A Major Cycling Accident February 25 2015, 6 Comments
The Facebook post dropped on my news feed like a ton of bricks "Heading to Ukiah via ambulance. Hit by a car.” It was January 30th, 2015.
My good friend, Deb Banks, owner of Rivet Cycle Works, had been involved in a serious crash along with four others while doing a 300 mile credit card tour in California. With just shy of nine miles left on the first of three consecutive 100 mile days, a car careened into her and her crew.
This shouldn’t have happened. It was 5pm. It was a beautiful day. There was plenty of light left in the sky. The pavement was dry. The road was curvy but she was on a very straight section of it. Everyone was an experienced rider who knew the rules of the road and that cars always have the upper hand. But it did happen. And it gets worse…it was criminal.
The 18 year old driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.22. To put that into perspective, here’s how a variety of reputable sources describe that state of being: "Stupor - Lose Understanding - Impaired Sensations - Severe Motor Impairment - Loss of Consciousness - Memory impairment” The 42 year old passenger had a warrant out for his arrest. The crime - murder.
After surveying the scene, the driver coolly stated, “Well it looks like you guys are alright so we should get going.” Unfortunately for him though, Laura, one of Deb’s crew was now under the car. Not good.
For Deb, the rest of the next hour or so were spent in a ditch and in a blur. Slipping in and out of consciousness, she didn’t hear the approaching ambulances and didn’t see the Flight For Life helicopter that whisked Laura away to the hospital. She also didn’t see the police making two arrests. The next thing she knew, she was in an ambulance heading to the hospital as well. Pretty soon she would learn that she had a cracked pelvis, a compound fracture in her right ankle, and a serious gash on her left arm. Fortunately, there were no obvious head or neck injuries. Deb has had surgery to fix the broken ankle but the doctors removed a significant amount of cartilage. She’ll learn the impact of that over a long period of recovery that for now has her in a cast and immobile.
The rest of her crew sustained a list of injuries reminiscent of an intense dialogue from E.R - compression fractures, multiple contusions, broken clavicles and ribs, abrasions. Serious and painful as they were, no injuries were life threatening and despite the long road to recovery, everyone will walk and presumably ride again.
Although she is still coming to grips with the accident, I asked her for some perspective. “I’ve ridden 10,000 miles a year for the last 5 years. I’ve been incredibly lucky not to have anything serious happen so far. I guess sooner or later things happen. It’s the nature of the beast.”
Despite her willy-nilly feeling toward bike accidents, even Deb admits she is angry and has her dark moments. “I’d like to see the driver put away for a long time. Sure he’s in jail. But he’s getting three meals a day on the taxpayers’ dime. I may be walking by August and who knows when I’ll be back on my bike. I cannot drive for the foreseeable future. Yeah, I’m angry.”
I asked Deb what her dark moments are like. She spoke of the fear of never being whole again - wondering if she will walk without a limp or ski, another passion of hers. 10,000 miles a year puts one in really good shape and she can already feel her body slipping. At 57, she is too young to ride a motorized cart around the grocery store but she has. “I feel like my mother,” she says.
But like the experienced randonneur she is, Deb pushes on. “I’ve set my sites on the 2016 1200 kilometer Great Southern Randonnee Australia. With any luck and a lot of work, I’ll be there.”
I admitted to Deb that I was currently a bit unglued about riding myself given that she’s the first person I’ve really known to have been involved in a major cycling accident. The response - classic Deb.
"You love riding your bike. Do the things you love.”
What Happened In 2014? December 24 2014, 0 Comments
We know you’re busy getting ready for the holiday and we hope it is a great one! (Selfishly, we sure hope some of our gear is already nestled below your Christmas trees!) However, before everyone goes off the grid, we wanted to give you a quick year in review.
One word best sums up 2014, our fourth year in business – YOU.
2014 was meeting and getting to know better so many members of our peloton . Whether it was seeing you at NAHBS in March, riding along with you during Bike Virginia in June, or eating dinner with you at the Philly Bike Expo in November, we enjoyed some quality time. Shai, Rod, Walt, Padraig, Mary Elizabeth, Ken, Sherry, Chris, Debra, Piotr, Eleanor, Frank, Brett, Kim, and many others – you know who you are!
Some of you we just got to know very well via email but we feel like you are bona fide members of our crew now too. We loved looking at every single one of the pics you sent in from around the world. On our blog, we also launched our “Meet The Rider” series and want to continue it in 2015. Up until now, we’ve been asking for submissions but we’re always welcome to take them unsolicited – do not be shy.
We also conducted our first large scale survey of our customers. While we can’t divulge the results (We have to keep some trade secrets now don't we?), suffice it to say that we know a lot more now about who we are designing for. We’ve always known who we are and what we want Road Holland to be about. However, sometimes you just have to hear it from fans to make sure you stay on course.
2014 also marked a number of business changes for us. First, in June, we lifted the burden of fulfillment of all of your orders from Randee, Jonathan’s wife, and engaged a warehouse company to do the work. We’re sure happier about it and so is Randee. Here's a shot of the moving truck containing all of our inventory - that was a tiring day.
