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.”

Community Events: 2013 South Florida Bike MS

Since we’re now open for business in Florida, with 4 new stores and 1 coming soon, we couldn’t wait to get on the ground and out in our new local communities. So what better way to celebrate than with one of our favorite activities, helping out with the dedicated riders of Bike MS.

Steve and Dave are set up and ready to tune-up some bikes.

Steve and Dave are set up and ready to tune-up some bikes.

Three Performance team members headed down to Miami to help out with the South Florida Bike MS in April. We were there to work, doing everything from handing out nutrition to performing quick bike tune-ups – before, during and after the 50, 80 or 100 mile rides.

Dave and Christopher tune up bikes.

Dave and Christopher tune up bikes.

As you would expect in Florida, the weather was sunny and beautiful on ride weekend! More than 1400 riders turned out for the 2-day event and everyone had a very good time. We worked on everything from dry and noisy chains to punctured tires and tubes (and even one punctured rim).

Three handups ready to happen.

Three handups ready to happen.

On the second day we had the first aid station. While there’s not usually too much mechanic work that needs to happen only 7 miles into the ride, we did have a few boxes of GU Energy Gels to hand out so we stood next to the course on a straight open section of road and handed out over 100 peanut butter GU gels on the fly. No need to stop for this aid station, we’ll hook you up as you ride by!

Steve distributes powerbars on the move.

Steve distributes powerbars on the move (click for the animated version).

Here Steve shows us the fastest way to empty a box of PowerBar Performance bars – open them up near hungry Bike MS riders first thing in the morning! All in all, the ride was a big success with no serious injuries and loads of smiles. We had a great time helping out and ended up manning 5 aid stations over the course of the two day event. We can’t wait to help out again next year!

Community Events: Winter Wrap-Up

store_wideIt’s been a little while since we’ve checked in with our local store associates, but cooler weather didn’t stop teams from our over 100 stores all across the country from staying busy in their local cycling communities. We put on clinics, supported rides helped out with local advocacy groups and more. For more info about your local Performance Bicycle, check your local store page for regularly scheduled Spin Doctor clinics & group rides. Read on below for some of what our stores were involved with in the last few months.

el_tour_2012In November associates from our Arizona stores helped out at the 2012 El Tour De Tucson. We covered their day in detail in an earlier post, but our teams were busy at 3 aid stations out on the course, supporting the almost 9,000 cyclists on the 111 mile route. Our expert mechanical help meant that no one had to quit the ride because of their bike!

131_icemanOur Bloomfield Hills, Michigan store came out to support a slightly chillier race, at the Iceman Cometh Challenge Bicycle Race. This annual 29 mile point-to-point mountain bike race is so popular that registration fills up in minutes! Our team had a great time at the packed pre-race expo, and we even saw some familiar faces among the 3700 racers on a slushy race day.

bike the coast2Also in November, our Sorrento Valley, California store participated in the 3rd annual Bike the Coast event, which offered 7,15,25,50 or 100 mile courses from the Oceanside Pier. We provided the turn-around rest stop and sag support for the 50 and 100 mile course, which was conveniently located right in front of our store.  We had a great turn out for the event, as the organizers said they had approximately 1700 participants. Our two big tents were busy all day with volunteers handing out food, and our mechanics helping with flats and other mechanicals to keep folks on the road.

va_beach_rodeoThis next event may have been small in size, but we our Virginia Beach, Virginia store was still proud to receive this certificate of appreciation from the local Rotary Club.  Store associates Erin Simms and Bob Orr were instrumental in the planning and execution of this safety rodeo that we participated in for several hours – they were excited to be able to give back to their community in this small way, but who doesn’t like to get a little recognition for their efforts!

Also at our Virginia Beach, Virginia store, six riders participated in an Indoor Century in February. Following the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association’s rules for an indoor century, riders hooked up their trainers and set out for six hours. Riders were given advice on nutrition strategy and were given great advice regarding their riding style to help them optimize performance.  Our store manager, Terry, was nice enough to whip up some PB&J’s for the day and provided fresh fruit. In the end, two riders lasted the full six hours. It was a fantastic time for staff and customers alike!

