Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Friday, December 6, 2013
That being said, efforts in the world of retail are not an easy thing to do well. It takes a business owner, in most cases, a few years of working as the sole employee of the shop; wrenching, selling, shipping and don't forget cleaning the bathroom before they can and should even consider hiring a second full time employee. I call this organically growing the business.
Yes there are cases where shops can prove this process wrong but most of the time, the independent bicycle retailer who toils for their first few years with very lean overhead, maintains focus on community outreach to other cyclists through events and rides-- ends up paying their bills on time with the bike companies and growing their tribe faster than those who basically unlock the front door and just flip over the Open sign. I've found that this is the formula for a sustainable business-- the 3Cs.
Speaking of growing organically and nailing it with community outreach, the guys in Raleigh, North Carolina-- Oak City Cycling Project have put together what has to be my favorite shop edit of 2013.
If you're in the central NC region, hit them up either late on Wednesday nights or First Night Fridays. You might find a cold beverage and some cyclocross discussion is waiting for you there.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Looking to get the best spot at the Gran Fondo Miami bike expo, I consulted our independent rep as to which booth location/ number would be best for us. Across from the VIP tent is where we pitched our tents.
On Saturday, the riders of the Gran Fondo Miami strolled in to pick up their packets for Sunday's ride. Surrounding their exit from the sign in tent, were us bike companies offering up a peek at the latest cycling technology and a chance to speak with factory reps.
Having a celeste bikes at the booth is always a sure fire way to bring out fans of the brand. Not having Campagnolo on every single bike can also bring out the worst in some people. But let's face it. If you're buying a bike that's over $2200 and it's made of carbon fiber, Bianchi has you covered. There's no need to go home and kick a puppy.
Saturday's booth traffic was defined by a large number of visits from Bianchi owners. A small chunk of passer-bys were generally curious cyclists. If the conversations on Saturday were any sort of a groundswell for what we'd see people riding on Sunday, we'd be very busy that day. And that we were.
Sunday. Ride day. Carbon clincher wheel day. Oltre day? Yes, Oltre day.
Being across from the VIP tent had paid off. As people racked their bikes, enjoyed the food and then departed with a full belly, they strolled over for a chat, some swag and a handshake.
You can spout out gobs of metrics about who attends a gran fondo in Miami, Florida. Some of it might be exaggerated, speculated and methodically formulated. One thing was for sure, the majority of the carbon bikes and their owners that stopped by after the ride to show me their pride and joy, rode an Oltre. Those not on an Oltre-- it was some other model of carbon fiber, Bianchi road bike. Absent were the classic steel bikes like the Imola, Vigorelli and Volpe like I saw endlessly at RAGBRAI 2013.
I saw every size Oltre from a woman on a 50cm Super Record with EPS, on up to a 61cm frame size with FFW celeste colored deep dish wheels like the Vacansoleil team rode.
I believe Aldo from Canada gets the super fan award of the weekend. Tri-color helmet, Oltre with Campagnolo Super Record, Bianchi branded sunglasses and.....
....ink. I thought he was showing off is guns until he rolled his arm over revealing this. Edoardo would be proud.
Another event goes down for me and much like RAGBRAI, people felt entitled to tell you their story of how and why they have a celeste colored bike. So much enthusiasm, so much passion and excitement these Bianchi owners have; it's more than any brand I've seen from 20 years of working retail.
It's difficult at best create a brand's culture, buy culture or force a culture to last over a century like Bianchi. It has to marinade for a long time. Culture creates itself and after 128 years of it, I'm proud to be a part of Bianchi's culture because once you throw a leg over their bicycle, the world is that much smaller.
From Florida, back to the Mid-Atlantic weather.....brrrrrr!
Monday, November 11, 2013
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Like a well worn pair of comfortable jeans, I installed this Selle Italia Flight saddle on the Bianchi Cavaria 'cross bike last season. This saddle was knocking around in the bottom of my tool box since the dismantling of my Voodoo Bokor (last of the US made ones) and once I realized that a Fizik Arione saddle is a poor choice of a saddle on a cx bike, this seat stepped up to bat.
Do the math. Started using this saddle back in '99 on the Voodoo. It's 2013. The plastic is bound to get a bit brittle and maybe weakened by sloppy remounts by my 6'5" self. DCCX was the end of the road for this saddle. I finished the last two laps with the broken saddle. RIP of friend.
