2015 Exclusive Bike Preview

Just in time for the holidays, we’ve managed to get our hands on three new bikes that just showed up at our headquarters. Two road offerings from Ridley and Scattante, and a brand-new mountain bike from Charge. These bikes are all exclusive to Performance, so you won’t find them anywhere else.

 

RIDLEY ORION

First up we have the Ridley Orion. The Orion is one of Ridley’s most successful bikes ever, and was the foundation for what would become the pro-level Ridley Fenix. Built with 24-ton high modulus carbon fiber diamond-shaped tubing for incredible strength and rigidity while riding, the Orion is bike that’s been proven again and again on the cobbles of Flanders and Northern France (it even has a sticker that says “Tested On Pave”—and they really mean that).

The Ridley Orion—exclusively available from Performance Bicycle—is outfitted with 11-speed Shimano Ultegra 6800 shifters and rear derailleur, with a new 5800-series 105 front derailleur. FSA supplies the crank, and Ridley’s own 4Za brand supplies the stem, handlebars, seatpost and saddle.

This is a great bike for an aspiring racer, a club rider, or someone who wants one bike that can do it all. With a race-proven pedigree, high performance parts, and an all-day endurance geometry, the Orion is a bike that will provide a smooth, comfortable, and fast ride.

 

 

 SCATTANTE CFR ELITE

Next up we have the Scattante CFR Elite. Classic black and a touch of what we’ll call future-blue; the Scattante CFR Elite features a balanced Shimano 105 11-speed build on a gorgeous carbon frame set. The frame furnishes a tapered head tube for added control and stiffness and internally routed cables offer clean, modern style. A full carbon fork and steerer simultaneously lightens the front end and dampens road vibration.

Outfitted with Shimano’s new 5800 11-speed 105, you know you’ll get great, race-proven performance in your shifting. Descended from the pro-level Dura-Ace 9000 and Ultegra 6800 groupsets, 5800 brings updated ergonomics and functionality at an outstanding value. The ScMT CFR LE frame provides a stiff, stable, and lightweight ride platform that make the miles fly by while keeping you comfortable on those long rides.

The Scattante CFR Elite is perfect for the rider who’s looking for high performance at a great value.

 

CHARGE COOKER

Finally, the all-new Charge Cooker is one of the best aluminum 29er’s we’ve seen in a long time. Charge is always keeping classic and stylish, but the 2015 Cooker—exclusively from Performance—takes their signature flair to a whole new level.

The Cooker rocks a lightweight and durable 6061 Series butted aluminum frame with a tapered head tube that is rigid enough to withstand any trail, and the RockShox 30 GOLD TK fork assists by offering 100 mm of travel in the front to give you confidence during descent and features Solo Air technology that allows you to fill both the positive and negative air spring chambers of the suspension through a single Schrader valve, making fork adjustments a cinch.

The Cooker drivetrain also consists of handpicked Shimano components, including Shimano SLX shifters to filter through the 20 gearing options. A Shimano Deore front derailleur and Shimano XT Shadow Plus rear derailleur promote responsive shifting by sucking up slack and preserve the pivots for greater durability over the long-term. The Shimano BR-M355 hydraulic disc brake system is reliable in all weather conditions, provides control in the corners, and excellent stopping power when obstacles get a little too close for comfort.

Simplicity is the name of the game here, so you’re a seasoned pro looking for a durable, do-it-all aluminum 29er, or a newer rider looking for a bike that’s lightweight, stable, and can brush off a crash or two, the Cooker is the ride for you.

 

Cyclists Guide To Surviving The Holidays – 2015

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Next week begins the Great American Holiday Extravaganza, the time of year where most Americans travel to see family, pack on extra pounds, and generally have a good time. But in the midst of all this revelry, what’s a cyclist to do? All that travel makes it tough to ride, and all that food can make hard-won weight loss gains evaporate in an instant.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers here (at least none that won’t end with a high probability of being served divorce papers), but there are a few tricks and tips we can use to stay fit, keep the pounds off, and enjoy the holidays.

