Winter Riding Tips from a Midwest Refugee

Winter Riding Tips from a Midwest Refugee

As you know, we survived a long cold snap not too long ago. I understand a lot of you passed those days riding with your friends in sunny virtual realms where there is always a tailwind, or headwind--however you want to program it. That's nice and all, but winter riding can be enjoyable. I swear it. Here's some tip for the next cold snap.

Bar Tops

Photo stolen, from post Roadbike forum post that stole this unattributed photo from some place else.

I was still pretty new to the whole training for bike racing thing when I started going out for long days in the hills of Portland with the Cat Ones on the team I'd just joined. I wasn't new to training per sea, and I wasn't quite new to riding either--it had just been awhile--and as such, I thought I knew pretty much everything I needed it know about pedaling a bike with an aim toward racing.

True, I was the only Cat Four racer,  on a team of fast Ones and Twos with a somewhat dubious reputation, but I possessed a special kind of hubris that imbues one with a with false sense of purpose. I rode a lot, often alone--but not lonely--spinning hours away attacking the climbs and riding the downhills like my bike had some special governor on it, keeping me under twenty-five miles an hour, and never more than fifteen in the corners. From time to time however I did get to ride with others who were better, and who provided me with my first experiences riding within a group.

DK was the head of our team. He was a good track racer with a swagger so intense that it could only be considered cockiness. He was a muscular fellow as well, and rode a little like Donkey Kong when in the thick of it. He was most definitely an ass hole, and I mostly disliked him, but he was capable of riding in a straight line, a skill I sorely lacked.

I was watching a lot of racing back then. At the time it was common to see some brave rider off the front, head down, fighting against the wind, and himself, not with his hands in the drops, but with his forearms resting on the tops of the bars. Somewhere around the end of our Sauvie loop I was at the front with Tommy, one of those guys who is somehow crazy fast, wins a lot of races and then disappears into some other pursuit, and there he was, forearms on the tops of his bars. I copied him.

"Tommy gets to do that Bob, you don't. Put your hands back on the hoods." DK said from behind.

I did as I was told.

There was no need to ask why Tommy was allowed to be so goddamn pro while I was confined to the hoods. The answer was obvious: I hadn't spent enough time in the saddle, riding with others. Nor did I have enough control over my bike to be doing anything remotely close to riding like a real boss. Two hours later, close to home, I was yelled at for coasting while on the front.

It would take another two years, a move to Seattle, and the knowledge that my true road racing days were over that I my learning in the ways of the road, and becoming a cyclist, would finally begin to take off. By then it had become easier for me to humble myself enough to learn from riders I respected, and were capable of keeping a clean reputation off the bike as well. Even still you won't find me with my arms on the top of the bars.

There isn't much point to this story, as if there's a point to riding period, when we really drill down to the bottom of it all. But that is why we do this thing in the first place. However, I suppose that if there is a point to this it would be: know what you have to work on and get down to it. You'll end having more fun with your friends.



Ride Dry

Ride Dry

Fall and Cyclocross season dovetail nicely with the season for long rides. Those time when you and your pals just spin the little ring for a few hours between coffee and pastry stops, it's pretty much the best time of the year, delightfully removed from the ego and restlessness that comes after months of earning your base fitness. Like the weather, fall is riding is just chill.

The Days, They Just Run Away From You

Man, the days, they just run away from you. It has been weeks since I said I was going to write about the great Co-Motion Espresso build we did (there happens to be another one in the stand right now.) If you have stopped by the shop the last couple weeks then you’ve noticed that we’ve moved things around a bit, a move that I think really opens things up here, as Matt, Nate and I are no longer standing on top of each other in the service area. Now we just need a good rug to tie the retail lounge together.
I’m having a hard time dealing with the fact that it is nearly September. On an intellectual level I understand the marching of one day into the next, but that doesn’t stop me from shaking my head in bewilderment that fall is knocking at our door step. I had planned on having our CX Tune up and running this by this point, but shop life has gotten in the way. Honestly, we’ve reached the point where I’m ready for the slow down that accompanies the fall colors (just the same shade of green, against grayer sky really) and the Hodala fog machine, not to mention the cooler weather.
Hopefully, you, are more prepared for the up coming racing than I am and you’ve been attending BBQ Cross, hosted by Heartthrob Racing (in conjunction with The Polka Dot Jersey). I heard there were cup cakes a couple weeks ago, and had I know that you know my slightly chubby ass would have been there because that’s how it will be for me this year, racing for Redvine Hand-ups and heckles.
But let’s, for the sake of argument, marketing and blogging, say that you’re already dialed: you’ve got your file treads mounted, you’re hitting up cross practice, getting some flow on sections of urban single track, and the general public is wondering why you and your friends are riding around in circles while mounting and dismounting your bike. Thing is, there’s a creak a missed shift or some other kind of thing going on with that bike you haven’t ridden since your base miles ended. That, or you just want to make sure everything is in top order before you start racing. It’s for those reasons that I’ve brought the CX Tune up back for another year, this time with a bigger incentive to route your brakes the right way. Here are the details:
Complete Tune with BB overhaul
Frame and Drive train clean
Fresh ESI handle bar tape — this stuff is amazing, removable, washable and gets tacky in the wet. Perfect for cross (retails for $40)
Fresh cables and housing
moto brake routing
Cost: $165, or $190 if you decide to forgo the practicality of moto routing.

