2012 Sea Otter Video Highlights

David, from our home office, recently made the trek out to California to check out the goings-on at the the 2012 Sea Otter Classic, and he brought along his GoPro HD HERO2 video camera to document just a few of the events that were going on. From cross-country to downhill to road riding to simply browsing or demo-ing new cycling gear (in the sprawling infield of Laguna Seca Raceway), Sea Otter had something for everyone who loves bikes:

The guys at Bike magazine put together their own Sea Otter edit, with this cool Sea Otter Classic Pro Men’s Dual Slalom highlight video, featuring the pro winner, GT’s Kyle Strait:

While you’re at it, don’t miss out on more Sea Otter Dual Slalom Highlights, and you should definitely watch this clip featuring the action at the Sea Otter Downhill Practice Runs and this highlight video of the actual Sea Otter Pro Men’s Downhill final. Like we said, Sea Otter was packed with great cycling events.

One of the road cycling pros even put together this look at a lap of the Laguna Seca road course, from inside the peloton:

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t direct your attention to this edit from the guys showing off during the Speed & Style event:

Wordless Wednesday

Tour of Light & Motion in Monterey, CA

Since I’m already out here in California to see what this Sea Otter excitement is all about, I thought I would drop by our friends at Light & Motion – makers of great cycling lights, including their impressive commuting lineup. The Light & Motion headquarters (and factory, and design studio, and manufacturing facility, among other things) is located in a converted cannery warehouse in Monterey, CA – near the famous Cannery Row, and right on the ocean.

The first thing that you notice when you walk into their headquarters is the open layout – you can see almost all aspects of the operation, from engineering to assembly, in this one shot.

Here’s a shot of an assembly station (which is located down on the lower level of the previous wide-angle photo). The CAD printouts above each station show the steps in the assembly process, and the workers meticulously assemble each light from dozens of pieces to create, in this case, an Urban 300 LED Headlight.

Here’s a close-up view of an LED and the circuit board that controls the light, before they are assembled into the finished product.

The folks at Light & Motion are proud of the fact that almost everything that goes into their lights is manufactured right in their factory headquarters – in addition to being assembled there. One step in that process is this rapid prototyping machine, which lets them go from computer drawing to a physical object to test in moments.

Once the design is worked out, an automated milling machine is used to create aluminum molds for any of the myriad molded parts that are needed for the lights, from buttons to outer covers.

Here’s a shot of some of the finished molds:

The resin that is heated up to smoothly flow into the molds comes in the form of little pellets – but the key to the process is finding the right mixture of raw materials, as different plastics have different properties of elasticity that need to be balanced in the proper recipe (don’t worry, they’ve got people who know how to work that out).

While down in the machine shop area, we passed by the employee dive locker – I did mention that they are literally right on the ocean!

But having certified divers on their staff is actually good business, as half of the lights that Light & Motion builds are for underwater use, like this 4000 lumen monster (don’t turn this one on while staring at it!):

Of course there was also ample space allotted for employee bikes as well:

I want to thank the folks at Light & Motion for showing me around their factory headquarters – it was great to see a company that designs, manufactures and assembles such high quality products with pride right here in the US. 

Race Recap: 2011 Swank 65 & Osprey Packs

Unlike recent years, we didn’t have the pleasure of suffering through the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race in 2011. But since we missed on that epic 5 days of Pisgah Forest racing, we decided to send Christopher and Greg to Blue Ridge Adventure‘s Swank 65 race instead. Todd Branham has organized the Swank 65 race on for the last 13 years, and it’s a great opportunity to get a small taste of the huge trail network in the “Ranger District” of Pisgah National Forest.

Christopher and Todd

Swank 65 covers about 38 miles of trail but the top pro riders still take well over three hours to finish, and many amateur riders are still trickling in after eight hours! Luckily for us racers, Todd had arranged to have New Belgium beer on tap and burgers served hot off the grill. Nothing gets mountain bikers to socialize quite like an epic ride followed by fresh burgers and great beer!

Bikes, beer and stories after the race

Of course we weren’t just there to race on the world’s best mountain bike trails, we were also there to put a new product to the test – namely Osprey Packs.  We had read great things about their packs, but before we put something in the next Performance Bicycle catalog, we don’t just read reviews in magazines but instead test the products in real-world conditions.

