Friday, November 30, 2007

Me And My Bicycle (Book, er Space)

The trend in the Internet business is mergers and acquisitions, where the smaller players get gobbled up and consolidated into the big companies, like Google and Yahoo. The world of social networking sites is the exception these days, where more and more sites are popping up to serve specialized communities.

A perfect example, and relevant in our case, is Me And My Bicycle, the social network for cyclists. They promote themselves as the place to "Show off your wheels, find like minded cyclists and join in discussions about all things cycling related."

You can check it out and join in at:

What do you think? Will you join a site like this, even if you would not have considered joining one of the more established social networking sites like FaceBook or MySpace?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Top 10 Holiday Gifts - #8

Stocking Stuffers: The smallest product making the biggest splash right now is the Knog Frog ($11.99), a whimsical LED light shaped like a frog out of flexible silicone which comes in an assortment of colors. For a retro-cool look that feels great to grip, leather handlebar tape ($24.99 and up) would make any cyclist smile on Christmas morning. Because cycling means more to many people than just a way to get around, Century Cycles’ popular slogan "Define your life. Ride a bike." is now on t-shirts and pint glasses, which fit quite nicely into a stocking.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Dirty Dozen

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure (or the misfortune, depending on your point of view) of participating in the Dirty Dozen, a bicycle stage race over the 13 steepest hills in Pittsburgh, PA. The course is a total of 50 miles, but during the sections between the hills, the racers ride together in a neutral pack, waiting for the official whistle to indicate the start of the next hill. Points are awarded to the top 10 riders up each hill, with the overall winner being the one with the most points at the end.

The ride is organized by Danny Chew, a local cycling legend and two-time winner of the Race Across America (RAAM). Danny is an obsessive stats-keeper, and his goal is to ride 1 million miles in his lifetime, which he expects to reach around age 70. During this ride, he reached his 1 millionth kilometer. His web site contains information about the history of the Dirty Dozen, the route, past winners, etc.

Most people, including myself, aren't there with any hope of being competitive; it's just a fun challenge to show up and try to finished the whole ride. I did it once before in 2005; I think this was a classic case of selective memory. Looking back, I must have thought, "Well, I finished once before, so it must not have been that hard." This time, around hill 6 or 7, I started thinking "Why am I here? How much more of this can I take?" But, between the hills, I'd cool off, have a snack, drink some Gatorade, and figure that I'd see how I felt after the next hill. Eventually, we arrived at the end. During the final climb, I started to feel the twinge of the beginning of a cramp in my left thigh, a problem I don't typically have. Luckily, it didn't get to the point where I was immobilized, and I made it to the top.

One of the highlights of the day is riding through the mile-long Liberty Tunnel, which takes you from the hills south of the city into the downtown area. This feat would probably get you arrested on any other day of the year.

Another highlight, especially for local spectators, is Canton Avenue in the Beechview neighborhood, which is believed to the steepest street in the world, with a 37% grade. If that's not enough, consider that it's also over cobblestones.

We have our own version of the Dirty Dozen here in the Cuyahoga Valley. The route is available in the "Places to Ride" section on our web site, and is known as the "Death Ride."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Top 10 Holiday Gifts - #7

Endura Hummvee 3/4 Knickers ($89.99): Straight from the Scottish Highlands, these cycling knickers go past the knee but stay away from the ankle (and the chain ring). They are durable nylon ripstop fabric on the exterior – with a seamless inner leg and loads of pockets (two rear large map pockets plus a zipped pocket for a cell phone) – and feature a padded liner short on the interior that easily snaps in and out.
We wish a Happy Thanksgiving and a safe weekend to everyone! We will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 22, and open for our normal hours the rest of the weekend (Fri-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 12pm-5pm).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Fox Cleveland's Hot List

Today the bike shop winner was announced in My Fox Cleveland's Hot List contest. Century Cycles didn't win -- that honor and our hearty congratulations go to Bike Authority -- but second place has never felt sogood. It was a fun contest that certainly made this fall a lot more interesting, plus we were flattered and overwhelmed by all of the votes and wonderful comments from our customers. Thank you! Just as importantly, though, the contest really showed the strength of the independent bike stores in our area. Contests like this show we're thriving and growing, even in the face of competition from the big box discounters -- and that's what is really hot about the Hot List.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Top 10 Holiday Gifts - #6

