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Frostbike–A bicycle non-professional at a bicycle industry trade show

1 Fat tire wheelie courtesy of Chris

A guest post by Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA

So, I know my byline up there says that I represent Loose Nuts Cycles when I write.  The truth is that I am by no means a bicycle industry professional.  I ride my bike to work and around town, love a mountain bike ride, help out at the local velodrome and am marrying a bike shop owner, but I have never been paid to ride or work on bikes or to be knowledgeable about bicycle-related things.  I am a bicycle non-professional.

This weekend, my partner (owner of Loose Nuts Cycles) and I flew to Minneapolis so that he could attend Frostbike 2013–QBP’s annual conference and trade show.  I originally signed up because I have some family in the city and wanted to visit with them, but I was also curious about what went on at bicycle industry gatherings.  I’m in public health, so I’m used to peer-reviewed abstracts, break out sessions, suits, and networking events when I go to a conference.

Before we even left Atlanta for the frigid northern lands of Minnesota,  I knew I was in for something different than the expert-packed, abstract-ridden, brain-overwhelming days of public health conferences.  Chris forwarded an email to me with the subject line “2013 Frostbike Beer Hunt”, which described a scavenger hunt-type activity that you could complete at the vendor expo in order to earn “a 22oz. bottle of limited-edition Frostbike beer that was brewed and bottled by the QBP Vendor Sales Team”.  It’s not that we public health folks don’t have fun at our conferences, but we’ve certainly never hosted a Beer Hunt.  I could tell that Chris’s “professional” trip was going to be a very different kind of professional than I was used to.

Essentially, our schedule was this:

Friday–arrive in Minneapolis and find hotel.  Go to All City Bikes party (via a party bus called the Night Rider) and have beer- and bike-related fun.

Saturday–Go to QBP headquarters.  Check out the vendor expo for the morning.  Eat delicious lunch provided by Thompson and QBP.  Ride Surly fat bikes in the snow.  Back to expo.  Return to hotel for dinner.

Sunday–More expo. Take tour of QBP headquarters.  Eat more delicious lunch.  Ride more fat bikes (Salsa this time).  Win stuff at a raffle.  Back to hotel.

Monday–Sit on butt.  Fly back to Atlanta.

After4 bicycle packed days, these are the things that stuck with me:

  1. Fat tire bikes are awesome, especially when used for their intended purpose–snow.

    fat tires

    fat tires

  2. QBP likes girls.  My name tag said “Dealer” which probably helped, but all of the brands and bike professionals with whom I spoke treated me very equitably, like I knew as much as Chris did.  They made sure to look at both of us when talking about products.  I liked the feeling of not being talked down to and treated knowledgeably, even if I wasn’t actually knowledgeable.  I hope that Frostbike 2014 includes seminars for bike shop owners about how to make women cyclists feel like that in their shops.  It seems pretty rare in the bike world.
  3. The bicycle apparel industry apparently hates women–I’ll rant more about this in a later post, but women’s bicycle clothing continues to be made to look exactly like men’s cycling apparel but with an added flower or ruffle.  I saw not one piece of clothing at the entire show that I would be excited about wearing.
  4. POC Helmets look awesome–awesome enough to reduce how dorky I normally feel when wearing a helmet.
  5. Brooks still makes beautiful, drool-worthy leather products–I fell in love with this Brooks bag.  Oh yeah, and this bag is pretty amazing in the grape color.
  6. The Surly display.  They had obviously put a lot of thought and design into their space, even though it was just temporary.  Plus, the new Big Dummy cargo system premiered, which was exciting.
    Custom painted Moonlander just outside the Surly display area

    Custom painted Moonlander just outside the Surly display area

    New Surly Big Dummy bag and top plate

    New Surly Big Dummy bag and top plate

     

  7. There is a common sense of purpose between the Frostbike attendees.  Even though people didn’t know each other, they shared a priority and experience that connected them.  It sounds like hippy talk, but it made Frostbike feel welcoming and warm.  The feeling helped to re-energize a lot of attendees (including myself) about riding, even in the middle of winter.
  8. Kenda’s new tube vending machine–this is being tested in several pilot areas before it will be available to the mass market.  Pretty fun product.

