Cycling

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!

The Most Useful Tool In Your Garage....

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It has zero moving parts, costs less than $15, and can save you thousands in repairs over the life of your bike. Do you have one?

There seems to be no end to the number of tools on offer. With a wide range of ‘standards’ making mockery of the very word, your tool box is always growing. There is one tool, however, that works with ever brand, every speed, and any bike, and it could save your a ton of money each season. It’s the chain gauge.

The chain tool, the chain checker, call it what you want. This handy tool can do more for your bike than you think. By checking your chain once a week, you can track the wear of your chain and your drivetrain, helping you replace parts early to get more life out of every link and cog.

The chain gauge will offer you two different numbers, .75 and .1. With a wear indication of .5, most parts manufacturers recommend replacing your chain. Doing this on time and consistently means you’ll only have to replace the chain without suffering a decrease in shift performance. Some riders can get two, three, four, even more chains without having to address any other drive train parts!

If you wait until 1, you may need to replace your chain and cassette together. This is because those parts wear together, and installing a new chain might cause skipping and the dreaded ‘mystery’ shift when you’re putting down the power.

Just how long and how many miles you get from each chain can vary widely based on your type of riding and conditions. A single ride in the rain and sand can eat away your chain’s life span quickly; each fall, an especially wet Out’n’Back can be enough to knock the life out of a relatively new chain! Based on our experiences, checking your chain once a week is enough to identify wear patterns. Road bikes ridden in dry conditions can usually get 500 miles or more; mountain bikes, however, can wear in half the time due to dust, sand, and the unique torque they face on the trail.

Stop by and we’ll grab you a chain tool and show you how to use it. By staying ahead of your repairs, you’ll save a lot of money in the long haul and face fewer big repairs, which means your bike spends less time in the shop and more time out on the roads or trails!

Backyard Bucket List: Three Places You Need To Ride in Northern Michigan

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It’s finally starting to feel like spring, and with warm temps and superb trail conditions, we’ve got three places you need to ride….and soon!

One of the best parts about riding in northern Michigan is that there’s always someplace new to roll. All over the region, both new trails and old favorites are always improving, adding mileage, and offering new experiences to locals and visitors alike. We’re spoiled, and all these opportunities come thanks to organizations like Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, Leelanau Conservancy, and Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. We’ve picked one trail from each for you to put your northern Michigan bucket list.

Glacial Hills. NMMBA, the GTRLC, and Antrim County have turned Glacial Hills from a neat network of trail into the destination trail it seemed almost fated to become. Professionally designed and machine built, Glacial Hills offered the region its first glimpse of a unique blend of natural and flow trail. Using the natural terrain of Antrim County, just outside of Bellaire, and retaining the wild, beautiful views, Glacial Hills draw thousands of riders north each and every season. The trail is in peak bloom through May, with a wide array of wildflowers lighting up the trail side.

Open to bikes, hikers, and runners, the trail boasts one of the most dedicated trail crews around. Nearly two dozen volunteers take care of the trail on a bi-weekly basis, responding to downed trees within a few hours, and offering a manicured place to shred no matter what. There are three trailheads to choose from, and you’re going to want to stop by and support one of the trails biggest advocates, Short’s Brewing, after the ride.

Palmer Woods. For years, there just weren’t many trail opportunities in Leelanau County. With the footpaths at the Leelanau State Park off limits, most riders stuck to hot lap at 45 North Winery’s 3 mile trail. All that changed with the addition of Palmer Woods. The Leelanau Conservancy unveiled the first phase last fall, with all machine-built trails, rock gardens, drops, and plenty of beginner-friendly lines as well. It’s a place where riders learn new skills with a massive smile on their faces, and a great way to work a bike ride into your trip to Glen Arbor, the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore, Leeland, all points north.

Arcadia Dunes. This is really the crown jewel in the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s growing collection. Arcadia has been compared to Glacial Hills, and vice versa, thanks to the flowing, ribbon-like quality of both networks. Perhaps Arcadia in particular, it’s the sort of trail that sends riders up over 1,000 feet of elevation 11 mile lap, but you’re never really quite sure where or how, because it never felt that hard. Like Glacial, the Arcadia is awash with wildflowers through May and often into June. It’s also a wonderful place to simple slow down and enjoy the trails. If you come to a stop, you’ll be surrounded by peace and quiet, with the trail often completely to yourself!

Arcadia is also just across the road from Lake Michigan. Take a second after your ride to peek over the bluffs and enjoy some incredible views, and perhaps even catch sight of a freighter or two!

Looking for more places to ride…and a bike to ride them with? Stop by City Bike Shop and we’ll point you in the right direction for the perfect road or trail.

