Team NetApp Endura Visits Fuji’s Home Office

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to visit the biggest one day bike race in the US, the Philly Cycling Classic, thanks to an invite from our friends at Fuji Bikes. We had a great time checking out the excitement of the race (especially the finish up the famed Manayunk Wall), but the highlight of the trip was a chance to visit the home office of Fuji Bikes (and their sister brands in the Advanced Sports International or ASI family: Kestrel, Breezer and SE Bikes) with the members of the NetApp team, after the race.

Members of Team NetApp posed for a photo with the Fuji Bikes team

Members of Team NetApp posed for a photo with the Fuji Bikes team, including CEO Pat Cunnane (on the right)

ASI moved to their current headquarters in northern Philadelphia, from New Jersey, in 2004 so that they could triple the size of their warehouse.We followed along as the members of Team NetApp got a chance to meet everyone at the ASI offices, especially the bike design team. We learned more about the product development process, from assessing the market and looking at past sales, to talking to customers, attending trade shows, talking to dealers – even reading every bicycle magazine and good old-fashioned research on the internet. It’s definitely an in-depth process! Just the design process for a new bike can take over a year, and it’s not uncommon for a bike to go from concept to delivery to market in 18 months to 2 years.

We also got to learn more about the ASI/Fuji culture – needless to say they are really into bikes! There is a full Fuji demo fleet in their warehouse so that any employee can check out any type of bike for a month. Even though they are located in Philadelphia, they’re also building a full cyclocross course on the grounds near their warehouse, along with some mountain bike trails. And remember the Norcom Straight triathlon/time trial bike? Norcom Road is a favorite stretch of test road just a short ride from their offices. Fuji is also a huge presence in the local cycling community, with one of their main focuses being the Cadence Cycling Foundation – a group that engages youth through the sport of cycling to help them grow into healthy, responsible, and confident adults.

One of the highlights of the tour was the chance for everyone at ASI to have lunch and chat with the members of the NetApp team, all-rounder Blaz Jarc from Slovenia, classics rider Ralf Matzka from Germany, Jonathan McEvoy from the UK (11th place finisher in Philly),  all-rounder Erick Rowsell from the UK, mountain specialist Frantisek Padour from the Czech Republic (who finished 12th in Philly), and Director Sportif Christian Pomer from Austria (a former pro cyclist himself). Fuji associates got the chance to pepper the members of Team NetApp with questions.

They described their Altamira racing bikes as a good quality all-around bike – light, stiff, and with good handling. The hardest race they’d ever done? Without a doubt, Paris Roubaix – they made it to the end, but the Arenberg cobble section was just super hard, since you go straight into it at a really high speed. They also compared Philly Cycling Classic to Europe and said that it was a different style. At Philly the racing was a lot more aggressive, and they were always fighting for position as it never settled down. In Europe, the racing starts hard, but then a break goes, it settles down, and it only gets really hard again at the end. But they loved the atmosphere on the Manayunk Wall (where they may, or may not, have received beer handups at the end of the race).

The team even talked a bit about how they got started in bike racing – most started in their early teens riding for development programs. In England, their academy system finds kids in grade schools and progresses them through their national Olympic training program – they were full time riders from an early age, but not pro until a few years ago.  They also spoke about the stagiare program – wherein a professional team takes on ‘cycling interns’ starting in August. Young riders are released from their U23 team and get what amounts to a try out for a pro team, for free. It’s a big step up from the lower level, and the riders are under a huge amount of pressure to make a good impression in a few months. They even spoke about what they do in their off time – other than ride bikes, they just like to take a few weeks off the bike and not think about racing at all!

It was a great visit with the ASI/Fuji team, and with Team NetApp – we’re excited to cheer for the team as they compete in the Tour de France in July! To get a little sense of what pro racing is like from inside the peloton, check out this video we put together from the Manayunk Wall at the Philly Cycling Classic:

National Bike Month: Meet People for Bikes

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As you may know, May is National Bike Month. To help celebrate and get the word out, we’ve had an opportunity to interview key people from some of the America’s largest bike advocacy organizations.

This week we were fortunate enough to get a few minutes with Tim Blumenthal of PeopleForBikes and ask him a few questions about his organization. 

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1.What’s the goal of your organization? 

The goal of PeopleForBikes is to make bike riding better for all Americans and get more people biking more often.

2. What projects are you working on currently?

We group our work into two basic areas: 1) Building Better Places to Ride; and 2) Building Political Power. Both are national programs.

