For the First Time, America’s Greatest Cycling Race Will Travel South to North, Beginning in Escondido and Crossing Beaches, Deserts, Mountains, Golden Gate Bridge
LOS ANGELES (February 12, 2013) – Changing direction for the first time in its eight-year history from south to north, America’s largest and most prestigious professional cycling stage race, the 2013 Amgen Tour of California, will bring riders and spectators first-time destinations, unprecedented climbs and demanding sprints on the approximately 750-mile course.
Amgen returns as the title sponsor for the heralded 8-stage race, set for May 12 to 19, 2013. Beginning with a circuit in Escondido, the route will run through 13 official host cities and include a first-time finish at the top of Mount Diablo, the 3,864-foot peak in the San Francisco Bay area. The race’s last stage will begin along the San Francisco Bay and continue across the Golden Gate Bridge, where a rolling traffic break will give cyclists uninterrupted access for the six-minute crossing.
Two new cities join the race route roster: Greater Palm Springs and Murrieta will host Stage 2, which will include an intense finish up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, one of the toughest climbs anywhere with an 1,880-foot elevation gain in the last four miles. Two other firsts: Escondido and Santa Rosa will become the first cities in race history to have hosted both an overall start and an overall finish.
“We take great pride in creating challenging, beautiful Amgen Tour of California routes that attract top international riders and showcase the state’s amazing terrain and scenery,” said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports. “We also consider the many fan and rider route suggestions before we settle on a final course. This year will be not only the most competitive but the most spectacular with diverse California scenery, from coastal routes to mountain vistas.”
As one of the most anticipated professional cycling races on the international calendar, the Amgen Tour of California draws top cyclists from the ranks of Olympic medalists, Tour de France competitors and world champions including BMC Racing Team’s current world road champion Philippe Gilbert.
The 2013 Amgen Tour of California will feature the following highlights*:
Stage 1, Presented by Nissan: Sunday, May 12 – Escondido
Start/Finish Location: Broadway and Grand Ave.
Start Time: 11:15 a.m.
Stage Length: 104.3 miles
Expect huge crowds as the Amgen Tour of California returns to San Diego County for the first time since 2009, when record numbers greeted the tour along the course and at the start and finish cities of Rancho Bernardo and Escondido. The 2013 route will include a climb up Mount Palomar, an effort that is often compared to the arduous Alpe d’Huez at the Tour de France.
Stage 2, Presented by Visit California: Monday, May 13 – Murrieta to Greater Palm Springs
Start Location: Murrieta City Hall/Town Square Park
Finish Location: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Start Time: 10:20 a.m.
Stage Length: 126.1 miles
Well versed in staging cycling races, Murrieta has been the host city for the popular Tour of Murrieta for several years. Incorporating a new part of California into the race, this stage will wind south through Temecula Valley Wine Country. Then the riders will tackle the climb up the San Jacinto Mountains to the hamlet of Idyllwild, one of the country’s top mountain biking destinations, before descending into the Coachella Valley and the towns of Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City and Palm Springs. The stage will finish spectacularly as riders climb Tramway Road to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway parking lot. The last 3.8 miles of the race will gain 1,880 feet of elevation – one of the toughest climbs anywhere.
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 14 – Palmdale to Santa Clarita
Start Location: Marie Kerr Park
Finish Location: Magic Mountain Parkway
Start Time: 11:20 a.m.
Stage Length: 111.8 miles
The race will return to host cities Palmdale and Santa Clarita, but will traverse entirely new roads. The stage will feature the 22-mile climb up Lake Hughes Road and follow the route of the famous Furnace Creek 508, the ultra-endurance race through Santa Clarita. The peloton will likely break apart on the massive climb, but an 18-mile descent to the finish will give the riders a chance to regroup and mount a large field sprint toward the finish line.
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 15 – Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara
Start Location: Theater Drive and Town Center
Finish Location: Cabrillo Blvd.
Start Time: 12:35 p.m.
