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Registration Opens For Fixed Gear Classic

May 4, 2010

Minneapolis (May 4, 2010) – Registration is now open for the Minnesota Fixed Gear Classic, a thrilling three days of track racing at the National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, Minn., that leads off the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival.

The Fixed Gear Classic provides different fields for men (Pro-I-II) and women (Pro-I-II-III) in a unique dual omnium program that showcases separate competitions for sprinters and endurance specialists. Competition begins Friday night, June 11 and runs through Sunday, June 13. Events will include both men’s and women’s Madison races along with cross-over events like the Miss-n-Out that offer points for both omniums.

“Track was a part of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival for the first three years, from 1999-2001, culminating with the 2001 Elite Track Nationals,” Nature Valley Grand Prix Executive Director David LaPorte said. “We brought it back in 2008, but the economy forced us to take a year off in 2009. Now it’s back, this time we hope for good. By bringing track racing under the same media and marketing umbrella as the Nature Valley Grand Prix, we hope to gain national exposure for this sport even in non-Olympic years.”

Fields are filling fast through online registration, which closes June 4. Down-loadable registration forms and more details can be found at http://www.nscsports.org/sports/cycling/events/fixed_gear_classic.htm.

The Fixed Gear Classic is run in conjunction with the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the premier stage race on the 2010 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. This year’s race includes stops in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Menomonie, and Stillwater. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a part of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival, a volunteer-run event, with all proceeds donated to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the festival’s benefiting charity. More information can be found at: www.NatureValleyBicycleFestival.com.

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Nature Valley Grand Prix Announces Changes For Time Trial

April 26, 2010

Minneapolis – This year’s edition of the Nature Valley Grand Prix will go “old school,” with a return to Eddy Merckx-style racing for the individual time trial that opens this year’s USA Cycling National Racing Calendar event.

Executive Director David LaPorte said the Nature Valley Grand Prix has opted to invoke a new USA Cycling rule that allows race organizers to specify that “massed-start legal” bicycles are required for time trials. The rule will be enforced for the six-mile (9.6 km) St. Paul Riverfront time trial on June 16.

“The decision was made partly to simplify logistics for the teams and partly out of fairness,” LaPorte said. “We have a time cut in the time trial to ensure that no one loafs to stay fresh for the criterium that night. But in the past, we have had some strong riders cut primarily because they did not have time trial bikes. We have also had some riders in the past who haven’t competed because of the expense of bringing two bikes, particularly with the outrageous charges the airlines are imposing.”

LaPorte said he doesn’t expect the change to significantly affect the overall results of the five-day, six-stage race.

“The time trial is only six miles and the last mile is an eight-percent climb,” he said. “Also, with the new road race in Menomonie, Wisconsin, the seconds gained or lost in the time trial are likely to be insignificant. Unlike the old Mankato road race, this course will be very hilly, with lots of opportunities for aggressive teams to shatter the pack. If big time gaps don’t form, it will likely be because the teams haven’t taken advantage of the terrain.”

The Nature Valley Grand Prix will work with USA Cycling officials to spell out the specific restrictions regarding aero equipment (wheels, helmets, etc.), which will ultimately appear in the race bible.

The decision to prohibit time trial bikes is certainly not unique, as several international races (Tour of Qatar, Tour of Langkawi, etc.) have banned time trial bikes and aero equipment for years. In the U.S., the team time trial stage of the 2008 Tour de Georgia featured the same restrictions.

Danny Van Haute, director of the Jelly Belly Cycling presented by Kenda professional men’s team, said the decision to prohibit time trial bikes will level the playing field. “Not everyone can buy time trial equipment and if the pro teams have this equipment, it’s not fair to the riders who don’t,” he said. “I’ll bet the results will be the same with time trial bikes as they would be without.”

Team Vera Bradley Foundation Director Lisa Hunt said it is disappointing for her team’s bicycle sponsor not to be able to showcase its time trial bikes. “However, in the interest of being fair and equitable for all parties involved, I support the decision,” she said. “Clearly, our strongest time trial riders will be strong on a road bike or a time trial bike. So it’s not like we are at a disadvantage.”

LaPorte said he will poll all women’s and men’s teams after the race – as he has done in previous years – to get an idea of whether the new rule should be retained for 2011.

About the Nature Valley Grand Prix

The Nature Valley Grand Prix, which takes place in Eastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, is the premier stage race on the 2010 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The 2010 race will include stops in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Menomonie, and Stillwater. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a part of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival, a volunteer-run event, with all proceeds donated to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the festival’s benefiting charity. More information can be found at: www.NatureValleyBicycleFestival.com

About Nature Valley

Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products. For more information, visit www.NatureValley.com.

