Why You Should Participate in the Ride 2 Recovery – OC Honor Ride

R E C O V E R I N G from Become Films on Vimeo.

There are many great walk, run and bicycle charity events that you can participate in these days.  All the causes are worthy but with so many events, people have to pick and choose what they do.  So in a way, each event is competing for ridership, but nobody wants to look at it that way.   ARB Cyclery is hosting the 4th Annual Ride 2 Recovery – OC Honor Ride on Saturday, October 29th.  We would never tell someone to participate in our event over some other worthwhile charity ride.  Again, all the causes are worthy, and event participants will make their own decisions on what charities to support.  But let me tell you why we chose to partner with Ride 2 Recovery and why we’d love to see you come out and support this cause on Saturday, October 29th.ride-2-recovery-logo

Despite the nuttiness of the current election year, I think I speak for the entire crew here at ARB Cyclery when I say we feel grateful to be living in the United States of America.  And to be clear, this is not any sort of political statement – just an acknowledgment that we have freedoms here that you don’t find anywhere else on earth and that we shouldn’t take them for granted.  Hopefully, we can all agree on this, no matter your political persuasion.  And we all know that freedom isn’t “free.”  Thousands of Americans have sacrificed their lives to help us remain a free people.  You may not have agreed with certain wars in our country’s past or agree with what we are doing now, and that doesn’t make you unpatriotic.  But there is no doubt we would not be a free nation today if it weren’t for the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform in the past, as well as today.

The people in our military freely volunteer to defend our country, and it doesn’t matter who is President or whether or not they agree or disagree with a particular mission.  They go voluntarily because that is the promise they made.  Some pay the ultimate sacrifice, and many come home severely injured -physically, mentally or both.  In many cases, their lives are altered forever, and they deserve the support of all Americans, regardless of political views.  So supporting Ride 2 Recovery is one small way ARB Cyclery can give back to the veterans who have given so much for our nation.

While every organization that helps our veterans is worthy of support, Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) does it in a special way.  It uses cycling as its primary form of rehabilitation and healing.  Wow…. when I heard about this, I knew immediately that ARB Cyclery had to get involved.  Everyone here at ARB Cyclery has a passion for cycling, or else they wouldn’t be here!  Most people who ride regularly want to share with others what cycling has done for them – hoping they also catch the “bug.”  The benefits are numerous – health & fitness, connection with the outdoors, time to unplug, environmental, social, challenging oneself, increased confidence, and much more.  If you feel cycling has positively benefitted your life, then who better to share that with than those who we owe such an enormous debt of gratitude and desperately need our help– a wounded veteran.

On Saturday, October 29th, let’s take a pause and forget about all of our differences this election year and support our fellow Americans by giving the healing power of cycling.  You will literally be helping to save lives.  Click here to register!

If you would like to see the entire documentary, Recovering, there will be a screening at the shop on Wednesday, October 26th at 7:30pm following our shop ride.   The documentary will also be shown two separate times following the Orange County Honor Ride on Saturday, October 29th.

Belgian Waffle Ride

The Belgian Waffle Ride, or BWR, on its Facebook page and in numerous requotes, bills itself as “the most unique cycling event in the country.”  This is generous euphemism.  Unique is a loaded word in this case.  In this instance, what unique really means is “ungodly hard.”  So, for the sake of accuracy, we can re-write that phrase to read, “the most ungodly hard cycling event open to amateurs in the country.”  I added that part about being open to amateurs because I have no doubt there are some pro level races, single day, that are pretty hard, and we want to compare apples to apples.

Let’s go over the bullet points:

  • 146 miles – more than last year
  • Over 13,000 feet of vertical gain – more than last year
  • 40 miles of bona fide off road riding – more than last year

Michael Marckx, the founder and chief organizer,  in some of the verbiage he is fond of using to “promote” the ride, doesn’t hide the fact this ride is a challenge, and it can be distilled down to a single word to describe what is in store for the participant: dread.26080866004_816b2af2c4_o

Having done this event, this year and the three years prior, what is my takeaway?  How might sharing my experiences be an instructive exercise for those contemplating making a serious stab at attempting the most unique cycling event in the country?  With that in mind, I’ll catalog what went right and what went wrong, both the result of just plain bad luck, and the mostly self-inflicted kind.  Ok, it will be mostly the self-inflicted kind. In fact, a more apt title might be: How Not to Prepare and Participate in the Belgian Waffle Ride.