Stage Length: 84.7 miles
Veteran Amgen Tour of California racers will recognize this stage from past races, but they’ll be riding it in reverse. After the desert terrain of Stage 3, they’ll welcome ocean breezes as they descend to the finish in coastal Santa Barbara. They’ll have their work cut out for them: punishing headwinds are a regular feature along the route to Santa Paula, site of the first sprint of the stage. A sprint in Ojai will be preceded by the K.O.M. and technical descent of Dennison Grade. Past Ojai, the climb up Casitas Pass will give way to long downhill and flat finish along the beach in Santa Barbara. There is no question that this stage will favor the sprinters.
Stage 5, Presented by Visit California: Thursday, May 16 – Santa Barbara to Avila Beach
Start Location: Cabrillo Blvd.
Finish Location: Front St.
Start Time 11 a.m.
Stage Length: 116.4 miles
A start along the beach in Santa Barbara will see the race retrace much of its 2006 route, but in reverse order. The riders will continue over the steep and windy San Marcos Pass along state Route 154 before descending into the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area. The racers will then tackle Foxen Canyon Road outside of Los Olivos and pass through Orcutt and the quaint farm town of Guadalupe, which gave the race a warm welcome in 2006. A sprint in Arroyo Grande will foreshadow an anticipated massive sprint to the finish in Avila Beach, which offers a picturesque harbor, quaint shops, a beautiful beach and the opportunity for its 1,700 residents to join thousands of race fans to watch the peloton storm down Front Street in hopes of capturing the stage win.
Stage 6: Friday, May 17 – San Jose (Individual Time Trial)
Start Location: Bailey Ave.
Finish Location: Metcalf Road – Metcalf Motorcycle Park
Start Time: 12:50 p.m.
Stage Length: 19.6 miles
San Jose is a familiar setting for the race; it’s the only city to participate in all eight editions of the Amgen Tour of California. The race returns to the 2006 time trial course for the first three-fourths of the day, with the addition of a wicked stinger at this year’s finish. This 19.6-mile stage features a climb that begins soon after the riders push off the starting ramp. As the racers navigate around beautiful lakes and golf courses, they will begin to prepare for the most difficult finish posed by any Amgen Tour of California time trial course. Once they make the final right-hand turn on the route, they will face the strenuous, three kilometer climb up Metcalf Road to the finish. The riders will gain nearly 1,000 feet in elevation and attack several pitches with a grade of 10 percent or more.
Stage 7, Presented by Nissan: Saturday, May 18 – Livermore to Summit of Mount Diablo
Start Location: 3rd St./Carnegie Park
Finish Location: Mount Diablo – summit parking lot
Start Time: 11:35 a.m.
Stage Length: 93 miles
In all likelihood, the 2013 Amgen Tour of California will be won or lost on the climb to the peak of Mount Diablo. The 92-mile route features several cyclist favorites, including Morgan Territory Road, new to the race this year. The riders will navigate narrow, twisting climbs through bucolic farm country and redwoods before making a roller-coaster descent. The race will return to Patterson Pass Road where they will encounter the infamous “wall,” a short, steep climb toward the end of the road where riders will peddle up grades over 15 percent in the last two kilometers. The peloton will return to Livermore for a sprint, and finally, expect large crowds at Mount Diablo, which historically has attracted some of the largest audiences for a mountain race route. This year, the race will cover an additional 4.5 miles of climbing to the summit, perhaps the greatest viewscape of any mountain in California with breathtaking views up to 200 miles in any direction.
Stage 8, Presented by Amgen: Sunday, May 19 – San Francisco to Santa Rosa
Start Location: Marina Green
Finish Location: 3rd Street and Santa Rosa Ave.
Start Time: 8:15 a.m.
