Ask Performance Answers – 10/4/13

Last week on the Performance Bike Facebook page we asked folks to post questions about bikes or cycling that they wanted an answer to, in a segment we called #AskPerformance. Today we’re going to answer some of your questions below, but if you’ve got other vexing cycling queries, please post them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to find you an answer!

Ron S.: Is it too much to have more than 5 bikes? ;-) #AskPerformance

Ah, the age-old question – the most quoted saying is that the “correct number of bikes to own is ‘n+1′, where ‘n’ is the number of bikes currently owned”. Of course there is an important corollary to this rule, which is ‘s-1′, “where ‘s’ is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your significant other”.

Michael S.: #AskPerformance Has the industry established a lifespan projection for carbon fiber frames and components?

There is no standardized lifespan for carbon fiber, as it will depend on how the frame or component is used. That said, there’s no reason carbon fiber can’t last for a very long time – the key is to take care of it properly, only tighten bolts to their recommended torque settings, and inspect it for wear or damage from time to time. We’ve got a great article of tips on our Learning Center: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bikes-and-frames/taking-good-care-of-your-carbon-bike-frame

scattante_cfr_black_rearDarrell M.: When you shift gears, and the chain moves more than one gear, what is the typical cause and solution?

One main culprit could be a rear derailleur hanger that has come out of alignment – if that is bent (say from setting the bike down on its drive side), then no amount of derailleur adjustment will result in perfect shifting. Another issue could be incorrect routing of the cable to the derailleur bolt – if you’ve changed your cable lately take a look at the instructions for your derailleur to make sure you’ve got that right. If you’ve ruled out a bent hanger and poor cable routing, then you should next take a look at your rear derailleur itself – we’ve got a video in our Learning Center that covers adjusting your rear derailleur: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-adjust-a-rear-derailleur

Daisy L.: How many miles before a chain needs to be replaced??

A good rule of thumb is somewhere around 1,500 to 2,000 miles for a road bike, and somewhere around 5-6 months for a mountain bike (assuming that you are riding a fair amount). But these are just general guidelines – to really understand when you should replace your chain you’ll need to measure chain stretch. Chains may be metal, but over time they can actually stretch out quite a bit – we’ve got a handy video that gives you the details of what to look for: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-measure-bike-chain-wear

Lidia L.: What is the best way to clean your cogs ? And with what would u clean them with ? Thx ‘s

Cleaning your whole bike is one of the most important things that you can do to prolong the life of your bike and keep it running in tip-top condition (just ask any pro team mechanic). Luckily it’s not that difficult if you follow the how-to on our Learning Center, which covers everything from cleaning your rear cassette to lubing your shifters and brake levers: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bikes-and-frames/basic-maintenance-how-to-clean-your-bike For the rear cassette, the basic technique is to spray some degreaser onto a cog brush, then wipe down each of the cogs to get the gunk off.

Howard H.: How often should I rotate my tires?

Rotating your tires front to rear is a great idea to increase the longevity of the pair, but keep in mind that most steering control, both off-road and on, comes from the front tire, while more tire wear happens with the drive forces on the rear.  So putting a road tire worn flat or a MTB tire with worn lugs on the front will lessen traction when cornering hard. To prolong the life of your tires, save some money and keep high performance traction, ride your tires until the rear is worn out, move the front tire to the rear, and put a grippy new tire on the front. Need some tips on changing tires? We can help with that: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/tires-tubes-and-wheels/how-to-change-a-road-bike-tire

_131008_dressing_for_coldEnrique L.: Just started riding my bike again like a month ago. but now that the cold weather is upon us what is the best gear for weather of around 40° which is probably the average temp he in the bay area.

