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    If you’re a mountain biker, you’ve probably dreamed of having killer trails right out your front door. And if you’re committed, and lucky, you may have already made it a reality. There’s often a sacrifice associated with living close to a trailhead. They may be far from your family, your job, your friends, or another aspect of your life that you just can’t be without. But for those who’ve pulled it off, calling the reward sweet just wouldn’t do it justice. Above Photo: Re Wikstrom Park City is one of those mythical places where you can have it all. The [...]

    When the Merlin Extralight arrived, we found ourselves stuck in the dichotomy of knowing exactly what to expect, while really having no idea at all. Sure, we knew the Merlin story by heart, we read the specs, and we gawked at the pictures. But, after all, the Extralight in the box was a new bike, not new-old-stock. In the quarter-century since the Extralight first debuted, bicycle design has changed dramatically. And while the first Extralight was very much of its era, it was easily distinguishable by its brushed finish, perfect welds, and either a steel or aluminum fork. But, once [...]

    If you’re a seasoned cyclist, especially of the West Coast variety, the time of the year where burnout settles in is approaching. And if you’ve raced hard every weekend, you’ve probably raced even harder in the weekly ‘training’ crit. In other words, late-night reality TV is becoming addictive. Above Photo: Ben Kuhns Truthfully, though, if you’re a cat 1/2, or even have such ambitions, your coach dictates that you take a few weeks off to regenerate before tackling endless base miles. That conversation is often prefaced with the phrase “just have fun,” of which you shudder at the fallacious assumption [...]

    While the mountain-side of cycling is no stranger to contentious gear issues, we’ve found that road cycling’s debates tend to lack relevance, or at the very least, strong substance. For example, mountain biking has three wheel sizes contending for top honors, all claiming sweeping devotion and superiority. Meanwhile, road cycling is obsessed with the position of tan lines and whether or not black socks are acceptable in a post-Lance world. Frankly, we haven’t seen a valid gear argument since the surge of the carbon clincher—that is until the Giro Air Attack surfaced earlier this year. Yes, over the course of [...]

    Interestingly, as I a sit down to write this, I just read an article about how marathon times are getting slower among young Americans—44 minutes slower since 1980 in ages 25-44. Of which I find reflective of how just competing and getting a finisher’s medal is often “good enough” these days. There are no finisher’s medals at UCI World Championship events. Yes, you can take your number and frame it, but all that says is “I wasted time, money, and a social life, and all I got was a number to hang on my wall.” You go to a World [...]

    Interbike 2013 was my 11th visit to that oasis in the desert. Presumably, it’s the same oasis where everything that you’ve wished for appears like a genie from a bottle. And while that may be the case for your average technophile or e-bike enthusiast, as a female, Interbike only has a few moments to celebrate women in the sport. I had the same experiences that I’ve had for a decade. I walk into the emptiest booth on the floor and am completely ignored. I’ll quickly mention that I’m not exactly invisible. At 5’10″, I’m not a wispy anything. In years [...]

    The shorn-leg “industry” folks once again bombarded Sin City for Interbike this week, on the lookout to see what’s new from their favorite companies, and also hoping that luck would lead them to the must-haves for next year. We were there attending the show in full-force, spotting lots of good, some bad, and many impressive new products. Here’s a quick rundown of five items that had me slowing my step a notch or two. Perhaps it was purely coincidental that several of the booths that constantly had the biggest crowds all week were also dressed in wooden/industrial/urban-ish enclosures. Or maybe [...]

    Some envision the face of a reigning national champion with an icy visage, especially before the start of one of the biggest races on the American cyclocross calendar. We get it, but as Jonathan Page demonstrates, a muted, relaxed tone is what reflects true confidence. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. We had Manual For Speed capture the essence of our sponsored-athlete and friend, Jonathan Page, last week at Cross Vegas. It was quite the show. Look forward to more from Manual For Speed and Jonathan Page in the months ahead.

    If you’ve been scouring the internet for the past three days, and all you were left with from Interbike 2013 was a “meh,” you’re probably both right and wrong. All in all, though, the perceived banality isn’t a result of a lackluster show—far from it. Instead, I find that we’d either seen it all coming or had just already seen it. But this doesn’t take away from the resounding cool factor of some the products on display. Let’s tear through some trends. As I predicted last week, hydraulics ruled the show. And more importantly, Shimano’s choice to not brand its [...]

    I cringe every time I hear the term “women’s-specific” in reference to bike frame design. The case has been made over and over again—women are shorter, women have longer legs, women have shorter torsos and arms than men, and therefore, they need smaller bike frames. Well, the statistics remain debatable, which leads to the important question: Do you really need a women’s bike? Over the past 25 years, I’ve seen nearly every setup and position imaginable. First, there was the seventies’ and eighties’ bigger-is-better fit, where having about an inch to spare between your top tube and crotch was considered [...]

    What’s in a Calorie?

    I asked my little nephew the other day if he knew what a calorie was and he quickly replied, “It’s what makes you fat.” I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry. While he was technically correct and his response was unknowingly witty and oddly in tune, I also realized that I might have exposed him to too many pro cyclists and that a three year old shouldn’t be concerned about his power to weight ratio. I tried to explain that calories don’t make you fat on their own, but eating more calories than you need can. He [...]

    Crest Trail Diary

    The last time I descended from Guardsman Pass to the Valley floor, night lights were used to escape a relentless orb burning SLC into the record books. Along with cool air and active mule deer, the sundown shuttle to the top involved a rare sighting — out of the brush, next to Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, waved a long, bushy tail. And as I passed what was first thought to be a fox, I soon saw a build and face that’d happily make a standard poodle its hors d’oeuvre. This video is not only a fantastic representation of what I [...]

