Pro Profile: 10 Questions with Triathlete Cameron Dye

Kestrel Logo

Since Kestrel-sponsored world-class pro triathlete Cameron Dye will be dropping by our Fort Lauderdale store on Friday, April 5, we thought that we would reach out to him beforehand to answer 10 questions, for those of you who aren’t able to meet him in person in Florida. But before we get to the questions, we want to give you a little background on Cam, and what makes him so fast.

The 28-year-old Boulder native won his age group in his first triathlon, the Boulder Peak Triathlon, as a 15-year-old high school student. Cam attended the University of Iowa on a swimming scholarship, where he was named team captain of the swim team and received All-Big Ten Academic honors. After receiving his degree in finance in 2006, he moved back to Boulder and began training and racing full-time. He earned his pro license later that summer.

With his 2010 victory at the St. Anthony’s Triathlon, Cam – along with his blonde, curly locks and his signature style of demolishing the field on the bike – made his presence known. Deemed an up-and-comer storming onto the tri scene, Cam tallied two wins and five podiums in 2011. After tallying six wins and an additional six Top-10’s aboard his Kestrel 4000 last year, Cam capped off his 2012 season with the greatest victory of his career: the 2012 Race the Toyota Cup series title. In recognition of his outstanding year, Cam was named 2012 Non-Olympic/ITU Triathlete of the Year by USA Triathlon.

10 Questions with Cameron Dye

cameron_dyeWhere are you from and how did you get started racing triathlons?

I was born and raised in Boulder, CO and began racing triathlons at 15. I grew up a swimmer and runner and after doing one at 15 decided it was something I wanted to chase as a career after swimming in college.

What is your favorite distance and why?

My favorite distance is the olympic distance, because of all the variety you have between drafting and non draft racing, and the fact that it is flat out for the whole race.

What’s your strongest event – swim, bike or run?

Historically it’s swimming, but I have won most of my victories because of my riding.

Which event do you need to work on the most?

Running is my weakest of the 3, and although I have made big strides as a runner it is something that I will continue to try and master.

What’s one piece of gear that you can’t do without (for racing or training)?

My headband… something has to keep the ‘fro under control!

Tell us about your bike – what do you love about your Kestrel?

My 4000 is fast, plain and simple. I love the fact that it still looks like a bike, and not a space ship like some of the “super bikes” and yet it is still winning lots of races. I have won 9 out of my 10 professional victories on a Kestrel, 8 of them on a 4000.

What do you eat before a race – is it the same every time?

I try and find Hawaiian pizza the night before, and I have always eaten maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal the morning of the race.

What is your best advice for a beginning triathlete?

In everything you do have a plan, but be willing to deviate from it if necessary. Listen to your body, and make sure you are having fun. Even the hardest workouts need to be enjoyable in some respect.

What are your goals for the season?

Defend my title as the Lifetime Fitness Series Champion, and win the fastest race in the world at HyVee.

Tell us about your hair – how does it fit under an aero helmet?

My hair has sort of become my trademark. I love the fact that I stick out a little bit from the average pro triathlete, and it fits my personality. Once it’s wet it fits just fine in a helmet, the trick is keeping it under control on the run!

Spin Doctor Tech Tip: How to wrap road bike handlebars

Spin Doctor

Today’s Spin Doctor tech tip focuses on one of those basic components of your road bike, your handlebar tape – something that you touch every time that you go for a ride. If you don’t remember when the last time was that you replaced your handlebar tape, it’s probably time to go ahead and give your bars a fresh, new wrap. Nothing freshens up your ride like some clean tape, such as our Forté Grip-Tec Handlebar Tape seen here:

Mark, one of the Spin Doctors here at our home office, gives you the breakdown on how to do this basic bike maintenance task yourself. Soon enough, you’ll be wrapping handlebars like a pro – as an extra tip, most folks start to wrap their handlebars towards the inside of their bars (from behind this will mean clockwise on the left side and counter-clockwise on the right):

If you need more help with your bicycle repair needs, head to your local Performance Bicycle store and set up a visit with your local Spin Doctor.  Don’t live near one of our stores and need some technical advice? Get in touch with our Spin Doctor Tech Support team by email or phone – they are always ready to help with your technical questions.

