It's the Light Time For Recon: Ride Safe with Giant Head and Tail Lights

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It might hurt to hear it, but the days are getting shorter. To keep your miles up, you’re going to need to nudge dawn and dusk a bit with a reliable light.

On September 7, the sun is going to set at a perfectly acceptable 8:10 pm. By September 30, that’ll fall to 7:25. If you account for dusk thirty minutes before sun down, things are going to get grey and dicey quick. To keep riding safe, we’re really strong advocates of riding with head and tail lights as often as possible, especially on the road. Even if you’re on pavement just to get the trailhead or to make an earlier ride, having a blinking light is one of the most simple, no-brainer ways to be safe.

Luckily, technology has come a long ways in the past few years. A decade ago, a 400 lumen light would cost hundreds of dollars; even worse, it would only last an hour, weigh a ton, and start to lose its effectiveness in a year or two. Now, lights like the Giant Recon offer a wide range of mounting and lumen options that cater to different kinds of riders and different kinds of riders.

Along with more tech, the Recon line-up offers a lot more brains, too. Most of the Recon lights available offer SmartMode for both daytime and nighttime riding, adjusting the light output based on speed when paired with your Garmin or ANT+ device. Additionally, they solve the problem of trying to squeeze your light into the already crowded cockpit real estate game by having their light comes with a handlebar mount, under-Garmin mount, and adjustable GoPro mount.

So which one is right for you? For any night riding in the woods, we’d recommend at least 700 lumens. If you’re going to be doing the bulk of your Iceman training in the dark, consider checking on the 1600 lumen option. This will let you do longer rides at higher outputs, or be able to squeeze multiple rides out of a single charge. You’ll know when you’re getting low, too; all Recon models go into flash mode when they hit 20% depletion, so you have a plenty of time to get yourself pointed toward the parking lot.

Check out the Recon line-up, and stop by to see them in person at City Bike Shop!

City Bike Shop Is On The Move This Fall!

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Just in case you missed the big news in the TC Ticker last week, City Bike Shop is moving! Since 1955, we’ve been a fixture at 322 Union Street, serving riders from all over Traverse City from the convenience of downtown. With the building sold, we’ve picked out a new spot that’s going to make cyclists really, really happy. 

When we were looking for a new home, there was really only one spot that fit all our needs. Located at 747 E. Eighth Street, our new digs offer plenty of parking, more storage for inventory, and far better access to the TART for bike renters and test rides. It also puts us on the same stretch as our pals McLain Cycle and Fitness and Brick Wheels. For shoppers, this makes for a “Bike Block” where they can shop for anything without having to drive all over town. If you can’t find your new bike at one of these three shops, you just won’t find it! 

Making this move isn’t easy, as we’ve loved our location and all the friends and neighbors we’ve meet over the years. We’re going to miss being next to Old Towne, Sixth Street, and being able to walk downtown for lunch and coffee. But we’re also really excited to be able to reshape the new space to perfectly suit our needs. The service area is going to be dialed in to help us more bikes more efficiently than ever without make Nate, Dustin, and Jeff run downstairs and carry them back up. The whole idea is to make us more efficient to serve you better...and carry even more rad bikes! 

Right now, the place is to make the move to our new location by late September. We’ll keep you in the loop with specifics, but make sure you plan on stopping by to see us before Iceman Cometh Challege to see what’s happening at the new spot! 


Support The Trails at the VST TT This Thursday!

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This week is special. We’ve spent all spring and summer enjoying some of the best maintained, most fun, all-around amazing trails right here in Traverse City, and even further afield. If we ever need a change a pace from the Vasa Singletrack or the nearly 60 miles of unmarked trails in the Pere Marquette Forest, there’s always Glacial Hills in Bellaire, the Cadillac Pathway, Palmer Woods in Leelanau County, plus the High Country Pathway! 

All of those amazing trails have one thing in common, and that’s down to the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association maintaining each and every inch of them. We are incredibly lucky to have so many choices when it comes to our recreational experiences, and to have so many top-notch mountain bike trails so close is something we can’t ever take for granted. This Thursday is a chance to celebrate NMMBA and the trails at the 2nd Annual VST TT...with a twist. 

