Black/Gold Arktos 27.5″ Chromag Saddle & Cockpit, G2 Ultimate Brakes, Hope Hubs & carbon rims.
In a span of seven years Alchemy has become one of the most esteemed handmade builders in the country thanks to an extensive line that includes a broad range of U.S.-made titanium and carbon frames.
Images and Words: Philip Harwood
I have wanted to visit Acadia National Park in Maine for a long time.
I discovered it in the pages of National Geographic, blown away by the rugged beauty that seemed to jump out of the photographs and into my childhood imagination and take me far, far away.
Well, this summer I finally got the chance while traveling to New England on a bike trip to hang out and ride with old friends. My ride plans were bookended with weekend gravel rides, but I needed some filler to my vacation sandwich. My good friend Johnny G goes to Acadia every year for his birthday, which fell perfectly midweek of my trip. As he tells it, “The plan is to ride the gravel carriage roads all day, check out the view atop Cadillac Mountain, eat lobster, and drink IPAs”.
Count me in!
President Woodrow Wilson established the park as a national monument in 1916, and John D. Rockefeller financed, designed, and directed construction of a network of gravel carriage trails throughout the park during the great depression. The trail network covers over 50 miles, most all of which are still maintained and open to public use today. Hand cut granite stones alongside the trails edges act as a guard rail of sorts, and are known locally as “Rockefeller’s Teeth”.
The word epic seems a bit overused these days, but would not be an understatement here. The carriage trails are basically groomed gravel bike paths that wind through dense green forests, circle around deep blue freshwater lakes and ocean fjords, lily pad riddled marshes, and circle up and around mountains. The terrain is perfect for a gravel, cross, or all-road bicycle, and we saw lots of tourists comfortably cruising along on rental hybrids and mountain bikes. Once we got deeper into the trail system and away from the parking lots, the crowds quickly thinned out and we enjoyed miles of empty trails, discovering a wonderful solitude that captured the natural splendor perfectly.
I rode my Atlas with lightly treaded 30mm tires and had the perfect bike for the job.
No trip to Acadia would be complete without summiting Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the park at 1,530 feet. After a brief stop in the bustling tourist town of Bar Harbor for coffee and blueberry pie, we followed the rather busy park loop road until we hit the left turn for Cadillac. The summit road is an out and back that winds up to the summit in 3.5 miles with an average grade of 5%. The climb is not too long or hard, but is visually the most stunning road in coastal New England, as it twists and turns up the mountain views of Bar Harbor, the ocean, and the inland lakes amaze in every direction.
The road was heavily trafficked with both autos and cyclists, but felt peaceful and relatively safe. There is a large parking lot at the top, and fantastic 360 degree views thanks to a large fire in 1947 that burned the mountain top bare. It was such a clear day people were claiming one could make out Nova Scotia to the northeast.
The descent back down Cadillac was fast and fun, sweeping around the bends and hooting and hollering at the cyclists on the other side of the road grinding their way up. Once down we ditched the park road and got back onto the carriage trails, relieved to only see a handful of draft horses pulling carriages for the rest of our ride.
For our post ride meal we drank some New England Double IPAs and headed to the Seafood Ketch restaurant in Bass Harbor, which features outdoor dining on a harbor full of working lobster boats. Lobster for dinner, and more Maine blueberry pie for desert.
You just can’t get any fresher than that.
Mountain bike racing requires a helluva lot more than just a bike and a rider, and Joe Binatena, who has been our friend (and dealer) for a long time here at Alchemy, may know that more than anyone. This guy is the staple that holds our bikes (and riders) together. He’s first to the scene when our riders have a mishap with their bike during a race – and knows how to fix equipment oftentimes under the gun of a pit stop. A maven in the industry, we sat down with Joe to discuss his crucial role at Alchemy – and beyond. As he puts it:
“I want to be the person to catch failure before it happens.”
For the audience, Joe, what is your primary involvement with Alchemy?
Well, I have a few layers of involvement with Alchemy.
I sponsor Alchemy’s Factory Racing EWS team by providing mechanical support at events. My role is to ensure the bikes are in prime shape before Anneke and Cody take to the courses. As a team, we work with the small setup and tune details that can make huge differences in results in the tight EWS races.
I also sell Alchemy at my shop, BikeCo, in Lake Forest, CA. It’s great to work with a cutting edge company like Alchemy. Custom colors, US built options, 27.5 & 29” – Alchemy has a unique business plan that fits well with what BikeCo has been about since 1999, which is to bring the best in MTB to our clients. Working with the team ensures that each Alchemy bike that goes through our shop is dialed in to the highest standards.
What’s a race day like? How do you prepare?
Race days tend to be a bundle of energy for everyone involved.
I plan meticulously to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. My primary goal is to facilitate riders getting down the hill as reliably, and fast as possible. Preparation begins well before the events. We test setups and tunes across a variety of terrain so that when we show up at an event we aren’t caught off guard.
I work with Anneke and Cody in the offseason to learn about the race bike’s personality and dial in suspension specifics, cockpit spec, as well as tire pressures. The riders’ feedback is critical to take a bike from “close” to the “ah-ha, that’s it!” moment.