    For all those times when you need a tube and your local bike shop isn't open to help you

    For all those times when you need a tube and your local bike shop isn’t open to help you

I was prepared to come back and report that professional bike trade shows are just an excuse to have a good party and talk about bikes all weekend.  While partying and talking about riding bikes and actually riding bikes was essentially all that we did for 3 days, I was surprised at how much actual business got done.  Vendors with whom I spoke were really excited and helpful when talking about their new products.  Bike shop owners were stoked that these new products met the needs of their customers (with the exception of women’s cycling clothing–ugh! Still unreasonably pissed about this).  Everyone wanted to ride bikes and generally the atmosphere at Frostbike fueled that fire.  It was fun to come home and be stoked to get on my bike and know that thousands of other people were doing the same thing as they returned home from Frostbike too.

Review: Zevlin Big40 Custom Tape

0 Zeplin Big40 Custom Bar Tape

From adjusting parts to fit you better, to switching parts around to make your bike look different and completely yours, both are equally important in the journey of bicycle ownership. Customizing your bike is an important part of making the bike “yours.” Bar tape is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to do this.

Zevlin Big40 Custom Handlebar Tape

MSRP: $33.95 (discount for buying in bulk)
Unique Details: Super wide at 40mm, add your own logo to your handlebars!

The boys at Zevlin sent me a care package to test out and review, one of the coolest unique products in this was custom bar tape. While the tape isn’t as padded or grippy as my loved Lizard Skins DSP it has done well on the road under my winter testing.

Feel and Wear of the Zevlin Big40

The tape currently has a handful of long rides and roughly 200 miles of winter glove riding. The 40mm allows a good overlap of tape to get a cushion while showing off the custom logos covering half the width of tape. The logos are in great shape, I’m sure with a tacky summer glove the logos would wear after awhile but it would be a good indication that your bar tape needs replaced. It seems that not enough people replace their tape until their wrist or hands hurt!! I would compare the feel and tackiness of the tape to a Fizik bar without the pain of installing that leather like wrap.

Customize It

Zeplin Big40 Custom Bar Tape

While you can buy the Big40 alone, I believe the biggest market advantage Zevlin has is to price bulk custom tape to be attractive to shops, teams and even large charity events to promote brand identity. The Zevlin tape looks amazing on my bike with the white logos and then a few blue logos at the end of the wrap, now imagine that with your company under your bars. Rolling up to a group ride, sitting at a stop light or your bike parked at a coffee shop will put your brand identity right at hand level.

Overall Thoughts

Zeplin Big40 Custom Bar Tape

The bar tape is wearing well, I’ll use it for most of the road season but it will not replace the DSP on my cyclocross bike as grip and cushion are super important then. I plan on doing a run of Bike Shop Girl in black  to promote myself and the brand as they are a great grassroots company trying to do different things in the bike industry.

If you are in the market to take your branding a bit further on the bike, I would start with Zevlin. If you are looking for a new black bar tape I would stick to Lizard Skins DSP.

 

 

Motivational Monday with May

0 Motivational Monday with May

WHAT’S YOUR NAME AND LOCATION?

May Lauzon, Myrtle Beach, SC

WHAT TYPE OF CYCLING DO YOU ENJOY?

Triathlon/Shop & club group rides

WHAT IS YOUR FIRST CYCLING MEMORY?

You will be horrified to know that I did not ride a bike without training wheels until I was I believe EIGHT years old. I have some foggy recollections of my dad trying to teach me at a park, but it was a childhood friend that literally gave me the push I needed in the third grade.

WHO INSPIRES YOU TO RIDE, AND BETTER YET WHY?

