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War with the Industry: Starting with the Bike Shops

I have many bones to pick with the industry I love, I’m calling it a war - a war to get more butts on bikes, to get kids safer to adventure and for the industry to get their head out of the ground. The first battle in this war is with the small guy on the totem poll with so much power… bicycle shops.

Most bike shops forget at the end of the day they are the ones selling the bikes to the consumers. Marketing may have led the consumer to their door but they are the face of the bike industry. If they have horrible customer service or no foundation in the community there is a chance that the consumer won’t buy from them. The bike will be bought at REI, Dick’s, Target or even worse THE INTERNET. (Is that really worse than Target? Come on!)

Gripes with shops, I’m sorry if I offend

  • When you aren’t busy on a Saturday it is your fault. You can’t assume or hope that people will walk in your door.
  • Stop blaming the weather. Minneapolis has some crappy weather but they have embraced it and you see people riding in January.
  • Putting things on sale in the store is only rewarding people walking in the door. You must tell people OUTSIDE your store about a sale to get them IN your store.
  • Stop worrying about the haggling team racers. It is super cool to sell a $12k bike but not if you make $400 on it. If that is your business model I commend you and would probably want to visit. For everyone else, worry about growing that beginner cyclist. Empower them, teach them and they will respect you and spend tons of money with you over the years. The guy haggling you on the new Red brakes to get the best deal ever that he found on the internet…he isn’t making you money. Treat him well with great service and move on.
  • Find your place. Not too many shops can be everything to everyone. Do you love mountain bikes? Do you shred hard core and everyone is astounded by your riding? Embrace it. Behind everyones back you make fun of roadies, so why try to be a roadie shop? Have more mountain bike rides, help your local mountain bike group. OWN IT.
  • This goes with the above….Believe in yourself.
  • Get out in the community. Some shops are already doing this. Bike shop owners, are you on group rides? Do you get out to group meetings or advocacy events? Are you pounding the pavement for Safe Routes to School or anything of the such?
  • Build your community. Become friends with the other bike shops in town. Find what you all are good at and help each other.
  • Make the bicycle pie bigger. Stop hating on the shop across town. If bikes keeping coming to you with bad tune ups call the shop and tell them. Why? To keep people from getting injured and to keep people from hating on bicycles. Yes, you may be making money off of it – but is that really how you want to make your money?? Figure the missing pieces in your community. Help get more kids on bikes, find a way to market to guys that would be buying golf clubs, make your local advocacy group stronger so people are riding bikes instead of joining the gym.

I love bike shops, but I am biased. Alone in my southeast territory I have roughly 380 bike shops. Now that is a movement ready to happen. Could you imagine – 380 business owners and all their employees coming together for one like cause? BICYCLES

 

 

bang-head-here

At War with the Industry I Love

It is no secret my history with the bike industry. Without coming from parents in the industry I am as close to growing up in the industry as you can. At 15 I was a shop rat, living my life in some way or another around bicycles since then. In two years when I am 30 I will have spent half my life revolving around bicycles and all things that are the culture of bikes. This is where I mention that I wouldn’t change a thing.

I have spent half of my life preaching the word. Answering the call. The call that bicycles can solve everything. It can make you happy, make you skinny, allow you to drink more beer, require less gas, give you independence, teach you adventure, become a family affair and so on.

Quietly fighting the good fight. Never taking up the arms of advocate as the word advocacy is a dirty word to me. We don’t need advocates, we need lovers. Everyone hates the politician but loves the hero’s. We need bike lanes that connect schools and grocery stores. We need to empower our children to pick up their bikes and go forward safely.

Two things came to light today that have made me struggle with the industry and culture I love

The death of an innocent freshman, riding his bicycle to school in Charlotte.

The “elephant” of the bike industry that our sales our flat for the past twenty years.

Two different stabs, two different pains, and two different fears.

I have two children that have no way to ride their bikes to school. They are lacking the freedom and the adventure that 10 & 11 year old boys should be given by the gift of bicycling away from home.

I make a living in the bike industry. I have sold bikes to first consumers and now bike dealers. Margins are tighter, and instead of expanding the bike industry and taking market share from golf, or soccer, or football. We are flat and fighting each other. From bike brands, industry standards and bike shops at war with their local community.

The elephant in the room is the bike industry is full of selfish folks lacking business sense and caring more about their piece of the pie than the pie that they are cutting from.

What do you believe in? When did you last fight for something you believe in?

I believe in bikes and if you know me – you know they are my life. I know a few other things and hopefully these all will be able to come together to make the pie bigger for the cycling industry, and for people to be able to ride their bikes safely to and from wherever they want to go.