Step One -Early Preparation:  As in, you actually have to train.

Familiarity breeds a certain kind of creeping complacency. I’ve done this ride the last three years, and actually felt pretty good last year and put in a decent time.  “Meh. I’ve done this ride before. I can handle it.  How hard can it be?”  Well, quite a bit it turns out, especially if you don’t put in the appropriate time to train. As intimidating as I make this ride out to be, it really is quite doable for most cyclists.  However, you can’t take riding 146 miles for granted.  That’s a long time to be in the saddle, and sadly, my 50 mile weekend rides weren’t quite sufficient to prepare me for riding..well…more than fifty miles, which is about the time I started to fade during BWR.  This made miles 50-146 quite interminable,as in, looking for a quiet shady spot on the side of the road to just crawl into the fetal position.  I was actually hoping for a mechanical that would give me the excuse to quit.

Last year, I did some longer rides all the way back in January, which gave me a good head start.  The earlier and better you prepare with some longer rides will ease the pain come event time – and you don’t have to ride a 146 miles in training, but please!..something a little more than fifty will help.  

As haphazard and as abbreviated as my training was, I did do one or two things right.  I have a short, steep hill near my home, and I’ve taken to the habit of giving a maximum effort in the saddle to climb up near the top.  It takes about thirty seconds, and I recover for another thirty seconds and try it again.  This helped in one very specific section of BWR, which specifically were the short, dirt climbs.  I was actually surprised what I could clean on skinny tires and inappropriate gearing, and I think having that short term power on those grinding sections is an area I thought I improved over last year. So I’ll take that as a small accomplishment.

Having the Right Equipment – or – Don’t be Stupid.

Riding BWR, or any any serious road ride that combines lengthy off-road sections requires its own type of unique equipment choice.  There’s an optimal bike I have in mind when it comes to rides like this, and I thought my equipment choice came pretty close the last two years. For example, last year I rode a titanium frame with compact gearing with a 28 max cog in back and 28mm wide tubeless tires running latex sealant.  That worked reasonably well. Titanium is my favorite material for rides such as this because it’s virtually indestructible, has a more compliant, “springy” type of ride quality that makes those off-road sections a little more tolerable, fun even, and simply requires a rinse off to have it looking nearly pristine again – no paint chipping.

The Guru ti bike has since moved on, so I tried my luck with my stiff carbon road bike with standard gearing, as in a 53/39 chainring with a 25 tooth max cog in back.  In other words, stupid gearing.  The only way my bike set up would have been sillier is if I had ridden a time trial bike with a straight block rear cassette and a 55 tooth front chainring.  It was the difference between riding and pushing my bike up the short steep climbs.  There were still some that I was able to clean, which was actually quite fun and surprised me, but that came at a cost, too, once my lower back began to throb at that aforementioned 50 mile mark.  

I did get the the tire choice right – sort of. In this, my fourth BWR, I’ve not gotten a flat tire, which is pretty remarkable, and is a combination of a little good luck (even I get some of that) and some sensible tire choices. This year, again, I ran my favorite combo of Hutchinson Sector tubeless tires with latex sealant.  No flats again this year, which was fortunate considering I lost my saddlebag on one of the dirt sections.  Nevertheless, I did run a tire pressure of about 90 to 95, which was just too high. I wasn’t sure what I was thinking here.  Normally, I would have run 80-85.  I suppose I was just in a hurry.

The big downside to riding road bikes in the dirt is just the lack of traction when making turns at any kind of speed when it’s loose.   Running high pressure with slick tires on loose dirt made the already treacherous handling a ready made scenario for me to wind up in a crumpled head on the side of the trail after having washed out.  Lesson learned the hard way, again.  It wasn’t until the Sandy Bandy section that I just pulled off to the side of the trail and let air out of the tires.  This actually helped tremendously on the rest of the off road sections.  So, check.  Another lesson learned.


