Inspiration: Juliet Elliot

Juliet Elliot is someone we’ve had our eye on for the past few years. She flew into the cycling scene by being one of the few sponsored women doing fixed gear free style riding. Juliet has had support throughout the years from Charge bikes, the UK based company. Juliet herself is based in the UK and has continued to expand her riding disciplines.

Women like Juliet are truly an inspiration and would encourage all ladies who ride to expand their cycling horizons!

Product Preview: Raleight RX 1.0 Women’s Specific

New bike day is always the best day of the year or lifetime or month or however often people purchase new bikes!

I was super excited when my hot new Raleigh RX 1.0 showed up in our bike parking area at work. I was able to order direct from Raleigh as they are a distributor of our products, but you should be able to find this bike at any Raleigh dealer.

When searching for a new bike I knew I wanted something light and fast. I have a history of riding steel steeds, which are great and super durable, but I had the need for speed. During my search I had considered some various road bike options from Trek, Felt, Giant, Kona (who no longer offers a women’s road bike *frown*), and Foundry bikes.

I had ordered a bike last year from Trek, so I didn’t really want to go that route. The Lexa SLX is a bike that gets a lot of use in my house. I’ve been using it to train indoors this winter and Keri used it last year for the ACT Ride. It’s an awesome bike, but it was lacking on some of the features I’ve come to love. One of those is being able to mount wide tires. I absolutely LOVE the feel of a fatty, slick, folding tire in the summer. On Wisconsin roads, it gives so much great cushion.

The 2012 Lexa SLX
Foundry Auger- Canti Edition

Foundry didn’t end up making the cut as I wasn’t quite ready to rock a full carbon bike. I don’t know if it’s because I read too many retro grouch blogs, but I just wasn’t ready to take the leap into that world. I really dig the look of the bikes. Very little flash, all black, and lots of sex appeal. The price was also a bit out of my comfort zone. I’d still love to test ride one of their bikes. If anyone out there is reading this and has the hook up, let me know!

Eventually I decided an aluminum cross bike with a carbon fork would probably be the best fit for me. Felt usually has some sexy ‘cross options, but I didn’t see anything in the current line up that made me drool. The color schemes were kind of blah and I just wasn’t really sold on their setups.

The one bike that I had really hoped to buy was the Salsa Chili Con Crosso, but they discontinued it only to end up coming out with the Warbird. It’s their new gravel, disc brake bike. The Con Crosso was a staple at every cross race I’d ever been to. Hopefully they’ll bring it back someday, once people realize disc brakes aren’t all they are cracked up to be for ‘cross racing.

The lack of options out there eventually led me to Raleigh. Some of their pro level bikes were featured at Cross Nationals in Verona and they looked pretty sweet. After some research I saw they were one of very few companies that offers a women’s specific cyclocross bike. They actually make two levels of the ‘cross bike, the basic RX and the RX 1.0. Once I pretty much settled on the bike, I started doing some online sleuthing. I found out that Bike Shop Girl aka Arleigh Jenkins had done a pretty good overview of the previous year’s model. It all seemed legit to me and the men’s versions got pretty good feedback from various ‘cross blogs and industry sites.

I sent off an e-mail to one of the Raleigh reps and the bike was ordered. My cross-check is a 50cm and based on the geometry I decided a size 52 in the RX 1.0 would probably fit best.

Only about a week or so after the initial inquiry, the bike arrived. YAY! You’ll see in the photos below how much detail Raleigh put into the bike. The aesthetics are very pleasing…girly, but not so girly that I would be embarrassed to show up to a group ride with it. The frame color is a little more purple than I expected, but still very nice. The photos online show it as a grey/black color. There’s only one small detail on the bike that is cheesy, but I didn’t even bother to take an initial photo of it. I will probably find a little decal or something to cover it up. It’s on the down tube and will probably go unnoticed by anyone not paying attention.

The drive train is Sram Apex with an FSA crank and Rival rear derailleur.This is my first Sram laden bike, which is pretty exciting.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my trusty Shimano, but Sram has some hot stuff going on. The doubletap is actually pretty sweet.

