Paris-Roubaix:The Guts, The Glory, The Grime

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Think you’ve survived something as nasty as Paris-Roubaix? Read our blog about the classic race, and tell us your story. There will be Contender goodies involved for the best tales! Keep reading for details….

In 1896

When two textile manufacturers wanted to organize a cycling race from Paris to the new velodrome they had just built in the small, rural town of Roubaix, they had a journalist ride the route to see what the course and conditions for the race would actually be. The hope was that the journalist would enjoy his ride and recommend his paper help promote the fledgling race. As the story goes, when he finished his ride, the freezing temperatures, the howling wind and the apocalyptic rain had done him in -he was convinced that not only was the route a nightmare of mud, bad roads, and barbarous conditions, but that sending a group of racers on these same roads would be ridiculously dangerous. 

Now, I’m not a huge steward of history but I’ll say this: if some guy (who, by the way went on to be a deputy organizer for The Tour) decided in 18-friggin’-96, the same era that had Jack the Ripper, Polio, coal-covered child laborers, and doctors that still used leeches for bloodletting (!), that a bike ride was too dangerous then you know it was pretty gnarly. 

Half the riders that signed up for that first Paris-Roubaix decided not to show up.

But they ran the race anyway. It was a huge success.

And That’s Kinda How It’s Stayed

The only time the race was shut down was during the two World Wars. In 1919, organizers decided to survey the route to see if any of it had survived the shelling of the First World War. What they found, they said, were road conditions that could only be described as “hell”.

But, again, they ran the race anyway. And It garnered it’s famous name: The Hell of The North.

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Fast-Forward About Another 100 Years

Paris-Roubaix is a spring classic; a test of the stupidity  endurance and fearlessness of riders stupid brave enough to face it’s mud, grit, weather and cobblestones.

And we love it! We revel in the ridiculous idea of having to race on some of the worst roads in Europe. It makes you giggle. It seems so hard -so dumb- to subject you and your butt to conditions so purposely bad- but there’s a strange attraction to it. There’s a bizarre affinity attached to events where everyone involved agrees that what they’re doing is probably a bad idea, but they’re going to do it anyway. Why? Because, dammit, other people will think you’re crazy and it’ll probably make a good story. Call it evidence of the unyielding human spirit. Call it our need to push and test the boundaries of what we can suffer. Call it something dumb you and your friends decided to get together and do.

paris-roubaix preproads

Call it something nasty under your breath.

The Point is, We’ve All Done Something Similar

We’ve all decided, for whatever reason, that we are going to undertake some misadventure with full understanding that it could possibly be the worst thing we ever decided to do. But hell, you’re friends are doing it, and you don’t want to be the only one left out. So you’re in. All the bloody way in.

In recognition of Paris-Roubaix this week, we thought we’d ask all of you to give us your most courageous, near-death (or near near-death) stories.

We want stories that revel in the wreckless abandonment that has engulfed us all at one point or another in our sporting careers. We want the stories that your significant other hopes you don’t tell at get-togethers because it just proves that they married down. We want the stories that are marinated so unabashedly in poor decision making that letting your cat prep your taxes is a comparatively good idea. Yeah. That’s what we want.

Here’s One To Get You Started

Mine has to do with a (seemingly) sunny Saturday in February about ten years ago and my friend’s idiotic attempt to get some winter ya-ya’s out and a whole bunch of early season miles in. Truth be told, I was just as eager to ride after 3 months of winter as he was. We decided to ride out to Provo Canyon (where we would end up hiking our bikes through more than 6 miles of snow drifts), into Heber where the sun quickly disappeared, then Park City; where it actually began to snow. By this point, we were out of daylight because of the time we had lost hiking up most of Provo Canyon with our bikes on our shoulders. We had no choice (because hypothermia was setting in and we just wanted to get the #%$! home) but to hop on I-80 and be done as fast as possible. I remember calling my mom from a 7-Eleven in Jeremy Ranch, letting her know where I was, what I was about to do, and that if I didn’t come home this might be the reason why.

I guess we could’ve stopped, stayed at the 7-Eleven and had someone pick us up. But we didn’t.

We saw the snow, we saw the semis shooting up huge rooster tails, we knew we’d be dodging black ice and we decided to do it anyway. We hopped onto I-80 and cruised down the canyon. It was one of the scariest, dumbest things I’ve ever done.

