Pisgah 111 :: Race Report

Race Report by Mr Banks - Shred Mobb Capo.

Because it goes to 111.

The Pisgah 111k is a special event. Set in the Pisgah National Forest it is deceivingly short yet even top finishers take upwards of 6 hours to complete it. It is highly technical, the climbs go on for days, and there is a plethora of river crossings and hike-a-bikes. I first rode this race back in 2015. In mid-April, behind on my Marji Gessick preparation, I recalled the experience from 3 years ago and I decided that it would be a good way to jump start my 2018 season.

Thursday before the race my VRBO host emailed to ask if we still planned on coming down because the Brevard/Hendorsonville area was severely flooded and flash flood warnings were in place until Saturday morning. With no cancellation on the event website I said yes we were. The first highlight of the drive down was a stop to move the bike from the roof rack into the interior of the car, much to the chagrin of our dog, Waldo, who up until then had enjoyed the whole backseat to himself. Other highlights include repeated incidents of hydroplaning in Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Friday night, at the very damp check-in tent, it was revealed that the area had received 7 inches of rain a day for the past three three days so most of the river crossings would be removed from the course. Should be interesting, I thought to myself.

  Weather weary racers at the start line. Photo credit: Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker

Weather weary racers at the start line. Photo credit: Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker

Saturday morning, clouds looming ominously, a fairly small corral of racers lined up at the start. The 111k, maybe because of its rugged nature, never draws a huge crowd like some of the NUE races but today's crowd was small even by 111k standards. I suspect the weather was to blame. During the pre race announcements Race Director Eric Werver once again reminded us that we would face only one of the normally ten plus river crossings today and shortly after sent us on our way.

  Starting out for glory! Photo credit: Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker

Starting out for glory! Photo credit: Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker

Right out of the gate the 111k hits you with a brutal 40 minute climb up Clawhammer Road. Clawhammer is a gravel road and with fresh legs the pace tends to be fairly fast. Anticipating a long day in the saddle I opted to take my time up Clawhammer. Originally, I had planned to pace off of Kenny Kocarek from KSD. Kenny is a strong single speeder but I had to let him go because I would pay dearly later on if I didn't. 3 years ago the roles were reversed and I learned my lesson back then. I fell in with a group of 4 or 5 other riders, including Jen Toops, the defending women's OMBC and NUE Marathon Series Champion.

At the very top Clawnhammer turns into a grassy field with no discernable way out. Had we missed a turn? We consulted the cue sheet: From Clawhammer continue straight onto Buckhorn Gap Trail. This was clearly a dead end and we decided to backtrack. A quarter mile or so back down Clawhammer we eventually spotted an inconspicuous trailhead with a barely discernible sign for Buckhorn. What a great way to start the day.

The bad start was made up for with a rewarding descent down Buckhorn. It is fast and flowy, almost guiding you down a tunnel of lush Rhododendrons that seems to go on forever. From the bottom of Buckhorn the course continues onto South Mills River Trail which weaves along a hillside with plenty of roots and rocks that beg you to get some air. Be careful though, lest you misread your landing and find yourself 5 feet down the side of the trail like I did. Unhurt but still slightly shaken I rode on to Squirrel Gap and then on to Cantrell Creek Trails. There were several creek crossings along Cantrell as well as a section for which we rode along a creek. A single speeder I was riding with at the time and I mused about the fact that apparently Eric had miscounted a bit. Right before Aid 1 we hit South Mills River trail, parts of which were two way traffic but the ever helpful cheer section had a massive cowbell to caution riders.

