“What do bikes mean to you?” from Rails to Trails Conservancy

rails_to_trails-logo-headerBy Katie Harris, Communications Coordinator, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Imagine a country where you can safely get everywhere you need to go on bike or foot. The infrastructure suits your needs, your kids can ride along with you without concern, and a trip to the grocery store on two wheels is a no-brainer. It’s a nation of connected networks, with trail systems as the norm—not the exception.

At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), that’s the world we’re working toward, and, clearly, bikes are an integral element to that envisioned future. Let us show you how.

Bikes allow us to…

Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail - Photo by Jim Brown

Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail – Photo by Jim Brown

Explore

With more than 22,000 miles of multi-use trails in the United States, there is a lot of exploring to be done! Bikes allow us to see new areas but also allow us to discover our own backyards from a different perspective. Traveling by bike, whether it’s a day trip on your favorite rail-trail or a multi-day excursion on a regional trail network, you can truly explore and experience a place…the sights, sounds, topography and climate.

Grand Teton Multi-Use Pathway, WY_Camrin Dengel

Grand Teton Multi-Use Pathway, WY – photo by Camrin Dengel

And while bikes are only one way to explore the trails that connect the country, we think they’re a pretty great way to do it!

Transform

Bicycling allows us to transform our lives by giving us the opportunity to prioritize health and family, all wrapped up into one activity! A bicycle is a simple, but transformative, machine. (Few would argue otherwise.)

Bella Donnas5_ Jillian Imilkowski

Photo by Jillian Imilkowski

As more active-transportation infrastructure projects—including connected, regional trail networks—are planned and constructed across the country, it’ becoming much easier for folks to integrate biking into their daily routines—transforming sedentary, “business-as-usual” habits into vibrant and active ways of life.

Mon River Trail, WV, MCCVB_Steve Shaluta

Mon River Trail, WV, MCCVB- photo by Steve Shaluta

Connect

Not only do bikes allow us to explore and transform, they also connect us with where we need to go. RTC has helped build trail connections through rural areas that spool out over a hundred miles of open prairie, snake through mountain passes and cruise along river canyons. We’ve also helped facilitate connections within urban cores, across state lines and between towns and suburbs, linking communities along vibrant corridors in much the same way as the railroads did in their heyday. And we don’t intend to stop anytime soon!

W&OD Trail, Virginia_Milo-Bateman

W&OD Trail, Virginia – photo by Milo-Bateman

To us, bikes are more than just tools or toys for recreation. They are active transportation’s secret weapon, a means by which to improve our health and well-being while broadening the mobility and access of every member of every community across the nation.

“What do bikes mean to you?” from IMBA

imba_logoby Michelle Barker, IMBA Upper Midwest Region Director

I’m lucky, as I have one of the best jobs in the world—a job that is focused on bikes. As the Upper Midwest Region Director for the International Mountain Bicycling Association, I interact daily with volunteers, land managers and the cycling industry through conversations about mountain biking, how to make it better and how to create more of it. I regularly travel across the Midwest and—along the way—experience great riding in our backyards, National Forest lands, state parks, county and city parks, and even inside old warehouses that have been transformed into all-weather bike parks.

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But mountain biking means so much more to me than just riding; it is a conduit for a variety of opportunities and itself represents opportunity.

In my line of work, bikes are an opportunity to engage with amazing volunteers who give generously of their time, energies and resources. Across the country, passionate volunteers set aside time on their weekends and take time off from their vocations to clear trail debris, meet with partner agencies and host exciting events—all because they desire to provide great mountain biking for themselves, their friends and their communities.

IMBA_Winthrop, WA

I have witnessed how mountain biking can also be an opportunity for youth to experience outdoor recreation in their hometowns. I have two boys, ages 11 and 13, and they travel on many of my mountain bike trips to places like Copper Harbor, MI; Cuyuna, MN; and the Twin Cities. But they learned to ride and love riding on their local mountain bike trails, like so many other young people.