Before we get on a plane we figure out what kind of equipment needs we might face –particularly when it comes to tires. Tires are a big factor in getting down these courses smoothly. Maxxis provides our team with an awesome selection of tread patterns, rubber compounds, and sidewall technologies. This season we have been running Double Down sidewalls on the EWS circuits because the terrain is just insane. Riding at the speeds that Cody and Anneke race – our tires take a beating and the Maxxis tires continue to do their job well.
On a weekend race, the first day or two we walk the courses. Athletes are typically looking for race lines but, in my case, I review the trail in terms of equipment requirements. How tight or open is it? Are there chunky rocks? Deep soft dirt?
After that, we set bikes up for practice and training. Each rider’s input and riding style is reviewed to fine tune a setup. When I talk to an athlete, I listen for two things: what they’re actually saying and how they tell me the bike is doing. But, I also listen for things they aren’t expressing that will require me to look at certain areas of the equipment to ensure it rides well.
As a team mechanic it’s important to keep laser sharp focus and attention to detail because EWS pros are top level athletes who ride fast. This, in turn, stresses equipment to extremes consumers just won’t see and EWS courses are inherently hard on the equipment.
It really comes down to this: I want to be the person to catch failure before it happens.
Failures can come in bizarre and abstract ways so we fine-tune our bikes and go through all the details. From checking frames, linkage, rims, wheel tension, hubs, suspension, brakes – all the way down to cables/housing conditions. No one wants to shut down a race stage over a frayed cable or cracked ferrule.
Any crazy stories during a race?
Every time we go out!
In Chile, a rider clipped their axle on a rock. The rock spun the axle enough that the vibration over the rest of the course and ended up unscrewing the axle from frame. Ultimately, our rider got the bike back to the pits but it required petty extensive work.
The most interesting part was how I found out about it the issue.
Other riders that entered the pits found me and immediately told me what to expect once our rider came in. Even photographers came up and told me about the situation.
It was good to know that the rider was fine. Once I understood where the bike had its issue, I was able to prepare parts and tools I would need prior to the bike being in the pit.
You get one 15 minute pit stop in a race. In many cases you have to do a lot of service to keep an EWS bike riding at its top level – and each movement is critical as a mechanic checks over a bike and fixes issues. In this case the heads up that came from other riders made the series of repairs very doable.
It’s cool to experience the camaraderie that is so real and intense between these riders through racing.
Camaraderie on a race course doesn’t always translate to the general public, but racers truly look out for each other. They really want to make sure that they have safe, clean, and fair races.
In the beginning, was it hard to hyper-focus when you only had 15 minutes to fix or repair a bike in a race?
I’ve been a mechanic since the 80’s, and I’ve worked with athletes at this level since the early 2000’s, so I consider myself well prepared.
There’s always pressure to keep a bike dialed in and a racer on time.
At some point you become old guy that knows what to do and gets it done. I’m happy to take that on.
What do you enjoy most about working with Alchemy?
Truthfully, it’s the hyper focus that comes from being involved with their racing team.
At the end of the day, racing is part promotion but the other part is observing bikes and getting feedback so they can make a better product.
It’s a great feeling to be part of this. It’s awesome to be on the cutting edge working with Alchemy, Fox, Enve, Maxxis, and all the other stellar companies involved. Not every company has the capacity to go out, test, and develop at a world level with top athletes like Alchemy does.
Frankly – there a lot of “enduro” bikes that would never survive an EWS weekend. Other competitors are onsite simply to survive. Alchemy is out to push the limits and hold themselves accountable while additionally developing product that holds its own with the best out there.
I look forward to a strong remainder of the race season with the 2018 Alchemy Factory Racing team!
Images: Drew Van Kampen and Josh Direen
Words: Drew Van Kampen
We love Denver. We really do.
This rapidly growing city offers a lot to the cyclist’s lifestyle. Including hundreds of miles of off-road bike paths that can take you just about anywhere in the Front Range, a bustling cycling community that provides for any type of rider, and, most importantly, no shortage of local coffee shops that provide a quality espresso kick at just about any point in a ride. We love Denver, and it’s why we made it our home eight years ago.
But where do we go when we just want to get away for a little while? After all, spending time outdoors, feeling the sun on our shoulders, and listening to the sound of the wind as it cuts through Aspen trees is what drew many of us to this great state. While we don’t always have the luxury of making a full-day excursion into the mountains, there are a few hidden gems in our proverbial backyard that allow us to take a breath of fresh air and return home reinvigorated.
We want to share some of our favorite routes that are Like No Other.
First up: Grapevine Road.
We recently took a trip to Grapevine on a day with particularly moody weather; rather atypical for Colorado in the springtime. A ride that usually offers ample sun exposure and Front Range winds instead substituted rolling fog, cool temperatures, and a calmness that bordered on eerie. As we were overtaken with the rarity of the conditions, we joked that we had stumbled into Mordor.
As we crested Lookout Mountain in Golden, CO and headed towards Grapevine, the crowds thinned and the cars became fewer and farther between. With a slight mist and cooling temperatures, we stopped to throw on jackets as we prepared for the rolling hills and cattle guards of Grapevine. We began the descent and, as hoped, there was no one to be seen.
The isolation of this secluded dirt road inexplicably removes you from the noise of the city and nearby highways. This particular ride down Grapevine, with a close group of friends and weather reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest, is one that we won’t soon forget. If you’re like us and value pedaling away into the seclusion of the mountains, then Grapevine Road should be on your short list.