We run our Green Lane Project to improve bike infrastructure in cities and large towns. We focus on building protected bike lanes that are physically separated from fast-moving cars and trucks and make bicycling safer and more appealing for everyone–especially new riders, families and older Americans. We also improve bike infrastructure (lanes, paths, singletrack and bike parks) by awarding grants to support their development. We’ve invested $10 million during the last decade in projects like this, as well as the local, state and national groups that help make them happen.

We’re working to build political power to support better places to ride. We’re focused on growing the PeopleForBikes individual supporter base–bicycling’s grassroots army. We currently have 800,000 Americans on board and we’re determined to increase this number to a million or more during 2014. We are becoming a political force: as more people join PeopleForBikes (it’s free), we are developing serious clout! We need your help.

The other part of our political strategy is our grasstops engagement program. We call it the PeopleForBikes Business Network. First, we engage bike business leaders (as well as leaders of businesses outside the bike industry) to share the stories of the good jobs they support, and importance of solid bike infrastructure to their continuing success. Then, we engage other societal leaders—not only business owners, but pro athletes, celebrities, developers—to publicly support and advocate for bicycling of all kinds. Our grasstops program focuses on elected officials, but we want everyone in America to appreciate all the great things that happen when people ride bikes.

Protected bike lanes are a major initiative for PeopleForBikes

Protected bike lanes are a major initiative for PeopleForBikes

3. How can I make cycling better in my community?

The most important thing you can do to make the cycling experience better in your community is ride predictably and respectfully—both on and off road. Stop at traffic lights and at stop signs. Signal your turns. Use a light and rear reflector if you ride after dark. Alert others when you’re about to pass them. Second, pay attention to the bike-related decisions of your town, city and county governments.  If leaders step up to support a great project, send them a short note of thanks or leave a phone message. If they fall short, don’t be afraid to ask them to do better. Be specific. Get involved with your local or state advocacy group: they will guide your efforts.

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 4. How do you reach out to non-bike riders ?

We emphasize the benefits of bicycling to non-bike riders. For example, protected bike lanes in cities make traveling more predictable and safer for everyone—whether they’re driving, biking or walking. Bike paths, trails and lanes boost business—not only tourism, but often every-day sales at adjacent stores and restaurants, as people pedal by and (often) stop, as opposed to speeding through. Bike riding reduces road congestion and air pollution and improves health: everyone benefits from that.

PeopleForBikes has worked with municipalities all over the country to improve the visibility of bike riders

PeopleForBikes has worked with municipalities all over the country to improve the visibility of bike riders

At the end of the day, we believe that two things will make bicycling better for everyone: more places to ride that are safe, appealing, and close to home and work; and strong public support to create and maintain these places.

Cycling Classes – What Do You Need To Train Inside?

Some Performance stores host indoor cycling classes

Whether you’re a dedicated cyclist or not, indoor cycling classes have plenty to offer for everyone. For the casual cyclist who’s looking to do some cardio work, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more intense—or fun—workout . It’s especially beneficial if you have bad knees or are nursing an injury, since cycling is a no-impact sport. For cyclists, indoor training classes are an excellent way to improve power and stamina, as well as a fun group event that can spice up your training and help pass the winter months.

Some Performance Bicycle stores host free weekly indoor training classes. After business hours, the store staff will set up stationary trainers for everyone who shows up for a fun, indoor group ride. All you need is yourself and your bike, and the store staff will take care of the rest. If you’d like to know more, you can contact your local Performance store for more details. If you’re a member of a gym, they may also offer indoor cycling classes (sometimes called Spin ® classes) in special studios equipped with stationary bikes. Sometimes they may feature coaches that you push you to ride harder, local DJ sets, or movies. But as with any exercise activity, showing up ready with the right equipment will enhance your experience.

While technically you could jump into any indoor cycling class with standard running apparel and shoes, a few small upgrades will help you get the most out of your experience. Two things in particular will really boost your experience – cycling shoes, and cycling shorts.

Indoor cycling classes are great way to get in shape, have fun, and meet fellow cyclists

95% of indoor cycling bikes have pedals that use 2-bolt style cleats. This means you can pick up a simple pair of cycling shoes and cleats to attach your feet to the pedals (temporarily). Using clip-in (called clipless) shoes and cleats will give your legs a more complete work out and make staying on the pedals during hard intervals a piece of cake. Check out the Pearl Izumi X-Alp or X-Road shoes . These look like casual shoes but perform like a good pair of mountain bike shoes. The best of both worlds!