The key to riding in changeable fall and winter riding conditions is dressing in layers. You want to keep your core and extremities warm when you get started, but then have the ability to remove and change layers s you get warmed up or if the temperature changes. We call this the 15 minute rule… if after 15 minutes of riding, if you’re still cold, you need more layers or warmer clothing. If you’re uncomfortably hot after 15 minutes, remove layers or wear cooler clothing. We recommend: a medium weight short sleeve base layer, bib shorts, long sleeve jersey, leg warmers, a windproof vest or jacket, windproof full-finger gloves, an ear band or beanie, and toe warmers. You can find all of our cold-weather recommendations here: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/cycling-clothing/dressing-for-the-season-essential-cycling-layering-tips

Maureen K.: A few yrs ago, I switched from riding a hybrid bike to a road bike. On the hybrid, had no problem standing up,out of saddle to get up hills. I’ve had bike fit done on road bike – it fits me sooo much better now, but I am still not comfortable standing to climb up a hill – it’s too scary for some reason! What else should I be doing to get more comfortable standing to pedal up a hill?? Thanks for any suggestions

It is quite a change going from a flat-bar road bike to a drop-bar racing bike – losing the control and leverage you got from keeping your hands in the same position on the handlebars can be disconcerting. But when you stand up to climb on a drop bar road bike, you’ll need to move your hands to your brake hoods to have the most amount of control. Once you practice riding in this position and then smoothly getting up from your saddle, you’ll become more comfortable when you really need it. If you’re looking for other tips on climbing, our Real Advice column has you covered:  http://blog.performancebike.com/2013/07/11/real-advice-an-intro-to-climbing/

Reuben C: Is there a recommended pressure for a tire(as in replacing my 120psi) with the weight of the rider and load in mind. Or are there other factors such as wheel height/length? Sorry im new to riding and it feels like i am running low on psi after bumps or a day of riding (30 miles)

Road tire pressure is definitely critical to a safe and comfortable ride – almost every tire will have a range of recommended tire pressures noted directly on its sidewall. You have flexibility within this range of pressures, so if you feel like the tire is ‘bottoming out’, or compressing so much that it hits the rim, definitely put more air in if it is within the recommendations of the manufacturer. If you are still having issues, you may need to move up to a slightly wider tire (assuming that it fits within your bike’s frame), as this will help give your ride more stability. Or you could install puncture resistant tubes to reduce the chance of pinch flats and slightly increase the load capacity of the bike. If you need help finding the tire inflation range, check out this video: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/tires-tubes-and-wheels/the-right-tire-pressure-for-a-road-bike

Donald H: Help! I tried replacing the cleats on my shoes yesterday. One bolt came out fine, but the other one ended up with the head rounded out to the point the hex wrench has nothing to grip. Any suggestions?

If you are not handy with tools, your best bet is to take the shoe to your local Performance Bicycle to have a mechanic take a look at it. If you want to try yourself (with the caveat that you might damage the sole of your shoe if you aren’t careful) use a Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel to cut a slot in the top of the cleat bolt and used a slotted-head screwdriver to remove the bolt. Be careful not to cut so deep that the bolt head breaks off. It also helps if the shaft of the screwdriver is hex-shaped, so that you can use a wrench to apply more torque to the screwdriver when removing the cleat bolt. And remember to grease your cleat bolts before installing them next time :)

Boone_Road-878Eric Q: #AskPerformance How does one determine how tight/loose to adjust one’s threadless-steerer headset?

Threadless headsets are pretty easy to get set up once you get the hang of it – the key is to tighten the top cap so that you don’t feel any movement fore and aft at the junction of the headset and the head tube, but not so tight that it hinders your turning ability. Then you tighten down the stem pinch bolts to their recommended pressure to lock the stem in place. We’ve got a very clear video that walks you through each step: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-adjust-a-bicycle-headset

Greg C: I have my first race coming up next week. Should I shave my legs? Does it make a difference? Will I look like a FRED if I don’t shave?

