Monday, January 23, 2017

Night Riding

Night Riding...Don't let the couch eat you this time of year...

With the days being shorter this time of year, sneaking in a post-work ride can be tricky.  Luckily, bike lights have drastically improved over the past decade.  With the bursts of spring-like weather we've been having this week, night riding is a very viable option to prevent the beer belly from growing too much. Here are a few more reasons you should consider snagging a light and heading out under the stars this year...

Watching the sun dip behind the ridge before diving into the forest.
Reason #1

The ability to ride year round here is a major bonus to living in Harrisonburg. It's not uncommon to find yourself getting burned out at some point though.  Take a trail you've ridden hundreds of times during the day and it will completely change at night. The same features are there, but it's incredible how different the trail appears when the only light you have is much more focused.  If you find yourself getting tired of the same rides, grab a light.   

Checking out the stars rolling out of Hone Quarry

Reason #2

There's no better vantage point for a sunset than on top of one of the many ridge lines west or east of town.  It's hard to beat cruising up a mountain as the sky changes colors without feeling rushed for time.  Sunsets around here worth watching and some of the best places to enjoy them aren't accessible by car.  Grab a light for the descent back down the mountain.

Reason #3

On a clear night the sky puts on an incredible show of stars.  I guarantee it's much better than the latest Netflix drama. Hone Quarry was my destination of choice last Wednesday night with a great wide open view above the reservoir. At some point in your ride turn your light off and look up.

A Few Tips...
If you've never ventured out onto the trails at night, here are a few tips...
  •  Get a reliable light. There are many cheap lights out there that are very bright; however, the batteries are generally unreliable. I use Light and Motion's Imjin 800 on my helmet and have been more than happy.  It's super light-weight and relatively inexpensive compared to other lights out there.
  • Depending on what type of trail you're riding, it doesn't hurt to have two lights...One on the helmet, one on the bars. Your helmet light is crucial for scanning ahead into upcoming turns. I typically put my brightest light on my helmet, but that's something to play around with. The bar light is helpful with depth perception because you can direct it downward more to fill the gap where you're helmet light doesn't hit. 
  • This time of year especially, bring extra layers. As the sun sets, the temperature drops a good bit.
  • Find some friends to ride with.  Motivation is much easier to find with a group of people.  Thomas leads a night ride from the SBC parking lot every Monday night around 8:30. If you don't have any night-riding experience this ride would be a great intro.  Massanutten is another great place to start.  Don't let the lack of sun get you down...
- Andrew

Monday, January 9, 2017

Winter Riding...learning by years of mistakes...

When the window to ride is open I have to jump in with both feet, regardless of the weather. My window to ride was open this past Sunday morning. Even though the temperature was reading 8 degrees at the house I was motivated to grab my Salsa Horsethief hit the snow on Shenandoah Mountain. A last minute connect with Andrew from the shop and I had a motivated riding partner

Andrew climbing up near the Reddish Saddle

Over the years I have made a lot of mistakes when it comes to winter riding. What I have learned through these mistakes is something I would like to share so hopefully you will get to experience a beautiful winter riding day on the mountain.

Final adjustment time before the downhill.

Thomas's top ten tips to making the winter ride a little bit better!

1- Taping the brake levers:  I run a thin layer of cloth tape on my mountain & commuter bike brake levers to help insulate my hands from cold metal. Constant touching of the cold levers will sap your hands of heat. 

2 - Warm cloths: Make sure all your riding gear is warm when you go to put it on...a riding bag in the trunk does not count.  

3 - When to get dress: Don't get dress in a parking lot, you will lose all your body heat. If  it is a close drive to your riding destination then get dress in the warmth of the house. If it is longer drive I like to get partially dress at home then do a quick pull off 5 or 10 minutes from the destination, this will allow me and my cloths to get acclimated, I am also ready to roll when I arrive. 

4 - Gloves: Very seldom am I doing a ride with only one set of gloves. I usually have two pairs to cover a temperature range, doing a quick swap out before my hands get too hot or cold. I will sometimes store the extra gloves under my vest to act as a warmth layer and get the second pair of gloves warm (putting cold hands in cold gloves does not help).   Bar Mitts...there is nothing better for days like it was today! On cold mornings our family even uses them on the trail-a-bike for taking the 5 year old to school.

5 - Shoes:  I sometimes use toe covers but most of the time nothing is better then a good pair of winter shoes. This is not low cost purchase, but when I did the math the two pairs of winter shoes I used over 14 years cost me less then $40 a year (just got my 3rd pair last year). How many times have you told yourself on a cold ride you would do anything for warm feet! 

Decision time..."freshies" either way!

6 - Helmets: Do you ski or snowboard? If you do you probably have a warmer helmet. When the weather gets really cold I grab my snow board helmet instead of my bike helmet. It has great coverage and warmth. 

7 - Neck gator: We don't put enough importance on keeping our necks warms. So much of our daily living (and riding) tension is held through our next and shoulders. Keeping this area is key to a healthy ride and life! I love a merino wool multi tube that goes around your next. It keeps this area to warm and is easy to pull over your face as needed. 

8 - Go wool base layer:  A good merino wool base layer should be what you have covering your top half.  A merino wool base layer is comfortable and keeps you warm when it gets damp from sweat. Just remember to gentle wash in cold and never put in the dryer. 

9: Vest: No matter if it is in the 50's or single digits I am always wearing my vest.   A vest is a great  way to keep your core warm and preventing you from over sweating.  