As a bonus, we listed some more detailed info on how
our staff members’ bikes were set up!















  • Bianchi Oltre XR1
  • Panaracer Gravel King  28
  • Standard cranks    11-28 cassette
  • If you could do one thing differently next time: “I would wear chamois cream. 100% chamois cream. “


  • Guru Praemio
  • Sector 28 Tubeless Tires
  • Compact cranks    11-32 cassette
  • If you could do one thing differently next time: “I used 3T Ergosum Carbon bars this time. I would switch to FSA short and shallow bars for more comfort next time. “


  • BMC CX01
  • Challenge Strada Bianca Tires
  • 1 x 11  40 tooth       11-36 cassette
  • If you could do one thing differently next time: “I would double wrap my bars next time and bring muscle relaxers. Thank you Double Peak for cramping my legs. “



6 Reasons Why Cycling More Needs to Be Your Only New Year’s Resolution

Wrapping up the holiday season is always a sad time of the year for me, because I LOVE CHRISTMAS and I hate seeing it go. Maybe it’s the jet-lag that I have to suffer through every year after the holidays and I’ve grown to attribute this suffering with post-holiday melancholy.  Or maybe I love the holidays because I actually get to spend time with friends and family. Maybe its because my presents are always awesome because I drop continuous hints throughout the year about exactly what I want.  Maybe its the food, but don’t get me started on the FOOD. Give me a second, I need a moment to bask in the glory of my holiday meal memories. And while we’re on the topic of food,  let me tell you something about calories. What they’re actually called are taste points. Yup. The more calories there are, the better it tastes.

Unfortunately, I know that we would all like to be able to fit into the presents that were bought for us. Listen, I know that we always get super ambitious every year when it comes to resolutions. You tell yourself that you’re going to make the world a better place and solve world hunger, but two days later you realize that if you don’t move off the couch you’re going to start photosynthesizing. I’m here to make things easier for you. All you need is one New Year’s resolution to make a positive impact on your life. These are the Top 6 Reasons why CYCLING MORE needs to be your only New Year’s Resolution.

1. Look. I’m going to start this off easy and tell you that you can eat as much as you want. You want another double-double with grilled onions and extra cheese? Sure, go right ahead. But you’re also going to order that with a double-double of pain on your bike. If you’re going to stuff yourself every meal until you can’t move, the only reason you should be getting off your bike is because you fell off from fatigue. As long as you’re getting back on the bike, you can afford to treat yourself to a hearty meal.

Don’t be this guy.



2. You need to get out of your house. I totally get it, you think you have everything you need with your phone, tablet, TV, and PC running. But if you keep doing what you’re doing, the only GoPro footage you’ll have is of yourself going downstairs to answer the door for the pizza delivery guy because going down the stairs will be the most hardcore thing you’ve done all day. We all have those days when you step outside to pick up a package after staying indoors all day and you say to yourself, “Hmmm. What a nice day outside, maybe I should have done something outdoors.” Go back to that thought the next time you wake up and contemplate binge watching another TV series. If you still find yourself struggling to go out on a ride yourself, join us on our Wednesday Worlds ride! We roll out every Wednesday at 6:00 PM, and you can stay updated by monitoring our Facebook Page! If you’re interested in riding but haven’t ridden in a few years, don’t fret! Our Cycle to Fitness ride is geared towards newer riders and is a great way to exercise and learn!

Think about it.

3. Ok, so maybe I still haven’t really appealed to you yet, but I promise these next few points will get across to you. We all know the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, lets say you get the largest and the best apples at the supermarket, and lets say that that costs you $2 a day. That’s $730 a year. Do you know how many upgrades you can do to your bike with that kind of money? Exercising and staying healthy by cycling is also going to keep the doctor away, but I’ve created a budget for you to buy those ENVE bars and seatpost that we have in stock here at ARB Cyclery. If you’re feeling super fancy one day, you can treat yourself to an apple while sitting on your new seatpost. 

Fig 1. How success is measured.