Shoes like the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Road shoe look like casual tennis shoes, but have a mount for cycling cleats in the sole

Once you find the pair of shoes that’s right for you, you’ll also need cleats. Cleats are typically sold with pedals as each pedal design uses a different type – but you can easily pick up some cleats on their own to match the pedals you will be using. If you’ll be using a stationary bike at a gym or fitness studio, it would be best to double check with your indoor cycling instructor as to which type of cleats your indoor cycling bike will accept. As mentioned, the vast majority of indoor cycling bikes use 2-bolt, SPD style cleats such as these. Don’t forget to buy the cleats or the shoes will just be for the looks. To learn how to mount the cleats, click here.

Most stationary bikes will have a mechanism for SPD-style cleats on the pedals. Clipping in will drastically increase your pedaling efficiency.

The second thing you’ll need to purchase is a simple pair of cycling shorts (click here for baggy shorts, or here for lycra shorts). Simple cycling shorts have a slim pad called a chamois that will help sitting on the bicycle seat be more comfortable. A cycling chamois will also wick away sweat (don’t wear underwear under your cycling shorts). A great place to start would be the Performance Nevado shorts, available in both men’s and women’s. These shorts provide the benefits of cycling shorts with a baggy outer layer so they don’t look like cycling shorts. The added comfort will help you stay on the bike seat longer and the more you ride, the more fit you will become.

Shorts like the Performance Nevado have a “baggy” outer layer, with a removable lycra liner with a chamois pad for increased comfort

Another great benefit of cycling shorts like these is that once you’re ready to take your newly formed cycling legs out onto the open road, you’re already partly outfitted. These shorts and shoes will work as well outside as they do in the indoor cycling studio, giving you the same increased comfort and efficiency on the road as they do in the classroom.

If you’d like to do your own version of an indoor cycling class at home, then a stationary trainer is a great option. A stationary trainer is like a treadmill for your bike. There are a few different models to choose from (you can learn more here), but they all provide a pretty good workout. If you want to do your class in your own basement or TV room, a stationary trainer is a great option. For more advice on training at home, check out our article on the Performance Bicycle Learning Center.

A stationary trainer, like the Elite Qubo, can turn any room into your house into a personal home gym.

6 Ways To Recycle Your Cycling Gear

We all know that cycling is good for the environment, but we still end up with old, worn-out cycling gear that is destined for the dumpster. We’ve discovered 6 ways to recycle your old cycling gear – and change it from trash to treasure.

1. Recycling tubes or tires

Tires and tubes are the one part on the bike that you can go through at a rapid rate. Since they are rubber based, recycling is a great option. At every Performance Bicycle location, we have a blue recycling bin where we accept tires and tubes for recycling. We share all of that rubber with Liberty Tire and they use it to make everything from Olympic weights to playground mulch. All you have to do is drop off your used tubes or worn out tires and we’ll do the rest.

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Tube & tire recycling fixture at your local Performance Bicycle

If you don’t live near a Performance location, check with your local auto tire shop. They will often send piles of auto tires in to places like Liberty Tire and may take your bicycle tires and tubes for free. Be considerate though as they often have to pay to have their tires recycled, so asking them to do something for free that they have to pay for is asking them for a real favor.

One more option would be to box up and mail your tires/tubes to someone like Alchemy Goods. Alchemy recycles tires and tubes, turning them into everything from messenger bags and saddle bags to wallets and belts.

2. Passing on the love

The number one way this sport grows is through the generosity of others. We were all new to the sport at one point. Someone showed us how to use clipless pedals, when to signal, how to take over a lane to make a left turn, how to ride in a pace-line, or how to jump over a log. The best thing you can do for the sport of cycling is to take someone under your wing. For example, if you just bought pedals, why not your old pair on to someone who might get into the sport because of your generosity? So, be a cycling advocate and lend a hand to someone in need.

3. Making art

This one’s not for everyone. Some people just don’t have an eye for it. Still, if you’re artistically minded and have used bike parts lying around, why not combine your passion for cycling with your talent for art? We’ve seen some great examples of Christmas ornaments made out of bicycle chains, picture frames made from old bike parts, bracelets make from old spokes, or wind chimes made out of used chainrings. You don’t have to be a top etsy seller to make your mom a special hand-made birthday gift. Just think of the money you save and can justify putting towards new cycling parts!

4. Building bikes for those in need

Most large communities have bicycle co-ops. A bicycle co-op is an organization that recycles old bicycle parts and uses volunteer labor to build bicycles for people in need, often children. Many times they will have a program in place whereby a person in need can volunteer their time and earn themselves a bicycle. Volunteering for a program like this will give you another opportunity to give back to the cycling community and will also present many chances for donating some of your used bike parts. What seems like a worn out crankset to you, could be the missing piece necessary to helping someone without means to build a bike that they can use to get to work.

