Viewing entries tagged
Cyclocross

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I Want That: Kona's 2019 Rove Line-Up

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We've waxed dangerously close to poetic about these rigs before, but look, when the bikes are this sweet, we're not going to shut up about it. 

Kona went big by offering littler wheels in 2018; the Rove line-up's all-road reputation was bolstered with a number of models getting the 'NRB' moniker and fitted with 650 wheels that allow for more tire clearance. For the sandy, rough stuff in Michigan, that's huge; wider tires mean more two-tracks, more trails, and way more versatility, and if you're looking at a Rove, that's really what you're going for. 

Think of 2019 as tweak of 2018s, with a full 6 bikes on offer ranging from the top-of-the-line Rove LTD to the base Rove. The line-up really hits it all, with plenty of options between 1x and 2x drivetrains, aluminum and steel frames, carbon and steel forks, and 700 or 650b wheels. Odds are there's a build that suits your style, and if there isn't, you can always get the Rove Ti frameset and pick your bits part-by-part. 

Our favorite change for 2019? That's gotta be the Rove ST. The dressed-down option of the LTD, the ST gets 650b wheels for this season, but retains the springy steel fork that we just love having for big days in the saddle. It's dressed in SRAM Rival 1 and flat mount brakes, and for gravel, cyclocross, and commuting, it's one of the best values out there, especially if you're really tough on your stuff. 

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Checking In On The Kona Cyclocross Crew

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It's October, and cyclocross season is in full swing not just in Grand Rapids, but all over the US and Europe! 

Kona put the new 2018 Super Jake under two of their most experienced and tough riders, the legendary Helen Wyman and Kerry Werner. The two American World Cups were the high points of September and were big targets for Kona riders. After strong rides, Kerry turned his attention to KMC 'Crit' Fest in Connecticut, while Wyman went across the Atlantic to do what she does best; battle the Belgians on their home turf. 

Helen is doing a very cool series of one-minute videos at her races, which are definitely worth checking out and following on Vimeo.  She gave the new Super Jake its first European podium at Neerpelt in Holland this past weekend, too! 

If that's got you jonesing for some cyclocross action, there's plenty to be had right here in Grand Rapids. The Beer City Growler is the second of the Michigan CX Series on Saturday, October 7, right at Wilcox Park. With a bit of rain in the forecast, it might be a truly Belgian experience for everyone, with the promise of mud, beer, and a lot of fun! 

Sunday, Kisscross is back in action for the second race of the season, this time at Highland Park. Many racers will be taking on both days, with the famous flyover expected to feature at both races. With plenty more racing to come this season, as well as other big tests like Peak2Peak at Crystal Mountain, the Lowell 50, and of course the Iceman Cometh, a double-header weekend is great preparation for the rest of your fall campaign! 

Make sure your bike is in perfect shape, even if you aren't, by getting it in for a tune-up this week, and we'll see you in the mud this Saturday and Sunday! 

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Top Five Hand-Up Foods For Elite, Serious Cyclocross Racers

Cyclocross demands a commitment to training and diet, and that extends past the weeks and months of #crossiscoming right into the very middle of the event. We've selected the important foods and drinks you need to peak, bro. 

First off, if you eat or drink when you're on a bike, that food or drink becomes known as 'nutrition', which is like food but with all the fun sucked out of it. Triathletes loves nutrition, and they're known to stuff it strange places. But they have to, because their shirts don't have pockets. 

Anyway, this 'nutrition' can make or break your day between the tape, so we've picked our top five favorite hand-ups. Take this as the gospel, and make sure they're on your grocery list heading into the weekend. This is especially important, as you'll most likely be performing hand-ups for others before or after your race, and in a shark/lamprey type of symbiotic relationship, you'll rely on others to provide hand-ups for you. Don't let them down. 

1. Pea Soup. Pea soup is a powerhouse food that combines an appealing green color with a refreshing pea flavor that's sure to help you dig deep. Served boiling hot (i.e. scalding) and with some cilantro as garnish, try to splash it in your friend's face early and often so they are properly fueled. Super Soakers work well. 

2. Twinkies. Packed with sugar and other important nutrients like synthetic cream and yellow dye 12,242 the quick-shot energy from a Twinkie is tough to beat. It's also soft, so if the person has to grab the bar in a panic after taking the hand-up, it squashes neatly and poops out its creamy filling. Don't worry, they'll still be able to eat it after they take the next turn, and they'll likely have bits of it in their bar tape for weeks to come. 