  Climbing up to Aid 1. Photo credit: Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker

Climbing up to Aid 1. Photo credit: Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker

My hydration/nutrition game was on point today and my bottle only 90% empty when I hit Aid 1. Dialed aid station crews generally amaze me but the 2018 Pisgah 111 Aid 1 crew takes the cake. In spite of the rather miserable conditions the three volunteers seemed to be genuinely happy to be out there helping us crazies accomplish our goals. One volunteer swapped my bottle while another refilled my hydration pack and the third handed me my drop bag. I was back on the trail in less than a minute, riding toward the two way section for the second time. Normally, the way from Aid 1 to Aid 2 goes via Bradley Creek and Forest Service Road 5015 but because of the flooding some additional trail sections were thrown in, including Mullinax, Squirrel Gap, and Laurel Creek Trails. Eventually I found myself on FS 5015 climbing a long and painful 30 minutes up to Aid 2.

Aid 2, which also doubles as Aid 3 (more on that later), was just as well run as Aid 1. The 10 or so year-old kid who reported of some heroic fully rigid single speeder up ahead crushed my spirits just a bit, though. I believe his words were along the lines of “you’re pretty cool racing this and all but the guy up ahead on a fully rigid single speed is insane!!!” Thanks, buddy!

Never one to dwell on a crushed spirit, I continued onto FS 1206, a nearly 3 mile long winding service road downhill. My clothes and gear were soaked at this point and I was horribly cold the whole way down. The next 4 miles lead me along FS5000 another service road which connects to the steep climb up Spencer Gap Trail which, in turn, gives way to some awesome downhills along Fletcher Creek, Trace Ridge, and North Mills River Trails. Eventually, the trail dumped me back onto FS 1206 some 2 hours later; only this time I found myself at the bottom having to ride back up. Well ain’t that a bitch?!

Many riders find the hike-a-bikes up Laurel Mountain just past Aid 2/3 to be their darkest moment during the 111k. Personally, I find this 90 minute climb back up to Aid 2/3 at least as bad, if not worse. I feel a bit guilty to admit that I found some motivation in the cheers of several racers who were still on their way down this cruel mistress while I was already trudging back up. I tip my hat to you guys, for I can only imagine what kind of personal hell you must’ve been in later in the day.

On the cue sheet the 10 miles from Aid 3 to Aid 4 would have you believe that you’ll get through them in a breeze. Let me tell you: Not so. Laurel Mountain Trail, which comprises 90% of the way from From Aid 3 to Pilot Rock Trail covers some 1600 feet of uphil, a lot of which is basically unrideable because of its steep pitch, rocks, and natural steps. Jeremiah Bishop, one of the most accomplished U.S. endurance mountain bikers Strava PR stands at 4 minutes 40 seconds, a whopping 3.0 mi/h pace on the section of Laurel called Laurel hike-a-bike. This earned him 7th on the leaderboard at the time of this writing. The KOM, by the way, goes to one Miss Paisley Wigglebottom with a time of 1 minute 38 seconds or 8.7 mi/h, which is more than twice the speed of the runner up. I won’t share my embarrassing time with you but suffice it to say that my Garmin did not detect movement for this part of the race and simply jumped from bottom to top in one long glitch.

Finally, at the top of Laurel, awaits your reward: The infamous and gnarly downhill known as Pilot Rock. Pilot Rock will forever be one of my favorite trails. The top section consists of a series of tight switchbacks about half of which would literally drop you off the side of the mountain if you didn’t turn in time. Between the switchbacks you’re faced with a mix of drop-offs and increasingly chunky boulders as you weave your way toward and through the middle section. Toward the bottom all roots and dirt make way to rocks and boulders as you pinball down this white knuckle descent.

  White knuckling down Pilot Rock! Photo credit: Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker

White knuckling down Pilot Rock! Photo credit: Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker

Near the end of the descent the trail opens up and a crowd of hecklers with mountain horns and beer hand-ups/pour overs awaits you. To me, this truly epitomizes the nature of grass-roots mountain bike racing!

I don’t care how accomplished a racer may be they will feel like shit at this point in the race. They will be tired, hot or cold, soaked in sweat or rain and they will greeted by a bunch of loudmouthed smart-asses with nothing better to do than make fun of them and pour beer over them as they ride by. A small number of racers will stop to whine or complain about this kind of treatment but the vast majority will appreciate this tribute for what it is and, maybe, reach for a beer hand-up. Then they will chug along knowing that they’re almost done with this sick self-imposed exercise in futility.

