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.

Community Events: February Recap

Who says February is a slow time for cycling? Our shops were hard at work running clinics, supporting rides and otherwise getting more people excited about cycling in their communities. We’ve got over 100 stores all across the country, so let’s take a moment to find out what a few of them were up to last month. Remember, you can always check your local store page for regularly scheduled Spin Doctor clinics & group rides.

We thought that a good way to start this recap was with this shot of the Spin Doctor mechanics from our Colorado stores at SRAM Technical University in Colorado Springs. You can read more about their training in a previous blog post - but our guys were able to get some advanced hands-on training on SRAM suspension and component technology, and they’re excited to apply their advanced skills back in their home stores.

These next photos chronicle a special project in our Santa Rosa, CA store. The owner brought in this classic 1986 steel Fuji and wanted it rebuilt for the modern era.

As you can see, our team brought this vintage ride back to life with brand new Forte components, and we think that the combo looks awfully good!

Now this quarter-century old ride is ready to turn some heads at the next group ride or local crit!

Speaking of racing, our Woodland Hills, CA store volunteered to run some neutral support at the “Carson Crit” in Ontario, CA.

Our guys helped out the local racers, and also got a front row seat for a day of racing action.

This next event is slightly more laid back than the Carson Crit, but how could you not love a ride called the Tour De Cookie, in Tucson, AZ! The managers from our Speedway Tucson and Broadway Tucson stores led the charge in helping out with this great event (come on, bikes plus cookies is two of our favorite things).

But the Tour De Cookie is more than just a fun ride for people to eat cookies and ride bikes. This fourth annual event is also a fundraiser for Wheelchair Athletes and supports the kids try-athalon. Our Broadway Tucson store was one of the ten stops on the Tour. Our Performance team was there to support the riders, and Matt, one of our sales associates, brought along his entire family to help out.

Matt brought along reinforcements, since his family is involved with the Girl Scouts. Thanks to them, our store stop was well-stocked with Girl Scout cookies ready to give away to the riders! The riders each had a sheet attached to them and at each stop they got the spot number marked out and were allowed to take as many cookies as they wished.

At the end of the event the person that stopped at every stop with the shortest time won. But just to keep things fun, there was also an award for the last person, first female and best cookie stand.

Our store was the farthest away from the start/finish line, but they still had a huge amount of people stop by (having Girl Scout cookies on hand didn’t hurt)! So a special shout-out to Matt and his family for making our store’s stop such a success!

Our Peoria, AZ store was active last month in support of the 207 Miles Between Poverty and Hope Ride, a non-profit fundraiser dedicated to raising money for housing for those in need. Our store team was busy right up to the start of the 2 day event, and probably worked on about half of the bikes from the 32 riders!

The route of the ride stretched from Peoria all the way across the border into Mexico, and the riders raised over $31,000 with the efforts – great job guys!

Of course our stores also support many regular group rides right from their doors – like this picture from the first group road ride of the year at our Bonita, CA store. Check with your local store to find out more about local group rides.

Our store teams were also busy supporting indoor events last month, like our Columbus, OH store, who participated in the Endurance Sports Expo at the Athletic Club of Columbus. It was a great turnout, and over 400 people come through our booth to talk bikes – all under the elegant lighting of some fancy chandeliers.

Of course it didn’t hurt that our friends from Diamondback donated a bike for a giveaway! We had a ton of entries for the giveaway which generated a lot of excitement at the expo, as the winner would be riding the bike home that day!

Here’s the moment when our winner was announced and came bounding out of the crowd – needless to say, he was excited. Our team met a lot of new people, and even recruited many new faces to attend their in-store clinic the following weekend.

Speaking of clinics, last month’s Basic Bike Maintenance Clinic was a busy one across all of our stores.  Attendees got a quick lesson on the basics for keeping their bikes in prime condition, plus were treated to a special discount on our Spin Doctor tools just for attending. The shot above is from the clinic in our San Antonio, TX store.

Here’s the crowd in our Oceanside, CA store.

Attentive clinic-goers in our Chandler, AZ store.

There was a big crowd for the clinic in our Long Beach, CA store.

And here in our Oxnard, CA store.

Our Columbus, OH store was standing room only during their clinic.

While our Boise, ID store had more of a comfortably seated crowd.

Of course our stores also put on more specialized clinics for smaller groups, such as this bike maintenance clinic for a local Cub Scout group at our Oceanside, CA store.