We engaged a new factory in Morganton, North Carolina to begin sewing jerseys for us. Along with continuing our production in Miami, NC should allow us to get gear out to the market much quicker than before. The Valkenburg is the first jersey to come from NC but look for more.
Color was also a big story. The re-introduction of Carolina Blue in our lightweight summer jerseys and the introduction of Celeste. For our mid-weight gear, Devil Red, Forest Green, Slate Blue, and Silver Grey are all new in the line-up.
Lest we not give them short shrift, we should mention shorts 2.0. We know we had a slight style slip with shorts 1.0 but sales suggest we nailed them the second go round.
For 2015, we will be back at NABHS in Louisville in March. We’ll also do a big ride somewhere but have yet to finalize it. And if schedules work out, we’ll surely be back in Philly.
We have more full-zip short sleeve Merino-poly jerseys on the way as well as women’s sleeveless jerseys (sorry men – sleeveless is not happening for you!).
But what we’re most looking forward to is continuing to meet and work with more of you.
Thanks for a spectacular 2014. And to all a good night.
- Jonathan and Richard
What's Rotten In The State Of Toy Land And Why Bikes Are Just Better December 21 2014, 7 Comments
We’re mid-way through Hanukkah.
The middle point of anything is often time to think about what’s happened so far and what’s still to come. As the parent of a six year old boy and a nine year old girl, I’m using this interlude to reflect on the state of today’s toys.
I hate to sound like a curmudgeon, but do toys today just really suck? They do right? Is it just me? I’m not saying all of the toys of my generation were better (well most were…). Yet, unlike my Milton Bradley StarBird Avenger, I cannot imagine my son’s fourth night gift - The Hot Wheels Break Through Crazy Curves - fetching multiple times its original sales price on eBay in years to come.
Granted, the Hot Wheels Break Through Crazy Curves was relatively inexpensive. Yet, like so many things today, it feels laughably disposable. It will enjoy a ridiculously short lifespan. So short, that the Hot Wheels Break Through Crazy Curves is already a few steps away from the cabinet where all of my son’s toys (or pieces of toys) go to die. That cabinet contains so many bits and fragments of formerly must have gifts that it could be the setting of an epic Director’s Cut version of Toy Story.
Please indulge me for a moment to use this blog to recap what’s really rotten in the state of toy land.
Appliance Like Design. While there is no shortage of Hot Wheels toys on the market, each seems to live in its own world. Break Through Crazy Curves does not feel at all similar to the Hot Wheels Super Spin Carwash my son received for his birthday. Or the Triple Track Twister he got as a gift from his aunt over Thanksgiving. It's almost as if they all come from different companies and meet for the first time on the shelves of Toys-R-Us. A logo is just about all they share. But I guess that is ok because I can't even find the Super Spin Carwash and Triple Track Twister anymore.
However, it's rare that I see my son and his friends integrate toys from different domains. When I was a child, my Britain's soldiers may have towered above the Corgi tank, but that didn't stop me from thinking they were both part of the same battle. A Playskool toy bus likely stood in for a hi-jacked troop transport. I knew they were from different worlds but they were fixtures in my universe of toys. What place does a scary looking Skylander have in the Hot Wheels world? We'll likely never know because of the next point.
Hyper accelerated entropy caused by too many pieces. Little more than a few minutes after assembly (or even during assembly), pieces begin to scatter and disintegrate causing rapid disinterest for the child. The worst offenders — toys with names that have more than two words - Littlelest Pet Shop, Barbie Dream House, Skylanders Trap Team, Star Wars figures. It pains me to say it, but versus the Kenner versions of the late 70s, today’s Star Wars figures are a scant few steps away from a Rube Goldberg contraption. Do kids need fully articulating arms and knees, removable weapons belts, and helmets with visors to truly feel the Force?
For me, losing Han Solo’s blaster was as Obi-Wan said, “a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” It taught me a lesson in how to take care of my things. Losing a blaster these days is like losing the straw to a juice box - there’s always another somewhere.
Instructions. If the box says the toy is for ages six years plus, it should be for ages six years plus. My father can fix anything but I don’t recall needing much of his help to put my toys together. My six year old doesn’t even attempt to build most things. And why should he? The sheer number of parts is overwhelming even for me. I needed a double scotch after working with the Hot Wheels Break Through Crazy Curves.
It’s not that the instructions are necessarily hard to follow. It’s more that the surfeit of pieces fit together so poorly (or not at all) that I wonder whether I am doing things right. I would love to just be called when there is a need for batteries.
Longevity. I definitely sound like the curmudgeon here, but they just don’t build toys like they used to. The stomach sinking site of whitish plastic that I have bent too far or pushed too hard is routine. To the environmentalists out there, do not worry about today’s toys. They have already begun breaking down before they even hit the landfills.
Decals. Every toy comes with decals now. And lots of them. Growing up, I viewed decals with a sense of dread and awe. I wanted to apply them PERFECTLY. Often, I did not even want to use them at all as if the act of doing so would take away the newness of the toy. For Legos especially, a decal locked a piece into a permanent role. Putting decals on was serious business.
