Charm City Cross – Day 1

These crisp early morning temps (at least in our area) can mean only one thing–cyclocross season is fast approaching!  This year we’re going to follow along with 2 of our Spin Doctor Advisors, Randy and Eric, as they navigate the sometimes crazy, but always fun (OK, sometimes painful), world of local ‘cross racing.  We hope it will encourage you to get out there and give cyclocross a try at an event near you–or at least go check out the excitement of a local race.

This year they decided to start out the season with a road trip, heading up to Baltimore, MD for an early-season test at Charm City Cross, part of the popular Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross series.  Without more preamble, here is Randy’s recap of the action in the Charm City:

Under the glow of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor nightlife, and temperatures that had us wishing we’d packed our favorite hoodies, EWEB, Turits, Josh and I giddily unloaded our bikes and bags and settled in to our weekend digs. After 30 minutes of bad TV, a careful outlaying of skinsuits, water bottles, and salt tabs, and a word or two about tire pressure and pre-ride strategies, we restlessly slumbered, each of us secretly nervous about the 45 minutes of vomit-inducing racing we were slated to face at 11am the next day.

The weekend’s venue was the beautiful Druid Hill Park. It butts up to The Wire’s Amsterdam, but the Barksdale crew laid low and seemed pleasantly amused by the 1000+ Lycra-and-ironic-facial-hair clad racers warming up around the park pond. The Charm City Cross course featured a fast prologue of pavement, wide sweeping grass turns, and a tight off-camber hole shot leading into a bottleneck of hairpins. The rest of the course undulated through shady expanses of grass, dirt and sand into sun-exposed fields replete with bone-jarring holes, hidden railroad tracks, and a man-made staircase run-up that was clearly designed to mock those short of leg and long in pain.

At 10:45am Webster, Turits and I made our way to the start line and broke the nervousness of the year’s first race with good-natured heckling, supportive high fives, and North Carolina-proud peacock posturing. Our 2-3 class was at capacity, and when the start whistle blew, 125 racers jumped out of the saddle and began the frantic and chaotic sprint for the hole shot. Turits and Webster both possess great power out of the gate and were quickly in the lead group. I am not so great out of the gate, but thanks to the purpose-built race machine under my saddle—the 2010 Fuji Cross RC—I managed to hold on to a spot in the chase group.

If there is one rule to live by when it comes to Cross, it is that one must get to the front quickly lest one fall victim to bottleneck pile-ups, unskilled rider mishaps, and course tape entanglements. I do not often live by the rules (and in this race, neither did my legs), and consequently found myself dismounting to step over fallen riders, track standing before hairpins, and pulling tape and compression socks from my rear derailleur, all as I watched Turits and Webster pull farther and farther away in the lead group.

Turits I didn’t mind seeing putting the gap on me—he’s much too strong to ever consider a rival—but Webster–WEBSTER!–was looking to decimate me, and that I simply could not handle. So began operation Reel ‘em In.

Three laps in and with three to go, I had recovered from the pain of the start and was feeling strangely…good. I stood and attacked on the climbs, took the inside line to pass riders in the corners, my dismounts and remounts were shockingly fluid, and most importantly, I was gaining on Webster and Turits (and they both knew it).

Turits yelled for me to push harder, knowing he had enough cushion to remain unthreatened by my kills. But Webster had the look of a zebra in the final moments before succumbing to the lion. His run-ups were labored, his dismounts were shaky, his head couldn’t stop turning back to search for the little man about to pass.

And so it was, that in the middle of the bell lap, I overtook Webster and nearly caught Turits. Turits took me by 6 positions and as many seconds. I took Webster by 3 positions and maybe 5 seconds. It was a damn fine first race and we all congratulated each other on great performances (although it should be noted that Turits experienced mechanical difficulties during his final 2 laps and basically rode singlespeed to the finish).

Post race festivities began in haste with Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPAs and big, cheap and delicious taco truck burritos and fried plantains served up by Curbside Café. Well buzzed from the racing and the beer, we cheered on our buds Todd Hunter, Scott Frederick, Nathan Wyatt, Travis Livermon and Evie Boswell-Vilt and Cara Applegate (from the Performance Bicycle Racing Team).

Then we drank more beers (you know, for rehydration purposes). And when the day closed down, we ventured out to Federal Hill for more protein and carbo-loading at a great little place called Abbey Burger. Nothing beats a hand formed patty of medium rare meat, topped with a fried egg and artisanal sharp white cheddar, served between two halves of an English muffin, with a side of house made chips and the coldest micro brews in town. Food coma set in quick and we all slept like, well, guys who just raced Cross and drank and ate like kings for the day.

