Urban Velo

Surly Wants Women Product Testers

Deadline Surly wants female product testers, and boatloads of email to sort through from people wanting to hop on the free product gravy train.

So here’s the deal, Surly is in need of female bodies to wear and tear the new goods. There is a criteria for this. If you meet this criteria then please reach out. If you do not meet this criteria please do not.

Check the qualifications and if you think you fit apply within at the Surly Blog.

The Holy Week of Cyclocross

holy_week_cx_2014_rothmeyer31Cyclocross for many of us is a religion, a devotion to mud, dust, rain and rutted corners is the reason we get out of a bed in the morning. We travel far and wide to practice our faith with growing numbers of others that have fully converted to the ‘cross. Our church is anywhere that open space and plastic course tape meet to create a gauntlet of turf, stairs and wooden planks testing both skill and endurance to find the proper balance between suffering and speed. Our Mecca in North America is New England, and for a 10 day period known as Holy Week thousands travel from all around to participate in what has easily become the biggest series of races in the country.

The Holy Week of Cyclocross consists of seven races over the course of a week and a half. Beginning in Lancaster, MA with the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross and ending some 10 days later in Providence, RI. To fill the space in between the kickoff and finale is arguably the biggest race of the year in Gloucester, MA and possibly the most fun you can have at race while getting lapped by Barry Wicks in Shrewsbury, MA at the Night Weasel Cometh. Holy Week attracts the faithful from all over the globe to compete and congregate in what is a grand celebration of all things cyclocross. It’s easy to be overwhelmed on your first visit to the Motherland by the shear number of competitors, by the size of the beer garden and what the perfect ale is to compliment your sweet potato taco, by the guy with “Good Will Hunting” accent trying to smash you through the tape on lap one and by the fact that you are taking a warm up lap behind Katie Freakhin Compton! But it is also all of those things that draws us to these events, the sights and sounds of 150 people on course at once is something you can only experience at the biggest of races, and at races like Gloucester and Providence you get to experience it over and over throughout the day. Holy Week is kind of like a cyclocross stage race, with so many racing days in close proximity to one another your body starts crave more food and more rest but when the whistle blows to start the next race it easily accepts the punishment it’s about to endure.

Under the lights on muddy ski slopes or on the cool rocky shores of the Atlantic it’s easy to lose yourself in the moment of the race, the pain that your legs and lungs are experiencing lessens as you enter tunnels of sound encouraging you to go “haahda dyude!” It’s through these experiences that makes it easy for one to fully believe in cyclocross. So if you are one of the believers and you spend your summers smelling mastik one and praying to a shrine of Erik De Vlaemink you owe it to yourself and to the gods of cyclocross to make the pilgrimage to New England for Holy Week.

Words and images submitted by Brett Rothmeyer. Contact us at brad@urbanvelo.org to submit your image galleries, videos or local news reports.

Women’s Bike Mechanic Scholarship

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Bike shops need more female mechanics and employees, and more women than ever are looking to make a career out of bikes. SRAM, Liv, QBP, United Bicycle Institute, Pedro’s and Park Tool have joined together to offer ten scholarships for women bike mechanics to attend UBI in an effort to grow the number of women in the bike industry, and the number of women riders in general.

The scholarship covers the 2-week Professional Shop Repair and Operations class and lodging (but not transportation to Ashland OR), with applications accepted through November 15th at qbp.com/womensscholarship. Recipients notified by December 19th, with classes in February, March or April.

PDW Lars Rover Into The Night

larsrover650-1 Portland Design Works has upped their lighting ante with the Lars Rover this year. We caught a glimpse at them at Interbike, featuring an aluminum body and two models of 650 or 450 Lumens. The Lars Rover 650 runs for a full two hours on high mode, with a 15 minute bail-out mode when the battery reaches the end of the charge. Turn it down the the 175 lumen low power mode and get over 7 hours of commuting, with a five hour charge time via a USB port. It has a smart switch, a low batter gauge and a competitive price at $110 for the Lars Rover 650 model and $85 for the Lars Rover 450. For a limited time the 650 models come with an overly nice custom can cooler with leather PDW patch that you won’t want to put down at a party.

Riding the Ronde

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Anyone with even a passing knowledge of road racing heritage knows of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and the epic Belgian farm roads and cobbles that make up the route. A couple of years back I had the unforgettable opportunity to ride throughout FLanders and on parts of the course — this video by Joe Baur helps bring it back.

245 kilometers? Cobbled climbs? No problem!

For reasons beyond my comprehension, BMC Switzerland graciously selected me to join five other cyclists from across the globe to join their granfondo experience, more tortuously known as the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Here I document my experience with a bit of Ronde history mixed in for flavor.

Indeed, cycling here does not suck. And someday, I hope to be back on the cobbles of Flanders.

PDX Trophy Cup Cyclocross Photo Gallery

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From the genius of Clint Culpepper and Will Laubernds comes the PDX Trophy Cup, a weekly cyclocross race series that takes place at the world famous Portland International Raceway (PIR). Situated just minutes north of downtown Portland OR, PIR is an ideal venue for an early week training race and hangout.