Stage Length: 86.2 miles
We could not have designed a better stage for the finish of 2013 Amgen Tour of California! This stage encompasses some of the most spectacular scenery as it winds through San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Highway 1, Point Reyes National Seashore, Occidental and Santa Rosa, where the crowds are expected to be the largest ever to see the race conclude. An early race start at Marina Green in San Francisco (dictated by live race coverage on NBC) and a rolling traffic break of the Golden Gate Bridge will ensure the spectacular sight of the peloton descending on the landmark. The bridge sidewalk will remain open to provide spectators the opportunity to cheer on the cyclists racing across the structure.
The race will be capped off by two spectator-friendly finish circuits in downtown Santa Rosa where the winner of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California will be crowned in a special awards ceremony. At the end of the race, the winner and the team who supported him will take top honors for having conquered the longest and most difficult stage race ever mounted in the United States.
Cycling fans can experience the excitement of America’s biggest professional stage race up close and personal by becoming a race volunteer. Race organizers are looking to fill nearly 5,000 volunteer positions. Registration and further information about the various duties available is now available online at www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com.
For the last five years, title sponsor Amgen has recognized outstanding individuals making a difference for cancer patients and their loved ones in communities across California through the Breakaway from Cancer initiative, designed to raise awareness of the important resources that are available to those affected by cancer – from prevention through survivorship. Four individuals – one from each of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California communities of Escondido, Santa Clarita, Santa Barbara and Livermore – will ultimately be selected as the Breakaway from Cancer Champions. Nominations will be accepted online until Feb. 25 to recognize a cancer survivor, patient, caregiver or advocate for those impacted by cancer. Learn more about becoming a Breakaway from Cancer Champion at www.breakawayfromcancer.com/champions.
About the Amgen Tour of California
The largest cycling event in America, the 2013 Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race, created and presented by AEG, that challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course from May 12-19, 2013. For more information, please visit www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com.
Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science’s promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bone disease and other serious illnesses. With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people’s lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and our vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com. Follow us on www.twitter.com/amgen.
About Breakaway from Cancer
Founded in 2005 by Amgen, Breakaway from Cancer is a national initiative to increase awareness of important resources available to people affected by cancer – from prevention through survivorship. Breakaway from Cancer is a collaboration between Amgen and four nonprofit partner organizations: Prevent Cancer Foundation, Cancer Support Community, Patient Advocate Foundation, and National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. These organizations offer a broad range of support services complementing those provided by a patient’s team of healthcare professionals. For more information, please visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com or follow us @BreakawayCancer on Twitter and www.facebook.com/BreakawayfromCancer on Facebook.
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, Sprint Center, The O2, Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE and Best Buy Theater Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Bay to Breakers foot race and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG Live, the organization’s live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.
*Route and start times are subject to change.
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Eileen Tanner, GolinHarris
A Conversation with Charles Cole
By Seth Lightcap
Where would we be as explorers of rock, trail and waterway without Stealth Rubber? Whether paired with a Five Ten shoe design or used as a resole for another brand shoe, the stickiest of all sticky rubbers has been crucial equipment for many of the most groundbreaking adventure achievements of the last 25 years. Stealth Rubber has been championed as the rubber to trust when loss of traction could have serious consequences.
Matching Stealth Rubber with a steady stream of innovative shoe designs has led Five Ten to grow from a niche climbing shoe company to one of the premier action sports footwear brands in the world. This evolution has been led every step of the way by Five Ten founder and Stealth Rubber inventor Charles Cole. A pioneering Yosemite climber with a stacked resume of bold El Cap ascents, Cole started the California based shoe company in 1985. Cole’s invention of Stealth Rubber and other climbing shoe innovations laid the foundation for a company that became known for it’s progressive athlete driven designs.
In 2011, Five Ten marked another milestone as Cole sold the business to shoe industry juggernaut Adidas. The merger has not slowed down Five Ten, nor the cutting edge climber turned rubber scientist Cole. In fact, the pace of progression has only picked up for the company. Adventure Sports Journal caught up with Cole to talk about these latest developments, the roots of Five Ten and the legendary polymer known as Stealth Rubber.
ASJ: What inspired you to stop climbing and start a climbing shoe business?