Another dilemma – shaving your legs is an age-old tradition in the cycling community. Cyclists can give you a litany of rationalizations as to why they shave (such as shaved legs make cleaning up road rash easier and quicker and promote faster healing), but when it comes down to it, shaving your legs is mainly a way to identify yourself as part of the cycling club. Think of it as an initiation into the world of bike racing – you definitely don’t have to shave, but if you don’t, you’d better be fast! We’ve got tips for taking care of your skin here: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/riding-tips/general-cycling-tips/basic-guide-skincare-for-cyclists

Chris D: The big question. … I am 6’2 and ride cross country, all mountain and a small amount of DH. 26, 27.5 or a 29er??? It seems so hard to choose a new size with my wide range of riding styles. What is the advantage of a 27.5 vrs a 29er? Also any 2014 recommendations? I hope #askperformance can help! Sincerely a #teamperformance member.

Wow, it sounds like you’re looking for that one bike that can do it all! As a taller guy, you can definitely handle a 29er, which will give you an improved angle of attack to roll over obstacles, and more momentum to smooth out any trail. But the new 27.5″ standard might also be a great option for you – these bikes have a bit more agility than a 29er, but still have a greater ability to roll over obstacles than a classic 26″ bike. We’re pretty excited about the 27.5″ format and think that it might be a great fit for what you want to ride – we’ll have great options soon from GT (the 130mm travel Sensor and 150mm travel Force) as well as Devinci (their all-new 140mm travel Troy). Check out our Learning Center for more info about 29ers: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/buyers-guides/bikes-and-frames/basic-guide-to-29er-mountain-bikes and 27.5″ mountain bikes: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/buyers-guides/bikes-and-frames/basic-guide-to-275-mountain-bikes

_131003_Boone_Rky_Knob_MTB-340Dawn G.: How do I stop squeaky disc brakes? I’ve cleaned and adjusted them and they still squeak.

There are 2 main things that might be going on if you’ve got everything adjusted right – when you first install new disc brake pads, it’s essential that you go through the ‘break-in’ period for the pads. This will help improve performance and lessen annoying noise – just follow our tips here: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/breaking-in-your-bike-disc-brakes Of course it could just be the case that the pads have become contaminated with oil or dirt – disc brakes pads a difficult to fully clean once this happens, so often the only alternative is simply to replace the pads all together: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-replace-disc-brake-pads

Greg E: I am very interested in getting into cyclocross racing. What is the best way to get started racing for a mature beginner ? I already have a fuji cyclocross bike.

We’re huge fans of cross racing here in the home office – you could even say that we’re obsessed! But really what’s not to love? It’s an all-out effort for 30 minutes to an hour through grass, mud, or sand, with some barriers thrown in just for kicks. Of course this means that some different skills are needed than a regular road ride – you’re already on the right track with a dedicated cyclocross bike, but your next step is to practice cross-specific skills like quick dismounts and remounts, proper technique to carry and run with your bike, and short, hard sprinting efforts to stay in the mix at a race. We’ve got some tips you can follow on our Learning Center, but your best option to learn more is to find a local cyclocross club or training group – cross racers are a friendly bunch, and they’re usually happy to show a beginner the ropes and get him or her just as addicted to cross racing as they are: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/riding-tips/road-cycling/cyclocross-basics

If you’ve got a cycling question that you need an answer to right away, feel free to get in touch with our Spin Doctor product technical support team – they are our team of in-house technical experts with decades of combined industry experience, ready to get you the info you need.

Call: 800-553-TECH (8324)
Email: spindoctor@performanceinc.com
Chat: Live Help at PerformanceBike.com

Cross Vegas at Interbike

While checking out all the latest cycling gear and making business deals is the real reason for the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, getting the chance to check out some of the fastest cyclocross racers on the planet at Clif Bar CrossVegas is a pretty close second for many of the industry show attendees. Having grown from more modest beginnings in 2007, CrossVegas is now rated as a Category 1 race, just a notch below the biggest events on the European World Cup circuit. With early season ranking points on the line, CrossVegas now always draws a deep field to the Desert Breeze complex a few miles from the Vegas Strip – a grassy oasis that is transformed into a raucous arena of 10,000 fans under the lights for some nighttime racing.