10: Adjust & eat at the right time: Adjust you cloths and eat before it is too late: Almost every ride I will have a few "time to adjust" break points.  Make this clothing adjustments before you are a slightest bit too cold or too warm. If you get too cold it takes your body way to much energy to try and get warm again. Our bodies also consume a lot more calories when it is fighting to stay warm so remember to eat when you are not hungry yet.  When you take these adjustment brakes do them in sunny and wind sheltered spots. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

SBC Long Sleeve T-Shirts Are In!

Hey everyone, we are excited to announce that we are selling SBC long sleeves t-shirts! They are super warm and very comfortable. They are produced by Green Label, a family owned and operated business located here in the Blue Ridge. Their goal is to provide 100% organic certified cotton, pre-shrunk shirts while respecting their workers and the environment. All the shirts are made in the USA and are low impact dyed without using PVCs or other harsh chemistry.

 Jason here is pondering the meaning of life while looking rad with his new SBC long sleeve! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Supporting the trails...anyway we can!

Since the day SBC opened it's doors 17 years ago we have been passionate about supporting our local trails. We are always happy to be out there digging with the community and encouraging support for the trails.  This Holiday season we will celebrate SVBC's accomplishments in the National Forest by giving away a full Shimano XT Groupset (Brakes, Cranks, Shifters, Cassette, Derailleurs & chain).

Attend one of the four National Forest Trail Work days in the month of December, or make a donation of  $75 or more to the SVBC trail fund, and you will get a chance to win the XT kit from SBC and favorite parts partner, Shimano!

We love the trail work crews...Hearthstone Ridge - Fall 2016.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Don't Let Jack Frost Nip at Your Toes

It's cooling down this week......

What does that mean??? Awesome winter apparel, including our great warm and waterproof boots to keep you warm and protect your precious feet!

The 45NRTH Wolvhammer Boots on the far left provide a mountaineer boot functionality while still keeping simplicity and style. With fleece lining, a gusseted tongue, and a ballistic nylon shell, winter weather is no match for these boots. 
The 45NRTH Japanther Boots on the far right provide high level water resistance with its waterproof membrane and rubberized shell.These boots are perfect for those sloppy, snowy days so you can keep doing what you love even on the wettest and muddiest days.
The Bontrager OMW Winter Shoes in the middle provide great waterproofing and insulation with the fleece-lined removable inner-bootie to protect your feet from those nasty riding conditions.and they have a roomier performance fit, so you can wear those fuzzy holiday socks.

Come in to try on some of these winter shoes so your feet can stay nice and toasty!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A recap of a ride we all should think about doing!

Our good friends Paul and Owen Johnston spent part of their summer vacation riding bikes together. We always love hear our customer stories of their riding adventures, this is the first, but not last, of Owen's bike riding tours -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

My Dad and I started our journey on the Cumberland Gap trail on 7/26/2016.The Cumberland Gap trail is a 150 mile rails to trail from Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and a great ride for the family.  The trail is well maintained with great places to eat and camp.  On the way up the mountain to the eastern continental divide, I was surprised at the gradual grade going up.  Although it’s not a big grade, you can still feel the downhill after you get to the top.  When you’re on the trail you can see some of the best sites I have ever seen. 

There are many beautiful bridges and big tunnels. Big Savage tunnel was one of my favorites, it is the longest tunnel along the trail, over 3,000 feet long! This particular tunnel was in built in 1911. Each day my Dad and I rode about 45 miles.  Except for the last day, because we didn’t have to set up camp, we road about 60 miles.  On this trip we decided to camp with a tent but we now realize it’s easier to camp with hammocks. We decided to camp the two nights in Adelaide and Husky Haven campground in Rockwood, PA. When biking through neighborhoods, I was surprised about the generosity of the people who live along the trail. Although there were lots of them, two families stood out to me.  In Rockwood, one family turned his dog’s play space into a camp ground and provided showers, water, and bathrooms along with fun games like pool and darts.  He even had a phone charging station. The other family who lived along the trail in Van Meter, PA offered us home grown vegetables, cold beverages, and made us bacon and eggs for a good price.

 The first two days were nice, sunny, and cool.  However, on the last day there was a terrible rain and trust me, when the rain stops, you will feel so much better if you change your clothes.  It may seem like a waste of time, I was skeptical too, but do it. It is worth it. We finished the ride on 7/28/2016 at Point State Park in Pittsburgh where we were met by my mom, my brother Peter, and my Grandmother and Dave.  We had a great experience on the Cumberland Gap trail and would love to do it again.

Owen Johnston

Friday, July 29, 2016

New ride with old Friends


The early 90's mountain bike crew: CJ, Adam & Matt Krop with Chris Scott
Even though I have had my Salsa Horsethief for over a month I finally have it set up and riding perfectly. With the addition of my new Industry Nine wheels and Shimano brakes the Thief is dialed! No better place to test the updated Horsethief then Lookout Mountain and Timber Ridge. No better crew to ride these trails with then your buddies who you first explored this forest with over 20 years ago.

The Thief taking a break after the might Sand-springs climb
It is always a treat to showcase the work on Lookout, the reroute of 6 years ago has now blended perfectly with the old ridge line sections. I remember riding this trail the first time with Adam Krop in 93', except we did it "backwards" in the rain.  Lookout is usually enough to satisfy most folks but yesterday's crew wanted to hit some old school trails so we ascended up Sandsprings to Timber Ridge in the hottest of conditions. The down hill on Wolfe Ridge was rolling fast even with the summer growth that is coming in from every side.

A bear was hungry.

This might be the last time riding Wolfe in it's current state, the next phase of improvements is about to start next week.  More to follow soon!

Enjoy the summer heat with good friends!