This Thursday, NMMBA is hosting the second edition of the Vasa Singletrack Time Trial. Starting at 6pm from the Supply Road Trailhead, riders will put down a hot lap of the Vasa Singletrack, skipping the Strombolis Loop, to see who is the king and queen of the VST! Some people go all-out, some people just go and have fun, but everyone is invited to join us to celebrate not just the second season of a refreshed VST, but all the work NMMBA has done. Become a NMMBA member online or at the event and help keep these trails going strong! 

That’s not the only competition of the night, either. Starting around 7:30pm, make sure you stick around for the first-ever Taco Competition! Ten local teams and clubs will nominate their champion to take on ten tacos as fast as possible. The winner will live with bragging rights for a full year...and a decidedly full belly, too. We’ll also have food from Keen Technical Solutions, cider and beer from Short’s Brewing and Starcut Ciders, plus dishes from riders, but don’t feel obligated to bring anything! 
The VST TT is about having fun and celebrating peak summer with friends, bikes, and great trails. This is a great chance to bring a new cycling pal to shake some hands and down some tacos; it’s all about building trails and community! We’ll have plenty of City Bike Shop riders on hand, including Mike Walters and Tom White on the grill.

Meet The Newest Fastest Woman In The World :: Rising with Kate Courtney

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For years, everyone talked about her potential. It was always a year or two away; her first World Cup podium, her first national championship, her first win. Well, it’s here. 

Kate Courtney ended two decades of disappointment for American mountain bikers on the sport’s biggest stage. The US went twenty years without a World Cup cross country win, and for the country that invented riding bikes in the dirt, it hurt. We’ve had some incredible riders and personalities and plenty to watch and root for, but at the end of the day, nothing speaks louder than standing on the top of a podium at a venue like Nove Mesto or Albstadt. 

Enter Kate Courtney. Rumored to be the next next big thing, Kate was never the breakout star some cycling outlets would have you believe. Her 2018 World Championship win didn’t come out of the blue; dedicated, less dramatic followers of mountain biking always saw not just her potential, but a work ethic to match. Her win wasn’t so much revelation as it was confirmation, and that’s a confirmation she’s repeated with a consistent spring and summer on the World Cup. Wins, podiums, even a few handy wins in the short track prove she’s done everything right in 2019. 

Her move to Scott-SRAM has put her in the same team as living legend Nino Schurter, perhaps the most dominant mountain biker in a generation. Being able to draw on his knowledge and support crew as played a role, but it’d be remiss to think that the information exchange didn’t go both ways. When it comes to putting in the work both on and off the bike, few can keep up with Kate. Scott has unveiled a new series, Rising, to highlight the process fans usually don’t see; before the start line and the podiums, there are hours and hours of riding and nearly equal time in the gym. 

See what it takes to be a World Cup mountain biker, and more; see what it takes to be Kate Courtney


Tubes, Tubeless, and Tires: What's The Right Way To Ride Road?

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At Patrick’s Heavy Ride with Friends this weekend, we had a disaster flat. The tire was a beast to get back on the rim and the tube’s valve stem was too short. With just the tip of the valve sticking out, we tried and ruined three different CO2 chucks and wasted ten minutes with a hand pump trying to get a rideable amount of air in, with no luck. 

Away went the levers and tubes and pumps and out came the worst case scenario tool; the cell phone. Just ten miles later, I had a puncture while riding along the ugly but necessary stretch of US-31 that links Torch Lake to Eastport, right on the famous Ride Around Torch loop. A geyser of Stan’s, a jarring hiss and the muted panic of trying to come to a stop without causing a crash for my companions or veering into the RV and semi-truck traffic, I slid to a halt. Son of a….Nothing worse than back to back flats!

Tubed or tubeless, puncture-resistant, everything flats sometimes. There are pros and cons to each, as this weekend’s twin disasters proved. I was able to easily fix my flat by first trying to let the Stan’s sealant do it’s tubeless magic. The gash was too big, and so I was forced to use my DynaPlug. That essentially means that, while I was able to keep riding and get home, that tire isn’t reliable enough to keep riding and my $90 tubeless tire is now going to be used only with tubes. That’s my second ‘ruined’ tire of the summer, and I’m going back to my far more trusty and anti-flat Panaracer GravelKing slicks. 