Now, decals are just like another sheet of stickers from the party store. My son races to apply them with abandon giving little regard to how well they align with the edges of pieces. There are so many included that they are meaningless.
“Groundhog Day Syndrome” - Over 10 years of parenthood, I have assembled many toys. I have searched for, shoved, and manipulated my fair share of plastic. Yet somehow, no matter what I build, I feel like I’m building the same toy over and over again.
Whether it’s the Power Rangers Zord Vehicle or the Spider Man Spiral Blast Web Shooter, pieces seem indistinguishable from one another. Yet, they are not - that would make things too easy in the event of a lost piece.
I am not sure what the next few nights of Hanukah have in store for us. My wife did the shopping this year and some gifts came wrapped from my siblings. But I do know that I went for a ride with the kids this am and we had a great time. I wish I could say that about playing with the Hot Wheels Break Through Crazy Curves.
A New Jersey and Some BBQ December 13 2014, 1 Comment
I always get a thrill when taking delivery of a new style jersey for the first time. I’ve tested the prototypes, hemmed and hawed over minute details, and just about driven everyone batty who has worked on it. But all of that fades from memory once I claim the first medium for myself and tear open the package.
Usually that occurs at our factory in Miami but this past Thursday was different. A small lot of Valkenburgs, our new full zip Merino jersey, was ready at our new factory in Morganton, North Carolina. Coincidentally, I was in Winston-Salem (about 90 miles away) visiting my parents and siblings to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday. Road Holland is a family affair, so along with my father, mother, and sister, we hit the road to Morganton to collect the lot.
I like the drive to Miami but there's nothing like being in the hills in Western, North Carolina. There's also a lot less traffic.
Morganton, “Nature’s Playground” as the official welcome sign says, sits in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains between Asheville and Hickory. It’s seriously picturesque and despite a fulsome amount of 18 wheelers lumbering along some of the major thoroughfares, it seems like a great place to begin a cycling sojourn into the hills.
With a population just shy of 17,000, you surely won’t mistake it for a major metropolis. Yet in previous times, Morganton was a serious producer of textiles of all sorts. Sadly, NAFTA washed that role away. With the Valkenburg, we’re helping reverse the tide and get some people back to work.
Once at the factory, I had a nice visit with Nand and Neelan, the heads of the operation. Arriving in the US from India in 1979, they lived briefly in New Jersey before settling in Morganton where they have focused on high-quality athletic clothing ever since.
I also talked with some of the cutters and sewers of our jerseys. Just like our food, I believe it’s important we know where our clothes come from. When you do, you can almost feel the pride they take in their work in the garment itself.
After saying our goodbyes to Nand and Neelan and loading up the car, we headed back to Winston. Along the way, we stopped in Statesville where we lunched at The Carolina Bar B-Q.
My family knows BBQ. While we had differing opinions of the cue (it was very lean and lightly smoked), we all agreed that the cake-like hush puppies were some of the best we had ever eaten.
I particularly enjoyed the red slaw and turnip greens. The CBBQ offers two sauces – mild and hot. The latter (my preference) is emblematic of Eastern NC offerings while the former represents Western and almost Kansas City like influences.
The desserts were tempting but we were just too full and had an early dinner back in Winston to think about.
I have four main passions in life – cycling, wristwatches, hi-fi gear, and BBQ. On Thursday, I hit two of the four.
Not bad for a day's work.
Meet Rod - Escaping Grizzly Bears One Bike Tour At A Time November 19 2014, 3 Comments
The first picture of me is from 1984 and was taken at Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. This was one of two days I rode with a cyclist named Ben who was very experienced at touring.
I vividly remember the climb to Lake Louise from Canada 1A Bow Valley Parkway. We left Banff and followed Bow Valley Parkway which becomes Lake Louise Drive at the town of Lake Louise. The first part of the climb was just a normal climb. Then we turned onto the road leading to the lake.
I was riding a 24T chain ring x 34T cog combination. About 50 yards from Lake Louise, the road pitched up. With 55 lb. of equipment on the bike, I was out of the saddle and hoping my hamstrings would not shred. I think the distance from Banff to Lake Louise was about 45 miles.
Ben and I took the necessary photographs then parted. He was headed toward Jasper, Alberta and I toward Golden, British Columbia. Instead of riding back to 1A then climbing Kicking Horse Pass on Trans Canada 1, I took a back road and hoped I would not end up as lunch for a grizzly bear. The road led mostly downhill and I was the only soul on it for miles and miles.
When you ride in this type of country, you must have the necessary tools and supplies to make bike repairs. I even carried an extra tire. Finding a 1 1/4" X 27" tire was probably impossible. I never looked for a bike shop but I suspect Banff may have had one but that was it.
The bike was a Nishike touring bike. I purchase the frame and fork from Bike Nashbar for $175 and using as many components from my existing road bike as possible, I cobbled together a beautiful touring machine. Unfortunately, I crashed the bike in Houston some years later. I would still be riding it today if that were not the case.