 

So what’s your story? Leave it in the comments and if we love it, we’ll post it! When you post it, look for an email about some Contender goodies heading your way!

Hope you watched the 111th edition of Paris-Roubaix this morning!

 

 

Smoothie Recipes to Make You a Contender

Yes folks, you asked for it (or did you?), so here it is. In honor of the blog we posted on proper recovery nutrition, we decided we’d gather a few of the staff’s favorite smoothie recipes. All of these would be a great way to start your post ride recovery properly AND deliciously. As far as required equipment: you’re going to want a good blender that can handle chunks of frozen fruit, ice or whatever else you can think to toss in.

 

Jeff’s “Mango Lover” Recovery Smoothie

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  • 1 Scoop Osmo Vanilla Acute Recovery
  • 1 Heaping spoonful Vanilla Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup(ish) unsweetened Almond Milk (just enough to get the blender to mix everything)
  • 1 Banana
  • 1/2 cup mix frozen Mangoes (yesss) Pineapples, Strawberries & Blueberries

Jeff says, “It tastes good, it’s super refreshing, and I LOVE MANGOS!”

Cody’s PB, Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

PB Choc Ban

  • 1 large banana, peeled and frozen
  • 1 heaping TBSP peanut butter (or raw nut butter)
  • 1 scoop Hammer Whey protein powder, chocolate or unflavored (or go for their Vegan protein powder to keep it a vegan drink)
  • 1 tsp. cocoa powder, omit if using chocolate protein powder
  • 1 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 TBSP shelled hemp seeds
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unflavored almond or hemp milk, plus more to taste (or try raw nut milk)
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 tsp. raw cacao nibs, or sweet nibs, or chopped nuts - optional- nice way to give the smoothie a finishing touch if you’re trying to impress someone. Which I’m trying to do constantly.

Cody says, ” The Chia and Hemp seeds add a good source of Omega-3s, protein and fiber, as well as providing tons of micro nutrients. I also stand behind this recipe because it feeds me chocolate and peanut butter. And honestly most of my life choices are based around how I can get more chocolate and peanut butter.”

Julian’s Cappuccino of Life

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cappu

1 large Banana

2 scoops of First Endurance’s Cappuccino Ultragen

1/2 cup Skim Milk (or any of your favorite milk substitutes; almond, coconut, goat, sheep)

1 cup Ice

Add water to taste (maybe 8-16oz)

Julian says, “This is a simple recipe that counts on the Ultragen to provide the bulk of the nutrition in the smoothie. But it also tastes like a coffee milkshake which I’m pretty sure is the milkshake of the gods”

Peter’s Perfect Recipe For Recovery

BurritoBeer

  • A Fine Beer from your favorite brewery
  • A Large Burrito with plenty of guacamole from any one of the fine Mexican establishments or taquerias dotting the Wasatch Front (but let’s stay away from Cafe Rio, eh? Not sure if that really counts)

Peter says, “Repeat as necessary; optimally at least 2X”

 

Joel’s Green Smoothie of Goodness, Virtue and Anti-Inflammation

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  • 2 big handfuls fresh dark leafy greens (I usually go with spinach)
  • 1/2 small frozen banana
  • 1 scoop Vanilla flavored protein powder (I dig the Hammer Whey, Vegan or Osmo Vanilla)
  • 1 cup Coconut Water, plus additional water if needed
  • 2 tbsp light Coconut Milk or Cashew Milk (optional – this puts an interesting boost to the flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp ground Flax Seed
  • 1/2-inch piece of fresh Ginger
  • 1 tsp Maca Root powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp Spirulina
  • 1/2 lime (don’t even peel it! go crazy)
  • ice (added as necessary if you like a thinner consistency)

This is my recovery smoothie of choice for a couple reasons.  I love coconut water for replacing electrolytes naturally post-exercise. Ginger is an unbeatable anti-inflammatory and cure for digestion issues. Maca Root is an adaptogen -a stress reducer basically. Cinnamon has solid anti bacterial functions. Tumeric is another amazing anti-oxidant and anti-inflamatory. Spirulina has ridiculous amount of vitamins and minerals, and it’s a super concentrated source of a complete protein. You can obviously skip some of these ingredients if you don’t have them. But you’ll be affecting your mojo. And I take my mojo VERY seriously.

Why did I attach names to these recipes? Well,… if you try one of these and it ends up tasting terrible, you know exactly who to blame.