Check out the route here.
Round 5 of the Enduro World Series visited a familiar place this past weekend, La Thuile, Italy, which was home to EWS races in both 2014 and 2016. But something new greeted Alchemy Factory Team racers Cody Kelley and Anneke Beerten: super-technical fresh-cut tracks which were made specifically for race day. These new tracks also created a fair bit of controversy.
“We rode the tracks during practice, in the dry, and they seemed very technical, but doable’” said Team Manager Joel Smith. “But with rain on race day, the tracks became downright dangerous. I was honestly nervous to send the riders out on day 1.”
With that, the race started out very difficult for Anneke Beerten. On one of the steep, slippery top sections, Anneke had a hard crash and ended up slicing her front brake line ending her day.
“I was very disappointed to end my race so early,” said Beerten. “I’ve raced La Thuile before and I was super excited to get back there and earn a good result. But sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially in racing.”
Beerten was forced to walk down the majority of the steep stage and the team was unable to repair her bike in time to meet the time cut off for the next stage. That meant Beerten’s EWS race was over.
It was also a tough race for Factory racer Cody Kelley, who spent the early part of the week suffering from food poisoning.
“I am not 100% sure what got me,” said Kelley. “But during the critical time I usually prep for the race, I was stuck in a hotel room trying to recover. Come race day, I had very little energy and the residual effects of being sick were still with me.”
Cody soldiered on through the race, but finished out of the top 100 in each of the 7 stages.
“I realized pretty quickly that it was not going to be my day,” said Kelley. “So I rode very conservatively to avoid riding over my head and injuring myself. It’s been a tough season for me so far, but I am excited about the technical tracks at the next round in Whistler.”
Images and Words: Drew Van Kampen
Gravel racing is getting big right now. Really big.
The rise of gravel has some undeniable parallels with the rise of cyclocross here in the states. We became interested in gravel riding and racing as a way to keep things light and fun, and we certainly are not alone in that. It’s a great way to hone our technical skills while still pushing ourselves physically and satisfying a yearning for adventure. However, in the last few years, a scene known for more light-hearted inclusion has, like cyclocross, grown increasingly serious and competitive.
Now, we like going fast. Even pinning a number on here and there. We may not skip out on extra cookies but respect those who do (or can). However, we’ve found ourselves missing the more relaxed “run what ya brung” attitude that endeared us to gravel racing in the first place. And with that, we’ve found a new favorite “race” series – The Secret Groad.
We understand that cultural transition and what is best for the sport is a debatable topic, but what’s undeniable is that there are still events scattered around our home Front Range that drive the traditional gravel culture. Challenging events like The Secret Groad series let riders build their own route as long as they hit all of the required checkpoints allowing everybody to create their own ride and cater to their comfort level.
Want to make it harder on yourself just for the hell of it? How about finding and carrying the ‘Cumbersome Object’ (a decently large stuffed horse) for the whole day and taking on ‘Skid Duels’ from challengers for the right to retain the object. The prize for bringing Cumbersome The Horse down to the finish? A new wheelset donated by Mavic in support of local quirky events like this.
Not everybody finished this particular ho
t day in June a winner (however you define that), but everybody did finish with a high-five and fridge full of cold beers at the end. What did we take home? Memories and images of some of the most scenic roads above Boulder and Nederland, CO and a fresh pair of socks reminding us to “Harden the fuck up.”
We don’t all have a competitive nature and we don’t all want to put ourselves up for ultra-endurance challenges offered by races like Dirty Kanza, but what these types of events offer is the ability to make the day what you want it to be. For that, we love the gravel culture and will continue to push for events like this.
To Boulder, thank you for being weird.
To Vecchio’s, thank you for hosting such a great event.
Check out the series. We hope to see you at the next one.
After a six-week break, the Enduro World Series resumed last weekend with another round in Europe – this time in the Alps. The race crisscrossed the border between Slovenia and Austria for two long days of technical tracks and very physical climbs. It was a hard-fought event for Alchemy Factory Racing riders Cody Kelley and Anneke Beerten. For Kelley, it was the first race back after a big off put him on bed-rest for a four-week period.
“I knew it was going to be a tough event for me, both physically and mentally,” commented Kelley. “My crash had me riding the couch until about a week before the race, so I just wasn’t where I needed to be. It didn’t help that it was the most difficult EWS in history, but I’m happy I got through it without anything major happening and it was really good preparation for the next round. My speed is definitely returning and I am excited to spend the next few weeks in Europe preparing for La Thuile.”
Beerten proved that consistency pays off in EWS racing, as she earned a respectable 15th-place overall this past weekend.
“I rode well throughout the event, but I just didn’t have the speed I wanted to get inside the top ten,” says Beerten. “The tracks were so difficult and the days very long. It really just takes a toll on a rider. I think La Thuile will be more suited to my riding style. I am really looking forward to this next race.”
The EWS series has been the proving grounds for the new Arktos 29, a bike we introduced at the Sea Otter Classic this year and Anneke has been racing at the past two rounds.
“We are really happy with both the performance and durability of the Arktos29,” mentioned team mechanic Joe Binatena. “Racing the EWS series beats down equipment and the fact that we have been problem-free after two tough, muddy rounds is a testament to the bike and the engineering behind it.”