This next shot is from an ongoing indoor cycling class in our Greenwood, Indiana store. A regular crew of about 15 people showed up on a weekly basis over the winter, staying fit and pedaling away the winter blues with our store team. There isn’t a much better way to stay motivated than to pedal away with some new friends!

79_clinicOf course our stores also continued with their regular Spin Doctor how-to clinics, covering topics from roadside/trailside repair, to tuning derailleurs, to basic bike maintenance tips that every cyclist should learn. Above is a shot from a group in our Virginia Beach, Virginia store getting tips from our resident Spin Doctor.
121_clinicHere’s an interested group of cyclists in our Southlake, Texas store, learning more about derailleurs.

97_clinicOur Dayton, Ohio store also fielded large crowds for their Spin Doctor clinics, like this one above.

tampa_goAnd finally, we can’t neglect to mention the Grand Opening of our very first stores in Florida! Here Bonnie, the store manager of our Tampa store, got to do the honors at the celebratorial ribbon-cutting ceremony at our very first store in the Sunshine State.

fort_lauderdale_goAnd here’s the excited crowd of cyclists stretched around the corner our new Fort Lauderdale store, eager to get inside and celebrate our grand opening with us.

So after a busy winter, we can’t wait to see what the warmer weather brings our way. Our store teams are excited to get back on the road and out in their communities even more to share their passion for cycling!

Community Events: Performance Bicycle in Florida

Here at Performance Bicycle, we are proud to announce the opening of five stores in Florida, the first time that we have opened a store in the Sunshine State. To celebrate the much-anticipated stores, each new location will host a Grand Opening event featuring many exciting offers for cyclists of all levels.

tampa_ribbonDavid Pruitt, Performance Bicycle’s chief executive officer, summed up why Florida was such a great fit for Performance Bicycle: “Florida has a vibrant and growing cycling community, and we’re looking forward to becoming a part of that on the local level.  While Florida’s always been a strong state for our e-commerce business, we’re very excited to serve Florida cyclists even better with our five initial locations.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe new stores all feature our easy to shop layout with over 3,000 cycling items including a great selection of bikes, cycling clothing, sports nutrition, components and accessories. The stores will also feature Performance Bicycle’s signature Spin Doctor Service and Repair department. Spin Doctor Certified Mechanics participate in a continuous training program that assures customers receive expert service for their bike. This training, combined with years of experience working with the top brands in cycling, enable Performance Spin Doctors to expertly service all brands of bikes, no matter where they were originally purchased.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur new Performance stores will offer a broad selection of cycling products and services to meet the needs of all cyclists. In addition, with the high number of tri-athletes living and training in the area, all Florida stores will feature clothing, bicycles and accessories for triathletes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADuring the first half of 2013, Performance Bicycle plans to open the following five stores in Florida:

If you are in Fort Lauderdale or Tampa during the weekends of 3/15-3/17 or 3/22-3/24, definitely stop by to say hello and check out the Grand Opening celebrations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you live in the area of our new Florida stores, or any of our over 100 other locations, remember that local cycling clubs are invited to contact their neighborhood Performance Bicycle stores to organize membership drives, group rides or to use the store as a location for club meetings. We hope to see you soon!

Event Recap: 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross Worlds

With plenty of cowbells, intense racing and a raucous crowd – the 2013 UCI Cyclocross Worlds in Louisville, Kentucky, was a great show! For the first time ever, the elite cyclocross world championships were held outside of Europe, and, since it was only a short drive from our Cincinnati store, we couldn’t miss the chance to see what it was all about in person! As a proud sponsor of this once-in-a-lifetime event here in the US, Performance Bicycle sent a team of associates to meet some of the dedicated ‘cross fans and also take in the racing action.

Our team arrived a day early to get set up in the expo area near the race course only to be greeted by frigid temperatures and fresh snow – perfect ‘cross weather. But soon after we started unpacking our gear, we learned that the planned 2 day event had been compressed down to a single day of racing, due to impending flood waters from the nearby Ohio River.