The alternative, riding tubes, is a bit less work and, in theory, more reliable. Got a flat? Put in a tube and go. But the reality is always so different. With more and more riders on deep section rims, having the right valve length can be a pain. Certain tire and rim combinations are almost impossible to swap, and the tube replacement is always going to be slower than the tubeless alternative. 

Is one better than the other? Maybe the real question is, what tire is better in the long run? Are we sacrificing a few grams to shave seconds off a ride at the risk of flatting and sacrificing minutes? Frankly, yes. While scoffed at by some, puncture-resistant tires like the famous Continental GatorSkin weigh a few grams more and may have a more harsh ride, but a properly installed GatorSkin will offer up thousands of miles and decidedly fewer flats than a ‘faster’ tire. And over the course of a tire, what’s more valuable?

Our advice is to ride the tire for what you’re doing. Unless you’re racing, a slightly heavier tire can be more cost effective, offer more miles and fewer flats. If you’re not in a hurry, ride tubes and make sure you’re carrying a tube with a valve long enough for your rim depth. If you do ride deep rims, make sure you also stash a valve stem extender in your flat kit so that you can borrow a tube from a friend if necessary. 

If you do opt for tubeless, bring a tube and a can of sealant with your CO2. We carry Pitstop and other projects that will help seal even the worst cuts. If all else fails, bring a patch or a DynaPlug, and save that tube as a last resort. 

For both tubed and tubeless, we also recommend the CO2 that never runs out; it’s called a hand pump! 

How do you decide what kind of tires to ride? Any tubeless tricks? Let us know in the comments!

Traverse City Trails Festival Recap: Podiums and Plenty of Fun!

The City Bike Shop Racing Team had a huge turn out this past Saturday to support Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association at the Traverse City Trails Festival.

At the start of both the 40 and 25 mile race, the blue kits of City Bike Shop were everywhere! Our squad had July 20 earmarked for months. We’ve been looking forward to the TCTF since last year, and a big part of that enthusiasm comes from how involved some of our members are. Tom White, a trail-building legend, runs nearly every aspect of the TCTF and plays a big role in trail development with NMMBA. Our own Mike Walters has grown into Tom’s right-hand man and has put in countless hours creating and maintaining the trails that make up the course.

Our riders wanted to make all that hard work count. On the grueling 40 mile race, we had a tremendous showing! On the Expert 50+, John Duby nabbed third just ahead of Vince Mack, giving us two riders in the top five of one of the most competitive fields of the day. Meanwhile, Dan Packer Jr. took the singlespeed win and really impressed by finishing under the three-hour mark, while his old man was second in his category with a time just over three hours! We also had Alex Pina go for second in the Sport 30-39, with DJ Kenney and David Haapala second and third in the Sport 40-49.

In the 25 mile race, Beth Grassa took on some of the best singletrack riders in the state and came home fourth with a time of 2:02 in the Expert category. Nate Farran put months of Norte coaching to good use and may or may not have let one of his pupils, Brody Day, edge him out on the line. He slid through for 9th in the Expert field in a time of 1:52:53. Eric Grassa also broke the vaunted two hour mark with a time of 1:56:20, good enough to be in the top thirty overall!

Dave Walston kept the team’s singlespeed street cred alive in the 25 mile race, too. He put down a second place finish, just behind a flying Matt Fain. Matt won the 30-39 category in 1:55, one of our team’s top times of the day. We also saw top tens from Scott Kuhns, Sue Welton, and an on-form Jim Hills.

Check out the full results from TCTF and give your pals some kudos! We had a ton of fun catching up with riders from Traverse City and across the state this weekend, and we’re already looking forward to the even in 2020!

Our Traverse City Trails Festival Tips

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Ready to race or tour this weekend? After a few big recon rides, we’ve got a few tips to make this Saturday’s Traverse City Trails Festival presented by Short’s Brewing as fun as possible. 

In just its third year, the TCTF has grown into one of the can’t-miss, won’t-miss events of the season. With a wide range of distances and the choice to race or tour, it’s a way to enjoy the trails while you support them! It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year for Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, which means every race entry goes right back into creating and maintaining a world-class trail experiences in Traverse City and beyond. 

Whether you’re racing or touring, a few things remain the same. After getting out to pre-ride the course a few times, we’ve collected a handful of tips worth considering before Saturday that will make things more fun and, just maybe, a little faster, too. 