You may ask, "How can anyone remember the details of such a trip?" It's impossible to forget such a tour. Today, I would question the sanity of it but you do different things when you are younger. Today, I would ride "a smell the roses" pace and walk a few of the climbs and take more pictures. Back then, the motivation for averaging 68 miles a day was my 2-week vacation limit, my fear of grizzly bears, and the need to get to the camp grounds which were few and far between. The bears didn’t get to me physically but they sure did get to me mentally. Upon checking in at one place, a visitor center employee informed me I was their guest. She said, "Guest.” I heard “lunch" and nearly rode away as fast as I could.
That’s the road for you.
A Very Quick Look Back at the 2014 Philly Bike Expo November 13 2014, 0 Comments
After missing the Philly Bike Expo in 2013, we couldn't wait to get back there this year. And we were not disappointed. From just a few years ago, the PBE has grown dramatically to include more frame builders and purveyors of really cool stuff.
It's hard to convey everything we saw, but here's 90 seconds at least.
Meet Barry and Erich - Autodrop, Ltd. (they have in effect dropped themselves) October 22 2014, 2 Comments
Many people send us photos of them wearing their gear on incredible rides. We finally stopped salivating over the pictures long enough to ask some of them to tell us about those rides in more detail. We thought we’d share and start a guest blogger series. For our next installment, Barry and Erich share the history of AutoDrop LTD. and how they came to team up with Road Holland.
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they ride a bike. Some complain too much, others ride dangerously. Many riders make a point to talk about their equipment, or their last 'epic' ride, or how many watts they can push. Others will talk incessantly, when it really makes more sense to be quiet (like riding across a gorgeously picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway viaduct) or have nothing to say when you need a word of encouragement.
We (Barry and Erich) met on a bike ride in the mid-2000s - the now-defunct “Monday Night Recovery Race." These rides convened after work, nearly always included the same loop (called a City Loop) and were a great way to get together and talk about the weekend's racing activities (read: finishing mid-pack) while keeping the legs loose. Inevitably, the last few miles of each 'recovery ride' would bring some serious speed and wagging tongues. We gathered off the bike to hang out and eventually designed kits to identify ourselves as the "City Loop Mafia." The Mafia rode strong for a few years, but as folks moved away and lives changed, the group dwindled. Barry and Erich kept riding, and realized a few common goals while racing each other up and down hills in northwestern North Carolina: to ride bikes in search of deeper meaning, to design unusual cycling events, and to design a kit and/or clothing to represent a simple, pure vision of their new venture: Autodrop Ltd.
The name Autodrop Ltd. would become a small race/ride production and clothing partnership. The name is intended to appear serious but be absolutely humorous, stemming from a situation sometimes encountered by amateur cyclists riding above their ability: when trying to keep the pace high in a race, riders may sit on the front too long and exhaust themselves. When they finally pull off and the adrenaline wanes, they suddenly find their legs burning, heart rate pegged, and the previously obedient paceline sliding away from them. They have, in effect, dropped themselves. The dreaded "autodrop." They added the "Ltd." tag purely for effect.
The first endeavor was a checkpoint-themed cycling event in Winston-Salem, NC. Riders received a list of checkpoints of varying value, and were challenged to 'tag' as many as possible in 6 hours. A local pub hosted the finish and riders rolled in exhausted, happy, and ready for some food and beer. Two other events soon followed, both tied to small local charities. With momentum and local interest increasing, Autodrop Ltd. needed a visual image - specifically a jersey. The guys required the following characteristics: American made, wool, simple and high-performance. A quick internet search brought them to Road Holland. A simple email to Richard and Jonathan in November 2011 started the relationship that produced two custom jersey runs and continues today via our work with embrocation.
Embrocation, a wax based concoction also known as “Belgian Knee Warmers,” is a transplant from European cycling circles. During the cold weather months, riders use it to protect the skin, warm up the tissues and provide a sense of purpose and comfort that may be needed when riding in harsh conditions. We used embrocation on cold winter rides while training for the 2011 Tour of the Battenkill. Eventually one of us said,”Hey, we could probably make this stuff.” With Barry's focus on uncovering the details of a proper recipe and obsessive attention to detail, we soon had a test batch sourced from local beeswax, essential oils, and capsaicin: "Auto/Embro." The mix was faster to heat up than most others we had tried, and held up well for 4-6 hours in rainy and cold weather without the need to reapply. A local bike shop signed on to sell the product, and it soon sold out. Erich designed custom labels for the local pro-cyclocross team, who also signed on to use it.
In 2013, Richard and Jonathan requested that the guys create a custom mix for Road Holland, now known as Veluwezoom Warming Embrocation. This mix has the same medium heat rating as the other embrocations we made. But, it has a more sophisticated scent that combines the wood and flower bases.