Monday, September 9, 2013
This past weekend marked the first #cyclocross race of the season for me. I approached this event as a 'learner' as in getting back into the swing of #cx racing, the bumping of bars, and the demand on my anaerobic threshold. Best of all, seeing some old faces I've missed since last season.
This race was new to me as well. I've never raced at Nittany CX, I moved up a category and now have an extra lap to do versus the previous two seasons of cyclocross racing at one lap less.
Against tradition of installing new gear on the race bike before a race, I installed a new set of Clement LAS clinchers. With a liberal dose of baby powder on the inside tire casing and on tubes, I used the evening before the race as a shakedown run at the local park just to test the corning limits of the tires. Let me just say this, if you've never run file tread tires on dry days, I highly recommend you give them a try. The grip angle is amazing and for the race I ran 26 psi front and 28 psi rear while using the HED Ardennes LT wheels. Such a wonderful ride, I'm extremely happy with this wheel set up.
The first lap had a very hectic start across a gravel section of road into a hairpin left turn, the group was very bunched until we made it into the NW part of the course where the group thinned out a bit. Unfortunately I was gassed bad enough that I mis-timed clipping out for the barriers and slammed into the first one, taking a dirt nap, lost a few spots, the bike was fine and I shook it off and charged the rest of the lap.
There were only a handful of people who passed me so it was a case of riding within myself the rest of the race, dissecting parts of the course and working on taking them as quick and efficient as possible. After all, cyclocross racing is about finishing with the least amount of mistakes made.
Why is that you say? Considering my/ your heart rate is at 173 bpm the full 50 minutes of the race, it's easy to have your body become disconnected from your brain. When that happens, corners sneak up on you too quick, remounts become sloppy instead of fluid and jumping out of a corner under hard acceleration is trumped by the guy behind you because he hears you feather your brakes into the corner that he's since trusted his tires to gripping and leaving the brakes alone; getting a half a bike length of a jump on you.
I'd have to say having the extra lap this year or at least this race allowed me to settle into a rhythm. Next race will be Cross Vegas 2013 and the end of the month marks the first of the #mabrasuper8cxseries at Winchester AppleCross. I'm looking forward to hearing the MC'ing skills of InThe Crosshairs at that one!
Best of legs to all the guys and gals in the Mid-Atlantic, looking forward to cheering you on from behind the tape when my laps are over!
Friday, August 30, 2013
The beginning of August was kicked off with the Jonathan Gantz Memorial Cyclocross Clinic, located in lower York County, Pennsylvania.
About 50 local and some far, cyclocross fans, racers, and those curious about the sport assembled at Spring Valley Park to start brushing up on their 'cross skills; hear some wisdom get dropped by Wes and Jake of the Haymarket bike race team and reconnect with cycling friends who only pop their head out of the ground this time of the year.
Food and refreshments were provided by the York Area Mountain Bike Association so a big thanks goes out to them and Sean Durgin who manned the griddle, serving up pancakes to the attending cyclists. Sean, or Skip as he's better know as in the area, and I go way back to 1990. He was a classmate back then and took me mountain biking for the first time. Or at least he was on a mountain bike and I was still riding a bmx bike, but not for long. That summer I traded my old road bike for a mountain bike and shredded the trails at Rocky Ridge all that summer.
Clinics are popping up all over the US and what cyclists are understanding is that cultivating a cycling community is important to the health and growth of local cycling. And if you can attract junior cyclocross riders as well, that's the future of the sport right there! Hosting a clinic with your local bike club will create new friendships, introduce recreational riders to area racers and hopefully breakdown any elitist-preconceived notions the weekend riders might have against those who pin on a number every weekend. That being said, out of all the bike racers I know, the mountain bike and CX racers are the nicest, most approachable people in my directory. That's an observation, not a criticism.
Sean Mealey of Keystone Velo Racing did most of the organizing for this second year event which meant the full cx course would be a blast to ride. The drills we worked on covered the basic dismount, remount, dismount to stair run-up, starts/sprints, and then the team relay. A little bit of chasing each other, over cooking a few turns, and taking random dirt naps keep everyone laughing and enjoying themselves.
Big thanks again to Mealey and KVR, YAMBA, Nuts About Granola, Haymarket Bicycle Shop and Broken Spoke Photography who captured this fine day with the best lens in the county!
I can't wait for next year!