Here I am, standing to fight a war against the industry I love. This war is why I work for the company that I love, Quality Bicycle Products. A sleeping giant, the backbone of the bike industry. This is why I love my co-workers, quietly pushing things along in Minnesota. I believe in bicycles and here I stand to fight the good fight of putting more butts on bikes. Carbon fiber doesn’t do that, fancy new bottom bracket standards or fighting over wheel sizes..sure some good marketing can help, but empowering the industry will. Empowering your local cycling community, finding a new word for advocate and allowing other people to drink from your passion.

Arleigh Jenkins 2012 Burn 24

2012 Burn 24 Hour Race Recap

The secret of discipline is motivation. When a man is sufficiently motivated, discipline will take care of itself. -Alexander Paterson

Every race you do, you must take away something from it. Learn, develop and strive to be that much better the next time. Often the fight you are picking is with yourself. To be a better rider, a better person.

Pre-Ride

Last Friday I went up and setup our camp with the help of pit boss, Kimberlee. She graciously drove an extra hour each direction so that I had an extra set of hands to setup three tents and carry everything I would need over the next 2.5 days.

Once everything large was in place and I helped a bit with registration I pre-rode the course very slowly. I have learned the course pretty well over the past year but making notes of sections to take slow at night, pull off’s incase I needed to stop for food, etc etc.

The biggest thing I was debating was if I wanted to wear a Camelbak or not. The temperatures would be hot which means I should drink more water, but it also means the Camelbak would be adding a ton of heat to my bag during the day. I finally decided I would start with the Camelbak and see where it took me.

Last Minute Prep

After pre-riding and seeing how slick the roots were going to be at night I swapped my front Michelin Wild Race’r for the Maxxis Ardent. My new Powertap rear wheel had the Wild Race’r on it, which I would run during the day, swapping to the Fulcrum Red Metal XL wheel with Ardent as I entered my night laps.

I putzed around camp the morning of, moving things around, preparing some bottles, and keeping my brain occupied.

Arleigh Jenkins Burn 24

Lap 1-4

My goal was to look at the 24 hours in 4 blocks of 6 hours. My lap times stayed consistent but my pit times were getting longer. My wrist were killing me as I was taking the downhills pretty darn fast (it really is the only thing I’m good at) and I kept forgetting to take out some PSI everytime I came through the pit.  In the first lap I also quickly realized my normal staple drink of Perpetuam wasn’t sitting well in the heat. Even though I have used it for hundreds of miles this year in training, my stomach wasn’t liking it. Around lap 3 I left my Camelbak at the bit and switched to only carrying one bottle of water, a packet of gu chomps and a gel flask. At the halfway point I would stop and down some gel, drink half my bottle and fill it back up.

Arleigh Jenkins Burn 24 Hour

Lap 5-7

I needed to switch shorts, my wrist were causing my hands to lose grip on the bars, I probably wasn’t getting enough food, I needed to find my groove.

Lap 7 is when I put lights on. The Seca 1400 was absolutely freaking awesome. I should have had it on my head, not my handlebars. I always use my main light on my helmet, almost never running it on the handlebar. For the first lap I figured I had enough day light to get through and could just run it on my handlebar.

Bad choice. 

3/4 through the lap, just as you start pointing downhill for the last section, I caught something on a tree. Feet before the rock garden. As I was thrown hard to the ground, my head hit hard, followed by my shoulder and hip. I knew I had to get out of the way, I was in a blind turn and it was dark. If I didn’t move I would get run over. I pulled myself and the bike off the trail to take an assesment of damages. My arm was killing me, my left ankle was killing me from being stuck in the bike as it turned around, my shoulder and collar bone didn’t seem broken which was my initial thought. I started talking to my bike, willing it to simply get me down the mountain and back to my pit. It did just that. I don’t remember much about getting down the mountain. I pulled into my pit and never would leave it again.

My race was over.

The medics checked me over. My shorts and possibly jersey were ruined. I still haven’t checked over my bike. I remember sitting, shivering, in shock. Trying to make light of it all. Faces of my pit crew, the race director and my family all staring at me in the candlelight. Everything hurt. Looking back now I’m glad I didn’t get it in my head to get back on the bike. As it is now 3 days after the race, it still hurts to walk and my body is super banged up. My biggest fear would have been in the slippery night I would have gone down again, or jerked something the wrong way and been left sitting out on the side of the trail waiting for the 4 wheeler to come get me.