Mountain biking also opens the door to community activism and advocacy. My previous career was in education and, so often as a teacher, I heard complaints about apathetic youth. Through mountain biking, I have seen students attend public input meetings, write letters to elected officials, work on mapping projects and engage in conservation projects, all because they love to ride.

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Trails provide a unique opportunity to step off the metaphorical merry-go-round of a responsible adult life and just enjoy being outside on your bike. A quick lunchtime ride clears away the clutter in my brain and creates a happier, more productive me for afternoon work. Riding before work (or to work) puts me in a better place to tackle the day’s challenges and celebrate the day’s successes.

Riding singletrack is an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, and I absolutely love to mountain bike with my girlfriends! We all lead busy lives, so mountain biking is our opportunity to catch up, get outdoors, learn something new and sneak in some exercise. We come away tired, happy, re-energized and full of great, new stories.

IMBA_Over the Edge CH

Mountain biking also creates special opportunities for travel. I have traveled with my family across much of the U.S. and even into Canada simply to ride bicycles in each other’s company. Along the way, we experienced excellent trails in each of our destinations and met like-minded people who remain lifelong friends.

Bikes—specifically mountain bikes—create opportunities to meet wonderful, passionate people, ride amazing trails across the country (and around the world), engage in local advocacy efforts, experience outdoor recreation, decompress and enjoy time with friends and family. Bikes are my passion, my avocation and—proudly—my vocation.

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“What do bikes mean to you?” from People for Bikes

people for bikes

PeopleForBikes has more than a million individual supporters, which means that when you ask what bikes mean to us, you’re actually asking what they mean to each one of those people. With a million individuals you might get a million different answers, and we think that’s just fine. And just like there isn’t one kind of PeopleForBikes supporter, there isn’t one answer to what bikes mean to those who ride. Here are a few ways we could answer that question.

Bikes mean a sense of adventure, on roads or on mountain trails.

For lots of our supporters, biking is how they explore their world. Some of them might do it by riding 100 miles on nearby roads, while others prefer to pedal over rocks and roots on mountain biking trails. Some people travel the world, others find adventure right out their front door. To us, bikes mean discovery, no matter where and how you ride.

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Ride on Chicago – Photo by Jamie Kripke

Bikes mean bonding for friends and families who bike together.

PeopleForBikes sees bicycling as a perfect way to unite people. Parents and children, neighbors and teammates, to us bikes mean fun for everyone. Our goal is to make every bike ride better, so you can enjoy it whether you’re a beginning rider out for the first time or an experienced bicyclist who goes out every week rain or shine.

Bikes mean affordable and convenient transportation for commuters.

Whether you own your own bike, or you use a bike share, biking for transportation is a big part of what bikes mean to us. We support and fund ways to integrate bikes and cycling into the community, like bike lanes, because biking for transportation is what motivates many PeopleForBikes supporters to ride each day.

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Bikes mean victory for competitive bike riders.

The same routes that people take to work Monday through Friday often become part of a racecourse on the weekend. For those riders who get suited up in head-to-toe spandex and ride like the wind, bikes are more than just a tool for getting from point A to point B. PeopleForBikes is for these people too. From downhill mountain biking, to cyclocross, to road racing, bikes are a great way to get the competitive juices going.

What all these different people have in common is that they love biking because of the way it makes them feel. Commuters, recreational riders and racers alike can all agree that when you ride a bike, you feel better. Some call it meditation, others say it’s a form of therapy. We call it shedding the monster. The anger and frustration melts away and you turn from a growling beast into the best version of yourself. Our latest video, Shed the Monster, is our way of saying that when you ride a bike, good things happen. This is what bikes really mean to us, no matter how you ride.

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“What do bikes mean to you?”: Guest Post from the League of American Bicyclists

TheLEAGUE-logo_K

The League of American Bicyclists is the oldest bicycle advocacy organization in the country. Founded in 1880, the League believes bikes bring people together.

