Empowering women in cycling

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Which Hybrid or Comfort Bike is for You?

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One of the most popular types of bicycles right now is that recreational style.  Either one to ride with the family around your community, take for errands or maybe do a Rail To Trails with your local church group.  Below I have outlined a good amount of the various lifestyle bikes out there, depending on which brand you try the options may vary but I can do my best to help you along the way.

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Preview: Giro Solara Women’s Road Shoes

5 Giro Solara Women's Road Shoe

Requirements of a good road shoe for a woman: Fit, stiffness, looks and price. (Normally, in that order.)

Giro Solara Women’s Road Shoes

MSRP: $150
Colors: White with Gold/Silver accents, all White with Silver accents, Gunmetal with Berry
Weight: 270 grams (size 39)
Details: Three straps, one ratcheting closure (replaceable) and two velcro straps. Good ventilation up and under the shoe.

Initial Out of the Box Thoughts

I’m a fan of Giro shoes, I wear the higher end “guys” shoes in the Gauge and Factor. When given the chance to review a more reasonable price Giro shoe I was happy to oblige so that I could see if the comfort I find in a $200+ shoe could be found for around $150.

Right off the bat, the shoe fits. This isn’t a super narrow fitting shoe, but with solid arch support and “neutral” toe box it should fit more women off the shelf than say a Sidi or Shimano (Sidi is narrow, Shimano is wide.) The sole isn’t as stiff as their carbon versions, but this may be a good thing for women that want a bit of give in their sole.

Look for a full review in a few weeks on how the shoes and insoles hold up. Until then, check out Giro.com for more info.

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no-charge for review.

Bicycle Shopping: The Three Common Styles of Bicycles

16 Bicycle Categories

So you are in the market for a new bike, but you don’t know where to start? You aren’t alone!

When customers walk in to my bike shop starting their hunt for a new bike one of the most important things I ask is this: “where do you want your bike to take you?” In upcoming articles I will help you answer that question and continue to empower you in cycling. Today’s article is focused on breaking down the three most common styles of bikes and what their most broad use is. These styles or categories are: Road, Mountain, and Hybrid.

When I quickly count on my fingers the different styles of bikes that most good bike shops carry, I come up with 14 (I promise I only have 12 fingers). 14 categories of bicycles to confuse you, overwhelm you and lead you down different avenues, maybe even putting you on the wrong category so that you never ride that new bike hanging in your garage. These 14 categories don’t even include the different kinds of mountain bike wheel sizes, fat bikes, or thoughts of road bikes.

Today, we’ll be using wide strokes to paint a picture of bicycle types that can be helpful as you start your hunt for a new bike.

Road Bikes

Trek Road Bike

These bikes have round, drop, handlebars. If you haven’t been on or near a bicycle in a while then you may refer to these as a “10-speed.” They are efficient,  fast, and tend to have a more leaned over and “aggressive” feel (but not uncomfortable.) They are meant to be comfortable for the long ride, and have many different sub-categories for different uses. Triathlons, gravel races, bike touring, and so many more things can be under this category. A solid road bike that doesn’t have parts you will be replacing within the first season of heavy riding normally starts around the $1000 range.

Mountain Bikes

Mountain Bike

These are widely popular as they are the all terrain vehicle of bikes. Knobby, fat, tires that allow you to roll over things and go on various terrain. Most kids start off on these, and they can be found in many department stores so they are often the “gateway drug” to bikes. Your everyday bicycle shop mountain bike is between $350-650. Anything under $500-650 is probably not meant to go truly mountain biking, but instead plays the part for when you go down dirt paths, gravel and off pavement. A sturdy “single track worthy” mountain bike normally starts around $800.

Hybrid Bikes

Hybrid Bicycle

Though I’m a pretty performance oriented cyclist, the hybrid is my favorite category of bikes. This category is what will get folks out of the gym, off the treadmill or better yet, off the couch! The hybrid is decently efficient on the road, but normally has an inverted tread to allow for some sand and hard packed gravel riding. The fit is a bit more upright, feeling more comfortable to the rider going <2 hours. While there are extreme hybrids costing $2k with disc brakes, carbon forks and features similar to a road bike, rather these bikes normally start around $350-500 for a nice sturdy, comfortable bike with parts that will last. The hybrid is a bike that any cyclist should have in their garage for grocery getting, bar hopping and greenway cruising. There is a chance you’ll grow out of this bike when you decide you want to go further on the road, or hit more aggressive mountain bike trails. That is okay, the hybrid will always have a place in your collection.

Race Report : Southern Cross 2011

1 George Berger at Southern Cross

George Berger, the first member of the new em:pwr cycling team.  He’s on his way to be a good cyclist…well, a good shortish, stoutish, strongish mid-40′s Flemish ‘cross racer.  George resides in Davidson, NC with wife and daughter.