When I got down from the last major aid route I did on El Cap, Space, there was a note on the board at Camp Four that said, “Call Home.” That had never happened before. So I found out that my father had suffered a stroke and a heart attack. All of a sudden my family had no money and no means of support. I was 30 years old so I knew I had to do something for my family. I had always told myself, “You love climbing so much, don’t ever get into the business of climbing.” But in the end, if you’re trying to make money and that’s the one thing you know inside and out, go with what you know. It was obvious that I should go into the climbing industry.
ASJ: Why did you decide to make shoes and not cams or carabiners?
One of my assignments in business school was to make a list of ideas that I thought could make money as a new business. “Make a new rubber for climbing shoes,” was one of the ideas at the top of my list. No one had actually done any research on rubber for climbing shoes at that point. Climbing was just too small of a market, so the shoe companies had only been working with existing rubbers. With my engineering background I knew that it would be fairly easy to invent a new rubber, especially if no one else was working on it. I ended up creating an entirely new rubber compound. That was Stealth Rubber.
ASJ: How did you begin the process of inventing Stealth rubber?
I started by questioning what makes rubber have friction on rock. I came up with a few theories and then went to the Cal Tech library and read all the books on rubber to learn as much as I could. Then I took a bunch of rubber samples to a rubber company and asked them to duplicate the samples. Turns out you can’t reverse engineer rubber. But after reading all those books I could speak the rubber language so I started talking to the chemists at the rubber company about producing my own formula. My first formula was not all that great, but it was good enough. Then I got a call from the rubber factory about another formula I had been working on. They said they had screwed up on the sample but asked me to come check it out anyway. At first I said“No way, just throw it away and make the stuff I ordered.” But I went and checked it out anyway. The rubber was actually significantly better than the stuf I had formulated! So of course my first questionwas, “What did I do wrong?” That wrong formula became right, and we went on researching from there. I got a little lucky.
ASJ: How do you produce new rubber compounds now?
I have a world-class rubber lab 30 feet from my office. I put it together for fivcents on the dollar by buying equipment from eBay and bankruptcy auctions. The big rubber companies were never that interested in us because we didn’t do enough volume. As a result I could only get a new rubber sample made every two months and it takes ten to 15 samples to get a new rubber. Now that I have my own lab I can produce four samples in a day. For the Tom Cruise movie MI4: Ghost Protocol they asked me for a special shoe to climb the outside of the tallest building in Dubai. I made a brand new rubber formula that was ideal for climbing glass and metal in three days and had it on a pair of shoes in two weeks.
ASJ: The first FiveTen shoe was an approach shoe. Why did you focus on making an approach shoe before you made technical climbing shoes?
A climber in Joshua Tree had found a discount tennis shoe in Poland called the “Scat.” It wasn’t a very good name, but it was a good climbing shoe because it had this spongey rubber on the bottom and it was way more comfortable than the EB’s we had been climbing in. It was like a real shoe. They weren’t designed for climbing so the rubber wore out really fast, but they were like ten bucks a pair. All of a sudden everyone in SoCal was climbing in these Polish tennis shoes. So we had this wild idea to put our old EB or Boreal rubber on these Scats. As it turned out, the resoled Scat was a much more comfortable climbing shoe. So that became my original idea for the company. We would make this hybrid shoe with climbing rubber on the bottom that was really comfortable. The term approach shoe didn’t exist at the time, but we ended up making the first one.
ASJ: Beyond the high friction rubber, Five Ten was also the pioneer of several other innovative climbing shoe designs, including the first down-turnedclimbing shoe. The down turned last is now an industry standard. How did the idea come about?