When more people ride bikes, life is better for everyone; communities are safer, stronger and better connected; our nation is healthier, economically stronger, environmentally cleaner and more energy independent.

So, “what do bikes mean to you?” To us, bikes provide the path to that better life for everyone.

Our mission is to lead that movement to create a bicycle-friendly America for everyone. As leaders, our commitment is to listen and learn, define standards and share best practices to engage diverse communities and build a powerful, unified voice for change. Our vision is of a nation where everyone recognizes and enjoys the many benefits and opportunities of bicycling.

The League has sponsored National Bike Month since 1956, and we look forward to celebrating bikes with local communities near and far every May. But National Bike Month is so much more than 31 days in May.  It’s a celebration of bikes; an impetus to get rolling again; a gateway to riding more often; a time to evangelize the beauty of bikes; and much, much more.

League of American Bicyclists Jim Oberstar Memorial Bike Ride

Jim Oberstar Memorial Ride at 2015 National Bike Summit – Photo by Brian Palmer – Courtesy of League of American Bicyclists

National Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day are often cited as the month’s flagship events, occurring the third week and third Friday of May, respectively. Indeed, bike commuting has grown by 62% from 2000 to 2014 — but Bike Month is about so much more than just getting to and from the office.

Everyone can take a leading role in organizing events for Bike Month, whether you’re part of a city government, advocacy group, local business, bike shop, school or any other group interested in making your community better.

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Thousands of organizations, many in the more than 325 League-designated Bicycle Friendly Communities, organize, plan and host events throughout the month of May, introducing bicycling to new riders, cultivating local bike culture and  helping build momentum among the already converted.

The momentum is building: With growing cultural awareness around health and wellness, sustainability and economic savings, bicycling is being seen by new and broader audiences as a simple solution to many complex problems, from reducing obesity rates to increasing mobility options.

And with the help of folks like you, we’ll be able to carry that momentum from Bike Month forward throughout the year. Learn more about all the things the League does throughout the year — from helping businesses, communities and universities become more bike-friendly to uniting the voices of bicyclists on Capitol Hill and amplifying the voices of women, people of color and youth in the bike movement – at bikeleague.org.

May is Bike Month at Performance Bicycle

May is National Bike Month and we’re marking the occasion by helping people across the country get out on their bikes and by making cycling more accessible through support of People for Bikes.

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From May 4-10, cyclists can bring their bikes, no matter where they were originally bought, into any of Performance Bicycle’s 100+ nationwide locations to receive a free safety inspection to get ready for national Bike to Work Week, May 11-15. A Performance Bicycle specialist or Spin Doctor mechanic will take about 5 minutes to inspect the main components of each bike to ensure the gears, brakes, tires and wheels are in working order.

“Each year, we look forward to National Bike Month and kicking it off with free safety inspections to help new and experienced cyclists get out and ride,” said Performance Bicycle CEO David Pruitt.

Performance Bicycle has partnered with PeopleForBikes, a charitable foundation with a goal of making every ride better by collaborating with riders, businesses, community leaders and elected officials to improve cycling infrastructure.  Cyclists can make an in-store or online donation of $2 to support PeopleForBikes’ mission of by creating more trails, bike parks and protected bike lanes. Performance will match up to $10,000 of all donations collected. “We are very excited to be partnering with PeopleForBikes.  Our combined advocacy efforts for improved cycling infrastructure across the country are essential in making cycling more accessible and enjoyable for everyone,” said Pruitt. “It’s really quite simple – cyclists need more and safer places to ride.”

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All Performance Bicycle stores will lead teams in the PeopleForBikes National Bike Challenge, a nationwide event running May through September that unites thousands bicyclists across the country.  All cyclists, no matter what level of experience, are invited to join their local store’s team where they can log their miles and find support and encouragement from other cyclists in their area.  Riders join their local store team by creating an account on the National Bike Challenge website and searching “Performance Bicycle (City Name).”

