Community Events: 2012 USA Pro Challenge

The USA Pro Challenge has already begun, and “America’s Race” is already living up to it’s billing. Winding its way among the majestic Colorado Rockies, this year’s route takes some of the best cycling pros in the world over a 683-mile course with more than 42,000 ft. of vertical climbing – through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. With more than 1 million spectators in 2011, the USA Pro Challenge is already one of the largest cycling events in U.S. history, and the 2012 edition promises to be even bigger and better.

With 7 Performance Bicycle shops in Colorado, we couldn’t miss out on this exciting event. Look for a Performance Bicycle tent at the finish line expos of Stage 5 in Colorado Springs, Stage 6 in Boulder, and Stage 7  in Denver (August 24-26). We’ll have friendly store associates there each day talking about Performance, handing out free water bottles, and giving away a free bike each day! Drop by and say hello if you’re in the area (and did we mention we’ll be giving away a free bike each day!)

Of course we’ll also be at the final weekend of the USA Pro Challenge to check out the racing action and share it with you – we’ll post our behind-the-scenes photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter, plus right here on the Performance Bicycle Blog. We’re especially excited to see Team Champion System in person on their Fuji Altamira bikes. To catch the racing action live, head over to the USA Pro Challenge Tour Tracker (or download the app so you can watch it on the road), or watch the NBC Sports Network daily coverage.

Jeremiah Bishop, Sonya Looney and Bryson Perry at the 2012 Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race

The 2012 Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race may be in the books, but we’ve got a few video interviews to share from our time racing and wrenching above 10,000 feet in Colorado. Performance Bicycle had 3 riders from our home office riding in the race, and 3 Spin Doctor mechanics providing expert neutral support to all of the racers, but our first interviews are with a few of the pros who battled it out at the front of the race.

First up is Jeremiah Bishop, a veteran racer and multiple-time US National Champion for the powerhouse Cannondale Factory Racing Team. Jeremiah mixed it up in the lead group all day at Leadville and finished in 3rd place overall with a time of 6 hours 41 minutes (even with a detour that added and extra 6 miles to his race!) But Jeremiah was really excited to talk about hosting his upcoming Alpine Loop Gran Fondo back in his home town of Harrisonburg, VA on September 15 – we’ll be there too, but we’ll leave the Strava King of the Mountain assault on Reddish Knob to JB:

Next up is Team Topeak Ergon’s Sonya Looney, who was the 6th woman across the finish line, even though she was still sporting a cast on her wrist from an earlier mountain bike adventure! Sonya’s teammates didn’t fair too badly themselves during this year’s Leadville race, with Alban Lakata taking the win, Robert Mennen in 7th, Yuki Ikeda in 17th and Sally Bigham in 2nd place in the women’s race:

Finally we’ve got a pre-ride chat with a former 2-time champ of the Leadville Trail 100, Bryson Perry, who completed the race this year to earn the coveted “Plata Grande” – the giant belt buckle awarded to the select few who have successfully finished 10 Leadville races:

Wordless Wednesday

Leadville Trail 100-Twin Lakes Aid Station

With less than 10 days to go until the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race, Performance Bicycle is getting into gear to provide mechanical support for the riders. Each year, 2000 riders compete in one of the most grueling endurance tests in mountain biking, and this year’s race marks the race’s 30th anniversary.

We have lined up some of our best Spin Doctor mechanics at the Twin Lakes Dam Aid Station to offer mechanical support for all racers. Jeff and Kyle will be at the Performance tent along with our friends from Lifetime Fitness. We can promise that this year’s aid station is going to have everything you need to keep you rolling on race day. After 40 miles of racing, it will be nice to see a familiar face waiting to tune up your bike.

Jeff brings 7 years of experience as a bike mechanic and countless hours on the trail. He once sold a bike to Robin Williams and is pretty funny himself. If you see him race day, ask to hear his stand-up routine. When he isn’t busy finishing college, Jeff loves ripping single-track or tearing up the bike park. His tip for keeping your biking running smooth on race day? Keep your chain clean and lubed.

Kyle claims he has been a mechanic since birth. This BMX Street style king has 5 years of experience as a bike mechanic and more advanced training than an astronaut. He has trained at Barnett’s Bicycle Institute, SRAM Technical College and of course, is Spin Doctor Certified. His tip: Learn how to change your own flats (unless you’re tubeless, of course).