The Top Secret Tip To Avoiding Summer Construction? A Bike.

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Summer construction is coming. Be ready.

Traverse City’s roads are getting a much-needed remake over the next few months, and it’s going to cause some headaches. First up is a complete closure of Eighth Street, now slated to start in mid-May. That means the project will be underway for Memorial Day Weekend, the Cherry Festival, and possibly the TC Film Fest as well. As a major cross-town artery, it’s going to push cars onto the Grandview Parkway and all sort of side streets just as we greet tens of thousands of additional tourists and seasonal residents.

This summer is the perfect chance to commit to the commute. Whenever possible, park the car and get around by bike! A backpack and a lock is really all you need, but we have found that using a dedicated commuter bike makes getting around easier. There are a few things to consider when either adapting your current bike to town duty, or for picking out something new.

Fenders. If you’re committed to parking the car, you’re going to find yourself riding in light rain or on wet roads plenty of times this spring. Fenders are a simply way to show up to work dry, and as a relatively inexpensive accessory, they’re a no brainer for most riders. When possible, buy a bike that comes with fenders; they’re already installed typically built into the price to save you a little money, and you KNOW they fit perfectly.

Racks. Especially once the temperatures get really warm, having a rear rack for books, computers, even a quick stop at the grocery store makes life easy. You’ll be able to decide between panniers, bags that sit on either side of your rear wheel on a rear rack, or a bag that will sit on top of your rear tire. Consider what you would like to carry every day, but also what sorts of errands you usually run on the way home from work. Panniers are often enough for stopping at the store for staples, especially if you have bags on both sides.

Lights. These days, even the racer-types ride with daytime blinking lights for getting around the roads a bit more safely. If you’re making the dash across town, investing in a set of lights will help you be seen by hurried, harried motorists. We recommend riding with a rear light at all times, ideally set to blink rapidly to draw drivers’ attention. It’s the most simple thing you can do to be a few degrees safer besides wearing a helmet.

Lock. You need one. While we’re lucky to live in a place with low bike theft issues, if someone sees a bike unlocked, they will take it. Defeat the opportunist’s theft by using a combination lock that runs through the frame. If you’re locking up for a long time, every day, it may also be worth adding a U-lock for a bit more security.

Giant and LIV offer a number of commuter and fitness bikes that are relatively inexpensive to buy and maintain, which means you can leave your race rig safe in the garage where it won’t fall victim to crime or be exposed to the elements. Stop by to see the Giant Escape City and LIV Alight 2 City.

Skip the stress, the stopped traffic, and the wasted time and build a little extra physical activity into your day! Stop by and see what’s new at City Bike Shop.

Cobbling Together A Classics Bike: Tech and Modifications For Flanders

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It’s the Classics season in Europe, a time of cobblestone roads, crosswinds, and fascinating tweaks to the pros bikes to hand the rough farm roads of Belgium and northern France. We’re taking a look at some of the little adjustments pros make to their normal bikes to make all those miles bouncing over the cobbles and climbing up the hellingen a bit more bearable.

The cobbled classics are in full swing. The first cobble races of the season start at the beginning of March with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Over the next few weeks, races build into a crescendo with smaller semi-Classics, used by pro teams to test their riders and their gears on the roads used in the Monuments that cap off the spring campaign, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. As some of the oldest races on the calendar, the two races have seen plenty of changes, though their identities remain largely unchanged since their inception over 100 years ago. Both send racers of sections of cobblestone, or pave, though each race presents these in different ways.

De Ronde. At just over 100 years old, the Ronde van Vlaanderen features over a dozen small bergs, or climbs, that are still made with cobblestones. Volunteers and local organizations have banded together over the year to protect iconic roads like the Paterberg, the Koppenberg, and the Oude Kwaremont from being resurfaced and to preserve the character of the race. These bergs may not be towering alpine climbs, but their rough surface and short, steep pitches are incredibly taxing on riders’ legs, especially over the massive 260 kilometer course. Many of those climbs are taken twice of even three times throughout the race, with fans sticking to one spot to see riders more often, or racing along dusty farm tracks to catch the race passing elsewhere.

The Paris-Roubaix, known as the ‘Hell of the North’ or the Queen of the Classics, offers a different challenge. It’s route from the northern outskirts of Paris to the small industrial town of Roubaix are almost entirely flat; there’s hardly a climb in over 250 kilometers. Instead, the 29 cobbles secteurs are littered with bigger, rougher, and more jarring stones than those you’ll find at Flanders, and as a result, many riders make more modifications to their bike for this race.