3. Veggie Burgers. In today's diet-conscious environment, we suggest ditching the traditional bacon hand-up in favor of a more environmentally alternative. No animal cruelty, a reduced impact on resources, and plenty of flavor options make this a much more green option to protein-rich cyclocross nutrition. Most people like Spicy Black Bean, but you can really stand out from the crowd by going for the Garden Veggie version. 

4. Cookies. Everyone loves cookies. We're not going to even try to joke about this one. Bring cookies. 

5. Boone's Farm Wine Coolers. Look, beer has been done guys. We get it, Hamm's, PBR, all great. I mean, since you can't get a good urine-flavored can of Schlitz in Michigan (can you?) those are solid alternatives. But Boone's Farm goes down like a Kool-Ade and offers a tasteful nostalgia for simpler times. Junior year of high school, some wine coolers, a sunny day, Rebecca...oh she was a good girl...but we're getting away from the topic. (I'll wait for you, Rebecca)

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Put your nutrition and preparation to the test this Sunday at KissCross at Richmond Park. We'll be there. With a cooler. 

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September At Central District Cyclery

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...and all of a sudden, Labor Day Weekend is done and dusted. We're looking ahead to a busy but very fun fall here in West Michigan! There are plenty of cool things going on, and you're going to want to make sure your bike is dialed in and ready to rock. 

Coming up real quick is the first KissCross of the year, and we're setting it up! Our mad scientists are laying out the course at Richmond Park on Sunday, September 17. Racing for fun, racing for beer, and racing for hand-ups starts at 10am with the Kid's Race! 

Just two weeks later, there's a State Championship on the line at Merrill! With the start and finish located just next door at the Art Van Sports Complex, The Michigantuan is September 30. The Short Track race is the following day, October 1! Two days, tons of fun right here in Grand Rapids.

But there's plenty more to look forward to beyond the big races. We've got CX Clinics heading into the race at Richmond, on Thursday, September 7 and on Thursday, September 14. Learn a thing or two, plus have a ton of fun, right at Richmond Park! It's a good way to get a little sneak peek at the actual course, too. 

Stay tuned for some night rides, tune-up specials, and great new tech and gear popping into the shop this month as well. Stop by soon and say hello! 

 

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Kisscross #1 at Richmond Park!

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Cyclocross is almost here! We're excited to bring you the first Kisscross race of the year on September 17 at Richmond Park. 

Kisscross is a darn big deal. The series began with 30 guys and gals, content with someone shouting "Go!" and racing for beer. Over the years, it's grown to include more city and county parks all over West Michigan, with an emphasis on local shops, local businesses, and local racers who just want to have fun. 

There is a full points series over the course of the five race days, starting in September and ending in November. Each stop features a different park, and a different local shop takes on course design. We're excited to highlight Richmond Park in Grand Rapids, and to put on a challenging, unique course that you're going to love. 

Cyclocross is a great way to get into racing. It's fast and intense, but only as intense as you make it. There's no pressure; after a lap or two, most spectators have no idea who is winning or who is last! Most are more focused on food hand-ups, cheering, and simply enjoying the race. And that's easy to do, because cyclocross is by far the best spectator-friendly type of cycling. On a short 1-1.5 mile course, the whole course is easy to see! 

The kid's race starts things off at 10:30, followed by the 30 minute Beginner/Junior race at 11am. The Experts start at noon for a full 60 minutes, with the Sport category capping things off at 1pm. 

We'll have tons of prizes, and the spoils don't always go to the victors! Everyone has a great chance to pick something pretty sweet. 

Check out all things Kisscross right here. 

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5,000 Miles with My Kona Private Jake

If I had to, absolutely had to pick just one bike, it would be a bit of no brainer. Sure, I don't want to have just one bike, and n+1 states quite simply that you always need another. But hypothetically, a cyclocross bike is tough to top, and an easy bike to rack up the miles with. 

My Kona has taken on everything from the Barry-Roubaix gravel road race, a massive pre-ride of the Cherry-Roubaix road race, an Iceman Cometh Out and Back ride, and is used almost daily as my commuter. The Private Jake is a workhorse; aluminum frame, carbon fork, the simplicity of a single chain ring, and a proven track record over the last 5,000 miles of being pretty tough to stop. 

It's a bike that's been beaten and put away bloody. It's been crashed, tipped over, thrown over singletrack and saturated with rain and snow and slush so many times that riding it in dry weather seems to short-change the experience a bit. It's simply been a bomb-proof bike, and has reinforced my conviction that everyone should have a cyclocross bike in their quiver for gravel, bad weather, and the ability to go out and do it all. 

