Burn 24 Hour Challenge 2011 Recap

Over Memorial Day weekend, a team of 4 from our corporate HQ (in Chapel Hill, NC) set out for the Dark Mountain trails (in Wilkesboro, NC) for the 2011 Burn 24 Hour Challenge mountain bike race.  If you’ve never raced in a 24 hour mountain bike race before, it’s a pretty simple proposition: ride as many laps as you can in 24 hours, all through the day and night, either by yourself or as part of a 2-person or 3-5 person team.  As you might imagine, it’s part endurance, part speed, part madness, and completely fun (well, maybe not for the solo riders)!  The organizers and volunteers of the Burn 24 Hour Challenge really work hard to put on a first-class event, so all you have to do is get on your bike and pedal, and pedal, and pedal….

Here’s our crew at the start of the race (that’s Chris, Greg, Tom and David from left to right), posing in our intimidating all black Performance Ultra II jersey and short race kits while standing next to our equally intimidating Access Stealth 1.0 29er mountain bike.  While we were at the race, Tyler from Bikerumor.com dropped by our tent to take a look at the new Stealth 1.0, and you can check out his post about our sub-21 pound trail rocket here.

To get a sense of what the race was like, we asked both of our 24-hour race rookies to write up a few words about their experiences – first up is Greg, our freeriding, dirt-jumping expert:

The race was a blast. I always love riding new trail, even if Dark Mountain offered way more climbing than I was used to. But the atmosphere was what really sold the whole experience. The folks at Burn put on one heck of a race. Sure, there were a few people out there with their eyes on the podium, but there were plenty of racers just content with alternating decent laps with some chill time sitting in the pits cooking dinner and cheering on the constant stream of riders.

I’d have to say my favorite part was the final descent. As you dove down the ridge, you’d start to hear the cheering and cowbells. The pace picked up quickly, and the trail would start throwing in massive berms and a few doubles just to keep things interesting.

Our other rookie racer was Tom, a former triathlete who has lately found his true passion riding fat tires:

24-hour racing is a blast.  As a newbie I was concerned I wouldn’t get enough riding in sharing the load with 3 strong riders…but I got all I could handle.  This was the most fun I’ve ever had suffering.  It was hot and hilly and great company for all.  I was a bit disappointed to see the compression sock phenomenon spilling over though!  Thought I got away from that when I left triathlon.

It was a great atmosphere, and a fantastic way to spend the weekend. Highlights… guilt-free Nathan’s hotdogs, night riding, and the amazing scenery.

Our team may not have been turning the fastest lap times,  but we definitely had a great time and made a bunch of new friends, as folks dropped by our tent to check out the Stealth 1.0 or snag some free samples of PowerBar Gel Blasts and PowerGels (the green apple flavor gel was a crowd favorite).

We also took the opportunity to test out a slew of cycling headlights in real racing conditions, from tried-and-true favorites to some brand new options.  We’ll share some of our light testing results here on the blog in the coming weeks, for those looking for a new setup to hit the trails at night.  Even if you don’t try out 24-hour racing, you should definitely give night riding a try – it makes riding trails that you know like the back of your hand a whole new, and exhilarating, experience!

To see more photos from this year’s Burn 24, head on over to the Performance Facebook page and check out our Burn 24 Hour Challenge 2011 photo gallery – be sure to log in and let us know what pics you like!

Photo Shoot Behind-the-scenes: Welcome to sunny San Diego, CA!

This year for our annual spring photo shoot we traveled to beautiful Southern California for a week of shooting new spring bikes and gear.  By now you’ve started to see a lot of this new photography in our spring catalog, in emails, and on our webpage.  But we wanted to share a little behind-the-scenes look at what it took to create these images, as shared by Chris, one of our merchandising assistants and erstwhile mountain bike model.

As fate would have it, after scheduling all of the models, the photographer, and booking tickets for ourselves, we flew all the way all across the country, from our home base in North Carolina, only to face the threat of rain.  This prompted us to quickly reschedule some of our shoots so that on our first day in California we made our way to a cliff overlooking an amazing vista so that we could start getting some mountain bike shots right away.

Here’s what that same action from the shot above looked like from the photographer’s point of view:

There were four of us being photographed, plus a team of four people on the other side of the camera, including talented photographer Rod Walker.