Arleigh Jenkins Burn 24 Hour

Hindsight

One of the guys on the crew, Ben, was keeping my moving lap times. He didn’t show them to me when I was riding but I looked at them the next morning. I was consistently turning hour lap riding times. This isn’t pit times, as those got longer and longer, but the moving time. That made me happy to see. That motivates me to strive onas on Saturday night as I sat there, I never wanted to ride that trail again.

Last year I did 8 laps over 24 hours, sleeping about 7 of those 24. This year I did 7 laps in the first 9 hours. That’s improvement in my eyes.

I need to continue to work on climbing, dial in exactly what I need as the hours go by from food, to chamois selection and motivation.

Thank You Notes..

Ben Wilson

Though I was only on the bike for 9 hours I owe a great amount of thank you’s.

Kimberlee – Next year she will have a shirt that says pit boss. The only person I trusted as my brain went mush. From food, to entertaining and grounding as the hours went by.

Ben – pure entertainment, time keeper and comedian. He is also really good at putting away a tent!

George – drove up to help and ride with me in the middle of the night. Unfortunately I wrecked out just as that was supposed to happen. He also checked on our dogs and fed them.

Family – It was great to see my parents, they had never to been to an event like this so it was stellar that they could drive down and see what I do for fun.

Wes – The mechanic of the hour came at the exact moment I needed my rear wheel changed and cranks checked over. Next year I need him there the whole time!

Hampton Inn Wilkesboro - The clean sheets and shower were much needed after the abuse I put myself through.

Jason Bum – Race director and stand up guy. He puts on a great event and does it with a smile.

Chris Strout & Family – Chris was a stellar motivator as he hit lap after lap with his solo efforts. His wife Kim and kids were motivating just for being there, smiling and encouraging.

Hydrapak Soft Flask

Hydrapak Soft Flask

On long rides I use gels, every 30 minutes on rides over 3 hours. On races under 3 hours I use it as well to keep my legs turning over well. On the longer rides I carry a flask or two of gel instead of single packages. The single packages are wasteful and can get expensive.

For the past 4 years I’ve used Hammer Gel’s hard plastic flask. I’m excited to see how the new(ish) Soft Flask from Hydrapak works out. I’ll be able to roll up the bottom to get the last drops of gel and it packs up smaller after use instead of taking up a ton of room in my pocket or bag.

Do you use gel? How do you carry it?

Ice Pops

Goals for Burn 24

I warned you about my babbling of the upcoming 24 hour race this coming weekend in Wilkesboro, NC. I have warned you it may not make sense and the babbling will help me prepare and go brain numb of the madness I’ll be putting myself through.

Ultimate Goals of the Burn 24 Hour

  • Keep moving forward. Whatever that means, whenever it means, find the soul to move forward by pedaling or by foot. Keep moving.
  • Stay hydrated. 90º on Saturday, humid, sticky and lots of climbing. Hydration, ice and maybe some ice pops!
    Ice Pops
  • Don’t get hungry and then cranky. Whatever that means, do it. If I crave a latte in the middle of the night from the coffee guy setup, do it. Chicken nuggets from Wendy’s? Do it. Don’t go overboard and hurl, but stay fed and motivated to do laps. I plan on using food as motivation. “Two more laps and you can have that latte.”
  • I don’t want to know where my competition is. It doesn’t matter. First, last, middle. The competition is with myself this year. Keep going around in circles.
  • 15 laps seems doable. Average of hour and half laps. Last year I did 8 laps, one of my laps took like 9 hours. I slept, I sat and I didn’t keep going. Doubling last year is a goal but it is at the end of this list for a reason.

 

 

Chrome Dolores Review

Preview: Chrome Dolores Shoes

For the past few years I have heard the spectrum of reviews on Chrome’s shoes. Chrome, known first for their made in the US bags that started in Colorado. Now the company is based out of San Francisco and has probably 3/4 of their line made over seas. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just putting some back story out there.

Back to Chrome’s shoes

Chrome has been making “bike specific” sneakers for a few years now. Gum bottom or SPD ready, these shoes were made for those that live on their bike and want to look the part. Available in three different series, the PRO Series has the SPD compatible clip-in, the Pedal Series has a fiberglass sole for better pedaling, and the All City Series with stronger uppers and not so stiff sole.

Earlier this month Chrome released a new shoe into their All City Series it is also their first WOMENS shoe, the Dolores. Read the preview by clicking read more..!

Read More

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North American Cycle Courier Championships

If I wasn’t already beating myself up in the woods for Memorial Day I may be tempted to drag the wifey up to Richmond, VA to witness and photo the North American Cycle Courier Championships. If you are remotely in the area it is worth checking out, even if you aren’t a fixie friend, messengers (and their cult groups) are able to some crazy things on their bikes.