These organizations are everywhere. Ask your local shop if you can’t find one. Maybe your community needs one and you can start one yourself!

5. Metal Recycling

The one other part on your bicycle that you should be replacing with some regularity is your chain. At your nearest Performance Bicycle location, we also accept worn out chains, which we ship to Resource Revival. Resource Revival uses the chains to make all sorts of creative products from bottle openers to award medals. Even if you’re not near a Performance retail location, you can still utilize Resource Revival by collecting and mailing chains yourself or helping your local shop collect them. Instructions can be found on the Resource Revival website.

If this isn’t a feasible opportunity or if you have more metal than you know what to do with, you might try searching for a local metal recycler. They will often have someone who will pick up piles of old metal from you (frames, wheelsets, etc.) and will haul them off for free.

6. Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade

Our good friends at Clif Bar have partnered with Terracycle to provide an amazing opportunity to recycle used energy bar wrappers. Depending on your rate of consumption, it may take a while before you have enough wrappers saved up, but what about setting up a box in your office? How about bringing a box out to the local group ride and encouraging your friends to save their wrappers for your recycling project. Recycling wrappers can earn you prizes or further charitable causes through Terracycle. Check out the Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade website for more info.

Do you have any other great recycling ideas? Did we miss any of the big ones? Have creative art projects? Share them in the comments section below and let the recycling begin!

Wordless Wednesday

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Wheels 4 Life – A Hans & Carmen Rey Charity + Performance Bicycle

wheels_4_life_new_logoWe’ve partnered with the Wheels 4 Life charity of mountain bike legend Hans Rey and his wife Carmen for a few years now, and we’re excited to be able to share some of the results. Wheels 4 Life is a non-profit charity that provides free bicycles for people in need of transportation in developing countries. They partner with local individuals, organizations and other groups to help identify persons who sincerely need a bike to be able to go to school or to work. Find out more about upcoming projects and how you can help on http://www.wheels4life.org/ - but we’ll let Hans himself tell you why this work is so important, in this video from Interbike last year:

Our main avenue of supporting the mission of  Wheels 4 Life is by the Wheels 4 Life branded GT bikes that we offer on our site & in our stores. A portion of the cost of each bike goes directly to Wheels 4 Life and helps fund their many projects around the globe – so far over 170 bikes have been purchased in Africa with these funds, bicycles that will make a difference for entire families and communities in real and lasting ways.

GT Wheels 4 Life Peace Tour Commuter Bike

GT Wheels 4 Life Peace Tour Commuter Bike

We’ll let Carmen Rey tell you more about the projects that were funded by our Wheels 4 Life branded GT bikes, and how they are making a difference already:

The amount raised through the Wheels 4 Life bicycles sold by Performance enabled us to purchase 170 bicycles for people in really great need of transportation in Uganda. We funded 3 different projects thanks to you and your support of the work we are doing.

The first was implemented in February 2012. This was the Kyatiri Health Centre Project and saw us donate 25 bicycles to the health care center. They then went on to distribute them to their patients so that they would be able to travel to the health clinic faster and easier. These patients live in remote areas and have to travel quite a distance in order to see a nurse who can administer their treatments.

Our Wheels 4 Life Ugandan Ambassador, Mr. Jude Muleke, has managed the second project. He heads a registered CBO known as CBIRD for short. Jude has received funding for bicycles from us several times in the past and also assists us with the running of our various projects in Uganda.

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The third and final project was with Voluntary Effort for Community Health (VECH Uganda). This is the first time that we have worked with VECH and we have been pleased with the way that they have administered their Wheels 4 Life project. With both CBIRD and VECH the bicycles went to various groups in our target area: school children, farmers, and people in need of transportation in order to work.

We always purchase the bicycles used in our projects in the area where they will be distributed, in order to aid the local economy, to save on transportation costs, and to make sure that spare parts are easily available.

Thank you so much for changing so many lives through the gift of bicycles. One bike helps change the life of approximately 4 people’s lives – not just the one person who originally receives the bike, but also their neighbors and family with whom the bike is shared.

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Wheels 4 Life bikes ready to be donated on a recent trip to Africa

Employee Profile: Johnny Pratt & Bike Raising

From time to time here on the Performance Bicycle Blog we like to recognize our coworkers and let them share what they’re passionate about outside of work. This week we’re talking to Johnny Pratt, a Product Developer at our home office in North Carolina. Johnny joined Performance as the Merchant Assistant for components in August 2011, after working for companies as varied as Eastern Bikes and Credit Suisse. He grew up cycling and has always loved to be outdoors. He raced on the Appalachian State Cycling team while in school there and was a participant in the World Race, traveling to over 15 countries on five continents in a year’s time. Outside of work he spends most of his time racing bikes, doing adventure races, spending time with his family, and serving those in need.