One thing we had not counted on in this location was the wind.  It was almost enough to take us off of our feet!  Here are Cathy and myself trying to reload the van, with limited success.

Each shot takes a healthy dose of planning before the photographer snaps a single frame; here’s Bill trying to show us (the riders) where he wanted us to ride.  But you can clearly see why we choose this location, it’s simply beautiful!

Here’s TJ and I riding along the line that Bill had picked out for us.

On our way down from that peak, we passed multiple controlled burn locations where the local forestry service was working hard to prevent a big fire.  While it looks perfectly safe in this photo, it still made for an exciting drive.

Not wanting to waste any time while we had some sunshine, we drove off of the mountain and straight to downtown San Diego for our urban shoot.

It was a whirlwind tour–we hardly had time to stop to eat before we were prepping new bikes and new models for the next shoot.  We got set up just in time and were able to snag some great shots as the sun started to set downtown.

We were blessed with a great group of models, all of which knew how to handle a bicycle (and of course we had a great group of bicycles, all of which knew how to handle a model)!

Day one ended with a couple hundred great shots already in the bag, but with rain on the horizon . . .

2011 Bikes

Since we’re talking about what we’re looking forward to in 2011, what list would be complete without a little talk about new bike gear!  Here at Peformance Bicycle we are always working hard to give you the best possible value and performance from our exclusive brands, like our fantastic USB-rechargable Spark lights or our award-winning Performance Elite bib shorts.   For 2011, we’re really proud to bring you a brand new lineup of exclusive bike brands.  we’ve got new bikes coming soon that will meet any riders’ needs–from the hardcore mountain bike racer to the urban commuter, from the first-time rider to the elite racer, .  We’re just going to give you a sneak peek of the new lineup right now, but don’t worry, we’ll have more in-depth specs and videos in the next few weeks.

The biggest update to our exclusive bikes is with our Access brand of mountain bikes.  As you can see below (from photos we shot during our employee-exclusive bike preview), we’ve really expanded our Access lineup.

Front and center in the new lineup are the race-ready Access Stealth carbon 29er hardtail mountain bikes.  Yes, we said carbon 29er.  We’ve been testing and refining this new bike for some time now, and we can’t wait to show off its performance (and hot graphics).

But we haven’t neglected our aluminum-framed 29er options, as you can see with the Access Prowler series, with solid component specs and sharp-looking color schemes.

Also new is the Access Raptor series of 26″-wheeled hardtails, available, like all of our bikes, with a range of components to meet everyone’s needs and budget.

Of course we didn’t forget to upgrade our road bike lineup either, with new graphics and components throughout our Scattante brand bikes.

And our popular Scattante Americano single-speed lineup is back with more component style:

And cool custom graphic details:

Plus we don’t want you to miss our updated Transit line of commuter bikes, with their practical specs and understated style.

So, like we said earlier, we’re really looking forward to 2011!  We’ve worked hard to bring you exclusive bike brands that have something for everyone and every need, and we can’t wait to show them off!

Triangle Fat Tire Festival Wrap-Up

For those of you near our home base here in Chapel Hill, NC, we hope you had a chance to stop by the Triangle Fat Tire Festival this past weekend.  The weather was fantastic, the crowd for the endurance race was huge, and we had a great time hanging out, racing, and talking to folks about our new mountain bikes and Hans Rey’s fantastic Wheels 4 Life charity.

The field for the endurance race was deep and varied, with a mix of first-time racers, blazing-fast expert riders, and one awesome tandem team (of which we somehow failed to get a picture)!  One of our favorite rides for the day was this vintage GT All Terra steed, with period components and shoes.

Of course we also wanted to show off our new 2011 Access mountain bike lineup.  As you can see in this shot of just some of the new bikes, we’ve worked hard to expand our exclusive line of mountain bikes.  In the coming weeks we’ll share more details about the amazing array of mountain bikes in the Access line (with both 26″ and 29″ wheels), which will expand and build upon the heritage of the Access bikes we currently have on sale right now.

Fuji and Breezer Bikes were also in attendance with redesigned 2011 bikes to show off, so we’ll have some great video previews to share with you soon (sadly the GT demo crew was waylaid by traffic and couldn’t make it to the festival in time).

