2013 Bike Related Events- February Edition

It may still be January, but there are TONS of bike related events planned out for the year. We’ll of course add these to our Events tab, but wanted to give a sneak peak of what’s coming up in the next month. We’ll add flyers and more details on the actual calendar pages. For now, take a look and start planning out your year of cycling!
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FEBRUARY

Feb. 1st– Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin’s Winter Carnival
Ray’s Indoor Bike Park
8365 North 76th Street
Milwaukee, WI
Noon-9pm, $25 in advance & $35 at the door
Includes open riding, free bike rental, games, food, beer, prizes, and more!
All Fed members encouraged to attend and folks from other cities will be carpooling in to attend the event.

Feb. 2nd– Mt. Ashwabay Fat Tire Double Donut Derby
Mt Ashwabay
32525 Ski Hill Road
Bayfield, WI
Wisconsin Off Road Series- Race promoters recommend bikes with tires greater than 3.25″ aka FAT BIKES
The 2.5 mile course takes place in the ski area and there’s a post race potluck!

Feb. 10th– La Crosse Bike Winter Urban Ride
La Crosse Visitors Bureau
410 East Veterans Memorial Drive
La Crosse, WI
Join fellow cyclists in the La Crosse area from 1-3pm for a fun bike ride around town! La Crosse is the next Wisconsin city to really come on the scene as cycling friendly. Help encourage the city to integrate bicycle infrastructure by attending this event!

Feb. 11th– Day 1 Madison Bike Winter
Southwest Commuter Path
Crazy Legs/B Cycle Station
Madison, WI
EVP is providing delicious coffee to morning commuters! 7-9AM
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Monona Terrace
Downtown
Madison, WI
Enjoy FREE lunchtime yoga from 12:00-12:45pm.
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Location & time TBA
Madison, WI
Sustain Dane Eco Salon talks about bicycling in the winter.

Feb. 12th– Day 2 Madison Bike Winter
Harbor Athletic Club or Machinery Row (?)
*Check Madison Bike Winter page for more details
Madison/Middleton, WI
Director of the Madtown Maidens Alleycat and yoga instructor, Kiersten Kloeckner, is leading a Yoga for Athletes class from 6:30-7:15AM.
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West Washington & Cap City Trail- Train Depot
Madison, WI
Coffee for commuters 7-9AM
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Brittingham Beach House
Brittingham Park
Madison, WI
Join other brave souls to do a ride across the ice on Lake Monona. Ride starts at 6pm, event may be cancelled depending on weather/temperature. Safety first! Studded/fat tires and helmets recommended.

Feb. 13th– Day 3 Madison Bike Winter
Machinery Row & Cap City Bike Path Corner
Madison, WI
Enjoy bacon on the bike path courtesy of Planet Bike & the Greasy Gears bike dance troupe. 7-9AM
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Great Dane Brewery
Downtown
Madison, WI
Be a part of Madison Bike Winter tradition and join the Great Dane to Great Dane ride! Riders meet at 6pm at the Great Dane downtown and head over to the Great Dane Hilldale to enjoy more food, brews, and socializing.

Feb. 13th– Winter Bike Maintenance Workshop at Pearl St. Brewery La Crosse
Pearl Street Brewery
1401 Saint Andrews Street
La Crosse, WI
Ride your bike to The Pearl Street Brewery for a free pint and stay to learn some basic winter maintenance skills to keep you rolling through the winter.

Feb. 14th– Day 4 Madison Bike Winter
Southwest Commuter Path
Crazy Legs/B Cycle Station
Madison, WI
Just Coffee provides beverages to commuters 7-9AM
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Machinery Row Bicycles/Dream Bikes
Madison, WI
Show your bike some LOVE on Valentine’s Day. Machinery Row & Dream Bikes are providing bike tune ups for 50% off! Take advantage of this one time deal!
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Machinery Row Bicycles
601 Williamson St.
Madison, WI
Join other cyclists for a Valentine’s group ride around Lake Monona. Ride leaves at 6pm. Post ride party with beer at TBA location. Sponsored by Bicycle Benefits.

Feb. 15th- Day 5 Madison Bike Winter
Cronometro, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Just Cofee
Lakeside St. & John Nolen Bike Path
Madison, WI
Enjoy coffee on the bike path on your way to/from your destination! 7-9AM
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Brocach Downtown
Capitol Square
Madison, WI
Finish off your week of winter riding at Brocach Irish Pub. Join other winter commuters at 5PM for a party good drinks and food!

