Women’s Pro Cycling: La Course by Le Tour de France

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La Course by Le Tour de France

The upcoming La Course by Le Tour de France race is going to shine a spotlight on women’s pro cycling, as top women’s teams will be competing on the same finishing circuit in Paris just hours before the final stage of the men’s Tour de France, including the famous finish on the Champs Elysees. While this 90km race is not the same as having a full 3 week Grand Tour, holding it on the same day and location as the final stage of the men’s race means that it will get coverage for an elite women’s race unlike anything that’s happened before. We are excited to watch a great race and see an emphasis on women’s pro cycling – especially the Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies team racing on their Diamondback bikes!

Equal pay for equal pain

A few weeks ago we got the opportunity to see some of these pro cyclists in action at the Philly Cycling Classic, one of the toughest one day races on the women’s cycling calendar. The slogan of the race was “equal pay for equal pain”, as the men’s and women’s races featured equal prize money. The race was a fantastic showcase for women’s cycling, with a closely fought competition only settled on the last climb of the Manayunk Wall, when Evelyn Stevens pulled out victory in a ferocious sprint.

Q+A session with top female pros at the Philly Cycling Classic

Q+A session with top female pros at the Philly Cycling Classic

Importance of sponsoring women’s pro cycling

One of the most interesting parts of the weekend was the chance to hear directly from the pros at a question and answer session before the race. Before the cyclists spoke, Karen Bliss, Vice President of Marketing for Fuji, talked about how important it was for Fuji to sponsor riders and teams – for product development, brand recognition, and authority in the cycling world. Fuji puts a special focus on supporting and developing women’s teams because they see the potential for growth – Karen is an accomplished former professional rider herself, a seven-time national champion on the road and track, and sits on the UCI women’s cycling commission. Also speaking was Lisa Nutter, the wife of the Mayor of Philadelphia – she is an avid cyclist and a huge advocate for cycling in Philadelphia. Mrs. Sutter got back into cycling in her 40s, and now seriously competes on the track and the road – she was a big influence on the “equal pay for equal pain” idea.

 Can we compete with the men? We’d like to find out!

As the pros got the chance to answer questions, it became clear that they are just as dedicated, motivated and competitive as the male pros, but their opportunities for exposure and financial success were not the same. Alison Powers, the current US national road, criterium and time trial champion, spoke about there needed to be a change of mindset for cycling fans, promoters, and her fellow female pros – they needed to create an expectation for better treatment and improved exposure. This would lead to better teams, races, and opportunities to grow the sport. Her fellow pros train as much as the men, 8-20 hours a week, but they don’t train for the same distance since the UCI limits their races to 140km. When asked if female pros could compete in a men’s race, Powers and other replied that if they did train for the same distance as the men, they could probably hang in the race – maybe not to the end, but they’d like the chance to find out!

So the biggest difference between the men and women pro riders was in the opportunities they had to succeed. When asked if they also worked full time in addition to their racing, almost every pro in attendance raised her hand to say that they had to work another job – this might be expected at a lower level men’s team, but these were some of the top women’s teams in the world. That’s why the opportunity to showcase their talent at a showcase as big as La Course by Le Tour de France is such a big deal. We hope that it opens some doors, and some eyes, for just how entertaining women’s pro cycling can be.

What do you think would improve the acceptance of women’s pro cycling?

A Cycling Tour of Philadelphia with Fuji Bikes

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Cycling on the Schuylkill River Trail in downtown Philly

A few weeks ago we got to visit Fuji Bikes in their hometown of Philadelphia, PA, and one of the most interesting parts of our trip, other than riding up the infamously challenging Manayunk Wall, was seeing what the City of Brotherly Love has done to welcome cyclists as a part of the city. We got to ride all over the city with our hosts from Fuji Bikes, and we were constantly impressed by how cycling was incorporated into the fabric of the neighborhoods – no doubt one of the main reasons that Philadelphia was recently ranked the 6th most bikeable city in the US.

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Cycling sharrows were prominent on city streets

In the downtown areas of the city, we hardly ever rode on streets that did not have bike lanes or prominent sharrows to indicate that cyclists had the right of way. And folks on bikes definitely took advantage of this infrastructure, with commuters, transportation riders, and recreational cyclists out in force on the city streets. The city government is a big supporter of bike riders, even closing down a stretch of Martin Luther King, Jr Drive to car traffic (along the Schuylkill River) on summer weekends so that cyclists have priority to ride and race.