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Johnny racing in the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race

It was that passion to serve others that led Johnny to co-found Bike Raising Inc., a non-profit organization that raises money for charity through cycling events. Bike Raising was born on a ride – Johnny and his friend Josh Stinger were riding in the hills of North Carolina when the concept was formed to create an organization that dedicated 100% of the money earned at an event to small non-profits that are hindered by lack of funding. But we’ll let Johnny tell you more about why he wanted to create and run a non-profit, in his spare time, in his own words.

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Johnny in his Bike Raising kit

What is Bike Raising and why does it exist?

We wanted to make a difference to a few non-profits that had massive goals, but were constantly held back because they didn’t have the necessary capital to make it happen.  With my business background and Josh’s project management background we knew we could create something to help out.  We both loved bike racing and we knew our goal was fundraising so the name Bike Raising was born.  It started simple and it remains simple.  You participate in a fun, safe and challenging cycling event and a small partner non-profit gets some help.  In what other race does everyone win?

The charitable organizations we partner with have a purpose and a mission.  We call this their “critical pursuit.”  When they are unable to fulfill their critical pursuit it slows down the change they are working towards.  Many organizations say that the resource they’re lacking the most is funding.  We don’t want them to shift their focus from their mission by dedicating the majority of their staff and resources to fundraising.  Bike Raising strives to eliminate the need for these organizations to take their eyes off their goal – which is where we become a valued member of the team.  We partner with the organization, learn their needs both financially and socially, put together a plan of action, set goals and set forth to accomplish them all.  We allow the organization to keep pressing on with their mission while we handle the rest.  This is why our motto is to Race. Give. Love.

What is Bike Raising involved with now and how can someone help out?

The Needle Gate Project is a journey from the Space Needle to the Golden Gate Bridge.  It’s a pursuit of physical and mental limits.  It’s a platform for freedom both to the individuals riding and those whom are yet to be free.

For this project we are proud to partner with She Dances, who is doing the great work of providing holistic restoration for young girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. She Dances needs funding to be more efficient and effective in their mission.  Due to the nature of the human trafficking industry there is very little time between when they discover an at risk girl and when an actual rescue takes place.  Funding in the hands of She Dances makes this process move faster, which results in that child’s restoration.

BRSDYou can help us in bolstering the speed and accuracy of She Dances’ mission.  Choose from one of our many exciting perks. Join the insider’s circle and get the video of us shouting your name on the Golden Gate Bridge.  Maybe you’d rather go with the Primo Pack that gets you some sweet MiiR stainless steel products, coffee and an original She Dances Tee.  Or maybe you want to join the Bike Raising team and get the complete kit.  If you help out in any way, you’re joining us on our journey and you’re partnering in the fight against human trafficking. Our goal is to raise $5000 to help support the work and restoration that She Dances is providing.

Community Events: 2013 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic

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What do you get when you bring together over 10,000 cyclists from 6 countries and 45 US states, about 35,000 sandwiches, hundreds of volunteers and “ride referees”, and over 202 miles of rolling countryside in the Pacific Northwest over 2 days in July? One of the biggest, best-supported and most fun bicycle events in the US – the Cascade Bicycle Club‘s Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (or STP). Now in its 34th year, STP was begun as a race in 1979, but it has since become one of the largest supported recreational bike rides in the country – and the primary fundraising source for the advocacy efforts of the nonprofit Cascade Bicycle Club as they work to create a better community in the Puget Sound region through cycling.

Most STP riders tackle the North to South route over Saturday and Sunday, with an overnight rest stop in between the 2 cities, but about 10-15% of the riders blast through the entire 202 mile challenge in one day. Most of these dedicated one-day cyclists start their journey before 5AM, and don’t reach the finish line until the early evening in Portland – the fastest riders complete the course in about 10 hours, but most folks trickle in after 12 hours or more in the saddle! Of course the vast majority of STP participants find that splitting up the ride into 2 long days on the bike is enough of a challenge – especially since 18% of them are trying the event for the very first time. These 2-day riders finish up their first century ride on Saturday and then camp out in a series of well-organized campgrounds near the halfway point of the journey – then get up on Sunday and do it all over again.