And remember, if any of you Contenderites out there have a smoothie recipe you’re dying to share, post it in the comments and we’ll get it up!

Thanks and have a happy recovery!

 

 

You, Your KuKu, and a Penthouse Suite: The Assos S7 Bibs

When you are literally the company that ushered in modern day cycling apparel by producing the first Lycra cycling short, you have a helluva lot to live up to when presenting your new range of bib shorts as “game changers”. So, after years of research and testing, the Swiss company Assos has revamped their already successful S5 short line and has now released the prolific (yeah, we said it) S7 series.

Are They Really THAT Special ?!?

In a word, yes. Why though? Is it just because Assos is good at being shocking and very (very) elite? Probably (partly, anyway). Assos gets criticized for their marketing -usually consisting of sexed up shots of women seductively wearing their shorts and little else. Then they pile that on top of easily the most consistently self aggrandizing, self important copy to grace a brand since anything that came out of Muhammad Ali’s mouth. They also tend to cost a bit more of the ol’ scratch. But spend some time with their products, and you’ll realize that cockiness is well deserved. I mean, Muhammad Ali said he was the greatest and we believed him. Not simply because he told us but because he had the cojones say it and then prove it. Assos truly invests, researches and tests their products and they consistently put out pieces that provide new, important clothing features for cyclists. And all that Swiss precision and inability to do nothing but take themselves (or in this case, their chamois) too seriously isn’t wasted in simply pushing out fashion puff-pieces for a new season’s trends. They’ll keep pieces in their line for quite a few seasons; only revamping the products when they feel their research or a new technology could make a significant difference in the garment.

Oh, and they’ve got a something called a Kuku penthouse built into their shorts. More on that later…

Now, as far as the criticism on their price point, what can I say? Plenty of people will never be willing to spend the $519 required to get into the T. campionissimo, Assos highest priced short in the S7 line. But I will say this, Assos is dedicated to manufacturing their apparel with the finest materials. Their new S7 line has less seams, breathes better, has better odor fighting qualities and packs in so many other thoughtful, actually functional features that you really are getting something different in a bib short. Plus, Assos manufactures all their garments in Europe in Assos-owned factories. All their garments are hand-sewn and they even source their materials from Europe.This means they have greater control over the quality and consistency of their product. Plus the craftsmanship and attention to detail is spectacular. And we’re not the only ones to believe in Assos and their new line. Peloton magazine recently stated that the Assos T.equipe S7 bib short is “the best piece of cycling equipment in our arsenal – period.” Those are bold words from a powerful publication. I’m sure Assos wasn’t expecting anything less.

Breakin’ Down The Line

We find that there’s a bit of confusion with the terminology Assos uses regarding their apparel and they don’t always do the best job of pointing out the features and differences between their pieces. Since they just released the S7 line, we figured we’d do it for you. You’re bloody welcome.

There are four bib shorts currently available in the S7 line: T.neoPro,  T.equipe, T.cento and T.campionissimo, in order of ascending cost. Each higher iteration of bib also represents a bib with more features, but (and this is where it can get confusing) they’re also targeted at specific types of riders, so the fit of the bib as well as the style and placement of the chamois is different in each model to best match the type of riding and the rider that’s expected to use it. The sublimated strap of each bib short (other than the T.campionisismo), states the style of fit.

Assos T.NeoPro s7

T.neoPro  ($199) is considered a “regular fit” and is the least expensive in the Assos line up. But that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in features. Like all the other shorts, the T.neoPro is made out of fewer panels than their old shorts with the help of new fabrics and a pattern Assos lifted from the skinsuits they used in the 2012 Olympics -all designed to improve durability and comfort. But the big news is the new chamois tech that Assos has come up with. Their new Assos Waffle material allows the chamois to be lighter and breathe much better. They also incorporate what they call the Golden Gate, which means they sew the front and back of the chamois into the short but leave the center, where most of your weight is distributed, unattached, “creating 3 dimensional freedom of movement right in the most sensitive area”.

Assos T.equipe s7

T.equipe ($270) The next level up in the new S7 line gives you a more aggressive, racing fit. With a trimmer cut to fit a racer’s more svelte frame, the T.equipe does also have a thinner, more spread out chamois. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less comfortable. They still make use of their new Waffle and Golden Gate tech, but they’ve modified it to fit the T.equipe’s thinner cut. Assos has also utilized two extra panels up front, which allow them to spread the chamois seams out to the side of the short. This helps eliminate bunching and chaffing even more. They’ve also included their Icecolor tech which allows the darker fabrics to reflect more heat, keep a cooler temp and help with muscle fatigue.