Or this interesting Safe and Confident Urban Commuting Clinic in our Seattle, WA store – moderated by local cycling advocate David Smith of BicycleDriver.com.

Indoor cycling classes are also going strong in many of our stores, including this group in our Novi, MI store. In front on the right is sales manager Roger, leading the class.

Our  Speedway Tucson, AZ store has also got a strong group going with their indoor cycling class, lead by Brandon from our store team. Two of the three participants in this class were new to road biking, but Brandon pushed their limits. They had a great workout and are looking forward to more cyclists joining the sessions in the coming weeks.

Finally, we thought we’d share some pictures from a trail-building event that took place near our home office here in North Carolina.

Cisco and Jaime from our Raleigh, NC store pitched in to help build a new trail at the popular Lake Crabtree trail network.

This Weekend in Pro Racing

We’re definitely cycling fans here at the Performance Bicycle home office, so we’re always excited for another weekend of pro cycling action. Yes, we know that there’s already been drama this year with the Alberto Contador case, but  we still love watching the pros do battle out on the road – it inspires us to go out and push ourselves when we ride! And this weekend kicks off a flurry of pro racing, starting with some great European events.

First up, on Saturday, is the Strade Bianche in Italy. Last year Phillipe Gilbert won (and started his amazing season) this relatively new race that races across the fabled “white roads” of Tuscany and finishes in the hill-town of Siena. This race feels like a “new classic”, since it was inspired by the famous l’Eroica bike race – an amateur Gran Fondo-style event where participants ride vintage bikes and gear. Although the pros ride their 21st century technology, the Strade Bianche still has a fantastic combination of beautiful Italian countryside, a tricky climb to a finish on the main square of Siena (the same place where the Palio horse race is contested), and those infamous “white roads”, which are treacherous whether wet or dry! Gilbert will be back to defend his title this year, bringing along teammates Alessandro Ballan, Greg Van Avermaet, Cadel Evans and George Hincapie, while the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Christian Vande Velde, Johan Vansummeren, Dan Martin, Peter Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali round out a star-studded field of “all-rounder” riders. Check out the highlights from last year:

Is stage racing more your style? Then you can settle in to watch Paris-Nice, which starts on this Sunday and ends the following Sunday. Nicknamed the “Race to the sun”, Paris-Nice starts near Paris and then winds its way south through the French countryside to the French Riviera (not a bad way to spend a week, if you’ve got the time). The first true stage-race test in Europe, Paris-Nice offers up a solid mix of rolling stages, mountains and time-trialling to find out who’s got good early-season form. Tony Martin will be back to defend his title, but his new teammate Levi Leipheimer will also be there to back him up. They’ll face a tough lineup of Grand Tour contenders, such as Frank and Andy Schleck, Andrea Kloden, Bradley Wiggins, Janez Brajkovic, Damiano Cunego, Christian Vandevelde (in back to back races), Denis Menchov, Ivan Basso, and Tejay Van Garderen. Check out highlights from Stage 5 of last year’s race:

Interested in more of a Spanish flavor for your stage-racing action? Then you’ll want to check out the Vuelta a Murcia, a short stage race that features a climbing stage on Saturday and an individual time trial on Sunday. Spanish favorites Juan Jose Cobo and Samuel Sanchez will be lining up to challenge for the title, but last year’s champ, Alberto Contador, will not be back to dominate like he did in the highlights below (although this result was wiped out as part of his suspension):

Finally, if mountain bike racing is more your style, then we’ve got you covered there too! The Mellow Johnny’s Classic will take place this weekend on a ranch outside of Austin, Texas. The first race of the USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour, the Mellow Johnny’s race will be the first test for the array of racers battling it out for spots on this summer’s Olympic Mountain Bike teams. Contenders on the women’s side include Heather Irmiger, Emily Batty, Katie Compton, World Champion Catharine Pendrel, and defending champ Georgia Gould . On the men’s side, last year’s winner Max Plaxton will battle Todd Wells, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Jeremiah Bishop, among others. You can check out highlights of the 2011 race on Cycling Dirt.

Phew, kind of a busy weekend – just don’t forget to get outside and ride your own bike!

Community Events: January Recap

It’s a new year and our stores have already been busy in their local communities – riding, racing and volunteering. With over 100 stores all across the country, we’ve got quite a few events and people to highlight from January, so read on below to see a sample of what they were up to last month. Remember to check out our local store pages for regularly scheduled Spin Doctor clinics & group rides.