Chris with his Osprey Raptor 14 before the race

To that end, our riders Christopher and Greg saddled up with Raptor 14 and a Viper 10 hydration packs for the race. Both bags feature Osprey’s 100 oz Hydraform Reservoir – able to hold plenty of  water to make it from checkpoint to checkpoint. The Raptor 14 holds a bit more gear, which worked out perfect for Christopher as we was carrying a spare jacket and a GoPro camera. Meanwhile Greg enjoyed the slimmed-down profile of the Viper 10, which held just what he needed and nothing he didn’t.

Greg finishing up with his slim Viper 10 pack

So what were the standout features for our racing testers? Both packs feature Osprey’s awesome bite valve with a magnetic clip, which holds the hose in place even when decending Farlow Gap. Most importantly, both packs were extremely comfortable – an important feature since it took Christopher 5 hours and Greg over 7 hours to finish Swank 65. Also telling was the fact that their Osprey Packs were not alone amongst the other racers – it looks like the word is out to the mountain biking elite that Osprey makes some amazing hydration packs. In fact, at least a quarter of the packs at the race were made by Osprey. It was clear by the end of the day that Osprey makes high-quality and well thought out hydration packs and that we needed to carry them in our product lineup. Our racer’s recommendations were passed along to our buying team, who have added a full array of Osprey Hydration Packs. If you’re planning a big mountain bike ride this year, make sure you consider bringing along an Osprey Pack.

Wordless Wednesday

Osprey Packs Guest Post: How to pack for your ride

The folks over at Osprey Packs are experts when it comes to carrying gear on your back – they’ve been making innovative packs for just about any outdoor activity since 1974. They’ve recently applied their gear-hauling expertise, innovation and commitment to quality to bike hydration packs, and the result is their lineup of Osprey Hydraulics. Full of technical features like their AirScape Suspension back panel, Nalgene HydraForm Reservoir, LidLock helmet clip, magnetic bite valve mount, and loads of storage – Osprey hydration packs are a great option for the next time you hit the trail.

We often get asked what gear you should bring in your pack when you head to the trailhead, so we thought we’d go straight to the experts at Osprey for their advice:

If you have ever had a great ride cut short for unforeseen reasons such as a mechanical failure, flat tire or inclement weather, you know the importance of being prepared before embarking on your journey. Proper equipment and preparations will lead to a much more enjoyable ride and prevent a long walk back to civilization if something goes bad. Riding with a hydration pack provides easy access to an ample water supply as well as the ability to carry essential tools, spare parts and extra clothing. The location and type of ride you are embarking on as well as some personal preferences will ultimately determine your individual checklist but here are some suggestions for loading up your Osprey hydration pack.

Short MTB ride near an urban area or commuting to work:

Recommended pack – Viper  7 Hydration Pack or Verve 7 Women’s Hydration Pack

Essentials:

Viper 7 pack and gear before the ride

Recommended:

Viper 7 pack fully packed for the ride

Intermediate length rides where immediate help may be more difficult to obtain:

Recommended pack – Viper 10 Hydration Pack or Verve 10 Women’s Hydration PackRaptor 10 Hydration Pack

Essentials:

Raptor 10 pack before it's loaded up

Recommended:

  • Cell phone
  • Waterproof wallet with $5-$10
  • Sunscreen
  • Small first aid kit
  • Extra chain links

Raptor 10 pack fully packed for the ride

Epic full day rides into the backcountry:

Recommended pack – Raptor 14 Hydration Pack, Zealot 16 Hydration Pack

Zealot 16 pack with gear laid out for the ride

Essentials:

  • Full 3 liter reservoir of water for staying hydrated
  • ID and emergency contact card
  • (2) Spare tubes (proper size for your tire)
  • Small tire pump
  • (2) Tire levers
  • (1) Patch kit
  • (1) Multi-tool with chain breaker
  • Duct tape
  • Spare parts depending on your bike (i.e. derailleur hanger)
  • (2) Energy bars or gels
  • Rain shell
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Waterproof wallet with $5-$10
  • Compass and map
  • Headlamp or pen sized flashlight

Zealot 16 pack loaded up & tool pouch rolled out

Recommended:

Zealot 16 pack front strap pocket

Zealot 16 pack hipwing pocket

Wordless Wednesday

Product Profile: Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers

Zipp Speed Weaponry has been making innovative carbon wheels since 1988, when they manufactured their very first disc wheels in their factory in Indiana. Zipp‘s founder, Leigh Sargeant, started off building components for Formula One racing cars, but moved into the cycling world when he saw the opportunity to apply his knowledge of carbon and making things go fast. Ever since those first disc wheels, Zipp wheels have been proudly made in Indiana – here’s Scott from SRAM (Zipp‘s parent company) to explain how their “made in the USA” claim is no exaggeration:

Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelsets (available as separate front & rear wheels) are the latest all-around performers from the speed masters at Zipp – and they’re already proven winners at pro cycling’s most demanding races. Triathlons, criteriums, breakaways, field sprints, or even Grand Tour mountain stages – 303s excel in any environment. That even includes the cobbled surfaces of the Spring Classics, where this year Tom Boonen has been dominating proceedings on Zipp 303s (tubular front and rear models, in his case).

Boonen E3

Tom Boonen at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen 2012 - Tim De Waele - Cycling

So what makes the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset special? It’s been completely redesigned with Firecrest shaping that has been designed specifically to account for the differences in airflow patterns between clincher tires and tubulars, so it far exceeds the aero performance of any other clincher wheelset in its class. It features a wider design that puts more rubber on the road during cornering (but without increasing rolling resistance) and a unique vibration-damping technology that reduces rider fatigue and improves handling. You can see the special Firecrest shape in the cutaway view below:

The Firecrest shape is more aerodynamic than any other rim design, improving handling in crosswinds and enhancing wheel strength and overall ride quality. The 45mm rim depth of the 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher is a classic all-around performer and the patented Advanced Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) dimpled pattern smooths airflow across the rim’s surface.

Plus a wider distance between hook beads gives the tire a more stable shape without adding rolling resistance, in one of the lightest deep-profile carbon clinchers available (the entire 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset comes in under 1500g).

To complete the package, Zipp has refined its venerable 88/188 hubset, reshaping the hub body and pushing the non-drive-side flange and bearing out by 7.5 mm on the rear hub to increase overall stiffness and strength.

All of these features are combined in the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset to create a wheelset that is perfect for the serious recreational rider or the hardcore racer who demands the ultimate in speed and performance for climbing, descending, sprinting or cornering! Here’s Eric, our component product manager, with his video review of the 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset:

Keep an eye out for Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon wheels on the famous cobbles of this weekend’s treacherous Paris-Roubaix – where only equipment that combines speed, light weight, and utter reliability make the cut for the pro’s bikes. And check out the rest of the Zipp wheel lineup on PerformanceBike.com!

Wordless Wednesday

Community Events: March Recap

In this post we’re looking back at March in our over 100 stores all across the country, where our teams were busy putting on clinics, supporting rides and helping out in their local cycling communities. If you want more info about your local Performance Bicycle, check your local store page for regularly scheduled Spin Doctor clinics & group rides.

First up is our Tucson Speedway, AZ store, who provided tech support for their local American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure ride last month.

Our team was excited to be out on the course on a crisp Arizona spring day, supporting the riders as they raised money for the fight against diabetes.

Here’s a shot of our Spin Doctor team ready for action underneath our tent – they stayed busy all day doing quick tune-ups, helping with flats and otherwise making sure any rider who came by was ready for their ride.

Our La Mesa, CA store was lucky enough to be involved with a different type of awareness ride last month, as well, when they helped out at the send-off celebration for Tom Skinner and his son Parry (plus Tom’s service dog, Scrubs). Tom and Parry are riding across America, California to Vermont, to raise awareness for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

You can read more about Tom and his journey to understand PTSD on his blog (and track his progress), but Tom’s plan is to make stops along the way of his 117 day journey to raise awareness of PTSD by sharing his presentation, “What Comes after Welcome Home” at colleges, universities, churches and veterans’ organizations. Sean, the manager of our La Mesa store, lead the effort to get Tom and Parry plenty of cycling clothing, gear and accessories for their big ride.

The La Mesa kickoff itself was a fun event, as the mayor of La Mesa, along with the help of many other community members, helped send Tom and Parry off in style. We helped out by giving free safety inspections for folks who showed up to ride thanks to James, the manager of our Kearney Mesa store. Please join us in wishing Tom, Parry and Scrubs the best of luck on their journey, and their mission to raise awareness of PTSD.

The team from our Columbia, MD store got some TV time with a reporter from WBAL-TV and Jillian Beam from Team Challenge, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s endurance training and fundraising program. Performance Bicycle is an official sponsor of Team Challenge in the Mid-Atlantic region, so they dropped by our store to tape a segment for WBAL-TV’s morning program – the reporter got in the spirit by wearing one of our Ultra jerseys for the broadcast!