PIR has hosted many cross races before, what sets the PDX Trophy Cup apart is that it takes place during that sweet spot between summer and fall, when the weather is unpredictable and you could get a beautiful sunset as the backdrop to your race or a torrential down pour and muddy, sloppy conditions to add to the already challenging course. Either way you’re going to have fun. Adding to the uncertainty of the weather is that the races begin around dusk with racing continuing well after dark, testing not only your fitness but your sense of adventure. And the courses, these are masterfully crafted and thoughtfully put together by Clint, Will and a handful of dedicated volunteers who give up their Sunday afternoons so everything is ready for Tuesday night. Every week the courses are a little different, taking advantage of the physical features found at PIR. Off cambers are carved, tree lines are taped, barriers laid, sand hills shaped, and sometimes a bit of the adjacent motocross course is incorporated into the fun.

Besides the racing, one of the best things about this series is how people have embraced it. “It gives me something to look forward to on Tuesdays.” said one sweaty participant. The people coming out to race are some of the most enthusiastic I’ve seen and heard in a long time. Most everyone that comes out to race stays until the end of the night to watch, have a beer, and do a little heckling. Did I mention beer? Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday evening. Summer is completely gone and this six race series has come to an end for this season. But a lot of Portland is already thinking about that next Tuesday night race in late Summer 2015.

Words and images submitted by Jose Sandoval. Contact us at brad@urbanvelo.org to submit your image gallery or local news reports.

The Comedown Figure-Eight Track Test Ride

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Test riding The Comedown figure-eight track in Glasgow. Read more about the construction and inspiration behind the track in our article from last week talking with artist and sculptor Steven Murray.

Paul Component Engineering Thumbie Shifter Mounts Review

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Top-mount thumbshifters are a classic design that the big players have left behind in the race to make a “better” shifter. Other designs are undeniably more ergonomic and capable of faster shifts, all without changing your grip on the bars. But some of us are hooked on thumbshifters, if for nothing else than their proven durability through simplicity. No matter the conditions, no matter the muck and cold, thick gloves and rust, thumbshifters continue to shift. In fact, I still have two pairs of 20+ year old Suntour thumbshifters in service on bikes, along with this set of Paul Thumbies that I’ve been running for over 5 years.

Paul Thumbies are the answer to those of us that want indexing beyond 8-speeds or SRAM or Campagnolo compatibility but want to run top-mounts too. These mounts transform bar end and time-trial shifters into old school thumbshifters. My poison? 9-speed Shimano bar end shifters mated to Paul Thumbies, run in friction mode on my 10-speed dirt road touring rig. Adjustable front derailleur trim and you can shift the entire cassette in one movement with the right touch. I’d go so far as to say, “It works every time!” but I’m to understand the phrase has already been taken. This is a shifter for the tinkerers and the explorers, best suited to people with a secret stash of parts and more ideas about bike setup than available rides to test it.

Paul Thumbies are available for $74 per pair in either silver or black, in either 22.2, 26.0 or 31.8 clamp sizes (mountain bars and road stem clamp sizes) and with Shimano, SRAM, Microshift or Campagnolo mounts. Current Thumbies have hinged clamps for easier installation and removal.

Lezyne Gauge Drive HP Pump Review

lezyne_hp-8 Compact hand pumps are a must-have item on the road; ride more than a few miles from home and you’re bound to get a flat. The $50 Lezyne Gauge Drive HP is an aluminum bodied pump meant for high pressure, low volume tires and equipped with an in-line pressure gauge meant as a step up from cheap feeling plastic bodied mini pumps. If nothing else the shiny aluminum feels good in your hand, even if I’ve never been one to tear through plastic pumps. At 230 mm long the Gauge Drive HP fits in a jersey pocket and larger seatbags, or use the provided bottle cage mount. The handle side hides a the hose and in-line gauge inflator which has a reversible Presta or Schrader chuck with a bleed valve. Screw the hose into the end of the pump body, careful to not cross-thread the plastic fitting, and go. Over the past season the Lezyne Gauge Drive HP has bailed out a few flat tires and aired up the travel bike outside the airport. The ABS Pen Gauge gives a reasonable ballpark pressure reading on the side of the road, but you’ll be hard pressed to tell a 10 psi difference with it. Be mindful of not unscrewing the gauge itself as I once did and avoid a momentary heartrate spike (I was able to put the gauge back together on the spot). The screw-on Presta chuck and small section of hose go a long way to help prevent broken valve stems out on the road, which happens to be the most common and least convenient place to break them. Like any small pump it’s going to take some effort to get to riding pressure with a road tire, but it will keep you rolling and is able to get to 100+ psi without spending all day.

Cycling Central Switzerland

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Contributor Joe Baur documented a three day ride through his ancestral home in Switzerland, a great look at somewhere many of us haven’t had the chance to ride.

There is simply no better way to explore a new country than by bike, especially when that country is Switzerland. Luckily with some help from MySwitzerland and SwissTrails, we were able to spend three-days cycling along the Lakes Route that stretches from French Montreux on Lake Geneva to Bad Horn in the northeastern border of the country.
The alpine nation has always held a special place in my heart. It’s where the Baur family name comes from, so you all have Switzerland to thank for my existence. Please, hold your admiration until the end, folks.
In reality I’m mostly an ancestral mutt at this point, but I’ve always most identified with my Swiss roots. After cycling the country, I can see why. The smooth countryside roads, the historic and walkable cities, the trains, the mountainous outdoors — this feels like home. The Swiss live the way I try to live in the States.

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