1. Try To Ride Early

Even if you have your bike, getting away from family during the holidays can be a pretty tall order. Try riding early, before you’ll be missed. Plus, your in-laws might be impressed when you show up for breakfast, having already gotten a workout in…or not—but you’ll definitely feel better.

2. Alternatives

That ride not going to happen? Try going for a run or doing some core work instead. Running and core work usually takes less time than a run, and all you need to pack is a pair of shoes and some shorts or sweats. Plus, since you won’t be going as far, you don’t have to worry about getting lost on unfamiliar roads. Running will also give you plenty of time to think about how much you miss being back on the bike.

3. Watch Where You Sit

The Thanksgiving and Holiday feasts are unavoidable, but studies show you can help avoid those extra holiday pounds by trying to sit as far from the snacks as possible to prevent mindless eating. Although if your house is anything like ours, that could be easier said than done.

4. Pick Your Favorites

Instead of going all in at dessert time, try setting yourself the goal of only eating what you’ll truly enjoy. Not that we have anything against pecan pie, but we’d rather enjoy an extra slice of pumpkin instead.

5. Drinks

If you’re trying to lose weight this coming year, or have vain hopes of staying at race weight all year long, then watch what you drink. Whenever possible, choose something no- or low-calorie like water or a sugarless electrolyte drink. Instead of beer, try drinking wine or spirits (just not in the same quantities) for that holiday cheer without the pounds. Avoid eggnog like the plague, and lay off the soda.

6. Go Easy On Yourself

Even if you bring your bike with you, don’t worry about it if you don’t make it out for a ride or fail utterly in your attempts to curb your appetite. There are more important things in life than riding bikes, and worse sins than forgoing the diet for a few days. Think of this as a time to reconnect with loved ones, especially family you might not get to see very often, and enjoy yourself. There will be plenty of time for dieting and riding in the coming year.

Good luck you guys, and happy holidays

Good luck, you guys

5 Ways To Stay Warm On Cold Rides

Here we go again…looks like the Polar Vortex decided to show up early this year. We don’t know about you, but we refuse to ride the trainer before Thanksgiving. So long as we don’t get one of our famous, downhome Carolina Ice Storms, we’ll keep riding outside.

Now, you wouldn’t think a bunch of Southerners would know much about riding in the cold, but most of us actually grew up riding, training and racing in places like Vermont, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and Portland (Oregon, not Maine– which is a whole other animal), so we’ve learned a few things over the years about riding in the wet, the cold, and the snow.

So here it is: 5 Ways To Stay Warm on Cold Rides.

1. Layer Up

Using layered cycling clothing can help you adjust your temperature to suit the ride and the conditions. You can pretty much layer every part of your clothing system as the conditions warrant, from your feet all the way to your head. Click here for our guide to layering.

PRO TIP #1: No matter how well you think you’ve layer up on top, always bring a wind jacket or vest with you in case conditions take a turn for the worse. #1B is to bring some knee warmers on super cold days– if your knees get cold you can put them on over (but preferably under) your tights for extra coverage.

PRO TIP #2: Spare arm warmers, spare gloves or liners, a spare hat, and base layer can pack up small in a plastic bag that fits easily into a jersey pocket. On long rides, it gives you the option of changing out sweaty, damp garments for warm, dry ones.

PRO TIP #3: Don’t use super thick cycling socks with your cycling shoes. Instead, layer your overshoes as needed, putting insulated ones closer to the foot, covered by wind/waterproof ones.

Layering up is a great way to make sure you can a stay warm, and adjust your core temperature as you go

Layering up is a great way to make sure you can a stay warm, and adjust your core temperature as you go

2. Hot Water Bottle

Using an insulated water bottle filled with some warm tea or Skratch Labs Apples and Cinnamon hydration mix (which is absolutely delicious, by the way) can take the edge off a very cold ride. This is a tip that the pro’s use during early season races like Milan-San Remo to stay warm (check out a video here)

Make like the pro's, and use some warm tea to hydrate on your winter rides

Make like the pro’s, and use some warm tea to hydrate on your winter rides (Orica-GreenEdge)

3. Eat Enough

In the winter, you burn more calories on the bike than during the summer. Not only are you using fuel to exercise, but also to stay warm. That means that during the winter you should fuel up with a healthy breakfast like oatmeal, and then bring plenty of bars, chews or gels to eat while riding. This will give you plenty of carbs to keep your body warm and prevent the dreaded bonk—which could mean serious trouble if you’re far from home on a cold winter’s day.

