5 Tips for Better Fueling from Skratch Labs

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The nutrition experts over at Skratch Labs are on a mission to use real world science and practice to create the best nutrition products – that taste great, that are made from real all-natural ingredients, and that are designed to optimize performance and health for both sport and life. Their story began while Dr. Allen Lim was working as a sport scientist and coach for a professional cycling team – he started making his own training food and sports drink from scratch for the cyclists he worked with because too many of the pre-packaged sports bars and drinks that were marketed or given to them were laden with artificial ingredients and making them sick to their stomach. Eventually, Allen started making a “secret drink mix” in his kitchen using a recipe with less sugar, more sodium, and no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors, with a simple and clean taste created by using real fruit – thus Skratch Labs Hydration Drink Mix was born.

So with that in mind, we thought we’d ask Allen to weigh in with some tips for fueling for your next ride – whether it’s a training loop, a local race or a long-distance charity ride. Read on below for his 5 top tips to improve your performance on the bike by taking a holistic approach to your nutrition planning and preparation, before, during and after your ride.

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1. Eat & Drink Early & Consistently—One of the biggest mistakes riders make is forgetting to eat and drink early and consistently throughout the day. While this is plain common sense, it‘s often disregarded on ride day—a mistake that can spell disaster no matter how well trained or prepared you are.

As a general rule, you need to replace at least half the calories you burn each hour, and you need to begin replacing those calories in the first hour if you’re going to be out for more than three hours. On a flat road without drafting, the average cyclist will burn about 200-300 Calories at 10-15 mph, 300-600 Calories at 15 to 20 mph, and 600 to 1,000 Calories at 20 to 25 mph.

Regarding hydration, on a hot day your fluid needs may be as high as 1 to 2 liters an hour. The best way to get an appreciation of how much fluid you might need is to weigh yourself before and after a workout. The weight you lose is primarily water weight, where a 1-pound loss is equal to about 16 ounces of fluid. As a general rule, try not to lose more than 3 percent of your body weight over the course of a long ride.

2. Try Eating Real Food—While there are plenty of pre-packaged sports bars and gels touting their ability to improve one’s performance, it’s important to realize that real food can work just as well if not better than expensive, engineered nutrition. A regular sandwich, a boiled potato with salt, a banana and a ball of sushi rice mixed with chocolate or some scrambled eggs can all give you the calories you need without upsetting your stomach the way a lot of sugary gels or sports bars can. In fact, while coaching teams at the Tour de France, the riders I worked with used real food as their primary solid fuel source, because it just worked better. Most of the recipes for these foods can be found in “The Feed Zone Cookbook” that I wrote with Chef Biju Thomas to promote healthful, real-food eating.

skratch_real_food3. Don’t Just Drink Water—When we sweat we lose both water and valuable electrolytes. If you drink only water and are sweating heavily, you’ll dilute the electrolytes in your body, in particular sodium, which plays a critical role in almost every bodily function. Diluting the sodium content in your body is called hyponatremia and can lead to a host of problems ranging from a drop in performance to seizures and even death. The amount of sodium that we lose in sweat is highly variable, ranging anywhere from 200 to 400 mg per half liter (16.9 ounces). Because of this large range, it’s always better to err on the side of more salt than less salt. Unfortunately, most sports drinks contain too much sugar and not enough sodium, which caused many of the riders I worked with to become sick during long days on the bike. For that reason, we developed an all-natural sports drink using less sugar, more sodium and flavored with freeze-dried fruit. Outside of using a sports drink with more sodium, also consider eating salty or savory foods on your ride rather than just sweet foods.

4. Learn What you Need in Training—Ride day is not the day that you want to be experimenting with yourself. So try different hydration and feeding strategies during training well before the big day. As an example, simply weighing yourself on a long training ride before your big event can give you valuable information to optimize your hydration for that event. Likewise, taking the time to prepare your own foods or trying different products beforehand and then writing out a specific game plan for your drinking and feeding needs can go a long way to making sure you don’t make any mistakes on ride day.