The handlebars, stem, and seat post are Raleigh house brand, Avenir. Not too shabby, but I ended up putting a slightly taller Thompson stem on the bike and will be replacing the handlebars with Salsa’s Road 2 bars in size small, 40cm width. The bars that come with the bike are 38’s, which are kind of on the small side for a 52cm bike.

The only pedals included with the bike were some cheap plastic test ride pedals. I recycled those and bought some Crank Brothers Egg Beaters. I’m used to using the Candy pedals, but I wanted to give the Egg Beaters a try. Crank Brothers has always been my favorite pedal system, so I’m sure they’ll work out just fine.

The brakes are Tektro c720’s (?) and come with cheater levers. I’ll probably end up getting rid of the levers once I swap the handlebar out. I don’t really like them as they take up too much space and add unnecessary weight. (This is my “fast” bike after all!) The wheels are ridiculous (wait until I post the real follow up photos, you’ll see)  Weinmann DP18’s with standard 32 spokes and pink nipples. Good for training I suppose, but I will definitely buy a new wheel set in the spring. I could probably drop a whole pound or more just by swapping wheel sets.

The tires are some pretty awesome Vittoria ‘cross tires. I’ll keep those around for rail trail riding or for if I ever decide to woman up and do some racing. I’ll swap those out for a fattier slick tire for road riding in the mean time.

I’m keeping the stock seat post. It’s not too heavy and does the job. The saddle I wasn’t a fan of. It had way too much pink on it and was a Velo branded uncomfortable thing. I went with Bike Shop Girl’s (Arleigh’s) recommendation of the Fizik Vitesse. I actually could only find the Tri model, so I went with that and it seems pretty good. I’m usually a Brook’s, so it will take some time getting used to a regular saddle. I really like how long the saddle is. Plenty of length for if you shift your weight.

Overall I’m super excited to ride the bike. The snow is keeping me stuck on a trainer, but at the first sign of spring, I’ll be sure to take her out for a nice long adventure. For the price, I think the bike is a great value. Yeah, there are a few things that could be better, but there’s rarely a mass produced bike that doesn’t have something less than perfect about it.

I guess I’ve maybe become spoiled with nice bike parts, but I could make due with the stock parts if needed. The bike fits nicely and is quite the head turner. Big props to whoever designed the RX line over at Raleigh! Keep up the great work 🙂


Cyclo-cross Nationals Day 4

As stated in my previous post I had to miss out on Day 3 of the cross nationals action, but today made up for it. Most of my day was spent at the Saris shanty eating brats, drinking beer, and taking pictures.

It was a lot of fun! We encouraged friends and strangers alike to stop by and enjoy some traditional Wisconsin treats. People couldn’t believe we were offering up food and beer for free, but hey…we wanted to have some northern hospitality!

The weather started out 32 and windy. Course conditions were pretty sloppy and got really tough for riders to navigate as the day went on. The temperature continued to drop and the warm up zone (I did spend a good chunk of time there as well) was pretty much packed, up until they ended the last race.

The expo was super packed. I got a chance to see the Knog guy again as he moved his tent next to the shanty, course side. The guys from Gore were also partying it up with him and the Great Dane/Team Magnus folks.

At the Skratch Labs truck I finally got to meet Allen Lim. He’s a super nice guy and has worked with Cycle Ops for a long time on the development side and with training education. The whole Skratch crew is pretty great.

Glacier Glove have a rep at the races. I’m sure they were selling gloves like hot cakes! I myself had burned Keri’s gloves I borrowed from putting them too close to the fire pit outside the shanty (Oops. I’ll get you some new ones!)

I wandered over to the food tent where I grabbed a free brew from Sierra Nevada. I invited them over to the shanty, so hopefully they will get a chance to check it out. They were all really friendly. After that I grabbed some veggie chili at the Underground Food Collective booth. I needed SOMETHING with veggies in it to make up for the brats and beer I had been scarfing earlier. The chili was really good. It hit the spot for sure!

Overall it was a really fun day. Even when I got home it was tough shaking the chill from my bones. I guess that comes with bike racing in January, outside in Wisconsin.

Check out the photo gallery below to check out the races and the atmosphere!