Eating a solid, healthy breakfast, and having plenty of food for the ride will help prevent you bonking

Eating a solid, healthy breakfast, and having plenty of food for the ride will help prevent you bonking

4. Mix In Intervals

If you’re really feeling the cold, trying mixing in some intervals to bring up your body temperature. You can either 1) pick a target a good distance away and ride as hard as you can until you reach it, or 2) go by time, and ride as hard as you can for about a minute. Just make sure you don’t go so hard that you start sweating a lot, which can just make the problem worse.

Riding a few hard intervals is a great way to get your body temperature back up

Riding a few hard intervals is a great way to get your body temperature back up

5. Take a Rest

We usually like to plan our long, meandering winter rides with a destination in mind—usually a restaurant or café with warm drinks and food. But it’s OK to take a break at any time if you’re feeling cold, chilled, or just tired. Stop at a gas station, coffee shop, café, whatever, warm up and take a breather.

Go in and get warm, grab some hot tea or coffee, and eat a cookie.

PRO TIP #1: If you’re feeling the chill from a damp clothing, you can use your rest stop to change into your spare base layer, spare gloves or liners, and hat. That way you can go back out into the cold feeling dry and warm.

PRO TIP #2: If your toes are feeling very cold on your ride, see if you can get some aluminum foil or a foil food wrapper, and wrap up your toes. It’s not the most comfortable thing, but it does provide some additional insulation.

PRO TIP #3: Ask if the coffee shop or restaurant can refill your water bottles with hot water.

When you start feeling cold or chilled, go ahead and head indoors to warm up

When you start feeling cold or chilled, go ahead and head indoors to warm up

Real Advice: Setting Up Your Trainer Room

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1. Pick the Room

Even trainers that claim to be “ultra-quiet” are still going to generate enough noise to annoy someone in an adjacent room. Pick a room that’s separated from others in the house, such as a basement, garage, or spare bedroom. Make sure you have room to set up the trainer and angle it toward your entertainment of choice. And remember folks—make sure that floor is level-ish. An uneven floor can make the trainer rock, putting a ton of stress on your hips (no good) and the bike frame (really no good).

 

2. Sweat Catching

Since you’re not going to be riding anywhere, there will be no air moving on you. That means you’re going to sweat more. To avoid ruining the carpet or hardwood, set up a trainer mat or towel underneath your bike. To avoid ruining your bike (specifically the headset and BB bearings), use a sweat catcher or hang a towel over your bike.

Using a sweat net or towel can help preserve the life of your compoents

Using a sweat net or towel can help preserve the life of your compoents

3. Cooling

Since riding the trainer gets super-hot, it’s a good idea to set up a fan to keep from overheating. Even a cheap mini tabletop fan can make a world of difference. Using a fan doesn’t preclude following Step 2—you’re still going to sweat like a demon.

 

Not sure what kind of trainer to get? Check out our guide.

 

4. Entertainment

Riding the trainer with nothing to do can get really, really boring really, really fast. Make sure you have a TV, tablet, or computer to watch a movie or do a structured work out.

PRO TIP: Since there trainer is loud and you’ll have a fan running, if you’re in a domestic living situation or have housemates, it is generally considered polite to invest a couple of bucks in a headphone extension cord or some wireless headphones so you’re not tempted to crank the TV volume.

Using headphones can help maintain domestic harmony

Using headphones can help maintain domestic harmony

5. At Hand

Set up a stool or some medium height shelves next to your bike. It should be at about a height where you can reach it comfortable while seated in the saddle. This will ensure that your remotes, computer mouse, gels, spare water bottle, spare towel, etc… are all easily at hand.