5. Come in Well-Fed and Well-Rested—While proper training is obviously important, making sure you are well rested coming into an event is sometimes even more critical. You can’t cram training, so as you approach the big day, make sure you are getting plenty of sleep and aren’t killing yourself in training the week leading into your event. Just sleeping an extra hour each night the week before your event can significantly improve your performance. Finally, adding extra carbohydrate to your diet, and making sure you get plenty of calories the week before your event, will assure that your legs are fueled and ready to go.

You can find Skratch Labs Hydration Drink Mix in our stores and on Performancebike.com, including their classic Exercise Hydration Drink Mix and their new Everyday Hydration Drink Mix (formulated with fewer calories). For real food recipes that you can make at home, check out the “The Feed Zone Cookbook”.

Product Profile: 2013 Performance Clothing

13PBS_PB_Clothing_Brand_FBOur new line of 2013 Performance clothing is our best lineup of Performance brand cycling gear ever. Our clothing team logged long hours designing and testing this gear to make sure that it meets the highest standards for both value and performance on the bike, for every level of cyclist. Give it a try and we know that you’ll love this cycling clothing as much as we do!

The new lineup of Performance clothing is divided into 3 levels: Ultra, Elite and Club.

Ultra clothing is designed with the latest performance technologies to meet the demands of serious cyclists. It’s optimized comfort and durability for racing and training, to give you a performance advantage.

Elite clothing is for the experienced cyclist looking for enhanced comfort and quality. It’s designed to take you from short group spins to all-day century rides with its precision designed support.

Club clothing is our foundation line for essential quality and value. It’s for cyclists who want comfort and value, from casual to long distance rides.

As the top level of our cycling gear, both our Ultra and Elite lines feature physiodynamic design.physioSo what does that mean? Think of it as the perfect synthesis of comfort, aerodynamics, and support for cyclists. It features a best-in-class Italian-made chamois with 4 way stretch, variable density and anti microbial properties – perfect for all day in the saddle. Aerodynamic leg and arm bands enhance airflow over the transition areas, while multi-panel construction supports cycling muscles for maximum power delivery. Plus maximized fabric placement wicks sweat and allows ventilation for all day comfort.

ULTRA  physio  coldblack

Designed for serious riders, our Performance Ultra cycling jersey with physiodynamic design has tons of new features that’ll enhance the way you ride, whether you’re training, racing or testing your endurance. Open knit fabric pattern allows air to pass through the fabric, moving moisture away from your skin for quick evaporation. Coldblack technology in the shoulders reduces skin temperature under direct sunlight, so you stay cool and comfortable. Next-to-skin fit enhances speed, compression arm bands stay put, silicone gripper hem prevents ride-up and three pockets hold race-day essentials.

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Performance Ultra jersey & shorts

Coldblack coldblackis an all-new finish applied directly to the fabric, which delivers better heat management and better protection against harmful UV rays. To achieve this double sun protection coldblack uses a unique combination: absorption and reflection. Coldblack reduces the absorption of heat in dark colors and reflects up to 80% of the sun’s rays, so the rider stays noticeably cooler.

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Performance Ultra jersey & shorts

Our Performance Ultra women’s cycling jersey maintains comfort without compromising competitive performance utilizing the same physiodynamic design and coldblack technology as the Ultra men’s jersey – in a women’s specific design featuring a tapered collar, gripper-free arm openings and next-to-skin styling.

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Performance Ultra jersey & shorts

Constructed for the weekend warrior or the everyday racer, the Performance Ultra shorts give serious riders the best technology at the best price. In addition to Coldblack technology on the fabric surface, we also added a new Italian chamois with Skyve technology to eliminate all possible pressure points while enhancing breathable support. The physiodynamic design with ergo-panels, flatlock stitching and compressive fabric promotes riding comfort. Powerband leg grippers stay put while cutting through the air. The Ultra shorts are the most comfortable, best-fitting shorts that money can buy under $100, and are available in men’s, men’s bib and women’s versions.

ELITE  physio

The Performance Elite men’s cycling jersey utilizes a physiodynamic design and has everything you need for every kind of ride. Polyester/spandex fabric moves with you, wicks moisture away from your skin and gives you a streamlined fit. Strategic mesh panels and full zip keep you cool while the tail light clip and 360° reflectivity keep you visible. Silicone gripper hem won’t ride up when you’re down in the drops and three pockets hold your extra gear.