I was bouldering in Red Rocks at the Craft Boulders with Randy Grandstaff and he wasn’t wearing my shoes. So I asked him, “Why aren’t you wearing my shoes? You’re my buddy.” He told me my shoes had so much “rocker” in them that it made it hard to pull in when you’re bouldering because the toes stuck up. So I was like, “What if I made the shoe flat, orbetter yet, what if I make it down-toed?” I got very excited about the whole idea, immediately called my patent attorney, and then drove straight to Wilson’s in Bishop, CA. They made custom climbing shoes at the time. I worked with Tony Puppo and Dan Asay to make the firstprototype of a down turned climbing shoe. Five Ten produced it a year or so later and called it the UFO in reference to when you were falling off of a boulder problem. The UFO also had split velcro flaps whichhad never been done before either. That shoe really put us on the map and began to change the look of the modern rock shoe.
ASJ: What inspired Five Ten to jump into the cycling shoe market?
We had been giving our climbers approach shoes to ride mountain bikes in for years before our first cycling specifishoe hit the market. But starting in 2000 we had a major change when the cyclists really started to discover our rubber. I remember seeing a rider on the cover of dirt magazine wearing our shoes, “Holy cow is that our shoes? Who is that guy? He’s number one in the world!” Soon after we worked with Jeff Steber from Intense Cycles to produce the first bike shoe withStealth rubber.
ASJ: What do you sell more of now, cycling shoes or climbing shoes?
The bike shoe market began very small, but it has doubled nearly every year. It was only a short time before cycling caught up to the climbing market. I am pretty sure cycling shoe sales will top climbing shoes for the first time this yea, and we will definitely have more cyclingshoe models than climbing.
ASJ: Five Ten has also begun to make shoes for other action sports such as slacklining, base jumping and free-running (parkour). How do you decide which sports to dive into?
We found ourselves doing very well in cycling and in climbing but the two disciplines were difficult to markettogether. We began wondering what the two sports have in common. Well, they are both dangerous. It took us awhile, but we finally came up with “Brand of theBrave.” None of the big shoe companies wanted to say that they were making shoes for the world’s most dangerous sports, so we ran right towards these sports and ended up capturing the niche. “Brand of the Brave” became a very easy slogan to apply to what we do. It describes all the sports we do perfectly, and it defines what we want to do.
ASJ: In 2011 you sold the company to Adidas. Why?
I’ve had design ideas for the last ten years that I couldn’t afford to make happen. With Adidas I can make them happen. It was the perfect match. We were doing things that they can’t do under their own name, and they brought in much needed capital. There is a lot of innovation going on now at Five Ten. We’re working on some really beautiful and elegant solutions for a few long-standing design problems. I only felt I could sell the company when I had a good feeling and trusted the buyer. Adidas is athlete-driven and they realize that we are experts at what we do. We have become a bigger company, but no one wants us to diverge from our roots. At this point they are still allowing us to do all the crazy stuff that we always have.
ASJ: What can we expect in the near future from Five Ten?
We will be introducing at least two new and very different technologies into both climbing and cycling soon. We’ll have a new BMX shoe in 2013 and a new climbing design. For this climbing shoe, I used the Anasazi design and pushed it into a wider shape that has the same power, but is more comfortable because your toes aren’t so crimped. This will result in a completely new shape and feel. For many applications, it will be our highest performing shoe yet.
ASJ: Five Ten climbing shoes are made in California, while all other Five Ten shoes are made in China. Will this production plan continue?
Manufacturing climbing shoes is a speciality operation. They are all hand made. I can make far, far higher quality climbing shoes here in the US than in China even though I am going to pay a lot more to make them here. Our company is about quality. We’re never going to be a price point company.
ASJ: What do you think has been the secret to Five Ten’s continued success?
Our key to success this entire time, has been to listen to the athletes. For example, I was climbing in the Frankenjura in Germany with Ben Moon and Wolfgang Gullich. Moon, being the Brit, was making fun of all my products, “Oh yeah, I never climb in your shoes, look at those toes, they are dead flat. I need a pointytoe. Your shoes may work on granite, but they don’t work on limestone. See how I can put my foot in these pockets.” They were all wearing Boreals. So I was thinking to myself, “Fucking pointy toes, I’ll give you some fucking pointy toes!” I went home and made what became the Anasazi. That shoe blew everybody’s mind because it had a really pointy toe. I’ll always listen to constructive criticism about our shoes. I really listen because I know that if I do what is best for the athletes, we will be in good shape as acompany.