Feb. 15th– Bike Winter After Work Party in La Crosse
The Wine Guyz
122 King Street
La Crosse, WI
Come to a fun Bike Winter Party. Ride your bike to the Wine Guyz after work to enjoy some camaraderie and complimentary appetizer trays with other bicyclists.

Feb. 16th– Waukesha WBA Bike Swap
Waukehsa Expo Center
1000 Northview Road
Waukesha, WI
Check out some awesome bike wears while supporting a good cause. Proceeds benefit the Waukesha Bicycle Alliance.

Feb. 17th– Winter Riding Fashion Social
Earl’s Grocery and Saloon
401 3rd Street
La Crosse, WI
Come to Earl’s Grocery and Saloon for a fun discussion about the most effective clothes for riding through the winter months as well as some winter riding tips. Be prepared to share what you wear as well as get great ideas from others.

Feb. 23rd– La Crosse Bike Swap
Logan Middle School
1450 Avon Street
La Crosse , WI
The Wisconsin Bike Fed and Logan Bike Works are co-hosting a Bike Swap at Logan Middle School in La Crosse. All bicycle enthusiasts interested in buying or selling new or used bikes, parts or clothing should be sure to attend this event.

Feb. 25thCOMMUTE: A Bicycle Commuting Workshop, Part 1
Redamte Cafe
449 State St. Upstairs
Madison, WI
Join us at Redamte for a panel discussion detailing the health, economic, environmental, and social benefits to cycling.

Feb. 27thYou Never Bike Alone Movie Screening & Discussion
Redamte Cafe
449 State St.
Madison, WI
Enjoy a screening of You Never Bike Alone while enjoying coffee and treats. Stick around after the movie for a group discussion.

Cap City Trail Recon

Madison often boasts that its bike paths are cleaner than the streets after a large snow storm. That’s usually the case when referring to the Southwest Commuter path, Madison’s most used bicycle path that runs through the isthmus (downtown).

We can’t really say that for the Capitol City Trail. For those not familiar with Madison’s route set up, the Capitol City Trail is a route that extends past the major SW Commuter Path and heads out to the South Eastern burbs and then back into Madison near the Alliant Energy Center. (You can then continue back into downtown or ride the lake loop through Monona.)

It’s not maintained as regularly as our beloved SW path, but is still a nice ride. Today I decided to take a journey on it to not only get a lunch ride in, but to also report on the conditions. Starting from the Verona frontage road the trail was hard packed snow and ice. Not terrible, but not amazing either.

Riding downhill was a little sketchy in some spots, but overall it was decent conditions. Hardpack is a lot of fun to cruise on with knobby or studded tires. The overall view was very beautiful. The path is surrounded by trees on either side, so it doesn’t melt as fast as some of the other  trails. The trees looked untouched and there is still significant snow on the ground around the trail.

capcity

I did happen to come across some ruts, skate ski tracks, loads of animal poo (seems folks think they don’t need to pick it up in the winter?), and even a frozen possum that seemed to have passed somehow on the path. (poor thing)

The new studded tire (I only use one on the front right now) performed amazingly on the hard pack. It cruises a lot faster and smoother than on dry road, that’s for sure! In areas that had deeper snow or a bit of slush, having a loaded back end helped greatly. I have a fairly heavy saddle, a rear rack, and a half loaded pannier when I ride. I treat snow commuting much like snow driving. Keep weight in the rear, take it slow around corners, keep eyes on the trail to pick the best line of riding, and if I start to fish tail or slide…just power through it and DON’T PANIC or hit the brakes!

stud

I rode about a 3 mile stretch of the trail before I had to take to the streets to hit my destination. From the point of where I started to ride the trail, all of the offshoots had been plowed or cleared to some capacity, but for some reason the junction I needed to ride up wasn’t. I had to hop off and do a minor amount of trudging before I could get back on the bike. I’m glad I had my Bogs on! (They make for great winter riding boots btw. Future review?)

roadblock

A minor annoyance in an overall pleasant ride. It seemed like the maintenance crew just kind of decided to call it good enough.

