Thursday, December 31, 2009

A bicycle, of sorts, under the Christmas tree

A bicycle under the Christmas tree is a dream come true for many, both young and old. Century Cycles owner Scott Cowan was surprised by his girlfriend Jo (on left, with her daughter Jordan on the right) with this custom-made weather vane in the shape of a bicycle.

Scott will be mounting the weather vane on the roof of an antique barn that he is restoring on his property.

The custom metal sculpture was hand-made by a local artisan by the name of Mr. Kim Thomas of Thomas IronWorks in Seville, Ohio. Mr. Thomas is a master blacksmith, metalworker, artist, and knife-maker. If you want anything custom made out of metal, he looks like just the guy for the job.

You can read more about Mr. Thomas and see samples of his work at his web site:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturdays - Thanks for the memories!

Here are a couple of photos from our final Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturday in our Medina store on Dec. 26:

Pat, Trish, and Bernd

Chris and his mom

Thanks to all of our friends and customers who stopped by in your Crazy Christmas Sweaters to help make our holiday season fun!

The Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturdays made the local news a couple of times, in these articles:

You can re-live all of the memories from Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturdays 2009 with this slide show:

50% off Pearl Izumi AmFIB Tights - Hot Deal #5!

Pearl Izumi AmFIB Tights
(Men's and Women's)

(regularly $99.99; half-off price valid Dec. 30 through Jan. 13)

This Hot Deal will keep you warm on the coldest of days - perfect timing now that winter just made her snowy arrival! Pearl Izumi AmFIB Tights offer maximum warmth and comfort for extreme winter conditions. They feature stretchy, windproof, water-resistant AmFIB fabric on the front as armor against Mother Nature's worst efforts. Inside, Pearl's ThermaFleece fabric traps heat next to your skin and wicks away moisture. They also feature the awesome cycling fit you've come to expect from Pearl Izumi -- with an elastic/drawstring waist, side-seam ankle zippers and spandex ankle grippers.

Patti The Buyer's Tip O' The Day
Psst! Here's a Century Cycles staff secret: These tights are worn by ALL of us who ride when the temperatures fall below the 50s. They are also incredibly versatile and can be worn for doing anything outdoors - not just bicycling. Wear them for running or cross-country skiing.Or, slip your blue jeans over them for a toasty yet discreet base layer when heading to the sledding or tobogganning hill with your family!

The Fine Print
This Hot Deal is good only December 30, 2009 through January 13, 2010, or while supplies last. In-store purchase only; no online or phone orders accepted. No coupon necessary. Cannot be combined with other offers nor is subject to holiday sale discounts.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Two days left in 2009 to get a credit or make a donation

Do you receive a wellness credit from your employer? Many such plans apply toward the purchase of a bicycle -- but you probably need to make that purchase before the end of the year (and you definitely want to make it before our sale ends!) on December 31. It's also a great time of year to make a year-end charitable donation to your favorite non-profit, such as the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Bikes Belong Foundation, or these 8 great bicycling charities you may not have heard of.

Towpath to Whiskey Island

Things are looking brighter for us outdoor enthusiasts who want to take advantage of our city's public land. There is a proposed connector between the current start of the towpath trail at Steelyard Commons and Wendy Park on Whiskey Island. Click on the link below to read more about the proposed plan.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hop on a great deal on a tandem bicycle!

Our Holiday Sale is still going on through the end of this month! Don't forget that you can take 10% off the price of ANY bike until 12/31/2009!

If you and your riding partner have been in the market for a good tandem bicycle, now is the perfect time to take advantage of this deal.

Our Medina store is our tandem test-ride headquarters, with several high-end tandem bikes in stock from Santana! A perfect example is this Santana Team Niobium model--with a regular price of $8,599.99, you could save $860! Featuring:
  • Niobium steel/carbon ExoGrid Technology frame with carbon seatstays
  • 10 speed Shimano XTR drivetrain and triple crankset
  • Carbon seatposts, fork, and handlebars
  • NEW Ultegra 6700 shift/brake levers
  • Winzip mechanical dual-piston disc brake with 10-inch rotor
  • Santana Shimano Sweet 16 wheelset
  • Terry Fly & Butterfly Ti rail saddles
  • Super-cool Bahama Orange finish

And remember that you can also save 20% on accessories through 12/31/2009!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have a Surly Christmas!