Cyclo-cross Nationals- Days 1 & 2

One of the many reasons I love working in the bike industry is that I get paid to hangout at events like Cyclo-cross Nationals. This is Madison’s second year hosting the USA Cycling/UCI event and it’s much colder and snowier than it was last year!

Day 1 included non championship races for men and women as well as my personal favorite, the single speed races. While most of my day included watching over the Cycle Ops sponsored warm up tent, I did have time to escape and shoot some photos.

The men’s 30-39 race was a must see as one of my co-workers was competing. He didn’t quite podium, but still had a good place in the standings.

Day 2 was the masters series. These are the folks who have been racing for a LOOONG time. Well, most of them at least. It’s always inspiring to see someone 60+ get out there and rage. Especially on an icy death trap of a cross course!

Today I spent a little more time visiting some of the other exhibitors. I chatted with the guys over at Trek. They have some swag they are giving away like cycling hats and cowbells, so be sure to stop by and say hi to them! Trek also has a sweet corn-hole game set up (aka beanbag toss). Oh, you can also enter to win a Cross Rip. It’s their entry level cross bike.

Later in the day I wandered over to the Skratch Labs food truck. They are dishing up some tasty, yet healthy meals for everyone. If you get a chance, stop by and try a sample of their hydration mix. It’s made with all natural ingredients and tastes AMAZING! I trained with it all summer long and LOVE the stuff. It also doubles as a great hangover remedy 😉

Shortly after, I stopped by the Knog tent. I can’t remember the gentleman’s name who was working it, but he’s pretty much their only US employee. Knog is based in Australia and has done so well that the company doesn’t need a giant team of reps to travel around, so it’s just one guy and a tent. He gets to travel all over to cool events and showcase the latest Knog gear. If you see him, stop and chat with him. He’s a very friendly dude.

Some other spots I checked out were the Felt tent and the Stan’s No Tubes tent. Felt didn’t have much going on except for a few cross bikes. I was hoping they would have showcased a little more product, but they were probably more focused on supporting their riders. Stan’s had a sweet set up with repair stands, bike parking, a nice product display, some trainers. Pretty legit stuff.

Inside of the main food tent was Twin Six. They have some limited edition swag for sale and some product catalogs showcasing their 2013 line up. I had wondered by there two days in a row, but unfortunately they were a little standoffish so I just ended up walking away. Bummer as I really like their gear. I seem to think that if someone is showing interest in what you have going on, you should drum up conversation. It’s just good business practice, rather than being standoffish or complaining loudly about how you dislike your most recent job performance review. Sorry, but it’s true.

The overall selection of food is pretty decent. There’s the Fine Italian Beef stand (Chicago dogs, Italian dips, etc.) , the Wisconsin food stand (cheese curds, brats, etc.), a (must have) Southwestern/Mexican food stand, a coffee stand (great chai latte), and the Skratch Labs truck. Nearby is also Pasqual’s and the Draft House. All are great options for the hungry spectator!

I have to say that this year’s set up is much better than last year’s for the event as a whole. The flow of everything makes more sense and the expo is more visible. I’ll be sad to see Cross Nationals leave Madison. Hopefully we can bring it back again in a few years.

Check out  photos below of Day 1 & Day 2. I sadly won’t be able to make it out tomorrow, which really sucks because I want to watch the women’s races. I have a lot of in office work to catch up on though, but I’ll be back out on Saturday!

One last thing to note is that the Saris/Cycle Ops shanty is now in the expo. It got dropped off this afternoon and it looks KICK ASS! Go find a photo of it on the Cycle Ops Facebook page. It has a beer pong table and everything!



Cross Nationals Jan 9th-13th!

Check out the poster below for all of the awesome ‘Cross related events coming up next week! The actual races start on Wednesday of next week. We’ll be there, camera’s in tow to check out the action. There will be of course some of the best of the best cyclocross racing, shanties, a full on expo center, coffee, great food, a sweet Saris/Cycle Ops sponsored warm up tent, music, and a hell of a lot of fun!

We strongly encourage everyone to come out and see what ‘Cross is all about. Even if you could care less about bicycle racing, it’s the atmosphere that makes the experience fun for both spectators and racers.