George Berger at Southern Cross

Southern Cross 2011, at Dahlonega Georgia’s Montaluce Winery; the first race of the American Ultra CX Championship Series

I’ve never raced an endurance cyclocross event before; and, frankly, even though I’ve raced both cyclocross and mountain bike, this was going to be something decidedly different…tough, hilly, non-American type (grass crit) cyclocross course at the start and again at the end with some HUGE run-ups; a few miles of paved county road after that; gravel/chert/pumice fire road; STEEP and LONG rocky dirt fire road (if you could call it that); and screamin’ fast descents on those same fire roads. At the call-ups, co-organizer Eddie O’Dea said it best: “this is not a CX race; it’s not short and painful, it’s gonna be long and painful. So try to finish—it’s an enduuuuurance race, not a sprint race.”

Goals for the Southern Cross

My goals were right in line with that: 1) to finish the race; 2) to have some fun doing it; and 3) to use it to judge my early season fitness in this, my first year back to cycling after a layoff of over 10 years (I’m now 9 months into it, have lost over 15 lbs., and although I have a long way further to go, I’m getting there).

I signed up for the 40+ Citizen Race—the shorter version, which was only 30-something miles—20 miles shorter than the full Pro/1/2/3/4 race, with one or two fewer steep climbs. First time in this type of racing, and me still a ‘stout’ and older guy, it wasn’t my purpose to kill myself. There were a few people I knew—I finally met Namrita and Eddie O’Dea, the race promoters from Atlanta’s 55nine Performance (two really nice folks, and whom I knew only from Facebook at that point); and Stephanie Cole from Charlotte, who I met at last January’s Greensboro Cyclocross race, who came down. She was also racing the Citizen race, and I saw later finished with a really good time! I met a few guys (from upstate New York, for God’s sake!) when I was pre-riding the course on Friday afternoon, and more at Dahlonega Wheelworks—a really FANTASTIC bike shop where Jon and Zack fixed me up after a little mechanical snafu, and hooked me up with a free High Life while we talked. Oh, and BTW—they’re wheelbuilders to the stars, so I’m thinking about having them do some 29er wheels for me later this year.

As I said, the start was a hilly, off-camber cyclocross course in tough, high grass that hadn’t been ridden much; not much of a problem, but at the end of it was a very steep, 300-foot “run-up” that even Namrita described before the race as a ‘trudge-up.’ Overcoming hyperventilation at the top was the critical element there, so I’m glad I did it on Friday and knew about it beforehand. Then we left the winery development and headed out for a few miles of paved county roads before heading into the gravel and dirt fire road. Catching someone’s wheel to draft was pretty critical in this early section, getting as much speed on the CX bike as you could while conserving as much energy as possible.

The climbs started with a few miles of decent rollers, trending uphill, but a lot of fun since even with a CX cassette I was able to climb with some of the faster male 29er riders. But then the real climb started…the slog up Winding Stair, a 9-mile steep climb up some of the worst fire track I’ve been on…soft, powdery pumice on top of unpacked mountain sandstone gravel and loose stones. You could call it double-track, but when we witnessed a full-on endure motorcycle spin out at only 10 mph and crash on an uphill section, you knew it wasn’t easy to get traction. I’ll admit it—I walked the steeper pitches since I just didn’t have the gears to spin, nor the tires to get any traction. My Maxxis Raze clinchers were great for most of the race, but not enough read knob or width for this climb. Strangely, I found that I was hiking it faster than some of the other racers were riding it. Reaching the top of Winding Stair Gap and stopping at the aid station for more water for the CamelBack was a relief…looking around off the top of the ridge, it was an absolutely beautiful day…but after a couple minutes, a picture, the water and a ClifBlock for some energy, I was off again.

When you go up, you gotta come down. And the back side of Winding Stair was the best part of the whole race for me. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to be a bigger guy who can still pick a fast line while gravity does most of the work. Eddie had warned the racers beforehand that the roads were open to vehicle traffic, and that there were a lot of blind curves…but still, it’s fun to bomb downhill! So, knowing my health and disability insurance were pretty good, I took off from the top and tried to catch some of the folks who I’d had to let go on the climb. In the drops, I clocked over 42mph on the rutted clay or relatively hard-packed long gravel downhill, passed one guy on a 29er like he was standing still, and…just as soon as I hit the bottom, pinch-flatted going over a rutted section. Big bummer. Fixing it (only losing a few places) I started back up again; this time, the climb up Sassafras Mountain didn’t seem as bad (after Winding Gap, not much could), and there was another long flying downhill section that I had a white-knuckle blast on, making up another place and seeing lost water bottles all over the road from where they’d been shaken loose from their cages.