After the race was over and as the festival was winding down, everyone got down to the serious business of refueling while swapping tales of epic singletrack and the next big ride.

We thought we’d get in on the fun of the after-race awards ceremony, so we gave away a GT Sensor 9r to one lucky festival-goer–the very same bike that our own David and Chris put through its paces in the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race (out in western North Carolina) last month.  But we also talked to everyone we could about Hans Rey’s great Wheels 4 Life charity, a non-profit organization that provides bikes for people in developing countries that truly need them.  Thanks to the generosity of everyone at the festival, we were able to send $568 straight to Wheels 4 Life on their behalf–enough to provide for 4 bikes that will help change lives for the better.

So thanks to everyone who stopped by our demo tent to talk, or who helped out in our efforts on behalf of Wheels for Life.  The Triangle Fat Tire Festival was a great event once again (thanks to the efforts of many volunteers and organizers from our local mountain biking organization) and we at Performance were happy to be out there with our hometown crowd.

Triangle Fat Tire Festival + Mountain Bike Demo Day

We’ve got big news if you live in the Triangle Area (near our home town of Chapel Hill, NC).  We’re heading to the Triangle Fat Tire Festival, home of the 6 BC Endurance Race, and we’re bringing some sweet bikes along to test out.  In addition to the great events put on by the local Triangle Off-Road Cyclists group to keep the whole family occupied, plus a great 6 hour mountain bike race on the trails of Briar Chapel to test your skills and stamina (don’t worry, you can also race as a team or just do a 3 hour version), there will also be a chance to test-ride and ogle an array of cool new bikes!

Of course we’ll be bringing along 2011 versions of our exclusive Access line of 29″ mountain bikes (including some samples of our hot new Access Stealth Carbon 29″ mountain bikes–you will want one of these), but we’re also bringing along some friends with their new rides.  

Fuji Bikes will be in full effect with samples of their new lightweight carbon cyclocross ride, the Altamira CX, along with their totally redesigned full-suspension Outland 29er mountain bike.

Legendary company Breezer Bikes will also be there, showing off their gorgeous new Cloud 9 29″ hardtail (it’s almost too good looking to get dirty!)

Still not enough for you?  Well, you can also expect to see mountain bike star Eric Carter and the rest of the GT Bicycles Good Times Tour rolling into town, with a demo fleet of Carbon Forces, Marathons and Zaskars, along with aluminum Zaskar and Sensor 9rs (plus who knows what else in tow)!

So if you are around our area on Saturday, October 16th, and are interested in bikes, then the Triangle Fat Tire Festival is where you want to be.  Sign up to race the endurance race (you even get a post-race meal with your entry fee) or just show up to check out the festivities and all the new bikes.  We hope to see you there!

Testing the Access Carbon 29er Hardtail at Burn 24

The 2010 Burn 24 Hour Challenge is in the books, and it turned out to be a great venue to torture test our prototype Access Carbon 29er hardtail mountain bike.  Yes, we’ve decided to upgrade our big-wheeled mountain bike lineup with a carbon frame.  We haven’t received the final samples of our new Access Carbon 29er yet, but we’ve already been riding, racing and otherwise pushing the prototype frame to its limits before it makes it way into your hands.

In terms of the race, Chris battled some mid-race heat exhaustion, but pulled it together in the end to churn out his fastest lap time on his final lap of the race (on board the Acces Carbon 29er, of course).  Chris will share some of his race experience below, but here’s a short video about testing and riding our prototype Access mountain bike:

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Cooking with Performance at Burn 24

So the Burn 24 Hour Challenge has come and gone for another year, and our own Chris Danz survived his first solo 24 hour mountain bike race (aboard one of our prototype Access carbon 29er hardtails, at least for part of the time!)  But before we write up a post about Chris testing out our new mountain bike, we wanted to share a bit about our pre-race experience, including our favorite part… cooking out on a grill!

We set up the Performance Bicycle tent right in the corner of the giant field that formed the campground for Burn 24, right where the racers came firing out of the woods near the end of each lap.  Our tent is right in the middle of the picture below, amongst the wide array of base camps packed around the field.

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