  Josh Kunz (3rd place Single Speed) of Knobby Side Down is drenched in beer by the Pilot Rock Hecklers. Photo credit: Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker

Josh Kunz (3rd place Single Speed) of Knobby Side Down is drenched in beer by the Pilot Rock Hecklers. Photo credit: Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker

Shortly after Pilot Rock I reach Aid 4. No longer worried about whether or not I will beat my time from 3 years ago, I pause to chat for a minute with the crew about how several hours earlier the race leader came through with an 8 minute gap on the eventual runner up. Rested and mentally restored, I push off toward the last climb back up Buckhorn, over the top and down Clawhammer to the finish.

9 hours and 29 minutes after we set out I have only one thing left to say: What a day. What a day.

All Photo Credit goes to Asheville Icon Media, Steve Barker, Event photos for purchase: https://www.iconmediaasheville.com/Events/2018-Pisgah-111k/ Icon Media Website: https://www.iconmediaasheville.com/

Event website: http://www.pisgahproductions.com/events/pisgah-111k-mtb-race/

Strava activity: https://www.strava.com/activities/1582899137/

Gear list:

Bike: 2017 Rocky Mountain Element 970

Wheels: Velocity Blunt SS laced to DT Swiss 350’s

Tires: Maxxis Ardent Race 2.35 (F), Maxxis Ikon 2.2 (R)

Grips: Ergon GA2

Biking Thru Lakewood

Interested in taking advantage of living in a bicycle friendly community this season? Lakewood Public Library and Beat Cycles are collaborating to bring you "Biking Thru Lakewood". This event will cover everything from basic bicycle inspection to navigating the local roads. Join us as we discuss the ins-and-outs of commuting by bike. 

Friday, April 27th @ 6pm

Gathering will begin at 6:00pm with refreshments and a chance to meet your neighbors with seminars and workshops to follow.

We look forward to seeing you there!


 Ryan Sheldon, of Beat Cycles. 

April Financing!

Hey, hey, hey!

The calendar says that spring is here, but the weather as of late has been saying otherwise. This is Cleveland, so really we're not surprised. Here's the thing though.... once Mother' Nature catches up and bring's her sunshine smile, we know you're going to want to be ready to roll!

We've got some great financing opportunities this month just for YOU!

 Beat Cycles April Financing

While we always offer financing, these extended terms are ONLY valid thru the end of April! Come check out all the sweet bikes we've got on the floor!

Feel free to send us a message or give us a call for details!



Hip Openers for the Cyclist

A few weeks ago we talked about why cyclists need to practice yoga. This week we are taking you a bit further, and actually getting you on the mat; we’re talking all about hip openers!

Tight hips and cycling go hand in hand, and unfortunately perpetuate each other. When you are crouched into a forward position and pedaling for long periods of time,  your hips, while consistently moving, never actually go into a full extension. What happens, is your hip flexors hit a point of being over worked, which leads them to tighten up and shorten. 

Like a perfect domino effect, having tight and shortened hip flexors will ultimately lead to other issues while cycling (or really, just going about your average day), such as putting you at risk for knee and back pain, as well as compromising your glutes. Compromising your glutes means you can’t put as much force into your pedal strokes. Let’s not forget that this will all affect your posture off the saddle, leading us full circle into having poor posture on the saddle. 

Borrowing the examples from Yoga By Candace, we’re sharing our favorite...

Hip Openers for the Cyclist!

 Hip Openers for the Cyclist

1 | Supta baddakonasana

You can modify this pose by placing yoga blocks or a rolled up towel under your knees to support the legs. Breathe here for 5-7 breaths. Make your inhales and exhales match in length.