The Twin Lakes Aid Station is at Miles 40 and 60. Stop by our tent for a quick repair or adjustment and make sure to keep an eye out for the Performance kits on course worn by our associates in this year’s race, Chris, David and Tom.

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!

 

You could be our Stage Winner!

The 2012 Tour de France features 22 teams and 198 riders in cycling’s biggest race. The pros will battle it out over 2,173 miles of steep mountain passes, quaint country villages and hectic sprint finishes. Only a lucky few will get the chance to win a coveted stage of this year’s race. It’s a life-changing experience for the pros – from that point on, they can say that they won a stage of cycling’s most famous race.

So we thought it’s time to share the acclaim. You probably won’t be lining up to contest the prologue in Liege, Belgium or the next 20 stages across France – but you could be selected as a Performance Bike Stage Winner! We’re going to randomly select one lucky participant as our Stage Winner after every stage of the Tour. Each winner will be highlighted with his or her photo on the Performance Bike Facebook page after the Grand Depart in Liege on Saturday, June 30 all the way to the triumphant finish on the Champs-Elysees on July 22. Our Stage Winner will receive the never ending fame that comes with being a Performance Bike Stage Winner – plus a $30 Performance Gift Card to commemorate our 30th Anniversary!

How do you become our next Stage Winner? Just head out for a ride and have someone take a picture of you riding your bike. Show us your climbing prowess, your suffer face, your victory salute or your sprint finish. Or just a shot of you cruising down the bike path with your kids or hitting the local mountain bike trails – we’re not as demanding as the pros and we don’t have to comply with UCI rules!

Tweet your photo to @performance_inc with the #stagewinner hashtag or post it to our Stage Winner page on Facebook to enter. We’ll pick a new winner every day of the Tour (even on rest days, just because it sounds like fun to “win” the rest day). You can only win one stage in our contest, but share as many photos as you like. We’ll be posting our pics too – we hope you’ll join us in our race to become a #stagewinner at the same time as the pros race in France!

Zach’s Training Diary: The Plan

We’ve decided to follow along this year as Zach, a web merchant here at our home office, works hard to get in shape for Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo this fall. Like many of you out there, Zach has been juggling work and family as he tries to make time to  meet his fitness and training goals. Read on below to see how his plan has been coming along, and let us know if you’ve got any tips in the comments below.

Wow, the last month has been so busy!  I’ll start with a quick update on everything. In the last month I turned 31, my wife and I had our one year anniversary, I’ve been setting personal records on my Strava hill climb segments just about every time I go out, I placed 7th in one of the local races I usually do terrible at, I dropped a pant size, and I’ve started the search for the perfect bicycle to ride for the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo!

Unfortunately though, I’ve only lost one freaking pound! One pound over an entire month!  Totally frustrating when the goal is to lose another 20 lbs by September.  Fortunately my Strava segments have been keeping me motivated, so I’m feeling happy with my results so far. But I’ve got to find a way to drop that weight!

As I mentioned in my first post, riding bikes has helped me out quite a bit in the weight loss department over the last few years (76ish pounds dropped so far), but now I can’t seem to lose weight from riding bikes alone. I’m not very good at planning out training routines to provide structure on a daily and weekly basis, but my buddy Ken is a cyclist, crossfit coach, personal trainer, and an all around good guy.  He’s really good at working with people as a trainer, and a few months ago he decided to help me train for the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo.  He‘s created a weekly plan for me that’s structured, but is still a bit flexible, and leaves some space for conflicts that arise throughout the week.

My training plan for the Gran Fondo is pretty straight forward – here’s a little insight into what I’ve been working on (this is just my plan – always consult a training pro for advice for you):

INTERVALS:

Intervals ramp up the metabolism like crazy, rapidly increase VO2 Max, help your heart rate drop faster after hard efforts, and increase lactic acid threshold. They also will help you develop endurance, a huge kick and do not have the muscle wasting effect of long slow distance riding. I do 2 hard intervals per week, mixing in Tabata sprints, hill repeats, ¼ mile x 10, 1 mile x 4, or other variations.