I’ve come a very long way since the days of third grade, and now I regularly help lead rides out of our local bike shop… Two groups of people highly motivate me. The first is the Cat 2/3/4 roadie guys that drive the pace really hard every Saturday morning, one being the owner of our bike shop whom I work for. The group of local triathletes that am lucky enough to call my “Iron-brothers” whom helped me prepare for my first 140.6 also keep the dream alive, they got me started on this journey.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST MOMENT ON THE BIKE SO FAR THIS YEAR?

I think one of the most exciting moments on the bike this past year was back in April at the USAT Collegiate National Championships. The atmosphere at that race is incredible, with over 1,200 college students bringing the spirit of over 100 schools all together for one race… Coming into the turn-around point for the second lap of the bike during the women’s race, the hundreds of men that were waiting for their start lined up three-deep to cheer on the girls. I was so proud to be wearing Coastal Carolina’s black and teal out on that course.

TELL US ALL ABOUT YOUR BIKES

I lovingly call my bikes my “babies,” and I have been known to kiss my race bike goodnight. I own a Trek Speed Concept tri bike named “Dr. Pink” that I love to bring in great splits on, then there’s my Trek Madone road bike named “Spangle” that I do fun group rides on, and last but not least I have a classic steel Trek cruiser called “Rosie” which I use during the summer months, especially back when I used to ride to work as a lifeguard at the beach.

Motivational Monday, a Monday tradition at Bike Shop Girl, my goal to keep you motivated and to be striving on the bike even during a hard week or long hours at work. Are you a woman that bicycles? Fill out this easy form and be part of our motivational movement!

Preview: Po Campo Roscoe Cross Body Bag

0 Po Campo Roscoe Crossbody Bag

Ever since Po Campo sent out an email a couple weeks back about the new colors in the Roscoe Crossbody bag I’ve been waiting patiently for Quality Bicycle Products to get them instock. I had hoped they would get them in before Frostbike (industry trade show this week) but unfortunately they did not. Maria from Po Campo braved the snow and traveled to Minneapolis this weekend for Frostbike. She was nice enough to bring along a bag for me to buy!I was able to use the Roscoe over the past couple days to carry around my iPad mini, iPhone and other key items (ID badge, charger, business cards, etc.)

Maria saved the day, so thank you!

Roscoe Crossbody Bag

I wouldn’t say this is a cycling specific bag at all, but more of a great looking bag with touches for those that use it on the bike. The color and function are what completely caught my attention and what I’ll be basing an upcoming review on!

Hopefully over the next week I’ll be able to ride with the bag and can give a pretty straight forward review with more photos of the interior pockets.

Disclaimer: I purchased this bag, super stoked on it and reviews (as always) will be based on using/abusing the product to give you the best feedback possible.

 

Bike Shop Build: Mountain Goat Route 29

2 Mountain Goat FKR Rigid

The thoughts and details during a bike build are what make a great bike shop a resource and a dream factory for bicycle geeks like myself. These custom bike builds are what keep me inspired and excited to continue to work within the industry.

Mountain Goat Route 29 from First Flight Bikes in Statesville, NC

Photo Credit: Jeff Archer

Mountain bike night rides

3 Lights on the trail

A guest post by Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA.

I am planning to do some mountain bike racing this spring and thus have been trying to get some extra miles on my mountain bike.  Living in the middle of Atlanta makes this difficult, especially during the week.  Luckily I’ve discovered a local Tuesday night no-drop trail ride.  I’ve ridden this ride a couple times recently and am pretty happy about the added miles that I’m getting without having to go too far or change my schedule too much.