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Team Application Process Opens For Invitation To Nature Valley Grand Prix

April 5, 2010

Minneapolis (April 4, 2010) – Applications are open for the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the top-ranked stage race on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar.

Teams wishing to compete in the race June 16-20 in East Central Minnesota and Western Wisconsin must submit an application by May 7. More details and application information are available on sportsbaseonline.com.

Nature Valley Grand Prix Executive Director David LaPorte said the invitation-for-registration process was necessary to meet the overwhelming demand to be a part of the National Racing Calendar event.

“The men’s field was filling up more than a month before the official registration deadline,” LaPorte said. “Teams were missing out simply because they weren’t checking the registration page on an almost daily basis weeks before the event. The women’s race also fills, a problem that’s great to have, so we made their race an invitational as well. Besides the pros, we encourage amateur teams to apply, since Nature Valley has a special commitment to them. That’s why Nature Valley also sponsors a unique Nature Valley Top Amateur jersey.”

“The Nature Valley Grand Prix is an amazing race,” said Fly V Australia Technical Director Ed Beamon, who has had riders at the race since its inception in 1999. “They get huge crowds, lots of media and take excellent care of the teams. With all the time bonuses and action from the top sprinters, it’s always an exciting race down to the wire.”

Team managers should follow the sportsbaseonline home page link from “NRC Calendar Events” to the “Nature Valley Grand Prix Application.” Men’s teams consist of three to eight riders. Women’s teams are one to eight riders. No payment is required at time of application. Invited teams will receive notification by e-mail by May 14.

The Nature Valley Grand Prix professional stage race opens June 16 in Saint Paul with a morning time trial and evening criterium held in Downtown Saint Paul adjacent to Rice Park. It continues with a road race in Cannon Falls on June 17. Stage 4 takes place in Minneapolis on Friday night, June 18, in the city’s dynamic Uptown neighborhood.

On Saturday, June 19, the racers travel east to Menomonie, Wis., for the Menomonie Road Race, marking the first time that the Nature Valley Grand Prix includes a stage outside of Minnesota. Racers will contest Stage 6, the Stillwater Criterium, on Sunday, June 20. Both men and women cyclists will complete a short circuit race which includes riding up Chilikoot Hill 20 times – a grueling 24-percent-grade climb – considered to be the most difficult in North American cycling.

About the Nature Valley Grand Prix

The Nature Valley Grand Prix, which is part of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival, takes place in Eastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. It is the premier stage race on the 2010 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The 2010 race will include stops in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Menomonie, and Stillwater. The Nature Valley Bicycle Festival is a volunteer-run event, with all proceeds donated to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the festival’s benefiting charity. More information can be found at: www.NatureValleyBicycleFestival.com

About Nature Valley

Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products. For more information, visit www.NatureValley.com.

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Group Riding: Stick With the Plan

March 14, 2009

Does this sound familiar?

Your group ride started out at an easy pace. Pretty soon, one of the stronger riders makes his way to the front and picks the pace up. Your little ego demon says “he’s not faster than me,” so you follow suit. So does everyone else. The dance continues until a stop sign or red light kills the momentum. Pretty soon, everyone’s heart rate is pegged out, white knuckles threatening to bend the handlebars and you’re left coughing up little bits of your lungs.

What does everyone says in the parking lot before the ride starts?

“Easy ride today?”

This group delusion was followed by “I’m toast from yesterday’s century”, “I haven’t been on by bike in a week”, “Today’s a recovery day” or “I’m tapering.” From Jump Street, the complaints are indicative of strong legs. No one ever laments about having fresh legs before a ride.

What would have happened if one person (just one) had said “Hey, dude, back ‘er down. This is an easy day” when that first knucklehead started the speed demonry? Everyone would have given a deep sigh of relief, because they needed an easy day. Rarely do groups have big enough egos to stray from impressing new riders. Asking to have an easy day is seen as a sign of weakness. The group think is usually “ride alone if you want to ride easy.” Hardly.

Easy rides are an essential part of training. You can only ride really hard on hard days if you’re rested. If you ride hard on days that are supposed to be easy, all you’ll manage on the hard days is to ride a little (but not much) harder.

If you want to be fast, keep your easy days really easy so that you can make your hard days really hard.

And what do you do if the dude that amps it up doesn’t slow down when asked? Before the ride starts, agree that anyone who amps it up will be ignored. Then, when Mr. Macho picks up the pace, tell everyone “let him go.”

The fool will ride up the road alone.

David Laporte

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