Katrina crossing the finish line in first place ©Steve Anderson

To start this month’s recap, we thought we’d start by highlighting the new World Champion at our Newark, DE store! Katrina Dowidchuk, one of our store associates, won the Womens 40-44 division race at the Masters Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville, KY. We recently caught up with Katrina to hear more about the race, her training, and her advice for those thinking about racing cross. To read more, click here!

While we’re talking racing, we want to congratulate Jon Chambers, a bike builder (on the left above) from our Allentown, PA store.  In the picture above, he’s holding trophies for the winning the PA Track BAR (or “Best all around”) stagiaire category and PA Track BAR Masters title. Jon also received 2 Silvers and a Bronze at Track Nationals this year, and won the 30-34 age group all around (you can tell he’s fast by the blurry photo – he can’t even hold still long enough for a camera!)

Sticking with our racing theme, a few of the associates from our Chandler, AZ store headed out to Fontana to race the Winter Series Downhill and Super D events.  Here’s a shot of one of our tents set up as base camp at the race – Dennis from the Chandler store took 2nd in his Super D class (with a crash) and 27th in pro Downhill!

Performance Bicycle made the news in Texas, as Jeff, from our North Austin, TX store, and Shelly, from our South Austin store, were on the local Austin Live morning show talking trainers and indoor training.  What do you think – Jeff’s got a future in TV if he ever gives up his bike gig!

Our Castleton, IN store was involved in a community event in Indianapolis, where they helped Brooksource with a team-building event where their employees built bikes for kids impacted by incarceration, in partnership with the U.S. Dream Academy. Our store manager, Tom, plus Jimmy and Brian, from our store team, helped supervise the build process and also donated a helmet for each of the kids who received bikes.

The Brooksource bike builders all had a great time and, considering the teams building each bike numbered about 6, they were surprisingly efficient at building! Our team completed the final bike safety checks just as the last helmet was being fitted.

Our guys helped build 13 bikes on site, had two pre-built, and got each kid fitted with their new helmets. The kids from the US Dream Academy were all surprised with their new bikes, and the build teams were just as thrilled to be able to present each kid with their new bike and helmet!

Associates from our Philadelphia, PA store participated in their local MLK Day of Service at Neighborhood Bike Works, a neighborhood bike co-op. Along with other volunteers, our 3 person team worked on projects to  renovate and organize the space.  They had a blast working with each other outside of their usual work environment, all while helping out a deserving non-profit.

Dennis and Adrian from our Chandler, AZ store, along with Adam from our Scottsdale store, broke out their work gloves last month to help Park Rangers with some trail-building on the South Mountain National Trail near Phoenix.

It always feels good to help out on trails that you love to ride, plus they got to work on a sweet rock garden (we’re a sucker for rock gardens).

Here’s a picture from our Pittsburgh, PA store last month as they hosted their local Major Taylor Club (Major Taylor was one of the first American cycling champions, on the track and in 6 day races). All members of the club needed to get certified on road safety as part of a national program, so we turned our virtual training area into a powerpoint display to help them out.

Our Akron, OH store played host to a younger crowd last month, as they hosted a local Cub Scout pack for a  clinic on basic bike knowledge taught by our Eagle Scout sales associate, Don. He taught them how to put the correct amount of air in the tires, how to clean a chain, and how to make sure that their brakes were working properly. Each scout left with a water bottle after answering a bike maintenance question!

Our Columbus, OH store held their own Cub Scout clinic in January as well, as a group of local scouts came by the shop. Our lead Spin Doctor, Mike, went over proper hand signals, tube/tire changes and basic maintenance to keep a bike in great shape. The scouts loved it and couldn’t wait for their chance to be tested about basic mechanical problems.

Of course we also held clinics for the big kids out there, like this Basic Maintenance Clinic in our Oceanside, CA store. Remember you can always check on our site to see when the next free bike clinic is scheduled in your local Performance Bicycle Store.

Our Cincinnati, OH store helped out with a fundraiser put on by a local elementary PTO.  The carnival raised money for science and music programs at the school – our team at the event talked about bike safety and helmets while handing out water bottles to the hundreds of kids!

While the energy-filled youngsters spun their legs out on our kids bike display, we talked to parents about our Grow Up kids bike program. We had the opportunity to fit the kids on bikes, and we even got to give away 2 bikes to lucky raffle winners!

