Essay: On the Ambrosio Nemesis Replacement
(2017) With regards to the history behind this weekend’s Roubaix, it’s almost a footnote in the innovation changes that have happened in the traditional setting. It was barely noticeable in 2013 when the tide of the king of Paris-Roubaix aluminum wheels, Ambrosio Nemesis, turned to meet the ruination of its domination. The once-a-year aluminum wheels had been completely replaced by carbon fiber wheelsets. It ended a nearly nine-decade domination amongst the spring classics. It has since joined the ranks of wood as well as steel rims long since abandoned by those attacking the cobbles.
Over the past few years I have also remained firmly in the aluminum camp. Once I upgraded wheels to custom build, I saw my riding enjoyment skyrocket. Oh the predictability and dependability of custom wheels. For the past five years I’ve racked up miles on Hed Belgium hoops without a single concern along miles of gravel and criterium scenarios. It’s the same reason teams would hold onto Ambrosio Nemesis wheels, despite having use for them but once or twice a year. They were bombproof and dependable.
So imagine my giddiness when, on a whim, I popped on over the Hed Cycling website’s rim section and found a curious icon stating, “Image Coming Soon” after clicking on the Stinger fold down menu. Could it be true? Could the Hed Belgium box section wheel be put on the hook in the garage after spring in exchange for Hed Stinger carbon hoops? Perhaps I’ll just put them on during a couple crit races to see if it’s worth it. Then perhaps I get lazy and leave them on for training rides. Oh heck, why don’t I leave them on for the fall classic touring rides? And will they hold up for the gravel spring classics of next spring? Before I know it, the Hed Belgium aluminum wheels hang on the hook all year, much like the Ambrosio Nemesis builds. So that’s how it happens.
I have long anticipated Hed to offer hoops that allow a custom build. It’s nothing to do with the other parts of a complete Hed wheel; it’s just that I enjoy the Chris King hub buzz along with the craftsmanship of master wheel builders concocting a great race wheel. The race wheel that becomes a training wheel. A training wheel that becomes an all-season wheel. See? There it goes again.
Though selecting a wheel thinking we’ll be plowing down a cobbled segment in the farmland of France is a pipe dream, there’s always the consideration that American pave involves unpredictable stone/ dirt/ clay/ sand combinations have their own challenges. Say. Challenges makes us think of Challenge tires. If we find ourselves in possession of a bike with healthy tolerances for tire width, perhaps next year’s spring classics could seem like a cloud ride compared to this year’s. And it’s all because we dared to step away from an aluminum rim for just a brief imaginative second. The Stingers are on my mind.