DSC_0001So that meant that race day was an early one for our team – to get all 4 championship races completed, the schedule started in the morning and ran all day long. Fans started rolling in shortly after 8AM to find their favorite viewing spot on the compact race course and we were ready for the influx with an array of giveaways, games and (of course) cowbells.

DSC_0013aOur tent was busy all day long – we met ‘cross fans from all across the US and Europe, including folks from about 30 states and at least 6 different countries. It’s not just Belgians and Dutch who love cyclocross – fans of all stripes were out in force to watch their favorite racers!

DSC_0008aWe even ran into Captain America and his blue-haired sidekick, who obligingly posed with our cool cowbells.

02022013_CXWorlds_0032Of course the dedicated European supporters’ clubs made the trip as well – with matching wigs, flags, hats and outfits. These groups travel to almost every race on the pro circuit, so they weren’t going to let an ocean get in the way of watching the world championships in person.

02022013_CXWorlds_0002But we should also take a moment to give a special thanks to the dedicated Louisville Parks Department team that worked late into the night to hold back the flood waters long enough for the race to go on – without the sandbags and barriers below, no one would have had the chance to enjoy this spectacular event.

02022013_CXWorlds_0004Finally it was race time – a non-stop showcase of the best cyclocross racing in the world. The junior men’s race was first out of the blocks on a still-frozen course – as you can see, conditions were fast but still slippery for these youngest racers. Dutch rider Mathieu Van Der Poel continued his season-long domination and defended his junior world crown, but American Logan Owen rode to an impressive 4th place overall – supported by a boisterous crowd!

02022013_CXWorlds_0007And the crowd noise was indeed impressive! The ‘cross fans were in full throat from the earliest races to the end of the day – and not just for the leaders or US riders (although there was plenty of “USA! USA!” chants for the home team). Even the last place riders were supported with a wall of sound on every lap – we put together a quick video to share some of what the atmosphere was like:

And they’re off – these Belgian fans got a snapshot of the women’s race as they gunned for the hole shot.

02022013_CXWorlds_0017But in the women’s race no one could touch the incomparable Marianne Vos, who soloed to her 6th cyclocross world championship (although American Katie Compton put in a valiant chase to get second place).

02022013_CXWorlds_0021By the time the men’s race started in the late afternoon, the slowly thawing course turned into a sloppy, muddy track – perfect for ‘cross racing and epic race photos.

DSC_0137We had our cowbells ready to cheer on the racers, especially in front of the Performance Bicycle course banners.

DSC_0049Top-placed American finisher Tim Johnson here navigates a tricky corner in front of the huge crowd.

02022013_CXWorlds_0051The new world champ, Sven Nys, was focused all race long – he stayed at the front of the pack all race and escaped for the win on the last lap, out-dueling teammate Klaas Vantornout.

02022013_CXWorlds_0053Crowds, banners, cowbells and mud – is this Belgium or Kentucky?

02022013_CXWorlds_0054American Jonathan Page put together a great race on his brand new Fuji Altamira CX 1.0 bike – he was running in the top 10 until a jammed chain slowed him down in the middle of the race.

02022013_CXWorlds_0064And just to show that the event organizers made the right call to move all of the racing to Saturday, here’s what the course looked like on Sunday morning!

Flooded course form @timjohnsoncx on Twitter

Flooded course via @timjohnsoncx on Twitter

All in all, this was an amazing event – we want to thank everyone who came by our tent to say hello and the folks at the Louisville 2013 organization for letting us be a part of this historic day of racing. If you weren’t able to make it to the race in person, definitely check out the replay on the UCI Youtube channel.

Community Events: 2012 El Tour De Tucson

It’s 5AM in Tucson, AZ and 9000 cyclists are squeezing into every available space around the start line of the 2012 El Tour De Tucson. A contingent from our Arizona store support team set up a last-minute tune-up station, as most of our people and tools were already on their way out to our 3 aid stations out on the course. Sipping on free coffee and trying to stay warm, the buzz of the day fills the air.