Low Ain’t Slow. Nearly every single one of us stopped to lower our tire pressure over the course of one or more of these pre-rides. Seriously. With so much singletrack, traction is vitally important. Not only did dumping a little air help us with more grip, it also did a lot to make some of the roughest sections of trail feel a bit smoother. 

Adjust Your Fork (And Shock). The bike for the day is definitely full suspension, but even if you’re on a hardtail, it’s worth making a few adjustments. If you can hit the woods this week, use the O-ring on your stanchion to see how much of your travel you’re using. The goal should be to use all of it, with the O-ring being pushed all the way up the stanchion to within a few millimeters of the top of the fork leg. If you ride full suspension, do the same on your rear shock, too. If you need help getting set-up, make sure you stop by and ask Nate for some tips and learn how to make smart changes to get the most out of your travel. 

Bring Water (And Snacks). The 25 mile route is a big effort; the 40 miler, even tougher. Bring enough water to stay hydrated and make sure you have a way to get to it. It’s a great race to use a hydration pack so you can quickly take sips in the singletrack without having to reach for a bottle, ride on handed, and stab the bottle back to the cage in tight turns. The same goes for food. Try to unwrap your gels, bars, and food so you can get to them quickly if you plan on eating on the move. There are a few aid stations, but it’s always smart to plan on being self-sufficient, just in case. Plan on one bottle of water per hour of riding, and try to eat between 40 and 60 grams of carbs per hour as well. Race day isn’t a good time to experiment, so stick to drinks and snacks you’ve had before. 

Look At The Map. Try to identify specific sections of trail to use as landmarks throughout the race. Use wider sections to eat and drink; parts of the Muncie Lake Pathway, Vasa Pathway, and some more open singletrack are the best spots to fuel up. Use mile markers or familiar sections of traill as reminders to eat or drink, check in on how you’re feeling, and see how far into the race you are. NMMBA has route files that you can upload to a Wahoo Elmnt or Garmin Forerunner right here.

Online registration closes Wednesday night, and you can save yourself $10 by getting signed up.

We’ll see you at Ranch Rudolf Saturday for one of the most enjoyable days of the summer!

The Perfect Cycling Weekend In Northern Michigan....

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The ultimate cycling weekend in Northern Michigan is coming up quick! 

This July, there’s one weekend that offers riders of all abilities a chance to get out and experience the diverse offerings for cyclists in our region. On July 19, 20, and 21, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to amazing cycling events. 

It all starts on Friday with the Tour de TART. It’s one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for Traverse Area Recreational Trails, an organization that’s dedicated to offering paved rail-to-trail routes, advocate for non-motorized transportation, and get moving! The ride is a one-way, 17 mile adventure along the Leelanau Trail. Make the most of the numerous food stops, meet new friends, and stick around for a treat at the end before getting a ride home. Proceeds go to support TART programs and projects like the proposed trail to Elk Rapids. 

Save a little something for Saturday, though. Saturday cranks that adventure up to eleven with the Traverse City Trails Festival presented by Short’s Brewing. As we’ve mentioned, it’s a really unique event that offers 40, 25, and 15 mile race routes, as well as the option to tour the 25 and 15 mile courses at your own pace with all your friends. All proceeds go to Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association to support their mission to build, maintain, and protect mountain bike trails across the region. The 40 and 25 mile routes utilize miles of unmarked trails; this is the only day of the year you’ll find them marked and easy to follow! Add new singletrack to your repertoire the rest of the year by learning it on July 20! 

If you can’t make it Saturday or if you’re looking for a fun ride to spin out the legs. Sunday is the Cherry Capital Cycling Club’s Ride Around Torch, one of the most beautiful rides on the Midwest. Take in views of Torch Lake and choose from 20, 40, 60, and 100 mile distances and don’t ride past those food stations; if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you won’t want to pedal by! The ride offers a great mix of flat roads on the 20, 40, and 60 mile routes, with the 100 mile option tying in a few fun climbs to the north and east of Torch Lake. 


Do one, do two, or tackle all three rides and make experience the full menu of riding we have to enjoy here in Northern Michigan. Each event supports programs that help our cycling community thrive, and we all benefit from these organization’s hardwork.