The EWS series stays in Europe for the majority of the series, with the next stop in Italy promising to be another one for the books. Nestled in the valleys below the famous Mont Blanc, the La Thuile race is a rider favorite.
It goes without saying but – hey – we’re going to anyway: when you’re hitting the trails, you can never be too prepared. The terrain will inevitably hold bumps and holes and jumps that will catch even the most experienced riders by surprise. So, do you have the necessary tools and equipment to bounce back from any mechanicals that your bike may incur? Below we’ve put together our list of top five items (in no specific order) that you need on the trail to push you and your bike as hard as possible – without having to worry whether or not your bike will make it back in one piece.
A multi-tool is the holy grail of all trail tools for obvious reasons. Sure, we may be a little biased since the Alchemy Factory Racing Team runs this one, but the OneUp EDC Tool System is the perfect tool for any need. With the EDC (Every Day Carry) tool kit, you can skip the bulky backpack and still have all your essentials at your fingertips, as the whole tool stores right inside your steer tube for easy access. Within the half pound kit, you’ll find:
- T25 torx wrench
- 2mm, 2.5 mm, 3 mm, 4 mm, 5 mm, 6 mm, and 8 mm Hex wrenches
- A tire lever
- Chain breaker
- Flathead screwdriver
- Spoke keys and a few other useful gadgets
When you don’t want to deal with the manual labor that goes into using a mini-pump, go straight for a CO2 cartridge inflator for any trailside flats. They offer the quickest solution to a flat and are small enough to be packed away tightly. In fact, the OneUp EDC Tool System from above has a 20g CO2 cartridge storage unit.
When picking a cartridge, it’s important to note that if you have bigger tires, like 29ers, you’ll want to go with the bigger cartridges to ensure there’s enough CO2 to get you off the trail without another flat. Also, know that CO2 gas is not compatible with most sealants because of its freezing temperatures, so always install a tube first when repairing trailside.
Spare Master Link
Not all of us have been there, but for those that have, we’ll never make the same mistake again. Damage to chains can happen for a variety of reasons (i.e. rock hits, derailleurs out of adjustment, muddy conditions, etc.) but once you’ve been caught out on the trail without a way to fix a damaged chain, you’ll never ride without a spare master link and chain tool again.
Make sure your spare master link is compatible with your chain (most notably 11 or 12 speed), and you’ll be set to repair a chain in case it breaks, you need to shorten it, or any other reason your drivetrain may bite the dust. Sure you can still ride the descents without a chain, but hiking every flat and climb back to your car is never a good way to maximize the stoke of a day out on the bike.
If you’re riding tubeless and find that you’ve ridden over a nail, thorns, or broken glass, a plug kit is a must-have, and OneUp’s Plug & Pliers Kit is a no-brainer. The kit is a perfect addition to the EDC Tool System and its Quick Link Breaker Pliers are compatible with all 10, 11 and 12 speed quick link chains. It comes with a tire plug jabber tool and 15 bacon strips to repair any pesky punctures in your tires. String two strips into the jabber tool for access at any point, so when you notice a puncture, you’ll be prepared.
We couldn’t not include this one – it may be the most important tool to have trailside. Whether you’ve made it to the summit or just want a break along the route, one of the best ways to enjoy the trail is with a beer as the end goal (preferably IPA – but potato, pat-a-to). You deserve an award for your hard riding so crack open a cold one with the boys, the girls, and your bike in tow.
Are there any tools you can’t live without that we didn’t mention? Tell us what they are and how they’ve saved you on the trail!
Alchemy athletes Anneke and Cody recently returned from their latest adventure: round three of the Enduro World Series in Montagnes du Caroux, France. The duo is now preparing to depart for round four in Jamnica, Austria/Slovenia, where they will battle their way down through “Black Hole Enduro” – a lengthy (and beautiful) stage that will pass through both Austria and Slovenia. We sat down with the two Alchemy riders to discuss how they get dialed in before races, which is especially relevant now as they prepare for one of the newest and longest rides in Enduro World Series history.
What was your training regimen leading into the EWS season?
Cody: Pre-season prep is a tricky subject because you want to push yourself to a new level, but you don’t want to over-train. My typical week consists of 5-6 days on the bike, mixing between all mountain, cross country, and road. I’m also in the gym 2-3 days a week.
Anneke: It was intense, with a lot of hours on the bike, long road rides and mountain bike rides combined with intervals and gym training. Some local XC racing on the weekends.
What’s your typical diet during pre-season?
Cody: My diet stays pretty neutral throughout the year. I eat a lot of fruits and veggies along with protein from lean meats. Also can’t forget about those carbs… Bags on bags of rice!
Anneke: In general, I just like to eat healthy and normal, so not really a diet. Loads of fruits and veggies!
Do you have tricks to recovery when you’re traveling?
Cody: Recovery is a bit different for everyone, but I find I spend as much time as I can with my legs up as well as just trying to relax the mind, which is easier said than done when it comes to traveling.
Anneke: That is always really hard, but definitely drink a lot of water, stretch, rest and keep eating healthy.
What’s your day-before-race routine?
Cody: Day before race is usually a practice day so once we’ve finished up practice I look for ways to refuel the body, do some stretching, and watch some course footy.
Anneke: Depending on the race, we are normally out pre-riding the course and setting up our bikes.
What’s your day-of race routine?
