Fat Bikes, Gravel Bikes and More from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show 2014

Since the 2014 edition of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show was right down the road from our home office, as it was held only a few hours away in Charlotte, NC, we couldn’t miss out on the chance to see what this creative array of small and custom bike builders have been dreaming up. While many of their designs aren’t for everyone, that’s precisely the point! Having a small and nimble design and build team (of sometimes just one person) means that they can cater to niche markets and often anticipate new trends in the cycling industry.

So what did we notice while we perused the convention hall – well, quite a bit of creativity! But one of the big trends (pardon the pun) was the growing number of fat bikes on display, in a wide array of sizes, colors, suspension and utility:

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Gravel bikes were also on display from many builders, again in a variety of shapes and sizes. The line gets kind of fuzzy between gravel and cyclocross bikes, but the idea for a gravel bike is one that you can ride any where – on road, off road, and everything in between. Wide tires, lots of clearance, and disc brakes were common factors on these do-anything “road” bikes.

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But a lot of the fun of the Handmade Bicycle Show is just taking a look at the creative and sometimes wacky designs on display – all a direct reflection of the builder and the person that the bike was designed for.

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And finally, while we didn’t catch them all, we also loved checking out the headbadges that each bike builder used on their bikes – one last bit of personality to finish off a frame!

Performance Bicycle Racing Team – Winning Leadville

On August 14, Performance Bicycle Racing Team member Cara Applegate, with her husband Andy Applegate and their tandem mountain bike, lined up alongside 1500 other brave competitors – including current ProTour riders, National Champions, and Olympians – to compete in the 17th annual Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race in Leadville, CO.

The couple’s goals were lofty – to complete the 100 mile race, which climbs more than 10,000 feet at high altitude, in under 10 hours, a time which coincidentally would have won the tandem race in 2008 and 2009.

The riders were greeted with chilly air but clear skies as they took to the start line in the wee hours of the morning; once the sun broke through the last remnants of night it blazed a comfortable path for the remainder of the day.

The duo battled with another tandem team early in the event, suffering a race-threatening mechanical little more than 35 miles in. They repaired the issue quickly without too much time lost; by the midway point the Applegates were able to amass over an 8 minute lead on Jay and Tracey Petervary of Idaho.

The Applegates steadily increased the distance between themselves and their closest competitors, completing the course well under their goal in a time of 8 hours 42 minutes, earning themselves the coveted silver and gold belt buckle given to competitors who finish under 9 hours, as well as 80th place overall. The Petervarys were the second tandem across the line, 27 minutes back.

So congratulations to the Applegates, for winning the tandem division and for setting a goal and then knocking it out of the park!

Next up for Cara: a brief break from the bicycle, having just completed her goal race of the year. Don’t expect this to be the last you hear of her – she’ll soon be storming the cyclo-cross world alongside her teammate Evie Boswell-Vilt on the team’s Focus Mares cyclo-cross bikes!


Performance Bicycle Racing Team – Race Across the Sky on a Tandem

Seemingly few people who participate in any organized cycling event in the continental United States remain unaware of the race made famous from a certain ProTour rider’s experience, chronicled in the 2009 film “Race Across the Sky.” The Leadville Trail 100, a 100 mile mountain bike race held in the high mountains of Colorado, annually tests the grit and mettle of more than a thousand brave souls who take to the start. This year, Performance Bicycle Racing Team elite rider Cara Applegate will tackle the race on August 14, but in a slightly unusual fashion – on a tandem mountain bike with her husband, Andy Applegate.

While the couple has been racing tandem bikes on the road for more than seven years – and share four elite national time trial titles and three masters road race and time trial titles – they have been riding the mountain bike tandem for a relatively short period of time, slightly more than a year and a half.

“We’ve both been racing bikes for a good long while – Andy 25 years and me 14 or so – and every year we seem to tweak our goals to include a new experience that will challenge our collective fortitude. A 100 mile off road endurance race in the high mountains seems to fit that bill,” explained Cara, a subtle smile of determination on her face.

