Zach’s Training Diary: The bike

It’s time for another update from our man with a plan, Zach, a web merchant here at our home office. As you’ll recall from his earlier entries, Zach has been trying hard to balance work, family life and time on the bike as he gets ready to take on one of the hardest gran fondos in the US, Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo in September. Read on below to find out how he’s doing and what bikes he’s tested in an effort to find the perfect setup for the ride.

My overall training is going well. I’m still working hard, riding 4-5 times a week, and doing off-the-bike workouts. I do feel as though I’ve hit a plateau with my progress and weight loss, but this is to be expected after three months of training. I took a short rest period of about a week or so, and now the next month and a half will be full of weekend climbing trips.

One of these weekend training trips will actually be up to Harrisonburg, VA to ride with Jeremiah Bishop and his posse. I’m super excited to go up for a weekend and pick his brain about training, get a preview of the route, and enjoy the cool mountain air! If you’ve got any questions for him, post them on the comments here and we’ll be sure to ask him. 

The route for one of Zach’s training rides.

Also, I was inspired by the charitable mission of the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, and decided to raise money to support the fight against Prostate Cancer during my training. Prostate cancer is a growing health threat for men, and I want to do my part to raise awareness and help fight this disease. All funds I raise during the preparation of this ride will go to the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project. If you’re so inclined and are feeling generous, I’m taking donations on my personal fundraising page. Every dollar and penny will go a long way to help fight this disease, as well as push me a little harder towards the finish line!

So that’s my personal training update. Now let’s talk about bikes!

This ride has around a total of 11K + feet of climbing, so to say it’s hilly would be an understatement. It’s on pavement and dirt/gravel roads. It’s long, excruciating, and will be awesome. This unique ride definitely requires just the right bike with a unique setup.

Thanks to our friends at Fuji Bikes, I’ve been trying out a few bicycles during lunch rides and weekend training rides to see what feels like the right fit for the Gran Fondo. So far I’ve tested the Fuji SST 2.0 and the Fuji Altamira Di2 Limited Edition. I made some tweaks to the spec of each bike, such as changing out the wheelset to either a pair of Mavic Ksyrium SLs, which are one of the best all around wheelsets I’ve ever ridden, or a pair of Reynolds DV3K carbon clinchers, which are very aero, stiff, and fast, but don’t climb quite as well as the Ksyrium SLs. For each bike I also changed out the stem and handlebars to achieve the appropriate fit for me. Proper bicycle fit is the most important thing I’ve experienced in my four years as a cyclist. I’ve felt the difference in having a bicycle that has been professionally fit to my specific body needs, and I applied that fit to each of these bicycles.

First up was the Altamira Di2 LE, which may have spoiled the party for the rest of the candidates. The Shimano Dura Ace electronic shifting, the overall balance of compliance, comfort, sprinting and climbing capability, and the responsiveness of the bike make it a likely candidate right off the bat. It’s extremely comfortable on 100+ mile rides, yet with its carbon frame and oversized BB86 bottom bracket, it sprints and accelerates up the hills with quick precision and ease. It will be hard to pass this one up. The only problem could be the gearing setup. It has a standard double 53/39 crankset on the front, with a ten speed 11-25 cassette on the back. While the bike has been great around the rolling hills of the Piedmont of North Carolina, it’s definitely not set up to be a climbing bike. I took this bike to Western North Carolina and while I made it up some 14% pitches, I definitely needed lower gearing. Turning a low cadence/high power pedal stroke is doable for 50 miles or so, but wastes a lot of energy, and will not be suitable for the long steady climbs of a Gran Fondo. This will ultimately affect my decision and though the Fuji Altamira set the bar high, it may not be the best option.

My second ride was the Fuji SST 2.0. The SST is a lot different that the Altamira. Aside from the components, the biggest difference was the stiffness and the overall aggressive geometry of the frame. Once over 18 miles an hour the bike was extremely fast and required little effort to keep up its momentum. There was no problem sticking with the group on our weekly 40 at 20 rides (40 miles with a 20mph+ average speed). Sprinting on it was also fun. It was quick off the jump and I could feel every bit of power output being spit out the back wheel. Climbing was fairly sluggish, however. The bike seemed a bit unresponsive for me during long hills, and when stacked up against my other hill times, I was slower on the SST. The bike is also a little heavier than the Altamira. I’m sure there are other technical features I could talk about, but the overall difference was that it just didn’t feel right to me for a climbing machine. I love the fact that it’s super fast and sprints great. If I had room in the garage this would be a great addition to the stable of bikes at home, but as a climbing machine for the Gran Fondo, it’s not the one.