El Tour Start 5amAttracting a crowd of 9,000 cyclists from throughout the United States and worldwide, “El Tour” is one of the premier organized rides in United States and also one of the top 3 fundraising rides (Perimeter Bicycling distributes funds to an array of local charities every year). The main event routes show off Tucson’s beautiful vistas of its local mountain ranges and Saguaro cactus, along a flat to rolling or moderately hilly course – although 2 dry but sandy river crossings greet the full 111-mile riders! All routes offer aid stations with water and snacks spaced about 7-10 miles apart, full police support at intersections and plenty of morale-boosting volunteers and spectators.

But this great event doesn’t begin on the cold streets of Tuscon, so let’s take a quick look back at the Expo and the leadup to this year’s “El Tour”.

Three days before the start of the event, we set up our booth alongside many other local and national vendors. We were lucky in that we were right across the aisle from the free t-shirts. The first two days of the expo slipped by and before we knew it, we were one day away from the race. The expo was packed and our booth was the place to be!

Maybe it was the free bike gear we were giving away. Or maybe it was the “Blind Folded Spin Doctor Challenge”! If you managed to change a flat tire faster than one of our blind-folded Spin Doctor mechanics, you were in for some great prizes.

But let’s get back to the real action. No, not the awesome Southwestern Cuisine in Tucson, although that was excellent . . .

No, we mean the real highlight of the weekend, the 30th El Tour de Tucson. In the blink of an eye, nearly 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities had lined up and were ready to head out onto the 111 mile course (although 85, 60 or 42 mile routes were also available).

It took more than 7 minutes after the starting gun fired just to get everyone rolling – but finally they were off! We quickly split up and headed to our respective aid stations.

Jeff Dalina (Chandler), Tom Flores (San Diego), Rusty Sattler (Scottsdale), Bryan Zittolosen (Tucson) at tech support stop #2.

As riders came up to the Performance Bicycle aid stations, they were treated to the finest in mechanical care. Just like every event we participate in, our services on race-day are completely free.

We lubed chains, fixed flats, and changed tires to make sure that no one had to quit the ride because of their bikes.

We fixed bikes no matter what they were – including this custom Ti recumbent with HED wheels and a stars and stripes cloth fairing! One of the best things about the ride for us, as with any ride, is seeing all of the Scattantes out on course (check out our album on the Performance Facebook page). All in all, we had a great El Tour and very much look forward to returning next year!

Store Events: October Recap

After a brief summer vacation, it’s time to get back to our monthly recap of what some of our over 100 stores all across the country have been up to in their local communities – from running clinics, to supporting rides, to helping out with local advocacy. If you want more info about your local Performance Bicycle, check your local store page for regularly scheduled Spin Doctor clinics & group rides. Read on below for a sampling of the events our stores were involved with last month.

Our Bailey’s Crossroads, VA store helped out at the Best Buddies Challenge – an event dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. There were over 2500 riders in the event with around 800 passing through our aid station. Corey and Julio helped riders with everything from essential repairs to crash inspections.

Our San Rafael, CA store helped out at the Marin Biketoberfest. This event was hosted by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC), the local advocacy group in the area, and Access4bikes, a group dedicated creating more single track access for bikes in Marin County.  With participation from local vendors, bike manufacturers, west coast brewers, and local live bands, Biketoberfest provides fun for the entire cycling community.

Our Kearney Mesa, CA store pitched in to support their local Safe Routes To School program – which promotes cycling and walking to school for elementary and middle school kids. We provided tips on securely locking your bike, proper helmet fit, safe riding practices, basic maintenance, and more.

Our Bonita, CA store sent two associates to provide mechanical support at the last rest stop for the Bike MS Bay to Bay Tour, in beautiful Crown Point San Diego. Mechanic/Bike Builder Daniel Estevez and Store Manager Greg Heath set up a tent and work stand and helped out other volunteers getting nutrition/hydration/repairs out to the riders. 

Ryan and Jeff from our Scottsdale, AZ store helped out with the monthly trail maintenance on the Black Canyon Trail in Arizona. Our team worked along with Black Canyon Trail Coalition members and other volunteers to cut back cat claw vegetation and build crib walls for areas that were eroded by the summer monsoon storms.

Ryan and Jeff logged a total of 16 hours of trail maintenance during the trail event. For every volunteer hour worked, the trail system gets credited funds to put back into the trail system for building more single-track!

Our San Francisco, CA store helped out Playworks and SalesForce.com at a monthly event benefiting deserving children from various elementary schools in San Francisco. Playworks and SalesForce work together to buy the bikes and supply a total of 120 volunteers to build 80 bikes in only 2 hours! Our team to helped to build and check bikes for safety after the volunteers built their assigned bikes.

Our Oceanside, CA store provided a bicycle safety instruction and light maintenance clinic for local Cub Scout Troop 748 at the Scout House in Holiday Park, Carlsbad, California. Pre-ride safety, vehicle code, and hands on demonstration of tube/tire service as well as safe bike handling techniques were shared with a interested group of young cyclists.

Our Seattle, WA store helped out at the Kitsap Color Classic, another great event by the Cascade Bicycle Club. We did a few safety checks for  people who crashed on the ride, but most of the labor we did involved basic derailleur adjustments. Our crew was able to help out riders of all levels throughout the day.

Our Richmond, VA store helped out at the the first annual Martin’s Tour of Richmond. Starting and ending at the Richmond Raceway Complex, the ride was a logistical feat to offer three different distance rides passing through a total of four counties; impressively, police officers from each county stopped traffic for cyclists at every single intersection on the route!  We offered mechanical support and gave out water bottles at the last aid station of the tour.  Our own Matt Grilli even tackled the ride on a fixed-gear bike – out of the 591 riders that committed to the 102-mile route, he finished 92nd in just under six hours!

Our Newark, DE store helped out at the Bike MS: Bike to the Bay ride. There were over 1600 riders participating in this event, and we were busy all day fixing tires/tubes along with spending most of the morning setting and checking tire pressures for the participants. 

Our Woodland Hills, CA store participated in the amazing CicLAvia 2012 Los Angeles! It created a network of connections between our neighborhoods and businesses and parks with corridors filled with fun. It was a fantasic and fun event that should happen in all major cities! Check out our blog post for more info. 

A team from our Columbia, MD store pitched in to help the Bike MS: Bike to Bordeaux event. It was a little cold out, but everyone that came through our checkpoint was having a great time and seemed thrilled to see us.

A team from our Roseville, CA Store participated in the 19th annual Roseville Bikefest. We provided safety inspections and repairs on bicycles so that kids could participate in riding an obstacle course and so that parents could be made aware of safety issues and proper bicycle maintenance.  The City of Roseville hosted the event which included safety seminars, helmet fittings, free helmets, prizes, riding demonstrations, demonstrations from fire and police departments, and entertainment.  

Finally, our Buford, GA Store helped out with the Gainesville SORBA Tumbling Creek 6 Hour RaceThis race, the “Sprocktoberfest” is hosted by the Gainesville SORBA branch and is an annual, popular event. It is attended by between 250 and 300 riders and as many spectators. Our chief Spin Doctor, Jose Paz served as the main neutral support for the race and was very heartily welcomed. Two of our store representatives, Greg Vaughn and Will Bennett also participated in the race. Besides supplying neutral support, Jose had Cytomax drink available in coolers and GU gels to offer to tired racers!

It was another busy month for our store teams – remember to check your local store page to find out what’s going on at your local Performance Bicycle and to check for our regularly scheduled Spin Doctor clinics.

2013 Alpine Loop Gran Fondo – the Finale

If you’ve been following on our blog, you’ve read how Zach, from our home office, had prepared his body and his bike gear to get ready to tackle the challenge of Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo in Virginia. But we couldn’t just send him up to the ride by himself, so we put together a team of 3 to report back on the most challenging and adventurous Gran Fondo in the United States!

Peloton heading out of town | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

Below is a photo of our crew the night before the big ride, with Jeremiah Bishop in the middle, sporting his extra-special white tuxedo for the pre-ride dinner (he was the host, after all). Ross, on the left, is a merchandise assistant in our bikes division – and is also an all-around fast dude on a bike. David works in our marketing department as our social media guy – documenting adventures such as this ride. And finally, Zach, one of our web merchants, is on the right – he’s been training hard all year to lose weight, gain fitness and get ready for the Gran Fondo. Read on below to find out how the ride worked out for each member of our team.

