As 2011 begins I want to take a minute and share some of the highlights from 2010 that all of us at Above Category have experienced. The list is long and I'm sure that I'm leaving out a ton but here's a start...
2010 was just another year that I had to pinch myself on pretty much every ride to make sure I wasn't dreaming. There are so many great places to ride in the world and all of us living here are so fortunate to be able to call this our personal training ground! From the rollers in West Marin to Mt. Tam and then to the Headlands I have never ridden ANYWHERE that offers the views, roads and such a wide array of terrain. As such it is our goal to run some cycling camps here in 2011. We tried this in 2010 but as the beginners that we are chose a bad time and I think made a camp that was just too long. I see us starting with a nice 3-4 day camp that should be manageable for anybodies schedule. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for dates!
In 2010 we stepped up our custom projects over the previous years. We were lucky enough to be the first shop in the world to receive the new Moots RSL road frame. For this bike we had Spectrum Powder Works custom paint the stem, forks, cranks and a few other parts to make an especially unique bike for the customer. The dark gray base color is incredible on the stock titanium finish from Moots and is now standard on most of the frames that we sell from the Steamboat Springs, CO company. This has been super fun and now it is very rare that a bike leaves our shop without some form of customization. I love that we can give a little bit of personalization to each bike that we build though it definitely does take a little longer to get a bike out the door but is well worth it and makes Above Category the shop that it is. Take a look at our older blog posts and you will see an example of some of the projects that I'm referring to.
2010 saw me race my first mountain bike race since I was a Jr. in the early 90's in WA. The event was the Boggs Mountain 8 hour endurance race that I did with Jr. team member Jack Keane. It was an amazing event and one of the most fun races I've ever done! The course was amazing, the competition was amazing and the weather (high 20's working up to high 40's and rain and snow) was typical amazing mountain bike weather! This race sells out quickly and I suggest everybody that has a mountain bike to sign up. It was great to get a race on one of the best mountain bikes I've ever owned as well. The Moots YBB was perfect and even got to test the Edge Composites carbon tubular wheels with the Geax Seguaro tubular tires. I can't really remember where Jack and I ended up in the results (4th or 5th) but I do remember having an absolute blast...
2010 was the year that our national level Jr. team really took it to the next level. Just recently we had four Jr.s at the US Cycle Cross National Championships and came home with a 2nd from Bjorn Fox (who races cross w/ the Cliff Bar team, but road for us and since road is cooler we'll take some of that!), 3rd from Spence Peterson (15-16), 7th with Alex Howard (17-18) and finally an 8th place with Michael Dessau (who races for us in Boulder CO). We had Podiums also with Alex Howard at Road Nationals and great racing there from Isaiah Rapko with a near miss at a podium. Every year these guys get better and stronger not to mention bigger. Most still race in the 15-16 and are getting ready to step up to the Cat II ranks this year. We have two guys racing in Belgium this coming summer and speaking of that, Bjorn Fox is there now racing cross for the US National Team. We have also just finished setting up a non-profit for the team and will be hosting some fundraisers to help support them for the upcoming seasons. Our ultimate goal is Cross Worlds in 2013 that takes place in the US for the first time! If you have any interest in helping grow the future of US Racing please contact us for information! On that note, we'd like to give a huge thank you to Greg Norris and Norris Family Insurance of Mill Valley for all of their support!
2010 is the year that our good friend Joao Correia left his comfy desk (or rather airline seat) behind and decided it was a good idea to go race as a pro (European Pro). A lot of folks know his story by now and for those that don't, should. Not too many years ago Joao was 200+ lbs and was not riding at all and working (which included eating) a ton. I met Joao a few years ago in Italy for the Grand Fondo event and he was already well on his comeback trail but I don't think any of us could have guessed where he would end up! It was an up and down year for Joao personally. He had some great races, finished majority of the stage races he entered but also had some bad crashes which left him chasing form when he came back. But for all those watching him it was a success and shows what the body is capable of if you put in the work! Weather you are trying to lose weight or race at the highest level or in Joao's case, both, he helped show what is possible!
A huge highlight for me personally was getting my brother Kyle out on a bike for his first real road ride ever. I'm pretty sure we all would love to get our family or non cycling friends out on a bike in order to show them what all the fuss is about. Just being able to show someone how great it is to learn all the roads by bike instead of driving or even learn roads you'd never have known about in the first place! And also to maybe humble them a little and making them realize it isn't as easy as it looks especially going down. I also learned a lot about patience and the right and wrong ways to introduce other people to the best sport in the world! Maybe this can be a great project for some of you, our readers, for 2011? Maybe you have an old bike sitting in the basement and an old kit you can lend to someone for a few rides? Sometimes that's all it takes is a little nudge and you've just changed someones life!
In July we were lucky enough to have two trips going on at the same time. Kalara and I went to Italy to ride the Pinarello Grand Fondo for the 3rd time and more importantly get a first hand look at the 2011 line. It was a blast and a must do for any Pinarello owner! Then we went north to Caldenazzo and spent a day with Dario, Daniel and Pietro where we talked about a few secret projects that they were working on plus saw a few new paint schemes and found out that my Luigino had been sold to someone else, thanks Dario... Then we headed to Lugano, Switzerland to visit our friends at Assos. We had an incredible time riding and eating with Luigi and Sabrina and checking out some of the new products they have coming out in the next year or so. After that it was down to Chianti with a pit stop in Maranello to visit Christos at the Ferrari HQ where we got the tour of a lifetime! Finally, we were in the small town of Lecci in Chianti where we stayed at Joao C's great apartment and did nothing but relax, ride, eat and watch a little MotoGP with the entire town...