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All 100+ retail locations will be hosting free cycling clinics on Thursdays and Saturdays that will provide tips and tricks on maintenance and repair, getting back into cycling and riding with others. The full schedule is below:

  • May 2 – Getting Back On The Bike
  • May 7Basic Bike Maintenance And Commuting Tips
  • May 9 – Basic Bike Maintenance
  • May 16 – How To Ride With Other People
  • May 23 – Riding With Kids (a clinic for parents and children)
  • May 28 – Brake, Gear And Derailleur
  • May 30 – Trailside And Roadside Repair

We’ll also be sharing photos, tips of the day and more throughout the month of May on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. And we’re hosting a photo contest where cyclists are encouraged to use the hashtag #mybikemonth when posting their cycling photos for a chance to win 1 of 2 bikes!

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Ridden and Reviewed: Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike

Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike

Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike (we installed pedals and water bottle cage for our test rides)

One of our favorite bikes of 2014, Diamondback’s Haanjo is back and better than ever for 2015 – this time in 4 different flavors. The updated 2015 versions take the Haanjos we loved from last year and step everything up a notch. We’ve been lucky enough to have a Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike – 2015 in our test stable for a few months now, and it’s just a bike that feels right as soon as you hop on it. It will probably be one of the most versatile bikes you’ll ever own – perfect for everything from ‘cross racing to gravel grinding to touring to commuting to light trail riding.

The Ride

Diamondback designed this bike around their ‘Endurance Geometry’, which translates to a slacker head tube and longer wheelbase than a standard cyclocross bike. Then they layered on wide handlebars, fatter tires, and disc brakes for the ultimate in confidence and control. And that’s exactly the sensation that you get when you throw a leg over the Haanjo Trail.

This bike begs you to have fun when you go out for a ride – you can start out on the road, then veer off on that dirt road you just found, and even hit some single track on the way back. We even rode the Haanjo Trail on snow-covered trails, just because we couldn’t resist. Will this bike replace a dedicated skinny-tire road bike? Not exactly, but that’s not the goal with the Haanjo Trail. It’s a bike that lets you find whatever adventure comes your way on a ride: on-road, off-road or on your commute!

The Parts

The Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike – 2015 is equipped with top-end components all around – starting with rock-solid and dependable Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed shifting components mated to an FSA Gossamer cyclocross crankset with 46/36T chainrings so you have plenty of gearing options for pavement and trail (this cross gearing is really valuable off-road).

HED disc-brake wheels provide a lightweight, fast, and durable set of hoops that can take anything you throw at them. Braking is handled by TRP’s excellent Hy/Rd system, which uses a traditional mechanical cable to actuate a hydraulic brake cylinder, giving you the simplicity of mechanical brakes and the stopping power of hydraulics.

The Haanjo Trail‘s frame is fully butted 6061 T6 aluminum tubing, with a tapered, integrated head tube for better steering response, control, and road absorption. A Gravel Disc Performance full monocoque carbon fiber fork rounds out the package, and smooths your ride. Our one quibble with the package has to do with the Kenda Happy Medium Pro 700×35 tires – while we loved the high volume and smooth rolling of these tires, we wished for more tread when we took the bike off road. With that said, the tires are a great compromise if you are riding a wide variety of terrain, on and off road. But you may want to swap them for something more rugged if you are spending more time on trails (don’t worry, there is ample clearance for this).

The Other Haanjos

Now if the Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike – 2015 is not exactly what you are looking for, don’t give up on the Haanjo series just yet. The Diamondback Haanjo Comp Cyclocross Bike – 2015 takes the same DNA as the Haanjo Trail and outfits it with a bit more affordable parts.

Diamondback Haanjo Metro in action

Diamondback Haanjo Metro Plus in action

The Diamondback Haanjo Metro Plus Flat Bar City Bike – 2015 builds off of the same frame but ends up with an ultimate commuter package with swept-back handlebars and fenders. And finally the Diamondback Haanjo Flat Bar Cyclocross Bike – 2015 dials in the same go-anywhere mentality in a sport/fitness-oriented bike concept.