And speaking of recreation, the bi-directional Schuylkill River Trail was packed with coexisting joggers, walkers and cyclists on most days – which is no wonder since it was such an idyllic spot and easily accessible from downtown. Running from the historic Center City, past the Philadelphia Museum of Art (home of the famous “Rocky Steps”), and historic Boathouse Row, and out along the Schuylkill River into the countryside past Valley Forge – the trail is a fantastic outlet for city riders who want to get away from busy city roads. One stop along the trail that shouldn’t be missed is the cycling-friendly Manayunk neighborhood, with its absurdly steep climbs and bicycle-friendly businesses – definitely stop for lunch at Winnie’s Le Bus Manayunk, where they will loan you a bike lock while you eat!

All in all we had a great time cycling around Philadelphia – it’s got more to offer than just the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (although you should definitely check those out if you come to visit), with a vibrant cycling scene and easy access to scenic roads and trails from downtown. So next time that you visit the City of Brotherly Love, bring your bike and go for a ride!

Check out the gallery below for some views from our rides:

2014 Tour de France Guide

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What It Is:

The Tour de France is considered the most prestigious bike race in the world. Over 100 years old, the race has been held every year, except during the World Wars. It is also considered to be the most difficult sporting event in the world. Even if you’re not particularly into racing or sports, it’s worth it to watch at least a few stages of The Tour every year (see below) to see the spectacle. There are few things in sports that can match the excitement of two riders battling it out on a high mountain pass or the drama of watching a lone rider try to hang on for a solo win. Despite past issues with doping and scandals, the sport has taken huge steps to clean up its act in recent years, and many say that the sport is now cleaner– and more exciting– than it ever has been in the past.

When:

The Tour de France will start on July 5th, 2014, and ends on July 27th, 2014.

Where:

The Tour will start in Leeds, England. After a few days of racing in the UK, the race will move to France. The final stage will be held in Paris with the traditional finish on the Champs-Elysees.

How Long:

The Tour de France is a 21 day race—with each day of racing called a “stage”. There are two rest days. The stages are divided between “flat” stages, “mountain stages”, and one day with a time trial.

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The high mountain climbs are some of the most exciting parts of the race to watch

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Must Watch Stages:

Stage 1: Saturday, July 5. Watch as The Tour gets off to its start in Leeds, England. All the drama will be focused on Mark Cavendish, who will hope to win the opening stage and wear the yellow jersey for a day on home turf.

Stage 5: Wednesday, July 9. Paris-Roubaix it ain’t, but this stage will feature cobbled roads on the Tour de France for the first time since 2010. Given the difficulty of riding on cobbles, this could be where early favorites get into serious trouble. Expect drama, crashes, and some epic heartbreak. This could be the stage that makes (or unmakes) the race.

Stage 10: Monday, July 14. This is going to be one of the toughest days of mountains that the Tour has seen in quite a while. The route will tackle two Category 3 climbs on the way to the La Planche des Belles Filles—a series of seven Category 1 &2 climbs that average around 8%. There is a chance that the race could be effectively decided on these climbs for both the GC and KOM battles.

Stage 14: Saturday, July 19. This one is going to hurt. As The Tour turns towards the French Alps, the climbs only get worse. This stage will feature the famous hors categorie Col du Izoard climb. After getting up the Col du Lautaret—a 34km long climb, the riders must then tackle the Izoard (19km, average grade 6%). Anyone having a bad day here will be out of the running for the win.

Stage 18: Thursday, July 24. This stage is relatively short, so expect to see some high speed racing in the Pyrenees Mountains, including the infamous Col du Tourmalet—the legendary climb that should see an epic battle between Froome and Contador, as well as anyone else brave enough to try and hang with them.  4° stage Lorient  Mûr-de-Bretagne

Want to look as good as the pro’s?

How It Works:

There are 5 prizes up for grabs in the Tour de France. The overall win, the points prize, the king of the mountains prize, the best young rider, and winning individual stages.