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Performance Elite jersey

Physiodynamic design also helps to enhance the cycling motion for regular commutes, club rides, tours or off-road excursions while wearing the Performance Elite women’s cycling jersey (also available in sleeveless). It will be your new go-to piece for comfort on every ride, carefully designed with a women’s specific fit.

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Performance Elite jersey & shorts

The Performance Elite shorts are the best everyday shorts you can find. We combined our new physiodynamic design with the best technical properties and an updated fabric blend to keep you well-supported and comfortable on every ride. New Italian made, multi-density chamois gives excellent cushioning on longer rides; reflective accents, and new Comfortband leg grippers feature silicone prints for a soft, no-slip grip. The best quality shorts you can find for under $80, available in men’s, men’s bib, women’s and women’s bib versions.

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Performance Elite jersey & shorts

CLUB

Whether you’re pedaling around the neighborhood or training for your first charity event, the Performance Club II cycling jersey provides the cooling comfort you need to ride well. Polyester fabric leaves your skin dry, thanks to its fast-wicking properties and front zip keeps you well-ventilated as the day heats up. Reflective logo improves visibility and three pockets hold keys, nutrition, plus other essentials.

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Performance Club jersey & shorts

The Club II cycling shorts (available in both men’s and women’s versions) blend fast-wicking fabrics with comfort-focused features for everyday riding performance. Six panels follow the pedaling motion and stabilize your hardworking muscles. Breathable foam chamois with silicone inserts provides cushy support and eliminates hot spots. Adjustable drawstring waist gives you a custom fit. Silicone leg grippers stay put, plus they feel great.

Product Profile: New Garmin 510 & 810 GPS Cycling Computers

Edge-810-510.jpgThe Edge 810 and 510 are Garmin’s first dedicated cycling devices with real-time connectivity and combine the most popular aspects of the (office favorite) Edge 800/500 while adding advanced connected features via a smartphone. The new user-friendly interface, along with live tracking, social media sharing and real-time weather updates make them perfect for training, touring and riding on the trail – plus both units are now touch-screen enabled!

New Features:

Get real-time weather conditions, forecasts and alerts (in areas with coverage) directly on the Edge 810 and 510, plus activity profiles that let you customize data fields and device settings based on cycling activity, such as road, mountain or touring. You can even switch profiles with a tap of the screen, so you can get on with your ride quicker. When you complete a ride, Edge 810 and 510 display any new personal records you achieved during that ride. PRs include farthest distance, most ascent gained, fastest 40k and best 20-minute power average.

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Edge 810 and 510 offer a suite of connected features when paired with your smartphone (Apple or Android) and the Garmin Connect Mobile app. This setup saves your phone battery because Edge tracks the data and sends it to your phone using a Bluetooth connection. Plus, your phone stays protected in your pocket or pack, but still provides valuable connected features, such as Live Tracking. The LiveTrack feature allows your friends and family to follow your races and training activities in real time. Invite followers using email or social media, so they can view your live data on a Garmin Connect tracking page. Once they get your email invite, they can click to follow and see your stats and location on the map.
Of course social media sharing is built into the DNA of the new Edge 810 and 510 computers – you can share your rides on your social media networks to motivate others and get some kudos for your own efforts. This feature allows you to post an update immediately after your ride or race with a link to your completed activity. You’ll create your posts via your smartphone and the ride data’s already there, thanks to the interface with Garmin Connect Mobile. You can instantly store, share and analyze every detail of your ride — from the road — via wireless uploads of completed rides from your Edge 810 or 510 as soon as you finish recording an activity.
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Once a ride has posted to Garmin Connect, their own “connections” can view them within one of the world’s largest online fitness communities. Riders can also search their courses and workouts stored at Garmin Connect, download to their smartphone, then send directly to their Edge device — wirelessly. Cyclists can then navigate to the start of the course and use the Virtual Partner feature on the Edge to follow and even race those previous rides in real-time.