Cody: Day of race I try to go with the flow and keep it fun!
Anneke: Do some kind of active recovery exercise like a light spin and stretching….and chill hard!
When there’s a quick turnaround (example: Round 1 to Round 2) of EWS how did you ensure you recovered and are ready to go at all times?
Cody: The back-to-back races can be difficult for sure especially because both Chile and Colombia were at elevation. So, a lot of relax time and eating are key, and it turned out alright, as I felt really good physically once race day came around in Colombia.
Anneke: I make sure to rest a lot and not waste too much energy on hanging or walking around.
Now that you have a couple weeks between races what are you most looking forward to?
Cody: Looking forward to spending time at home with friends and family, and of course spending time on the bike and getting some time to put in a solid little training block to stay on top of the fitness.
Anneke: Riding for fun with friends!
From the day we met these guys, we knew there was mutual synergy – and we’ve been proud to sponsor Primal – Audi Denver and all their endeavors.
When you’ve got a brand promise like “be the team you join for life,” you know there’s something good brewing beneath the surface, so we sat down with one of the Primal – Audi Denver founders, Jordan Sher, to get an inside scoop on what makes a championship-winning team.
1. What is the history behind the Primal – Audi Denver race team? Who were the first members to “make it happen,” so to speak?
Love this question. Primal – Audi Denver was founded by a few of us back in 2003 (11 to be exact), but not under the name we have currently. Originally, we went by HART, which stands for… wait for it … “Haulin’ Ass Race Team” (hence our website URL as of current, which is still hartracing.org.)
From the get-go, we established our team to be a bit more controversial – or the “anti-team,” if you will. The 11 founders really had the guts and the spirit when it came to racing, so we wanted to stand out amongst other teams who maybe didn’t have the same level of vigor and passion that we did.
In the beginning, we were small, with a few helpful sponsorships to get us going. Swanky’s, a bar in downtown Denver, sponsored us initially and provided some basic financial support, as well as a great meeting place. It didn’t take long, however, for our spirit to show, and the guys on the team at the time made a name for themselves – especially in the upper racing categories – which helped build momentum for the team.
We had a steady increase in membership, and by 2007 we were discovered by Primal Wear, which started the unique relationship that rolled into the team we are today. Primal is our main sponsor, followed closely by Audi – and to this day we can’t thank Primal enough, as they really changed the trajectory of our team, and also inadvertently led us to discovering Alchemy, which has been a great partnership all around as our two Colorado-based organizations align.
Today, our overall roster is 85 guys, which is considerably larger, and we are proud to say that we have won the best all-around team competition with the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado across all categories, and over several years running.
2. Who makes up the race team? Subsequently, how is a member chosen? Can they sign up or is there an evaluation process?
In American amateur racing – there’s a category system of 1-5 in order to help define categories of ‘like’ fitness. Category 1 is pro without a contract, and below that are Category 2-5. Category 5 is more or less the novice members.
We have 40% category 4-5, 40% category 3, and 20% category 1-2 (around 10 elites), which is pretty much the most balanced team you can expect to find. In fact, we are one of the only teams in Colorado to have strong representation in ALL categories.
Each team member must fulfill three requirements;
1) Do community service: they must ride in a charity cycling event to raise money.
2) They must work team races, which means they must be present at the race to participate, support, or co-work.
3) This a big one – every team member has to wear their helmet no matter what, on or off the race trail.
Our team members drink the Kool-Aid – and we survive because we have a strong culture. We really put a lot of emphasis and time into making this a culture, too. If you hang out at our events and go to Moab and do picnics and love to race and cheer on your teammates – this is the team for you.
3. Tell us about the dynamic of the team, both on and off-bike. What’s a typical day-in-the-life before and after a race?
We make sure the difference between racing with or without a team is felt in our group.
During race day, we race at different times, depending on category. Everyone shows up half an hour before and goes through the motions, like getting the number from registration. At that point, we have the team to help pin those numbers on you.
We do this because riding without a team – you’d have to do that alone. Just like riding alone in the middle of race, or subsequently finishing the race and getting in your car to go home alone, we strive to push our team mentality.
For us, racing starts a week before when we send announcements on Slack. We determine who will lead, what the strategy will be, who will be on it and who is going to be race leader. We then define roles for each person, like “you’ll be this person and go off at the gun.” Or, “you’ll be protecting the race leader from wind. You’ll be the one watching for a break.” The race leaders have the option to email our team director and ask for the Audi Q7 (our sponsored team car!) for game day.
Once there, we warm up together. We do the race – execute strategy, look out for each other – and finish strong by sticking around for one another because we’re all part of a team. We wait for results for all – and then, a lot of the time, we celebrate with a beer.
To us, cycling is a team sport and a social sport at every stage of rider development or age. That’s the value of not just joining a team, but joining ours.
4. What are some of the team’s favorite local rides?
We have a lot of great rides that we stand by. In fact, we participate in group rides every Tuesday and Thursday at Meridian Park.
Another ride we love is in Denver near Chatfield State Park, affectionately called “Worlds”. One of my personal favorites is a ride that we consider the FDR “Frustrated Dad Ride just east of Stapleton.” On Saturdays, we like doing a ride called “Gateway” in Boulder. Lastly, every Saturday from January – March, we cruise Dinosaur Ridge, practicing team tactics.