An aside: Josh was injured during a training run in the week prior to the race, but made the trip to B-more anyway. He was invaluable as our porter, wingman, photographer, videographer, biggest fan, motivator, pit crew, hand-up and stand-up guy, DJ, navigator, hipster-connect, chiropractor, and friend. Josh is a fast Cat 2 racer who will surely be having fun and looking relaxed during all future races.

Day two recap to come….

Triangle Fat Tire Festival + Mountain Bike Demo Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Performance Bicycle Racing Team – Roswell Store Ride

Some members of the Performance Bicycle Racing Team recently took part in a group ride and clinic at our Roswell, GA store, and from their report it sounds like everyone had a great time:

People always say that we’re crazy for riding road bikes. Usually I disagree, but this past Wednesday night I think I may have agreed with them! Icy water bottles in hand, riders from the Atlanta, GA metro area braved the 100 degree heat to join myself, Kate Mahoney, along with Kirsten Davis and Dana Martin from the Performance Bicycle Racing Team for a 22 mile Fun Ride.

As the riders assembled in front of the Roswell, GA Performance Bicycle store, it was great to hear the excited conversations as we all began to get to know each other. Riders traded stories of how long they’ve been riding, how they got into cycling, and why they keep at it.

I talked with a woman for whom this was her 5th group ride EVER, as she’d just bought her bike at Performance a little over a month before! I met a couple who have been riding road bikes together for the past 20+ years; a fellow who LOVED hill climbs (the longer, the steeper the better); a man who hadn’t had time to ride his bike much lately but saw that we were coming out from the Performance Bicycle Racing Team and said “I’m going… I need to make time to ride!”; a woman who, this year, had learned that century rides (100 milers) were her passion; a man who was riding so he could keep up with his son on the bike; and so many more great people and great stories! This is why I love cycling!

Since our group ran the the full range of experience levels there were lots of cycling tips, tricks and tools being shared before we hit the road.

How much water should I drink? “Sip at least every 15 minutes!” “Don’t wait until you feel thirsty!” “Hydration begins the day before.”

How do I get used to using cycling shoes with cleats? “Ride in the grass!” “Practice by sitting on your bike in a doorway!” And my advice? Laugh when you have your first (or second) slow motion fall! It happens to everyone! (if you join me for a ride I’ll tell you my story where I slow-mo fell next to a city transit bus full of people!).

Soon it was time to head out. Ryan, the store manager, gave us the details on the route. Covering 22 miles of beautiful rolling hills outside the city of Roswell, the route is well suited to both newer riders, who can ease up on the hills, and experienced riders, who can punch it up the hills for a good leg burn.

On the road, Kirsten, Dana and I had a great time. As the three of us moved through the pack, it was like a clinic in motion! People had lots of great questions for us as situations popped up: “What’s the best gear for a hill this steep?” “When should I stand up to climb?” “What is a good cadence?” And, despite the heat, people were having a great time! Working together, watching out for each other, and talking, joking, and laughing as we clipped along… It was awesome!

At the end of the ride, we were having too much fun to head straight home. Dana, Kirsten and I hung out at Performance post-ride, talking with a number of folks who had joined us on the ride. We LOVE to talk cycling, so happily answered questions on everything from our team bikes (the beautiful Fuji Supreme SL), to good hydration tools like NUUN, and what it’s like to race a road bike.

I met so many great people and it was such a beautiful ride! Thanks to the Atlantans who came out to join us, and next time we promise to do the ride when it’s cooler!

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Getting ready for Le Tour

Are you keeping up with the latest news from the Tour de France?  So far the race has been full of crashes and diabolical roads as the race weaves it way through Classics race country, and today’s stage over the cobbles could bring more of the same.  The yellow jersey has already changed hands, and the almost all of the race favorites have been involved in a pileup at some point.

Here at Performance, we’re following the Tour with rapt attention just like you, but this year we’re going to step up our coverage with actual eyes on the ground for the last week of the Tour!  We’re sending one of our own, David, over to France to ride and report about the Tour, courtesy of the folks at Europeds. It’s an opportunity we couldn’t pass up to bring you the story of what it’s like to actually be there at the Tour, riding the same slopes as the pros and then cheering on the racers with thousands of other die-hard cycling fans.  David will be reporting back about his experience as it happens, taking photos and videos to show you what it’s like to join the excitement that is cycling’s biggest stage.  It’s all part of our goal to Celebrate the Tour all month long, with special deals, news, and even a giveaway with some fantastic prizes!