  • General Classification (GC, Yellow Jersey): This is the overall win for the race. The GC winner is the rider with the fastest overall time. The current winner of the race will wear a yellow jersey, which may change hands several times during the race.
  • Points (aka Sprinters Jersey): This is the award for the fastest sprinter in the race. The current points leader wears a green jersey. Unlike the GC contest, the points contest is awarded based on points. Each stage will feature an intermediate sprint in the middle, and a final sprint at the end. Points are awarded for the order in which riders cross.
  • King of the Mountains (aka KOM, Polka Dot Jersey): This goes to the fastest climber in the race. The current KOM leader wears a white and red polka dot jersey. Like the points jersey, the KOM award is based on points. Points are awarded based on the order in which riders make it up categorized climbs (mountains classified as: 5 (easiest), 4, 3, 2, 1, hors categorie (hardest), with the most points awarded for hors categorie finishes).
  • Young Rider: This award goes to the fastest rider under the age of twenty-five. The current leader wears a white jersey. The white jersey is awarded to the under-25 rider with the fastest time.
  • Stage Wins: Many teams will choose to forgo racing for the GC win and instead choose to win individual stages of the race. This is often seen as more prestigious than winning the green, polka dot, or white jersey. Teams may choose to adopt the strategy of “stage hunting” if they have no rider capable of genuinely challenging for the GC win, or to get more attention for the team and their sponsors.
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Netapp-Endura (who ride Fuji bikes) are making their Tour de France debut, and are hoping to do something big to mark the occasion

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Riders To Watch

GC Contenders:

Chris Froome (Kenya; 2013 winner)—Team Sky

Alberto Contador (Spain; sort-of kind-of former winner?)—Tinkoff-Saxo

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)– Astana

Alejandro Valverde (Spain)—Movistar

Outside Contenders:

Tejay Van Garderen (USA)—BMC

Andrew Talanksy (USA)—Garmin Sharp

Romain Bardet (France)—AG2r-La Mondiale

Rui Costa (Portugal; current World Champion)—Lampre-Merida

Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium)—Lotto-Belisol

Points:

Peter Sagan (Slovakia;  2012, 2013 points winner)—Cannondale

Mark Canvendish (UK; 2011 points winner)—Omega-Pharma-Quick Step

Marcel Kittel (Germany)—Giant-

Shimano Andre Greipel (Germany)—Lotto-Belisol

KOM:

Joachim Rodriguez (Spain)—Katusha

Pierre Rolland (France)—Europcar

Mikel Nieve (Spain)—Team Sky

Christophe Riblon (France)—AG2r-La Mondiale

Young Rider:

Andrew Talanksy (USA)—Garmin Sharp

Romain Bardet (France)—AG2r-La Mondiale

Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)—Omega-Pharma-Quick Step

Tejay Van Garderen (USA; 2012 young rider winner) —BMC

Lotto Belisol Skoda team car

Riders are supported by team cars, who supply everything from drinks and snacks to spare wheels,new bikes, and mechanical help

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Teams:

The Tour de France will be contested by 22 teams. Each team will usually consist of a GC rider—usually the best all-around rider on the team—who will in theory try to win the entire Tour, though really only a few riders are capable of doing this. He is supported by eight “domestiques”, who will allow the GC rider to draft off of them, keep him away from dangerous riders, get him water and food, and even surrender their bikes or wheels if needed. Teams may also feature sprinters, climbers, rolleurs, and other types of riders who may try to contest for individual stage wins in the sprints or the mountains, if their team decides they no longer need to support their GC rider on that day. The teams for the 2014 Tour de France are:

  • AG2r-La Mondiale (France)            Leader: Romain Bardet (France)
  • Astana (Kazakhstan)                            Leader: Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)
  • Belkin Cycling (Netherlands)        Leader: Bauke Mollema (Netherlands)
  • BMC Racing (USA)                                  Leader: Tejay Van Garderen (USA)
  • Cannondale (Italy)                                Leader: Peter Sagan (Slovakia)
  • FDJ.FR (France)                                       Leader: Thibau Pinot (France)
  • Garmin Sharp (USA)                             Leader: Andrew Talansky (USA)
  • IAM Cycling (Switzerland)              Leader: Sylvan Chavanel (France)
  • Katusha (Russian Federation)      Leader: Joachim Rodriguez (Spain)
  • Lampre-Merida (Italy)                       Leader: Rui Costa (Portugal)
  • Lotto-Belisol (Belgium)                     Leader: Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium)
  • Movistar Team (Spain)                       Leader: Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
  • Omega-Pharma-Quick Step (Netherlands) Leader: Mark Cavendish (UK)
  • Orica Greenedge (Australia)           Leader: Simon Gerrans (Australia)
  • Team Sky (United Kingdom)          Leader: Chris Froome (Kenya)
  • Giant Shimano (Netherlands)       Leader: Marcel Kittel (Germany)
  • Europcar (France)                                 Leader: Pierre Rolland (France)
  • Tinkoff-Saxo (Russian Federation) Leader: Alberto Contador (Spain)
  • Trek Factory Racing (USA)             Leader: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
  • Cofidis (France)                                      Leader: Rein Taaramäe (Latvia)
  • Bretagne Seche Environment (France) Leader: Brice Feillu (France)
  • Netapp-Endura (Germany)            Leader: Leopold Koenig (Czech Republic)

 

Keep an eye out for this legendary fan...

Keep an eye out for this legendary fan…

Team NetApp Endura Visits Fuji’s Home Office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Philly Cycling Classic with Fuji – Riding the Manayunk Wall

In the first weekend of June we were lucky enough to get an invitation from our friends at Fuji Bikes to check out the Philly Cycling Classic in their hometown of Philadelphia, PA. Although this race has changed names a few times over the years, it’s remained one of the richest and most prestigious one day races outside of Europe. Beyond the world-class international field, and high caliber bike racing, the Philly Cycling Classic also brings a party atmosphere for the communities of Philadelphia along the 12 mile route from Manayunk to Fairmount Park. With a ride open to the public, then a professional women’s race, and then the pro men’s race all taking place on the same day, it’s a smorgasbord of cycling fun that should be on your agenda at least once in the future – plus Fuji puts on a great house party at the top of the wall, just past the finish line!

CLIMBING THE MANAYUNK WALL

If there is one feature that defines the lore of the Philly Cycling Classic, it’s got to be the fearsome Manayunk Wall. It’s one of those climbs where the numbers don’t really do it justice – it’s a little over half mile long, with a average grade of 8%, and an ascent of 226 feet. No problem right? Well, that’s what it feels like after you turn on Levering Street and then make a quick right on to Cresson Street, then turn left back on to Levering Street and face the Wall proper.

Turning on to Cresson Street at the base of the Wall

Turning on to Cresson Street at the base of the Wall

When you first see the Wall itself, you are feeling good, the cranks are turning over fast, and you start to think that this whole Manayunk Wall reputation is overrated. Sure, it’s a hill, but you’re still flying up in the big ring.

Heading up Levering Street - the bottom of the Wall

Heading up Levering Street – the bottom of the Wall

But about halfway up it hits you – this isn’t getting any easier! The street starts tipping up to 18% and you start shifting to an easier gear, and then shifting again. Once you make the slight left onto Lyceum Avenue, you start to understand why they call this the Wall. It feels like you are in a canyon, with a rock wall on one side and houses on the other, and there is nothing to do but keep pedaling until you get to the top.

The Wall gets really steep on Lyceum Avenue

The Wall gets really steep on Lyceum Avenue

The steep section doesn’t last long, but it seems like it takes forever. As Lyceum Avenue straightens out, the grade starts to relent and you can put your head down and churn out the last few hundred feet to the top. This is where the strongest riders can put in their final attack – but for most of us it’s just a matter of surviving.

The slog to the top up Lyceum Avenue

The long slog to the top up Lyceum Avenue

Finally you make it to the top and the right turn on to Pechin Street – the fall from the Wall. It’s all downhill from here – but did that climb only take 3 minutes (the record is just under 2)? Now remember, you just climbed the Manayunk Wall only one time – the pro men have to climb it 10 times!