Yesterday, we received an e-mail from the Supreme Overlord at Surly Central Command informing us that we were one of the Top 50 Surly Dealers in the country this year. To some, this honor may be akin to being named valedictorian of summer school, but we're dang proud. Many thanks to our Surly customers for helping to make it happen!

What does this mean to you, the Surly-consuming public? Well, in a few weeks, you may see our store windows festooned with a big Surly Pirate Flag sticker, the secret symbol informing you that we are a preferred purveyor of all things Surly. But you knew that already.

You may see us stocking a wider range of sizes in one or two models of Surly bicycles. Or you may not.

What's new in the Surly pipeline for 2010? The biggest news is that the Pacer road frame will be available for sale as a complete bike, in the new British Racin' Green color:
It features a Shimano Tiagra compact double drive train, including Tiagra front derailleur, rear derailleur, 12-25 9-speed cassette, and integrated brake/shift levers (a step up from the bar-end shifters found on the Long Haul Trucker and Cross-Check). A real steel road bike for a real steal at $1,175.00.

Speaking of the Cross-Check, it comes back unchanged from 2009, available as a frameset or complete bike in Gloss Black or the color we've all learned to love to hate or hate to love, Beef Gravy Brown.

To the delight of many picky touring cyclists, you can now choose 26-inch wheels in any size frame of the Long Haul Trucker; the 700C wheel option is still available for 56cm or larger frames. The new color is (She Wore) Blue Velvet:
There are still a handfull of the older Olive and Truckaccino color LHT's left.

You can still get your hands on a Big Dummy in either Military Green or Black, a Karate Monkey 29er mountain bike in Black or Chum Bucket Red, a Steamroller track bike in Black or Creamroller, the Instigator frame in Black, the 1x1 frameset in Black or Orange, the Traveler's Check frameset in Dark Blue or Brownlow, and coming soon, the Pugsley frameset in Grandpa's Jammies (don't ask, I don't know):

To all of our friends out there in Surly-land, believers and non-believers alike, have a Merry Christmas!

P.S. Don't forget about our final Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturday this week!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So long, sycamore

In the "all the news that's fit to print" department, you may notice a small change outside the Century Cycles store in Peninsula the next time you stop by. As of about a week ago, the large sycamore tree that's been hanging over the parking lot for many years is now gone. A little shade is a good thing, but big roots shifting your foundation are not, not to mention the headaches it caused to delivery truck drivers. There's a fresh dusting of snow on the stump, but you can still see the fresh sawdust around it for now.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturday #3

Here are more photos of us and our customers in our Crazy Christmas Sweaters, from this past Saturday, December 19!

Medina: Joe and Sherrel

Peninsula: Pam with Sales Manager Doug

Rocky River: Staff members Ray and Ken (on left), owner Scott Cowan (far right) with three friends; all six pictured are graduates of Bay High School.

The Christmas Sweater fans are not just confined to Century Cycles; it's a phenomenon that is sweeping the world! To wit, check out the holiday greetings we've received from some of our vendors, such as the popular messenger bag maker Timbuk2:

and cycling socks manufacturer SwiftWick:

Don't forget that you've got ONE MORE CHANCE to wear YOUR Crazy Christmas Sweater into any of our stores this Saturday, December 26, 2009 and claim your FREE gift (with any $10 purchase)!

P.S. A big thanks to Cool Cleveland and Plus College Cool Blog for recommending our our Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturdays to their readers!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jeff Lenosky rides Giant in "Latitudes"

Professional mountain biker Jeff Lenosky joins other pro riders in locations around the world in the new DH Productions film "Latitudes." This clip shows Jeff in scenes from his riding in San Juan, Puerto Rico on the Giant STP.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Perseverance and Patience = The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

Great things never happen overnight, and the world of cycling is no exception. Many of us experience the frustrations of waiting for new bike trails to be completed, new bike lanes to be marked, and improvements to cycling conditions in general.