At the bottom, I was all by myself from then until almost the end, and found myself back on pavement at the ranger station…a long stretch of pretty, rolling county road, then some steep little paved hills with about five or six miles left brought us back up into the Montaluce property and the course went back into the cyclocross course again. There was nobody in sight behind me, and I was almost catching a younger guy that I’d been trading places with throughout the race; but another super-steep and long “run-up” caught me instead. I’d just been passed by the leader of the ‘full’ race, and we started up the hill together…except he didn’t dismount. Holy S*it, I thought—he’s gonna try to ride it!?! I was so shocked (this guy had some serious legs and stamina to do this) that when I got up to the top a good bit later after hooting for him spinning up the whole damn thing, I almost crashed…chain suck city. I lost all my momentum, had to get off and fix that, and just couldn’t get back into the rhythm.

The last mile or so inside the winery property was a mix of CX course and paved road hill climb; not that hard, but by that point I’d pretty much left it all out there already, and just couldn’t catch up to that one guy at the end. The finish was through a chute right at the food tent, with a picture for everyone. I was pretty spent, but nothing that a couple cans of (real) Coke and a couple of bottles of water couldn’t help. I finished in 17th place overall in the Citizen race, and 10th in the 40+ category, at 3:06:49.

Who knew!?! I coulda been a little faster if I’d been in better shape and could have pedaled more of the hills (especially that second big climb), and hadn’t had the two mechanicals. But the race could not have been more fun.  Next year, I’m gonna do it again, and will probably change a couple things on the bike… It was easy to see that the 29ers had the advantage going uphill, but the CX bikes had a huge overall advantage (at least with the course conditions as they were—fast and mostly dry). So a cassette change (maybe to a 12-32), and some wider tires to get more uphill traction and downhill flat protection, and I think we’d have a winner setup. I’ll be doing the Three Peaks USA in September (a Pirate Race Productions event by Andrew Stackhouse), so we’ll see how that works out.

Rear View Mirror

The wrap-up? I could have finished the longer race, but it woulda been far less pretty at the end. So my fitness was ok, but not great—I’m still fat and mostly old; comparatively, anyway. But I finished what I’d started, and had a lot of fun doing it. The first time doing anything is always tough because of the unexpected, and I can’t wait to do it again next year. I couldn’t stay for the after-party and awards (and raffle…bummer), but had to head back to NC so I could put my daughter to bed. Four hours later, a beer down the hatch, and I was ready to sleep like a baby, too. And here it is, Monday, and I’m ready to get back on the bike for a little lunchtime spin.

2012 Raleigh Bicycles Capri Womens Road

0 2012 Raleigh Capri Carbon 3.0

This is part of a series of short posts releasing the new 2012 Raleigh Bicycles women’s line. Everything from 29er mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrids, more carbon and women’s cyclocross bikes. I’ve got the scope, but we can thank Raleigh’s Sally on this one.

2012 Raleigh Capri Women’s Road Bikes

You may or may not know but I’ve been test riding a 2011 Raleigh Capri for the past couple months. Timing seems to be everything as right when I’m about to post a review about a bike, Sally turns around and sends me the new information for the 2012 line.

Raleigh Capri Carbon 3.0 MSRP $3,000

2012 Raleigh Capri Carbon 3.0
Full carbon frame and fork with the same geometry as the Capri from 2011. A mix of Shimano Ultegra and 105 but mostly all Ultegra besides the 105 shifters and brakes. Available in 49, 52, 54, 56cm

Raleigh Capri Carbon 2.0 MSRP $2,400

2012 Raleigh Capri Carbon 2.0

Same frameset, full carbon as the Capri Carbon 3.0. Full 105 groupo and a lesser quality hub but same rims. Available in 49, 52, 54, 56cm

Raleigh Capri Carbon 1.0 MSRP $2,000

2012 Raleigh Capri Carbon 1.0

Same frameset, full carbon as the Capri Carbon 3.0. New Shimano Tiagra 10 speed and KMC chain (come on Raleigh.) Available in 49, 52, 54, 56cm

Raleigh Capri 4.0 MSRP $1,650

2012 Raleigh Capri 4.0
Hydroformed aluminum frame, carbon fork with alloy steerer. Full Shimano Ultegra 10-speed except for brake calipers. Available in 49, 52, 54, 56cm

Raleigh Capri 3.0 MSRP $1,300

Same aluminum frame and fork, but with a downgrade on parts to Shimano 105 10-speed for the majority of the drivetrain. Available in 49, 52, 54, 56cm

Raleigh Capri 2.0 MSRP $930

This bike takes a step down to Shimano Sora 9-speed and FSA cranks. A step up from the 1.0 with 8-speed but still not with the mainstay of 10 speed. Available in 45, 49, 52, 54, 56cm

Raleigh Capri 1.0 MSRP $710

The starter model for Raleigh, Shimano 2300 8-speed. A good beginner bike but if you get riding you’ll quickly ride out of this bike. Available in 45, 49, 52, 54, 56cm

 

 

 

Intro: 2014 Raleigh Capri Carbon Women’s Road Line

5 Raleigh Capri Header

Hot on the heels of my review of the 2013 Raleigh Capri Carbon 4.0Raleigh USA has released information on their 2014 line up. Over the next week I’ll be breaking down the line up by category. Keep up to date by checking out the search keyword “Raleigh USA 2014“.