Wordless Wednesday

2013 Alpine Loop Gran Fondo – the Finale

If you’ve been following on our blog, you’ve read how Zach, from our home office, had prepared his body and his bike gear to get ready to tackle the challenge of Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo in Virginia. But we couldn’t just send him up to the ride by himself, so we put together a team of 3 to report back on the most challenging and adventurous Gran Fondo in the United States!

Peloton heading out of town | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

Below is a photo of our crew the night before the big ride, with Jeremiah Bishop in the middle, sporting his extra-special white tuxedo for the pre-ride dinner (he was the host, after all). Ross, on the left, is a merchandise assistant in our bikes division – and is also an all-around fast dude on a bike. David works in our marketing department as our social media guy – documenting adventures such as this ride. And finally, Zach, one of our web merchants, is on the right – he’s been training hard all year to lose weight, gain fitness and get ready for the Gran Fondo. Read on below to find out how the ride worked out for each member of our team.

Ross, David, Jeremiah Bishop and Zach | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

Ross:

After hearing rave reviews from a few friends, I knew that the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo had to be highlighted on my calendar this year.  Any time you hear the words mountains, bikes, beer, gravel, and fundraising in an event description, a great time is to be had… and it was. I was very thankful to have taken Jeremiah up on his pre-fondo training ride a few weeks prior to the main event.  This ride gave me a chance to test out new equipment on many of the infamous sections of the course such as the hour long paved and gravel climbs and subsequent hair-raising descents of Reddish Mountain.  This ride was when I discovered my fondness for road tubeless setups and disc brakes on the road.

I’ll start my recap with a quick rundown of my bike setup, since it was a little different than the other guys. I rode a Scattante CFX Black cyclocross bike, running on Stan’s ZTR Alpha 340 disc front and rear wheels with Maxxis Padrone 700x23c tubeless tires, set up tubeless with Stan’s sealant (of course).

Following a brief staging, the ride was underway, we were winding through the streets of historic Harrisonburg and then off into the farmlands of the foothills.  After an hour riding over rollers, you could feel the peloton starting to get a little antsy as the first timed climb of the ride began and the pain began.  It wasn’t long before I was up near the front hanging on for the next several miles as Ben King set the pace.  As we passed over the summit, I was very thankful to have disc brakes on the wide open descent into the valley.  The Avid BB7 road disc calipers provided consistent stopping power no matter what the descent had in store.

Ross on his Scattante CFX Black | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

With the first climb out of the way, the small re-grouping at the front was off to tackle the next few climbs… which happened to be the hardest of the day!  The second climb was 30 minutes riding 10-20% grades on gravel.  It was nothing short of exhausting with no chance for legs to recover.  The next few climbs were paved but equally as steep and energy draining.

Half-way through the ride, and with virtually no chance for recovery and another food/water break, the “final” climb of the day, a gravel road to the top of Reddish Knob, was breathing down our neck.  I don’t think that this road can really be considered “gravel”, it is more of a road cut into solid stone.  Tubeless tires won the day on this rough terrain with low tire pressure and virtually no chance of a pinch-flat.

After a grueling hour of climbing, the final check point came and went with a sigh of relief.  It was only downhill to Harrisonburg, or so it showed on the course profile. But don’t be mistaken by the elevation loss, the last 20 miles of the Gran Fondo were extremely hard! Fatigue and saddle time had taken their effect but the finish was so close that it encouraged us to ride harder – that and the fact that gobs of food and New Belgium beer were waiting at the finish line.

If you plan on riding the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, be sure to look at Jeremiah’s equipment recommendations on the event website.  The route is nothing short of brutal.