    First, I feel it prudent to profess that yes, I am a vegan. However, to answer your inevitable question, no, I’m not a biased, ALF-card-carrying radical. Simply put, I treat my body with respect, and the best way that I’ve found to achieve this is through a vegan diet. With that being said, it’s important to note that the vegan diet doesn’t tend to lend itself to the vast world of sports supplements. And for this reason, I was ecstatic to find a massive pile of Vega Nutrition products on my desk two weeks ago. It’s important to note that, [...]

    Well, it’s that time of year again. Yes, that time where we pack light, drink plenty, and head off into the desert to view the latest and greatest that the cycling industry has to offer. And while Eurobike does act as a bit of a spoiler in this sense, from time to time, Interbike tends to deliver some left hooks in the surprise department. So, I thought that it’d be interesting to spell out my predictions for the show ahead of time. Starting with the obvious, I’m sure that we’ll be seeing a host of hydraulic road setups. Of course, [...]

    He stood back, taking a hard look at me before saying that he thought I was built like Indurain. I took it as a compliment, seeing as “Big Mig” was his country’s cycling superstar for the first half of the ’90s. My new acquaintance spoke with trepidation when using the few English words my uncle had taught him during their language lessons, but his great enthusiasm for our shared interest in cycling rolled off his tongue in a flurry of Spanish. I found that this excitement was consistent with many of the Spaniards I met during my visits to Spain [...]

    Transitioning from Cross Country to All-Mountain Every day, we hear questions that start out something like this—”Hey, I’m an XC rider, and I’m interested in (All-Mountain, Enduro, Trail Riding, take your pick,), what kind of bike do I need?” The truth is that, while you can buy speed, you can’t buy skill, and getting a better bike won’t necessarily make you a better rider. Think of it this way—if you spend a day at an auto race track, there’ll be guys putting up blindingly fast laps in unassuming beater cars, and then there’re the guys driving gorgeous Italian supercars who [...]

    - From the Department of Icon Resurrection, Josh Poertner recently acquired the storied Italian frame pump brand Silca. If you don’t know Josh, you should. He spent umpteen years as the Brainiac-In-Chief of Zipp Speed Weaponry. Talk to him about aerodynamics and it’s clear that the terrors of my childhood — chess, quadratic equations, how airplanes fly — are mere child’s play for him. The dude is brilliant. I didn’t even know he’d left Zipp, but apparently that’s the case. At a time when a handful of Chinese dungeons produce the bulk of the pumps, multitools, and other accessories you [...]

    - In an attempt to solve the age-old conundrum of getting more people out on bikes, the 2013 Eurobike trade show illustrated a time-honored approach to problem solving. It’s burning the village to save it. Apparently the best way to attract newcomers to our sport is to eliminate all exercise from it. Electric bikes, or e-bikes, were the rage. To be clear, there wasn’t a new generation of the city-minded e-bikes on display at manufacturers’ booths. The fat-tired, fendered, grocery basket-hung beast that conjures visions of Grandma-on-a-bike has been au courant for awhile. Instead, sitting front and center were full-fledged [...]

    Whether you’re a racer looking to improve your performance, or a coach seeking new ways to help your athletes, motorpacing is a proven step on the path to a successful season of racing. Dr. Allen Lim of Skratch Labs takes you through the basics of motorpacing, showing you how to perform this powerful training exercise both effectively and safely.

    Dr. Allen Lim of Skratch Labs is a nutritional genius, and he was kind enough to share his recipe for the perfect rice cake. Learn how to make the ultimate savory bacon rice cake to satiate your hunger, and to keep you fueled on your next ride.

    - Thanks to its 44,000 feet of climbing, the Tour of Utah bills itself as “America’s Hardest Stage Race.” In terms of absolutes, “America’s Loveliest Stage Race” might be another apt designation. It spanned the eerie, prehistoric, red deserts of southern Utah before reaching the skyscraping climbs of the Wasatch range. At the end, Tom Danielson stood victorious, in what was his biggest win since he took GC at the 2006 Tour de Georgia, though that win was clouded by — and later stripped — because of dopage royale. Here in Park City, which was home to two stages, the [...]

    A New Site Primer

    We’re nearing the second anniversary of the acquisition of Competitive Cyclist by Much of our motivation to join forces with Backcountry came from our desire to boost the end-to-end customer experience. Back in Little Rock we were scrappy as hell and we did incredible things despite our small size and e-Commerce naïveté. But what we had in passion, we lacked in experience and resources. Fast-tracking our e-Commerce fundamentals was the biggest win we achieved under the Backcountry umbrella. Post-acquisition, pieces of progress came in several areas. For example, Backcountry’s financial backing finally gave us the wherewithal to ramp up [...]

    Sweet Bike Calculus

    - The countdown to Eurobike is on and I’m in love with this eerie image of its hometown, Friedrichshafen, Germany. Much closer to home, that is, right here in Park City, someone answered the question “What if they gave a trade show and nobody came?” Compounding the oddness of Dealer Camp was cyclocross racing in July. It was racing made silly by the fact that it was won on a full-suspension 29er. - Other Park City news includes the release of the all-new brand video from our parent company, For those who know Competitive well, about halfway in you’ll [...]

    - If there’s one thing bike race fans are immune from by now, it’s surprise. Grand Tour results no longer inspire awe at feats of human endurance. Rather, who amongst us doesn’t conjure images like this? Froome, Simoni, Indurain — the names don’t matter anymore. If you win, you’re guilty. The thought is uncontrollable, a coping mechanism for having once fallen in love with heroes, then getting steamrolled by doping control. It’s a variation of the Stockholm Syndrome: We’ve all devoted too much of our lives desperately loving the sport. Thus invested, corruption is no longer a turnoff, it’s become [...]