Fall/Winter Cycling Gloves

As colder weather descends upon most of the country, most of us starting thinking about cold weather gear like arm and leg warmers, vests, and jackets. Sometimes we overlook one of the most important cycling garments though: the humble glove.

Having a good, and varied assortment of gloves is essential for riding from October through April in most places.

Since the temperatures can vary so much as the seasons change, it’s almost impossible to find one glove that can keep you covered from the cool morning rides of October to the frozen depths of February.

One good way to maximize your investment though is to think of your gloves as a system that can be either worn alone or combined and layered to match the conditions.

 

LIGHTWEIGHT GLOVES

Lightweight gloves are the basis of the glove layering system. They can be worn on their own on cool, but not cold rides, or layered under thicker gloves for additional warmth.

1. Glover Liners

These thin wool or synthetic gloves are primarily designed to wick away sweat and provide some thermal warmth.

BEST FOR: Cool days; layered underneath midweight and heavyweight gloves

Glove liners wick away sweat and help trap in heat

Glove liners wick away sweat and help trap in heat

2. Long Fingered Glove

Long fingered gloves aren’t insulated, but provide coverage for the fingers on cooler days.

BEST FOR: Cool days

 

Long fingered gloves can be ideal when the day will be cool, but not cold

Long fingered gloves can be ideal when the day will be cool, but not cold

MIDWEIGHT

The midweight glove’s primary job is to provide thermal insulation on cold days. They can be worn by themselves, or layered with a glove liner for colder days.

1. Softshell Glove

Softshell gloves is made from a midweight material that are wind- and water-resistant. The usually have a brushed fleece backing that provides excellent thermal insulation.

Softshell gloves are usually wind- and water-resistant for protection from the elements

Softshell gloves are usually wind- and water-resistant for protection from the elements

BEST FOR: Cold, wet and windy conditions

2. Light Insulated Glove

Lightly insulated gloves are usually made with a thin layer of insulating material that does an excellent job of holding in heat on colder days.

BEST FOR: Cold, calm days

The Performance Tok glove is insulated for protection in cold weather

The Performance Tok glove is insulated for protection in cold weather

 

 

HEAVYWEIGHT

Heavyweight gloves are designed to keep your hands dry, warm and protected on the coldest of days. They can be worn by themselves, or layered with glove liners or even midweight gloves on the heaviest days. It is usually advisable to buy heavyweight gloves a size larger than you normally need them.

1. Heavy Insulated Glove

These gloves usually feature multiple layers of insulation, windproof membranes and water-resistant finishes to protect your hands on very cold days.

BEST FOR: Very cold, windy days

Heavyweight insulated gloves can keep your hands warm and dry on the coldest days

Heavyweight insulated gloves can keep your hands warm and dry on the coldest days

 

2. Split Finger Glove

These gloves are best for extremely cold days. They maximize warmth by putting your fingers closer to each other, feature heavy insulation, and have windproof and water-resistant membranes

BEST FOR: Extreme cold

 

Split finger gloves are ideal for extreme cold when maximum warmth is needed

Split finger gloves are ideal for extreme cold when maximum warmth is needed

3. Waterproof Overglove

The waterproof overglove is best for days when mother nature just refuses to cooperate. Layer them over mid- or heavyweight gloves to keep your hands dry and warm in the harshest conditions

BEST FOR: Extreme conditions

Waterproof overgloves are designed for the most extreme conditions

Waterproof overgloves are designed for the most extreme conditions

New Performance Exclusive Fall Cycling Clothing

The days are getting shorter, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to hang up the bike. Equip yourself with the right clothing, and you’ll be able to perform your best in any weather. Our latest lineup of exclusive Performance fall cycling clothing has everything you need to battle the elements in style and comfort. Check out some highlights from our new gear below, or download our 2014 Fall/Winter Clothing digital catalog to see everything in the collection.

The core of winter riding

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The Performance Krio Thermal Jersey gives you thermal protection that will keep you warm and comfortable. Wear it along or layered under your favorite jacket for season-long warmth.

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The Performance Women’s Neve Thermal Jersey is constructed from soft thermal fabric with a perfect fit, so you stay warm and comfortable in cooler weather. Pair it with your favorite jacket to ride all season long.

Essential Lightweight Warmth

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Perfect by themselves on milder days, or as baselayers when the temperature drops, these lightweight long sleeve jerseys are ideal for any season – Peformance Women’s Chill II Long Sleeve Jersey on the left; Performance Men’s Stratos II Long Sleeve Jersey on the right.

 Every Day Jerseys

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With contemporary styling and soft fabrics, our casual riding jerseys are comfortable enough to wear all day long, have the technical features to make riding in the city easy, and styling that looks good in the saddle or at the coffee shop – Performance Women’s Tone Henley Long Sleeve Jersey on the left; Performance Whisk Henley Long Sleeve Jersey on the right.

 Winter Essentials

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Perfect for variable temperatures, the Performance Ultra Bib Knickers feature a new physiodynamic construction and an ergo-panel design that hugs your muscles and provides the best fit without restricting movement. Italian chamois with Skyve technology eliminates all possible pressure points while enhancing breathable support, while reflective details on front and back keep you visible in low light.

Stay Dry On The Inside

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With a waterproof 2.5 layer shell, the Performance Impasse II Rain Jacket not only stops wind and water dead in their tracks, it keeps the elements outside, so you stay warm and dry and ride your best.

Keep Your Jersey Dry & Visible

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The clear membrane of the Performance Dewer Rain Jacket keeps you dry and puts your jersey on full display. Water-repellent and wind-resistant fabric protect you, and a streamlined fit increases aerodynamics, while reflective details keep you visible in overcast weather.

Summer Success Is Earned In Winter

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The Performance Zonal II Softshell Jacket is made from incredibly warm and weather-resistant bonded fleece. The highly breathable design lets body heat escape without letting cold air in, so you can stay warm without overheating. Integrated stretch lets you move freely while riding.

Ride Hard. Stay Warm. Look Great.

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Perfectly styled for comfort on cold rides, the Performance Women’s Flurry II Softshell Jacket is the ideal blend of warmth and weather protection. Made from incredibly warm, bonded fleece which holds in heat while repelling wind and water, it has tons of reflectivity for safety in low light. It’s highly breathable design releases hot air, so you won’t feel clammy, and integrated stretch lets you move freely while riding.

Our Best Gloves Yet

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Our updated line of cold weather gloves has new fabrics, new fits, and is hands-down the best value for your digits. The Performance Cabot Softshell Gloves feature Softshell Drytex fabric that is wind-resistant, water-repellent and highly breathable. Synthetic suede palm with gel pad dissipate vibrations and prevent hand fatigue.

The Performance Tok Weatherproof Full Finger Gloves are constructed for extreme weather protection and warmth, with a weatherproof shell to block the elements and brushed interior with fiber-filled insulation traps heat inside. Silicone finger/thumb details improve lever grip and are touch screen compatible. The Performance Tok Weatherproof Split Finger Gloves are perfect for those really cold days.

Check out the 2014 Fall/Winter Clothing digital catalog for more gear.

Alternative Road Bikes: The Only Bike You Need?

The Haanjo felt right at home anywhere we went

The Haanjo felt right at home anywhere we went

One of the coolest emerging categories from bike manufacturers these days are alternative road bikes. Descended from road bikes, alternative road bikes have evolved into a category of their own, and continue to be refined to help riders take road bikes to new places we could scarcely imagine a few years ago.
So what makes an alternative road bike?

  • Disc (or sometimes cantilever) brakes for better stopping performance
  • Higher bottom bracket for more ground clearance
  • Clearance for bigger tires
  • More upright riding position and longer wheel base
  • Frames tuned to be more flexible in the right places (like the seatstays) for improved comfort

 

Cyclocross Bikes

The OG alternative road bike. These bikes are designed for the discipline of cyclocross (read more about it here), but have since become some of the most popular bikes on the market. Why?

Because the ‘cross bike is basically a do everything bike. It might look like a road bike, but they have clearance for wider tires (usually up to a 38mm, versus a normal road bike’s 25mm max), a taller bottom bracket, and powerful cantilever or disc brakes These features allow CX bikes to go places most normal road bikes can’t, from off-road riding, to mountain bike trails, to fireroads. Additionally, ‘cross bikes have a geometry very similar to a racing road bike, so you can simply switch out the knobby tires for a pair of road tires, and you’ll have yourself a very capable road bike.

Examples: Fuji Altamira CX, Van Dessel AloominatorRidley X-Fire

Key Strength: Versatile race-ready platform

Best For: Cyclocross, road riding, limited trail riding

 

The Ridley X-Night is fine example of a cylcocross bike

The Ridley X-Night is fine example of a cylcocross bike

Gravel Bikes

This is a relatively new category, but a pretty exciting one. Similar to a cyclocross bike, gravel bikes are primarily designed to be ridden on gravel and fire roads. Like cyclocross bikes they usually feature disc brakes, a high bottom bracket and big tire clearance.

What sets a gravel bike apart though is the geometry. While most ‘cross bikes are pretty racey, Gravel Bikes usually have a more relaxed “endurance” type geometry with a taller head tube, sloping top tube, and longer wheel base for improved comfort over long distances. The head tube angle is also a little slacker, and the chainstays longer, to give you more stability on uneven surfaces.

Examples: GT Grade

Key Strength: Outstanding stability and handling on rough roads

Best For: Exploring off the beaten path, gravel racing

 

The GT Grade is one of the most exciting gravel bikes yet

The GT Grade is one of the most exciting gravel bikes yet

Adventure Bikes

This isn’t really a category…yet, but it’s one that includes some really exciting new bikes. These bikes aren’t really gravel bikes, nor cyclocross bikes, but they still incorporate a lot of the features we love, and are extremely capable.

Disc brakes, wide tire clearance, fender and rear rack mounts…these bikes aren’t really designed to do any one thing particularly brilliantly… but they are designed to do a lot of things pretty well. They’re at home on the MTB trail, on gravel roads, on the CX course, or even some light touring. They won’t do quite as well as a dedicated platform, but for the rider who dabbles in everything, it’s the perfect solution.

Examples: Diamondback Haanjo, Fuji Tread

Key Strength: Outright versatility

Best For: Someone who wants only one bike to do it all

Adventure awaits you aboard the Diamondback Haanjo

Adventure awaits you aboard the Diamondback Haanjo

New Bike Preview: 2015 GT Grade

One of the most exciting bikes of the year is the 2015 GT Grade gravel bike. This thing has been lighting up trade shows, magazine reviews, and “Best Of” lists since it was first announced. In fact, they’ve been in such high demand for test rides and reviews that even we hadn’t seen one in person until last week– and then it was a prototype demo model.

The 2015 GT Grade in it's element

The 2015 GT Grade in it’s element

For those of you who are seeing this bike for the first time, the Grade is a gravel bike that’s designed for going on-road, off-road, or anywhere in between. The carbon fiber frame has huge tire clearance and a super comfortable geometry, but also has some innovative features like Continuous Glass Fiber seatstays that almost like a suspension, and the triple triangle design for improved frame durability.

The first question we always get when we mention the Grade is “when does it come out?” We’ve even gotten that question on Facebook and Instagram apropos of nothing. So to vaguely answer your questions: soon, soon, terribly soon. Just be patient a little bit longer.

Until then, we took some tasty photos of the demo model Grade to whet your appetite for Enduroad adventures. And trust us, as soon as it’s in stock, we’ll let you all know.

*please note that this is a prototype demo model bike, and does not have the same equipment as the final retail model. Actually, it’s pretty close. But the retail model will have Shimano RS685 hydraulic mechanical levers, instead of the R785 Di2 hydraulic electronic system shown here.

CX ’15: Ridley Cyclocross Bikes

We all love Ridley road bikes. You’d be hardpressed to find a faster bike than the Noah, or a bike that climbs better than the Helium. But what Ridley– and Belgium– is really known for are their cyclocross bikes. The carbon fiber Ridley X-Fire and X-Night are some of the most sought after CX bikes in the world, and even the aluminum X-Ride is still one of the best performing cyclocross bikes around.

Ridley X-Night 30

The choice of most of the world’s best cyclocross teams, and even used by the Lotto-Belisol profession road team for cobbled races, the Ridley X-Night 30 is one of the most advanced and fastest CX bikes out there. With a stiff, responsive carbon fiber frame with internal cable routing, a massive carbon fiber fork with internal disc brake cable routing, disc brakes, Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain, an FSA ‘cross crankset, and 4ZA Cirrus deep section wheels, this is a straight up race machine that’s meant to go fast and put you on the top of the podium.

Ridley X-Fire 10

With a fast and lively racing set up, the Ridley X-Fire 10 is a great option for the serious racer who wants a top-level competition bike, but doesn’t mind hauling a few extra grams to save some cash. The Ridley X-Fire uses a more compliant 24-ton carbon lay up than the X-Night, but is still more than equal to anything else you’ll meet on the course. Like the X-Night, it’s built up with an Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain, FSA ‘cross crankset, disc brakes, and deep section 4ZA Cirrus wheels. If you demand top performance from one of the most respected brands in the sport…and are look for a great value, it’s tough beat the Ridley X-Fire.

Ridley X-Ride 20

The Ridley X-Ride is the aluminum cousin of the X-Fire, but is still a serious, race-worthy bike in itself. The 7005 aluminum frame is super stiff, and much more durable than carbon fiber, and the 4ZA Oryx full carbon fork really helps to stiffen up the front end. Disc brakes, an all-new SRAM Rival 22 11-speed drivetrain, FSA ‘cross crankset, 4ZA Cirrus deep section wheels, and Clement Crusade PDX tires make the X-Ride one of the best values in a high-performance racing package around. If you’re looking for a first ‘cross bike, an value-orient upgrade, or an all-around bike for year round riding, the X-Ride is the way to go.

Check out our other CX ’15 articles

Eddie’s Shenandoah 100 Recap

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Eddie all smiles at the start. Smile…or practicing his suffer face? We’re still unsure.

Last weekend our coworker Eddie rode the Shenandoah Mountain 100 mountain bike race. When we first heard about his decision, we were a little envious and a little like “why would you do that?”. But, Performance being a supportive work environment when it comes to doing cool stuff on bikes, we went with it and gave him plenty of (possibly unsolicited) advice.

Last week we profiled his race prep, and now that the race is all done and dusted it’s time to check in with Eddie for a race recap.

Read more below to find out what worked for Eddie, what didn’t work so well for Eddie, and what you need to know it you’re thinking about doing an epic MTB race next year.

-HI Eddie. Can you tell us a little bit about how you felt going into the race?

Going into the race, I felt good. I had my bike dialed, I knew my fitness was good, and felt like I got a lot of good information about the course. Everything worked out perfectly, aside from a series of flat tires (3 within the first 40 miles). Other than that, I felt great for the whole race. My finishing time was just over 10 hours, which I was totally happy with.

-What was your favorite part?

Aside from crossing the finish line, I think the highlight of the race was how nice and helpful everyone was. I got three flat tires and guys racing would stop to give me a tube and let me use their hand pump (mine fell out somewhere) with no hesitation. That was awesome how people were willing to stop and help out, even in the middle of a race. Everyone cheered you on and really kept morale high. Also, my girlfriend was volunteering at aid station 3 and after 45 miles, the PB&J she handed me was maybe the best I’ve ever had.

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Eddie all smiles at the finish. Not sure if that’s a smile or a Chris Horner rictus grin.

-What was your least favorite part?

My least favorite part would be the first climb, the Briery Branch ascent. With so many people, your pace was pretty much determined by the person in front of you. I pretty much had to walk the whole thing because there was a line of people walking up the mountain and the pace was too slow to ride. It was frustrating, but the descent made it well worth it.

-What equipment choices worked well?

The biggest thing that worked for me was a last minute saddle swap before the race. I typically ride with a lightweight road saddle, but decided to trade it out in favor of a softer Fizik saddle which really made 10 hours on a bike much more comfortable. The e*Thirteen 40 tooth extended range cog (now available standard on some 2015 GT mountain bikes) was a life saver. I probably did 90% of all my climbing in that gear and was definitely happy to have had it, especially at about mile 90.

The e*thriteen 40T extended range cog was a life-saver on the steep climbs

The e*thirteen 40T extended range cog was a life-saver on the steep climbs

-What equipment would you change next year?

Next year I would definitely go with a bigger rear tire. This year I was running a Racing Ralph 2.25”, but will definitely be running 2.35” tires front and rear next time. A bigger tire would help with traction on the climbs as well as some extra cushion on the descents. Also, while the 36 tooth chainring was manageable, I think a 34 or even a 32 would have made some of the singletrack climbing a bit easier.

A wider rear tire would definitely be a change for next year

A wider rear tire would definitely be a change for next year

-Would you do it again?

Absolutely! I have already started planning my set-up and strategy for next year.

-Any advice for someone thinking about doing it next year?

- Install new brake pads before the race. The descents are so long and fast that sometimes all you can do is hold the brakes and try to stay on the trail. Be ready for some fast descending. Everyone talks about the climbs, but the descents were just as tough.

- Don’t try to win the race in the first 15 miles. Pacing is key and having some energy left for the final climbs makes the race much more enjoyable.

- Use the aid stations to your advantage. They were spaced 15-20 miles apart and had everything you needed; food, maintenance, enthusiasm. I had heard that they were well stocked, so I limited the amount of food I carried with me and still got everything I needed.

Jeremiah Bishop may have won this race, but Eddie will be back next year. Oh yeah, and we'll see you again in a few weeks JB.

Jeremiah Bishop may have won this race, but Eddie will be back next year. Oh yeah, and we’ll be seeing you again in a few weeks JB.

Eddie’s 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race Prep

Eddy and his steed

Eddie and his steed

This fall some of our home office employees will be pushing their cycling skills to the limit. The first up is Eddie, a data analyst in our marketing department. Eddie is superfast on a mountain bike (or really just any kind of bike), and has been orienting his training and riding all year around completing the Shenandoah Mountain 100 bike race this coming coming weekend.

Course profile for The Shenandoah Mountain 100 bike race

Course profile for The Shenandoah Mountain 100 bike race

The ride starts in Harrisonburg, VA (where another employee will attempt another big ride later in September). Shenandoah is one of the toughest mountain bike races on the East Coast. Covering a mix of dirt, trail, gravel and pavement, the Shenandoah 100 features a massive amount of climbing, tough terrain, and plenty of challenges.

Unfortunately for Eddie, nobody else in our office has done this ride before, so he’s had to figure out how to equip and provision himself on his own. We think he’s got it pretty well dialed in though.

Check out what he’ll be using for the ride.

 

The Bike

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Eddie’s heavily customized Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Expert is race ready and looking good

 

Frame:

Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Expert

Probably my favorite bike that I own, it is a super lightweight carbon hardtail with 29” wheels. It is an excellent cross country bike, light enough for both long climbs and nimble enough for fast, technical descents.

Eddy has certainly put the Overdrive Carbon Expert through it's paces

Eddie has certainly put the Overdrive Carbon Expert through it’s paces

Components/Drivetrain:

Shimano XT brakes and drivetrain with Race Face Next SL crank

Shimano’s XT disc brakes provide firm, consistent stopping power, even in wet conditions and XT drivetrain gives durable, consistent shifting. The clutch derailleur ensures that the chain will stay on even through the roughest descents. The Next SL crankset is light and strong, perfect for a light cross country race bike.

Shimano XT hydraulic brakes and 1x10 drivetrain

Shimano XT hydraulic brakes and 1×10 drivetrain

Raceface Next SL crank with Raceface Narrow Wide chainring

Raceface Next SL crank with Raceface Narrow Wide chainring

Gearing:

1×10 setup: 36 tooth Race Face Narrow/Wide chainring, 11-34 cassette with e*thirteen 40 tooth extended range cog

I swapped out the 17 tooth cog on my XT cassette for a 40 tooth e*thirteen extended range cog to widen my range of gears for both going up and down.

The e*thriteen 40T extended range cog should give Eddy plenty of gearing for the steepest parts of the course

The e*thriteen 40T extended range cog should give Eddie plenty of gearing for the steepest parts of the course

Wheels:

Easton EA70

These are great wheels. They are durable, light, and will provide plenty of comfort over the 100 mile ride.

Tires:

Schwalbe Racing Ralph Tubeless with Snake Skin protection, (2.35” front, 2.25” rear)

I’ll be putting on some fresh rubber for the race and Racing Ralphs are really the only XC tires that I run. They are light, fast, and provide plenty of traction through corners. The wider 2.35” front provides more traction in the corners and the thinner 2.25” rear helps reduce rolling resistance. The snakeskin provides extra protection for the back country trails at a minimal weight penalty. I run them tubeless with 19 PSI in the front and 20 PSI in the rear.

Easton EA70 wheels are a good mix of durability and light weight. The Racing Ralph tires provide plenty of traction.

Easton EA70 wheels are a good mix of durability and light weight. The Racing Ralph tires provide plenty of traction.

EQUIPMENT

Shoes:

Giro Privateer

They aren’t the lightest or the stiffest cross country race shoes, but they are incredibly comfortable and on a 100 mile race, comfort is king. They also provide enough traction for any sections, such as creeks or steep, wet switchbacks where walking is the best option.

The Giro Privateer provides all-day comfort on the bike...and while walking

The Giro Privateer provides all-day comfort on the bike…and while walking

Socks:

DeFeet Wooleator

For a 100 mile MTB race, wool socks are the only option. With creek crossings, possible rain, and sticky heat, the Wooleators will keep my feet dry and cool. I’m planning to pack a second pair in case I need to swap at the midway point.

DeFeet Wooleater socks will dry quickly and help prevent hot spots

DeFeet Wooleater socks will dry quickly and help prevent hot spots

Kit:

Pearl Izumi Elite Team – Performance Exclusive

This is easily the most comfortable kit I own, and as with shoes, comfort is king. The Performance Bike logos will also let me rep my team colors throughout the race.

Comfortable, breathable, and reps the team colors

Comfortable, breathable, and reps the team colors

Helmet:

Lazer Z1

Lightweight, comfortable and super ventilated, this helmet was made for climbing…so it should be in its element out there.

The Z1 is one of the best new helmets out there. To find out more, check out our review below.

The Z1 is one of the best new helmets out there. To find out more, check out our review below.

Read our review of the Z1 here

Sunglasses:

Scattante Exhale – with Clear Lenses

The glasses are super comfortable and the clear lenses provide plenty of trail visibility, even in rainy conditions. They also store comfortably in my helmet in case I decide to ride without them.

The Scattante Exhale glasses come with multiple lenses to suit your needs

The Scattante Exhale glasses come with multiple lenses to suit your needs

Tools:

-2 tubes

-Spin Doctor Rescue 16 Multi Tool

- Minipump

- Garmin Edge 810 GPS

The biggest concern will be flats, even with plenty of Stan’s Tire Sealant in my tires, so I’m packing two spare tubes. My Spin Doctor Rescue 16 provides all the tools I need for trail-side repairs including a chain breaker and hex wrenches ranging from 2mm to 8mm. The Garmin will help with pacing and planning as I’ll be able to see my distance and average speed throughout the race.

The Spin Doctor Rescue 16 tool has pretty much everything you need to get out of a jam

The Spin Doctor Rescue 16 tool has pretty much everything you need to get out of a jam

Food:

- Peanut butter, banana, bacon sandwich

- 2 sleeves caffeinated Clif Shot Bloks

- 1 Kramp Krusher salt chews

- 1 bottle of plain water

- 1 Bottle Water with Hammer Gel (2 parts water, 1 part Hammer Gel)

This will be my on-the bike food for the first 40 miles, but the course includes 6 aid stations stocked with plenty of food and water, so I’ll be able to restock and refuel throughout the race.

Mixed with water, Hammer Gel gives you all the energy you need for a long day in the saddle

Mixed with water, Hammer Gel gives you all the energy you need for a long day in the saddle

Drop Bags:

The race allows two one gallon zip lock drop bags to be sent to any checkpoints on the course. I’m going to go with just one, sent to the 75 mile station. The coffee will give me the extra kick I need to push through the last 25 miles. In case it rains, I want to be able to swap out for dry socks and gloves. Also, no one is allowed past the 75 mile mark after 4:20 PM unless they have lights, so just in case I’m running behind schedule, I’ll have a lightweight, super bright light to help see the course.

Poc Index Flow gloves will help give Eddy's hands and arms some relief after 75 miles of hard riding

Poc Index Flow gloves will help give Eddie’s hands and arms some relief after 75 miles of hard riding

 

CX ’15: How To Set Up Your Cyclocross Bike

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One of the best ways to be fast, on any bike, is to be comfortable. When you’re comfortable on the bike you can pedal more efficiently and spend more time focusing on performance and less time squirming on the saddle or constantly changing hand position.

Setting up your cyclocross bike is pretty straight forward, but still a little bit different approach from your road bike.

 Handlebar Height

Most riders prefer to have their cyclocross bikes set up with the handlebars a little taller than on their road bikes. Being low and aerodynamic is less important in ‘cross because of the slower speeds.

Using stems of different lengths and drop angles allows you to customize the fit of your bike

Notice how the CX bike on top is set up with a taller stack and shorter reach than these road bikes, for more comfort and easier handling

 Bar Tape

Using thicker bar tape than on your road bike can help eliminate a lot of the jolts and jars that happen when riding your bike off-road.

Beefier bar tape can make riding off-road more comfortable

Beefier bar tape can make riding off-road more comfortable


Saddle Position

To avoid back pain and limit the jarring impact of the remount, it can be helpful to have your saddle further forward than on your road bike. This will limit the amount of work your hamstrings have to do while slogging through the mud, and help limit back pain.

Wheels

No matter what braking system you use (cantilever or disc), choosing the right wheels is super important. One secret of many successful CX racers is using a deeper dish wheel. It doesn’t necessarily have to be carbon, but looking for a wheel with a more aero profile will help keep mud from glomming on to the rim.

Wheels a one of the best upgrades you can make to any CX bike

Wheels a one of the best upgrades you can make to any CX bike


 Tires

Choose the right tires for the course conditions and your area. If it’s going to be hard and dry, you might be able to get away with a more minimal tread, but if it’s going to be muddy, go for something with plenty of knobs. If you run tubulars, make sure you pick a good intermediate, all-around tire.

Picking the right tire can make all the difference on race day

Picking the right tire can make all the difference on race day

 Chainrings

(this link goes to an MTB article…but it works for your ‘cross bike too)

One or two? The choice is up to you. Two chainrings give you more gearing options to suit different conditions, but running a single chainring eliminates weight and limits the number of possible mechanical failurs. But before making a decision, you may want to check out an online gear calculator and play around with different combinations to find the right one.

And remember, if you’re running a single chainring up front, you either need a single-ring specific chainring, which will have specially designed teeth, or a chain keeper.

One or two chainrings? It's up to you.

One or two chainrings? It’s up to you.


Gearing Options

We definitely recommend running an 11-28T cassette. Combined with a traditional 46/36 CX chainring combo or a 40T or 42T single ring should give you all the gearing options you need.

Getting the right gearing in the rear can make all the difference

Getting the right gearing in the rear can be one of your biggest decisions


Saddle

A lot of CX bikes come with road saddles, but this might not be the most comfortable for you. There’s nothing wrong with running a mountain bike saddle on your ‘cross bike for more comfort and padding.

Picking the right saddle can have a big impact on your race

Picking the right saddle can help prevent everything from saddle sores to lower back pain

5 Practical Upgrades For Your New Bike

When you think of upgrades, most of us think of expensive stuff like wheels and shifting components. While these are excellent upgrades, sometimes they aren’t the most crucial.

Here are 5 easy upgrades to make your bike more comfortable and improve it’s performance.

1. Saddle

Saddles are the most personal part of the bike. Every rider is built differently, and everyone has a different saddle shape that will fit them best. If you’re experiencing any discomfort with your bike’s stock saddle, try shopping around for one with a different shape. Before shopping, think about where it hurts and where you feel discomfort. You may need one with a center channel cut out, or a narrower or wider width.

Pro Tip: When you find the right saddle, you may also want to buy a second one to have on hand. We’re not trying to improve sales here, either—this is actual cyclist to cyclist advice. In a few years if you damage or wear out your saddle, you may find that your favorite model has discontinued or redesigned, and you’ll be out of luck if you need to replace it. Trust us, we just went through this and are still emotionally recovering.

To learn how to install your saddle, click here.

There are many saddle shapes, styles and fits out there. Experiment with a few to see which works for you.

There are many saddle shapes, styles and fits out there. Experiment with a few to see which works for you.

2. Stem

Most bikes come with either a 100mm or 110mm stem. For a lot of guys that might be a little too short, and for most women it might be a little too long. You might also want more rise or drop to your handlebars. Since stems come in a variety of rise angles and lengths, you can get the position that’s right for you. Plus, most stock stems are fairly heavy, so an upgrade will shed a few grams.

To learn how to install your stem, click here.

Using stems of different lengths and drop angles allows you to customize the fit of your bike

Using stems of different lengths and drop angles allows you to customize the fit of your bike

3. Tires

Bike tires are one of those hidden wonder upgrades. Because the tire is the interface between the bike and the ground, it’s worth it to spend some extra money for a good set. You may think that most tires are black, round, and maybe made of rubber, but there’s a whole lot more that goes into them. Upgrading your tires with a good folding bead, high TPI count tire with puncture protection can make your bike feel totally new.

To learn how to install new tires, click here.

On- or off-road, upgrading your tires can have a big impact on how your bike rides

On- or off-road, upgrading your tires can have a big impact on how your bike rides

4. Bar Tape / Grips

Nothing does more to freshen up a road or cyclocross bike, visually and feel-wise, than some fresh bar tape. Overtime foam bar tape compresses and loses its ability to cushion your hands and dampen vibration. Changing out your tape can help restore some comfort to your bike and help add a personal touch, thanks to the many colors available.

And the same goes for mountain/comfort bikes. The stock grips are meant to be functional, but might not be comfortable for everyone. A good pair of ergonomic grips can help improve your bike’s comfort and performance by correcting your hand position and alleviating pressure points.

To learn how to wrap your bars, click here.

Take a tip from the pro's, some new bar tape can help even an old bike feel (and look) new again

Take a tip from the pro’s, some new bar tape can help even an old bike feel (and look) new again

5. Pedals

Those plastic pedals that came with your bike? Yeah, those weren’t supplied as “forever” pedals, the manufacturer actually intended for them to be replaced. Even if you don’t ride clipless (in which case you’ve already changed out your pedals), you should still consider upgrading your pedals. Flat pedals with a wider base, steel or alloy body, and serviceable bearings will provide a more stable and rigid platform for your foot, helping to eliminate cramps and hot spots, and will be easier to service if they seize up or begin binding.

A good pair of platform pedals, like these pictured, can help make pedaling more comfortable

A good pair of platform pedals, like the ones pictured, can help make pedaling more comfortable

CX ’15 Preview #1: Van Dessel Aloominator

Smell that? That’s right… ‘cross is coming*. And if you don’t know what to smell for, it’s the scent of crisp fall air, mud, french fries (a.k.a. frites), tubular glue, embrocation, and post-race Belgian beer. While most of us may feel like summer just got here, many riders are already looking forward to crisp autumn days when they can ride their bikes around a muddy field while people ring cowbells and yell at them.

*If you’re not sure what cyclocross is or what all the fuss is about, check out our article here.

And to help get you even more pumped, we’ll be giving you some previews of the hottest new cyclocross bikes and technology for this upcoming season. Everything from Van Dessels that were handmade in Portland, Oregon U.S.A., to SRAM CX 1, to the newest high-tech Ridleys fresh in from Flanders.

van_dessel_aloominator

First up, we’re taking a look at the Van Dessel Aloominator.

Van Dessel is a small operation out of New Jersey, run by former racer (and real life Belgian) Edwin Bull. Like most guys who raced in Belgium, Edwin developed an undying love for cyclocross, which has seen him spend the last decade or so pursuing the ultimate CX machine. His earlier Gin and Trombones and Full Tilt Boogie bikes quickly become ‘cross classics, and to ride one was to experience ultimate performance.

The essence of what sets the Aloominator apart is the frame. Each and every Aloominator is made in Portland, Oregon—arguably the homeland of American cyclocross. Finding a production frame that’s made in the U.S. is a rarity these days, but it’s something that Van Dessel felt was important, and they’ve worked hard to make something special that performs well under the worst conditions, and that’s also affordable.

The Aloominator has a durable powdercoat finish so you don’t have to worry about chipping the paint, and comes equipped with an Easton EC90XD disc-brake fork. Of course it would be a shame to build up a Made in the U.S. of A. frame anything but the best parts, which is why the Aloominator comes equipped with FSA SL-K stem and seatpost, FSA Energy handlebar, FSA SL-K CX crankset, Prologo Scratch Pro saddle, and Shimano Ultegra 11-speed components.

Check out more in our gallery below, and check back soon to see more CX ’15 product previews.

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