Until the last ten years, most racer made few changes to their bikes for Roubaix.They enlisted what few changes they could to reduce the beating their bodies endure over the stones of both Flanders and Roubaix, often adding a second layer of bar tape, taping their wrists and knuckles, and running as wide a tire as they could fit into their frames. Often, that wasn’t much more than a 23 or 25c tire. The occasional rider would use a cyclocross bike, which offered a way to run  wider tires and more forgiving geometry, but that was rather infrequent,

All of that has changed in the past half decade, with more and more brands designing bikes that offer more vertical compliance, more tire clearance, disc brakes, and a geometry designed to offer the rider a bit more support. These bikes often use a taller head tube, slightly longer wheelbase for more stability, and a carbon layup that allows for more vertical flex in the frame to offer more relieve for the rider. Maybe the biggest difference is the ability to run 25, 28, even 30c tires at lower tire pressures for a smoother ride and more grip. With the prevalence of disc brakes, some riders are even able to stick with their normal aerodynamic, and less forgiving, bikes while still being able to fit a wide 27 or 28c tire. When Matt Hayman won the 2016 Paris-Roubaix, he didn’t do it on Scott’s cobble or gravel-specific frame; he did it on their aero road bike, the Foil.

That said, most teams and riders will hop on their Classics bikes, and most continue to add little tweaks to take that specificity even further. You’ll still see double-wrapped handlebars and taped wrists, but new tech means new ideas, too. Many riders will add satellite shifters to their bars, allowing them to shift not only from the hoods, but also from the tops and from the drops with wired or even wireless buttons.

Another Classics favorite is grip tape, the kind you’d see on a skateboard, added to the inside of water bottle cages. Even those get swapped out; instead of light carbon cages, many teams install regular aluminum cages that can be bent down for a tighter fit to prevent losing bottles.

Gearing also gets tweaked at these races. With the steep, sharp climbs of Flanders offering plenty of fatigue, riders will use a 53/39 crankset paired with an 11-30 or 32 cassette to have a little extra room to shift on the 15, 20, even 25% pitches of the hellingen. Alternatively, there’s not much need for a 39 at Roubaix; instead, riders will put on a 55 or 54t big chainring and run a 46, 48, or 50 small ring, just to give the legs a bit of a break when necessary. Many will never shift off the big ring, and many run a chain catcher adjusted very close to the chain line to make sure they never drop a chain over the rough cobbles.

Maybe the biggest adjustment any rider can make is to the tires. Many riders opt for 27c tubulars, though there have been sightings of 28s and 30c tires this spring and over the past few seasons. Additionally, they run low tire pressure for more comfort, often down to as low as 55 psi, depending on the weight of the rider. Nearly every brand has tried to find the perfect tire for cobbles, which can offer up kilometer after kilometer of rough, sharp rocks and plenty of debris in the gutters, too.

We love seeing all the nerdy, techy adaptations added to bikes this time of year, and if we see anything cool, we’ll share it on our Facebook and Instagram. To see what gravel bikes we’ve got set-up like the pros, stop in and see us!

Spring Riding Essentials: Be Ready For The Thaw

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While we shoveled just two days ago and the shop windows were lined with frost this morning, spring is coming. With temps hitting the 40s and even 60s over the next few days, even a cold snap or two during the ides of March won’t slow the approach of spring.

To get ready, we put together a few bits of gear you might want to nab so you’re ready to roll when the roads are clear. With so much snow in the woods and much of the trails almost sure to turn icy, hitting the pavement is likely the best way to enjoy the warmer days.

  1. Tires. Even with mostly clear pavement, you’re going to find plenty of splotches of ice, dirt, debris, and water out on the roads. For more grip, put the widest tires you can on your road bike. We’re rocking a mix of Panaracer GravelKings in both the slick and treaded options in a nice wide 32c. We’ve had a ton of luck with these tires on the dirt and on the road over the past two years, and they’ve proven to be extremely durable for high miles and puncture resistant, too.

  2. Check Your Flat Kit. It’s been a long while since you’ve looking in your bag. Make sure your tube hold air, your chuck or pump aren’t rusted out, and make sure you’ve got a lever, a patch, and maybe a quick link, too. There’s nothing worse than flatting on a cold, soggy spring ride, only to find you don’t have everything you need to get moving again.

  3. Dress For Anything. Spring weather is notoriously changeable in northern Michigan, and if you head out in sun, seeing rain clouds unleash overhead just a few miles later isn’t a surprise. Always bring a shell or rain jacket, which will also come in handy if you have to stop for a flat. Grabbing a second pair of gloves for the second half of the ride isn’t a bad idea, either.

  4. Tubeless? Get Refreshed. Your wheels haven’t turned in a while, so you’ll need to make sure your tubeless sealant is refreshed. We usually take the extra second to take the tire off the rim and clean out the old, dried up sealant. If you don’t have an air compressor, it’s usually easier to just drop off your wheels and let us tackle it.