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Big and noisy crowds lined the hillside near the barriers

Before the pros took to the course, a motley crew of amateurs from the cycling industry racers tried their luck in this early season cyclocross spectacular. Everyone from bike manufacturers, to clothing vendors, to cycling journalists, to your very own Performance Bicycle was represented in the ‘wheeler and dealer’ race – former pro (and race ringer) Christian Heule of KoolStop took the victory atop a brand new Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Carbon Pro Disc. This race also gave everyone a chance to check out the course and find their preferred vantage points for the later races – we were a big fan of the elaborate wooden banked turn at the base of the run-up and barriers (although there were also 2 flyover ramps, and 2 more sets of steps to keep things interesting).

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Cycling industry racers tackle the wicked cool banked turn

But the crowds really came to see the top pros duke it out in this first major cross race of the year – having grown in stature over the years, CrossVegas now regularly attracts a great field of racers from the US and Europe to race under the lights. By far the top name in town was reigning world champion Sven Nys of Belgium –  the seemingly ageless ‘Cannibal from Baal’ who has been a dominant fixture on the pro cross circuit for 15 years. An undisputed hero in his home country, Sven was back to race in the US for only the second time ever (his first being the World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky earlier in 2013).

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Sven Nys being interviewed by Belgian sports channel Sporza

However before Nys and company took to the course, the elite women had to settle their scores. Even though the sun had set at the Desert Breeze race venue, it was still blazingly hot when a stacked field of Katerina Nash, Lea Davison, Catharine Pendrel, Meredith Miller, Georgia Gould and Amy Dombroski, among others, lined up for the 40 minute women’s race. Racing was fast and furious from the starting gun, but a lead pack of about 20 riders stayed mostly together through the first few laps.

But about halfway through the race Katerina Nash jumped clear of the pack and never looked pack. The Czech rider kept the chasers at bay for the last half of the race and cruised home for an undisputed victory – American Lea Davison held off former mountain bike world champion Catharine Pendrel to round out the podium. Afterwards Nash announced that she was going to retire from pro cycling, only to un-retire a few days later. Hey, why quit when you’re ahead (although those are famous last words in Las Vegas)?

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Katerina Nash takes the win in the women’s race

After an exhilirating women’s race, the crowd was fired up to watch the elite men battle it out. Toeing the line from the international contingent were the champ, Sven Nys, Wout Van Aert, Quinten Hermans, Bart Wellens, and Sven Vanthourenhout, while the North American racing scene was represented by Jeremy Powers, Geoff Kabush, Ryan Trebon, Tim Johnson, Adam Craig, Jamie Driscoll, US champ Jonathan Page, and Belgian transplant Ben Berden. It was a formidable lineup for any cross race anywhere in the world – and the action didn’t disappoint. If there was one word to describe cross racing at this level, it would be ‘ferocious’. Pro cross racers attack from the gun, and don’t let up until the last lap an hour later!

Constant attacks on the very first lap left the field strung out across the wide-ranging grass circuit – it was amazing to see the raw speed and skill on display. If you ever get the chance to see world-class cyclocross racing in person you won’t be disappointed – watching these racers float over the barriers (many simply bunny-hopping them) with barely any drop in speed, or expertly dismount and re-mount at full gas, or even rocket through turns while jostling for position definitely makes for a fantastic spectator sport.

But back to the race – the seemingly inevitable soon happened and Nys glided off the front and established a gap. American Ryan Trebon grimly covered the move and hung with Nys for a few laps, but the Belgian’s relentless laps soon shed the rangy Trebon and the champ was all alone at the front. Riding solo for the last half of the race, Nys stayed comfortably ahead of the chasers and was able to casually cruise home the final straight for his second victory on US soil, much to the delight of the crowd (they came to see the best, and a winner in rainbow stripes certainly fit the bill). Behind Nys, American Jeremy Powers jumped away from the chasing pack to take second, while Canadian Geoff Kabush snuck in for third.

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Arms up for Sven Nys as he cruises in to victory in the men’s race

All in all, CrossVegas definitely lived up to the hype – 2 worthy champions, lots of furious cross racing, and a pretty rollicking party rolled into one event. If you make it out to Interbike next year and someone offers you an invite to CrossVegas, don’t pass up the opportunity to check out some world-class cyclocross in the Nevada desert (OK, it’s at a grassy city park, but it was still really hot and dusty).