 

6. Be Prepared

The trainer is usually more demanding than an outdoor workout. Not only do you have the increased resistance of the unit itself, but heat buildup and a tough structured workout can really take it out of you. For an hour long trainer session, you should have 3 water bottles (2 of them filled a hydration drink) and some gels to keep your energy levels up and avoid dehydration.

 

Build A Home Gym On A Budget

Here’s a fun fact: you can build a pretty comprehensive home gym for under $250. As the days get shorter, darker, and colder a lot of workouts that used to be done outside have to get moved inside. We’re pretty hardy winter warriors, but there’s weather even we won’t go out into.

So when one of those famous Carolina ice storms descends upon Chapel Hill, we break out the following equipment to get in a full, comprehensive workout to stay in shape, stay limber, and cross train through the winter months.

 

CARDIO

Indoor Cycling Trainer (~$149.99-$1,899)

The indoor trainer is an amazing piece of equipment. Even a budget-priced model can deliver a hard, lung busting workout. Simply clamp your road or mountain bike into it, get on, and start pedaling. Sure, it can be fairly monotonous, but a quick Youtube search for ‘cycling trainer workout’  can yield plenty of tough, structured workouts to help you get the most out of your time.

Check out our guide to cycling trainers here.

 

At only $149.99, the Travel Trac Comp trainer is a great value on an excellent workout

At only $149.99, the Travel Trac Comp trainer is a great value on an excellent workout

STRENGTH/FLEXIBILITY

Trainer Mat ($49.99)

This is one of the most versatile fitness items we’ve ever owned. It’s designed to go under your bike while in the trainer to help dampen noise and catch dripping sweat. But we also use it for yoga, core workouts, pushups/sit ups, and more.

The trainer mat is a versatile piece of equipment, ideal for using with the trainer, for yoga, or strength training

The trainer mat is a versatile piece of equipment, ideal for using with the trainer, for yoga, or strength training

 Resistance Bands, Kettle Bells, or Fit Balls (~$29.99-$79.99 for a set)

We used to have a pretty comprehensive set of free weights (in fact, they might still be in the basement somewhere), but these days we mostly just use a resistance bands and kettle bells for our workouts. Resistance bands can be used to build strength, enhance flexibility, and improve your overall fitness, while kettle bells are excellent for strengthening muscles we don’t use much during cycling.

*We recommend speaking with a personal trainer or coach before beginning any weight or resistance training to ensure proper exercise form and avoid injury

 

RECOVERY

Foam Roller ($17.99-$39.99)

The foam roller has become an essential tool for us. Using the foam roller can help loosen up tight muscles and adhesions, keeping you loose and flexible which makes you more resistant to injury.

The foam roller is one of the best recovery tools available to any athlete

The foam roller is one of the best recovery tools available to any athlete

 

TOTAL FOR A WHOLE GYM: $249.96

So lets hear it, did we miss anything? What’s your favorite piece of home workout equipment? Tell us in the comments section.

Fall/Winter Cycling Gloves

As colder weather descends upon most of the country, most of us starting thinking about cold weather gear like arm and leg warmers, vests, and jackets. Sometimes we overlook one of the most important cycling garments though: the humble glove.

Having a good, and varied assortment of gloves is essential for riding from October through April in most places.

Since the temperatures can vary so much as the seasons change, it’s almost impossible to find one glove that can keep you covered from the cool morning rides of October to the frozen depths of February.

One good way to maximize your investment though is to think of your gloves as a system that can be either worn alone or combined and layered to match the conditions.

 

LIGHTWEIGHT GLOVES

Lightweight gloves are the basis of the glove layering system. They can be worn on their own on cool, but not cold rides, or layered under thicker gloves for additional warmth.

1. Glover Liners

These thin wool or synthetic gloves are primarily designed to wick away sweat and provide some thermal warmth.