2 | Fire log pose

This is a fantastic pose for the hips. Don't worry if you can't stack your knee perfectly on top your foot and vice versa - just do the best you can. Tip: flex the feet to protect your ankles. 

3 |  Fire log pose extension

From fire log pose, spider your fingers out in front of you, keeping your shoulder blades drawn toward one another. Breathe length and space into any areas of tension. Then switch legs, and start in fire log pose again before coming back into the extension.

4 |  Single leg happy baby pose

 Grab the outside edge of the foot and make sure your low back is glued to the mat. Invite your toes back toward your face and breathe 5 - 7 breaths here before switching sides.

5 | Garland pose

This can be done on flat feet or to modify, come up onto the toes. Press your elbows into your legs to open up the legs a bit more. Tip: keep your collar bones broad by drawing your shoulder blades toward one another.

6 | Pigeon pose

This works the hip flexors and also the chest which will do wonders for your posture. Puff the chest out a bit and breathe 5 - 7 breaths before taking it to the other side.

If you prefer to follow along to a video, check out her 15 Minute Hip Opening Sequence! This video is not the same as the poses above, but another great way to stretch.

Expansion Days | Deal of the Week | Week 1

When we began planning our expansion we wanted to create special promotions as a thank you to all our customers and the cycling community at large for their continued support, so we stole an idea from one of our vendors and here it is - every Monday throughout our expansion we'll be rolling out super deals that will last the week and then POOF, they'll disappear. So don't hesitate. 

Are you tired of watching your Instagram feed pile up with photos of your riding pals ripping snow covered trails? Have you been wanting to try a fat bike? Well, then this deal is for you. To start our Expansion Days | Deal of the Week promo we've targeted our remaining fat bike inventory and at these prices, they'll be incredibly hard to ignore. 

So Many Helmets, Where to Begin...

Once you’ve given into the fact that YES, helmets are a really good idea, you are asked the dreaded question… “So what kind of helmet are you looking for?!”

A seemingly innocent question, but for those new to cycling it can seem a bit overwhelming. Especially when a lot of shops will either have an entire wall dedicated to helmets OR stacks upon stacks of them filling up any free space you can find. So where to begin….

First off, as far as safety goes, all helmets must meet the same general requirements. Which means technically speaking, a $40 helmet will meet the same safety requirements as that $200 helmet. So why would you even consider forking out the extra cash?

Great question! While all helmets must meet the same basic safety standards, not all helmets are indeed created equally. A few main differences you will notice are the weight, fit, and ventilation of a helmet. The more money you are willing to spend, the lighter the helmet will (typically) be, the better it will fit/the more comfortable it will be, and the more ventilation you will get.

QUICK TEST! A great way to visualize the difference in ventilation between helmet models is to make a fist and place the helmet on top. The more space you see between the top of your hand and the helmet, the more ventilation you get. ALSO, a lot of base models will cut the plastic on top to make it appear as though the ventilation is better than it actually is. 

My general feeling with trying helmets on is that the more comfortable it is, the more likely I will be to wear it. I feel like the #1 reason people avoid them is because they are hot and uncomfortable.



 So Many Helmets, Where to Begin. How to choose which style of helmet will best for you! | Beat Cycles


Recreational Helmets

Recreation helmets are just that. They are your basic, all around, helmet that will come in an assortment of colors, usually have a removable visor, and typically begin around $40 or so and go up from there. 

Mountain Helmets 

Mountain helmets tend to be a little boxier, have much better ventilation than the recreational helmets, and come down farther on the sides and in the back. While designed with the mountain biker in mind, these are still a great option for the everyday cyclist and a favorite among a lot of commuters.

Road Helmets 

There a few key factors you can almost always expect from road helmets. They are light, sleek (arrow dynamic), and usually won’t have a visor. If an incredibly light and breezy feeling helmet is top of your list for important features, a road helmet is the way to go.