To keep things in perspective, here's a look back at one cycling project that began as just a dream in 1994. The Adventure Cycling Association had a vision of an off-road cycling route that would follow the spine of the Continental Divide all the way from the northern to the southern border of the United States. A year later, a group of journalists were taken on a guided tour of the almost-completed first 800 miles of the route through Montana. An archived story from Sports Illustrated chronicles that first trip and the dream that it embodied.

Fifteen years later, after countless thousands of hours of labor by professional cartographers, route-planners, private and government land managers, volunteer scouts, local contacts, and touring cyclists acting as guinea pigs, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is a complete reality. It stretches not only between the borders of the US, but up into Canada to Banff, Alberta as well.

You can purchase maps to ride the GDMBR on your own, or ride the Montana section as part of a guided tour. You can even participate in a race of the entire route in two different events, either the Tour Divide or the Great Divide Race.

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route shows what can be accomplished with the right combination of perseverance to get things done, and patience to let the process happen.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hot New Product: Electra Classic Crochet Mesh Cycling Gloves

It's hard not to notice that for the past couple of years, the retro look is IN. Steel-framed bicycles, leather saddles, and leather handlebar tape, not to mention the classic cruiser-style bicycles that are popping up and turning heads in neighborhoods all over.

Regardless of the type of bikes they ride, we've had a lot of requests from customers lately for the retro-style cycling gloves, with the crochet mesh backs that provide a cool look and a cool feel.

Thanks to Electra Bicycles, we have a new option to offer you now in these gloves. The Electra Classic Crochet Cycling Gloves feature retro construction of 100% cotton mesh on the backs, plus synthetic leather palms with minimal foam padding to provide the protection you need without the bulk that you don't need.

They come in Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large sizes, in five classic color combinations to satisfy the tastes of any retro-grouch on your holiday shopping list (including yourself?).

In stock now in all three of our stores, or order online!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More Christmas Sweaters - and an Extra Saturday!

We've collected a few more pictures of our customers who joined Century Cycles for our Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturday last weekend!

One more from the Medina store:

And a few from Rocky River:

We've had so much fun seeing you visit in your Christmas sweaters that we've decided to extend the celebration an additional week! Our original final date was this Saturday, December 19, 2009.

Now, call it Black Saturday, or what one big chain store used to call it, the day to come and get "almost everything you wanted but didn't get for Christmas," you can also come visit any of our stores in your Crazy Christmas Sweater on Saturday, December 26, 2009 and claim your free gift with any $10 purchase.

As we've mentioned before, one gift is for beer drinkers, and the other is for coffee drinkers; either one comes with a sample of the appropriate beverage to fill it! (Gifts and samples available while supplies last.)

50% Off Blackburn Voyager Light Combo - Hot Deal #4

Blackburn Voyager 3.3 Headlight / Mars 1.0 Taillight Set

(Regularly $32.99; 50% off MSRP good only 12/17/09 thru 12/29/09 while supplies last.)

We're bringing back our most popular Hot Deal from last winter -- just in time to stuff those stockings for the holidays! The Blackburn Voyager Light Combo is a terrific light set for cyclists of all ages and bikes of all kinds. The Blackburn Voyager 3.3 headlight sports three super-bright LEDs with flash and steady modes, plus it easily attaches to all handlebars without tools. The Mars 1.0 taillight has four ultra-bright red LEDs with mounts that can attach to your bike, pack, or rack.

Patti The Buyer's Tip O' The Day

Lights are an essential cycling accessory to see and be seen on the road. To accomplish both, consider where you place and how you aim your lights. Many cyclists use two headlights - one to cast a beam on the pavement and the other light aimed higher, at motorists' eye level to catch their attention. Scott uses two himself and has the higher light on a blinking mode to make sure it's really attention-getting. A taillight attached to your seatpost or rack makes you visible from behind. Again, don't be afraid to use more than one red rear light - if anyone has seen Krista from the Rocky River store on a Night Ride, she's easily visible because she always has a red blinking light attached to her helmet as well as her bicycle.

The Fine Print
This Hot Deal is good only December 17 - 29, 2009, while supplies last. In-store purchase only at any Century Cycles store; no online or phone orders accepted. No coupon necessary. Cannot be combined with other offers nor is subject to holiday sale discounts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blanc et Noir OR Noir et Blanc?