I’m still riding the Fuji SL1 Comp and the Gran Fondo, so I’ll write about those next, and make my decision after riding all four. I’m looking forward to getting out on those and finalizing my bike selection. Thanks for reading, and I’ll have another update soon!

Wordless Wednesday

Community Events: 2012 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic

So what do you get when you cross 10,000 riders from 40 states and 3 countries, over 26,000 sandwiches, and 204 miles of beautiful riding from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon? Well, if you are the Cascade Bicycle Club, you end up with the 33rd Annual Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. Started as a time trial race between the Seattle and Portland City Halls, the Group Health STP has become one of the largest recreational rides in the country, completed by a amazing range of cyclists – from those who had never ridden more than 30 miles to those who wanted to set a new personal record. This year Performance Bicycle was proud to support all of the riders with mechanical support, from check-in at the University of Washington in Seattle, all the way to the finish line at Holladay Park in Portland.

At check-in you really get a sense of how big an event STP really is. The evening before the big ride, the queue of excited riders stretched across the Husky Stadium parking lot – there to check-in and drop off supplies for checkpoints along the route. The organized team with the Cascade Bicycle Club handled the good-natured crowd with aplomb, making sure that bikes, camping gear and supplies were packed away for the right destination the next day.

The STP ride is, at its heart, a group experience. Riders showed up in couples, groups and outright crowds – ready to test themselves and enjoy the ride. And not many folks were having more fun than the “Gypsy Wagon Race Team” seen above! This friendly band of Canadians make the trek down in their battered passenger van, and were quickly making friends in the parking lot – which had become an impromptu campsite for many riders and their support teams. Hanging out and meeting fellow cyclists is an important part of the STP experience.

The next morning, the STP ride kicked off  from the UW campus, with the first waves leaving at 5:30 AM, and our teams were already up  and on the way to various support stations along the route. With over 200 miles of roads to cover, it takes quite an operation to make sure that riders are safe and fueled up for the long ride. Performance Bicycle teams from our stores in Oregon and Washington state organized and staffed several pit stops along the route, but our main base of operations for the day was the halfway point in Centralia, Washington. 

With our workstands, water bottles, Clif Shot Energy Gel and repair supplies ready to go, our motivated Performance team was primed for action by 9:00 AM, when the very first riders rolled in under overcast skies. The first wave of riders were mostly made up of the one-day finishers – hardy cyclists who were on a mission to ride over 200 miles in one shot. Still in good spirits, these riders usually only stopped for a few moments to refuel, get minor repairs sorted out, and then hop right back on their bikes to continue their journey. But these early crowd heralded the start of a busy day for our team – once this tidal wave of cyclists started rolling in, our mechanics basically worked non-stop until 7:00 PM at night!

We saw bikes and bike riders of every shape and size, from young to old, from novice to expert. As the day wore on, the mix of riders changed over to the 2-day crowd – folks who were looking for a more leisurely weekend of riding with friends (as long as you consider back-to-back century rides leisurely, of course). Since we had 6 mechanics wrenching away, pumping up tires and fixing flats, we had plenty of time to chat with folks as they dropped by. It was awesome to hear that for many riders this was far and away the longest they had ever ridden their bikes – the level of support and camaraderie of the STP ride had inspired them to try something they had never thought they could do on a bike. Of course with that many riders out on the road, we had plenty to do. Our guys went through a countless amount of tubes and tires, trued many a wheel, field-repaired STI shifters and balky derailleurs – we did whatever we could to keep people on the road so that they could enjoy the rest of their ride. You can get a taste of what our day was like with this “Mechanic cam” action we shot with our trusty GoPro HD Hero cam:

As the morning changed to afternoon, riders kept rolling in to the halfway point at Centralia College. Just when you thought the ride was starting to slow down, another wave of happy but exhausted riders would come streaming by our tent. Apparently it’s hard to gauge 10,000 riders, because we kept thinking, “there can’t be any more coming” when another wave would roll in! But our dedicated Performance crew was always ready to help, even if they didn’t get a real break until we left at 7:00 PM. Since our team was made up of associates from many stores across the region, they saw many of their regular customers come rolling by. Plus we were excited to see how many riders were riding in Performance cycling gear and on Scattante, Fuji and GT bicycles that they purchased in one of our stores.

Eventually the seemingly endless crowds did start to wane, as the last of the 2-day riders made it to the halfway point. To make the most of their STP experience, most participants camp out with a few thousand of their newest friends at an array of campsites. As you can see above, the central quad of Centralia College became an impromptu tent city, full of tired cyclists resting up for their second century ride in as many days!