Ross in the Amish countryside | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

David:

I had one advantage over my coworkers, Ross and Zach, going in to the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo – I had completed the ride last year. Yes, Zach and Ross had gone up to Harrisonburg for a special training ride with the host of the event, Jeremiah Bishop, but there’s nothing quite like riding the whole route and knowing how your body will react. Then Jeremiah went and changed the route! So it was back to square one for me – I knew how hard the first road climb and the last rolling miles into town were, but the whole middle of the ride (including the fearsome backside of Reddish Knob) was going to be a new experience. My only real equipment change from last year was rolling on a Stan’s ZTR Alpha Comp Road Wheelset, set up tubeless with Stan’s sealant.

At the start of the ride, I rolled along comfortably ensconced in the peloton with my coworkers – the pace was casual until the first big climb of the day. And that’s the last place I saw them until the finish line – Ross motored on up the road with the leaders, Zach started his battle to finish under the time cutoff for the glockenbell finisher’s medal, and I settled in to a comfortable place somewhere in between.

David climbing to Reddish Knob | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

It’s always interesting on rides like this how quickly you find the group that is going your same pace – for the whole rest of the day I saw a rotating group of the same faces as the pack that crested the first climb near me – a moving mini-group within the group. The good news is that I felt better than I had last year – although for some reason the second dirt road climb felt even harder than before. I blame selective amnesia – 20% pitches on a bumpy dirt road will do that!

The highlight of the ride had to be the soul-crushing ride up the backside of Reddish Knob, a new addition to the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo route. I neglected to read up on this devious climb beforehand, so I was convinced that it was only 3 or 4 miles. Nope, that’s not Jeremiah’s style. Instead it was 9 miles of undulating dirt and gravel road, checkered with potholes, steep climbs, flowy mini-descents, and a finish high atop Reddish Knob with a stunning 360 degree view of the mountains.

Top of Reddish Knob

On this climb I experienced the high and low-points of my ride. The high point (other than the delicious rest stop food – Nutella, waffles and Orangina are my new favorite mid-ride snacks) was finding an extra burst of speed and power halfway up the climb, which found me flying by fellow riders and the expertly placed photogs from Joe Foley Photography. My low point came shortly afterwards, where I paid for my sudden acceleration with the most painful leg cramps that I’ve ever experienced – I was only able to soldier through by pounding down as many margarita flavored extra-sodium Clif Shot Bloks as I could stomach. All in all, it was another grueling, amazing and memorable ride (and my longest ride ever at 107 miles), and I can’t wait to give it another go next year!

David near the top of Reddish Knob | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

Zach:

I’ve had a few weeks to digest the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. The scenery, both beautiful and tranquil, provided a picturesque background in which to suffer.  The event was quite the experience.  There was almost every type of cyclist there.  Everyone from “fat bike” riders, to Radio Shack Nissan team pro Ben King, and of course, the emcee of the weekend, the man himself, Mr. Jeremiah Bishop.  Everyone had fun. Everyone suffered.  Everyone made new friends.  We suffered together, we laughed together.  There were long grinding climbs, world class descents, and hours of relentless focus.

As for me, I did what I set out to do.  Finish in under 10 hours – I did it in 8 hours and 45 minutes.

Every time I tell recall the experience, whether to friends or just in my mind, the more details I remember.  It’s as if it was an epic, suspenseful movie with ups, downs, twists, and turns.  Every time you watch the movie, you pick up on new things you hadn’t noticed the first time you watched it.  I remember the folks I had conversations with, where they were from and what inspired them to ride in the ALGF.  I remember suffering for hours, by myself, turn after turn yielding nothing but more elevation around the next corner.  I remember that pothole I hit at 38mph during a 15 mile descent around mile 80 that could have thrown me from the bike and thinking that, ‘I should try not to lose focus’. After all, I had ridden 80 miles and climbed over 10,000 feet  at that point in the day and my mind and body was fading.

Zach on the first climb of the day | Photo by Joe Foley Photography: http://www.joefoleyphotography.com

I could point out around 20 highlights of the weekend in general, but the two that stand out the most have to be the second climb of the day, and crossing the finish line.  The second climb of the day was 3 miles, 1400 feet, on gravel, with nothing but 15-20 percent grade stair step pitches.  Many people were walking up most of the pitches.  Somehow I managed to stay on the bike, and never walked at any point during the day. Epic. Finishing goes without saying.  It was just good to accomplish something that I had spent all summer thinking and training for.