OMG! It's my beloved bike (above) -- but in reverse (below, at the Rocky River store).

The Million Car Challenge Campaign

There's a group that started a new bicycle awareness campaign as of yesterday. The campaign is called the "Million Car Challenge." The idea is this: since the vast majority of bicyclists also own and drive cars, why not use those cars to help spread the message about the rights of cyclists? To that end, they've created this sticker, and hope that at least one million people will display it on their cars:

The sticker is available in high-quality vinyl, measures about 5-1/2 by 9-3/4 inches, and can be ordered from their web site for $3.65 or $9.65 for a set of three.

Go to for more information and to order. The web site address is an acronym for the sign, "Bicycles Allowed Use of Full Lane."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Define your Taiwan AND Hong Kong!

Our friend and regular customer at the Century Cycles store in Medina, K. Bauer, sent us another batch of photos from her ongoing trip in Asia:

Here's K. Bauer proudly wearing her "Define your life. Ride a" t-shirt at Goody Goody Coffee, a popular refueling spot for the many cyclists in the city of Kaoshung, Taiwan.

Sun Moon Lake is a popular tourist destination; here is K. Bauer sporting her "Define your life. Ride a" t-shirt there, too!

Giant Bicycles has an office in Sun Moon Lake.

This van loaded with bicycles shows the popularity of cycling-related tourist activities in Taiwan. The location is Kenton National Park.

This photo from the island of Hong Kong shows how steep many of the streets there are, which, as K. Bauer notes, is why there aren't as many cyclists there compared to in Taiwan.

Thanks again for the photos and the trip report, Ms. Bauer!

Only 2 days left on our Electra Hot Deal!

These are the last two days to take advantage of our steamiest Hot Deal yet -- 50% off an Electra Indy bicycle! If you're a fan of Century Cycles on Facebook, you got the update a few days ago that this Hot Deal has been expanded to include the Electra Vince -- a super-cool, all-black retro ride that is also now just $339 (reg. $679.99) for only two more days.

This Hot Deal ends Wednesday at 8pm. The next Hot Deal (which is a great stocking stuffer -- hint, hint!) will be announced on Thursday morning.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturday #2

The Christmas Sweaters were out in full force again at Century Cycles this past Saturday for our Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturday gift give-aways!

Here are a couple of photos from our Peninsula store:


Mike with staff members Michael and Rich

Not surprisingly, both Bob and Mike selected the "Define your life. Ride a" pint glass (along with a bottle of Great Lakes Christmas Ale) as their free gift.

In Rocky River, even "Skinny Fred" got into the act, although rumor has it that he skipped both the beer and the coffee mug--how else would he keep his girlish figure?!?

Join us this Saturday, December 19, your LAST CHANCE to wear YOUR Crazy Christmas Sweater into any of our stores to get your free gift (with any $10 purchase).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Special gifts just got special-er!

Last weekend's Crazy Christmas Sweater Saturday was a rousing success and we're looking forward to another great one tomorrow, especially now that we see we picked some pretty popular free gifts!

You know the drill: Join us in a wearing o' the festive sweaters and we'll give you a special gift, FREE with any $10 purchase. You have your choice of two special gifts. The first gift is for beer drinkers – it’s a Century Cycles pint glass and a bottle of Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale – a beer so famous it got front-page coverage in The Plain Dealer this past week!

The other gift to choose from is just for coffee drinkers – it’s a Century Cycles coffee mug and a packet of 53x11 Coffee, The Early Break. There are a lot of folks who are fans of 53x11 Coffee besides us – including the comic strip hero Frazz. Check out his t-shirt in the comic strip by cartoonist (and fellow bicyclist) Jef Mallett that ran last week:

So what are you waiting for?? Dig out that old sweater Aunt Edna gave you 10 Christmases ago and we’ll give you something special to toast the season!
P.S. Oh yeah - and don't forget the Holiday Sale!