NEW FOR 2013
The Amgen Tour of California won’t have to worry about a snowstorm shutting down the first stage of America’s biggest cycling race this year.
Instead of Tahoe, organizers have chosen a much safer kickoff city for the race’s seventh year — Santa Rosa, which will host the start and finish of the 116-mile first stage. No doubt it pleases three-time race champ Levi Leipheimer, a Santa Rosa native.
“In my opinion Santa Rosa is at the center of the greatest place on earth — Sonoma County,” Leipheimer says in the stage promo video. “We have everything here: Great weather all year, mountainous coastal geography, the Pacific Ocean, locally grown produce, and an endless supply of sparsely populated roads that have been my training grounds for years.”
The rest of the race route, the longest stage race ever held in the U.S., will be just as spectacular and diverse.
Stage 2 (117 miles) runs from San Francisco to Santa Cruz County down Highway 1 to Bonny Doon Road, and then up and down the Santa Cruz Mountains to finish in Aptos.
The race jogs north for Stage 3 (115 miles) from San Jose to Livermore, and then east to the Sierra foothills for Stage 4 (130 miles), from Sonora to Clovis, the longest and possibly most difficult stage.
Stage 5 will be in Bakersfield, an 18.4-mile time trial.
Stage 6 runs 116 miles from Palmdale to Big Bear Lake, which will feature a couple big climbs before the finish at the Snow Summit ski area.
Stage 7 (78 miles), from Ontario to Mt. Baldy, will be a make-or-break stage. The winner of the tour could very well be decided on the final 15 switchbacks to the finish.
Stage 8 will be all about showmanship and exposure, a 45-mile peloton parade from Beverly Hills to Los Angeles, via Hollywood of course, finishing at L.A. LIVE.
For more info: amgentourofcalifornia.com.
Dating back to 1981, the Chico Wildflower Century is one of the oldest, prettiest and best-run century rides in the country. And if the spring winds kick up or it’s excessively hot, it’s also one of the toughest 100-milers out there.
New this year only will be the Wildcat 125, a 125-mile route to help CSU Chico celebrate its 125th anniversary. That should put early-season legs to the test.
The ride is limited to 4000 riders. The pre-registration deadline is April 15. Late registrations will only be accepted if there is still space available.
Chico has been named one of the top cycling communities in the nation for both its transportation and recreational riding. If you’ve never experienced its two-wheel charms and community spirit, there’s no better time than the spring. There’s huge Bidwell Park right in town, the ride up Honey Run Road through Butte Creek Canyon, a steep climb up Table Mountain to fields of wildflowers, screaming descents and miles of bucolic and flat farm roads.
The Wildflower is noted for its great ride support from volunteers and local companies like Knudsen Juices and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Its food stations feature plenty of fresh fruit and baked goodies like streusel-date bars, banana-walnut bread, and raspberry granola bars. In fact, it’s been said that the food on the Wildflower is so good that you can either ride for time or for weight.
In addition to the standard Wildflower 100 with 4,300 feet of elevation gain, riders can opt for the Mildflower 65 with less than of 2000 feet of climbing, or the Flatflower routes of 30 and 60 miles that have no climbing.
For more info on this and other rides put on by the Chico Velo Cycling Club, check out ChicoVelo.org.
The first Sea Otter Classic, originally called the Laguna Seca Challenge, in 1991 drew 350 athletes and 150 spectators.
Twenty-two years later the four-day “Celebration of Cycling” welcomes over 8,000 athletes and 50,000 spectators and bike enthusiasts to Monterey County, transforming the Laguna Seca Raceway into the largest consumer bike expo in North America.
In addition to the professional and amateur riders who make the annual pilgrimage to participate in various mountain and road races, the cycling extravaganza has expanded its offerings for avid recreational riders with events such as the Gran Fondo (“great endurance”) rides, scheduled for Saturday, April 21.