Garmin Edge 810

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Garmin Edge 810

The Edge 810 is the perfect choice for the cyclist who wants the ultimate performance and navigation machine. This new Edge features a sleek 2.6” color display, up to 17-hours of battery life, and a newly redesigned and simplified touchscreen interface. The Edge 810 is compatible with optional detailed street or TOPO maps including BirdsEye Satellite Imagery, so it can guide cyclists for touring, commuting or extended activities where they might need onboard maps and navigation. Because it’s GPS-enabled and its navigation capabilities require no data usage, the Edge 810 is a perfect choice anywhere in the world.

Garmin Edge 510

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Garmin Edge 510

The Edge 510 was designed specifically for performance driven cyclists and is a light-weight (80g) compact option. The 510 features a similar user interface to the 810, boasts a new 2.2” sunlight readable touchscreen display and is compatible with both GPS and GLONASS satellites for faster satellite acquisition and improved signal lock. The 510 is suited for the most challenging conditions, such as canyons and adventures with heavy tree cover. The Edge 510 is rugged, waterproof and has up to a 20-hour battery life. The touchscreen is easy to operate, even with a gloved finger and when wet. It also comes with a tether to ensure the device doesn’t travel far in the event of a spill.

Mounting options include a new out-front mount for heads-up positioning and a standard quarter-turn mount. Check out this video of the Garmin-Sharp pro team putting the new Edge 810 or 510 units through their paces as they get ready for the new pro cycling season.

Enter to win a Trainer & Headlight

Don’t let the weather keep you off the bike this winter! We’ve got 2 great prizes to give away that will let you keep riding inside and outside in style – one winner will receive both an Elite Real Power CT Trainer and a NiteRider Pro 3600 LED Headlight! These are both top-of-the-line pieces of bike gear – you won’t have any excuses not to ride your bike year-round! All you have to do to enter is submit your email address on PerformanceBike.com here (All entries must be received no later than 11:59:59 p.m. ET on February 02, 2013. Only one entry per person will be counted).

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Elite Real Power CT Trainer

So what’s special about this trainer from Elite? Not only are you getting an advanced resistance trainer, but when you hook up the unit to your own PC it can replicate real world slopes up to a 20% grade – talk about a powerful workout! Just coordinate your PC with the resistance unit, download the software and choose from 15 video races that feature gradients up to 20% from around the planet. There’s even a Conconi Test System to measure your anaerobic threshold, a training test that creates a one month training program based on your personal stats, and available GPS/Google maps to expand your indoor cycling options. Video to keep you motivated, an advanced trainer to challenge you, and trackable data to monitor your progress – you’ll look forward to hours spent on this trainer!

NiteRider Pro 3600 LED Headlight

Updated for 2013 with 800 more lumens, the Pro 3600 LED headlight is one of the brightest bike lights ever constructed and the only bike light available which allows complete customization through D.I.Y. Software. Program your own runtimes, light output, lumens and flash modes. 6 Cree LEDs achieve up to 3600 lumens of astounding light with runtimes maxing out at 36 hours. The technically advanced Pro 3600 gives you virtually unlimited flexibility to design and determine almost everything about your light. Because only you know what’s best for your riding needs!

Holiday Gift Ideas

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Since we’re in the holiday spirit here at Performance Bicycle, we decided to take a stroll around our home office to find out what some of our coworkers recommended for the cyclist on your gift list. We talked to folks from accounting to merchandising to discover some great cycling gift ideas, even if you’re just shopping for yourself!

First up are a few ideas from Alison, a merchandise planner in our components division, and also a budding road cyclist.

1. What is your favorite piece of cycling gear that you used this year?

I love my Diadora Women’s Aerospeed 2 road shoes:

And I don’t have this Selle Italia Women’s Diva Gel Flow saddle, but I rode it on a friend’s bike and it was great – I need to get one!

2. What is a great stocking stuffer product for a cyclist?

Forté Grip-Tec handlebar tape is perfect for any road cyclist.

3. How about another holiday gift idea – non-cycling related?

I haven’t been very good this year, but I would like some Frye Harness 12R boots.

Zach is a merchandise assistant on our clothing team who loves to ride anything with 2 wheels – he’s going to learn how to jump on a dirt bike next.