TIME TRIAL AND TEMPO RIDES:

I try to get in 2 tempo or time trial rides per week, more if time permits. Group rides serve well for this, as tempo rides should be your easiest pace rides.

WEIGHT LIFTING:

I’ve been doing 1 heavy weight training session per week, switching up weight and rep schemes. Some days I do high weight/low rep and other days I do low weight/high rep. Some folks stay away from weights, but I’ve found that it works for me.

TRY NEW SPORTS AND EXERCISES:

Again, some coaches will tell you to just ride, but I like to keep it fun and new. An occasional run, game of tennis, swimming, soccer or flag football helps shake things up for me.

DIET:

This is a tricky one for me, as I like to eat. Basically I’ve been trying to keep things fresh and simple, not drink any calories (just lots of water), and throw in a cheat meal once a week. If my weight’s not coming down, I change it up and try something new.

On top of my day-to-day plan, I’ve also scheduled some trips to the mountains of Western North Carolina this summer.  There are many routes out there that are similar to the Alpine Loop (well, at least I hope so), which will be great warm ups for my big ride.

I’ve been on my plan for several weeks now, and it’s been going pretty good for the most part.  I’m definitely getting faster on the hills and starting to hang with some of the faster group rides.  The riding part is easy – the hard part has been eating really well, and sticking to the intervals, hill repeats, and other hard workouts!  I’ve been doing exercises called “Bulgarian split squats,” and “Romanian dead lifts.”  Oh yeah running too! I hate running. 202 lbs is a lot to throw on your knees and ankles while trudging down the road in a half-hearted gallop/trot/jog excuse of a run!

The weight loss is the biggest issue and is directly related to my love of good food and drink. I’ve been doing a lot better with my caloric intake, but I’ll be honest, it’s hard to pass up delicious tasty chips dipped in ranch dressing and complimented with a chilly cold brew! My brother had the best quote ever. We went on a long hot mountain bike ride and after he bonked pretty hard, cramped up, walked it out, and got back to the house, he said “It’s just a man’s instinct to want to eat a delicious juicy burger after a long hard ride!” Agreed!

But at the end of the day, these structured workouts and diet restrictions are seriously paying off.  I am getting faster, I am dropping inches, and I am building muscle.  Of course the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo is going to be harder than anything I’ve ever done so far, and I’ve got to keep up the training plan, as this is just the beginning.

I was listening to an interview with Jeremiah Bishop the other day and he was talking about the Gran Fondo in his own words. From what he said, he got the idea for the ride in the middle of one of his training rides. At the top of one of the climbs in a remote area of the West Virginia wilderness, he was looking out and felt like he was in the Alps, hidden away from cell phone towers, power lines, and civilization as a whole.  But then he mentioned that the fastest he had ever done that climb was 45 minutes at full-on diesel race pace –  45 minutes for JB will probably be more like two hours for me! But what goes up also gets to bomb down, and the views from the top of the long climbs will be worth every burning pedal stroke!

So there are three months to go. Time to get serious and get this training dialed in. I’m excited to share my experiences about the bicycles I’ve been testing while in search of the perfect Grand Fondo bike, as well as the rest of journey along the way!

2013 Santos Tour Down Under Giveaway

Have you entered our 2013 Santos Tour Down Under Giveaway yet? Sunday, 6/24 is the last day you can enter to win the trip of a lifetime to see the world’s best cyclists in the first UCI WorldTour race of the year, thanks to our friends at South Australia. So what will you get if you win the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under Giveaway? Read on or watch a preview from last year’s race, below, to find out what will be in store in the Land Down Under for one lucky winner and their guest:

One lucky winner and their guest will be flown from Los Angeles and arrive in Australia on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 where they will check into a hotel in the heart of the city of Adelaide. Stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under will be going on, and the winners will be able to enjoy the afternoon exploring sites like the Tour Village, Gouger Street, Rundle Mall or the Adelaide Central Market.

Adelaide Central Market

On day 2 of the trip, the lucky winners will be right in the heart of the racing action, as they’ll be shuttled to see Stage 2 of the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under. After the second stage, they will head to the Club Tour Dinner to enjoy the atmosphere of being behind the scenes in the Adelaide City Council Tour Village. By nightfall they will be enjoying a great meal, meeting cycling stars, and listening to some exciting stories.