I’m considering checking out the trail conditions in a few days after the weather warms up. Forecasts are calling for up to 40 degree weather, so there may be some slushy conditions ahead for daily path riders.

On my way back to work I decided to ride on McKee, which was not as pleasant as the ride on the trail. I didn’t have much time to enjoy the scenery, but it’s a straight shot to the work place. There was a huge headwind and my studded tire made the bike ride like a slow moving tank. Cars were also not feeling very  generous when I was trying to avoid chunky snow debris in the road.

If you’re looking to hone your winter riding skills with a serene environment, I would highly suggest checking out the Cap City Trail in the next couple of days before the snow starts to turn into muck!

Side note: Today I decided to wear regular poly/cotton socks, Bogs, regular stretchy skinny jeans, a short sleeve Road Holland jersey, the new Surly long sleeved jersey, my Patagonia down jacket, Ibex balaclava, Pearl Izumi long finger gloves, and my helmet. In the morning when it was 19 out, my thighs were the only part of me that was cold.

During lunch and on the ride home I was pretty warm up top so I unzipped the top two layers and wore the balaclava as a neck gator. I probably could have dropped the down jacket, but I wasn’t in the mood to stop and take it off.

I’m happy to report the PDW fenders kick ass and I have no issues with interference like I do with full length fenders. I also removed my usual Crank Brothers Candy pedals and installed the VP Vice flat pedals. They have an awesome, wide platform with tons of grip. There will be full reviews as the season progresses.

Also, a BIG shout out to all the new followers. We’re happy to have the support. Please e-mail us with suggestions, comments, etc. We want to continue to improve upon the site 🙂

-Cassandra

 

Surly Long-sleeved Merino Jersey: First Impression

As you can tell we’re big fans of wool around here. So continue to love fest, we’re going to talk about the new Surly long sleeve merino jersey! Surly previously had both short and long sleeve jersey offerings a few years back, but decided to revamp their line up for 2012/2013. We can’t speak of the older jerseys, but it seems like they’ve made som nice updates.

The sleeves have nice thumb holes, the zipper is full length, the cut is nice and long, the material is soft, and the rear pocket is zippered with a pull on each side. They also moved the embroidery to the left sleeve cuff rather than on upper sleeve.

We’ll be the first to admit that they don’t come cheap. You’ll probably find them for about $150 retail, but it’s a nicely made piece to add to your collection and will last for years to come.

It’ll be fun, incorporating the jersey into the cycling wardrobe. For spring and fall it could be used as a light layer over either a wool or synthetic jersey. The best part is you can lounge around in it. Around the house or out at the bar. You won’t look like the bike nerd you are 😉 This adds even more value to the purchase.

Surly offers up the jerseys for both men and women. Sizes xs-xxl for men and xs-xl for women. I would size up if you want a looser mid/top layer, otherwise the fit is just right for what you would normally wear. The jersey we feature here is gray, but they also sell a black version. If we had the money, we’d definitely splurge for the black as well!

picstichsurlyjersey
From top left: The inner stitching is a nice orange color. It adds a touch of fun and class to the garment. The jersey is very basic with limited branding. If you wanted to show your Surly love, you can always buy a sweet patch! Dual zipper pulls for the large rear pocket make it easy for lefties or righties to grab what they need. Thumb holes are a nice touch for if you happen to forget your gloves.

We should also note that Surly now sells a merino hoodie. It’s full zip and also very clean/basic. According to their website, it pretty much comes in man friendly sizes, but the average woman could probably fit into a small/medium. We’d say it’s more unisex than men’s specific.

The Surly long sleeve merino jersey makes a great addition to any rider’s collection. On the bike or out at the brew pub, you’ll look like a million of the most comfy dollars there are!

45NRTH Polara- First Impression

QBP santa showed up today with goodies in tow. The box practically filled my office cube when it was dropped off. I opened up the box and took a look at our new 45NRTH Polara tires.

45NRTH
Tires rarely look pretty straight out of the box. This set was pretty dirty looking, but that’s just cosmetic.

The first thing I noticed was the tread. 45NRTH boasts that the tread creates lower rolling resistance while also shedding snow/ice. We shall see how accurate those claims are! The tires have 110studs which seemed like a good middle of the road number without going overboard. There were some options that had up to 240 and some as low as 74. The bike path gets cleaned fairly regularly so I didn’t want to ride on something so extreme.