1. What is your favorite piece of cycling gear that you used this year?

I got to test-ride some Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher front & rear road wheels – they are awesome.

DSC_01202. What is a great stocking stuffer product for a cyclist?

The Blackburn VIP SL Ride Wallet comes in handy when you want to stuff your phone or credit card in a sweaty jersey pocket.

3. How about another holiday gift idea – non-cycling related?

A ukulele, just because.

Alicia is our clothing product developer, responsible for the design and fit of our private label apparel – but she really loves to hit the trails on her mountain bike.

1.  What is your favorite piece of cycling gear that you used this year?

The Performance Women’s Thermal long sleeve jersey is great for cold-weather riding.


2.  What is a great stocking stuffer product for a cyclist?

Extra CO2 cartridges are always appreciated by the cyclist on your list.

3.  How about another holiday gift idea – non-cycling related?

I love it if my friends donate to a local charity on my behalf.

Johnny is a merchandise assistant for our components group, and all-around fast guy on any bike that you put him on, be it road, mountain or whatever.

1. What is your favorite piece of cycling gear that you used this year?

The Rock Shox Reverb Adjustable Seatpost is really useful and dependable.

2.  What is a great stocking stuffer product for a cyclist?

Stan’s sealant is a must if you want to go tubeless (and you should).


3. How about another holiday gift idea – non-cycling related?

Some sweet socks from Stance.

Michal works in our accounting department, and is a regular fixture on our lunch time road rides.

1. What is your favorite piece of cycling gear that you used this year?

Other than my bike….. I’d have to say Speedplay Light Action road pedals:

However, I do love my Pearl Izumi Thermal leg warmers. Couldn’t ride this time of year without them.


2. What is a great stocking stuffer product for a cyclist?

Everybody loves a good tail light (especially for this time of year) or one of those cool little multi tools.

3. How about another holiday gift idea – non-cycling related?

Socks, socks and more socks. Preferably Smartwool!  [ed.: apparently you can’t go wrong with socks!]

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Mark is a member of our product development team – so riding his bike and testing new gear is one of his job requirements!

1. What is your favorite piece of cycling gear that you used this year?

The internal clutch on the Shimano XTR Shadow+ rear derailleur really works to reduce chain slap on my mountain bike.

2. What is a great stocking stuffer product for a cyclist?

Dumonde Tech Original bicycle chain lube works to keep your bike running smoothly, and every cyclist wants that!

3. How about another holiday gift idea – non-cycling related?

Foothill’s Brewing Olde Rabbit’s Foot Imperial Stout – it’s hard to find, but oh so delicious.

Product Profile: Louis Garneau Course collection

For 30 years, Louis Garneau has stayed the course with race-inspired, high-tech cycling clothing. Now, they’re introducing their Limited Edition, premium Course line that delivers even more technology and performance than ever before. You can find the entire Course collection on Performancebike.com, but here’s a breakdown of a few of the innovative new products from this collection of high performance cycling gear.

Winner of the 2012 Eurobike Award for design excellence and innovation, the Course SpeedZone cycling vest was developed in cooperation with Team Europcar to provide great utility and protection. Louis Garneau’s patent pending opening on the rear of the vest allows access to your jersey pockets and provides visibility if you are wearing a race number. The ultra-light, stretchy fabric moves with you, offers wind and water resistance and breathes extremely well, plus an inner flap behind the full zip gives further protection while the mesh back panel prevents overheating.

The Course Race cycling bib shorts are a perfect example of a product that has been specially constructed to shave seconds, maximize muscle performance and keep you going strong, long after you’ve dropped the rest of the pack. Tight-fitting, high-compression fabric supports your thighs for powerful pedaling efficiency and is embedded with sun-reflective, coldblack technology to prevent overheating. Minimal seams increase aerodynamics, Power Mesh bibs keep you cool and a “nature calls” panel makes for easy pit stops. The new 5Motion chamois closes the deal with the amazing comfort of 3D pre-shaped wings, vented mesh, pressure relieving zones and antibacterial protection.