BEST FOR: Cool days; layered underneath midweight and heavyweight gloves

Glove liners wick away sweat and help trap in heat

Glove liners wick away sweat and help trap in heat

2. Long Fingered Glove

Long fingered gloves aren’t insulated, but provide coverage for the fingers on cooler days.

BEST FOR: Cool days

 

Long fingered gloves can be ideal when the day will be cool, but not cold

Long fingered gloves can be ideal when the day will be cool, but not cold

MIDWEIGHT

The midweight glove’s primary job is to provide thermal insulation on cold days. They can be worn by themselves, or layered with a glove liner for colder days.

1. Softshell Glove

Softshell gloves is made from a midweight material that are wind- and water-resistant. The usually have a brushed fleece backing that provides excellent thermal insulation.

Softshell gloves are usually wind- and water-resistant for protection from the elements

Softshell gloves are usually wind- and water-resistant for protection from the elements

BEST FOR: Cold, wet and windy conditions

2. Light Insulated Glove

Lightly insulated gloves are usually made with a thin layer of insulating material that does an excellent job of holding in heat on colder days.

BEST FOR: Cold, calm days

The Performance Tok glove is insulated for protection in cold weather

The Performance Tok glove is insulated for protection in cold weather

 

 

HEAVYWEIGHT

Heavyweight gloves are designed to keep your hands dry, warm and protected on the coldest of days. They can be worn by themselves, or layered with glove liners or even midweight gloves on the heaviest days. It is usually advisable to buy heavyweight gloves a size larger than you normally need them.

1. Heavy Insulated Glove

These gloves usually feature multiple layers of insulation, windproof membranes and water-resistant finishes to protect your hands on very cold days.

BEST FOR: Very cold, windy days

Heavyweight insulated gloves can keep your hands warm and dry on the coldest days

Heavyweight insulated gloves can keep your hands warm and dry on the coldest days

 

2. Split Finger Glove

These gloves are best for extremely cold days. They maximize warmth by putting your fingers closer to each other, feature heavy insulation, and have windproof and water-resistant membranes

BEST FOR: Extreme cold

 

Split finger gloves are ideal for extreme cold when maximum warmth is needed

Split finger gloves are ideal for extreme cold when maximum warmth is needed

3. Waterproof Overglove

The waterproof overglove is best for days when mother nature just refuses to cooperate. Layer them over mid- or heavyweight gloves to keep your hands dry and warm in the harshest conditions

BEST FOR: Extreme conditions

Waterproof overgloves are designed for the most extreme conditions

Waterproof overgloves are designed for the most extreme conditions

New Performance Exclusive Fall Cycling Clothing

The days are getting shorter, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to hang up the bike. Equip yourself with the right clothing, and you’ll be able to perform your best in any weather. Our latest lineup of exclusive Performance fall cycling clothing has everything you need to battle the elements in style and comfort. Check out some highlights from our new gear below, or download our 2014 Fall/Winter Clothing digital catalog to see everything in the collection.

The core of winter riding

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The Performance Krio Thermal Jersey gives you thermal protection that will keep you warm and comfortable. Wear it along or layered under your favorite jacket for season-long warmth.

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The Performance Women’s Neve Thermal Jersey is constructed from soft thermal fabric with a perfect fit, so you stay warm and comfortable in cooler weather. Pair it with your favorite jacket to ride all season long.

Essential Lightweight Warmth

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Perfect by themselves on milder days, or as baselayers when the temperature drops, these lightweight long sleeve jerseys are ideal for any season – Peformance Women’s Chill II Long Sleeve Jersey on the left; Performance Men’s Stratos II Long Sleeve Jersey on the right.

 Every Day Jerseys

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With contemporary styling and soft fabrics, our casual riding jerseys are comfortable enough to wear all day long, have the technical features to make riding in the city easy, and styling that looks good in the saddle or at the coffee shop – Performance Women’s Tone Henley Long Sleeve Jersey on the left; Performance Whisk Henley Long Sleeve Jersey on the right.