Commuter Helmets

Commuter helmets tend to be a little more rounded, have less ventilation, and focus more on style. A lot of people reference them as looking more like “skater” helmets.You will also find that a lot of these helmets will come ready to swap out the interior as the the seasons change (i.e. a “winter kit” that will protect your ears when the temperature drops). 

While there are other styles out there (full face, aero, etc.) these are what you are most likely to find in your local bike shop. Hopefully this makes that initial question a little less daunting!

What’s you’r preferred helmet style? Comment below!

7 Reasons why Every Cyclist Needs to Practice Yoga

It’s no secret that what you do off the bike will greatly affect how you perform on your bike; no matter what your cycling discipline is. So it will come as no shock that the argument in favor of yoga is a simple one. However, in case you need a little more convincing as to why and how it will benefit you…..

 7 Reasons Why Every Cyclist Needs to Practice Yoga

1 | Flexibility:

Yoga will increase your ease of motion, and therefore your range of motion. Flexibility will also aid in preventing injury, as well as speed up your recovery time in between rides.

2 | Strength:

Yoga allows you to work on full body strength training. Sure, weights will allow you to target specific areas, however, consistency is key and that is exactly what you get when you are relying on nothing but your own body weight. 

3 | Endurance:

Yoga is all about pacing yourself. Learning how to balance mind and body, you can turn long rides, even the hard ones, into a form of meditation; committing for the long haul.

4 | Balance:

Regularly practicing balancing poses will aide in your overall sense of balance in everyday life as well as on the saddle. Naturally this will aide in preventing falls and injury.

5 | Core Strength:

Nearly every pose in yoga will work your core. Having a strong core equals a strong, supported, and healthy back. Not to mention, more strength and alignment in your whole body. 

6 | Stability:

When practicing yoga, you are working all of the little stabilizing muscles that go untouched in other physical workouts. Working with and strengthening these muscles are vital in protecting your joints and spine.

7 | Recovery:

Cyclists spend a lot of time contracting their muscles, and yoga is the perfect counter action to elongate those muscles. Whether you are coming to yoga after an actual injury or simply as an injury prevention, regular practice will only speed up your recovery time.

In short, yoga will allow you to move, bend, and perform with ease, all the while giving you strength and flexibility. Again, the perfect counter action to hours on the saddle.

We’ve got more yoga tips and suggestions coming your way. In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to add anything, feel free to comment below or shoot us message!

Winter Work :: The Bringheli Project

It's not every day someone walks a handmade frame through your front door let alone one made in Cleveland. When Craig called and told me he had his eyes on a Bringheli frame a buddy of his once owned I got excited. I'd come across frames made in Joe Brignheli's shop before - our former crew member Sean built his beautiful road machine with Joe and one of our favorite customers, Bonnie, owns one as well. But I never had a chance to do extensive work with one. And, after some serious back and forth, Craig decided he had to have this bike. I think the final results speak for themselves but let me walk you through some of the slicker features of this beautiful machine. 

When Craig purchased the frame it was orange (I should've taken a photo). It was pretty much striped of badging but the lug work was impeccable. After some thought (and some negative reinforcement from us) Craig decided to powder coat the frame a beautiful robin egg blue. Then came the assembly. First we had to tap into Craig's extensive Campy collection, choosing a beautifully ridden in Record group he had chillin' in his closet. Then we went to the catalogs and picked some classic cockpit pieces from Nitto and Velo Orange to maintain that classic aesthetic. To top it off, add some Brooks bits where the body contact and voila - you have a piece of machinery that would make any bike lover drool for days.  

Oh, and the cherry on top is the custom head badge made by Craig's buddy Mike. He'd kept it all these years and was kind enough to dedicate it to the project. In my opinion it completes the bike. Huge props to Craig for allowing us to be apart of his bicycle obsession - the man has taste and always builds up trick rides

Stay classy folks. 

Updated 25 January 2018 : Craig was kind enough to supply us with a photo of the frame prior to the project.