Designed to help you ride better, faster and stronger, the Course Race cycling jersey is a great looking piece packed with serious high-tech features. Three innovative fabrics move with your body, increase aerodynamics and wick moisture, plus coldblack technology dramatically reduces the jersey’s temperature to prevent overheating. The Course Race jersey is full zip and features pre-shaped shoulders and a wide silicone gripper hem to keep the jersey in place when you’re down in the drops. Textured sleeves give you an aero edge and triple back pockets with MP3 compatibility hold your race essentials.

Gloves that combine a firm grip with the right amount of padding and aeration for competition can be hard to come by. But not anymore, thanks to Louis Garneau’s Course cycling gloves. Their progressive padding process relieves pressure on the ulnar and median nerves, plus eliminates sources of friction for an amazing level of comfort. Then they added a sun reflecting, coldblack finish to the upper, so your hands won’t overheat. Finally, they seamlessly integrated their Ergo Air Zone system for effective temperature regulation and moisture evacuation. Hands down, this is a hard glove to beat. [Note: Course cycling gloves are available for pre-order, and will be in stock at the end of November]

Louis Garneau pulls out all the stops in their most competitive footwear, the Course 2LS road shoes. They’re equipped with a thinner, lighter and stronger Exo-Jet carbon outsole, plus Garneau’s HRS-300 internal polymer system which effectively transfers all your energy into pure power. Multi-vent technology circulates air throughout the interior to keep your feet feeling dry and fresh. Insert the red insole for extra warmth in cold conditions or the blue insole with refrigerant for cool comfort in hot weather. Double BOA L5 closure system evenly distributes pressure, offers infinite degrees of fine-tuning and lets you customize the level of security and tension. [Note: Course 2LS road shoes are available for pre-order, but will not be in stock until early 2013]

Shop the entire Limited Edition, premium Course collection on Performancebike.com.

Spin Doctor Tech Tip: How to Adjust Front & Rear Derailleurs

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Derailleurs… almost every bike has them, yet adjusting and installing these essential components still instills fear in many home bike mechanics. If you want to improve your derailleur-adjusting skills, head to your local Performance Bicycle store this Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. for our Derailleur Madness Clinic. Our Spin Doctors will provide expert advice on how to adjust, fix and maintain your derailleurs, plus an overview of the tools and products needed.

Spin Doctor P-Handle Hex Wrench Set

Don’t live near one of our shops? Pick up a set of hex wrenches (like our Spin Doctor P-Handle Hex Wrench Set) and a phillips-head screwdriver and queue up our handy How-To videos below. Each video offers a solid grounding in the principals and techniques you’ll need to get your derailleurs shifting smooth once again.

How to adjust a bicycle front derailleur:

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How to adjust a bicycle rear derailleur:

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Still need some help? Bring your bike by your local Performance Bicycle and let one of our Spin Doctor mechanics take a look, or get in touch with our Spin Doctor Tech Support team by email or phone – they are always ready to help with your technical questions.

Zach’s Training Diary: Getting ready for the Gran Fondo

It’s almost time to see if our web merchant Zach has what it takes to ride hard in Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo in Virginia. If you’ve been following on the blog, Zach has been training all summer to take on the hardest Gran Fondo in the US – 104 miles, over 11,000 feet of climbing and dirt road climbs thrown in for good measure! So now it’s time to see how he’s feeling and what gear he’s picked to take on the challenge.

The big ride I’ve been training for is in just a couple of days!  I’m ready for it.  I feel like I spent the entire summer training for it and thinking about it.  I got burnt out on training for a while, right after I peaked too early and then fell off the wagon a bit.  Since then I have rested up, done some active recovery, and come back a bit stronger and more prepared.  I’ve got everything lined up and dialed in!  The only thing that’s bothering me is a brutal allergy attack, but I’ve been getting plenty of rest and come Saturday morning I’ll be riding no matter what condition I’m in!

Zach’s training log

Over the summer I’ve had the pleasure to ride a few bikes from Fuji to try out and see which one was the best for me, given the riding conditions of the Gran Fondo.  In an earlier post I talked about the Fuji Altamira and the Fuji SST.  I was able to test out two more bikes over the summer, the Fuji SL1 Comp and the Fuji Gran Fondo.