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So what makes STP so popular? After all, the 10,000 available spots fill up months before the start of the ride. We would definitely say that it’s the people that make the difference – although the beautiful Northwest countryside comes in a close second! Yeah, it sounds corny, but everyone we met was unfailingly friendly and happy to stop and say hi or talk about why they were riding. Plus we have to give a special shout-out to the Cascade Bicycle organizers and their army of supportive volunteers, who do an amazing job keeping this whole 200 mile rolling operation running smoothly – including 14 rest stops along the route, an array of halfway point campgrounds, along with the logistics of moving thousands of tents and pieces of luggage to exactly where they’re needed, like clockwork.

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Living the Dream cruiser bike crew

Every rider has a different reason for tackling this challenging adventure – but one of the most popular groups on the road was this collection of riders who completed the entire route on beach cruisers! What started out as 2 brothers raising money for the Living the Dream charity 9 years ago has grown into a crew of 19 single speed riders having a great time for a cause. They said that it wasn’t really the hills that were the most difficult to ride, but the flatter sections where they ran out of gearing and had to spin like mad to keep going!

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Bicycle built for a family of 4

We met this family and their bicycle built for 4 at the STP sign-in on the Friday before the ride. It takes some real family togetherness and coordination to get this big rig on the road, but when they dropped by our tent at the halfway point of the ride they were all smiles and ready for more! The whole family was outfitted in Performance gear from head-to-toe, so we made sure that all 8 of their water bottle cages were stocked with a brand new Performance bottle.

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Bill and his Scattante road bike

One day riders also came in all styles, from riders on full-on time trial bikes with carbon aero wheels, to folks who looked like they were on their everyday commuter. But most were like our friend Bill here, who rode his Scattante road bike the 202 miles in one day just for the personal challenge, checking in with us via social media along the way.

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One of our Spin Doctor mechanics, ready to help in Centralia, WA

With 10 stores across the states of Washington and Oregon, Performance Bicycle has been involved with STP for a decade now, and our team of Spin Doctor mechanics was excited to once again help out this year. During the 2 days of the event, our teams ran 7 mechanic aid stations spread out over the 202 mile route. So what does it mean to provide mechanical support for 10,000 riders? It definitely makes for a busy 2 days! From the time they set up until the last riders trickled in, the team of 10 mechanics at our biggest aid station at the halfway point of Centralia College worked steadily from 9AM until 6PM on the first day of the ride. Our guys fixed flats, changed cables, trued wheels, lubed chains and pumped tires, with a smile, for whoever came by our tent – going out of their way to make sure that no mechanical problem was going to derail someone’s STP experience. At the end of the day in Centralia we determined that our team replaced or fixed: over 120 flats, over 20 tires, 12 chains and even 2 wheels (not counting the ones we could true enough to get back on the road)!

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One of the advantages of being stationed at the halfway point in Centralia was that we literally got to see every rider that came through, on whatever bike brought them there. The array of bikes that people rode was staggering – it seemed that if you stood and watched you would see every single brand, make and model of bike roll by, from fully-faired recumbents to a custom carbon Calfee Dragonfly tandem (that one was a beauty – the newlywed couple riding it planned to complete a century ride a month). But the wide array of tandem bikes really caught our eye, so we couldn’t resist sharing this last album of just a few of the bicycles built for 2 that we saw at STP.

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We can’t wait to go back to STP next year – we’re already making plans on how to have an even bigger and better presence at this amazing event!

Community Events: 2013 Cycle to the Sea

Some people can’t imagine riding 180 miles on a bicycle from Charlotte, NC to North Myrtle Beach, SC in three days.  Now imagine doing this ride using nothing but your arms to complete the task.  That is what a group of cyclists did April 25 – 27, 2013 to raise money for the Adaptive Sports & Adventures Program (ASAP) at Carolinas Rehabilitation Hospital.  Cycle to the Sea (CTTS) is a unique ride that raises critical funds and awareness for ASAP to offer a variety of low-cost programs for youth and adults with physical challenges.  This bike ride is held every spring and involves athletes with physical disabilities who cycle on hand cycles and/or tandem bikes. Mark, a distributor from our components division here at our home office, participated in this ride with his hand cycle (he is also an accomplished wheelchair rugby player) and he took the time to share what this experience meant to him:

Day 1 started with a dozen hand cycles, 40-45 able bodied cyclists, and countless family members gathered to see their loved ones off on their journey.  The weather was chilly but it didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirit and anxiousness to get the ride started.  The group rolled out as one big unit but quickly separated into two smaller groups once we got out onto the open road.  There was over 3000 feet of climbing the first day but it didn’t seem to curb anyone’s spirit.  Everyone got over the climbs the best they could, whether by pedaling or getting pushed by a fellow cyclist, and everyone finished together.

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Assisting a hand cyclist up a climb.