The top of the Wall, turning on to Pechin Street

The top of the Wall, turning on to Pechin Street

PHILLY CYCLING CLASSIC COURSE

The route of the Philly Cycling Classic has changed over the years, but its current incarnation is as a 12 mile circuit course that connects the communities of Manayunk, East Falls and Fairmount Park. It races through neighborhoods, past restaurants, and along the scenic Schuylkill River via Kelly Drive. The course is bookended by Lemon Hill at the far end, and of course the Manayunk Wall at the other. One of the major changes to the race was to make the finish line right at the top of the Manayunk Wall – creating a finish line atmosphere not unlike a Spring Classic in Europe. Another change in the Philly Cycling Classic this year – the prize money is split evenly between the men’s and women’s fields! They both ride the same course, so they both have the chance to earn the same cash!

FANS OF MANAYUNK

Of course no race would be complete without fans to cheer on the riders and create a party atmosphere. While there were crowds all along the entire route of the Philly Cycling Classic, the biggest and loudest spectating spots were Lemon Hill and the Manayunk Wall. And it is Manayunk that has acquired almost mythic notoriety over the years – there are tales of epic house parties with live house bands and a hundred thousand people packed in to a half mile of Philadelphia rowhouses. While the atmosphere and crowds are more mellow these days (no doubt thanks to the overwhelming, but very polite, police presence), it’s still a great crowd many thousands strong that is not shy about getting loud when the race comes flying by. We may even have spotteed a few beer hand-ups for riders who were going to drop out of the race a few laps early, their jobs done for the day (don’t tell the UCI).

FUJI’S BIGGEST PARTY OF THE YEAR

We would also like to say thanks to Fuji for hosting us during the race weekend – since this is their hometown event, they put on a great party and cookout at the top of the Manayunk Wall. With nearly endless supplies of food and drink, and ample bike parking – the Fuji party was the place to be on race day! Even the Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, dropped by and hung out for a few hours!

Check out our race day photo gallery on Facebook.

The Fuji Altamira SL

The Fuji Altamira SL is one amazing bike

The Fuji Altamira SL is one amazing bike

We’ve always really liked the Fuji Altamira. The blend of race-winning performance, high tech construction, and a geometry that you can ride all day have made it a staple for road riders around the office.

We were really excited though when we learned that our friend and coworker Jeff decided to get the Fuji Altamira SL. While all of the Altamira’s are fine bikes, the engineers at Fuji made the SL their special project—and pulled out all the stops to make it as light as they possibly could. When Jeff unboxed his bike and threw it on the scale, it turned out to be so light that it was not UCI/USCF legal to race. His size large bike, fully built up, weighed in at an astonishing 13.6 pounds—about 2 full pounds lighter than any of the other carbon-everything super steeds around the office.

When we picked it up to check it out, we almost felt like we were going to accidentally throw the thing through the ceiling.

So how did they get there? The Fuji Altamira SL is built around the same High Modulus, High Compaction C15 carbon fiber frame as the other high-end Altamiras, but where things get interesting is in the component choices. Full carbon fiber Oval Concepts handlebars, stem, and seatpost offer some serious weight savings over traditional alloy components, while the SRAM Red 22 groupset is the lightest component set available, saving over 200 grams versus Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 and about 110 grams over Campagnolo Super Record Titanium. But what really helps this bike fly up the hills are the Oval Concepts 970 full carbon fiber tubular wheels. Weighing in at only about 1100 grams, these wheels are almost a full pound lighter than a pair of carbon clincher wheels.

Jeff customized his build with a Fizik Antares saddle (the shape of the included Oval 970 full carbon saddle just didn’t work for him, but it’s a fine saddle in and of itself) and a set of Speedplay pedals.

This is one sweet ride, and we’re insanely jealous of his beautiful, welter-weight bike. If you’re looking for a machine that can get you up and over just about any sized hill in your path, then the Fuji Altamira SL is for you, and available at Performancebike.com.

To learn more about the Fuji Altamira line of bikes, check out our article.

 

To see more detailed pictures, check out the gallery below.

