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

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

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Real Advice: Commuting by Bike

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

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Fuji Pro Bikes at the 2013 Amgen Tour of California

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

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Event Recap: 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross Worlds

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

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Cycling First Aid Essentials – What to Pack

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

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Our Take: 10-Speed vs. 11-Speed

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

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Real Advice: How to Lock Your Bike

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

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Real Advice: An Intro to Climbing

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

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Real Advice: Weight Loss

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

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Real Advice: Wheels

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

The Scattante CFR Race

Product Profiles: The Scattante CFR LE and Scattante CFR Race

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

Product Profiles: The Scattante CFR LE and Scattante CFR Race

The Scattante CFR Race

The Scattante CFR Race

The Scattante CFR Race

When the guys over in the bike division heard about the new Ultegra 6800 group, they realized they had to build a bike around it. And it couldn’t just be any bike. No, it had to be something extra special– like no other bike we’d ever done before. It took a few iterations, and lots of emailing back and forth with our suppliers, but we did it, and the result is exceptional. Behold: the Scattante CFR Race. This incredible new bike features our pro-level ScMT carbon fiber frameset, an Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain, and a compliment of high end components from Deda, Selle San Marco, and Fulcrum.

The Scattante CFR Race features the same Scattante Monocoque Technology (ScMT) that was used in the CFR Black bike. ScMT carbon fiber technology is incredibly stiff and lightweight, but also nice and compliant in all the right spots for a buttery smooth ride. It’s stiff yet springy, and is incredibly responsive to pedal input. It’s got plenty of compliance to make it both comfortable and surprisingly agile and easy to handle.

For components, we outfitted the CFR Race with mechanical Ultegra 11-speed. The all-new Ultegra features improved front end shifting thanks to a redesigned derailleur pivot arm, Shimano’s new distinctive crank arm design, and, of course, the addition of an 11th cog. Rounding out the package is a full Deda cockpit, and a set of Fulcrum wheels.

If you’re the type of cyclist who takes your riding seriously and are looking for an 11-speed upgrade that delivers pro-level performance, it’s tough to beat the Scattante CFR Race.

Hurry though…these bikes won’t last long.

11-speed Ultegra 6800 takes performance to a new level

11-speed Ultegra 6800 takes performance to a new level

The distinctive 4-arm crank design sets Ultegra 6800 apart from the crowd

The distinctive 4-arm crank design sets Ultegra 6800 apart from the crowd

Improved lever ergonomics take cues from Shimano's Di2 systems

Improved lever ergonomics take cues from Shimano’s Di2 systems

Deda provided components for the cockpit on the CFR Race

Deda provided components for the cockpit on the CFR Race

Fulcrum wheels are lightweight and fast

Fulcrum wheels are lightweight and fast

ScMT carbon technology gives the CFR Race a ride feel like no other carbon blend out there

ScMT carbon technology gives the CFR Race a ride feel like no other carbon blend out there

The Scattante CFR LE

The Scattante CFR LE

The Scattante CFR LE

But we don’t just have one new bike on the docket. The CFR Race is more geared toward the racers out there, but we don’t want you to think we forgot about the long distance riders, right? That’s why we’re also rolling out the Scattante CFR LE.  So what’s the story with the Scattante CFR LE? The Scattante CFR LE (Limited Edition) road bike is a new road bike that is built for all-day comfort and amazing performance.  We took the same Scattante Monocoque Technology (ScMT) carbon fiber construction technique that we used in the CFR Black and CFR Race,  but reworked the geometry to make it a little more relaxed and forgiving. ScMT carbon fiber technology is incredibly stiff and lightweight, but allows us to adjust the compliance in all the right spots for a buttery smooth ride. The fork is custom tuned for quick, predictable handling. The bike is all-dressed up for the holidays with a 10-speed Shimano 105 drivetrain, FSA compact crank and some Kenda Kadence tires.

The CFR LE is the perfect road bike for the distance guys and weekend group riders. It deliver’s excellent performance that’s perfect for charity rides, fast weekend group rides, or gran fondos. And don’t worry, it’s a great value, but it can hang with even the most expensive bikes on the course.

It’s a value you won’t believe…but these bikes won’t last long, so get yours today.

ScMT technology gives the frame and fork an unparalleled ride

ScMT technology gives the frame and fork an unparalleled ride

Shimano 105 component provide excellent shifting performance

Shimano 105 component provide excellent shifting performance

The frame delivers race-ready performance that is a joy to ride

The frame delivers race-ready performance that is a joy to ride

2014 Scattante CFX Black Cyclocross Bikes

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

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

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

The Scattante CFX Black. It's business time.

The Scattante CFX Black. It’s business time.