December 2009 eNewsletter

The latest edition of the Century Cycles Monthly eNewsletter is hot off the presses! If you didn't receive it in your Inbox, you can read it online here. In this month's issue:
Catch up on past issues and sign up to receive your own copy at our eNewsletter Archive Page.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Staff Profile: Adam Falkner

How does being a bass player help land you a job at Century Cycles? Just ask Adam Falkner at the Rocky River store, whose ability to both wrench on bikes and play a mean blues lick impressed General Manager Mike Petcher during a job interview almost seven years ago. Raised on the east side, Adam is now a resident of Fairview Park and happy to call himself a west-sider.

Q: What was your first bike?
A: A Cycle Pro BMX bike. My dad gave it to me in 1985, when I was five years old. I don’t have it anymore. A few years ago, I gave the frame to Keith Heffernan.

Q: How many bikes do you currently own?
A: I only have one go-to bike assembled, a Raleigh M50 mountain bike that I converted into a drop bar, single-speed touring bike. It’s been called “The Beast.” I also have about four or five projects in the basement, plus I have two frames and a big pile of parts.

Q: What do you like about working at Century Cycles?
A: Great people, laid-back job, going out for beers after work. Making things work is always great. When a person brings us something they thought they would never ride again, then they come to pick it up and it rides like new – that’s a great feeling.

Q: What do you do when you’re not at Century Cycles or riding a bike?
A: I play in a band called Body Massage, which is a funky bluesy-type jazz band. I like to hang out with my girlfriend. I’m always working on cars, either mine or one of my friends’ cars.

Q: I heard Body Massage played at Whole Foods. How was that?
A: Our sax player worked there and got us the gig. It was a blast to see people waiting in the check-out line and dancing. Bizarre but entertaining.

Q: Road or dirt?
A: Lately it’s been more road, although I used to love mountain biking. I fell in to the dark side of road bikers, bicycling for exercise instead of adventure.

Q: What three words describe how you feel on a bike?
A: Sweaty, empowered, fit.

Q: So after a sweaty ride, what beer quenches your thirst?
A: Delirium Tremens is my favorite beer.

Q: What piece of advice do you give to customers?
A: Take care of your stuff and ask questions if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A: Ray always says get what works for you. I’m a tinkerer by heart and like to put together old and weird bikes. That works for me, but it does not work for everyone.

Q: Where is your favorite trail or ride, in the U.S. and local?
A: Anywhere in San Diego, which is where my aunt and uncle live. Always a pleasure. Around here I like the hilly east side, like the Pepper Pike and Gates Mills area, and riding in the Metroparks.

Q: What’s your biggest accomplishment on a bike?
A: A few years ago I lost 70 pounds in six months just riding my bike. It got me healthy.

2010 Bicycle Maintenance Classes

Register for one of Century Cycles' Bicycle Maintenance Classes, bring (and work on) your own bike, and receive hands-on education from the best expert mechanics in town! With the Tune-Up, Women's Tune-Up, and Advanced Tune-Up classes, you'll also receive:
  • 15% discount on all parts, tools, lubes, and repair stands
  • A free book: "The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair" (a $19.95 value)
All class sessions are held from 6:00-8:00pm unless otherwise indicated.

Tune-Up Class
Plan to get dirty and leave with a clean, well-tuned bicycle! Learn to clean and lubricate the drive train; adjust brakes, derailleurs, hubs, headset, and bottom bracket; and evaluate replacement parts and upgrades. (2) two-hour sessions; $85 per person.
  • Medina: January 6 and 13 OR February 4 and 11
  • Peninsula: January 5 and 12 OR February 3 and 10
  • Rocky River: January 7 and 14 OR February 2 and 9
Women's-Only Tune-Up Class
Exact same curriculum as above, but without the Y chromosome (well, except for your instructor). (2) two-hour sessions; $85 per person.
  • Medina: January 19 and 26
  • Peninsula: January 21 and 28
  • Rocky River: January 20 and 27
Advanced Tune-Up Class
This is our master wrenching class! Learn everything from the Tune-Up class plus receive more in-depth instruction about derailleur adjustment and advanced wheel truing. You'll also remove, clean, lubricate, and re-install the crankset, chain, and derailleurs on your bicycle. (3) two-hour sessions; $125 per person.
  • Medina: January 14, 21, and 28 OR February 2, 9, and 16
  • Peninsula: January 13, 20, and 27 OR February 4, 11, and 18
  • Rocky River: January 12, 19, and 26 OR February 3, 10, and 17
Fix-A-Flat Mondays: FREE!
Century Cycles stores are teaching a free clinic on flat tire repair every Monday in January and February at 7:00pm in Medina and Rocky River (6:00pm in Peninsula). Because it's the #1 bike maintenance skill all bicyclists need to know, we're making it easy for everyone to learn. No registration is necessary, just show up!