The final day of STP was the big finish to a weekend of cycling fun. The 2-day riders were up early once again to hit the road south to Portland on a typically damp Northwest day (although the sun did make an appearanc later). Once again riders pedaled through a century ride, finishing in a festival atmosphere in Holladay Park. Fans, friends and fellow cyclists lined the finishing roads like it was the end of a Tour de France stage, cheering on the riders as they rode in.

Soon the park was packed with cyclists, happy to be finished and ready to get cleaned up, but also soaking in the atmosphere and fellowship with thousands of other STP finishers and their supporters. You could tell that most people wanted to savor their moment of accomplishment, although maybe they were just too worn out to worry about getting changed out of their bike gear!

Everyone from our Performance Bicycle team had a blast supporting the riders at the 2012 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic – our long hours were more than paid back by the thanks we received from all of the folks we helped get back on the road to enjoy this great event. We can’t wait to come back next year with an even bigger and better presence – and maybe next year we’ll even have a few Performance riders out on the road to get the full STP experience. Head on over to the Performance Bike Facebook page to see the rest of our photos from this year’s STP, and we hope to see you on the road from Seattle to Portland in 2013!

Wordless Wednesday

Community Events: June Recap

As summer temps kicked in, June was a busy time at our over 100 stores all across the country. Our hard-working store teams were busy running 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. Read on below for a sampling of the events our stores were involved with last month.

The first event that our stores participated in last month was the New Belgium Tour de Fat in Durham, NC. A fundraiser and general celebration of all things bike, beer and music-related, the Tour de Fat stop in Durham featured 750 cyclists in a morning parade, 2,050 total attendees and $16,000 raised for local non-profit bicycle advocacy groups. A team from our headquarters, including Chris, Gene and Matt, showed up early to fix flats and tune up rides before the bike parade.

If the Tour de Fat is coming by your town, definitely make plans to check it out. As you can see, there are plenty of fun distractions to keep you occupied, from costumed riders, to funny bikes, to live music and more. Plus a local Performance Bicycle team will be there to help you out at upcoming events in Chicago, IL, Boise ,ID, Fort Collins, CO, Denver, CO, Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA, San Diego, CA, Tempe, AZ, and Austin, TX. Drop by our tent to say hello!

Our Mountain View, CA store team showed up to support the riders at the Western Wheelers Bicycle Club Sequoia Century ride. Tommy Merriott and Lead Spin Doctor Chris Garcia helped riders with any mechanical problem that they might have had, from quick shifting issues to changing flat tires. They made lots of new friends with their quick repairs, and saw plenty of store regulars as well. The store team is definitely looking forward to supporting the event next year.

Our Chandler, AZ store was proud to host Rick Hermelin on his journey across the country on an Elliptigo, raising money for the Semper Fi Fund (which provides support for injured and critically ill members of the Armed Forces and their families). You can read more about Rick’s journey on his blog, but as you can see above he was busy not only riding, but giving interviews and talks about the reasons for his big trip.

Our Mayfield Heights, OH store was busy one weekend last month helping out with the 36th “Sunday in June” ride put on by the Cleveland Touring Club.  With 1200 riders in beautiful Ohio countryside, Joe Darwal and Brad Jones from our store team were busy providing basic mechanical support for the riders.

Local educator and cyclist, Jim Crismore, recounted his 2010 cycling tour of the Danube River at our Castleton, IN store. The 750 mile journey started at the humble beginnings of the river in Germany, through Austria, where the river pours into the Black Sea. Crismore featured a power-point presentation of photos of the adventure, complete with stories from the four week long trek. His compelling story held his audience captive during the presentation.

Team members from our Buford, GA store were up early to set up a tent at the Jackson Brevet event – a century ride that raised money to fight Aplastic Anemia, a very rare and very deadly bone marrow disease. Our tent was a popular spot as we handed out Clif Shot samples, water bottles, pens and stickers for the People for Bikes campaign and also got folks to sign the pledge to become part of this great initiative. Once the ride got rolling, our team offered adjustments to rider’s bikes and also ran 2 support vehicles which were stocked with Clif Shot samples and Cytomax in 5 gallon coolers to provide hydration to participants in need.

Three of our Michigan employees participated in the Michigan Tour de Cure ride – Kendal, store manager, and Josh, mechanic, from our Ann Arbor store teamed up with Matt, the Spin Doctor from our Novi store, to set up tents to offer water bottles, Clif Shot samples, and mechanical assistance to riders.  Over 1,000 riders participated in the event and our team worked on many bikes.  It was a fun day offering four different courses of varying lengths from 10 miles to 100 miles.