There will be three Gran Fondo rides this year: two road rides and a 20-mile mountain bike route. The road rides include a 96-mile route through Carmel Valley and a 49-mile out-and-back coastal route.
Although timed, Gran Fondo rides are not races. Riders are encouraged to take the time to enjoy refreshments and enjoy the fun of riding in company, but a little competition is likely to seep in as well.
Festival passes are $10 a day ($12 on site), or $30 for a four-day pass ($35 on site). Children 12 and under are free.
For more info: seaotterclassic.com.
Having quickly cemented a place on the calendar a week ahead of the Sea Otter Classic, the third-annual Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival returns to Aptos Village, April 14-15, for a celebration of bikes and dirt.
Hosted by Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC), the two-day event includes the first legally sanctioned enduro race through Soquel Demonstration State Forest, as well as dirt jump and pump track contests, cross-country short track races, a kids’ fun lap, and skill demonstrations and clinics. Dirt jumpers can also practice landing hair-raising maneuvers worry-free, with the help of a giant air bag.
Fox Racing Shox of Watsonville will again be the title sponsor and is donating prizes and a ton of awards, swag and raffle items.
Even if you’re not competing there will be plenty of other diversions, from ogling and demoing bikes — manufacturers will include Ibis, Niner, Pivot, Specialized, Giant and Santa Cruz — to refueling at the food court and beer garden. The beer garden will feature local brews from Seabright Brewery, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Boulder Creek Brewing Company, Santa Cruz Aleworks and Uncommon Brewers.
An “After-Party” on Saturday from 5-7 p.m. will feature live music from Oakland’s WhoGas, a funk/reggae/rock trio, beer and dancing.
For more details: santacruzmountainbikefestival.com.
The Santa Cruz City Council has approved a 1.5-mile multi-use trail through Pogonip, the largest park and open space area within the city. The trail will provide another connection between town and the UC Santa Cruz campus.
The four-foot wide path will accommodate cyclists alongside pedestrians, equestrians and dogs. The new trail will reopen a 150-acre swath of Pogonip that has been closed to the public for several years.
First proposed in 2010, the trail plan drew a surprising level of controversy. Mountain bikers wholeheartedly supported it, while some hikers and conservationists expressed concern that further opening of the 640-acre preserve to cyclists might endanger pedestrians and result in more unauthorized trails being blazed.
Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, a volunteer advocacy group, has pledged $25,000 to help complete and maintain the trail.
Supporters say the trail will help discourage illegal camping in a part of the park that has been overrun by vagrants, trash and drug use. Cyclists emphasize that the increase in recreational traffic would help runners and walkers, and especially women, feel safer through this corridor.
According to the League of American Bicyclists, California ranks as the 20th most bike friendly state in the U.S.
Our report card from the league looks like that of a smart but troubled teenager. It includes an “A” for Legislation, a “B” for Policies and Programs, an “F” for Infrastructure, a “C” for Education & Encouragement, a “D” for Evaluation & Planning, and a “D” for Enforcement.
The top ranked communities in the state include Davis (Platinum), San Francisco (Gold), and Palo Alto (Gold). Sacramento, Folsom, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara all received Silver rankings. Nearly 20 other communities received Bronze status.
For top-ranked Davis, the most compelling community statistic cited by the league is that 14% of the city’s commuters are rolling on two wheels— or roughly 35 times the national average.
The top states in the rankings include a number of cold-weather states: 1, Washington; 2, Maine; 3, Wisconsin; 4, Minnesota; 5, New Jersey.
Just ahead of California, are Vermont, Arizona, Wyoming, Delaware and Indiana. Clearly, California can do better.
For more info, check out bikeleague.org.
With a simple twist of the wrist, the promotional materials read, you can shift this bike in a way that’s “as easy as adjusting the volume on a radio.”
As bike-industry marketing speak goes, the “radio” analogy was about as weird as I’d seen. But this month, while riding a new bike from Jamis called the Commuter 4, I could see the connection.
