brakes.  This bike proved to be quick to get up to speed and could hold it’s own when the road turned down.in the snow

How’s your Aspen?

It’s only a 3 hour drive from Denver to Aspen, but I don’t seem to make it more than once or twice a year.  Over the past few years and through the magic of Instagram, I’ve met a handful of good people that live there.  Having lived in the mountains myself for 4 years, I know how many friends say they will come up to visit, but somehow or way it doesn’t happen.  I’d been talking with my friends Erik and Iain about getting up there and doing some riding, so I pulled the trigger.

My Sprinter van had been in the shop and took a bit longer to get back than I had thought it would.  This pushed me back a couple of hours but it was no big deal.  I was in no rush and figured I’d take advantage of the delay and catch the sunset on my way up.

Leaving Denver, I got caught in a bit of rain as I approached I-70 west.  Five minutes later, sunshine.  I love you Colorado!  An hour later, the sun was beginning to set and I was nearly to the top of Fremont Pass.  The light was just right and I had to pull the van over to capture the moment.

alpine glow


I must have stayed in this spot for 45 minutes and then this happened…

purple haze

Cycling and photography have both taught me patience.  You can’t take short cuts in training and sometimes you have to stick around for a few extra minutes to get the shot.  I try to roll with the punches the best I can.

The sun and light were gone so I pressed on towards Independence Pass.  It was going on 11pm as I approached the top of the pass.  There is a big parking lot up there and I thought it would be a great place to be greeted by the sun in the morning.  5:30am, like clockwork, I woke up and rolled out of van.  Once again, the light was perfect.  It wasn’t hard to get moving.  The temperature was in the low 40’s and I had been dealing with the upper 80’s for days in a row.  It felt great!  I got some coffee going and starting looking for something to shoot.  Surrounded by 360 degrees of awesomeness, it was a bit tough to focus.  No pun intended.

on the bubble

7am and I’m supposed to be at Erik’s and ready to ride by 8 I’d better get moving!The Sprinter van does a lot of things well, but cornering is not one of them.  I took the safe approach and showed up a few minutes late.  Thank God for mountain time!  Most people that know me, know to give me a few minutes.  I generally make up for it during the ride.

Erik and I rolled out of Snowmass and began the grueling 20 mile descent to Basalt.  Along the way, we picked up Neil, a friend to Erik and Iain.  Neil had just picked cycling and had already competed in a couple of road races.  New riders are always fun to ride with.  I like their enthusiasm and if they’re willing to learn, I’ll teach them everything I know.

We rolled into Basalt and that’s where I met Iain from Aspen cycling tours for the first time.  Super nice guy, but I already knew that.  At the bottom of the canyon, we encountered a brief road closure and 4 became 5 as another rider that was already waiting, joined us.  We got on to riding along the Frying Pan river, climbing steadily up to the Ruedi Reservoir.  I played around a bit with Neil and our new friend, entertaining them with my best Froome impression.  I few super high cadence moments and my legs began to feel it.  Those two pressed on while I sat up and waited for Iain and Erik.


The three of us kept climbing until we reached the top where we found Neil waiting for us.  Our fifth had been pushing on and Neil felt obliged to keep pace.  Anytime you’re doing a 6+ hour ride in the mountains, pacing is everything.  It can be really tempting to attack climbs early in the ride, but you’ll almost always pay for that later.  We all had chatted about that on the way to catch back on to him.  So on we went, paralleling the frying pan as it snaked it’s way towards Hagerman Pass.  This was the greenest I’d ever seen Colorado!  We’ve had a ton of moisture this spring and the hills were really showing off.

dark aspen copy



This is roughly were we topped out. 9,454′ and 52.4 miles from where we left early that morning.  All we had to do now was turn around ride back to Erik’s house.  The temps had been rising but I hadn’t really noticed that too much.  Trying to keep up with Iain took up most of my thoughts.

Iain copy

two aspen copy

Even though the profile showed that we would be heading downhill, the boys assured me we’d almost certainly be facing a headwind.  I was up to the task.  We all started off together, but almost immediately Neil got separated and had fallen off the pace.  Whew!  That’s going to be tough by yourself.  I guess you’ve got to learn sometime that you’ve got to hold a wheel, even on a downhill.  Luckily for him, I was about out of water and when I saw the fire station had a hose bib, I pulled over to re up on H20.  A few minutes later, Neil rolled up.  “Never lose the group on a descent”, he said.  Lesson learned.

No more pics at this point as we all rolled in a paceline back towards Basalt.  4 became 3 as we dropped of Iain and began the 20 mile, hot climb back to Snowmass.  It was so hot, but Erik had the promise of cold beer and snacks once we arrived back at his place.  This was the only motivation I needed.  I’m a snack guy.

6:20:43, 105miles, and 8,303′ climbed.  What a great ride!  Always fun to ride with friends you don’t see very often and make new friends along the way.  I couldn’t wait to see what day two had in store for us, well, maybe after a shower, a couple beers, and some serious snacking.  Big thanks to Amy, Erik’s wife, for taking care of us with what may have been the coldest beers and tastiest veggie tray ever!