 Winter Essentials

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Perfect for variable temperatures, the Performance Ultra Bib Knickers feature a new physiodynamic construction and an ergo-panel design that hugs your muscles and provides the best fit without restricting movement. Italian chamois with Skyve technology eliminates all possible pressure points while enhancing breathable support, while reflective details on front and back keep you visible in low light.

Stay Dry On The Inside

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With a waterproof 2.5 layer shell, the Performance Impasse II Rain Jacket not only stops wind and water dead in their tracks, it keeps the elements outside, so you stay warm and dry and ride your best.

Keep Your Jersey Dry & Visible

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The clear membrane of the Performance Dewer Rain Jacket keeps you dry and puts your jersey on full display. Water-repellent and wind-resistant fabric protect you, and a streamlined fit increases aerodynamics, while reflective details keep you visible in overcast weather.

Summer Success Is Earned In Winter

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The Performance Zonal II Softshell Jacket is made from incredibly warm and weather-resistant bonded fleece. The highly breathable design lets body heat escape without letting cold air in, so you can stay warm without overheating. Integrated stretch lets you move freely while riding.

Ride Hard. Stay Warm. Look Great.

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Perfectly styled for comfort on cold rides, the Performance Women’s Flurry II Softshell Jacket is the ideal blend of warmth and weather protection. Made from incredibly warm, bonded fleece which holds in heat while repelling wind and water, it has tons of reflectivity for safety in low light. It’s highly breathable design releases hot air, so you won’t feel clammy, and integrated stretch lets you move freely while riding.

Our Best Gloves Yet

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Our updated line of cold weather gloves has new fabrics, new fits, and is hands-down the best value for your digits. The Performance Cabot Softshell Gloves feature Softshell Drytex fabric that is wind-resistant, water-repellent and highly breathable. Synthetic suede palm with gel pad dissipate vibrations and prevent hand fatigue.

The Performance Tok Weatherproof Full Finger Gloves are constructed for extreme weather protection and warmth, with a weatherproof shell to block the elements and brushed interior with fiber-filled insulation traps heat inside. Silicone finger/thumb details improve lever grip and are touch screen compatible. The Performance Tok Weatherproof Split Finger Gloves are perfect for those really cold days.

Check out the 2014 Fall/Winter Clothing digital catalog for more gear.

Last Chance 2014 Gran Fondos

Gran Fondos are a great way to test your fitness as a cyclist

Gran Fondos are a great way to test your fitness as a cyclist

If you’ve gotten out to some of our Great Ride Series rides at our stores, you’ve probably realized how awesome a group ride is. If you’re ready to take it to the next step though, you might just be ready for a Gran Fondo.

Gran Fondo’s are a great way to test your fitness as a cyclist, have fun at a well organized event, and give you a goal to work towards. Gran Fondos are usually challenging rides of 100 miles or more (though often organizers offer medio and piccolo routes for shorter distances), and most organizers pride themselves on finding the hardest routes possible.

If you’re looking for an event to end your year on a high note, these rides might be your last chances until next year.

No matter where in the country you live, there are a few rides left that can give you a chance to see how you stack up, or just give you some bragging rights with your buddies.

Did we miss your favorite ride? Tell us about it in the comments section.

WEST COAST / SOUTHWEST

Tri State Gran Fondo

October 11, 2014

Mosquite, NV

Challenge Gran Fondo

October 12, 2014

Durham, CA

Tour de Scottsdale

October 12, 2014

Scottsdale, AZ

El Grande Fondo de Los Angeles Crest

October 18, 2014

Los Angeles, CA

 

 

ROCKIE MOUNTAINS

Tour de St. George Fall Gran Fondo

October 25, 2014

St. George, UT

The Coal Miner Gran Fondo

October 31, 2014

Steamboat Springs, CO

 

 

EAST COAST

Gran Fondo Virginia

October 11, 2014

Albemarle County, VA

New Holland Bicycle Race Gran Fondo

October 11, 2014

New Holland, PA

Tour of the Battenkill Fall Preview Ride

October 11, 2014

Greenwich, NY

Oktoberfest Ride

October 12, 2014

Collegeville, PA

Bicycling Magazine Fall Classic

October 12, 2014

Lehigh Valley, PA

Hincapie Gran Fondo

October 25, 2014

Greenville, SC

Florida Cycling Challenge

October 31, 2014

Daytona, FL

Bookwater Binge Charity Gran Fondo

November 1, 2014

Asheville, NC

 

To learn how to prepare for your next big ride, check out these articles:

Alternative Road Bikes: The Only Bike You Need?