Diamondback has worked really hard this year to make sure that there is a Haanjo available for almost every type of rider – as long as you want to have a great time when you ride! Check out a video of the Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike in action:

2015 New Bike Preview: Van Dessel

Edwin, the man behind Van Dessel, is probably one of our favorite people when it comes to bikes.

  1. He’s a real life Belgian, which gives him an automatic street cred.
  2. He’s really fast on a bike. Like, top 10 in the National Racing Calendar Criterium series fast.
  3. He’s a really nice guy who really loves bikes.
Edwin and his new bikes. And the Van Dessel Mobile.

Edwin and his new bikes. And the Van Dessel Mobile.

So when he rolled up in the Van Dessel Mobile a few months ago to go for a ride and show us his latest wares, we were pretty excited. After going for a fast lunch ride where he rode a 1×11 ‘cross bike with 38mm tires and still almost dropped us on a hill, Edwin took a minute to show us his new 2015 bikes. We also got a peek inside the Van Dessel Mobile, and we’re already scheming about how we can get one of our own.

Make way for the Belgian Pain Train... from New Jersey.

Make way for the Belgian Pain Train… from New Jersey.

You might have already seen some of these featured in Bicycling Magazine, Bike Radar, and Road Magazine, but let us walk you through his new line up. Edwin definitely has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening with bikes right now, and designed each bike to have plenty of options, and to be pretty much future proof. With so many cool build options available, we decided to carry them as framesets, so you can turn any one of these into your own dream bike.

The inside of the Van Dessel Mobile. We're already scheming about how we can get one of these...or at least some of the bikes

The inside of the Van Dessel Mobile. We’re already scheming about how we can get one of these…or at least some of the bikes

The Motivus Maximus

While the Van Dessel Gin and Trombones CX bike may be grabbing all the headlines (more on that soon), we actually think Van Dessel’s new Motivus Maximus road bike is the more interesting bike from a design and compatibility standpoint. If you keep up with cycling news, you probably already know that road bikes are in transition, between mechanical and electronic shifting, and rim and disc brakes. While everything is in flux wouldn’t it make sense to have a bike that is pretty much future proof? Edwin certainly thought so, which is why he designed the Motivus Maximus to be exactly that. The Motivus Maximus is available in two options, disc brake or caliper brake. But here’s the secret: the only difference is the fork. The frame has both a caliper brake mount on the brake bridge, and a carefully concealed and integrated flat mount disc mount on the rear triangle. Both frames also come with modular rear drop outs, so you can change between 130mm QR, 135mm disc brake QR, and 12x142mm thru axle if you want. That means that even if you buy the caliper version, if you upgrade to discs at some point in the near  future, all you need to do is find yourself a disc-brake ready fork, and you’re set to go. And of course, the Motivus Maximus is both Di2 and mechanical shifting compatible, and can clear up to a 28mm tire no problem.

The Hellafaster

AKA the Crit Killer. Our office has seen a resurgence in interest in aluminum road bikes this past year, with several employees supplementing their carbon stables by building up alloy bikes for winter training and criterium racing. So when the made in the U.S.A. Van Dessel Hellafaster came along, there were plenty of raised eyebrows. The Hellafaster is made by Zen Fabrication in Portland, OR and has an unbelievable level of finishing detail. The welds are super smooth, the fit of the PF30 is incredibly precise, and the whole frame just looks nice and clean. Plus, with its 27.2mm seatpost and super-thin seatstays, the Hellafaster is a lot more comfortable and forgiving than some of the older, stiffness-at-all-costs alloy frames we’ve been using. And oh yeah, it’s both Di2 and mechanical compatible, and can clear up to a 28mm tire with clip on fenders. We’ll probably be seeing a few of these around the office pretty soon.