Assos T.cento s7

T.cento($370) Assos calls the T.cento their “long distance” short. I think that’s Assos code for comfort fit. The shorts have less compression built into the material to make them deliberately loser in abdominal and waist areas. However, Assos points out that the same rider should be able to wear all four of the new bibs comfortably. The fabric used in the T.cento is the same as the T.equipe, but there is a mesh section in the front panel of the short that is a bit more forgiving to riders with a more “robust” frame. They also include the Rear Terminal feature, which is an extra layer of material inserted right above the back chamois to improve durability in the area.

But the big difference between the T.cento and the T.equipe is the inclusion of what Assos is calling their KuKu Penthouse. Let that just sink in for a second. Because you have to love a company that is so willing to help you address the comfort of your…cuckoo. Essentially what they’ve done is cut a round section out of the front of their three-layer chamois, added “skin contact textile”, and created a ” ‘nest’ into which the male’s genitals are properly ‘stored’ “. Penthouse indeed. Thank you, Assos.

Assos T.campionissimo

T.campionissimo ($519) Assos’ top of the line short. It’s serious stuff. Their prolific vision of what a “game changer” is all about. The T.campionissimo gets it’s own amazing fabric and chamois materials. Assos’ special Type A.444 ergoKompressor material offers more compression, cooler operating temps, lighter construction, more of an aerodynamic advantage (thanks to fewer seams and smarter seam placement) and faster drying times. The compression it provides is “asymmetrical” and is touted to give a 33% higher compression rate then their S5 shorts. They also get a fabric that is woven -usually unheard of for technical cycling apparel- but it allows Assos to control the flexation and compression of critical areas of the garment. 

The chamois is a blend of the T.equipe and T.cento pads, with the T.campionissimo giving you that all too prophetic Penthouse for your Kuku and an aggressive, race inspired shape. The chamois’ foam pads are sewn directly into the shorts, meaning that they float as freely as the T.neopro but the construction is lighter and even more seamlessly integrated.

 

Conclusion: Is Assos The Way of The Future? 

In a word, yes. In an industry that sometimes seems overwhelmed with new gimmicks and a hyper fixation on having the absolute newest and feature-laden gear, Assos is a brand that can definitely play that game, but also back up all their high-tech jibber-jabber with real, honest features that make a big difference to someone who loves to ride.

We carry the full line of the new S7 shorts (as well as some sweet Assos glasses and plenty of their other apparel) so come on in and find out what a Kuku Penthouse can do for you, your gentlemen vegetables, and the future of cycling.

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Post Ride Recovery Nutrition

Here’s The Situation

You’ve just finished you’re long ride for the week. You start to strip off your sweaty gear, sink into a chair and you realize you’re equal parts tired and hungry. If you’re like me, usually whatever food is closest and easiest sounds like the best option. Which means my justification for eating the whole package of Oreo’s and some BBQ potato chips goes a little like this:

Long ride today, buddy. Good job. Perfect excuse to treat yourself. A whole package of Oreo’s isn’t that big, is it? I swear they make them smaller now. I mean, thirty-six mystery cream filled little darlings isn’t even going to put a dent into the sweet calorie deficit these beautiful legs of mine just created, right??

Truth is, we’ve all been there; sometimes you just get lazy when it comes to recovery. Besides the actual ride itself, some smart, healthy food choices can make a massive difference not just in how you feel later that day, but it can also drastically improve your performance for your next few rides. Recovery is when your body learns to adapt to the stress you just put it through -and come out stronger and ready for more.

Recovery At A Glance

A general guideline is for endurance athletes to consume between 200- 300 calories immediately following a long training session or event. You should think of this as a “snack” before you consume a regular meal within 1-2 hours. Now, let’s talk about what this snack should consist of: Because we’re endurance athletes, we are pros at depleting glycogen stores. So getting some complex carbohydrates in your system is a good idea. This will help you stay out of the “post-race fog”  that results from low blood sugar and just a general lack of available energy in the body. Our bodies also need a good source of protein to help rebuild torn down tissue, keep our immune system healthy (ever picked up a really nasty cold or flu after a particularly tough race effort?), and to produce hemoglobin in the blood so oxygen can get to working muscles (vital for the next time you train). And don’t forget about fat! Ultra endurance athletes (all you century and double-century riders out there) get most of their energy from the triglycerides found in good fat that turn into free fatty-acids. Recouping these after a long ride will keep you primed for your next endurance event.