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Amy Dombroski (on the left) talking to Georgia Gould before the start of CrossVegas

On a sad note, we did want to take a moment in closing to remember American cyclocross racer Amy Dombroski, who was tragically killed in a training accident in Belgium a few weeks after this race. A well-known and respected member of the women’s cyclocross scene in the US and Europe, Amy’s friends have put together a Facebook page to remember a life cut much too short – donations for her family can mailed to: Memorial of Amy Dombroski; c/o Wells Fargo Deposits; 1242 Pearl St.; Boulder 80302.

2014 Scattante CFX Black Cyclocross Bikes

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When we first introduced the Scattante CFX Black cyclocross bike in 2012, we broke some new ground. It wasn’t our first foray into the world of ‘cross, but the CFX took things to a whole new level. We designed the bike from the ground up to be ready to take you to the podium with a full carbon fiber frameset, SRAM Force 10-speed group and, most importantly, the addition of recently-legalized disc brakes.

Well, we’re never really content to rest on our laurels, so after the success of the 2013 CFX Black, we did it again.

The all-new 2014 Scattante CFX Black cyclocross bike is now available, and for 2014 it comes in two flavors: one with SRAM Red 22 Hydro with hydraulic disc brakes and 11-speed drivetrain, the other comes with SRAM Force 22 with mechanical disc brakes, and also features 11-speed shifting. We’re immensely proud of both of these bikes, and confident that they’ll take your CX season to a new level. You can get to know both of these beauties a little better below.

The Scattante CFX Black. It's business time.

The Scattante CFX Black. It’s business time.

The Scattante CFX Black SRAM Red 22 Hydro

The Scattante CFX Black SRAM Red 22 Hydro is among the best bikes we’ve ever built. It’s loaded with high-end, high-performance features that have only one goal: to put you on the podium. This is a no-nonsense race bike that begs to be ridden hard. And thanks to the addition of a SRAM Hydro braking system, you can stop hard, too. The Hydro levers make look a little funny, but don’t be fooled, there’s some serious technology under those hoods.

Features:

  • ScDT carbon tech delivers a frame and fork with the precision and handling ability required for cyclocross competition
  • Hydraulic SRAM Red disc brakes increase stopping power, especially in adverse weather conditions
  • SRAM 22 Hydraulic drivetrain has 11-speeds and a cross specific 46/36 crank configuration
  • Stan’s ZTR Alpha 340 wheels are tubeless compatible to run lower pressure for increased traction in muck and mud
  • FSA Energy components bring serious durability and versatility to the cross course
2013 Scattante CFX Black with SRAM Red 22 Hydro

2013 Scattante CFX Black with SRAM Red 22 Hydro

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Hydraulic SRAM Red 22 shifters

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Hydraulic SRAM Red disc brakes

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Cross specific 46/36 SRAM Red 22 crankset

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ScDT carbon frame and fork

The Scattante CFX Black SRAM Force 22

The Scattante CFX Black SRAM Force 22 is a bike that refuses to play second fiddle. Sure, it’s a little more modestly priced, but that doesn’t mean you get more modest performance. It features the same ScDT carbon technology, wheels and build kit as its big brother. But instead of a hydraulic braking system, instead you get Force 22 with mechanical disc brakes. The redesigned shifters, all-new crank design, and True 22 shifting technology make this bike a force to be reckoned with.