Embro is most beneficial between when temperatures range between 35 and 55F. It is especially helpful if the rider may get wet during a harder-effort ride and does not wish to deal with wet, soggy fabric leg warmers (one of the reasons why cyclocrossers love to embro). Two important notes however: always apply cream to your chamois BEFORE applying embrocation to your legs unless you want some warming action down there…) And always wash and wipe embrocation from your legs prior to taking a post-ride shower. The water, especially hot water, notably increases the sensation of heat as opening pores allow deeper penetration of the capsaicin.
The products and events of Autodrop Ltd. represent what we know about each other - we share different skills but similar passions for quality and the fun of cycling. The match with the guys at Road Holland feels completely natural as well all appreciate high-quality, simple designs, and a non-pretentious attitudes toward cycling.
Bike Touring Thru Europe With Road Holland On Their Backs October 02 2014, 1 Comment
A few years ago, my brother introduced Road Holland to a friend of his in Oriental, North Carolina. Pretty soon, Walt Abercrombie and his wife Linda became two of our best customers. Originally from the Netherlands, Walt couldn’t resist the big orange!
Last June, Richard and I met Walt and Linda when they participated in Bike VA. In addition to learning just what stand-up kind of people they are, we got the details on their upcoming 30th wedding anniversary cycling jaunt to Belgium, Holland, and France. On their Bike Fridays, they would begin in Brussels, travel northward through Holland, and then take a train to Provence.
Many of us only dream about doing something like this but Walt and Linda made it happen. They’re almost done with their voyage now but they’ve captured it all with an amazingly detailed and entertaining blog. If you’ve ever wanted to see some of Europe from a bicycle seat, this is as good as it gets.
Enjoy. And to Walt and Linda, happy anniversary!
It’s ok to copy Coppi (and Bartali). September 29 2014, 0 Comments
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, why not imitate some of the best?
In addition to being champions in many regards, Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali showed that you can look elegant on a bike. They rocked some styling collars “back in the day” and we’ve got images of these famed riders pinned up on our office walls as inspiration.
Even with your all carbon frame, you may not be able to ride as well as them. But at least you can look as good as them in our Den Haag jersey. You’ve got to see it to believe it so click on over and take a look.
Jonathan and Richard
What’s with the funny names? September 25 2014, 1 Comment
We get a lot of questions about the names of our jerseys - what are they, what do they mean, and how do I pronounce them? The answer - they are all names of towns in the Netherlands and there is a reason why we picked each one.
Take Den Haag. Many of you know it as The Hague which is the seat of the “world court.” Now, you wouldn’t show up to court without a collar so we thought our design was apropos. The button up-collar, a couple of stripes, and some nifty-cool back pockets make this the cycling equivalent of the legal “power tie.”
So button one up, and marvel at how good you’ll look and how great you’ll feel.
Almost Heaven - Cycling in the Blue Ridge Mountains September 15 2014, 0 Comments
Have you ever ridden in the Blue Ridge Mountains? If not, make a plan - and soon. Because the green in these pics is shortly to be replaced by spectacular autumnal colors. Mile for mile, we think there is no better place to ride and no better time to do it than in the Fall. For more information and for a host of rides with detailed maps and cue sheets, visit the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition.
Oh, and who are the people in the pics? That’s one of our customers - Alan Santos and his wife. Alan is a professional photographer who, as he puts it, "lives in an old bungalow in Silver Spring, MD with my lovely wife, two awesome kids, two sassy cats and one mellow dog. I try to live a good life.” Alan was born in the Philippines and grew up in Conyers, GA, where he picked up his first Nikon and first photography job as a freelance photographer covering the 1996 inaugural Olympic mountain bike race in Atlanta.
So how did Alan take the pics if he is on the bike? Well, thanks to a tripod, some programmed camera settings, and some legal child labor, Alan made it happen. We think talent runs in the family…don’t you?
Meet Phaedra - Broken Bones and Gnarly Rocks September 08 2014, 3 Comments
Many people send us photos of them wearing their gear on incredible rides. We finally stopped salivating over the pictures long enough to ask some of them to tell us about those rides in more detail. We thought we’d share and start a guest blogger series. For our first installment, Phaedra - a wizard of words and a local cyclist in Richmond, Virginia, shares a formative experience of hers on the James River Trail system. Enjoy.
I’ve been a roadie for a long while. And even though I still love road rides as much as ever, let’s face it, it can get a little boring. Staring at someone’s rear end – uh wheels – for so long can make you crazy. On one of those 45-milers two years ago I decided it was finally time to try mountain biking. Trails! Nature! Loose comfortable clothing! Technical challenges! I was tired of looking at asphalt and my friends’ spandex-clad butts. It was time for something new, something with a little more style.
I got myself a full-suspension Giant Lust and some comfy baggy shorts and starting throwing myself at the James River Trail system. I’m sure you know what’s next. Pretty much every mountain biker I have ever known has broken some bone somewhere at some point, and I was no exception. A year into it, I broke my arm on a shifty rock drop on the Buttermilk trail.