Ross, David, Jeremiah Bishop and Zach | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

Ross:

After hearing rave reviews from a few friends, I knew that the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo had to be highlighted on my calendar this year.  Any time you hear the words mountains, bikes, beer, gravel, and fundraising in an event description, a great time is to be had… and it was. I was very thankful to have taken Jeremiah up on his pre-fondo training ride a few weeks prior to the main event.  This ride gave me a chance to test out new equipment on many of the infamous sections of the course such as the hour long paved and gravel climbs and subsequent hair-raising descents of Reddish Mountain.  This ride was when I discovered my fondness for road tubeless setups and disc brakes on the road.

I’ll start my recap with a quick rundown of my bike setup, since it was a little different than the other guys. I rode a Scattante CFX Black cyclocross bike, running on Stan’s ZTR Alpha 340 disc front and rear wheels with Maxxis Padrone 700x23c tubeless tires, set up tubeless with Stan’s sealant (of course).

Following a brief staging, the ride was underway, we were winding through the streets of historic Harrisonburg and then off into the farmlands of the foothills.  After an hour riding over rollers, you could feel the peloton starting to get a little antsy as the first timed climb of the ride began and the pain began.  It wasn’t long before I was up near the front hanging on for the next several miles as Ben King set the pace.  As we passed over the summit, I was very thankful to have disc brakes on the wide open descent into the valley.  The Avid BB7 road disc calipers provided consistent stopping power no matter what the descent had in store.

Ross on his Scattante CFX Black | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

With the first climb out of the way, the small re-grouping at the front was off to tackle the next few climbs… which happened to be the hardest of the day!  The second climb was 30 minutes riding 10-20% grades on gravel.  It was nothing short of exhausting with no chance for legs to recover.  The next few climbs were paved but equally as steep and energy draining.

Half-way through the ride, and with virtually no chance for recovery and another food/water break, the “final” climb of the day, a gravel road to the top of Reddish Knob, was breathing down our neck.  I don’t think that this road can really be considered “gravel”, it is more of a road cut into solid stone.  Tubeless tires won the day on this rough terrain with low tire pressure and virtually no chance of a pinch-flat.

After a grueling hour of climbing, the final check point came and went with a sigh of relief.  It was only downhill to Harrisonburg, or so it showed on the course profile. But don’t be mistaken by the elevation loss, the last 20 miles of the Gran Fondo were extremely hard! Fatigue and saddle time had taken their effect but the finish was so close that it encouraged us to ride harder – that and the fact that gobs of food and New Belgium beer were waiting at the finish line.

If you plan on riding the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, be sure to look at Jeremiah’s equipment recommendations on the event website.  The route is nothing short of brutal.

Ross in the Amish countryside | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

David:

I had one advantage over my coworkers, Ross and Zach, going in to the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo – I had completed the ride last year. Yes, Zach and Ross had gone up to Harrisonburg for a special training ride with the host of the event, Jeremiah Bishop, but there’s nothing quite like riding the whole route and knowing how your body will react. Then Jeremiah went and changed the route! So it was back to square one for me – I knew how hard the first road climb and the last rolling miles into town were, but the whole middle of the ride (including the fearsome backside of Reddish Knob) was going to be a new experience. My only real equipment change from last year was rolling on a Stan’s ZTR Alpha Comp Road Wheelset, set up tubeless with Stan’s sealant.

At the start of the ride, I rolled along comfortably ensconced in the peloton with my coworkers – the pace was casual until the first big climb of the day. And that’s the last place I saw them until the finish line – Ross motored on up the road with the leaders, Zach started his battle to finish under the time cutoff for the glockenbell finisher’s medal, and I settled in to a comfortable place somewhere in between.

David climbing to Reddish Knob | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

It’s always interesting on rides like this how quickly you find the group that is going your same pace – for the whole rest of the day I saw a rotating group of the same faces as the pack that crested the first climb near me – a moving mini-group within the group. The good news is that I felt better than I had last year – although for some reason the second dirt road climb felt even harder than before. I blame selective amnesia – 20% pitches on a bumpy dirt road will do that!