 

The Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

What exactly is this? Well….that’s kind of up to you. The Van Dessel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot can be built with 700c wheels or 29er’s. It can be built with drop bars and flat bars. You can mount racks and fenders on it. Take it touring, out on the trail, race monster cross with it. Whatever you want. The only thing you can’t do is use rim brakes, because this thing is disc brake only. When most of us first saw this, we all pretty much said “interesting…but what would you use it for?” Then the proverbial wheels started turning, and we realized the answer was: everything. A few weeks ago we saw our first employee Whiskey Tango Foxtrot build, a drop bar bike with Shimano Ultegra 6800 drivetrain, Shimano R685 hydraulic disc STI levers, and 700×38 tires. It was pretty awesome, and we’re sure it won’t be the last one to pass through the shop.

The Jersey Devil

Rounding out the new models from Van Dessel is the Jersey Devil. It’s a tough as nails hardtail 29er mountain bike that looks as mysterious as the creature of the Pine Barrens it was named after. We haven’t gotten to see one built yet, but word around the campfire is that it’s kind of the Goldilocks of XC bikes. It’s carbon, so it’s super lightweight and stiff, but since it also has to cope with the rocky, root-snaked, craggy trails we have here on the East Coast, the Jersey Devil is also super tough, and can take a licking and keep on ticking. Plus, with its stealthy matte black and green paint job, silver metallic logos, and aggressive geometry, it looks about as fast as it rides.

Ridden and Reviewed: Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike

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The Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike is an eye-catching bike, with it’s blacked-out look (with a few bright green highlights) and disc brakes. But what kind of bike is it, exactly? Is it a road bike with disc brakes, a commuter bike for utilitarian rides, or a gravel/adventure/cyclocross bike with slick tires? The beauty of the Tread is that it’s a little bit of all of these things – a truly versatile package that mixes an appealing design with a whole lot of practicality and performance. We’ve put in some hard miles on this Tread 1.1 Disc and came away impressed by the total package.

The Parts:

But let’s start with what you get with the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc in terms of components. At it’s core is an aluminum custom-butted frame (based on their tried and true alloy cyclocross frame), carbon bladed and tapered fork, a capable Shimano Tiagra 20-speed drivetrain, and lightweight TRP SPYRE mechanical disc brakes. Oval Concepts supplies the handlebars, stem, seatpost, and Vera Terra wheels are clad in 700 x 32C Vera City Wide tires with Phalanx puncture protection for added safety.

On The Road

The Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike has comfortable on-road manners with a sporty and quick steering response. It’s not a super-lightweight road racing machine, but a 50/34 tooth crankset and smooth-rolling tires (even though they are 32mm wide) mean that you can keep up with groups on the road or keep up a brisk pace on solo rides. We rode the Tread 1.1 Disc out on some fast group rides here at our office, and we only really felt at a disadvantage on climbs when the group was pushing the pace – the main culprit was the slight added weight and size of the tires as compared to super-light carbon racing bikes (which is no real surprise given the versatility of the bike).

Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc on the road

The Tread 1.1 Disc was a smooth roller on the road

 On Gravel

On gravel or dirt roads, the comfy wide tires and disc brakes of the Tread 1.1 Disc really shined. The stopping power and added control of mechanical disc brakes are a big plus when conditions aren’t great, so it’s no wonder that we were fans of the TRP SPYRE specced on the Tread 1.1 Disc. And while the 700 x 32C tires were not knobby, they had sufficient traction for most situations. We were even impressed by the Shimano Tiagra drivetrain – it has a light shifting feel and performed flawlessly for us, plus the 12-30 speed cassette allowed us to tackle any terrain.

Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc on a gravel road

Gravel roads were no problem for the Tread 1.1’s wide tires

Everything Else

The key word with the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike is versatility – it’s a bike you can ride around town, on the back roads, or just on weekend rides. It’s a great option for a utility commuter bike – there are eyelets for racks and fenders – but it’s not limited to any one ride or terrain. We even took the Tread 1.1 Disc out onto some local trails and had a blast. So what kind of bike is the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike after all? It’s whatever you want it to be – and a whole lot of fun on 2 wheels.

Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc on the trails

Even light trail riding was no problem with the wide gearing range of the Tread 1.1

If the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike isn’t exactly the bike you are looking for, you should also check out the rest of the Fuji Tread lineup. There are several other options and specs available, including an exclusive Fuji Tread 1.0 Disc Road Bike, which upgrades to Shimano’s excellent redesigned 105 5800 11-speed components.

Pro Cycling on $10 A Day: Interview with Phil Gaimon

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The thrills, the spills, the adventures in China, and the cookies. You’ll read about it all in Pro Cycling on $10 A Day

Some of you may have heard about Phil Gaimon. He’s one of the top pros right now from the U.S, and will be spending his 2015 season with the Optum Pro Cycling Presented by Kelly Benefits team (who also happen to ride some awesome Diamondback bikes).

An unrepentant English major, Phil wrote a book about his experience of trying to make it as a professional cyclist in the U.S., Pro Cycling on $10 A Day. A memoir is something that most pros wait to do until after they’ve retired, but Phil isn’t most pros. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s a great read that gives you a peak behind the curtain of domestic pro cycling. And it’s also hilarious.

Phil was kind enough to give us a few books to give away the other day, and to answer some questions from some of our customers.

Read below for Phil’s answers about racing, being a mechanic, crashing, and other hot topics:
What's the story behind that bar of soap? Check out the book to find out more. Photo: Sam Wiebe

What’s the story behind that bar of soap? Check out the book to find out more. Photo: Sam Wiebe

Carlos: If you could win any race in the world which one would it be?

PHIL: The Tour de France would probably be the best one to win. Not just a stage. The whole thing. I mean, an Olympic gold or world championship would be alright (I’d take either of those), but the Tour is the Tour. I think any bike racer would agree.

Learn more about the Tour de France

AJ: Do you need to be a pro level mechanic to be a pro racer?

PHIL: Mechanics come in all shapes and sizes and experience levels. Just about anyone can turn a wrench, but you want one who knows their way around a bike race. There are a lot of rules about where you can stop, for example. The guy who works at the local shop would probably rack up fines in Swiss Francs, and I don’t know how he’d feel about leaning out of a window to fix my derailleur at 40 mph.

Learn how to be your own mechanic

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Jim: How do you cope with knee pain?

PHIL: Everyone’s different, but in my experience, pain was usually relieved by proper alignment of the ankle, knee, and hip. You’re looking for an up-and-down piston-like motion there, which can be achieved through bike fit, proper insoles, cleat position, etc. Think about that motion when you’re making adjustments, or find an expert.

Learn how to deal with knee pain

Timothy: How many times have you crashed?

PHIL: I only wish I hadn’t lost count a long time ago. I was putting on my jersey at a race recently, and a fellow racer in the parking lot saw the series of giant scars on my shoulder. “San Dimas?” He asked, referring to a race where I crashed out of the yellow jersey and sent myself to the hospital in a helicopter. “No,” I shrugged. Those scars are all on my face. The rest of them are scattered around my knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders, from years of sliding around on the same spots. You don’t notice them, and I wouldn’t want to die without a few scars, anyway. Maybe without the ones on my forehead, though…

Learn how to deal with road rash

Too many cookies? No such thing, according to Phil. Photo: Sam Wiebe

Too many cookies? No such thing, according to Phil. Photo: Sam Wiebe

Andrew: Where’s your favorite place to ride and do you have a favorite street?

PHIL: Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles is my favorite place to ride. North of the city, there’s a long series of canyons to climb up from the ocean, with low traffic, and amazing views. I’ve ridden all over the world. There are some places that are about as good, but nothing better.

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Photo: Sam Wiebe

So there you have it. You can find even more juicy details about the inner-life of pro cycling in Phil’s book Pro Cycling on $10 A Day.