9 Questions with Cyclocross Pro Jonathan Page

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Fuji Altamira CX 1.0 Cyclocross Bike that Jonathan Page rode in 2013

Fuji Bikes is proud to sponsor 4-time U.S. National Cyclocross Champion Jonathan Page, so we got in touch for a few quick questions before he represents the United States once again at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. Jonathan Page has had an illustrious ‘cross racing career, including a 2007 CX Worlds silver medal, in addition to his 4 U.S. titles and numerous top placings in Europe – last year he raced on the Altamira CX 1.0 cyclocross bike, and this year he’s upgraded to the top end 1.1 model. The 37-year-old is based in Belgium – he’s the only American man to race full time in the rough and tumble of European cyclocross, battling for respect every week. He writes a great blog on CyclingNews that details his ongoing adventures, but read on below for 9 quick questions from this American cyclocross superstar:

How did you get started racing cyclocross?

I started racing because my best friend growing up raced ‘cross.

Jonathan_Page_6Why do you race cyclocross in Europe full time?

I wanted to race against the best in the world, so I came to Belgium.

Photo by Martin Steele, Endura Ltd

Photo by Martin Steele, Endura Ltd

What’s the best part and the hardest part of being a pro cyclist?

Best part is getting to be outside. Worst part is that it is 24 hours a day.

Jonathan_Page_5What was your favorite or best race this season and why?

Bredene, because I was able to battle for 6th place even with broken ribs.

Jonathan_Page_8Who’s the most important person on your race support team?

Everyone on my support team is really important to me. Without my family, friend and mechanic Franky, sponsors, and supporters, I wouldn’t be doing this.

Jonathan_Page_3Does your family travel with you during the season?

This year, much less than I would have liked. But they are with me now, on my way to the Nommay World Cup in France, so that’s great!

Jonathan_Page_4What’s the biggest mistake that you see amateur cyclists make when they train and what’s your best advice for them?

I don’t think there is a cover-all answer for the mistake part of this question. My best advice is just to have fun!

Photo by Martin Steele, Endura Ltd

Photo by Martin Steele, Endura Ltd

If you could ride your bike anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Right now, anywhere sunny would be great, as it hasn’t stopped raining since I got back from the USA. But I think my favorite place to ride is in the Swiss Alps, with cows bells ringing all around me.

Jonathan_Page_9What do you have in your pocket when you go for a training ride?

I keep it simple – only my phone and a Clif Mojo Bar or 2.

Check out this video from Global Cycling Network for an in-depth look at Jonathan’s Fuji Altamira CX cyclocross race bike.

All photos © Wil Matthews (unless otherwise noted)

2013 Year in Review – From Cyclocross Worlds to How to Climb

While we’re already looking ahead at 2014, but as we close out 2013 we wanted to take a moment to look back at some of the best stories and posts that we’ve shared throughout the year – we’ve got even more planned for the coming year, so stay tuned!

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Real Advice: Commuting by Bike

Our coworker Aaron’s story of his 20 mile commute struck a chord with many of you out there – check out the comments for tales from fellow commuters.

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Fuji Pro Bikes at the 2013 Amgen Tour of California

In May we were lucky enough to catch a few stages of the Tour of California, where we got an up-close look at 2 very different professional rider’s Fuji bikes.

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Event Recap: 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross Worlds

Of course we weren’t going to miss seeing the very first Cyclocross World Championship held on US soil – we summed up the craziness in this post from a very chilly and wet Louisville, Kentucky.

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Cycling First Aid Essentials – What to Pack

We don’t like to think about, but riding bikes means that sometimes we’re going to crash. Our first aid essentials for cyclists post covers the basics of what to carry to be prepared.

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Our Take: 10-Speed vs. 11-Speed

If there’s one post that generated much heated discussion, it was definitely our take on the 10 vs. 11-speed debate – you might be surprised by what we have to say!

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Real Advice: How to Lock Your Bike

There aren’t many worse feelings than having a bike stolen – our Real Advice column breaks down a robust locking strategy to make sure that it won’t happen to you next time.

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Real Advice: An Intro to Climbing

If there’s one thing that most of us would like to do better, it’s learning how to improve our climbing skill – it turns out that it’s not as hard as you think.

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Real Advice: Weight Loss

One of the great side effects of a love for cycling is being able to maintain a healthy weight – but another one of our Real Advice posts covered some straightforward tactics to help you keep the pounds off.

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Real Advice: Wheels

Another great conundrum of cycling – what upgrade provides the best bang for the buck? It’s no secret – we think that it’s all about the wheels.