  5. Fenders. Especially if you ride with pals, a set of fenders are a real treat. Many bikes will have dedicated mounts to fit sturdy, full coverage fenders. Even if your bike doesn’t have those mounts, there are plenty of clip-on options that fit a wide range of wheel sizes and tire widths. They do more than just help keep you dry, too. Fendors also help keep your drivetrain, bottom bracket, pedals, and frame protected from slush and salt.

  6. Get Visible. Drivers often just aren’t used to seeing riders back on the road in March and April. This makes it more important than ever to wear bright, visible colors to stand out against the grey roads and white, snowy shoulders of the road. Even if you’re riding during day, use a pair of bright front and rear lights to draw more attention and give yourself a little more room.

  7. Get In Soon. Need a tune-up? Get in now. The first sunny day with temperatures over 50 and we’re going to get a big rush of bikes needing work. The sooner you can get your bike to Natron and Jeff, the better. Call ahead to reserve a spot or check in on our current turn-around time!

We’re exciting for the new season to get here, and we want to make sure we’ve got everything you need to hit the spring at full speed!

Duby's Impress at Dogman Challenge

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PC. Julie Christiansen

After three races, both John and Cindy Duby are looking golden in the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series.

This past weekend, the Dogman Challenge saw 75 racers take on a two-mile circuit race for a full two hours of tough, snowy racing. Even with warm temperatures and the chance of rain, the course held up exceptionally well, as did our two Master-category crushers, the Dubys! Even with some of the best racers in action, our duo put in strong rides to bring home top results and keep City Bike Shop on the podium.

Cindy picked up another win in the women’s Master’s category, staying perfect this winter in that category and all but assuring herself the Series win with just one more race to go. It wasn’t easy, either; Cindy spend most of the day trying to stay out of the clutches of Amelia Hasenohrl and Kamie Wade, both of whom finished just a few minutes back, even after two hours of tough racing. Cindy will head into the final race of the Series with a comfortable lead, but she’ll want to make a clean sweep of things and make it a perfect four wins in 2019.

John finished second in the Master’s category, a huge haul of points that should see him inch closer to the lead of the Series. He’ll be hard-pressed to leap front Saturday’s winner and the Series leader, Paul Olson, but John has been the revelation of the Series this winter and has put in some top ten finishes since things kicked off in January. John was just three minutes behind the day’s overall winner, Rick Wetherald, and was one of the just 15 riders to put in a sub-10 minute lap!

The final fat bike race of the winter is back home in Traverse City on Saturday, March 2. Beard of Zeus is one of the most fun events of the season, with a short, circuit-style course offering fast racing and plenty of entertainment if you can make it up to watch at Timber Ridge. We’re going to see a ton of City Bike Shop racers jump back in the fray, and after getting a hefty snowstorm Sunday night, we’re going to have plenty of snow and ideal conditions for racing!

Also important to note, proceeds from Beard of Zeus go to Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, the organization responsible not just for our groomed trails all winter, but for the miles and miles of trails we enjoy all summer long in Traverse City, at the Cadillac Pathway, Glacial Hills, and the new trails at Palmer Woods. Your race this weekend can help give you a place to ride this summer; you can’t beat that!

Registration is open, sign up and say hi to the City Bike Shop racers you line up with at Timber Ridge this Saturday!

The Best Mountain Bike Team In The World Wears Stripes

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Okay, it might not be us, but the Scott-SRAM mountain bike team features two World Champions and the best fleet of bikes to choose from.

2019 is shaping up to be an incredible year for Scott-SRAM. Already known for seven-time World Champion Nino Schurter, the squad wasn’t happy with settling. This winter, they went after, and signed, newly-crowned women’s XCO World Champion Kate Courtney, putting both World Champions in the same team for the first time in the modern era of mountain biking.

It’s a pairing that promises big results in the season ahead, and they have some serious firepower to back them up, too. They squad has Lars Forster and Andri Frischknecht also on the roster. The quartet spent the last few weeks getting ready for an ambitious campaign that starts in earnest with the Cape Epic in mid-March.

Kate Courtney, the first American to win a World Championship in over two decades, will focus her season on the full World Cup and defending her world title. It’s a special season as she looks to hold onto the rainbow jersey, with the 2019 World Championships taking place in North America at Mount Sainte Anne in Canada this Septemeber.

At the shop, we’re really excited to see just how far SCOTT-SRAM can push this year. For Nino and for Kate, it’s a season where one will look to continue a dynastic dominance and the other looks to begin her own.

Check out how the team is preparing for the new season here, and stop by City Bike to check out the same bikes they’ll be riding in person!