I would like to say that when I first started riding a mountain bike, I thought that only insanity and a love of medical bills would cause someone to try this in the dark.  It was a challenge for me to make it through an entire ride in full sunshine, so why would someone make it harder by limiting what they can see?  As I’ve ridden more and mountain biking has become more intuitive for me, I’ve figured out why some cyclists choose to ride at night.  Night rides are great because:

  1. Winter days are short and dark.  Night rides provide the opportunity for mountain bike fun despite the short days.  Just make sure to bundle up, because the temperature gets colder the later into the night you ride.
  2. In the summer, when daytime temperatures are unbearable, riding at night decreases your chances of being disgustingly sweaty and getting  sunburned, thus increasing your chances of actually enjoying the ride.
  3. Weekends fill up quickly and 9-to-5 jobs leave little time for day time rides.  Night rides fit nicely into a busy schedule.  (I do get a little less sleep on night-ride nights.  I guess something has to give.)
  4. It’s a new challenge.  With just ambient light and a headlight to guide you, your brain has to adjust it’s depth perception and you have to react to the trail more quickly.  It requires you to step up your game.
  5. It’s fun to roam around in the dark woods.  It feels a little like being a high school hooligan (yep, I said hooligan), a little mischievous.
  6. (Don’t tell anyone that I said this, but it gives you the opportunity to ride trails that you might not be able to ride during the day–trails labeled “No bikes” or some private property trails.  Sshhhh…that’s a secret…I’m not saying it actually happens.  I’m just saying that it could hypothetically happen.)

I still consider myself a night-ride beginner, but every time I finish the Faster Mustache Tuesday night ride, I come home with new advice for myself, so I thought I might share some of that with those of you thinking about trying it.

  1. Plan ahead– I was planning on a night ride a couple weeks ago and got home to discover that I had forgotten to charge my headlight battery.  No light, no ride.  No plan, no ride.
  2. Be prepared–During a recent night ride I broke my derailleur hanger.  Luckily someone else had come prepared with zip ties and a chain breaker.  Otherwise, I would have had to walk the several miles home.  You should be fully prepared for every ride you go on, but the risk of walking home/back to the car in the dark and late at night underscores the importance of preparedness.
  3. Double check that your light is fully charged–Having ridden with a dying light before, I can tell you that it’s not fun.  Riding at night is already a challenge.  Not having a light makes it just plain dangerous.  Charge your light and if you think that your ride might outlast your light, bring an extra one.  I ride with the Niterider MiNewt Pro 750.  My night rides are about 3 hours and it hasn’t failed me yet.
  4. Know the trail or ride with a friend who knows the trail (and is the same speed as you)–I’m new to the in-town Atlanta night ride.  The other cyclists have generally ridden these trails hundreds of times or are pretty quick and can keep up with those who are familiar with the trails.  I am neither familiar or quick enough to keep up with the group (only girl on the ride usually…).  This makes for some frustrating moments sometimes.  I often get to trail intersections and have no idea which way to go.  I’ve discovered that I’m pretty good at either picking the wrong direction or not seeing the turn at all.  One of the guys usually comes to track me down or makes loud enough noises so that I can find my way back to the group.  I try to laugh about my adventures alone in the dark, but it can be frustrating.  That said, if you’re going to ride at night, pick a trail that you know pretty well or make sure your riding companions will ride at your pace or come find you when you get lost.
  5. Don’t give up after the first time–Night riding is hard.  Your brain will have to adjust its depth perception skills.  You can’t see as far ahead as you can in the daylight, so you have to react to the trail more quickly.  You might get lost at some point.  Don’t let those things convince you not to try it again.  Give it another shot.  It gets easier and more fun, I promise.
  6. Find a local late-night eatery–You know how hungry you are after every mountain bike ride? Night rides are no exception, so know where the closest late-night joint is located.  We always end our ride at a local pizza place and when we roll up at 11 pm, we’re always the last people in there.  A beer and some slices make the perfect midnight snack before we all split up to head home and go to bed.

For those of you who are night-ride experienced, did I miss anything?  What other advice do you have?

Motivational Monday with Lori

1 Motivational Monday with Lori

WHAT’S YOUR NAME AND LOCATION?

Lori, North Carolina

WHAT TYPE OF CYCLING DO YOU ENJOY?

Road riding and mountain biking

WHAT IS YOUR FIRST CYCLING MEMORY?

Of course, learning to ride when I was 5 or 6.

What really gave me the bug for riding the road…a friend and I went to ride Railroad Grade Road. It’s a 10-mile stretch of flat road all along the New River. Our main objective was to run over all the wooly worms we could find. And I found a sense of freedom that day that I could go anywhere on my bike and didn’t need a car all the time.

WHO INSPIRES YOU TO RIDE, AND BETTER YET WHY?

My 17-month old son. I’m 41. I have to stay in shape to keep up with him.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST MOMENT ON THE BIKE SO FAR THIS YEAR?

24 Hours of Booty in Charlotte, NC. I did my first century since giving birth. I could have ridden more but I didn’t want to kill myself in the 100 degree heat. I did 80+ miles between 10pm-2pm.

TELL US ALL ABOUT YOUR BIKES

2008 Bianchi Valentina, full carbon, even the carbon tubulars.
2006 Bianchi 928. Used to be my main road bike until Valentina showed up. Now it’s set up as a flat-bar road bike I used to pull my son in his Chariot on the Greenway.
2005 Bianchi Axis – cross bike we love to ride the dirt road with.
2008 Santa Cruz Blur XC. I love this bike. So much fun although I ride it less than any of the others.
2007 Redline R77 – my nasty weather road bike…bought the frame for $75. Built it up full Sram Rival…it’s 16lbs…lighter than a friend’s bike who paid almost $4k for hers. hahaha
AND, 2000 Santana Arriva tandem. Ofcourse, I have to shard this one with my husband…we LOVE this bike. Nobody wants to ride with us because we HAUL ASS!!

Motivational Monday, a Monday tradition at Bike Shop Girl, my goal to keep you motivated and to be striving on the bike even during a hard week or long hours at work. Are you a woman that bicycles? Fill out this easy form and be part of our motivational movement!

Race Report: Winter Short Track #4

0 Charlotte Short Track

A race report that was almost forgotten, as I’m typing this 6 days later in the Philadelphia airport during a layover.

My last race of the Charlotte Winter Short Track Series had a handful of ups and downs. As I was only able to race 4 out of 5 races my placing of this last race would be a wash. Going into a race lacking motivation is difficult for me, so 20 minutes to start time I did some soul searching and finding that mission. Mission: fun, hard pace and working to help a couple key friends on their short track virginity.

This is going to be kept short and sweet.

2nd lap I found myself sitting comfortable in 2nd place. Pushing it hard. Working with a friend Jordan on the road section. Around lap 4 or 5 I decided to slow the hell down. My morning routine was off, and my stomach was feeling questionable. Letting my heart rate drop a zone made me drop two places. Sitting in 4th behind Patty Smith. I coasted along, catching breath and finding comfort in my tempo zone. Two laps to go I knew I needed to either find peace with my 4th place finish or attack.

543638_414672075286954_861236926_n

Of course, I attacked. Put room between Patty and myself, I had 3rd locked in place. Trying to bridge the gap between 2nd place (Jordan) and myself, I pushed hard but needed another lap to make up the time I had lost. Losing 2nd place by 10 seconds was bitter but I learned a bit about myself, comfort zones and the punch that my legs have in these early pre-season races.

307972_10151490311868832_862074492_n

One last bitter sadness is that I am currently tied for 1st overall with Patty. If I was to race this weekend and beat her, I would have first in the expert category. Unfortunately I am sitting in PA on the way to MN, far away from the race course. I can say I ended the series much better than I ever expected. My goals were to hang on and not get lapped, in the end I was the one doing the lapping.

 

Photo credits: Cheryl Anne & Jodi’s Wife.

 

Bike Shop Build: Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think2

0 Reality Bikes Pinarella Dogma

The thoughts and details during a bike build are what make a great bike shop a resource and a dream factory for bicycle geeks like myself. These custom bike builds are what keep me inspired and excited to continue to work within the industry. Few more bike profiles over yonder.

Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think2 from Reality Bikes in Cumming, GA

 Photo credit: Duncan McGuire