Honestly, I had no business being on Buttermilk that early in the game. The James River Park system is a gorgeous network of several trails that offers everything I had dreamed of on those monotonous road rides – nature, trees, flowing water (and no cars!). I started off riding Belle Isle, a family-friendly loop with a few optional log piles and tree roots to play with. Then I moved up to Forest Hill Park, which added more obstacles and some steep climbs. After that I struggled onto North Bank – an intermediate strip of trail along the James River with a ridiculous amount of rocks.
I wasn’t yet ready for Buttermilk, the oldest trail in the park system and by far the gnarliest. But a friend suggested we ride it, and I didn’t even see the steep s-foot drop by Reedy Creek until I was right on top of it. I braked, flipped and the landing ate my left elbow.
Last week, after many months of healing, it was time to go back.
I enlisted a few trusted friends as spotters and off we went. I tackled the first part of the trail just fine, and then up came My Rock. We stopped, looked at it, talked about what line to take, and I watched a few of my pals roll down it. Then it was my turn.
I felt like I was going to barf, but I feel like that with any new cycling challenge – my first Gran Fondo, my first century, even my first time clipping in with new pedals. What if I failed? What if I looked stupid? What if I came in last? What if my friends laughed?
Screw all that. I glared down the trail and took off, headed for the drop. Eyes forward, butt back, arms bent, crouched low over the seat, here it came…..and I sailed right over it. Slam dunk, baby! New skill mastered, fear conquered.
Broken bones or not, I will never give up mountain biking. I love it for the same reasons I took up cycling in the first place. It challenges me, there is always something new to learn, it makes me feel strong, and of course, beers after the ride. Plus, I look a hell of a lot better in a mountain bike kit than spandex.
Why We Love Gran Fondos August 27 2014, 1 Comment
Suddenly, Gran Fondos (see here for an explanation of them - http://www.granfondoguide.com) are everywhere. And I think this is a good thing.
The popularity of Gran Fondos echoes a trend in cycling overall. People want more - more of everything.
- They want safer roads so they can ride without fear.
- They want better gear (yeah for us!).
- They want better experiences.
- Most importantly, they want those experiences to be about themselves.
At least here in the States, for most riders, charity and casual century rides have traditionally held sway as the main achievement-oriented outlets for cyclists. Everyone can remember their first MS-150 ride, the feeling of crossing the finish line, and the sense of accomplishment. It’s awesome. But let’s be honest with ourselves, most riders have limited connection with the charity itself. They have donated or raised the required amount of money to participate and that is the main (if only) extent of the link. I don’t fault them - it’s natural and there are countless charities and organizations pulling these same riders in many different directions all throughout the year.
There is also little, if any, cache among non-cyclists about training for a charity ride. Outside of our world, no one really knows about the MS-150 rides or the Tour de Cures. I wish it were not the case but it is reality.
Contrast this with the New York or Boston Marathons, the Iron Man competitions, or even the relatively new “Tough Mudders.” If one says he is training for one of these events, he immediately garners some status (either as an individual with incredible athletic prowess, mental fortitude, and/or as a lunatic). The cycling world has not kept pace with such events.
Enter Gran Fondos. While some Gran Fondos benefit charities, the real focus is on the rider. Whether it’s gourmet snacks at rest-stops, post-ride massages, riding with cycling legends, or the ability to compete against the clock, Gran Fondos offer that chance to expose the inner pro in all of us. And someone who is saddling up on a lavishly expensive full carbon bike with Di2 probably wants a competitive environment sometimes.
I don’t think charity rides are going anywhere anytime soon. But the growing popularity of Gran Fondos may cause organizers to re-think how they approach the events. In the meantime, we’ll do our best to participate in both. But I sure will be looking forward to that lemon sorbet at the mile 50 rest stop and a glass of Prosecco when I cross the finish line.
An Incredibly Epic Deal! August 05 2014, 0 Comments
Our cycling jerseys are the best but we'll admit that you can't wear them all of the time. Sometimes, you need to wear a t-shirt and we've got you covered. Our 100% cotton t's are super soft lightweight. You might even want to wear one on the bike.
We're giving away a FREE t-shirt with your next purchase and throwing in $20 OFF as well! But act fast, before we give away your size. [OFFER EXPIRED 8/18/2014]
Hilarious: What Do You Think About The Tour De France? July 09 2014, 0 Comments
A Look Back At Bike Virginia 2014 July 01 2014, 0 Comments
We're back from Bike Virginia and it was a blast. From the scenic rides to the moveable feast to the daily yoga, we've tried our best to bring you the highlights. Watch this and maybe you might see yourself! And check out some of the behind the scenes players such as the chef, the mobile mechanic, and the ladies who dished out the ice cream at our 3 Sweet Feet Social.
Jonathan and Richard
Virginia Approves Three Feet Passing Law June 17 2014, 0 Comments
The Ladies of Road Holland May 06 2014, 0 Comments
As you have come to know Road Holland, one thing we know you love about us is that we make our stylish cycling jerseys here in Florida. Given that this Sunday is Mother's Day, we thought you would enjoy meeting several of the Moms that work with us. We love these ladies - they truly are a part of something special we have going on here and this video gives you a glimpse of what "Made in America" really means.