All in all, this was the hardest event I’ve ever done in my life.  After three weeks I’m just starting to get my legs back.  I’m undecided as to whether or not I’ll try and tackle it again next year, but I highly recommend it for anyone looking to take their riding to the next level.  I did things on a bike that I never would have dreamed about when I first started riding a few years ago.  It was an event I’ll never, ever forget.  Thanks to all my supporters who helped me do it, and most of all, my wife!  From here on, I’m looking forward to bike rides to the park with the family, Spaten Oktoberfest, and the off season.  Oh yeah wait, there is no off season!

For more pictures of the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, check out the photo gallery on our Facebook page or take a look at the amazing photos from the pros at Joe Foley Photography (who were gracious enough to let us use their images in this post). Plus we want to give a special shout-out to all of the volunteers at the Gran Fondo, who did a great job of making everyone feel welcome all weekend long – and especially to Jeremiah and his wife Erin, who were gracious hosts for this great event, even if Jeremiah did poke fun at Zach after the ride:

Interbike 2012 Wrap-up: Part 1

Every year, the North American cycling world gathers in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the annual Interbike trade show. This year we were there to check out the latest gear and cycling trends, and these are a few of the most interesting things we saw. Check out our photo album on Facebook for even more shots from the show.

SRAM: the Chicago-based drivetrain experts had a huge booth and tons of new gear on display. On the mountain bike side, we were excited to check out the new XX1 system in person. Designed around 1 chainring in front: 

And a whopping 11 speeds in the rear cassette, new XX1 promises to be a simpler, more durable and lighter setup for a range of riders:

And for those that are nostalgic for SRAM’s first product, there is also the return of GripShift, this time with high-end and smooth turning ball bearing internals:

On the road side, SRAM has expanded their lineup of WiFli extended range gearing to include SRAM Red, Force and Apex groups – with up to 11-32 cassettes, these 2×10 systems actually offer a wider range of gearing than most triple setups:

 Shimano: Not to be outdone by their American rivals, Shimano was busy showing off their updated top-of-the-line Dura-Ace 9000 series road group. Beyond refinements to the clean aesthetics, the big news is that Dura-Ace now goes to 11 speeds in the back:

Other updates include improved ergonomics on the STI shifters, dual-bolt brakes, and a lengthened lever arm on the front derailleur:

Another interesting change, from both a design and practicality standpoint, is the new 4-arm crankset, which allows for the use of compact or standard chainrings on the same spider:

Dura-Ace Di2 has also been tweaked, incorporating advances made with the Ultegra Di2 system that allow for a more compact and efficient design:

Shimano developments weren’t just for their high-end products, as the affordable SLX mountain bike drivetrain received an overhaul, including a brake upgrade to match the short-stroke Servo-Wave levers of pricier XT & XTR groups:

Keeping on the mountain bike front, there are also updates on the way for hydration packs. Camelbak has made changes to their 2013 packs with an improved NV ventilation system on their high volume packs, like the M.U.L.E. and H.A.W.G., while the brand new Volt packs feature a lumbar water reservoir that keeps the weight supported around your waist:

Osprey Packs also has updates on the way to their popular packs for 2013, with tweaks to their water bladders, shoulder straps and more, plus increased offerings in women’s specific designs:

We also ran into mountain bike legend Hans Rey in the hall at Interbike. Hans is marking his 25 years of riding GT bikes with his hardcover coffee table book, “A Life of Mountain Bike Adventures” – just in time for holiday gift season:

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!

