Fitchburg Cycles Partners with Spoke Haven Cycling Club

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We are super excited to announce Fitchburg Cycles as a new club supporter. The shop is providing us with a start/end location for rides twice a month as well as in store discounts for club members. Fitchburg Cycles is also lending the club space for future workshops and clinics.

Owner Edwin Benet has spent his life in the cycling industry and works to create a welcoming space for all who want to ride. He, along with his wife and kids, opened the shop nearly three years ago and aimed to make the space warm and inviting. With its bright green walls, handmade wooden displays, and large bike themed  paintings (all created by his wife Mary Benet Treleven) the space is unlike any other shop in the area. Customers are offered free coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while they browse or wait for service repairs. Not to mention there’s always free treats for humans and pets alike at the front counter.

Fitchburg Cycles carries bikes from brands Giant, Liv, Momentum, Linus, Cannondale, and Borealis. The Liv brand is a dedicated women’s line of bicycles from the parent company, Giant bicycles. One of the largest and most revered women’s bike brands in the world.

Accessory lines from Pearl Izumi, Bell, Giro, Cat Eye, Topeak, Continental, Yakima, Thule, Saris, Brooks, Light & Motion, Knog, Blackburn, kryptonite, GU, Tifosi, Feedback Sports, Park Tool, Fizik, and Selle Royale offer a range of products that are well known by customers and trusted by Edwin and his staff alike. Benet stresses the importance of carrying products that are made well, have a good reputation, and he refuses to carry brands or products that he himself wouldn’t use.

We look forward to calling Fitchburg Cycles our home shop for the 2016 season! A huge thanks goes out to everyone at Fitchburg Cycles for opening their doors to us and supporting women’s cycling.

For more information on rides, please check our ride info page.

*full disclosure: club manager Cassandra works for the shop. She does not, however have any financial gain by promoting the shop or its products and services.

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Spoke Haven 2015 Gift Guide

The holidays are a wonderful time of year. If you are lucky to live in an area with all four seasons you’ll get to enjoy the world of winter biking. With the invention of fat bikes, snow bike races, and groomed single track; it’s easy to stay active all year round.

Our gift picks for this year will keep folks rolling through the winter time or help you pretend you’re riding on a 70 degree and sunny day.

On that note, let the holiday cheer begin!

10. Skratch Labs Cookie Mix
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We all know santa has a lot of houses to visit, so why not offer him up something delicious and all natural? Skratch labs has made a name in the fitness world for their great tasting hydration mixes and tasty portable treats. For $8.50 you can get some of the best pre-made cookie mix that money can buy. Take it from Allen and Bijou, you won’t regret eating these delicious treats!

Find Skratch products at your local bike shop or online at skratchlabs.com

9. Portland Design Works Owl Cage

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From the folks who brough us the famous bird cage comes the owl cage! Hold your waterbottle with style and and a litle bit of smugness. The PDW Owl Cage is the much needed flair for your drabe ride, so put on your best tweed and fly like the wind.

The PDW owl cage can be found at your local bike shop or online for $20 at ridepdw.com

8. Butterfly Universal Bike Mount by ProClip

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a new phone only to find it won’t fit in the fancy, expensive bike mount you’ve purchase for it. The folks at ProClip have found a solution to that problem. The Butterfly Universal Bike Mount allows you to mount any phone with or without a case on their mounting system. You simply adjust the holder to fit the width of your phone, pull over the butterfly tabs on the four corners and voila!

We got our hands on a free sample from ProClip and have tried our hardest of knocking the phone out of holder. So far we haven’t been sucessful. This holder is a beast, it should be. ProClip specializes in making phone, tablet, and GPS holders. The cool part is they are based right here in Madison, WI.

If you or your loved one have struggled with finding the right phone mount for a bike, look no further. For $30 you can find the ProClip Butterfly Universal Bike Mount at your local bike shop or at proclipusa.com

7. Specialized Stix Comp Lights

Who says good things don’t come in small packages? The Specialized Stix lights may be small, but they pack a big punch when it comes to lighting up the night. These waterproof, USB rechargeable lights are small and lightweight. They also don’t look like your average bike lights.
With a bright 105 lumens for the front light and 20 lumens for the back, they provide plenty of light for riding after the sun sets.

The Stix Comp lights (not pictured) have three super bright LED lights while the Stix Sport lights offer two. The lights will mount to handlebars and seatposts out of the box. Specialized also offers rack and helmet mounts that can be purchased separately.

These lights have been flying off the shelves at our local Specialized dealer, so get them while you can! Any commuter or roadie alike will be thrilled to received these in their stocking or under the tree.