5. Any upcoming races fans should know about?
We’ve have a comprehensive list of our upcoming races, which you can find on the Colorado Cycling calendar. Feel free to check it out.
6. The website speaks lightly about some misadventures. Have any funny “misadventures” to share throughout the years?
We’ve had a few over the years, but one of the best I can recall was a 100-mile ride we did in Moab at the Canyonlands. First half is all uphill, right? The weather was freezing, but as with anything, if you’re exerting a lot of effort (like going uphill) you tend to forget about the chill. So, there were a lot of us that day – and of course we noticed the weather, but decided to ride on. Besides, we had the team van in case things got real bad.
Well, we ascended, made it to the top and congratulated each other and all that, and as we started to descend – we all came to the realization around the same time that “holy sh-t, riding downhill is not nearly as hard of an effort, and we’ve got like 50 miles of descent in the freezing cold rain.”
We ended up pulling over, all of us teeth-chattering and wondering why the heck we ever agreed to do this, and we drew straws to see who got to go back down in the van.
There we were – standing there with our straws, fates sealed, when the guys who won the trip back in the van started looking around all sheepish. Silence ensued, and all of the sudden these guys were looking at the rest of us suckers who were going to have to go back down in the frigid cold – and one of them took a step forward.
“I can’t do it,” he said. “One of you can trade with me. I don’t want to be the guy that went back in the van.”
Well, what do you know? We’d all been thinking the same – so at the end of the day, no one wanted to be the wimp that got on the van, and we all ended up bearing the cold together. If that doesn’t say “team,” then I’m not sure what does, and I’ve always cherished that memory.
7. What do you think is the main reason that the Primal Audi men have stuck together and created such a strong team?
Mostly because we are actually “the team you join for life” – and we put effort and discipline into making that title true. We have low turnover because we all feel the connection as team members, and equally responsible for our part in the team culture. We’ve been lucky – through our sponsorships – to grow into the team we are today, and I’d say we have enjoyed every minute of it, even the funny “misadventures.”
8. Why do you think Alchemy and Primal make a great partnership?
I’d say it comes down to a few things:
- We love supporting local brands who positively impact the Colorado cycling scene. Alchemy is one of the more notable local bike brands in road riding, so it’s a great fit.
- We keep our relationships together like a family. Alchemy, Primal, and Audi are already culturally aligned, so it’s natural for us to come along for the ride.
- We need quality for the abuse of road racing. We took a tour of the Alchemy facility and knew that these bikes were great for us. The carbon layup is so unique. The process is detail-oriented. The paint is awesome. And of course, Ryan has always been great to us. These bikes are stiff enough for the sprint, but comfortable enough to truly be a competitive advantage on the dirt. That’s what we need.
9. How can fans follow the team’s journey?
We’re all about showcasing a post-race beer shotgun, so please feel free to follow along on social media with us at the following:
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
Round 3 of the Enduro World Series only enhanced the reputation of the premier Enduro racing series: it was rough, rowdy, and extremely physical. The French round was the first of 2018 in Europe, and featured two full days of racing down some of the toughest tracks to date. While day one saw clear skies and mostly dry conditions, day two was a wet one, which definitely wreaked havoc on the riders.
For the Alchemy Factory Racing Team, it was an event of highs and lows. Cody Kelley was firing in practice, and quickly translated that pace into a solid first day where he laid down heaters in stages two and three that put him well up the rankings. With the rain and cold on Sunday (there was even snow on adjacent mountains), it was clear day two would not be an easy one. Many of the top riders had big offs in the early stages and found it a challenge just to keep it on two wheels. Kelley did just that, taking a conservative approach to the stages with the thought that smoother would be faster. But as EWS has shown in the past, risk sometimes nets rewards and it did just that on day two.
“It was a solid race for me, not one for the history books, but solid,” said Kelley. “I wanted to have good clean runs without any mishaps, which is exactly what I did, but the pace just wasn’t there. I learned a lot in France and look forward to putting that knowledge into the next races.
Anneke Beerten had done well in the first two EWS rounds, carrying a top ten overall into round three, and headed to France with a lot of confidence, boosted by the fact that she was on the new Arktos29.
“This was my first EWS of 2018 on the bigger wheels, and I felt both excited and strong on the technical tracks,” said Beerten. “But it wasn’t to be my race as I crashed hard on stage five, landing in the rocks and hurting my back.”
Though the crash forced Beerten out of the race, there were no major injuries and she will be back at the next round.
It’s a bit of a break before they head to Jamnica, Austria, the fourth stop of the EWS, so it’s back to training for the two riders. Kelley will return to his hometown of Salt Lake City and Beerten to Southern California for a few weeks to prepare for what will be a tough event, both physically and technically.
There’s no “set in stone” method for fitting a bike to the rider, but generally speaking, knowing a few benchmark measurements will help to ensure you’re comfortable and ready to roll on your new bike. Below are five Alchemy tips to consider for the perfect bike fit:
1. Make sure you have the correct frame size. If you don’t have the right frame from the beginning, you’ll find it nearly impossible to get comfortable no matter what adjustments you make later. To figure out the right size for you, a few basic measurements are necessary:
- Your leg inseam (from your saddle to your foot)
- Your torso length (from your saddle to your sternum)
- Your arm length (from the end of your collarbone to the middle of your closed fist)
From there, enlisting the help of professionals like Alchemy can help even further. We can run a few measurement equations once we have the information listed above and ensure you’re selecting the perfect size.