The Applegates are not approaching this race unprepared however; they’ve spent the majority of their 2010 racing days at endurance mountain bike events, either on single bikes or the tandem. You can expect to see the Applegates at the front of the tandem pack come race day. Check back here for more details after the race.


Performance Bicycle Racing Team – Winning at Masters Nationals

If you missed it on our this blog last week, 2 elite riders and 1 development rider from the Performance Bicycle Racing Team were racing for tandem glory at the Masters National Time Trial Cycling Competition in Louisville, KY, last week.  Evie Boswell-Vilt and her mom Georgia (who is the development rider, in case you’re wondering) were riding in the age-graded competition, while Cara Applegate and her husband Andy were competing in the elite mixed tandem division.  So how did they do?  We’ll let Evie tell you in her own words, but let’s just say that they all came back with some new gold hardware when all the racing was done!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My mom, Georgia Boswell, born in 1933, anxiously waited in the Red Roof Inn in Louisville, KY. She was hours away from her first attempt at becoming a National Masters Champion.  The thought of being awarded with a stars and stripes jersey was enough, but the gold medal she might soon have hanging around her neck made her absolutely giddy with anticipation. “Do you think all my training was sufficient?,” she asked me, her daughter and tandem partner. I thought back to all the conversations we’d had over the last few months when she would call, from that ‘high’ most athletes feel post workout. She and her friend, Herb, had borrowed a tandem from friends in Sun City Hilton Head, SC, and had been riding 3-4 times a week. Mom would then call me and report on their endurance workouts and interval training. Just in case you didn’t catch it, my mom was born in 1933! She just turned 77 in March of this year and, in addition to her cycling, has a daily regimen of yoga, weights, tennis (her tennis partner will be 100 years old in January), bridge (to keep her mind sharp) or her favorite pastime: line dancing.

As the time neared for our departure to the course, we put on our Performance Bicycle Racing skin suits (a one piece spandex outfit that helps to increase a cyclist’s aerodynamics). My fiancé, Brian, helped pack the car and checked over our list of things we needed to bring to the race. We then traveled the 30 miles south from Louisville, KY to Taylorsville, KY. Once at the course, we pinned the two numbers on the back of my mom and made last minute adjustments to the bike for comfort, flair and, of course, speed! The weather was hot and sticky, with temperatures reaching over 105 degrees; keeping cool out on the sun-baked course became a priority. Teammate Cara Applegate suggested we fill our back pockets with ice as well as carry an extra bottle of ice water.

Cara and her husband Andy then started out on the course and set the fastest Man/Woman Elite Category time to claim the stars and stripes and their gold medals (and yes, in case you missed it in the video, Cara and Andy are preparing to race the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race, on a tandem, this weekend!)

The races at Masters National are broken up into individual events and tandem events. There are numerous categories by age for each of three disciplines: Time Trial, Road Race and Criterium. For the tandem events, the rider’s ages are added to determine their category. My mom and I, aged 34 and 77, competed in the 110+ category. Though we didn’t have any competitors this year, we were very pleased with our time.

My mom was super fierce and nervous up to the final moment.  We settled into quite a rhythm on the hilly and windy 14 mile course. Coming across the finish line she let out a triumphant shout and pumped her fist into the air.  It was a lot of fun and I hope we are fortunate enough to be in Bend next year to ‘defend our title!’

As members of the Performance Bicycle Racing Team, and The SpokesWomen Syndicate, we feel a sense of duty and excitement to inspire other women in the US to attend and race at the US Master’s National Road Cycling Championships (next year athletes from all over the US will converge at a new host site in Bend, OR).

While driving back from the course, “National Champion” Georgia Boswell sat in her stars and stripes while animatedly reporting her success to all her fans on her cell phone. She is already planning to upgrade to clipless pedals as well as sign up to race her Scattante road bike in the individual events for 2011. We hope to see you in Bend next year!

So please join us in congratulating our new national champs, Cara, Evie and, of course, Georgia.  These women epitomize the credo of the Performance Bicycle Racing Team: to compete, encourage and inspire!

Plus look for more updates soon from Cara and Andy, as they race the epic Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race on a tandem (and they’re racing to win!)



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