Rick and Kevin from our Cincinnati, OH store ran support at a Zoom Triathlon event that was race 1 of a 3 race series. Our team were able to help about a dozen riders with things from tire inflation to gear adjustments and even a derailleur hanger adjustment. There were quite a few people that stopped by to thank them for being there even though they did not need any help.

The race had 125 racers has a unique format because it is a Tri/Duathlon – the triathlon option was a 1000m swim, 18 mile bike, and 4 mile run while the duathlon option combined a 2 mile run, 18 mile bike ride & a 4 mile run to finish things off. We’re excited to support this new series, and can’t wait to see how it grows and attracts new participants.

Finally, our stores also hosted many guests at our regularly scheduled Spin Doctor clinics. Above you can see the crew at the Derailleur Madness Clinic in our Oceanside, CA store last month. All in all, another busy month for our store teams – remember to check your local store page to find out what’s going on at your local Performance Bicycle!

Tour Devinci Build A Bike Giveaway Winner

We’ve picked a winner in our 2012 Tour Devinci, Build a Bike Giveaway – please join us in congratulating Kaden Milkovich of Ann Arbor, Michigan!

As our giveaway winner, Kaden is going to receive a 3-day, all-expense-paid, hands-on Devinci factory tour where he will get to meet Devinci staff, see how Devinci bikes are designed, tested, machined, welded and assembled and help build a Devinci bike with his own hands, from machining to assembly. To top it off, he will also get to ride local trails with Devinci staff, plus take home a Devinci Atlas RC 29er Mountain Bike as a souvenir of his trip!

Kaden was so excited to win that he wanted to share a few words with us about what he’s looking forward to most about his upcoming trip up north:

When I was a kid, Toys R Us would run these lotteries for a kid to have a one-or two-minute shopping spree in their completely empty store. Touring the Devinci Factory in Chicoutimi feels kind of like winning my own Toys R Us lottery. Instead of heading to the local shop to view bikes I only wish I could own, I get to go to the place where bikes–and not just any bikes–SWEET bikes are born! I won’t mortify anyone with my current ride, but suffice it to say, winning the Atlas RC 29er is a major, major upgrade. It’s like switching from Dewar’s(serviceable) to Lagavulin 16-year single malt (egads).

I’ve ridden all over lower and upper Michigan. The former’s filled with tricky, rock-and rolly-single track if you know where to look and don’t mind driving a bit, and the latter’s a sweaty mix of steep, rooty climbs, shade-peppered piney loops and endless swaths of sandy washes. I love being the first one on the trail in the morning and I’m going to love being on the trail on probably the sweetest bike I’m ever likely to own. I can’t wait to see the craftsmanship that goes into bike-building at Devinci. They source the aluminum for some of their frames locally and I am stoked to tour the factory and see how a bike comes into existence, from conception to completion.

Wordless Wednesday

Flashback Friday: 1982 Tour de France

Since Performance Bicycle was founded in 1982, we thought that today was a perfect time to look back at the Tour de France in 1982. With 6 time trials on the schedule, Bernard Hinault was the odds-on favorite to take his 4th Tour de France title (he had won in 1978, 1979 and 1981), as he had already won the 1982 Giro d’Italia. Other cyclists of note in the race were Gerrie Knetemann, Joop Zoetemelk, Johan van der Velde, Sean Kelly, and a very young Phil Anderson.

Bernard Hinault

The race began, as expected, with an Hinault victory in the opening time trial in Basel, Switzerland. But after 2 road stages, Australian Phil Anderson sprinted to victory and the yellow jersey in Stage 2 and wore the leader’s jersey for the next 9 days (only the second time that the yellow jersey was not worn by a European).

Phil Anderson

Just to keep things interesting early in the race, the organizers through in a stage that passed over the cobblestones in northern France, documented in this short movie from French television:

As expected, Hinault took back the lead after the first time trial, even though he didn’t win the stage. After marking his opponents in the  Pyrenees, Hinault won the short individual time trial of Stage 14 to expand his lead. In the Alps, Hinault again kept an eye on his closest competitors, after a short delay due to a farmers’s strike on Stage 16:

Greve des coureurs, 1982. Presse Sports – L’Équipe

 The final time trial win by Hinault made his coronation as Tour winner a formality, but Hinault wasn’t called the Badger for no reason. He responded to criticism that the 1982 Tour was “boring” by attacking the entire peloton for victory on the final stage on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, while in the yellow jersey!

 

Wordless Wednesday

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