Here are a few words from David himself, to tell you about the preparation for his adventure in France:

I can’t wait to get over to France and cover the Tour for all of the readers of the Performance Bicycle Blog.  I’ve been training hard to get my legs in shape to tackle the monster mountains of the Pyrenees.  Below you can see a Google Earth plot of one of my training rides out on the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina (just so I could get the feel of climbing for miles on end, which isn’t exactly common near our headquarters):

As for my equipment, I’ll be riding the stiff and lightweight 2009 Fuji SL1 with full SRAM Red components (thankfully now including a compact crankset), topped off with a Forté Pro SL Saddle, perfect for attacking epic climbs.  Here you can see me and my machine atop Waterrock Knob, off of the Blue Ridge Parkway:

But don’t get the impression that I’m an elite rider by any means!  I’m not much of a racer and I’m usually just trying to hang on during the group rides that leave from our headquarters.  I’m going to give you the perspective of the cycling enthusiast that is willing to push himself to go just a little bit harder and faster, but who’s still out there to ride for the joy of riding.

And I want to hear from you! Comment on my blog posts or send a message to the Performance Twitter account to let me know what you want to see or know about when I’m in France (or to give me any advice). I will document my trip as I go, and post regular updates from the road.  I am going to share this experience with all of you, and give you some insight into what it’s like to ride the roads and take in the spectacle of the Tour de France (and hopefully give you the inspiration to follow the Tour yourself next time).

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Fuji SST Tour de France Limited Edition Road Bike

Have you looked at that cool-looking Fuji SST Tour de France Limited Edition Road Bike that is the Grand Prize in our Tour de France 2010 Giveaway?  It features Fuji’s advanced SST frame design and a special metallic paint finish that you won’t be able to miss in the Tour de France peleton on the bikes of Team Footon-Servetto-Fuji.

There are 20 available for pre-order right now on our site (available only via ship-to-store), but we got a sneak peek at a sample version here at the office.  That paint job is impressive in person, but here’s Bob to give you a quick breakdown of the bike’s other features:

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Tour de France 2010 Giveaway

The 2010 Tour de France is just days away from the Grand Départ from Rotterdam on Saturday July 3rd.  All of the teams are making their way to the Netherlands and checking out the roads on what should be an exciting first few days of racing along some of the same roads used in the early season one-day Classics races.

And what a Tour this is going to be!  Lance Armstrong just announced that this will be his final Tour de France, Alberto Contador will be trying to repeat as champion, Andy and Frank Schleck will be teaming up to storm the podium, plus a whole host of other challengers will line up with a chance for glory, from Cadel Evans to Carlos Sastre to Bradley Wiggins and more! And that doesn’t even include the sprint battles on tap between Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd and American Tyler Farrar.

Like we said, this is going to be exciting.  But you know what else is exciting? How about winning one of 3 prizes worth a total retail value of $6500!  In celebration of the 2010 Tour, we’re giving away3 different prize packages, and all you have to do is go to our Tour de France 2010 Giveaway entry page and enter your email address by the last day of the Tour, July 25th.

Grand Prize is a Fuji SST Tour De France Limited Edition Road Bike, with the same frame design and paint job as the Tour-bound Footon-Servetto-Fuji team.  2nd Prize is a Garmin-Transitions team-inspired package, featuring a Giro Prolight helmet, Garmin Edge 500 cyclocomputer, Mavic LE  K10 wheelset & Team Garmin kit from Pearl Izumi.  3rd Prize is a head-to-toe Scattante kit, with jersey, bib shorts, gloves, socks, shoes, helmet & eyewear.

It only takes a moment to enter, and who knows, maybe at the end of the Tour you’ll be celebrating victory along with this year’s Tour de France champion!

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Performance Bicycle Racing Team – Introduction

Here at Performance Bicycle we are proud to introduce our first elite women’s cycling team:

In a partnership with SpokesWomen Syndicate, an organization dedicated to getting more women into the sport of cycling, the Performance Bicycle Racing Team is set to make its debut for the 2010 season.

The Performance Bicycle Racing Team is an elite women’s cycling team, composed of women who have reached USA cycling category 1 or 2 status. The 2010 Performance Bicycle Racing Team is made up of cyclists Cara Applegate, Evie Boswell-Vilt, Kirsten Davis, Kathryn Okenatez-Mahoney, Chris Tommerdahl, Dana Treiber Martin, Nicole Vincent-Jordan, Gina Voci and Bergen Watterson. The team is supported by professional mentors and development team leaders Annie Lux, Ainhoa Perez-Diez and Hadley Trotter. Primarily focused on road bike racing, the team also includes top and professional level mountain bike, triathlete and cyclocross riders as well.

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Taipei Bike Show Sneak Preview

Our team have just made their way back from the Taipei Cycle Show and they’ve shared some cool product news.  Here is a sneak peek at what Fuji has in store for us in the future.

How can you take the uber-fast Fuji SST and make it even faster?  Paint it gold of course!  We plan to bring this limited edition SST paint scheme to your local Performance Store this summer in honor of Footon-Servetto’s participation in the 2010 Tour De France.

Sorry for the photo quality, we’re working with cell phone shots here.  Hi-res photos will be on the way as soon as these bikes are produced and make their way across the ocean to us.

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