Community Events: Hotter’N Hell Hundred 2012

Every year, thousands of riders swarm the town of Wichita Falls, Texas for the largest 100 mile bike ride in the nation. This year was no different, as the 2012 Hotter’N Hell 100 attracted almost 12,000 riders, plus racers for criterium races, mountain bike races, a USCF sanctioned men’s and women’s road race, a trail run, 10k run, and half marathon run – this is one busy weekend! The mid-90’s temperatures for the Saturday event were cooler than the past several years, when temperatures were well over the 100 degree mark.  Even though it was cooler this year, the wind picked up to over 20 mph during the day and blew straight into the rider’s faces as they rode the last half of their routes.  Performance Bicycle supported the event by providing a hydration and nutrition station at the Finish Line Village on Friday and Saturday.

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In addition, Spin Doctors from 3 of our Texas stores and our home office provided free mechanical services on Friday in front of the convention center and at 5 locations during the ride on Saturday.  The final rest stop on the ride was at Sheppard Air Force Base where 3 of our Spin Doctors were stationed.  At the Air Force base was one of the favorite on-route extras, the rows of Air Force recruits lined up on both sides of the road cheering for and encouraging every rider that rode past. Most of the day’s repairs were flat tires and derailleur tune-ups with a few broken spokes thrown in to test the quickness and technical abilities of our Spin Doctors. Our team had a great time getting out in the field and meeting friends old and new, and we look forward to helping out again next year! Check out our video highlights from our weekend at Hotter’n Hell below:

Community Events: 2012 USA Pro Challenge

The USA Pro Challenge has already begun, and “America’s Race” is already living up to it’s billing. Winding its way among the majestic Colorado Rockies, this year’s route takes some of the best cycling pros in the world over a 683-mile course with more than 42,000 ft. of vertical climbing – through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. With more than 1 million spectators in 2011, the USA Pro Challenge is already one of the largest cycling events in U.S. history, and the 2012 edition promises to be even bigger and better.

With 7 Performance Bicycle shops in Colorado, we couldn’t miss out on this exciting event. Look for a Performance Bicycle tent at the finish line expos of Stage 5 in Colorado Springs, Stage 6 in Boulder, and Stage 7  in Denver (August 24-26). We’ll have friendly store associates there each day talking about Performance, handing out free water bottles, and giving away a free bike each day! Drop by and say hello if you’re in the area (and did we mention we’ll be giving away a free bike each day!)

Of course we’ll also be at the final weekend of the USA Pro Challenge to check out the racing action and share it with you – we’ll post our behind-the-scenes photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter, plus right here on the Performance Bicycle Blog. We’re especially excited to see Team Champion System in person on their Fuji Altamira bikes. To catch the racing action live, head over to the USA Pro Challenge Tour Tracker (or download the app so you can watch it on the road), or watch the NBC Sports Network daily coverage.

Wordless Wednesday

Community Events: 2012 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic

So what do you get when you cross 10,000 riders from 40 states and 3 countries, over 26,000 sandwiches, and 204 miles of beautiful riding from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon? Well, if you are the Cascade Bicycle Club, you end up with the 33rd Annual Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. Started as a time trial race between the Seattle and Portland City Halls, the Group Health STP has become one of the largest recreational rides in the country, completed by a amazing range of cyclists – from those who had never ridden more than 30 miles to those who wanted to set a new personal record. This year Performance Bicycle was proud to support all of the riders with mechanical support, from check-in at the University of Washington in Seattle, all the way to the finish line at Holladay Park in Portland.

At check-in you really get a sense of how big an event STP really is. The evening before the big ride, the queue of excited riders stretched across the Husky Stadium parking lot – there to check-in and drop off supplies for checkpoints along the route. The organized team with the Cascade Bicycle Club handled the good-natured crowd with aplomb, making sure that bikes, camping gear and supplies were packed away for the right destination the next day.

The STP ride is, at its heart, a group experience. Riders showed up in couples, groups and outright crowds – ready to test themselves and enjoy the ride. And not many folks were having more fun than the “Gypsy Wagon Race Team” seen above! This friendly band of Canadians make the trek down in their battered passenger van, and were quickly making friends in the parking lot – which had become an impromptu campsite for many riders and their support teams. Hanging out and meeting fellow cyclists is an important part of the STP experience.