The surprise of the day for me was our “safety patrol”.  The local Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club volunteers every year to shepherd the herd to Myrtle Beach.  The guys were amazing.  They created a rotating formation around each group of cyclists stopping traffic from ALL side roads and on ramps allowing the cyclist to pass unimpeded.  We did not stop at 1 stoplight the entire 3 day ride.  Gentlemen, my hat is off to you and what you do.  This ride would truly not be what it is without you.  THANK YOU!

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Rolling Thunder escort

Day 2 brought more of the same just with flatter terrain.  The weather was a little grey in the morning and quickly burned off shortly after the ride headed out.  The longer the ride went on the more the cyclist, both hand cyclist and able bodies cyclist, gelled together.  The two groups were operating as fine oiled machines and were very impressive to see.  The speeds got faster and those that had been pushed the first day didn’t seem to need as much help as they once had.  Folks seemed to have a growing confidence in themselves and their ability to get this ride done.  It was truly inspirational.

Day 3 brought on the last 63 mile stretch and you couldn’t tell from anyone’s face they had ridden over 120 miles in the past 2 days.  Folks were eager, feeling good, and ready to get the show rolling.  Early in the ride, you could feel there was a sense of purpose.  I rode in the front group and speeds stayed between 17-25 miles per hour the whole way.  For those that do not know, such speeds are reasonably swift on a traditional bicycle but that is “cooking” on a hand cycle.

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Rolling down the road with the whole pack.

Upon arrival to Myrtle Beach, you could see emotion on everyone’s face.  Not only on the participants faces with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment but also on the family members faces that their loved ones could pull off such an undertaking.  I’m honored to have been a part of such a great event and Cycle to the Sea will now be on my yearly calendar of “must do’s”.

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Group shot of the Cycle to the Sea riders & staff

I was fortunate enough to be both a participant in the ride and a representative of Performance Bicycle, which was one of Cycle to the Sea’s corporate sponsors.  As a long time cyclist both before the wheelchair and after, I understand the amount of time it takes to both organize a ride of this magnitude and the dedication it takes to complete it.  I salute all involved for a job well done.  The ASAP staff that Jennifer Moore has put together is second to none and I’m proud to be an associated with this organization.  I strongly encourage anyone that is looking for a good ride, an incredible experience, and a worthwhile cause to be a part of to consider the 2014 Cycle to the Sea bike ride.

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Our author, Mark, with his hand cycle.

Everybody has different reasons why they ride.  Some ride to prove something to themselves, some ride to prove something to others, and some ride to honor someone that has touched their life.  For me, the 2013 Cycle to the Sea is dedicated to my friend Jimmy Melton.  I met Jimmy this past Thursday as the CTTS ride was leaving town.  We were both first time riders and Jimmy was there to support one of my fellow hand cyclists Jacob Conley.  We talked and came to know each other pretty well over the next three days.  The end of the ride came, Jimmy met my wife and baby daughter, and we made plans to see each other next year at the 2014 Cycle to the Sea.  Then I got the bad news that Jimmy had died the next night in his sleep.  I was numb.  Jimmy definitely touched my life and made me a better person for knowing him.  Godspeed my friend.  I will see you on the other side.

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Jacob and Jimmy.

Ultimately this bike ride is not about a charity event.  It is about those with physical challenges that display uncompromising human spirit, determination to accomplish what they aren’t supposed to be able to do, and those that just want to ride their bike.

Performance Better Bicycling Community Grants: Open Streets & Kidical Mass

In honor of our 30th anniversary in 2012, we partnered with the Alliance for Biking & Walking to identify 10 worthy organizations to receive $30,000 in Better Bicycling Community Grants, which were distributed directly to local communities to make the most impact on the ground. In this post we’re going to catch up with 4 groups that are making a difference though Open Streets initiatives, powered by the Alliance for Biking & Walking’s Open Streets Project. By temporarily closing streets to automobile traffic, these events foster connections in their communities by allowing people to walk, bike, or just socialize in the heart of their town – creating a public space where before there was just traffic.

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First up is the Carrboro Bicycle Coalition, part of our Chapel Hill, NC store community, and only a few miles from our home office & warehouse. The Open Streets event they hosted was designed to meet the city’s public health, social, economic, and environmental goals by allowing residents the opportunity to use the street, a public good, in safe, active, and socially engaging ways.

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Kids ride at Carrboro Open Streets

This first-ever Open Streets event in Carrboro took place on Saturday, April 13, and it was definitely a resounding success. A diverse cross-section of the community came out on bikes and on foot for a variety of healthy activities, from kids rides, to yoga, to rock-climbing and more!

