I’ve had a few days off between my old job ending and my new job starting. I decided to do a ride that I’ve started several times, but never completed because honestly it was a pretty boring route to ride solo. Thankfully my old co-worker Simone had reached out to see if I was riding yesterday and she joined me for the 40 mile loop to a local outdoor hot spot, Indian Lake County Park.
The route goes up the Highway 12 bike path which goes North of Madison up towards Sauk City. The trail itself terminates before you actually reach Sauk City, which is a bit sad. I’m hoping more land easements will come to connect the entire route to make it more direct. The nice thing about the trail is it is a great way to access some beautiful state natural areas and parks such as Devil’s Lake State Park, Indian Lake, Pafrey’s Glen, and the Merrimac Ferry with its quaint views.
We took the Highway 12 trail up to its end on Raul road, which we found was named something different than what was on our map. Raul took us across Highway 12 and around to Matz road, which spit us out right on Highway 19 across from Indian Lake County Park!
The park was absolutely packed when we arrived, no surprise there as it seems people are finally rediscovering the outdoors thanks to the Covid 19 pandemic. A bit frustrating as someone who enjoyed these places prior to the pandemic, but happy that it will hopefully encourage the state to invest in more natural areas and do some upgrades to some places that need a serious face lift.
The restrooms were open thankfully, so we took a snack/bathroom break, filled our water bottles, and rolled back home. On the way home we stopped into my new home shop Wheel and Sprocket. I needed some more nutrition and ended up picking up some Floyd’s of Leadville CBD recovery gummies as well as some new flavors of Stroopwafels from GU. It also gave me an opportunity to look around the shop and get familiar with some of the products we carry and see how busy the shop was still on the weekends.
I ended my ride in a local park where I shot a good portion of a sort of chat to the camera style vlog. I do a little taste test of the snacks I picked up, talk a bit about life, and a little bit about some of the new gear I’ve been trying out. I’m looking to experiment more with this style of video to add a bit more of my personality versus just talking about a product. We’ll see if I can keep up a regular schedule. It may be tough with starting the new job and I start a new Marketing course through my school this week as well.
Next weekend I am planning on doing a sub 24 hour overnight as a part of the annual Swift Industries Campout event. Almost all of the state parks are booked up, but know from past excursions that if you bike or hike into a state park, you can’t really be turned away. The other option would be to just stealth camp somewhere in the area, which shouldn’t be too difficult as it gets darker early and I’m planning on testing out my bivy set up and bringing my hammock as a back up.
Assuming the weather cooperates, I’ll try to capture that adventure on camera as well!
As always thank you for reading, watching, and supporting the site. Stay safe and sane and of course…EAT WELL, BIKE OFTEN!
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Almanzo 100 (aka super crazy, famous gravel race in Minnesota) is a mere 20 days away. Neither me or Keri have had the time to truly put in a good amount of miles in the saddle. In all honesty, we’ll be glad if we finish half of it, but have made a pact to ride until it stops being fun. Whether that’s 40 miles or the whole 100, we shall see.
If we’re taking vacation days and spending money on a hotel room, we need to make sure both of us have fun doing whatever it is we are doing, otherwise the trip isn’t worth while. Fortunately neither of us are really wanting to participate in the race because of it’s “epic-ness”, but rather because it involves riding in a scenic setting with a bunch of other bike lovers. We’ll also be there along with the Midwestern Saris/CycleOps rep to promote the company. Saris graciously donated a heap of product for those who podium in various divisions of the race.
Today we decided to go ride one of our local rail trails to get in some gravel like riding in before the event. Most of our local trails are crushed limestone, but Glacial Drumlin has a section that deviates from the regular trail and has more loose chunky gravel. Having a few variations makes for more interesting riding. I personally haven’t ridden on the country roads of Southern Minnesota, but I’m guessing it’s not all nicely groomed and packed down dirt.
Another reason for the ride was to test our personal setups for the event. Keri is riding her steel Fuji touring bike with a rack and one pannier. I’ll be riding my Raleigh RX 1.0 with a Banjo Brothers Waterpoof Saddle Trunk, Jaand Frame Pack, and a Banjo Brothers Top Tube bag.
Each of our packing lists will include the following:
-2 waterbottles (may bring a third for good measure)
-park hex tool wrenches
-FixIt sticks (w/flat head)
-back up small headlight (battery op)
-hi vis packable vest
-tube of NUUN hydration tablets & probably some Skratch labs mix
-a few packs Clif Bloks w/caffeine in various flavors
-Kind Bars for snacking
-Almond butter packets for snacking
-Road ID bracelet
-Joule GPS cycling computer (as back up, doesn’t give turn by turn directions, but has a little bit of a breadcrumbs feature in case we take a wrong turn- traditional GPS is not allowed, maps and cuesheets only!)
-aaa batteries & 2032 batteries
-small first aid kit w/ibuprofen & antacids
-Hoo Ha ride glide (best chamois cream EVER)
-Go Girl (so we can pee standing up with bibs on…a really awesome invention)
-trowel (we’ll be in the woods)
-cycling clothes & shoes
The list is long and short at the same time. The Almonzo is an unsupported race, so there are no aid stations with food or water on the route. As far as we know there are only 2 possible locations for stopping for food and to refill water. Hopefully it’s not blazing hot or cold and rainy. We’ll have to call for back up if we need to bail from the route.
Overall, I think we’re both excited to be a part of something fun and unique like the Almanzo. There’s about 1300 folks signed up for the race. I’m guessing about 1100 will actually show up, but maybe less. We’ll most likely start at the back of the pack since we’re not looking for glory and the caboose of a ride/race is always more fun over a long distance 🙂
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!