No three words seem to give us more hope these days than Made in America. But it’s easy to forget that Made in America is more than just a feel-good slogan. It’s more than a union battle cry or some politician’s rhetoric.
Made in America is ultimately about people. It’s about relationships. It’s about taking pride in our work because whatever we make, we know who we’re making it for.
We might not have the same lives, live in the same zip codes, or even natively speak the same language. But we share so much. What we make has an impact on you and what you buy has an impact on us.
We’re all in this together. That’s what Made in America really means.
So sit back and watch our short video...
Our 2014 Cycling Kit Makeover Winner March 24 2014, 0 Comments
Thousands of votes were cast and we want to Congratulate our Winner "Meow I've been bad" for taking home top prize: a $250 Cycling Kit Makeover from Road Holland - Hats off to the folks at The Chainlink in Chicago who pushed their forum member Duppie over the top!
We called our winner up to let him know he won, he had a lot to say about the contest and we posted it here!
A Look Back At NAHBS 2014 March 21 2014, 0 Comments
Join Road Holland's roving reporter, Jonathan Schneider, as he shares the best of what the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) 2014 in Charlotte, NC had to offer.
Bicycling enthusiasts from all over the world came to the Charlotte Convention Center March 14 - 16, 2014 for an event some ranked up there in importance with the Academy Awards.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the show has grown from 23 exhibitors and 700 attendees to more than 150 exhibitors and 7,200 attendees. The three-day event showcased independent bike builders with their jaw dropping designs and custom builds.
Special guests include representatives of A.N.T. Bikes, Connorwood Cycles, Zukas Cycles, Velo Orange, Ti Cycles Fabrication, Sock Guy, Shamrock Cycles, Selle Anatomica, Rivet Cycle Works, Iride, Paul Component Engineering, Oskar Blues, Ellis Cycles, Momentum Magazine, Bilenky Cycle Works, AdventureCORPs, Pedal Chic, Bicycle Sport Charlotte, Fizik, Co-Motion Cycles, Recycle, Lekker Bikes, Red Kite Prayer, and Alloneword.
Road Holland was on hand to introduce our new spring line of serious and stylish cycling apparel. Take a look!
Vote Now! Road Holland's 2014 Makeover Contest March 04 2014, 0 Comments
Let’s face it…we’ve all been there. Maybe it was that shop team kit that you bought when you got your first real bike. Or perhaps it was that on-clearance jersey with the cereal box characters. We understand that you’ve made some pretty horrendous choices in the past when it comes to your cycling gear. We have too. After all, it takes the dark to be able to see the light.
But we want to help and celebrate how you can move on to better rides ahead.
For the past two weeks, We asked readers to email us a photo of their worst cycling garb ever. It could be a terribly mismatched kit, some poor fitting gear, a ridiculously loud jersey, or anything similar.
For our amusement and yours, we are posting what we consider among the TOP entries! Now it is your turn to help us choose who will win a Free $250 Makeover from Road Holland?
SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE below for your favorite and ask your friends to do the same! Winner will be announced on March 18, 2014.
^ 80s Eye Glasses ^
^ Aeroshoes ^
^ Aye That's Ugly ^
^ Banana Chamois ^
^ Bibs Fail ^
^ Brutto ^
^ Camohawk ^
^ Cheap Ponchos ^
^ Classic 80s ^
^ Colorful Intensity ^
^ DaftPunk Rider ^
^ Extinct Cyclesaurus ^
^ Formal Kit ^
^ Fruit Shorts ONE ^
^ Fruit Shorts TWO ^
^ Goodnight Moon ^
^ Helmet Malfunction ^
^ High Waisted ^
^ I Won't Have Another ^
^ Kickin' It ^
^ Lampre Fauxpas ^
^ Layered Look ^
^ Martha's Vineyard Look ^
^ Meow I've Been Bad ^
^ Not-Looking-Up ^
^ Prom Night Crit ^
^ Put The Cat Back In The Hat ^
^ Retro Euro ^
^ Sleeveless and Styleless ^
^ Socal Look But Sougly ^
^ Too Hairy ^
^ Triple Dippin' ^
^ We Don't See You ^
^ Where Are My Sleeves ^
Does Your Cycling Kit Need A Free Makeover? February 23 2014, 0 Comments
Let's face it...we've all been there. Maybe it was that shop team kit that you bought when you got your first real bike. Or perhaps it was that on-clearance jersey with the cereal box characters. We understand that you've made some pretty horrendous choices in the past when it comes to your cycling gear. We have too. After all, it takes the dark to be able to see the light.
But we want to help and celebrate how you can move on to better rides ahead.
Send us a photo of you in your worst cycling attire ever and you'll be automatically entered in our Makeover Contest. The first place winner will get $250 worth of free Road Holland gear!