Supplementing Your Recovery

A great way to start your recovery process and make sure your post ride snack does a bit more for you than spill Oreo crumbs all over your sweaty jersey is to look at recovery supplements. Real, whole foods are always a preferred source of energy when it comes to fueling the body. But sometimes, especially when your at a remote event or just don’t have the time to put together something healthy, supplements can give you exactly what you need to jump start your recovery quickly and conveniently.

Let’s talk about a few of our favorites here at the shop: 

Acute Recovery from Osmo Nutrition

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Found and developed by Dr. Stacy Sims, who has Certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition among the many fancy titles and abbreviations listed behind her name, Osmo’s products reflect some of the latest nutrition research available. Their recovery product utilizes whey protein isolate and casein to not only give you super clean sources of protein, but also allow the body to absorb more protein over a longer period of time. They also have a whole line of products specifically designed for women.

Recoverite from Hammer Nutrition

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This recovery powerhouse helps you reclaim some very important electrolytes and micronutrients, including Chormium, which helps the body metabolize the carbs, protein and fat you are taking in as well as keeping your blood sugar steady. Recoverite is also using whey protein isolate, a very pure source of protein.

 

Ultragen from 1st Endurance

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First Endurance gets points for not only being based in Utah, but because they give you a solid dose of BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids), the building blocks for muscle growth. Not only that, but they utilize Glucose, a high glycemic carbohydrate that can be absorbed extremely fast into the body and create a catalyst for your body to soak up more BCAA’s, vitamins, and minerals.

 

Want To Mix Your Own Recovery Smoothie?

Hammer Whey is a great option for anyone who is interested in mixing up their own recovery drink and needs a good source (20 grams per serving) of high quality protein. Made from the same whey protein isolate found in their Recoverite, Hammer Whey comes in Chocolate, Chai, Strawberry, Vanilla, and Unflavored.

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For Our Vegan Friends we also carry Hammer’s Vegan Protein made from organic pea and brown rice proteins. It’s good stuff that also provides you with 20 grams of protein per serving.

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Just add your favorite fruits, veggies, yogurt, nut butters, or anything else you’re tempted to throw in there (Oreo’s?? No! Well… maybe. But stay tuned for some of our favorite smoothie recipes in a future post) and you’ve just created your own awesome recovery drink.

Remember that we stock all of these recovery products in store and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have! 

And if you’ve got a killer recovery drink or smoothie recipe you’re dying to share with us, we’d love to hear about it in the comments. Don’t keep it to yourself!

Throwback Thursday – Ryan Littlefield

This week’s Throwback Thursday goes to Ryan Littlefield and the 1987 Brighton High School Yearbook. As a sophomore in high school, Ryan was already wearing spandex. The caption reads “A couple of bikers take a break to chat with some friends at a football game. It often seemed that more people went to games to have fun with their friends than to watch the game.” Ryan is sitting on the ground while his friend is standing over Ryan’s bike, a Schwinn Super Sport. The look is accentuated with his Duegi cycling shoes and the classic Cinelli cycling cap with the brim up and the bangs out. Ryan was riding with his friend Adam who sported Campagnolo cycling shorts and a sweet bandana.

Ryan Littlefield

Contender Fantasy Spring Classics League

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Some of the most exciting racing of the year starts this weekend at Milan-San Remo and runs through April ending with Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Jeff came up with the brilliant idea starting a Contender Bicycles fantasy league on www.velogames.com. Click HERE to see the rules of the game.

At the end of the Spring Classics, whoever ranks 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Contender Bicycles league will receive a $100, $50 and $25 gift card to the shop!

Here are the details to join the Contender Bicycles League!

League Name: Contender Bicycles
League Code: 20184935

Use the League Code to enter the league by clicking on an Open spot on your Team Roster’s “Mini-League Manager” section.

You can reach your Team Roster by going back the the main page and clicking on the team name in the right-hand panel of each screen when you are logged in.

After clicking on an open league spot, you will then be asked to enter the League Code to sign up your team into the league.