Our Boise, ID store hosted a local club called Community Bicycle Rides for a “season kick-off” at our store. Over 100 cyclists dropped by to reconnect after the winter and get ready for the 2012 ride season.

 The purpose of this club is to help those who are getting into the sport of cycling – as club members grow in their skills, they start more rigorous training for various charity cycling events. The club started in 2005 with a handful of members and has grown to over 400 strong! Most of the riders are at the enthusiast level and love to get together to share time on the road and in the foothills.

Tod, our Operations Manager, Matt Causey, our Sales Manager, and Matt Renspurger, our Store Manager, enjoyed chatting with their guests about the services we provide in our shop and about cycling in general. But the highlight of the evening was the refreshment area for our guests to try some of the nutrition products – Honey Stinger Waffles were a particular favorite. There was even a raffle for 2 new Ultra Jerseys to finish off the evening’s fun!

Greg, Javier and Roger from our Bonita, CA store participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new section of the Bayshore Bikeway in Bonita. About 150 fellow cyclists showed up for the ceremony, and our team set up a tent and handed out trail maps and flyers for our Grow up with Performance growth guarantee.

Our guys had fun welcoming folks and making new friends, and even put a few bikes in the repair stands to make some quick adjustments before riders hit the new bike path.

Our Roswell, GA team recently helped out with one of the starting points for the Georgia Rides to the Capitol event, a cycling advocacy event that demonstrated the widespread support in Georgia for better bicycling conditions and opportunities. Our team helped out with free adjustments for riders before the start of the main ride, and then accompanied the pack towards the capitol.

About 300 people started from where we were set up, but by the time they reached downtown Atlanta there were well over 1,000 participants, including cyclists from all over the Metro Atlanta area and even as far away as Athens and Augusta. Our guys were proud to be involved with such a meaningful ride.

Speaking of checking over bikes before their ride, here’s a pic of Joe from our San Antonio, TX store making some last minute adjustments to a bike before the LBJ 100 Bicycle Ride in San Antonio. A team from our store helped support this ride through the Texas Hill Country, that starts and ends on the famous LBJ ranch.

Staying in Texas, our North Austin, TX store provided tech support for the Spokes ‘n Spurs ride, a Hill Country bike ride benefiting Spirit Reins, a non-profit whose mission is to improve the emotional and behavioral health of children with the help of horses.

Above are 2 members of the team from our Redmond, WA at a fitness fair put on by Universal Avionics. Our guys were a big hit, since many of their employees commute to work daily, made easier by a room with multiple bike racks dedicated to holding employees bikes while at work!  We were surprised to learn Universal Avionic employees made up for 33% of the Tour de Redmond bicycle commute challenge participants last year.

Mark and Will from our Berkeley, CA store recently helped out with a local Bike-a-Thon event sponsored by a school in Berkeley.  Mark lead a safety clinic for the kids and their parents and also coordinated a ride around the neighborhood.

Will checked over and made adjustments to many bikes, both for the kids and their parents. Everyone had a great time and our team looks forward to seeing these families out on the road or in our shop.

Our Orland Park, IL store hosted a safety and basic bike skills clinic for a local Cub Scout pack.  As you can see, Spin Doctor candidate Nico did a great job teaching the  primarily first and second graders (6-8 years old)  basic bike safety, rules of the road, how to air up tires and adjust seat height, and how to clean and lube their chains – it’s always fun when you have motivated students!

Sam from our San Antonio, TX store also had a great time teaching a Cub Scout pack last month. Working with younger riders was a new experience for Sam, so he had to tweak his normal safety instructions to connect well for the 8-10 year old riders. They talked about bicycle safety and basic bicycle maneuvering, and even rode through an impromptu bicycle obstacle course.

Now let’s move on to clinics – this picture shows a special Garmin demo clinic at our Charlotte, NC store. Our local Garmin rep dropped by the store to show our guests just a few of the special features built into those handy Garmin bike GPS units.

Speaking of clinics, here’s a slideshow from our latest Spin Doctor Trailside/Roadside Maintenance Clinic, featuring our Chandler, AZ, La Mesa, CALaguna Hills, CASan Mateo, CANewark, DERoswell, GAPaoli, PAPittsburgh, PASouthlake, TX stores.

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