The Haanjo felt right at home anywhere we went

The Haanjo felt right at home anywhere we went

One of the coolest emerging categories from bike manufacturers these days are alternative road bikes. Descended from road bikes, alternative road bikes have evolved into a category of their own, and continue to be refined to help riders take road bikes to new places we could scarcely imagine a few years ago.
So what makes an alternative road bike?

  • Disc (or sometimes cantilever) brakes for better stopping performance
  • Higher bottom bracket for more ground clearance
  • Clearance for bigger tires
  • More upright riding position and longer wheel base
  • Frames tuned to be more flexible in the right places (like the seatstays) for improved comfort

 

Cyclocross Bikes

The OG alternative road bike. These bikes are designed for the discipline of cyclocross (read more about it here), but have since become some of the most popular bikes on the market. Why?

Because the ‘cross bike is basically a do everything bike. It might look like a road bike, but they have clearance for wider tires (usually up to a 38mm, versus a normal road bike’s 25mm max), a taller bottom bracket, and powerful cantilever or disc brakes These features allow CX bikes to go places most normal road bikes can’t, from off-road riding, to mountain bike trails, to fireroads. Additionally, ‘cross bikes have a geometry very similar to a racing road bike, so you can simply switch out the knobby tires for a pair of road tires, and you’ll have yourself a very capable road bike.

Examples: Fuji Altamira CX, Van Dessel AloominatorRidley X-Fire

Key Strength: Versatile race-ready platform

Best For: Cyclocross, road riding, limited trail riding

 

The Ridley X-Night is fine example of a cylcocross bike

The Ridley X-Night is fine example of a cylcocross bike

Gravel Bikes

This is a relatively new category, but a pretty exciting one. Similar to a cyclocross bike, gravel bikes are primarily designed to be ridden on gravel and fire roads. Like cyclocross bikes they usually feature disc brakes, a high bottom bracket and big tire clearance.

What sets a gravel bike apart though is the geometry. While most ‘cross bikes are pretty racey, Gravel Bikes usually have a more relaxed “endurance” type geometry with a taller head tube, sloping top tube, and longer wheel base for improved comfort over long distances. The head tube angle is also a little slacker, and the chainstays longer, to give you more stability on uneven surfaces.

Examples: GT Grade

Key Strength: Outstanding stability and handling on rough roads

Best For: Exploring off the beaten path, gravel racing

 

The GT Grade is one of the most exciting gravel bikes yet

The GT Grade is one of the most exciting gravel bikes yet

Adventure Bikes

This isn’t really a category…yet, but it’s one that includes some really exciting new bikes. These bikes aren’t really gravel bikes, nor cyclocross bikes, but they still incorporate a lot of the features we love, and are extremely capable.

Disc brakes, wide tire clearance, fender and rear rack mounts…these bikes aren’t really designed to do any one thing particularly brilliantly… but they are designed to do a lot of things pretty well. They’re at home on the MTB trail, on gravel roads, on the CX course, or even some light touring. They won’t do quite as well as a dedicated platform, but for the rider who dabbles in everything, it’s the perfect solution.

Examples: Diamondback Haanjo, Fuji Tread

Key Strength: Outright versatility

Best For: Someone who wants only one bike to do it all

Adventure awaits you aboard the Diamondback Haanjo

Adventure awaits you aboard the Diamondback Haanjo

Brian’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo Recap

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Our coworker Brian just completed Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo in Harrisonburg, VA this weekend. It has a reputation as the toughest ride on the East Coast, and with it’s combination of long distances, steep hills, and gravel, has been known to take even very experienced riders to their limits. Fortunately, Brian finished the gran fondo, and we’re checking in with him to see how it went, what he would do differently, and what advice he has for anyone wanting to attempt it next year.

-Hi Brian. Can you tell us a little bit about how you felt going into the gran fondo?

I felt pretty good going into it, but I think I could do better next year. My fitness was generally pretty good, but not having done it before, I definitely wasn’t ready for how difficult the gravel climbs would be, and they took their toll. I also made some stupid mistakes in the first half of the ride that almost undid me in the second half. Other than that, I felt pretty good on the bike, and was overall just happy to have finished.

-What was your favorite part?

Crossing the finish line to find my amazing girlfriend waiting with a bottle of Clif Recovery drink and a plate of food.

My favorite part of the actual ride was the descent off the first KOM section. Wide open highway, gentle curves, and high speeds. It was really exhilarating, and not something I get to experience too often. You truly get a feeling of flying, and it’s one of the most fun things I think you can do on a bike.

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Riders for the Gran Fondo, Medio, and Piccolo routes all started together

-What was your least favorite part?

I think the two gravel climbs might be physically the hardest thing I’ve done, but the last 20 miles was much more difficult, mentally. Even on a really, really hard climb like Reddish Knob you can still settle into a rhythm—you just accept that you’ll be pedaling until the top and get to work. The last 20 miles however was full of short and steep rollers that were just long enough and steep enough to be very mentally draining after so much saddle time.

-What equipment choices worked well?

I think the Gatorskin Hardshell is  probably the single most impressive piece of cycling equipment I’ve ever used. I hit some rocks (not gravel, straight up rocks) and holes that by all rights should have detonated a clincher tire, yet I never flatted the entire ride.

The compact was also a great choice. No, actually, it was the only choice. After the first road climb I thought maybe I should have gone with a 52/36 chainring combo instead of a 50/34. After the first gravel climb though, I realized I never would have gotten up it with a 36.

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The route passed through some beautiful Amish country

 

-What equipment would you change next year?

-I think next year I would definitely ride a cyclocross bike or an endurance road bike. Something like the GT Grade or a Fuji Altamira CX with bigger tire clearance, disc brakes and a lighter weight would have been perfect.

-25mm tires were fine, but next year I’m definitely going with 28mm or 30mm tires

-Lighter wheels. My winter wheels were chosen for their durability, but it didn’t take long before I started feeling the 2150g weight. Having seen the course, I would feel more comfortable using a carbon wheel next year.

- I’ll probably consider using a mid-cage SRAM WiFli rear derailleur with an 11-32 cassette instead of an 11-27, just to get that extra bail out gear.

 

-Would you do it again?

After I crossed the finish line I swore I would never do it again. But I woke up on Monday morning thinking about how I would train and set up my bike differently next time. So I guess the answer is yes, I will probably be on the start line next year.

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Crossing the finish line is usually the high point of the day for the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo

-Any advice for someone thinking about doing it next year?

-Spend as much time climbing as you can! I didn’t this year, and I definitely paid for it. Not immediately, but later in the ride.

-Take full advantage of all the aid stations. I didn’t spend much time at the first two, only stopping to fill up on fluids and that was a big mistake which I blame on race day excitement. I should have stayed a few minutes longer to eat real food and stretch, but instead I ended up bonking around mile 60 and really suffering up Reddish Knob and the last part of the ride.

-Don’t take the “pro pee break” at mile 15. The only people who will stop are the pro’s and super strong riders, so you’ll find yourself alone very quickly, with nobody to pace up the climb.

-Run the widest tires your bike will fit, and make sure you have new brake pads on your bike

-Don’t start all loaded down with your own food. The aid stations are really well stocked, and had Honey Stinger gels and mini Clif Bars you could take with you. I would recommend just having 1 or 2 gels in your pocket at the start, just in case, and then loading up at the aid stations.

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Jeremiah Bishop won. Again. You really can’t put a price on home road advantage.

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