  • ScDT carbon tech delivers a frame and fork with the precision and handling ability required for cyclocross competition
  • Avid BB7 Disc brakes increase stopping power, especially in adverse weather conditions
  • SRAM Force 22 drivetrain has 11-speeds and a cross specific 46/36 crank configuration
  • Stan’s ZTR Alpha 340 wheels are tubeless compatible to run lower pressure for increased traction in muck and mud
  • FSA Energy components bring serious durability and versatility to the cross course
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2013 Scattante CFX Black with SRAM Force 22

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11-speed SRAM Force 22 drivetrain

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Cross specific 46/36 crank configuration

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Avid BB7 Disc brakes

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ScDT carbon frame and fork

Eurobike Wrap-Up

We’ve finally recovered from the jetlag after Eurobike, the cycling industry’s biggest international trade show. A 3 day festival of anything and everything bike-related, Eurobike takes place every year near the idyllic shores of Lake Constance in the southwest corner of Germany. While the show is really too big to sum up in just a few paragraphs, we’ll hit a few highlights and trends below – before we head out to the biggest US cycling show, Interbike in Las Vegas.

The scenery around Eurobike is slightly different than at Interbike in Las Vegas.

The scenery around Eurobike is slightly different than at Interbike in Las Vegas.

1. 27.5″ (or 650B) wheels for mountain bikes are here to stay. This in-between wheel size (although it is closer in size to 26″ wheels than 29″ wheels) was on full display at Eurobike, with every major manufacturer offering a trail bike in this ‘tweener format. Mostly these bikes are being pitched as “all-mountain” or “enduro” bikes – but in reality that’s what most of us ride every day! We ride up, down and over whatever the trail throws at us, and want a bike that makes any trail more fun, so 27.5″ bikes should be a great fit. The continued rise of 27.5″ bikes also mean that more tires, wheels and suspension are also becoming available for upgrades later on. We’re especially excited about the new GT Force and Sensor bikes, and Joe Breeze’s very first full-suspension bike, the Breezer Repack.

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2. Hydraulic disc brakes for road/cyclocross bikes were also highly evident throughout the show. While we know that not everyone is going to be interested, many manufacturers have incorporated at least one road bike with hydraulic stoppers into their lineup, and definitely on a cyclocross bike if they have one. Both SRAM and Shimano offer hydraulic options on their newest high-end road components, and Campagnolo has partnered with Formula to offer a system. With the promise of increased braking power and consistency plus more freedom for the design of road bike wheels, it will be interesting to see how this trend develops over time.

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3. E-bikes, or electronic-pedal assist bikes, also had a huge presence in the halls of Eurobike. From city bikes to road bikes to full-suspension mountain bikes, manufacturers have jammed electric motors into just about any type of bike you can imagine. While e-bikes have not made inroads in the US so far, in Europe they already have a huge presence, even with costs of over $4,000 per bike (e-bikes account for 10% of all bike sales in Germany). We actually test-rode quite a few models of e-bikes at the show, including one rated at an assist level of up to 45km/h (or almost 30mph), and they are fun to ride, even if it does feel like you are cheating a bit.

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4. On the fashion front, Eurobike was awash in bright and highly visible colors, from safety orange, to brilliant blues, to fluorescents yellows and greens – although we noticed some camo patterns making a comeback as well. There were still plenty of traditional colors being used, but in our books these bright colors are good news – we’re in favor of anything that makes us more visible while we’re riding our bikes!

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5. Finally, Eurobike was exciting simply for it’s proliferation of creative and, sometimes, wacky ideas for bikes and gear. The energy and enthusiasm for anything bike-related was great to see – the world of people who love bikes and see great opportunities in this market is vast. Not all of these ideas might make it, but we love seeing what people dream up for the future of cycling.

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You can find all of our photos from Eurobike in a gallery on our Facebook page.

Gear Up For Cross

Here at Performance Bicycle, there’s a palpable excitement in the air. Because it’s that time of year again. A time when the nights feel cooler. When the smells of embrocation and frites are in the air, and the ring of cowbells resounds across the hills. A time of year when we trade in our skinny tires, glorious afternoons spent on sun dappled stretches of road, and retiring mid-ride banter for the mud-slinging, loosely organized bit of mayhem we know as cyclocross.

If you’re interested in trying out cyclocross, or just want to learn more about it, check out the Cyclocross Basics article over in the Performance Bicycle Learning Center.

So what do you need to get your season start off right? Performance Associates Ben and Ross are here to help guide us through Gearing Up For Cross Season.