Finally, our stores have been holding indoor training classes, including our Novi, MI store. Above is a shot from their latest class – that’s the daughter of one of our regular customers leading the pack! Below is a picture of the training group at our Tucson Speedway, AZ store.

Wordless Wednesday

Race Recap: Katrina Dowidchuk at Masters Cross World Championships

This week we’ve got an extra special race recap lined up for you, because we’ve now got a World Champion at our Newark, DE store! Katrina Dowidchuk, one of our store associates, won the Womens 40-44 division race at the Masters Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville, KY. We recently caught up with Katrina to hear more about the race, her training, and her advice for those thinking about racing cross.

How long have you worked at Performance Bicycle?

Since August 2008, so almost 3.5 years.

How long have you been racing bikes and what’s your current team?

I’ve been racing triathlons primarily since 2005. Then I started dabbling in road racing, endurance mountain biking and time trialing, but found the perfect fit with cyclocross in 2009. I currently race with Team TBB/Deep Blue which is a local team based out of Wilmington DE.

What was your first bike?

My mom bought me an upright pink bike with a banana seat and coaster brakes when I was about 8 years old. That thing was cool – racing up and down the driveway – I wasn’t allowed on the road. My first upgrade was a giant orange flag that attached to the rear wheel. Then I didn’t ride again until after college, to rehab a torn ACL , and now I have more bikes than I can count. You can never have too many. For cross, I ride the Fuji Altamira CX. It was a great upgrade this year.

Katrina Dowidchuk (Team Tbb/Deep Blue) racing on her pit bike. Photo: Wil Matthews

What’s your favorite part about racing cross?

Best thing about cross is that it’s incredibly hard, but it’s only 40 minutes! I give everything (I am not working hard enough if the drool isn’t running down my face) – run up some steep muddy hills, leap over barriers – but you finish a race knowing that you got out of it what you put into it. Plus, the cross community in the Mid-Atlantic region is very supportive. You see the same people at every race, and it’s so great to cheer for your buddies and have them scream for you.

Let’s hear about the race – what was the course like?

Course was perfect cross conditions. I was lucky, it was frozen solid earlier in the morning, but my race was at 2pm, so it warmed to about 33 and sunny. That made it thick gooey mud almost everywhere, at times covering deep frozen ruts, with the steep short climbs becoming muddy frozen runs where it was difficult to get traction. Overall, one of the most challenging courses of the year because of the conditions.

Katrina Dowidchuk of Team Tbb/Deep Blue takes the win in the womens 40-44 race. ©Steve Anderson

It sounds like you had raced against many of your fellow competitors before – did you have a set of race tactics in mind before the start? Did the race go as planned?

I raced some of them previously at the National Championships in Madison so I knew what I was up against. Louisville was different in that I really wanted to get out in front at the start. I figured if I got caught behind a crash that would be a deficit too much to recover from. So I gave it everything at the start – it was wild, as we turned the corner off the pavement, it was very slick and everyone went for what they thought was the best line. We were all over the place, you could feel racers sliding and swerving, but fortunately I was able to move up to about 2nd wheel. If I didn’t get jammed early, I knew I could be competitive. This race, I also planned better knowing when to get off the bike and run versus attempting to power through a technical section – you can lose a lot of time making stupid decisions. And in Louisville, I made much better decisions – I pitted every half lap, which means swapping my heavy muddy bike for a clean one. I kept my outstanding pit crew very busy!

So what did it feel like to win a World Championship & pull on the rainbow stripes?

Coolest thing ever. Although it was so cold I was bundled up like the Stay-Puff Marshamallow man, and when they gave me the jersey I was sure it would not fit over my many layers of clothing. But then I did finally get it on, and they played the National Anthem and people were cheering – it was the greatest! I didn’t take it off for at least another 6 hours.

Official UCI world championship medals await presentation. Photo: Wil Matthews

How do you train for racing cross?

One of the great things about cross is you don’t need hours and hours of training time. I try to simulate race conditions as much as possible. So I run stair repeats, get on the trainer and do sets of all-out max power for 30 seconds, with 30 seconds rest, and I do sessions of 2 minute race-simulation intervals where I practice starts, sprint, dismount and carry the bike, all at max effort. I don’t do any long and slow riding during the season.

What’s your best advice for someone who’s thinking about racing cross?

Don’t stress. There are a lot of local races that are age and skill-level graded – borrow a bike and just get out there and try it. Learn the basics, then laugh as you have to get over a barrier or run through the sand – I guarantee it will be the most fun you’ll have in a race.

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