Burley Encore Trailer ($379.99): Most of the gifts on this list are for individuals. The Burley trailer, however, is a great gift for a whole family. Trailers are the safest way to travel by bike with small children, and kids love the ride almost as much as adults love having their children along for it. Believe it or not, Burley is even making trailers for pets, for those folks on your gift list who consider their dog or cat almost like their child.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Timing the beer reward

In a race, it doesn't matter if your bike's perfect or if your training was perfect -- if you're not in that right state of mind, you're just going through the motions. In the middle of a race everybody hits a point where they feel like quitting. I just slow up for a bit and say to myself, "Well, what am I going to do, go drink a beer and watch everybody else finish?" Then I just keep riding. The beer will be there when I'm done.

-- Singlespeed racer Dan Jansen, as told to Bicycling magazine in October. Hopefully there was a beer waiting for him when he finished 11th in the Pro division of The Iceman Cometh last weekend (see Kevin's blog post below on how our guys fared). Jansen won the National Ultra Endurance Singlespeed Mountain Bike title last year.

Top 10 Holiday Gifts - #5

NiteRider MiNewt.X2 ($189.99): Light the road or the trail with this terrific headlight. By incorporating a new high-powered LED and superior optics, the MiNewt.X2’s output is super-bright and the run time is longer, yet it’s not clunky, heavy, or difficult to handlebar-mount. "I’m not surprised the MiNewt.X2 was such a hit with our staff and customers this year," says Scott Cowan, owner of Century Cycles. "It is the most sought-after product in NiteRider history."

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Iceman Cometh Challenge

This past weekend, Doug, Brent, and I from the Peninsula store took a road trip up to Traverse City, Michigan for the 18th Annual Iceman Cometh Challenge mountain bike race. This is a 27-mile race, beginning in the nearby town of Kalkaska, and ending in Traverse City. The local communities do a great job of welcoming us racers, as I'm sure it provides a boost in business in what would otherwise be a slow time in-between the summer and winter tourist seasons.

The race course is a mixture of singletrack, double-track, dirt and gravel roads, and cross-country ski trails. The morning started out at a chilly 26 degrees with a thick layer of frost, but this burned off nicely as the sun came up, and by the time of our race starts, we enjoyed clear and sunny skies with temps in the upper 40's.

Brent entered in the singlespeed division, so had the earliest start time of the three of us at 9:50am. I didn't have long to wait after that, starting at 10:20, and Doug's wave started at 10:50. While Doug and I were waiting and watching Brent's start, we ran into Bill Rehor, a long-time Michigan resident and our sales representative for Shimano, Haro, Bell, Giro, and Blackburn. Bell wasn't participating in the race, however, as later he had to go work at a sale event at a local sporting goods store.

I had two main goals for this year's race: place better than last year, and win the friendly competition between Brent and me. He beat me last year by only 28 seconds, which I blamed mainly on my having to stop mid-race to remove my windbreaker, and a dumb crash where I caught my handlebar on the fence about 100 feet before the finish line. So, my strategy this year was to pick the right clothing at the start, and ride strong and steady.

My clothing choices worked out perfectly; I was never too hot or too cold during the race. On top, I wore a long-sleeve base layer, then my Century Cycles Retro Wool Jersey. Down below, my Endura Hummvee Knickers did the trick. On my feet, a pair of Lake Winter Cycling Boots and Dirt Rag Wool Socks kept my little piggies from going to the market.

Towards the end of the race, I was still feeling pretty fresh and strong, and so was afraid that maybe I had not pushed myself hard enough. But as soon as I exited the finish chute and started to recover and catch my breath, my windpipe felt like it was on fire, and I felt like I was going to pass out, or puke, or both. So I guess I did not leave too much unused effort out on the course. I came in with a time of 2:10:46, placing 17th out of 130+ in my category, which I was extremely pleased with.

Doug kicked butt, placing 11th in his category, and Brent ended up with a respectable time of about 2 hours and 19 minutes. The full results should be posted at in the next couple of days. The results have been posted on the Traverse City Record-Eagle site; they also have this article about this year's event.

Brian Matter took the title for the Pro Men, and once again, Kelli Emmett of the Giant Mountain Bike Team won the Pro Women race!