2010 saw the return of Lightweight wheels from Germany to Above Category. We have always left no doubt that these are the best performance wheels made but after some bad distribution decisions by Carbon Sports for the US market we stopped offering them two years ago. But that was short lived as the wheels are just too good and Carbon Sports worked a deal out w/ Dave Powers and now they have the distribution sorted and delivery times are not an issue at all. We have been riding these wheels like crazy all of 2010. We have all models in stock for testing including the Obermayers, Standards, Ventoux, Disc and even the brand new VR8 front time trial wheel! We have raced them and more importantly trained on them all year. We have even tested the insurance program! Yes they are expensive but the best components in the world usually are! We are working hard and believe that we have become the most complete Lightweight dealer in the country, come on in or call to see for yourself! We will be putting out a lot more information on these wheels in the near future, stay tuned!
We rode, raced, built and sold a lot of dream worthy bikes last year. One thing that really stands out with Above Category is the fact that we ride everything we sell. That saying gets thrown around a lot I know but in our case it's an understatement. Not many places (if any) build up as many top of the line, high end bikes with the absolute best components and then proceed to ride them as hard as we can in the worst conditions on every road surface including plenty of single track (on road bikes) as we do. But we wouldn't have it any other way, this is the best part of being a road shop! Last year we rode, raced and even broke a lot of bikes and parts including but not limited to; the Pinarello Dogma, KOBH, Paris and Quattro. BMC's Team Machine, Race Master, Team Elite and Pro Machine, the Parlee Z1, 3, 4, 5 and TT bike. We also put a lot of miles on all of our Moots bikes including the Compact, VaMoots, YBB, Psychlo X, Zirkel, Mooto X, CoMooter and RSL. Of course we put many hours on various Pegoretti's like Kris' Marcelo and my Love #3, Marcelo and 8:30am. Then all the parts we put through the paces like every Lightweight wheel, many different tire combination including tubular, tubeless and clincher. Power meters, brakes, Di2, you get the point. Also we can't forget one of the most important things, clothing. We have tested and worn pretty much every piece of Assos clothing in every weather condition as well. We can tell you what is right for all body types and temperature ranges out there. Again, just come in or give us a call and let us know how we can help you with any of these things...
Maybe due to having so many Lightweight wheels in the shop, 2010 has also been the year of the tubular for us. 3 of us here at Above Category rode tubulars for the majority of last year. Due to this we learned all the positives and negatives of training on tubulars full time. Personally it is hard for me to even consider riding on a clincher or tubeless tire system again. I'm not saying it won't happen but won't be easy! I don't think it's hard at all to ride these every day you just have to be willing to learn how to do it. In most cases it is easier to fix a flat than clinchers and if you don't want to mess with glue the newest Tufo tape is excellent and takes minutes to install a tire. Coming up we will review a lot of the tubular wheels and tires and give our pro's and con's to each of them. Our goal here is not to try to make everyone ride tubulars but to provide accurate and dependable information in order to help you make that choice in the most educated manner. In which case we hope you decide to give tubulars a try!
While Kalara and I were in Italy, Tony was in Switzerland and France. He was the guest of BMC and was flown in to ride the new IMPEC and tour the facility while also getting an early look at what BMC had in store for 2011. After a few days in Grenchen they all left for the final stage of the Tour de France. But this is where it gets really silly. They had a whole area right at the finish line on the Champs-Elysees, kind of like court side at a lakers game. But more than that they had a 5 course meal as the race was going by finishing in time for the sprint finish. This picture of George that Tony took shows just how close to the action he was. For this we say a big thank you to all the guys and girls at BMC. It was a great trip and this year Tony is staying home!
Lastly, I just want to say thank you to all the great guys and girls that make up Above Category and have helped it become what it is and will be! Woody for the role of shop manager which means working the books and talking to all our distributors on a daily basis, trying to keep me in check and being a wealth of knowledge which he passes on to all of our great customers. Ralf for taking on the task of running our brand new service center and actually setting that service center up while learning everything at that same time. To say we're stoked to have Ralf here would be an understatement! Ralf has been working with bikes for a long time, most recently with the National Team in Italy and is a true professional. Thanks to our other mechanic Kris who is balancing training as a Cat I racer and a full time job quite well. Kris is our go to parts and bike torture tester. He rides so much and in every type of weather that we can tell pretty quickly if any product is worth selling or not. Also thanks to Tony for saving our asses in regard to all things IT related! Also for being the absolute fastest descender any of us have ever seen. It is actually frightening how fast he gets down the hills around here, but pretty cool as well! Tony is working on another huge project for us with TJ that we should be making public in about two months, so stay with us. Craig Upton deserves a huge thank you as well for doing all the great fits next door and teaching us all a thing or two about how to really ride a bike! Mark Riedy for all his help and experience really changed the way we do a lot of things here for the better. I also want to thank my wife Kalara for all the support and help this past year and last but not least Dean for the amazing photographs and support! We couldn't have done a fraction of what we did without all of your help!
That's it, had a great 2010 and looking forward to an even better 2011! Thanks for all of your support and taking a little time out of your day to read this!