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7 Essentials To Start Your Cross Season Right

1. Cyclocross bike: it’s important to have the right tools for the job. We’re pretty big fans of the 2013 Scattante cyclocross bikes (if we do say so ourselves…), including the all-new Scattante CFX bikes, now equipped with either Red 22 Hydro or Force 22 to get you to the top of the podium.

2. Mountain bike shoes: it’s not very easy to run in road shoes. Mountain bike shoes have a lugged outsole to make it easier to leap over barriers or run up hills. Mountain bike pedals are also used, since they are easier to get in and out of and shed mud well.

3. Helmet: when you’re riding like a madman (or woman) through mud, running with a bicycle on your shoulder, and leaping over barriers, it’s a good idea to make sure that your head is protected.

4. Long sleeve jersey and bib shorts, or a skinsuit: ‘cross races have a reputation for being challenging, so the last thing you want is to worry about being too cold or your saddle rubbing you the wrong way.

5. Cantilever or disc brakes: either one is fine so long as they fit your bike, but these brakes have enough clearance to allow even the muddiest tires to keep spinning.

6. Eyewear: it’s inevitable that you’ll end up getting sprayed in the face with mud, sand and who knows what else. Protect your eyes with a quality pair of sunglasses.

7. Knobby tires: knobby tires give you just enough traction to keep rolling through the mud, but without slowing you down on the flat and fast parts of the course.

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.

Performance Bicycle at the 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross Elite World Championships

cx_worldsIn case you’ve missed it, the UCI Cyclo-Cross Elite World Championships is leaving Europe for the very first time in 2013 (the weekend of February 2-3 to be precise). The cyclocross elite are going to descend on Louisville, Kentucky to celebrate the crazy world that is ‘cross racing – full of cold weather, mud, Belgians, cowbells, barriers and some of the most intense bike racing that you will ever find. If you’re not familiar with the basics of cyclocross, head over to our Learning Center to find out what this specialized winter cycling discipline is all about. If you haven’t seen it in person, the US cyclocross scene is passionate and growing fast – the guys here in our office don’t use ‘cross to stay in shape for next season, they use the rest of the year to get ready for ‘cross season!

ben_and_ross

Ben and Ross, from our home office, at our local ‘Nascross’ race

Needless to say, we couldn’t miss this amazing opportunity to see the world’s best cyclocross racers battle it out for a coveted rainbow jersey here in the US. As an official sponsor of Louisville 2013, we’ll be sending a crew to the event to cover the action and also to meet fans at the expo who come by our Performance Bicycle tent. We’re excited to meet cyclocross fans from around the globe (although we need to work on our Flemish), show off some of the great cyclocross bikes that we carry, and even give away some pretty amazing prizes and freebies (yes, we will have cowbells)!

performance_tent

Performance Bicycle tent at Stage 6 of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge

So what do you need to know if you can’t make it to Louisville for the big event this year? We’ll be posting updates to the Performance Bike Facebook and Twitter pages live every day, plus of course there will be great coverage of the racing on cycling news sites like VeloNews and Cyclocross Magazine. If you want to watch the races live here in the US, you’ll either need to find an international channel that is broadcasting the races or tune in to USA Cycling’s YouTube channel, which will stream every race live for free. But whatever you do, don’t miss out on this opportunity to watch the world’s best here in the US. Whether you are rooting for the American team of Jonathan Page, Jeremy Powers, Ryan Trebon, Zach McDonald, Logan Owen, and Katie Compton (to name just a few), or if you want to see international stars like Sven Nys, Niels Albert, Lars Van der Haar, or the incomparable Marianne Vos – it is definitely going to be a weekend to remember in Kentucky.

Community Events: January Recap

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

Katrina crossing the finish line in first place ©Steve Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wordless Wednesday

Race Recap: Katrina Dowidchuk at Masters Cross World Championships

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

How long have you worked at Performance Bicycle?

Since August 2008, so almost 3.5 years.

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

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

What was your first bike?

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

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

What’s your favorite part about racing cross?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you train for racing cross?

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

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

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

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