4. Now that you have all these new upgrades, there shouldn’t be a speck of dust on your bike because you’re always going so fast that the wind ends up cleaning your bike. You need to do your equipment the justice of being ridden. I completely understand that some of you may own multiple bikes because some need to be appreciated as a pieces of art. But if that’s the case, you should be seeing worn out chainrings on your main ride. Think about it this way, the more you get on your bike, the more bikes you can justify owning. “Sure, 7 bikes might seem like a lot, but its OK because look how much I’m riding!” And if you truly have neglected your bike, I forgive you. I know that you will be a better person from here on out. If you need help getting your bike back on the road, I would recommend taking it in for a tune up here at ARB Cyclery. We offer a variety of different options so we will make sure that you’re back on the road where you should be!

5. Guilt-free beer consumption. Ahhh. There’s nothing like quenching your post-ride thirst with a nice beer. If you’ve put in the miles, you deserve it. You’re not going to wake up months from now regretting that beer belly of yours because you’re not going to have one. And while you’re at it, you might as well try a cycling-themed beer because by this point, you should be eating and breathing bicycle components. In fact, you should probably try some beer by Windmill Pointe, because their beer is crafted with pedal power. “Our stationary bikes produce pedal-power which is collected, stored and recorded. The number of kilowatts we produce from in-house “Pedal-Power” is subtracted from the total number of kilowatts used in each brew session “Beer”. The bottomline: produce more energy through pedal-power than consumed by the production of our beer.”


6. Strava!!!! If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen.


Tales from the Bike Lane: Kevin

The numbing was odd. It spread from the core of my body, and I seemed to reflect the fierce gaze of the sun. Yet this was only a fleeting thought because I could not be wasting my energy on thinking. My view was hung on the pattern of the tire rotating in front of me. I found some comfort seeing the little star shaped nick appearing with every revolution because it was the only thing I was certain of. Was I going to be paid back for booking the hotel rooms after our trip? Whatever. Was I even going to make it alive? Meh. Do hotels even make cancellation exceptions if the person booking it died on the way there? Eh.


Our trusty bikes! The balance was upset a bit because of the seatpost mounted racks and the U-Locks we had in them.

“I’ll plan the trip,” he said. We all suffered because of those four words. We were all excited, and we had a pretty good time on our very first bike ride from Santa Barbara to LA a few months earlier. I had also just built up a Giant TCR2 frame with Sram Force and was dying to take it out for a long ride to see how it rode. The plan was to start off in San Diego, stop halfway at Dana Point, and then meet up with some friends in LA the second day. It sounded like a solid plan, and he said he had the route sorted. Having taken the Amtrak down to San Diego earlier in the day, we decided to stop by the supermarket for some last minute supplies. We stood in the granola bar aisle and debated over which flavor was the best. We settled on Nature Valley’s Peanut Butter Crunch and my friend picked up a box and said, “This will probably be enough, right? We only have so much room in our bags.”

They were the most glorious granola bars I have ever had. We broke the last bar into thirds by the 4th hour of our ride and cried together, swearing that the peanuts were harvested by faeries and crushed into peanut butter by Zeus himself. We started to question our friend’s route planning skills when we noticed that we only saw cyclists going the other direction. At that point, we probably still had another 35 miles until Dana Point.  It also didn’t help that the wind seemed to be blowing into our faces the entire way. Thoughts of calling someone to pick us up was running through my head because we couldn’t buy food anywhere even if we wanted to. We slowed our crawl to about 7mph, handle bars wobbling and twitching in the wind.

As I was deciding who to leave my bike to in my will, my friend spotted a tiny convenience store in the distance. We eagerly increased our speed to 8mph, fueled by the thought of glorious, glorious food. As we collapsed onto the benches outside the store, my friend proceeded to purchase anything that looked even remotely edible off the shelves. Among bananas, crackers, and energy bars, he spotted some tamales sitting in a dirty looking rice cooker, selling for $1 each. Let me tell you something about those tamales. While they had to be the oldest, driest, crustiest, and nastiest tamales I have ever seen, I swear to you it was the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Funny enough, we came to regret our decision to eat all that terrible food once we realized we were only a few blocks down from an actual restaurant. Needless to say, we had ourselves a proper meal before we trekked onward to Dana Point.