Find the Specialized Comp Stix lights for $40 a piece at your local Specialized dealer. You can also find the Specialized Sport Sticks for $55 for a front and rear combo at specialized.com

6. Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro

In the digital age there is rarely a gadget that serves one sole purpose. The Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro is the prime example of how form and function come together for a great piece of kit. The original Buckshot (still offered by Outdoor Tech) was a simple Bluetooth enabled wireless speaker with a handlebar mount. The Buckshot Pro takes it to the next level with an integrated headlight and battery bank to charge your devices on the go. You get three wonderful features in one small package.

If that’s not a great gift, then we don’t know what is! For $80 you can scoop the Buckshot Pro or the Buckshot origninal for $40 at your local outdoor retailer or online at outdoortechnology.com

5. Wisconsin Bike Fed Gift Membership

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Advocacy doesn’t have to in the form of Critical Mass rides or by protesting. Some of the best advocates are those who support their local organizations.

Memberships to organizations such as the Wisconsin Bike Fed are a way to show support for cycling in your state. Many orgs have direct ties and relationships with local and state government and can affect change in a positive and efficient way.

We are big fans of the gift membership package that the Bike Fed has put together for this holiday season. The gift membership inclueds a year long membership to the Bike Fed as well as a Bike Fed customer bike headbadge with the W embelem as well as a cool cycling themed t-shirt. For $45 that is quite the steal, seeing as a regular membership is $30 a year and t-shirts are usually sold for at least $20 on their own.

Give the gift of bike love via bfw.org or check out your local advocacy group!

4. 45Nrth Cobrafist Pogies

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Never worry about cold digits again! 45Nrth is still fairly new to the cycling game, but they have proven themselves with high quality and high performance products. The Cobrafist Pogie is hard to beat. With a generously insulated design you will want to ditch the gloves and ride comfortably with these bad boys. With venting options, a structured donut internal stiffener, and customer bar plugs the Cobrafist is a step above all other cold weather pogies on the market.

The only thing we’d wish that 45Nrth did is create a road bike compatible version! Find the Cobrafist at your local bike shop or buy online from 45nrth.com with their Buy Local Now option.

3. Lezyne Port-A-Shop Toolkit 

Lezyne has been a brand we’ve loved for years. They not only create really well functioning products, but also very beautiful products. The Port-A-Shop is on our wishlists as it has all the necessary tools to do repairs on the fly all in an organized package.

This would be a great option for the budding mechanic, the traveling racer, or for anyone who likes to get their hands dirty.

Find the Port-A-Shop kit at your local bike shop or via lezyne.com for $140.

2. Zwift Membership

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Who says that riding on a train indoors is boring? Well, before apps like Zwift it meant either watching the same workout DVDs on repeat or marathoning your favorite movie franchise (cough cough Harry Potter cough cough Star Wars). Zwift brings indoor training into the next century with a video game like interactivity. Pick an avatar and compete against other riders on screen to see how you stack up.

Those who hit certain mileage goals, win races, and participate in competitions get the chance to unlock kit options, bike options, and more to customize your bike style.

Zwift is designed to work best with smart trainers (Wahoo Kickr, CycleOps Powerbeam, etc.) or those with dumb trainers and a power meter. You can also pair up Bluetooth or ANT+ speed/cad sensors and heartrate monitors to your computer, phone, or tablet.

Zwift is available as a desktop application and is also available on various app stores. We’re keen on using it with an iPad paired with an ANT+ dongle as you can mount the iPad onto your handlebars and even us Apple TV to wirelessly mirror it to your TV.

Giving the gift of Zwift can be as easy as supplying an iTunes giftcard or paying for a membership on the behalf of a family member. For more info on Zwift visit zwift.com

1. CycleOps Powerbeam Pro Trainer

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We know we’ve talked about the Powerbeam Pro before. It’s just such a great trainer that it’s hard not to add it to our list. The Powerbeam Pro is not only a cyclists dream trainer, but it’s also a great product for the tech nerd.

The trainer is made in the USA in Madison, WI at Saris Cycling Group. There are multiple offerings of the trainer depending on what devices you are looking to use it with. CycleOps offers the trainer in an ANT+ version that includes a micro USB dongle (best for use with a compatible tablet, laptop, or desktop). There is also a Bluetooth version for those with Windows 8 desktops and laptops. Bluetooth smart devices such as certain Windows/Android phones and tablets can also be used with the Bluetooth powerbeam. The iPad 2 and newer is what we prefer to use as the connection is pretty seamless when using the CycleOps Virtual Training application (a free app with features that you have to pay to use to get the full functionality of the application).

The third option is to purchase the trainer with a Joule GPS+ head unit. The head unit allows you to use the Powerbeam Pro without having to hook it up to a smartphone, tablet, etc. in order to control the resistance. You simply pair it up to the Joule GPS+ to set target wattage or target incline and you’re set.