The SL1 Comp was a very comfortable bike, and would be the perfect bike for someone transitioning into their first carbon road bike, or doing long group century rides.  For me, though, it wasn’t quite as responsive as the Altamira during the long climbs. Since there will be 11,000 feet of climbing in the Gran Fondo, I may need to pass on this one.  Otherwise, the bike did great on long training rides with rolling hills around the Piedmont of NC.  I could easily get 80 miles in on it and feel great afterwards.

Zach riding the Fuji SL1 Comp

The fourth and last bike was the Fuji Gran Fondo.  This bike is designed for exactly what it’s named after, riding long and hard during a Gran Fondo, or any other similar style of ride.  The bike is a very fast machine, climbs great, is comfortable, and absorbs potholes and gravel easily to give a smooth and plush ride.  The upright geometry gave me no problems while reaching for energy gels, a water bottle, or getting my phone out of my back pocket to text my wife that I was OK while riding (just kidding on the texting part).  Plainly put, the Fuji Gran Fondo delivers!

Fuji Gran Fondo 3.0

So which one did I go for?  It was a hard choice. The SST and SL1 Comp were ruled out as top contenders for a Gran Fondo.  They’re great machines for what they’re designed for, but not great at long ascents on gravel roads.  The Gran Fondo would seem to be the obvious choice, but given that I also had the option of the similar Altamira that’s decked out with Shimano Dura Ace electronic shifting, I went with the Altamira!

There was just something about the Altamira that felt better for me.  It’s quick and snappy on the climbs, is very comfortable, it delivers optimal power transfer with its oversized bottom bracket, and at the end of the day was lighter than the rest of the choices. I’ve been riding it for quite some time now, and have made a few changes to prep it for the gran fondo riding conditions.  The Altamira came with an Ultegra standard 53-39 double crankset and an 11-25 cassette on the back.  I swapped those out for an Ultegra 50-34 Compact Crankset paired with an 11-28 cassette.  With that low of a gear ratio, I should be able to ride the hills of the Gran Fondo with no problems! For tires I chose Continental Gatorskins in a 700X25 size, that, when paired with Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher wheels, actually measure out to about 26mm in width. Running this set up at about 90 psi gives it all the cush and grip needed for those long gravel climbs.

So that’s the bike!  It’s a very important part of the puzzle, but there’s plenty more that’s needed for the fondo.  After testing several products over the summer, I’ve come up with my own personal checklist of things that have worked the best for me from head to toe:

  1. Shoes: I use Sidi Ergo 3 shoes (similar to the Sidi Ergo 2 Carbon Lite Road Shoes) as the adjustability and control of personal fit on these shoes is unmatched!  They’re light, stiff and make for great climbing shoes!
  2. Socks: DeFeet Air-E-Ator HiTop Honey Badger Black Socks are sooooo nasty!!  Defeet has stood the test of time, miles, sweat, rain, multiple washes, and continue to be at the top of the sock drawer.
  3. Kit: Louis Garneau Mondo Evo Bib Shorts and Team Short Sleeve Jersey – This kit is the absolute most comfortable kit I’ve ever had.  It’s light, breathable, and it wicks and dries sweat away in the blink of an eye.  Our Garneau Custom Cycling team from Performance wears this combo for our team kits.
  4. Jacket:  Depending on the weather report, I may be packing my Cannondale Pack Me Jacket.  It stows away into my jersey pocket nicely and is a welcome addition if the rain starts pouring.
  5. Gloves:  Pearl Izumi Select Gel Gloves because they fit great, are comfortable, and my hands don’t go numb after four hours in the saddle.
  6. Eyewear:  Smith Pivlock V2 Max – I’ve never in my life owned a better pair of cycling glasses than these.  The tapered lens tech is no joke, and after riding them I’ll never go to another brand.  They’re very lightweight, and extremely durable.
  7. Helmet:  Giro Aeon Helmet – I switched to this after riding a Specialized Prevail for a long time and I have to say, the Aeon feels lighter and it fits my head better.  The red and black also match my kit.  DONE!
  8. Nutrition:  I thought I had this dialed in, but at the Gran Fondo training ride, I had some severe cramps despite staying hydrated and eating.  Since then I’ve started taking GU Brew Electrolyte Drink Tablets.  They’re packed with plenty of sodium and seem to be doing the trick!  For solid food I’ve always enjoyed the multiple varieties of Honey Stinger Waffles, and margarita flavored Clif Shot Blocks Energy Chews!  I also take some supplements here and there such as SportLegs or Endurox Excel, depending on what I’m doing.  Lastly, I love Endurox R4 for a recovery drink.  The chocolate flavor is my favorite, but they’re all good.
  9. Inflation:  The Spin Doctor Rescue HP mini pump will be tagging along with me.  With all the gravel I stand the chance of having to change multiple flats, and I’d rather not carry a bunch of CO2 cartridges.
  10. Pocket Essentials:  The Blackburn VIP SL Ride Wallet will be carrying my ID, credit card, phone, etc.  I’ve been using this thing for months and have been caught in downpours and sweat through my jerseys.  Everything inside stays completely dry.
  11. Computer:  Garmin Edge 500 with H/R monitor and the BarFly computer mount.  All around I think this is the best GPS device out there.  I love the compact design and that it’s fully customizable to give me everything I want to know.  The BarFly makes it a quick glance of the eye to view the Edge 500, instead of having to tilt my neck all the way down to view the stem mount.
  12. Water Bottles: CamelBak Podium ChillJacket Insulated Bottle – I dismissed these until I forgot my bottles on a training ride and ended up having to buy water bottles.  Now, I’ll never use anything else.  It keeps your water cool and that goes a long way both mentally and physically when you’re out there grinding it out.

Well, that’s the gear.  The only thing left to do is head back up to Harrisonburg this weekend and ride the Gran Fondo!  I can’t wait to get back up there and do it.  Hopefully this allergy attack will subside and I’ll have a strong ride come Saturday morning.  I’ll have a full report after I get back. Thanks for reading!

Wordless Wednesday

2012 Tour Devinci, Build a Bike Giveaway

Have you ever wanted to see how a bike is born, in person? Enter our 2012 Tour Devinci, Build a Bike Giveaway & you could be on your way to Quebec this summer to do just that – thanks to our friends at Devinci Cycles. This is an extraordinary opportunity to find out first-hand how Devinci designs and handcrafts their high-quality road and mountain bikes, from the ground up, in their high-tech factory in Chicoutimi, Quebec. Check out their factory tour video for a sneak-peek of what you might see if you win our giveaway:

Devinci has been building bikes since 1987, and they’ve forged their reputation by designing and creating bikes that deliver extraordinary performance. Devinci stands for excellence, vision and an unwavering devotion to the art of the bicycle and the thrill of the ride. Devinci road bikes and mountain bikes are products of constant innovation. They’re rigorously tested beyond industry standards, and actually warranted for the life of the original owner.

So what do you get if you win our 2012 Tour Devinci, Build a Bike Giveaway? The winner will fly to Quebec (from the US) to meet the Devinci staff and see how Devinci bikes are designed, tested, machined, welded and assembled – and participate in every step of that process. You’ll even get the chance to test out Devinci‘s quality by riding local trails, scenic road loops, or both, with Devinci staff. Check out the trip itinerary here for all of the details of this action-packed 3 day trip in August.

Plus you’ll get a new Devinci bike as a souvenir: your choice of either a 2012 Devinci Leo SL K Road Bike or a 2012 Devinci Atlas RC 29er Mountain Bike. Check out this quick video from Adam Carr of the Ekoi.com-Gaspesien pro cycling team talking about his personal Leo racing bike to learn more about the design of the Leo (the team uses different components than our 2012 Devinci Leo SL K Road Bike, but the frame is the same):

And here’s a product overview video of the 2012 Devinci Atlas RC 29er Mountain Bike, with details on this maneuverable and great-handling big-wheel XC sled:

Be sure to read the contest rules for more details about the 2012 Tour Devinci, Build a Bike Giveaway and enter now! Contest entry dates are 4/30/12 – 5/28/12 and only one entry per person.

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