The shifting on this city bike does not involve traditional gears. Instead, something called the NuVinci N360 transmission adds and subtracts resistance as you pedal for power and speed.
As the company explains it, the NuVinci N360, which is made by Fallbrook Technologies, is neither a derailleur system nor an internally-geared drivetrain. It is a unique system that uses a set of large ball bearings inside a rear-wheel hub.
No gear cassette is required to “change gears.” Instead the internal bearings rotate off each other in various configurations as you turn a shift knob on the handlebars to give a range of pedal power.
It sounds strange. But in use the NuVinci system is about as easy as adjusting the aforementioned radio dial. On the handlebars of bikes like the Jamis, you control the transmission with a rubbery grip — twist one way for more power, or twist back to “downshift” into an easier setting for a hill.
There is no clicking or ratcheting of gears. The shifting is seamless and micro-adjustable — you can dial in an exact amount of resistance for the road ahead, be it flat, inclined, or going down.
A huge range of represented gearing comes with the NuVinci N360. At the high end the range is equivalent to about a 50-tooth chainring up front and a 12-tooth cog on back. That setup is powerful enough to blast to 30mph on flat land if you can push the resistance.
Further intrigue: To reveal your transmission setting, a small animated icon of a cyclist on a hill sits in a display window near the shifter. You glance down at the little cyclist to see how steep his animated hill is, and that corresponds with the NuVinci system’s setting.
Overall, the transmission setup takes some getting used to. For people who have always pedaled with gears, the “infinite adjustment” of the NuVinci system can be odd. It’s touchy, too: A subtle twist of the shift grip can dramatically change resistance from too easy to too hard.
I am not ditching my regular gears anytime soon, especially on my race bikes. The NuVinci is a heavy hub and not ideal for the rigors of off-road riding. But for a city bike like the Jamis it is an interesting and low-fuss option. “As easy as a radio dial.” I can see that now.
–Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via@TheGearJunkie.
It was a frozen day in 2006 when I first swung a leg over the frame of a fat bike. Back then these large-tire bikes were made only by custom frame-builders who liked to pedal in snow and a single Minnesota brand, Surly Bikes, which mass-produced the first notable bike in the “fat” genre with its Pugsley frame.
Wide rims, extra-large tires, and weirdly-dimensioned frames to make it all fit together define a fat bike, a cycling subcategory that’s garnered a serious following now in 2012.
Bike shops report selling out of fat-bike stock. Brand managers at Surly and Salsa Cycles, another fat-bike maker, have told me demand this year has overwhelmed supply.
What is the appeal? From improved traction on dirt to flotation when riding through snow, the obese tires let a bike roll where it has not rolled before.
The wide rubber — 4+ inches across, or twice as wide as most mountain-bike tire tread — adds notable grip on the ground, and the extra surface area does not allow the wheel to sink as much into soft surfaces like snow or sand.
Another distinction: You can ride with significantly lower tire pressure. Think 15 or 10 psi, or even lower still. This gives the tire some significant squish, and that play translates to more rubber conforming onto the trail for serious grip.
On snow, the wide tires have more surface area touching down and simply “float” a bit more rather than digging in like skinnier tires can. Finally, with all that squishy rubber under you, suspension is not necessary for most fat bikes.
Beyond Salsa and Surly, at least a half-dozen additional bike companies now sell frames or complete-build fatties. Chain Reactions Cycle, a bike shop based in Anchorage, Alaska, sells fat bikes branded 9:ZERO:7. Moots, a high-end builder in Colorado, sells its fat FrosTi model. Fatback is another Alaska brand.
Fat bikes cost roughly $1,500 to $5,000, depending on frame type and components. They are heavy (30 to 40 pounds on average) and slower than mountain bikes on regular terrain.
But in snow, on sand, or for some serious grip on dirt or rocky terrain, nothing else made compares to a fatty. Get on one this year if you can. You might never want to be skinny again.
–Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie.