Bike Shop Girl

NC Cyclocross
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DFL #2 for the 2011 Cycling Season

The second race of my 2011 season was the NCCX #12 at the Wilkesboro Speedway right here in North Carolina.  This race could be one of the coolest venue’s I’ve been to.  Most of the course was found within the infield of the speedway and the rest was right out the back gate in a grassy field.

The Word of the Race : Mud

In North Carolina our weather is fairly mild and easy going, a few years ago in January I was racing cyclocross in short sleeves and 65º weather.  The race earlier this month was the first time we had any type of weather. This race, we didn’t have any weather but instead we had thawing.  Frozen ground gave way and by the time my CX4 race came around the “tractor pull” area became a slopfest.  The pro’s made it look easier, but I walked slowly through the mud pit every time (maybe I should work on running in mud??)

Progress and Motivation

Dead last is better than not finishing or not starting, and ending last was atleast the motivation I needed for getting to the gym and active.

How’s your season going so far?

Photo credit : George Berger

Carla Swart
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Take a Moment for Carla Swart

I didn’t know Carla Swart, though she went to college an hour from my home and many of my friends rode, races or coached her.   I’ve heard rumors about Carla.   A girl that was ripping legs off at Nationals,  a girl from North Carolina winning big time cyclocross races, a down to earth girl that was fast and genuine.

For full details on Carla’s accident and reasons for death do a quick google search.

Take a Moment

While on your ride, at the gym or while taking a walk please take a moment and say a prayer for Carla’s passing and her family.  I wish all of my readers safe travels during their rides over the weekend.  Please make sure to look all around you and take your safety over convenience everyday.

Photo Credit : USA Today

New Belgium Urban Assault
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2011 Dates for New Belgium Urban Assault

New dates and more cities have been revealed for the New Belgium Urban Assault Ride in 2011.
Having done the the Charlotte, NC race last year I can tell you from first hand experience that it was some of the best fun I have had in Charlotte proper on a bicycle. The scavenger hunt, clues, and fun games at every stop made it feel like field day in elementary school all over again! It also was a great way to see the city, and would be exciting way to experience a new city.

Sunday, March 20, 2011 – Tucson, AZ.
Sunday, May 15, 2011 – Madison, WI
Sunday, May 22, 2011- Chicago, IL
Sunday, June 26, 2011 – Austin, TX
Sunday, July 17, 2011 – Fort Collins, CO
Sunday, July 24, 2011 – Denver, CO
Sunday, July 31, 2011 – Minneapolis, MN
Sunday, August 21, 2011 – St. Louis, MO
Sunday, August 28, 2011 – Des Moines, IA
Sunday, September 18, 2011 – Charlotte, NC

NCDOT Bicycle Survey
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North Carolina Bicycle and Pedestrian Survey

If you live in North Carolina and either ride a bike or walk please talk a few moments to click the link below to a survey for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Survey responses will be collected through February 8.

http://www.itre.ncsu.edu/Public/Bike-Ped-NCDOT-Survey.html

The results will be used as a primer to for a series of round table discussions scheduled for later this year and will be helpful in determining the level of public support for future investment in the state’s bicycle and pedestrian network.

Speedway Cyclocrossapalooza
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Race Promoters Use Video for Pre-Race

Tomorrow is my second race of the season and other than being nervous, changing gearing on the single speed cyclocross bike, I am a bit fearful since I’ve never ridden this course.  Being a single speed rider I really like to have ridden the course prior either on a geared bike in another race or pre-riding the course a couple days prior.   I didn’t have the luxury of doing so this race.

Course Preview on Video

The promoters of the race, Speedway Cyclocrossapalooza, heard my cry and pre-drove/walked the course with a helmet cam. The video is long at well over 7 minutes and boring for those not racing, but for those signed up and not able to visit until the day of the race it was well worth the 10 minutes it took this promoter to do his race justice.

Race Promoters What are Your Perks?

The promoters that go above and beyond, with either food, hospitality or pre-race updates create events that you want to return to but also drag a friend along with.  The race this weekend is $20, has hot showers, a heated spectator tent and other benefits.    The promoter also has updated Facebook and their website what seems daily with course previews, terrain and course conditions.   What do you do? Why would I want to come race your race?

Nalgene On the Fly OTF
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Nalgene On the Fly Bottle Review

Nalgene On the Fly
MRSP: $12.99
Size: 24 ounces
Companies Pitch: Nalgene’s newest leak-proof loop-top swings open wide to reveal a contoured, high-flow drinking spout that’s easy to fill at the fountain or sink. One-handed push button for easy open/close; locking bail for ultimate insurance against leaks

From Nalgene on their OTF Bottle

Nalgene’s newest leak-proof loop-top swings open wide to reveal a contoured, high-flow drinking spout that’s easy to fill at the fountain or sink. One-handed push button for easy open/close; locking bail for ultimate insurance against leaks.

  • Holds 24 ounces
  • Silicone stopper seals off the drinking spout
  • Leak-proof with bail engaged
  • Fits standard cup holders
  • Molded-in measuring marks
  • Dishwasher safe
  • 63mm cap fits other Nalgene wide-mouth bottles
  • Compostable EarthFirst® bottle “shrink sleeve” packaging is made from renewable plant resources
  • OTF bottle is made in the USA from copolyester manufactured without Bisphenol A (BPA). OTF closure is made in China from polypropylene manufactured without Bisphenol A (BPA).
  • Weighs 136g

Test Results

Tested and abused for the past 8 weeks. Brutal testing done by not only myself, but my testing team. The team consist of two athletic 9 and 10 year old boys. I knew when it came to testing a “leak proof” bottle they would be the best abusers.
Nalgene On the Fly OTF
The above bottle is one that was tested, we haven’t gotten around to taking the label off but even that has worn well. The two bottles that were supplied for review have been taking to sports practices, school backpacks, and even slept in bed with them. I’m happy to report there hasn’t been even one leak!

On the Fly Conclusion

For $12.99 and BPA free I think it is a great lifestyle bottle.

The Nalgene bottle isn’t for me.  I prefer either a cycling bottle top or a drink with a straw.   The biggest positives for me for this Nalgene bottle is that there are no hidden pieces to pull out or to find moldy down the road, the top design does not leak and is easy enough for kids to use well.  For $12.99 and BPA free I think it is a great lifestyle bottle.

Product Disclaimer : This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
Lightweight 29er Mountain Bike
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Building a Budget 23 Pound 29er

It’s easy to say I have too many bikes but since leaving the industry full time and my amount of review bikes really rolling in I needed to slim down the stable.   One of these targeted weight loss areas was my mountain bikes.  Five months ago I had a 29er hardtail geared, singlespeed, 26″ full suspension (x2), 26″ single speed, 26″ hardtail geared and numerous frames not built.  Back in the fall when I started riding again I knew I wanted to get back to riding a single speed mountain bike pretty exclusively, atleast for what personally I owned and abused.

Lightweight 29er Mountain Bike

Budget Bike

Going with what I had in the garage I started with a Surly Karate Monkey frameset (MSRP: $465.) Next was wheels,  I had found a good deal about two years ago on clearance Bontrager Rhythm wheels (my cost : $100.) The other details:

  • Frame : Surly Karate Monkey (heavy)
  • Bontrager Rhythm Wheelset
  • Bontrager XDX Tires (Take off customers bike who didn’t want them = $30)
  • Avid BB7
  • Origin8 Space Bar
  • Race Face Stem (used at swap meet: $5)
  • Shimano Deore cranks
  • Thompson Seatpost
  • Fizik Vesta Saddle
  • Ergon GP-1 Grips

Finished Product

Lightweight 29er Mountain Bike

The Surly Karate Monkey is a great frame to start your 29er life on, it can be single speed or geared, disc or v-brake.  Plus, the price you can’t beat .   Without breaking the bank I got this single speed 29er to 23.15 lbs.  If I went tubeless and changed out some parts I’m sure I could get it closer to 21 lbs!

RRRC Polar Bear Road Ride Snow
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Polar Bear Metric Century : George

The Saturday morning Polar Bear Metric Century started out, like so often is the case in North Carolina in January, crisp, still, and sunny.  Temps around freezing at or around the 10AM start in the first week of the year are the norm in the Piedmont, so we all figured that: 1) it would warm up, at least a little; 2)the cold weather bibs, tights, booties and jackets would be enough for the early part of the 100K ride, but that we’d be able to take at least something off when it warmed up later into the ride; and 3) that–even in early January–the 62 miles would be…in the words of one of my erstwhile 36Street Racing teammates…a few good base miles.

How’d that work out for ya, Peaches???

As you might guess, not so well. The first 20+ miles were easy enough–hangin’ with the boyz from 36SR and the host Rocky River Road Club (and girlz, a couple of whom can blow past me like rice through a goose) at a healthy 17-18 mph pace into the wind, and in echelon, no less, when the breeze really kicked up. It was fun for me, since the last time I’d echelon-ed and really took a healthy pull at the front of a fast group was, oh, maybe the summer after my freshman year in college. (That was in the summer of 1984; jez’ sayin’…)

That’s about when the wheels came off.  Sometime around when we’d hit–or passed–the Rowan County line, someone remarked that there was some “stuff” coming down out of the pine trees that were now blowing pretty close to the road. Turns out, it wasn’t pine pollen…it was the first snow flurries of a black cloud that we had been looking at for a while. About then, heavy snow started falling in earnest, and it got hard to see, hard to pedal in the wind that was blowing the snow sideways; and, well, hard to want to keep going. By that point, I’d gotten dropped by the group on a hill. (That’s not hard to have happen…I’m one of the world’s worst climbers. That is to say, I can do it, but once I get to the top my aerobic ability to continue is nil, so I’d rather spin at a slow speed going up than die once I get to the top.) I caught up to a couple folks–kids, really–after the snow squall stopped, and who were also crawling along, and we made it in to the 2nd rest stop at a little country church where we could warm up,
rest up, fuel up and rehydrate.

The second half of the ride was “interesting;” on the one hand, it wasn’t snowing any more. But on the other, the wind REALLY kicked into high gear, and we–by ‘we’ I’m talking about a couple groups of riders that I hooked up with–really struggled with the wind and the cold. (Oh…and did I mention that there are a LOT of hills in the piedmont??? Well, there are.) But as we got closer to more familiar roads, and passed the last rest stop without more than regrouping, I knew I had at least finished.

Coming into Davidson was nice…it was sunny, maybe a degree or two warmer, and I knew where I was, since we had to pass my neighborhood to get back to the start/finish. So let me just say this: 62 miles isn’t that far. I’ve done more, plenty of times. But the conditions were, in truth, about as brutal as I’ve done on a bike. I’ve been colder. I’ve commuted in snow. I’ve used up all my reserves of energy in a triathlon or five. But those 62 miles were about as difficult as I’ve done in a loooooooong time. I wasn’t in the best of condition; and since it’s been so cold, wet, busy lately, I hadn’t been much on the road bike in a while. (On top of that, I did a saddle adjustment at the check-in…dummy.)

But hey, I finished; as did most of the 325 or so riders who started. Check out DavidsonNews.Net for a brief story on it, and some photos. I’d say that even though it wasn’t as temperature-cold as last year’s PBMC, it was every bit as hard as last year’s, and probably harder given the wind and snow. It was a mental game–as much as the mental game of finishing that last lap of a Cat 4 CX race is when you’re about to get lapped, or as much as the last few miles of a triathlon are when you’ve hit the wall and
there’s no one out there on the course to cheer you on. And, by finishing it, you get to bank the mental strength you’ll need later in the year to successfully compete in or overcome some other challenge.

Grueling, it was. But I, for one, can’t wait till next year.

Photo Credit : @dwuori

High Country Cyclocross
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Wilkesboro NC Cyclocross Race Preview

A great write up from High Country Cyclocross for their race coming up this Sunday, January 16th.   For a reminder, this is my second race this season and I can only hope to get a few more recovery rides in before to figure out my gearing!

Get ready for the coolest cyclocross race of the year at the Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway on Sunday, January 16, 2011.

We will be racing on a fun course that will start on the banked oval track, tear across the infield, navigate the tractor pull, shoot out under the grandstands to a huge swoopy descent of the grassy field outside the stadium, before riding back into the stadium, hitting the run up, and dropping back onto the track. It will be challenging mix of power and finesse, with a good rhythm of technical, speed, and recovery sections.

You can catch all the racing action from Talia Espresso’s Belgian Party Tent on top of the Winner’s Circle in the center of the stadium, and if the course gets sloppy you can hose down in the wheel pits on Pit Row, and take a shower in the Racer’s Lounge adjacent to the finish line.

What other Team BSG members will be out there?   GBerger I know of but who else?

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