The next morning, the STP ride kicked off  from the UW campus, with the first waves leaving at 5:30 AM, and our teams were already up  and on the way to various support stations along the route. With over 200 miles of roads to cover, it takes quite an operation to make sure that riders are safe and fueled up for the long ride. Performance Bicycle teams from our stores in Oregon and Washington state organized and staffed several pit stops along the route, but our main base of operations for the day was the halfway point in Centralia, Washington. 

With our workstands, water bottles, Clif Shot Energy Gel and repair supplies ready to go, our motivated Performance team was primed for action by 9:00 AM, when the very first riders rolled in under overcast skies. The first wave of riders were mostly made up of the one-day finishers – hardy cyclists who were on a mission to ride over 200 miles in one shot. Still in good spirits, these riders usually only stopped for a few moments to refuel, get minor repairs sorted out, and then hop right back on their bikes to continue their journey. But these early crowd heralded the start of a busy day for our team – once this tidal wave of cyclists started rolling in, our mechanics basically worked non-stop until 7:00 PM at night!

We saw bikes and bike riders of every shape and size, from young to old, from novice to expert. As the day wore on, the mix of riders changed over to the 2-day crowd – folks who were looking for a more leisurely weekend of riding with friends (as long as you consider back-to-back century rides leisurely, of course). Since we had 6 mechanics wrenching away, pumping up tires and fixing flats, we had plenty of time to chat with folks as they dropped by. It was awesome to hear that for many riders this was far and away the longest they had ever ridden their bikes – the level of support and camaraderie of the STP ride had inspired them to try something they had never thought they could do on a bike. Of course with that many riders out on the road, we had plenty to do. Our guys went through a countless amount of tubes and tires, trued many a wheel, field-repaired STI shifters and balky derailleurs – we did whatever we could to keep people on the road so that they could enjoy the rest of their ride. You can get a taste of what our day was like with this “Mechanic cam” action we shot with our trusty GoPro HD Hero cam:

As the morning changed to afternoon, riders kept rolling in to the halfway point at Centralia College. Just when you thought the ride was starting to slow down, another wave of happy but exhausted riders would come streaming by our tent. Apparently it’s hard to gauge 10,000 riders, because we kept thinking, “there can’t be any more coming” when another wave would roll in! But our dedicated Performance crew was always ready to help, even if they didn’t get a real break until we left at 7:00 PM. Since our team was made up of associates from many stores across the region, they saw many of their regular customers come rolling by. Plus we were excited to see how many riders were riding in Performance cycling gear and on Scattante, Fuji and GT bicycles that they purchased in one of our stores.

Eventually the seemingly endless crowds did start to wane, as the last of the 2-day riders made it to the halfway point. To make the most of their STP experience, most participants camp out with a few thousand of their newest friends at an array of campsites. As you can see above, the central quad of Centralia College became an impromptu tent city, full of tired cyclists resting up for their second century ride in as many days!

The final day of STP was the big finish to a weekend of cycling fun. The 2-day riders were up early once again to hit the road south to Portland on a typically damp Northwest day (although the sun did make an appearanc later). Once again riders pedaled through a century ride, finishing in a festival atmosphere in Holladay Park. Fans, friends and fellow cyclists lined the finishing roads like it was the end of a Tour de France stage, cheering on the riders as they rode in.

Soon the park was packed with cyclists, happy to be finished and ready to get cleaned up, but also soaking in the atmosphere and fellowship with thousands of other STP finishers and their supporters. You could tell that most people wanted to savor their moment of accomplishment, although maybe they were just too worn out to worry about getting changed out of their bike gear!

Everyone from our Performance Bicycle team had a blast supporting the riders at the 2012 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic – our long hours were more than paid back by the thanks we received from all of the folks we helped get back on the road to enjoy this great event. We can’t wait to come back next year with an even bigger and better presence – and maybe next year we’ll even have a few Performance riders out on the road to get the full STP experience. Head on over to the Performance Bike Facebook page to see the rest of our photos from this year’s STP, and we hope to see you on the road from Seattle to Portland in 2013!

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