McDonald's Meal
80 chicken nuggets, 1 quarter pounder, 2 cheeseburgers, and 2 large fries. No regrets.

By the time we arrived at the hotel, we were all super exhausted. However, the feeling of hunger was not forgotten in our minds, and we set out to find some dinner. A McDonald’s was right around the corner, and we knew we needed it the second we saw it. Now, I must admit, while we may have regained some of our energy earlier in the day, we certainty didn’t fully regain our mental state.

Yes. That is a picture of 80 chicken nuggets, 1 quarter pounder, 2 cheeseburgers, and 2 large fries.

Yes. We finished it all, and it was glorious.

My poor derailleur hangar.

As we prepared to head out again the next day, I had my worries. While my legs weren’t as sore as I had anticipated thanks to all the fixed gear riding I did around campus, our new buddy was suffering a bit. But, we stocked up on more than enough food this time. We weren’t going through what happened to us the day before. Yet, looking back, we still made a few questionable decisions along the way. For one, our route took us through the pot-holed roads of Compton. Our bikes were pretty heavy in the rear because of the seatpost racks we installed so every bump we hit would make us swerve dangerously close to the cars screaming past us. Secondly, we decided to debut our clipless pedals on this trip, which resulted in a bent derailleur hangar when my friend tipped over onto me at a stop sign. Oh, the struggles of climbing when you lose three gears. Lastly, we booked a night at the Cecil Hotel. For those of you unfamiliar with this hotel, it is notorious for having murders occur here, and we didn’t realize it until we called a friend about our trip and he persuaded us to cancel. Even our replacement hotel seemed kind of sketchy. Our room was at the end of the hall, but once we got to our room, not only was the number pulled off the door, even the carpet was pulled up. I joked and said that they probably had to cut out the carpet because of all the blood they had to remove, and my friends nervously chuckled. We left the lights on that night while we slept.

Yet, as crazy and problematic as our trip may have seemed, it was a blast. I personally believe that a 100+ mile ride should be on everyone’s bucket list. Not only that, I’m proof that just any newbie can do it. My first bike trip down to Los Angeles changed my life. We bought road bikes and with zero experience made the trip in about 12 hours. We didn’t have fancy bikes, helmets or gear. Heck, we biked in regular shorts, a t-shirt, and platform pedals. Fast forward a few months and we’re caught up in everything road bikes. We’re constantly sending each other craigslist ads of awesome bikes, funny bikes, and down-right weird bikes.

Its great being on the road with a friend and just enjoying the scenery you pass through. Ultimately, for me cycling is about camaraderie, and that feeling of accomplishment when you complete your ride. While you may enjoy the pleasant sections together, it’s really those sections where you’re struggling to stay alive that brings you closer. Especially when you’re suffering because of your buddy’s poor research and planning.

So go forth and conquer the roads, because there’s nothing you can’t get through with your friends. And don’t forget to pack an extra peanut butter granola bar when you do!

Ride with BMC’s Peter Stetina & Support America’s Veterans

Calling All Orange County Cycling Enthusiasts:

R2R Challenge High-FiveIf you are reading this blog, most likely you’re a cyclist!  You are probably an American citizen too, or at least live here.  The one thing all Americans share is a deep appreciation of those who sacrifice life & limb to protect our freedom and those of others around the world (regardless of your opinion on any particular war).   These men and women truly are heroes.   Here is your chance to step up and make a BIG contribution to America’s wounded veterans using your passion for cycling.  I can’t think of a better combination!