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Product Profiles: The Scattante CFR LE and Scattante CFR Race

Finally, we profiled some great gear this year as well – including the latest iteration of our always popular Scattante line of road bikes.

Kid In A Candy Shop: Our Favorite Bikes

Last week, my coworker Aaron and I got to talking about our favorite bikes. Working in the cycling industry, we get a chance to ride some great stuff, and we’re always impressed by the bikes that the likes of Fuji, GT, Diamondback, Devinci, Van Dessel, and our own in-house guys at Scattante turn out.

But inevitably, the question always comes up: what is your favorite bike? With so many good ones out there, it was hard to choose, so to narrow down the challenge, we decided we had to pick three favorites.

  1. The “Dream Bike”– if cost were no object, what would you ride?
  2. The “Next Bike”– what is the bike we’re probably going to be riding next season?
  3. The “Best Bang For the Buck” Bike– of all the bikes available from Performance, what is the best value for the money (in our opinion)?

BRIAN

Dream Bike: 2014 Diamondback Podium Equipe Campagnolo Super Record EPS Road Bike

It seems like an obvious move to pick the $10k road bike, but there’s good reason here. Namely, I love Campagnolo and I thirst for EPS. And I also think the Podium is  one of the most beautiful and distinctive road bikes out there right now. Diamondback really knocked this one out of the park with the color-matched parts and frame in the distinctive “wet” red look, a full Campy Super Record 11 EPS gruppo, and carbon fiber HED wheels. Plus, Diamondback did all their own R&D and development on the frame and fork, and the ride quality is right up there with any other pro-level frameset.

2014 Diamondback Podium Equipe Campagnolo Super Record EPS 11-Speed Road Bike

Next Bike: Fuji Altamira 2.1 C Campagnolo Athena EPS Road Bike

Not being a big fan of the all-Top Ramen diet, next season will more than likely see me on the Fuji Altamira 2.1 C instead of the Podium. But that’s just fine by me. Campy’s EPS system is absolutely incredible, and Athena EPS is exactly identical to the Super Record variety, except the parts are aluminum instead of carbon fiber– which is actually a bit of a benefit because it means better crash survivability. I’ve heard nothing but great things about electronic shifting performance from other coworkers, so I’m excited to test it out for myself.

2013 Fuji Altamira 2.1 Road Bike

Best Bang For The Buck: 2014 Fuji Roubaix 1.3

If I were trying to get the most value for my dollar out of a bike, I would go straight for the Roubaix 1.3. This alloy bike packs some serious punch in the parts department. A carbon fiber fork and a full 10-speed Shimano 105 drivetrain give this bike plenty of performance for the dollar. The compact crank is paired with an 11-28T cassette, which means you’ll have the perfect gearing for casual riding or racing right off the bat– all for around a thousand dollars. Plus, the frame is stiff, light, and fast enough that it can easily grow with you if you decide to upgrade components over time.

2014 Fuji Roubaix 1.3 C Road Bike

AARON

Dream Bike: 2014 Devinci Atlas RC Carbon 29er Mountain Bike

For me, the DeVinci Atlas is all about having a really lightweight carbon 29er with Shimano XT and a Fox Float 32 CTD FIT 29 fork that can go out and fly on the trails. Plus, it’s just a little extra mashed so it’s awesome at downhill but won’t be weird on regular single track.

2014 Devinci Atlas RC Carbon 29er Mountain Bike

Next Bike: 2014 GT Force Carbon Expert 27.5″ Mountain Bike

The carbon fiber Force is all about AM riding all-day long on a very smooth, comfy, bike. The great parts spec and cushy, full suspension will mean you won’t still be feeling the trail hits later in that night. Plus, you get the new 27.5″ wheels that give you plenty of speed and maneuverability on the trail.

2014 GT Force Carbon Expert 27.5″ Mountain Bike

Best Bang For The Buck: 2014 Fuji Nevada 29 1.1 Mountain Bike

If I was looking for a bike that could really tackle the trail on a budget, I think this is the best option– since you don’t see too many 29ers with this spec at this pricepoint. For about a grand you get an aluminum 29″ frame, 100mm travel fork, and a mix of Deore and XT. You could  ride this one all day and stay pretty happy.

2014 Fuji Nevada 29 1.1 Mountain Sport Bike

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

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