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Cyclists young and old at Carrboro Open Streets

Our Chapel Hill, NC store sent a team to support the event, both to wrench on bikes that needed a quick tune-up or a flat fixed, and also to chat with anyone who stopped by to say hello – a big part of Open Streets events is just getting to know your local community members better.

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Performance Bicycle tent at Carrboro Open Streets

Seth LaJeunesse of the Carrboro Bike Coalition had this to say: “Through promotional activities, community rides, safety clinics, and bike light installation sessions, the Carrboro Bicycle Coalition has advanced the feasibility, quality, and safety of bicycling in the Carrboro- Chapel Hill region. Performance Bicycle’s Better Bicycling Community grant extends these efforts by placing bicycling at the center of a broader Open Streets initiative that promises to enhance the health, nutrition and well-being of diverse stakeholders.”

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There were many options to participate in Carrboro Open Streets

We were excited to be able to help out with an event so close to our home office, and we can’t wait for more events like it in the future.

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Gene, from our home office, at Carrboro Open Streets

Another $3000 Better Bicycling Community grant was awarded to Charlottesville Community Bikes to help celebrate Charlottesville’s bikeable and walkable Jefferson Park Avenue corridor and encourage and support a neighborhood desire to bike and walk to these businesses. Charlottesville’s first Open Streets Event was on held Aug. 18, 2012 along a 1 mile stretch of road, closed to vehicle traffic, and open to all other forms of active recreation and transportation. In collaboration with this event, the local neighborhood associations also held a JPA Bridge Reopening Ceremony and Farmer’s Market that day. Over 40 organizations supported the event through sponsorship and offering activities or items of interest to the community. Participating organizations and nearby businesses reported positive experiences including strong community engagement and even increased business sales from the 2,000 attendees at the event!

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Charlottesville Open Streets

Susan Elliott from Charlottesville Community Bikes said that the Performance grant “made it possible for us to demonstrate that active recreation and transportation can build community, be fun, and offer a valuable amenity to area. Being the first event of this type, many people were unsure of how it would be received. Everyone who experienced the event – families, government officials, represented organizations – came away with positive experiences and enthusiasm for more in the future. This grant gave us the ability to focus our attention on inviting the community to participate and ensuring a high quality experience.”

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Children’s group ride at Kidical Mass Tucson

Our Broadway Tucson, Arizona store has been involved with a slightly different take on the urban riding experience through a partnership with the Living Streets Alliance, who received a Better Bicycling Community grant to help promote family friendly bicycling in the greater Tucson region through four Kidical Mass events in 2013. Kidical Mass is a group ride that provides a safe, fun, and social setting for families to explore urban bicycling riding, for parents to grow more comfortable riding with small children, and for small children to gain confidence and skills in a loosely supervised group ride.

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Littlest cyclists at Kidical Mass Tucson

Since last fall, Living Streets Alliance has partnered with El Grupo Youth Cycling, a local cycling club with a mission of empowering youth through cycling, to host a series of Kidical Mass family-friendly bike rides, with 4 events total to date. LSA and El Grupo are planning two more Kidical Mass events - through partnering together these groups doubled the number of events they could host, and our store teams have been excited to be a part of this experience.

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Kids of all ages at Kidical Mass Tucson

Emily Yetman of the Living Streets Alliance had this to say: “The Performance Better Bicycling Grant has helped Living Streets Alliance make Kidical Mass, an incredibly popular, family-friendly, bike riding event, into a household name in a small, but growing number of homes in Tucson. Kids and neighbors now ask when the next ride will be held and word is spreading beyond the areas where we first held these rides. This kind of growth wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Performance grant.”

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Yoga on the street during Bike Utah’s Open Streets

The last Open Streets initiative from our Better Bicycling Community Grants is schedule to take place in Salt Lake City, UtahBike Utah worked with local partners to develop and implement the 2013 Open Streets event in Salt Lake City and use the success of this template to help other Utah communities organize similar events. The primary role of the Open Streets campaign is to build cycling awareness and to get more people out biking, walking, and partaking in community activities.

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Open Street cyclists in Salt Lake City

The first event, Open Streets – Salt Lake City,  took place on Saturday, May 4, and a big crowd took advantage of the opportunity to have fun on downtown city streets with no car traffic to deal with. Scott Lyttle, from Bike Utah, had this to say about our grant: “The grant from Performance Bicycle has allowed Bike Utah to partner with Salt Lake City to move forward Utah’s first Open Streets event. SLC has wanted to hold an Open Streets event for years and Performance Bicycle’s support has helped to make it happen.”

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