If we were country/small town folks with back roads to travel, the 240 would have been a good option, but we’re spoiled here in Madison. The bike paths are usually cleared before the roads are!

tread

The next item I looked at was the listed size (I couldn’t seem to remember if they were 35 or 38c) they are 700×35 as you see here:tiresizeI don’t have a digital caliper on hand to measure that, but they look around that size. Actual contact on the ground varies by rim width/depth anyway.

I also checked the pressure recommendation. The 60-65psi range tends to be favored in our camp, but again it will depend on how the tire seats and rides. tirepsiThe one thing that kind of shocked me, but probably shouldn’t have, was I found the Innova logo on the side of the tire. I had assumed 45NRTH had actually designed a specific tire of their own, but it turns out the Polara is basically Innova’s Tundra Wolf tire. Slightly disappointing, but it’s not much different than Planet Bike sourcing LED lights and slapping their logo on them, even if they had little or no actual product development. That’s not to say they don’t develop ANY products, but there are some standard designs that pretty much anyone can put a logo on and call it their own. innova

It’s a pretty common practice in the cycling industry, so no hard feelings 45NRTH. If I had seen that in store rather than online I probably would have opted to try something else that seemed more of THEIR design, but maybe Innova manufactures all of their tires? If anyone has any insight on that it would be appreciated.

Not working in a shop every day means little exposure to some of these newer products/companies. Note to us: go visit a crap load of new shops in 2013!

Overall I still think the tires are nice. Studded tires don’t come cheap, even when you get the opportunity to purchase through distribution and we highly believe in, you get what you pay for. It’ll be fun testing them out the next few weeks. We’ll report back and let you all know how they work out!

What’s that? More Winter Gear!

I apologize for anyone living in a land of warmth and sunshine because we won’t be covering much of that kind of riding until the end of May. Wisconsin winters as of late have been starting in December and last until at least April.

Last week we got 16-20″ dumped across the southern region of the state and expect 4 more inches today!

We haven’t been able to ride our bikes much of anywhere because the snow and ice is so packed down on the roads that it’s damn near impossible NOT to crash out. The awesomely wonderful Vittoria Randonneur Hypers rule in the summer months, but make for quite the crappy tire for winter.

Luckily the pagan gods/Santa Clause dropped some extra cash in our laps so outside of fixing our main computer at Spoke Haven HQ (the one with all the important design suites on it, doh!), we get a little extra to buy some winter commuting goods.

Today we ordered up a set of 45NRTH Polara Studded Tires. The tires are size 700x35c, have 110 studs, and feature nicely spaced knobs to shed snow. They retail at about $50 a piece. It’s kind of pricey, but most people get several seasons out of studded tires when treated right. There are some folks who spend more on slick roadie tires that last less than a season, so I’d say the price is fair. 45NRTH is a part of the QBP family. Designed in the land of ice & snow, the Twin Cities, so you know they are going to be functional.Product_Studio_PolaraBoth Keri and I will take a stab at trying these bad boys out on our respective commuter bikes. It’ll be exciting to start 2013 out with some sweet snowy rides. The goal for 2013 is to ride the distance from Portland, ME to Portland, OR…3000 something miles! That may seem like a lot to some folks or it may sound like nothing to others who ride everywhere, all the time. For us, it’s a satisfying goal and can’t wait to start working to reach it!

The next item purchased was an Ibex Merino, Made in the USA balaclava. Keri already has one, but Cassandra doesn’t.

ibexbalaclava

It’ll keep us from growing ice beards 😉 $30 for an awesome piece of wool made in the USA that will last years to come and won’t make your head stink.

The last item we’re pretty stoked about aren’t items we purchased, but that we’ve re-discovered in digging through a box of ski/snowboarding goodies…GOGGLES! We’ve laid off using goggles since sunglasses are usually the top choice for riding, but with it still being fairly dark in the morning and on the way home, goggles work best. They are also ventilated and don’t fog up quite as much, or so it seems. As women who have smaller faces, we both use kids sized goggles. The Spy Targa Mini goggles are fairly inexpensive, but still a nice option.

spyminitarga

We’ll be sure to do an overview of each item as we commute with them. As always, experimentation is fun and necessary! No two rides are ever exactly the same for us here at Spoke Haven. We’re constantly trying out new gear and new ways to make being on the bike more enjoyable!