CC 1-To-1
Do you want to take one of the above classes, but can't fit it into your schedule? Or, do you want to learn a combination of any of the topics above, or want to learn something specific, like wheel-building? Century Cycles now offers CC 1-To-1 just for you. It's a training program tailored to YOUR needs and YOUR schedule. $75 per hour, by appointment only.

Class Registration
Call or visit the store you want to attend to reserve your class spot (see locations and phone numbers below). Payment is due at the time of registration. The classes are geared toward multi-speed bikes manufactured after 1985 and are not suitable for BMX, recumbent, tandem, or coaster brake bicycles. Missed classes cannot be made up or refunded.

  • Medina: 1079 N. Court St. Medina, OH 44256 phone: 330-722-7119
  • Peninsula: 1621 Main St. Peninsula, OH 44264 phone: 330-657-2209
  • Rocky River: 19955 Detroit Rd. Rocky River, OH 44116 phone: 440-356-5705

TechTalk: Cycling-Specific Clothing

If you're new to cycling, you may have wondered "What's with all the bike clothing?" Is there a reason for the tight spandex and flashy colors?

The world of clothing for cycling is not just all about fashion and vanity. There are good reasons for why bike clothes look and feel the way they do. Cycling-specific clothing is designed to maximize your comfort and performance while riding. Even if you are not a racer looking for maximum speed, cycling clothing still provides benefits that help you get the most enjoyment from your bicycling experience.

Clothing designed for cycling and other vigorous activities is usually made with a blend of polyester fabrics. These fabric promote a process known as "wicking," which means the transfer of moisture (i.e. sweat) away from your body into the air. Even the most basic and inexpensive cycling clothing made of wicking fibers is better than a typical cotton t-shirt. Cotton tends to absorb and hold moisture, which ends up making you feel hotter in hot weather and colder in cold weather.

More advanced wicking fabrics are designed with different types and shapes of fibers on the inside and outside surfaces. The inside fibers are optimized to attract moisture and pull it away from your skin, and the outside fibers are optimized for helping the moisture evaporate into the air. These principles are applied to the fabrics used in both cycling jerseys and cycling shorts.

As for the colors, you can wear whatever your personal preference dictates. Professional and amateur racers wear jerseys adorned with the logos of their sponsors, to provide the exposure for the sponsors' businesses in exchange for their financial support. Some recreational riders like to wear the same clothing to show their preference for their favorite racer or team (just like football fans wear the jersey of their favorite NFL team). The neon green or other bright-colored jerseys that many riders wear are mainly so that they are more visible to drivers on the roads. However, jerseys are available in more subdued colors for those that do not care to attract as much attention.

Most performance-minded cyclists prefer their jerseys to be as tight as possible. If your jersey flaps in the wind, that will slightly hinder your speed. However, even if you're not concerned about speed, a more important thing to consider is that a loose jersey will have the potential to move around and rub against your skin, causing chafing and discomfort.

The same principle applies to cycling shorts; the tight spandex material allows the shorts to move with you, rather than against you, to avoid chafing. Another problem with jeans and even most non-cycling-specific athletic pants is that the seams are positioned right down the middle of the crotch area. This provides a pressure point between your body and the bike seat, causing chafing and hot spots. Cycling shorts have the seams positioned strategically to the sides to avoid this problem.

Cycling shorts also have a padded lining in the seat area. This pad is sometimes referred to as a "chamois," in reference to the material that some are made out of. Many years ago, some shorts had a chamois made of leather. The padding in most modern cycling shorts is made of a combination of polyester fabric and foam padding.

Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of the chamois in bike shorts is NOT to providing extra cushioning in your seat. The primary function of the chamois is to reduce friction between your skin and your shorts and bike seat. Most of the discomfort in the seat that most cyclists experience at one time or another is a result of this friction, and not actually a result of your weight pressing down on the seat.You can enhance the friction-reducing ability of the chamois by applying a lotion or cream to it, such as Chamois Butt'r.