Introducing Our Shop Kits

For the last three years we’ve had a plethora of questions about when we would be coming out with a kit. We held off because we wanted to make sure they’d be done right, and by right I mean quality kits, a design that paid homage to the heritage of the sport, and one that was unique without going in a direction people would expect. We have put all those elements together, and we’re pretty excited about it. The details are below.

The kits themselves are coming from Squadra, a company that has been around since 1996. That’s not a long time–when it comes to heritage brands–but deep in their history is work with Maurizo Castelli. Yes, that Castelli. Squadra was born out of that guidance. While not as ubiquitous in the world of custom kit as Castelli, the quality is on par with the more popular brand.
So much class. 
So much class.

As for the design: I (this is Bob writing) wanted a look that would pay homage to the to riders of the past. I figured it was best to start with the Champion of Champions: Fausto Coppi. Being the dominant rider of his time, Coppi was also a cultural movement. In post war Italy you were either with the urban Coppi, or you were a Bartali supporter, who’s deep Catholic faith was indicative of a Italy that has falling into the past.

To achieve this end, we asked Heartthrob Racing’s Tim Hubner to design the kit. (Tim also designed our water bottles this year; there’s still a few left!). I sent Tim a picture of this great rider in his classic Bianchi kit and said “Something like this.” Tim more than delivered with a light blue and white jersey that says The Polka Dot Jersey across the front in that beautiful Campagnolo script. On the right hand sleeve is a cartoon of the man himself. Underneath it reads “Coppi Lives, Coppi the Myth” in Italian, a line he gleaned from William Fortheringham’s excellent bio: Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi.

For the shorts we went with your basic black, and the letters PDJ along the leg in a cream color, as it was back in the day. The shorts will work with your favorite plain jersey, and the jersey will work with you favorite pair of black shorts. The pairing will look great, but you can mix and match either with your favorite kit.

As for cost, the jersey is $140.00 and the bibs are $190.00. I realize that this is expensive, but is in line with kit of this caliber but still less expensive than a pair of bibs from Rapha, Assos, etc… You’ll be riding this kit for  years, and not just because of this timeless design.

Wondering about sizing? We’ll have a fit kit here for the next couple of weeks, and you can come down and try it on. And of course, we will have women’s kit as well, cause that’s the way it should be. The pre-order window will extend a couple of weeks beyond that, so let’s say, have your order in by the end of November. The three of us are really excited about these kits, so expect fair amount of fun marketing from us.


Maybe not as far as the calendar is concerned–I mean the Giro is just starting and everyone knows that is a race held in  the spring. There are other, more important indicators when it comes to divining the seasons namely the weather and the number of the bikes coming through the doors.
While the numbers have have reached summer levels, we have managed to keep things moving along smoothly, with the service queue being just over a week out. By June of last year we were two weeks out on service, which is a big bummer if you actually like riding your bike more than, say, having it worked on. The “new” shop set up has helped this no doubt, but having more room to walk around and generally not be right on top of each other as we try to fix your bike is nice as well. We’ve also added another member to our small bike repair pursuit team, Max, who comes to us after a stint at some other local shops, as well as Santa Cruz a bit further back. She’s a good mechanic, and an all around nice person, which offsets Bob’s Midwest demeanor. She also speaks Dutch, so you can ask her what those Sporza announcers are really saying.
It was decidedly unsummer like when we held our Leige event a couple weeks back, but a good number of you showed up anyway and braved some wet climbs and shiver inducing temps just for ’cause. We’ll host another shindig soon, maybe for the start of the tour (I’m just spit-balling here). Either way the weather will be nicer. I’m sure of it.
Lastly, a great number of you helped make our shop kits a reality, for which we will forever be grateful. So, THANK YOU! We’ll more details on this soon.
Oh yeah. Our man Kelly is going to give this ole site a facelift. Soon, yes very soon, we will have new web home.