The highlight of the ride had to be the soul-crushing ride up the backside of Reddish Knob, a new addition to the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo route. I neglected to read up on this devious climb beforehand, so I was convinced that it was only 3 or 4 miles. Nope, that’s not Jeremiah’s style. Instead it was 9 miles of undulating dirt and gravel road, checkered with potholes, steep climbs, flowy mini-descents, and a finish high atop Reddish Knob with a stunning 360 degree view of the mountains.

Top of Reddish Knob

On this climb I experienced the high and low-points of my ride. The high point (other than the delicious rest stop food – Nutella, waffles and Orangina are my new favorite mid-ride snacks) was finding an extra burst of speed and power halfway up the climb, which found me flying by fellow riders and the expertly placed photogs from Joe Foley Photography. My low point came shortly afterwards, where I paid for my sudden acceleration with the most painful leg cramps that I’ve ever experienced – I was only able to soldier through by pounding down as many margarita flavored extra-sodium Clif Shot Bloks as I could stomach. All in all, it was another grueling, amazing and memorable ride (and my longest ride ever at 107 miles), and I can’t wait to give it another go next year!

David near the top of Reddish Knob | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

Zach:

I’ve had a few weeks to digest the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. The scenery, both beautiful and tranquil, provided a picturesque background in which to suffer.  The event was quite the experience.  There was almost every type of cyclist there.  Everyone from “fat bike” riders, to Radio Shack Nissan team pro Ben King, and of course, the emcee of the weekend, the man himself, Mr. Jeremiah Bishop.  Everyone had fun. Everyone suffered.  Everyone made new friends.  We suffered together, we laughed together.  There were long grinding climbs, world class descents, and hours of relentless focus.

As for me, I did what I set out to do.  Finish in under 10 hours – I did it in 8 hours and 45 minutes.

Every time I tell recall the experience, whether to friends or just in my mind, the more details I remember.  It’s as if it was an epic, suspenseful movie with ups, downs, twists, and turns.  Every time you watch the movie, you pick up on new things you hadn’t noticed the first time you watched it.  I remember the folks I had conversations with, where they were from and what inspired them to ride in the ALGF.  I remember suffering for hours, by myself, turn after turn yielding nothing but more elevation around the next corner.  I remember that pothole I hit at 38mph during a 15 mile descent around mile 80 that could have thrown me from the bike and thinking that, ‘I should try not to lose focus’. After all, I had ridden 80 miles and climbed over 10,000 feet  at that point in the day and my mind and body was fading.

Zach on the first climb of the day | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

I could point out around 20 highlights of the weekend in general, but the two that stand out the most have to be the second climb of the day, and crossing the finish line.  The second climb of the day was 3 miles, 1400 feet, on gravel, with nothing but 15-20 percent grade stair step pitches.  Many people were walking up most of the pitches.  Somehow I managed to stay on the bike, and never walked at any point during the day. Epic. Finishing goes without saying.  It was just good to accomplish something that I had spent all summer thinking and training for.

All in all, this was the hardest event I’ve ever done in my life.  After three weeks I’m just starting to get my legs back.  I’m undecided as to whether or not I’ll try and tackle it again next year, but I highly recommend it for anyone looking to take their riding to the next level.  I did things on a bike that I never would have dreamed about when I first started riding a few years ago.  It was an event I’ll never, ever forget.  Thanks to all my supporters who helped me do it, and most of all, my wife!  From here on, I’m looking forward to bike rides to the park with the family, Spaten Oktoberfest, and the off season.  Oh yeah wait, there is no off season!

For more pictures of the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, check out the photo gallery on our Facebook page or take a look at the amazing photos from the pros at Joe Foley Photography (who were gracious enough to let us use their images in this post). Plus we want to give a special shout-out to all of the volunteers at the Gran Fondo, who did a great job of making everyone feel welcome all weekend long – and especially to Jeremiah and his wife Erin, who were gracious hosts for this great event, even if Jeremiah did poke fun at Zach after the ride:

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