Overall Upgrades to the Raleigh Carpi Series

  • Updated geometry (I’ll personally be looking hard into this as the Raleigh women’s bikes have always fit me out of the box perfectly, hopefully it’s made better!)
  • All Capri models are lighter
  • All Aluminum and Carbon frames feature upgrades seat stays, top and down tubes, and increased stiffness
  • Wheels have been upgraded to be stiffer and lighter
  • New sizing system (will be in a post of itself and linked here when posted)

2014 Raleigh Capri Carbon

2014 Raleigh Capri Carbon 4 MSRP: $3,800

Spec: Shimano Ultegra Di2 11 speed w/ FSA SL-K compact crank
Weight: 16.3 lbs for 52cm
Sizes: 48, 50, 52, 54, 56cm
Thoughts: Keeping the Di2 as their top tier model, this bike comes with better drivetrain (electronic) and a lighter crank.

2014 Raleigh Capri Carbon

2014 Raleigh Capri Carbon 3 MSRP: $2,700

Spec: Shimano Ultegra 11 speed w/ FSA Team Issue crank
Weight: 16.2 lbs for 52cm
Sizes: 48, 50, 52, 54, 56cm
Thoughts: Putting two models so close together in weight and spec, but betting that a woman will want to pay $1k more for electronic shifting is an interesting move for Raleigh USA. They are either selling a lot of women’s bikes or have had a lot of request from dealers/consumers to have these two options. I would be interested to see at the end of the model year which sells more!

Raleigh Capri Carbon 2.0

2014 Raleigh Capri Carbon 2 MSRP: $2,200

Spec: Shimano 105 10 speed with FSA Energy Compact crank
Weight: 18.4 lbs for 52cm
Sizes: 48, 50, 52, 54, 56cm
Thoughts: I’m not sold on the color, but right above $2k for carbon and a workhorse of a drivetrain this bike will sell on shop floors. Especially to the women that are tired of having a “girly looking bike.”

Raleigh Capri Carbon

2014 Raleigh Capri Carbon 1 MSRP: $1,750

Spec: Shimano Tiagra 10 speed with FSA Gossamer Compact crank
Weight: 19 lbs for 52cm
Sizes: 48, 50, 52, 54, 56cm
Thoughts: This is one of the models I was hoping to see a 46cm in for shorter women that want a carbon frame. Yet, a 10 speed equipped carbon bike under $1,800 is a welcomed package.

Learn more and find your local dealer to test ride over at Raleigh USA

Review: 2011 Airborne Delta CX

0 Airborne Cyclocross Bike

I won’t lie, the Airborne Delta CX was the most exciting part of becoming a member of the Airborne Flight Crew this past spring. I was going to have the inside scoop, test ride and ride for a season a wonderful cyclocross bike that hopefully would crack open a huge “hidden nut” in the bicycle industry. A budget priced, disc brake, cyclocross bike. As a lover of cyclocross bikes for the utility and functionality, this bike fit right into my arsenal to refer friends and followers to.

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Full Review: 2012 Salsa Cycles Casseroll

10 Salsa Casseroll

For the past couple months I have been riding the 2011 Salsa Casseroll on the road, on side streets, commuting, off the beaten path and really it has been the bike strapped to the roof of my car while traveling all over NC, SC and TN. I will be sad when I have to send this bike back as it truly is the Cadillac of road bikes (minus the drivetrain.) You can read the preview over yonder before you dive into my full review.

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Road Rides on the Horizon

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On this site, for some reason, I don’t talk enough about bike rides. About the act of riding my bike. The bliss, the happiness and the emotions or pain it puts through my body.

That’s why we all do this right? It isn’t about the new bike, or the fancy gadgets. It is about the feeling we have inside of us when we ride that new bike for the first time, when you dig in to that wide sweeping turn and accelerate through the corner. All with the motor of your own engine.

Lately, I have been riding one of my road bikes more, a Ridley Orion. The feel of a thoroughbred wanting to gallop from the line, pushing me to longer miles than the coach prescribed. The bike wanting to push further. Hugging the asphalt and yet the 700×23/25 tires buzzing efficiently under me.

As the weather gets cooler we all need motivation, so here is my deal.

I’ll work on telling my story of riding if you tell me yours.