The Powerbeam Pro can also be used with Zwift and other new interactive applications such as the CycleOps Virtual Training (CVT) application to replicate routes that you can ride outdoors.

The possibilities are pretty much endless with this trainer and it’s backed by Saris’s lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects.

We know the price tag on this item is a little more hefty, but it’s worth the investment for the cyclist in your life. It’s a great way to stay fit during the winter months and is also fun to show off to your friends!

Find the CycleOps Powerbeam Pro starting at $799 at your local bike shop.  You can also find the less expensive PowerSync trainer with similar functions to the Powerbeam Pro, just with none of the additional accessories that come with it starting at $719. Check out cycleops.com for more details on both trainers or to purchase directly.

*Please note that all items chosen for this list were hand picked by Spoke Haven contributors and we were not given monetary incentives to promote any of these products. Spoke Haven promotes honest reviews and product opinions and any questions about anything we feature on our site can be directed to info@spokehaven.com.

 

Rainy Day Wear to Help You Survive Your Commute

Wisconsin has been experiencing some of the most miserable icy, rainy, sleety weather of all time. Most of us would opt to ride in three feet of snow over rain any day, because at least you stay dry in the snow.

We’ve decided to pick out some of our favorite rainy day items in the market place to help YOU stay happy on your commute!

5. Rivendell’s MUSA SPLATS!

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Rivendell has always been known for unique, but functional cycling wears. Their SPLATS are no exception. They are a waterproof shoe cover that are Made in the USA (MUSA), come in several sizes, and only cost $30! It’s hard to come by anything still made in the states for that cheap.

4. Brook’s Waterproof Saddle Cover

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There’s really nothing worse than a wet ass…and we don’t mean a donkey. Brook’s saddle cover was developed to help protect their precious leathery saddles from rain, but they fit a pretty wide variety of saddles. Pick one up for roughly $10-15 at your local bike shop.

3. PDW Metal Fenders
308_full_metal_fenders_1.1We’re aware that we at Spoke Haven tend to gush about how we really love clip on fenders. Our exception is of course made for the PDW Metal fenders. they are absolutely beautiful and much like their other products, they work really damn well. The Metal fenders retail anywhere from $110-120 Purchase some HERE!

2. Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters

61572_001Outdoor Research decided to utilize long standing rain shielding Gore-Tex technology in their ultra tough Crocodile gaiters. These are not only great for rain rides, but to keep your feet warm and protected while riding in snow, snowshoeing, and hiking. This season’s gaiters retail for $79, but older models can be found (in odd sizes of course) for a little bit less. You can purchase a pair HERE!

1. Cleverhood

The Cleverhood is probably the ultimate piece of rain gear a cyclist could own. It’s made out of waterproof, breathable material and most models come with reflective piping courtesy of 3M. They are also Made in the USA! Pick up one directly from Cleverhood for $249.

Surly Intergalactic Product Tester!

First of all, sorry for the bit of radio silence on the blog the past couple of weeks. We’ve been taking some much needed away to spend with our neglected friends and families. Planning all of these really cool bike rides, workshops, and such tends to be exhausting and a gal can burn herself out if she’s not careful!

Ok, now back to our scheduled programming! I’ve been selected to be a part of an awesome new pilot program Surly (as in the bikes, not the delicious beer) has put together to get some feedback on their current product line up. The people testing the products are all women folk, as Surly would like to potentially expand their softwoods to include more lady friendly items. There were around 750 applicants total and those crazy bastards chose ME! I must have had one hell of an application or I was touched by bike angels or something. All I can say is I’m incredibly honored to be a part of it all and a big shout out Christina a.k.a Jules (per the Surly blog) for making all of my dreams come true.

The way the program has been set up is that we get sent one item out of a series of items that we noted we were most interested in. Surly then picks the item they want you to test based off of your size (body style) and location.

I was beyond thrilled when I received my envelope at my work mailbox. I couldn’t wait to go home to tear it open and see what was inside! Not only did they hook me up with the Surly Striped Raglan Shirt, but they included some pretty kick ass stickers, as well as instructions as to what I was to do with said items.

My initial reaction to the shirt was, “SOFT!” I kid you not, it was the most soft piece of wool clothing I’ve ever felt in my life. Had I not been standing in my parking garage when I tore open the package, I would have stripped down and put that bad boy on right then and there. Luckily for my neighbors I made it all the way to my condo before tossing my work bag and mail on the floor, then disrobing to put on the shirt. 15690388570_2a0e943a96_k
The shirt was soft and warm and comfortable all at once. I own some base layers from other companies who claim to have fancy itch free wool and they don’t even compare to the Surly stuff. I had none of the claustrophobic itchy wool feeling at all from the Raglan. I can also say that about the Surly long sleeve jersey I’ve had for the past couple of years. I’ve posted about the jersey in the past if you look back on the blog. I’m glad that so far both items seem to have the same level of quality. This is my third season of wearing the long sleeve jersey for winter commuting and it’s held up really well.