2. Fit your bike for how you currently ride. An important rule of the road: do what’s best for you. You may aspire to match a riding partner or pro that you follow, but it’s important to set your bike up to match your current tendencies and abilities. Basically, the better the fit, the longer you’ll ride the bike.
3. Make easy adjustments to existing components: Seems like a no-brainer, but remember to make obvious adjustments with the bike’s existing components, including the seat height, seat angle, and fore-and-aft seat position. The saddle height is important because, if not adjusted properly, it can add constant stress on the legs and knees. Another critical adjustment you can make is handlebar reach, which is the distance you reach from your saddle to your handlebars. Too-long of a reach can mess with your weight distribution across the front and back wheels of your bike, which ultimately means you’ll be uncomfortable and not have good control of your bike. Too-short of a reach can position you too upright, ultimately decreasing your power.
4. Consider getting fit by someone certified in the Retül Fit System: We may be biased since we’ve been certified in the Retül Fit System for a decade, but Retül Fit is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive bike fitting processes in the industry. Refined into a repeatable step-by-step methodology, certified fitters, like some of us at Alchemy, can customize riders’ bikes and equipment to keep them riding longer, faster, and with more comfort. Starting with a pre-fit physical assessment, your fitter will consider your body’s limitations, any previous injuries and pains, and your overall goal for the bike. From there, the process turns to their Vantage Motion Capture System to collect real-time, three-dimensional data from your pedal stroke. The data is then compiled into a system so we dial you into the perfect ride position.
5. Check your cleat fit: Though not necessarily in line with the basic bike fit, the placement of cleats on your bike shoes can also impact fit. Set too far forward, they can cause knee pain, Achilles discomfort, numbness, or hotspots. Too far back and you won’t be getting the optimal power transfer from your muscles to the bike. There are various ways to do this, but this is a place where professional fit advice may be worth it to help avoid injury.
At the end of the day, the importance of fitting a bike comes down to taking active measures to decrease the chance of physical damage to you as the rider. Take the cautionary time to cross all your “T’s” and dot all your “I’s” when it comes to the fitting, and see a professional fitter so that you’re ultimately not inflicting any extra (and unnecessary) harm to your body, or to the bike you want to enjoy for years to come.
No shortcuts is our motto, and when constructing our carbon fiber bikes, it is about producing the best bike possible in an effective process that takes days of precise craftsmanship.
As the first to build a USA-made, production ready full-suspension carbon fiber mountain bike, Alchemy has purified our process with decades of experience and in-house production by our master bike builders.
To do this, we build our carbon fiber frames using a couple different methods, including the monocoque method (found on our Arktos mountain bikes) and the tube-to-tube method (which is the basis for our road bikes). Generally speaking, the road bike industry leans more heavily on the monocoque method because of its construction efficiency, but for the purposes of this post, we are going to explore the tube-to-tube method of our road bikes.
Although generally a bit more labor-intensive, if you’re looking for a superior road bike, here’s a few reasons why the tube-to-tube method might be the right choice for your ride:
- The tube-to-tube construction process does not use any epoxies to structurally hold the frame together. By using only carbon fiber to bond together the various junctions, there are no innate stress points in a tube-to-tube frame – equipping you for a better, and safer, ride all around.
- Tube-to-tube promises an overall smooth ride quality because of the customization of the carbon fiber layup and structural soundness of a tube-to-tube frame. Our proprietary carbon fiber layup schedules help us ensure that each individual strand of carbon is placed in a certain direction for every individual piece of the frame.
- The inside of a tube-to-tube frame is a closed chamber, providing strength and sturdiness. This ensures that there is no hollow or dead feel as you ride.
When the bike is fully constructed, we want to tout the carbon fiber and all overwraps as “badges of honor,” rather than covering the junctions with bondos and hiding everything with paint. We simply use a clear coat and sand that until the junctions and frame are as smooth as possible.
The Overall Benefit
To each their own, we say, and at the end of the day different methods can produce stellar bicycles. As a company, we believe the overall benefit with tube-to-tube is the advantage we have internally by controlling our own layups and production versus having someone else make our frames with the same materials everyone else is using. By keeping production in the US (in our Denver studio, to be specific), we have total control of our layup schedules and can better manage day-to-day production.
Want to learn more about the tube-to-tube process or carbon fiber road bikes? Click here
With one of the biggest crowds in its history (74,000 total in attendance), the 2018 Sea Otter Classic made for one hell of a show this year. In its typical patriotic-centered fashion, the Monterey, California Dual Slalom course was lined from top to bottom with throngs of American flags, animated spectators, and even some cheering animals (like a pig with a flag in its mouth one day.)
Inside the fence, Cody Kelley and Anneke Beerten were running the courses in both the dual slalom and downhill races. Cody came in 9th place in the downhill event, but struggled with a fall during the dual slalom. That didn’t stop him from getting right back up and entertaining the crowd with one of his signature whips, giving the crowd something to cheer for. Anneke came in 2nd place in both events, making us proud as she pumped, jumped and slid down the courses. When they weren’t on the track, Anneke and Cody were getting plenty of attention from their fans at the Alchemy booth. All-in-all a successful weekend for the racers, but we were also pumped to show off the newest addition to the Alchemy family.