Ride 2 Recovery and The Big Orange Classic have put together a fantastic event the day before the main ride.   In return for your $100 donation, here is what you’ll get at this exclusive Orange County VIP event:

  • Peter-Stetina-TourEasy (nobody gets dropped) 20 mile ride with one of America’s top cyclists, Peter Stetina of BMC Racing.  Peter is a 4 time Grand Tour finisher, including a 35th place (out of 164 who finished) in his first Tour de France last year.
  • Chance to ride & chat with Peter in a more intimate setting than the main ride.  He’ll be hanging out pre- and post-ride as well.  How many group rides have you been on where the guy riding next to you has competed in the Tour de France – and you haven’t been dropped!  Go ahead, ask your questions – what’s a day at the Tour really like?
  • Ride the same top of the line BMC SLR01 as Peter Stetina!  You’ll have the opportunity to demo one of these amazing race rigs on this ride.
  • The ride starts and ends from Shimano USA headquarters, perhaps the most innovative and recognizable brand in cycling.
  • Browse and hang out in the recently constructed Shimano showroom to see the latest in bicycle components and gear.  This will include a demonstration of the new Road Hydro groupset.
  • Complimentary Shimano grab bag and post-ride beer/appetizers while hanging out with Peter Stetina and reps from Shimano and BMC.

Tour de France 2014, Grand Depart, Peter Stetina, BMC Team Machine SLR01 (Pic: Colin Henrys/Factory Media)

While this is truly a dream event for any cycling enthusiast, what you’ll feel best about is that your donation is really making a difference in the lives of America’s wounded veterans – or Healing Heroes.  And what is changing their lives? CYCLING!  If you love cycling and it has given so much to you, what better way to give back than giving wounded veterans that experience they so desperately need.  What makes cycling unique as a way to help our Healing Heroes become fully rehabilitated?  First of all, almost everyone can cycle, no matter their physical situation.  This is not so for almost any other sport, including running. Cycling treats the whole person:  physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually.  And healing veterans can be brought to a higher level of function by utilizing cycling as a part of their rehabilitation.  But in order to reach more veterans, Ride 2 Recovery needs your help.  And fundraising events like these help do that.  Here is a video that captures much of what Ride 2 Recovery is all about.  Caution – it is sobering, but also inspirational.   Please consider signing up for this one-of-a-kind cycling event!



From Chicago to Orange County, Ride 2 Recovery Helps Injured Veterans

Big Orange Classic Annual Ride 2 Recovery - Orange CountyLast weekend, Chicago area cyclists came out to support U.S. veterans at the Ride 2 Recovery Honor Ride in Barrington, Illinois. More than 300 riders — both veterans and their supporters — participated in the fifth annual Barrington Honor Ride and Run.

In just a couple of months, Ride 2 Recovery will come to Southern California. The Honor Ride in Orange County, now in it’s 3rd year and called The Big Orange Classic, will be taking place on Saturday, October 31st. Southern Californians, let’s show our veterans how much we appreciate their sacrifices by building on last year’s turnout of over 500 riders! Can we aim for 600, 700, or even 1,000 riders? Register and show your support today!

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European Cycling Classics > L’Eroica > ARB Strade Marroni

16485611883_6bd47f0d67On April 12, the same day John Degenkolb was sweeping to victory on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, in the spirit of the European Classics, we were participating in the inaugural Eroica – California in Paso Robles, CA.  This event is the latest iteration of the original L’Eroica which has taken place every year since 1997 on the “Strade Bianche”  (white gravel roads) of Tuscany, Italy.  The Italian event annually attracts more than 5,000 riders from all over the world.   Although L’Eroica is intended to be in the spirit of cycling’s European classics early days and is restricted to road racing bikes of 1983 or earlier, its founder, Giancarlo Bracci, has stated; “Eroica, to me, is not a ride steeped in the past.  It is about finding meaning in the present”.

Bruce at L'Eroica

The geography of the Paso Robles venue provided a perfect backdrop for this near clone of the original Gaiole, Italy event.  Gaiole and Paso Robles are, in fact, now sister cities. With distances of 40, 65 and 125 miles which were about 40% off road, Eroica – California provided everyone with a challenge, especially with a vintage 5-speed freewheel. L’Eroica translates to “The Heroic” and at the end of our ride, we all got off the bike feeling more than a little “heroic.”

On an even more “heroic” vein, ARB’s own Barrett Brauer, recently participated in the Belgian Waffle Ride, a 140 mile “Hell of the North County” race with extensive off-road dirt & gravel sections.  Barrett was a 9th place finisher in CAT 4 on his trusty titanium Guru. Bigger events have bigger rewards!

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