Maybe my favorite ride ever on the Private Jake was at The Divide Race last year. They call it a gravel race, but that's only part of the story. There are plenty of sections that barely qualify as two-track, with washed out sections and sand pits and some steep, loose climbs that I'd love to see cars actually try to drive. In other words, it's the perfect course for a burly bike with wide knobbies and a smart, simple gear ratio. Up and down, and even through those annoying, soul-crushing sandpits, the bike just flew. It was a beautiful day on the perfect bike, and one of the best days I've ever had on two wheels. 

As my bike rolls past the 5,000 mile mark, I really can't wait to see what else it can do. My goal is to finally give this bike a chance at its first Iceman Cometh Challenge, with a warm-up for the big day at the Peak2Peak race at Crystal Mountain a few weeks before. This bike deserves to get a shot at all of the races and rides we love doing in Michigan, and it's certainly up for it. 

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It's One Ring For Everything As We Hit Gravel Season!

It’s almost fascinating how quickly mountain bikes went to a 1x drivetrain in the past two years. Once a slap-dash set up that often included a front derailleur as a guide and maybe a ten-speed cassette, now even entry level rigs are coming 1x11 with SRAM NX or GX drivetrains. It’s to the point now that we poke and prod at front derailleurs like relics from the past, not unlike finding a Roman coin or arrowhead under the dirt. 

It was never going to be a huge leap to see the simplicity of 1x going to cyclocross and, eventually, gravel and even road bikes. Wide range component groups allow road shifters to run what were always traditional mountain bike cassettes, from 11-36 and now 10-42. With the right chain ring selected, it’s not a stretch to use your cyclocross or gravel bike for everything, with the option of swapping out wheels with different tires mounted for different conditions.   

Nailing that chainring selection is a big part of the process, and if possible, it’s worth trying out a ring or two before you buy. It’s not even too far a stretch to have two rings on hand, say a 40t and a 44t, with two chains, each cut to match the change in ring size. While you probably won’t want to switch your rings out every day, putting on the ideal ring a week or two before a big event is easy and puts you in a better position for the course or route you’re taking on. 

The big argument against a single ring for road or gravel was always that there was no way to cover the full range of a traditional 53/39 crankset with an 11-25 cassette. And it’s really range that has driven the component changes over the past decade, with 52/36 and 50/34 compact cranksets all but driving the 53 ring to its grave. Even cassettes have gotten bigger, with 11-28 and 11-32 clusters now standard on most builds from SRAM and Shimano. 

We really like using a single ring for a few reasons. First, it eliminates cross-chaining and finicky adjustments, especially if the bike is consistently thrown over rough gravel roads, sandy two tracks and wet and slick commutes. It also reduces drivetrain wear, and the odds of breaking a chain are exponentially smaller with a single ring, with most chain explosions coming with that aggressive, panicked shift from small ring to big ring at the top of a steep and slow climb. 

Finding the right size is a bit of a science, with this Gear Calculator being maybe the most useful tool. You can adjust the sliders to pick a chainring, your cassette, and then use metrics like cadence and tire width to see the gear ratio or top speed of a gear setup. With races like Melting Mann and Barry-Roubaix coming up, there’s another great trick. If you’ve done those races before, look up your average speed over those routes. Then, adjust the ring on the slider until you’re in the middle of the cassette with the ring, running at around a 90 cadence. For example, if you averaged 17mph, you’re probably looking at a 40t chainring with a 90 cadence on an 11-32 cassette. Assuming you’re starting to spin out at 100 rpm, that will still give you a top speed of around 30! 
 
 There are a few good tips to looking at what ring you want. First, look at the average speed of your normal rides and find a ring that puts you at that speed in the middle of the cassette. This means you'll use all the cogs and wear it out evenly, instead of having to spend too much time at the top or bottom of the cassette. Second, look at the steepest climbs and the speeds you go on them. Is it creeping and crawling? Maybe go down a ring size if that's the case. Flying up the climbs like a skimpy Italian pro? You might even be able to push a slightly bigger ring. 
 When in doubt, split the difference. If you're coming off a compact 50/34 crankset, going halfway with a 42t, might be just the ticket. 
 

Need help? We got you. Stop by and we can show you options on rings, plus let you know how big of a cassette your bike can run with your current derailleur! 

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