At this year’s Sea Otter Classic, we rolled out our new (and long-awaited) Arktos 29 mountain bike.
The Arktos 29 is the ultimate do-it-all trail weapon. With the new 29-inch full suspension option, we’ve added a Super Boost rear triangle (157-milimeter, wider flanged rear hub) and increased reach to this new model. The heart of the Arktos is the Sine Suspension System, our patented design that’s plush at the start of the travel, progressive in the middle, and smooth at bottom out.
To celebrate the introduction of the bike, we showcased two new color options (vanilla and grey) at our booth and arranged a little surprise for Anneke and Cody. We designed custom 29ers for them, each with a one-of-a-kind paint job. Cody’s bike is full-on ‘Merica with red, white, and blue stars and stripes, while Anneke’s bright orange bike with the Order of the Lion pays homage to her Dutch roots.
Want to get your hands on one? They’re available for order today.
When it comes to titanium road bikes, we know that it’s all about striking the perfect balance between compliance and stiffness to create the ultimate riding experience. Over the years we’ve seen manufacturers allow for too much compliance, thus creating speed wobble, and we’ve seen them put in too much stiffness, thus taking away the ride characteristics that titanium is so well-known for. Here at Alchemy, we’ve taken a creative approach to avoid those problems by seeking inspiration from an unexpected place: our carbon fiber road bike frame.
Though titanium tubing cannot be perfectly laid out for functionality like carbon fiber can, we can be picky about our titanium features to mimic that functionality and produce the ideal combination of ride characteristics. Here’s what we care about most when it comes to our titanium frames:
- Metal sourcing: All Alchemy titanium tubing comes from the USA. Though it’s slightly pricier, it is more highly regulated, ensuring it is stronger and less susceptible to cracking. Also, the higher quality the metal, the more malleable it is, so we can really push the limits with how we manipulate it.
- Metal treatment: We use titanium tubing that has been annealed or cold worked stress relieved (CWSR) to ensure it is as tough, ductile and dimensional as possible.
- Tube diameter: Use a tube diameter that’s too wide and you end up with an overly stiff ride. Use a diameter that’s not wide enough and you end up with an overly compliant ride. We use tubes of varying diameters throughout our titanium frames to balance it all out.
- Tube wall thickness: We hand pick the wall thickness of each tube that comes through our facility, as it’s very important in determining the vertical compliance and horizontal stiffness.
So, how do we combine all of those features to create the best titanium road bike possible?
We keep the compliance in the top of the bike with a smaller diameter top tube and seat stay with added s-bends. We then keep the stiffness in the bottom of the bike with a larger diameter down tube and chain stays. Our tapered head tube also helps stiffen up the front end, while the wide bottom bracket (PF86), allows us to flatten out the down tube to give it more surface area and create the needed bottom bracket stiffness.
This design ensures the perfect blend of complinance versus stiffness that you can get on a titanium road bike. If you’re interested in learning more about our Eros or Chiron frames, you can give us a call or stop by our Denver showroom if you’re in the area.
SINE SUSPENSION TECHNOLOGY EXPLAINED
When it comes to mountain biking, there’s no denying the fact that your bike’s suspension determines your ride quality. So, when designing the Arktos, our latest mountain bike, we enlisted the expertise of renowned suspension designer David Earle, who has now given us an unparalleled mountain bike suspension system: Sine Suspension. So, what is it?
The Sine Suspension system is a one-of-a-kind dual short-link system, derived from superior design elements of David’s previous coveted suspension systems. What makes this one so different (and ultimately even better) is that it didn’t start with engineering, but rather with a focus on suspension kinematics. Focusing on the bike’s movement and design has allowed David to create an ideal mountain bike suspension system that can perform on all types of terrain.
Travel with the Sine Suspension system looks like this:
- Beginning of stroke: regression to absorb small bumps and provide climbing traction
- Middle of stroke: progression to avoid wallowing on big hits or in hard & fast corners
- End of stroke: more slight regression to enable full use of rear wheel travel
This pattern is designed to minimize chainstay growth, improving pedaling efficiency and keeping the suspension active under braking.
HOW TO PERFECT YOUR OWN SINE SUSPENSION
The Sine Suspension system is optimized at 30% overall sag.
Sag is the amount of travel the shock compresses under normal rider weight. We recommend that you set the sag to 30%, but personal preference and riding conditions are also factors influencing the amount of sag desired.
To check sag:
- Gear up so you start with an accurate rider weight.
- With someone holding the bike, stand on the pedals and get in your normal riding position on the bike.
- Bounce up and down on the bike, compressing the rear end of the bike and the shock; when you are steady again, have someone push the travel ring up the shock against the wiper seal.
- Dismount the bike gently (so you don’t move the travel ring).
- The amount of stanchion shown between the wiper and travel ring is your sag. 30% sag would show 21mm of exposed stanchion between the wiper and travel ring.
An ideal suspension sag will optimize the three areas of travel: negative, mid-range, and deep travel. You’ll know you’ve perfected the sag when you experience a plush, small bump feeling in your negative travel, a firm and lively mid-range travel, and a ramping and bottomless end travel. Still not sure if you’ve set it up properly? You can contact us and even visit our Denver factory where we can help you find the perfect settings.