What distinguished less expensive cycling shorts from more advanced models? The better models will use more advanced stitching methods in the seams, resulting in a flatter seam on the inside, which is more comfortable against your skin. The chamois on better models will have a more anatomic shape for more comfort, often with different thicknesses of foam in different areas to provide more or less padding to optimize the friction-reducing properties in strategic spots. Some models incorporate anti-microbial fibers, which help to reduce odor and even potentially harmful infections.

If, out of modesty, you don't want to wear the skin-tight cycling shorts in public, there is a "baggy" style of bike shorts available. These have a tight inside liner that is just like the cycling shorts described above, but a regular loose outer layer that looks just like a regular pair of casual shorts, usually including pockets.

The use of wool in cycling jerseys, shorts, and other outdoor clothing was common many years ago, before polyester and other synthetic fabrics were widely available. In recent years, however, wool has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity as many outdoor enthusiasts have rediscovered its natural ability to provide warmth even when wet, wick away moisture, and provide comfort in both hot and cold conditions. The use of 100% Merino wool provides smooth comfort without the itchiness of that old wool sweater hanging in the back of your closet.

Cycling jerseys are available in both short- and long-sleeve for riding all types of conditions. Cycling shorts are also made in long versions, or "tights." For those in-between days in the spring and fall, try arm warmers and leg warmers. These are basically just individual sleeves and pant legs that you can pull on before you start your ride on a cool morning. As the day warms up, you can easily slip them off, and they are small enough to be able to roll up and stuff into your jersey pockets or a bag on your bike.

Cycling-specific jackets and pants let you add an extra outer layer to keep the wind's chill off. Cycling-specific jackets are built to meet the needs of riders more so than a regular jacket--the sleeves are longer to keep your wrists covered even while in the riding position, and the tail is built a little longer to keep the draft off of your back. Both jackets and pants may come in "water-resistant" and "waterproof" designs. The water-resistant types will be more "breathable," i.e. let your sweat evaporate more easily, and are adequate in keeping you dry in mild misty conditions. The waterproof types are better at keeping you dry in a steady rain, but at the expense of breathe-ability.

Up on top, you can wear a wicking bandana or skull cap, which provides some insulation from the cold, but is thin enough to fit under your helmet. You can also add a waterproof helmet cover to keep the rain and snow out (and can help even on dry days to keep the wind off of your head to help you stay warm). For REALLY cold days, swap that skull cap for a "balaclava," which covers your whole head, ears, and neck, leaving just a space for your eyes and nose, for maximum protection from the biting cold.

You are probably familiar with the short-fingered gloves worn by many cyclists, but you can also get them in full-fingered styles for somewhat chilly days, and fully insulated for those winter rides. Even in warm weather, gloves serve three purposes: keeping your hands from sweating and getting slippery all over your grips, providing some padding to keep your hands from getting numb, and protection from getting dirt and gravel embedded in your hands in the unfortunate event of an "involuntary dismount."

We haven't forgotten about your feet! Like jerseys and shorts, cycling socks are made of wicking polyester materials to help manage moisture. When the temperature drops, you can switch to wool socks--several companies make cycling-specific wool socks that help to keep your toes warm, but are still thin enough to fit inside your cycling shoes. For really sloppy conditions, slip cycling booties over your shoes--these are made of neoprene or similar materials to keep the rain, snow, and slush off your feet.

To be ready for all conditions, the old maxim of "dress in layers" applies to cycling as well as to all outdoor activities. Start with a wicking base layer (regular bike jersey), add a thicker insulating layer (winter jersey, wool jersey, or polar fleece sweatshirt), then top them off with a wind-breaking cycling jacket. For your bottoms, start with your cycling shorts, then add leg warmers or tights for extra warmth, then add a pair of cycling pants to keep dry. You can easily stop mid-ride to remove or add layers as conditions change.

Century Cycles has clothing and accessories in stock in all of the categories mentioned above. Our expert staff has the experience to advise you on what's best for your riding style and the types of conditions you plan to ride in. All of these make great holiday gift ideas, too!