Moseley Square, Glenelg

On the third day, our winners will catch a ride to to watch the pros in action during Stage 3. In the evening, they’ll have a chance to explore the fine dining on offer in Adelaide, or at the seaside resort town of Glenelg, only 20 minutes by tram from downtown Adelaide.

Friday brings an extra special experience, as our winners will have the option to participate in the BUPA Challenge Tour (with a bike reserved for them). In 2012, 7052 recreational cyclists rode the same route as the professionals and cycling legend Eddy Merckx. In 2013, our lucky winners will have the opportunity to test their endurance and commitment as they ride through some of South Australia’s beautiful scenery to achieve the ultimate satisfaction of riding under the Santos Tour Down Under finish arch. They’ll receive an exclusive Bupa Challenge Tour 2013 jersey, an Official Bupa Challenge Tour Ride Guide with course information to help them prepare for the ride, access to refreshments at checkpoints along the route and a delicious lunch when they’re finished with their ride (they’ll have the option to watch Stage 4 if they don’t want to ride).

On day 5 of the trip, our winners will get VIP treatment at the finish line of Stage 5 of the Santos Tour Down Under (the video above shows the action from last year’s race). They’ll spend the day at the fully catered premium marquee as they watch the cycling elite race. They won’t miss any of the race action with a big screen positioned directly opposite their viewing spot!

Once the race is over, our winners still have a full evening ahead of them, with tickets to the Legends’ Night Dinner at the Adelaide Convention Center. The Santos Tour Down Under rolls out the red carpet and gives cycling fans the chance to glam up, celebrate and see cycling champions honored. The Legends’ Night Dinner has become a cycling social institution, honoring the world’s cycling greats. In 2012, cycling living legend Eddy Merckx dined amongst guests and shared some of his experiences with a captivated room of cycling stars and the like.

On Sunday, January 27, 2013, our winners will start their day with a scrumptious breakfast at the multi-award winning Adelaide Convention Centre overlooking the picturesque River Torrens. Then it’s off to Stage 6, the final stage of the Santos Tour Down Under. They’ll enjoy the last day of the Santos Tour Down Under in style on the Club Tour viewing platform. Fully catered and located on the start/finish straight, our winners will get to watch the crowds gather and cheer on their cycling heroes before attending the Presentations to top off an amazing week of cycling and sight-seeing!

View from the River Torrens in Adelaide

When our lucky winners fly home on Monday, January 28, 2013, they’ll go back with memories of the trip of a lifetime in beautiful South Australia, thanks to our friends at the South Australia Tourism Commission. Remember, entries for the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under Giveaway close at the end of the day on Sunday, June 24, 2012 – check back on July 23, 2012 to find out if you won!

Giro d’Italia Highlights: Final Weekend

The 2012 Giro d’Italia is over, and what a final weekend it was! Ryder Hesjedal became the first Canadian to ever win a Grand Tour, while also snagging the first overall Grand Tour win for Team Garmin-Barracuda. It was such an exciting final weekend that we had to corral the highlights here on our blog, just so we could enjoy the battle for the Maglia Rosa one more time.

First up was Stage 20, which included an ascent of the fearsome Mortirolo before a finishing climb up the punishing, and legendary, Stelvio. Aided by his trusty lieutenant Christian Vande Velde, Hesjedal powered a select group of GC favorites most of the way up the Stelvio in pursuit of the surprising Thomas De Gendt – who threatened to gain almost five minutes on the chasing pack of GC men. Hesjedal closed the gap to De Gendt in the final kilometers, but a cagey Joaquim Rodriguez sprinted away near the finish to gain a precious few seconds in his quest to keep the Maglia Rosa.

On the Giro’s final day, Hesjedal lined up for the final time trial 31 seconds down on Rodriguez – but in a display reminiscent of Greg LeMond beating Laurent Fignon in the final time trial of the 1989 Tour de France, Hesjedal powered his way through the time trial to best Rodriguez by a scant 16 seconds in the final tally.

What a race and what a finale to the season’s first Grand Tour – there was drama, a great storyline, and the always impressive Italian scenery. Here’s hoping that the competition for this summer’s Tour de France will be just as exciting!

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.

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