We’d also like to thank Leyzne and Chamois Butt’r for their contributions to last week’s giveaway.

Introducing CHCB Cycling Clothing

Most clothing projects around here usually start off trying to answer a performance need. More aero, lighter weight, sweatproof pocket, etc… So it’s not too often that one of our employee’s personal projects suddenly gets the chance to be turned into an actual line of clothing.

CHCB got its start when Zach, our clothing product manager, realized that he was having a hard time finding more casual clothing for riding around town in Chapel Hill. North Carolina gets pretty hot and humid, so he wanted some cycling clothing with the some of the performance features you find in bike clothing—like the ability to wick away moisture, but would still look like he was wearing everyday street clothes when he got off the bike. Sure, some mountain bike clothing could certainly fall into this category, but that stuff usually tends to be overbuilt for every day riding.

Zach spent almost half a year working with Alicia, our clothing product developer, to make his idea come to life. After months spent playing with fabrics, materials, designs, cuts and details, they finally came up with exactly what they had envisioned, and the Performance CHCB  cycling clothing line was born. CHCB  stands for Chapel Hill and Carrboro, small twin towns in North Carolina where our offices are located and where most of our HQ employees live and work.

Review: CHCB Crew Jersey

Since Zach was pretty excited about his new project, he wanted to get us riding around in them to see what we thought. Since it is winter, we haven’t had too many chances to test the shorts, but we’ve been wearing our crew shirt pretty much non-stop since we got it. As a baselayer on our commute to work, around the house, or around the office the CHCB Crew Jersey has become one of our favorite clothing items. The fit is superb, and is incredibly comfortable on and off the bike, and the understated, casual design is something we’ve really come to appreciate, since it looks just fine walking around the office, and even better on the bike.

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One thing we did notice was that the CHCB Crew Jersey got noticeably softer after the first wash. It’s not uncomfortable by any means straight out of the bag, but it got incrementally more comfortable when we washed it. Because it is a wool blend, we’d definitely recommend air drying it, to avoid any shrinkage.

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Review: The CHCB VC Shorts

Admittedly, we haven’t gotten too many chances to wear the CHCB VC Shorts on the bike yet, which is unfortunate because we really love the way they look and feel. Stylistically, they look similar to some other casual overshorts we’ve tried out, but the finish and attention to detail is much better. The slate grey is pretty classic and neutral looking, but on closer inspection actually has a subtle texture to it that gives it a really premium look. The fabric is also super soft and has a nice solid stretch to it that we’ve found incredibly comfortable, even when we’re just hanging out around the house. And what do we mean about solid stretch? Well…the stretch moves with you, but it has some resistance to it that gives us confidence in its wear-life, and that it will return to shape after a long ride. We also really appreciate the extra-stretch panels built into the waist band. They’re just as comfortable on the bike as they are sitting at the desk or on the couch, which is a big win for clothing designed for active wear.

Both the CHCB VC Short and Polo Jersey are available in a women's version

Both the CHCB VC Short and Polo Jersey are available in a women’s version

Another thing we loved about the shorts were all the small details, which showed a lot of thought. One of our pet-peeves about most lifestyle cycling shorts is that there aren’t any pockets. The CHCB VC Shorts give you two front pockets—which are a well-pocket design so your phone or wallet won’t fall out. Plus a side pocket for some smaller items you want to keep secure. The reflective back pocket tab will be great for those nights when the ride goes a little longer than planned, or when you forgot to bring your light.

The Jersey is also available in a Polo version with a collar

The Jersey is also available in a Polo version with a collar

Overall

We might be biased because Zach is a friend of ours, but we think he and his team did a great job with the CHCB line. It’s comfortable, well made, and has plenty of little features that anyone on a bike will appreciate.

We can’t wait for the spring when we can put some more mileage on these and wear them around town. In fact, we’re already planning on wearing them in September when we ride about 160 miles to Richmond, VA for the UCI Road World Championships.

 

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