Archive for the ‘Ridley Bikes’ Category

Bicycle World’s 2012 Ridley Ride Mt Kisco NY   Leave a comment

Image

Hello and welcome to the premier installment of the Bicycle World Blog.  This week, we’ll be covering our annual Ridley Ride.  Before we get to that, however, we’d like to tell you a little more about why we’re blogging, and what we hope to accomplish.  We know that our customers rely on us for more than just the latest bikes, cycling apparel, and accessories in Westchester County NY.  We strive to be your resource for information that will help you enjoy cycling.  Whether that’s information on the latest trends in equipment, bike maintenance, bike fitting, or updates on the local cycling scene, we hope to use the blog to keep you informed and entertained. 

So what is the Ridley Ride and why do we do it?  As you know, Bicycle World carries a variety of great bikes from Trek, Giant, Felt, Argon 18, and several other brands.  We love them all, and each brand has its own unique personality.  While Ridley might not be as well-known as some of the other brands we carry, we really love what they stand for.   Ridley’s website proudly proclaims, “We Are Belgium”.  Those three words define Ridley, and say quite a bit about the company.  

For those who aren’t familiar with cycling in Belgium, here’s a quick summary:  Cycling is Belgium’s biggest sport.  It’s the birthplace of the greatest cyclist of all time, Eddy Merckx, where local kermesse races are a central part of the racing and social scene, where over 6000 cycling clubs occupy a space roughly the size of the state of Maryland.  It’s the home of the “hard men” who race on cobbled roads in the wind, cold and rain.  This is a rough country that survived brutal fighting as armies continually decimated it over the course of two world wars.  It’s not surprising that toughness is a central cultural theme.

At the professional level, Belgium hosts two of the five “Monuments of Cycling”:  Liege-Bastongne-Liege and the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).  In addition, the country hosts the additional classics of Gent-Wevelgem and La Fleche Wallone.  These races have some common features including typically lousy spring weather, bone jarring cobblestone roads, and hundreds of thousands of rabid cycling fans lining the more famous sections of each race.  A great example is the famous Koppenberg climb in the Tour of Flanders:  it’s 8 feet wide, cobbled, just under ½ mile long, and is as steep as 22% at its steepest.  Every year, you’ll see dozens of professional cyclists grind to a halt on its overcrowded slopes, dismount and carry their bikes up the cobbles within a tunnel of noise generated by the tens of thousands beer-soaked, frite munching fans lining the road. 

Gastronomically speaking, Belgium is an interesting place.  Belgium is home to the world’s largest beer brewing conglomerate, InBev, but is better known for its Trappist Monks who have brewed their own local beer to support their monasteries for centuries.  Belgian Trappist ales are known for their strong flavors and stronger alcohol contents.  Frites (French fries) were first developed in Belgium, and Belgian chocolate is considered the “gold standard” to which all other chocolate is compared.  Finally, who doesn’t love a Belgian waffle?!?  Actual Belgian waffle varieties include the Brussels waffle, Liege waffle, and “stroopwafel” which bear little resemblance to the Americanized version. 

Bicycle World’s annual Ridley Ride is our way of celebrating Belgian cycling culture along with some GREAT bikes.  Speaking of the bikes, here’s what you need to know about Ridley:  Ridley builds bikes for Belgian roads, so it’s no surprise that Ridley had its initial professional success in cyclocross (Belgium held its first National Championship in cyclocross in 1910).  Ridley’s X-Night frame won 4 World Championships in 5 years between 2006-2010.  Their current crop of ‘cross bikes benefit from trickle-down technology from the most advanced ‘cross bike in the industry.  If you think that this would translate into clunky road bikes, you’d be well off the mark.  While Ridley’s road bikes are built to survive the brutal Belgian cobbles, there are few bikes that match the technology that goes into bikes like Ridley’s Noah.  With textured paint in key leading edges of the frame, a split fork that channels air away from the spokes, and brakes that are integrated parts of the frame itself, the Noah is as technologically advanced and aerodynamic as any bike on the market.  On the other end of the spectrum, Ridley’s Helium frame is among the lightest on the market without sacrificing stiffness or comfort.  These bikes can be seen in the pro peleton under the Belgian Team Lotto-Belisol.   Ridley provides riders at all levels with features that were developed for their pro riders, and are passed along to all the bikes throughout their lineup.  That’s while you’ll see most of Bicycle World’s employees riding Ridleys on their days off.  

As for the Ridley Ride itself, the goal is to get our Ridley owners together for a fun ride celebrating Ridley and Belgian cycling.  The ride reflects Belgian cycling with sections of dirt roads, and cool fall temperatures.  This year’s ride was particularly authentic with cool, damp, and breezy conditions at the start.  Benny and Eric were festooned with blinding fluorescent green arm warmers and matching booties.  My eyes still hurt, and I fear that a famous Muppet frog may have been sacrificed to supply these items. 

The damp and cold didn’t dissuade this year’s participants, as twenty “hard men” and “hard women” set out and headed north out of Mt. Kisco NY.  We quickly banished any weather-related chills up a climb to the top of Meeting House Road.  Those chills were quickly returned down the slippery and technical dirt and gravel descent.  Not quite the same as wet Belgian cobbles, but a bike handling challenge nonetheless.  Further down the road, we crossed a metal bridge off of Route 118 and found our second section of dirt along the south side of the New Croton Reservoir.  This section was flat and fast, but full of craters, wet leaves, and the occasional startled jogger wondering what a thundering herd of cyclists were doing on a road like this.  Line selection is everything in this section as we maneuvered to find the paths of least resistance between holes, rocks, and whatever else blocked the path.  Finally, we crossed the Croton Dam, descended in to Croton on Hudson, and made a stop at the Black Cow for coffee.  After overwhelming the Black Cow with our dirt-spattered, spandex-clad armada, we retraced our tracks back up toward the reservoirs.  The long climb back up toward the Croton Dam got everyone’s legs warmed back up.  While the “out” leg of our ride took us along the south end of the reservoir, the return leg took us along the north side.  With no dirt on the return leg, speeds increased as riders anticipated the refreshments awaiting us at the shop.  We finally rolled back into Mt. Kisco tired, damp, dirty, and thirsty.  All in, we covered a little over 30 miles, and 2200 feet of elevation gain.

Back at the shop, phase two of our Belgian-themed day got underway.  We retired to the pro shop where a rep from Ridley showed off their brand new Noah FAST, Helium SL (“SL” for “Super Light”) and Fenix models.  We also cracked open a seemingly endless supply of Belgian beers and chocolate.  The beer and conversation flowed easily while we talked bikes, dirt roads, beer, and other important issues.  Overall, Eric and the guys did a great job of replicating a true Belgian experience.

If you’d like to join us on next year’s Ridley Ride, stop by the shop and check out one of the new Ridleys in stock, and next time you pass an unpaved road, instead of passing it by, go get your bike dirty.

We hope you enjoyed the first installment of the Bicycle World blog.  In upcoming blogs, we’ll be covering happenings at the shop and in the local cycling scene.  Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you’ll know when we post updates.  Also, if you haven’t done so already, follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/bicycleworldny) and Twitter (twitter.com/bicycleworldny) , and sign up for our quarterly newsletter, World News (bicycleworldny.com).  Finally, shoot us an email with any comments, suggestions or questions you have for us regarding our burgeoning media empire.  We’ll try to incorporate your input into future editions and answer any of your questions.

Advertisements