After the race, we tracked down Kelly O'Brien, another Michigan local and our sales representative for Thule, Powerbar, and Descente. Kelly raced (where he said he noticed Doug passing him), and then set up a tent and barbeque near the finish line, where he shared a few hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and frosty beverages with us. Thanks, Kelly!

The highlight of the day was watching the SnoCone event, a short fun race for the kids; every participant gets a number plate and a medal. It seemed like the younger they were, the less fear they had. Right before the finish line, there was a steep, banked horseshoe-bend turn covered with loose sand, which even took out a few of the pro riders. It was a hoot to see some of those kids on 12-inch wheeled bikes come around that turn, with a look of steely resolve in their eyes, and just nail it perfectly! Then their feet would pedal furiously using their single gear to cover that last few dozen hards to the finish line.

That evening, we went into town for dinner, and later at one of the local microbreweries, ran into Chip Ellison, our Pearl Izumi sales rep. He had a good race as well, finishing in about 2 hours and 17 minutes.

Before heading home on Sunday, we took a detour to enjoy the amazing scenery and a 1.5-mile hike out at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. You can see more pictures from the trip at

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bikes on the big screen

If you're headed to the movies this weekend, Fred Claus opens tonight, starring Vince Vaughn as Fred, Paul Giamatti as Santa, and a bunch of Giant bicycles as set dressing. Over a year ago, Giant began working with the production company to supply set dress bikes for the Santa's workshop scenes, which were filmed in both London and Chicago.

In the movie, Santa's wild brother, Fred, is called into service to help improve Santa's workshop efficiency. We all know bikes make the best Christmas gifts, so of course there is a sub-plot about a little girl wishing for a bike under the tree.

Thanks to Giant UK, over 75 bikes were supplied to set dress the workshop scenes, including BMX, trikes, and assorted kids bikes. They also provided 10 Giant Gloss bikes, a European-only offering that was custom-painted orange for the movie.

Top 10 Holiday Cycling Gifts - #4

Cateye Strada Wireless Computer/Speedometer ($55.99): Cycling computers are best-sellers because people want to see how fast and how far they’ve gone. The new generation of wireless computers are packed with functions but free from wires. With the new CatEye ClickTec™ interface, you can switch among seven modes by simply pressing the bottom of the computer face — easy to do, even on rough terrain.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Top 10 Holiday Cycling Gifts - #3

Smartwool Cycling Socks ($13.99-$14.99): Cyclists love the wicking quality of wool cycling clothing. If a wool jersey is not in your budget, begin building a wool wardrobe with high-performance Smartwool cycling socks. They are so breathable and comfortable, they just might become your year-round choice for footwear.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Top 10 Holiday Cycling Gifts - #2

Topeak Road Morph Frame Pump ($39.99): This is a full-functioning frame pump to get you out of a jam on the road, yet is so well-designed and easy to use it could be your everyday pump, with up to 160 psi capacity.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Lives Defined: John Moss

John Moss started cycling only about 8 years ago. Like many active people, he was looking for something that was good exercise, but easier on his bad knee than running, his previous preferred workout.

John talked about some of his cycling adventures in this article from the Pulse-Journal, the local newspaper in his Cincinnati-area home town. Among the 73-year-old's most recent trips werea ride all the way across the southern US.

John is the father of former Century Cycles co-owner Lois Moss. He remains a good friend of Century Cycles, and he regularly finds his way up to this part of the state (sometimes by bike) to visit family and friends, and have us tune his bike up for his next adventure.

Here's John outside his home with his cross-country touring bicycle, which has over 35,000 miles on it.

Here's John at the Arizona-New Mexico border, during a cross-country trip last year on the Adventure Cycling Association's Southern Tier Route, from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pumpkin Riding a Bicycle

These photos are of Tom in our Medina store, just in time to close out the Halloween season. I just had to post them, although I'm not quite sure what to say about them...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Top 10 Holiday Cycling Gifts - #1

Cyclops Fluid Indoor Trainer ($329.99): There is no need to stop riding a bike when the weather is bad. Instead, stay in shape, increase endurance, and remain competitive with an indoor trainer. We especially like the CycleOps Fluid, a quiet trainer with a natural, road-like feel and progressive resistance. Nice bonus: It comes with a training DVD.