I ended up wearing the Raglan for two days straight without washing it. I even slept in the thing and wore it to work after that. No, I’m not trying to be a dirty hippie (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I just wanted to test the wool’s odor repelling properties. It did a fantastic job of keeping the stink away. A big plus for if you are bike commuting to work and sweat a lot or if you need to travel light and don’t have access to laundry facilities.

The longer I wore the shirt, the comfier it became due to it stretching out a little bit. Sometimes when you put on a new wool shirt, it can be a little on the form fitting side. As you wear it the more it breaks in, kind of like a pair of jeans.

I ended up commuting to work a couple of days with the shirt as my base layer. Actually, I just wore the Raglan and my Patagonia down jacket over it and was good in 25 degree weather. It helped wick the sweat away and kept me warm. It’s nice to have a piece like that in your wardrobe. Sometimes I don’t want to wear three to four layers while riding. It’s much more comfortable to just have one or two.

I want to note that I am not being compensated by Surly for any part of this product testing. I’m giving my honest opinion of the product. In fact I will cover my pro’s and con’s of the Raglan below. There are a few changes I would like to see if they decide to make a “women’s specific” version of the shirt as it’s mostly marketed as a men’s or unisex product currently.

Pros:
-Extremely comfortable fabric
-Stitching and garment seem to be durable
-Garment length in the torso (great for being in a road riding position)
-Garment length in the arms (arms are long enough to prevent drafts when commuting)
-Screen printed tag (no annoying tag rubbing your neck)
-Competitively priced (when compared to similar products from companies such as Smartwool, Ibex,   etc. who sell woolen goods)
-Wicks moisture well
-Doesn’t stink after a few wears
-More comfortable as you wear it
-NO ITCH!
-You can wear it off the bike and not look like a roadie or tri dork. Totally passes as regular, non bike clothing.

Cons:
-The cut isn’t the most flattering if you have any extra cushion or are more shapely
-The color isn’t bad, but I’d like to see something like a black and white striped or maybe even a solid color with polka dot pattern (it could be something like little fat bikes or little surly logos instead of polka dots, but you get my drift) Something to make it a little more fashionable 😉
-Not made in the USA like some other wool items, but with that comes a much higher price point
-You can’t dry wool in the dryer, but that’s the nature of wool

Surly, in my opinion, has done a pretty great job with their existing soft goods. I purchased the long sleeve jersey with my own money and would do it again. If they end up coming out with a “ladies” version of the Raglan shirt, I would also spend my own money to buy one. I would also consider giving it as a gift. I can think of a few men in my life who work outdoors and would greatly appreciate having something like the Stripped Raglan.

I would definitely recommend any of their items (with confidence that they will hold up) to a friend or family member. I plan to continue to wear the shirt and look forward to reporting back on how it is holding up. Hopefully, if all goes well I will have one or two more items to test and share my thoughts on, but since the program is in its infancy, we shall see!

Thanks again to all the kick ass folks at Surly for making items that every day cyclists need and like to use. They aren’t here to sell you the lightest and most expensive of anything and aim to just make kick ass gear and I think they’ve succeeded!

**A special thanks for my friend Mary for letting me borrow her Pugsley for the fat bike photo!

Madison Bike Winter and Women & Bicycles Madison Want to Teach You How to Ride in the Cold!

There’s not one, but TWO fantastic opportunities for Madison area cyclists to learn about cold weather riding. The first is Madison Bike Winter’s Annual Fashion Show. The fashion show is open to the public and is being hosted at Machinery Row Bicycles.

The show starts at 5pm this Sunday and is BYOB!
Fashions covered in the show will include everything form high-tech, top notch new items from a variety of manufacturers to great D.I.Y style outfits and finds from your local thrift store.

Click the photo for more info!

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The second event is being hosted by the Wisconsin Bike Fed, Women & Bicycles, and Spoke Haven.

Join us November 12th (Wednesday)
7pm at the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s Madison Office

There’s a Women’s Winter Bike Panel consisting of ladies who work in the local cycling industry or have extensive experience with year round bike riding.

Topics covered will include clothing choices, accessories for on the bike, what types of bikes work best for winter riding, and any other topics attendees care to talk about. There will be a short introduction and overview from each of the panel members, then the rest will be open discussion time to allow for a range of questions.

Beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for all attendees. There’s also a small raffle package that each attendee will automatically be entered to win with some bike related goodies to get you on your way to riding through the winter!

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