Send us a pic (by March 3rd) of you in your worst cycling garb ever. It could be a terribly mismatched kit, some poor fitting gear, a ridiculously loud jersey, or anything similar. We will be posting the best photos and our fans can vote for the best - or shall we say the worst - kit. We will then announce a winner on March 18, 2014 - just in time for us to ship you a jersey for your weekend ride. It's that simple. So start sending your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan and Richard
A Look Back At 2013 December 19 2013, 0 Comments
As a cyclist, I’m always a bit uneasy when not looking forward. As soon as you take your eyes off the road ahead and look back, bad stuff can happen. But every once in a while you need to look back - on the bike and in life. Now’s one of those times.
With 13 days left in 2013, I’m taking stock of what Richard and I have done this year at Road Holland, our 3rd full year in business, and wanted to share it with you.
2013 marked the first time we departed from our Merino / Poly wool blend material to make a 100% polyester cycling jersey. Whether they were allergic to wool, felt it would be too hot, or just scared of it, many customers clamored for a lightweight 100% poly jersey for a long time. At the beginning of the summer, the new Hilversums and Aalsmeers launched using a spectacular American-made and super stylish 100% polyester knit fabric. Judging by sales, it’s been a big hit and we plan to re-make these jerseys in 2014 in several new colors.
We also introduced 2 pieces of outwear. The first was a lightweight cycling vest (or “gilet” as the Europeans call it) for men and women. Again, customers wanted this product for a long time but it took us a while to find the right fabric. The Noordwijk and Kinderdijk represent a re-thinking of the traditional biking vest. We designed them to work when worn but be forgotten when not. We were tired of carrying around big bulges of fabric during our rides after it was time to remove our vests. The Noordwijk and Kinderdijk ball up to next to nothing. With their understated stylish good looks, they can also turn some heads.
The next outerwear pieces - the Amsterdam and Rotterdam - are the culmination of all that we have learned about how to make cycling gear. The new long sleeve jerseys utilize a new Merino / Poly / Spandex blend that is heavy enough for the coldest of rides. They also have features galore - huge cargo pockets, storm panels to block the wind, and a cinchable waist just to name a few. Though a traditional cycling color, Celeste green is noticeably absent in bike apparel. We decided to buck convention and use it for the Amsterdam and Rotterdam colors. Customers dig it. A lot.
Finally, on our already popular clothing front, we also introduced new colors for our Utrechts and Montfoorts, both of which use our signature Merino wool / polyester blend. We suspect there were many riders around the country sporting their USA-edition Utrechts on July 4th and looking very patriotic.
We amped up our custom program and worked with a number of organizations including Rivet Cycle Works, AdventureCORPS’® Furnace Creek 508, Simetri, River Dunes, and UC Bike Ride. It’s gratifying to see that organizations realize a kit can be much more than a plasticy pair of cheap shorts and a shirt. Whatever you can imagine, we can embroider and do it on all of our jerseys to keep you and your crew looking your best.
It’s nice to get noticed and in 2013 we received a huge amount of press coverage. Websites such as Bicycling, VeloNews, and Red Kite Prayer, as well as many of our favorite cycling blogs all wrote glowing reviews of our products. In November, the Miami Herald profiled Road Holland and gave the full story on how we came to be and how we are truly “American Made.”
We also continued our commitment to supporting our local cycling communities - whether it be through independent bicycle shops, an epic charity ride, or just camaraderie amongst cycling groups. Road Holland believes in giving back and we have our customers to thank for including us in many of their cycling related adventures.
It’s cliché to say, “the best is yet to come,” but sometimes clichés fit the bill. In 2014, we’ll be at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Charlotte, NC from March 14 - 16. We will also be sponsoring and riding the Bike Virginia tour from June 20 - 25, 2014. Best of all, we have a slew of new cycling gear to launch that will continue to be USA-made and of course, serious and stylish.
Reflections on Cyber Monday December 02 2013, 0 Comments
Unless you live under a rock, you know that today was (and still is for a while longer) Cyber Monday. You’ve received countless emails (including one from us) about deals, deals, and more deals. You’ve probably pressed the delete button a lot.
While Richard and I are retailers now, we’re also consumers and we’re probably going to do our fair share of shopping tonight as well. However, one thing this business has taught us is to be more discerning in what we buy.
To borrow a phrase from Henry Royce, the founder of the eponymous automobile company, “The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” Aldo Gucci, founder of the leather goods company that bears his name stated the same thing in another way, “The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory.”
So are we telling you not to buy today? No - nothing of the sort. We’re just telling you to be smart about what you buy. Whether it’s a TV or pair of socks, look for quality, integrity, and timelessness from the brands you consider.
I’ve just moved houses and maybe the reality of having too much worthless stuff is still fresh in my mind. But, what is also fresh in my mind is how the really good stuff I own has stayed with me through countless moves. They’re the things I unpack first and often hand carry. They are never part of a periodic purge. I’m writing of things like the sheepskin lined gloves I bought in Florence on my college grand tour in 1992, my Outward Bound emblazoned Swiss Army knife that I earned, my Ferragamo loafers that have seen more airports than a 747, and my Sony shortwave radio which is obsolete but still a dream to look at. I can’t recall what any of these items cost but I know they were worth every penny.
Happy shopping everyone.
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