The Scattante CFX Black SRAM Red 22 Hydro

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

Features:

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

2013 Scattante CFX Black with SRAM Red 22 Hydro

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Hydraulic SRAM Red 22 shifters

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Hydraulic SRAM Red disc brakes

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Cross specific 46/36 SRAM Red 22 crankset

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ScDT carbon frame and fork

The Scattante CFX Black SRAM Force 22

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

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

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11-speed SRAM Force 22 drivetrain

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Cross specific 46/36 crank configuration

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Avid BB7 Disc brakes

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ScDT carbon frame and fork

Gear Up For Cross

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

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

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

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7 Essentials To Start Your Cross Season Right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back in Black

I was at the grocery story once, loading up the kids and the car, when a beautiful Porsche pulled up next to me and an older gentleman stepped out. We got to talking about his ride, and I asked him what the top speed was.

“I have no idea,” he said, which left me a little dumbfounded. Then he elaborated.

“I didn’t buy it to go fast…but I like the idea that I could go fast if I really wanted to.”

I immediately thought about my bike. I probably don’t get as much out of my Dura-Ace Scattante CFR as a pro would, but I love the idea that I have a bike that could get me there if I wanted it to.

Shimano Dura-Ace is the crème de la crème of Shimano’s component line up, a favorite of pros and amateurs alike. For every bike manufacturer, the Shimano Dura-Ace equipped bike is the gold standard. It becomes the template for every bike that follows, injecting it with performance, trickle down technology, class and style. Our Scattante line of bikes is no exception. We spend enormous amounts of time on the frame layup and geometry, and working on all the small details like graphics. The goal is to create a machine that delivers race-worthy performance to cyclists of any level. Because while we all know that the Toyota is a great, dependable, practical car, at the end of the day it’s the Porsche that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

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2013 Scattante CFR Black

With the launch of our all-new, lust-worthy Scattante CFR Black — decked out with Dura-Ace 11-speed 9070 Di2 electronic shifting, the latest evolution of Shimano’s race proven technology — we decided to take a stroll down memory lane to see where we’ve been.

2006

In 2006, the Scattante CFR LE was at the top of the line with a full Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 drivetrain and carbon monocoque frame. The bike was decked out in that year’s best components.

2006 Scattante CFR LE Road Bike

2006 Scattante CFR LE Road Bike

The 7800 series shifters with external cable routing

Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 series shifters with external cable routing

2008

In 2008, Shimano went to Dura-Ace 7900. Cleaner internal cable routing and refined components added efficiency, ergonomics and saved weight.

2008 Scattante CFR LE Road Bike with carbon Control Tech components

2008 Scattante CFR LE Road Bike with carbon Control Tech components

The 7900 series shifters

Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 series shifters

2010

The 2010 Scattante CFR Team was quite an evolution. While the Shimano 7900 drivetrain remained unchanged, a full Italian Deda Elementi Ultra cockpit, Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels, and a brand new frame with a tapered head tube and BB30 bottom bracket took center stage.

2010 Scattante CFR Team Road Bike with as bevy of high-end components

2010 Scattante CFR Team Road Bike with a bevy of high-end components

2011

For 2011, Scattante went electronic. Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 was truly a remarkable innovation, so the Scattante CFR Pro design had to match. The CFR Pro was one of our personal all-time favorite bikes with color-matching anodized TRP brakes, Prologo saddle and Schwalbe Durano tires.

Scattante CFR Pro Road Bike was a new milestone in component and graphic design

Scattante CFR Pro Road Bike was a new milestone in component and graphic design

A cleaner appearance thanks to Shimano Di2

A cleaner appearance thanks to Shimano Di2

2013

So what now? What does the Dura-Ace experience have to offer a rider of every caliber for 2013? How about another gear, brand new technology and components, and a black-out paint job. The Scattante CFR Black brings the “wow factor” to every Sunday group ride. Click here to learn more about the Scattante CFR Black, or Enter to Win one now.

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Scattante CFR Black fork with Shimano Dura-Ace brakes

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Scattante CFR Black headtube

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Scattante CFR Black downtube

Blood, Sweat & Cheers Scattante Giveaway

Looking for a way to get a great new ride for the summer? We’ve partnered with Blood, Sweat & Cheers, the free daily email that finds fun & active stuff to do with friends, Brooklyn Based, an online guide to what’s happening in Brooklyn (including bike events), and BikeNYC.org, a go-to source to connect with the vibrant world of bicycling in New York City, to give away a 2013 Scattante R570 Road Bike plus awesome gear to make the ride even better. And don’t worry, you don’t need to live in New York to win.

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So what is this array of extra cycling gear? How about a Scattante Razzo Road Helmet, Scattante Matrix 2 Multi-Lens Eyewear, a NiteRider MiNewt.250 Cordless LED Headlight and CherryBomb 0.5 Watt Tail Light, a Forté Strada Lite Stainless Road Cage, a Performance WideMouth 24oz Bottle, a TransIt 30 Wedge, and even a Garmin Edge 200 GPS to track your adventures.

bsc_prizesBut don’t delay – you can only enter for a chance to win until 5 PM EST on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 (by entering you consent to receive future correspondence from
Blood, Sweat & Cheers, Brooklyn Based, Transportation Alternatives and Performance Bicycle).

ENTER NOW over at Blood, Sweat  & Cheers and good luck!

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:

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!

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

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