Archive | February, 2011

BONESHAKER: A Bicycling Almanac

28 Feb

Every so often something comes along that makes you remember why yo love the sport of cycling and inspires you to keep evolving in your cycling experience. Such an occurrence happened to me recently.

Fresh out of the package

It all began with a facebook message from Evan. He wanted to know if we had heard of Boneshaker and if we were interested in becoming a dealer. I had never heard f Boneshaker before, so off the internet I went to rustle up some info. It looked cool enough, but I honestly got distracted with some day to day stuff and kind of forgot about it all. A few days later it popped back into my consciousness and I let Evan know to send some our way.

I waited somewhat anxiously for the next week each day hoping it would arrive. However, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. All too often bicycling magazines and online publications bore me to death with pointless technical specifications of ridiculous bikes and product reviews based on what seem to be advertising dollars rather than real world experience. NOT SO with Boneshaker; the almanac is ” a collective ode to the ride itself, that fundamentally lonesome experience one has in the saddle, and the results of repeating that ride over and over in different directions on different days with different destinations in each instance.”


Once the package arrived I was hesitant to open it. I knew what lay inside could be a great disappointment, or a happy hours worth of reading. My hands grimy from a particularly nasty bicycle repair I opened the envelope and immediately know that I had to wash up so as not to grub up the presentation. The Almanac is beautifully bound and the pages turn easily. The photography pops off the page although I wish some were a bit larger. All the articles were both relevant, inspiring, and at times humorous.

An Example The Photography

I read the Almanac halfway through the first night. I had to make myself put it down so I could enjoy it more later. In a world where most cycling magazines make me cringe boneshaker makes me smile.

Ride on Bicycle Army!

Thanks for reading.


PS We still have five copies here in the store. They are going fast so come get ’em soon.


Highroller History

21 Feb

We hear it almost daily, “man you guys have been here forever. I got my first bike here back in ….”. We always smile and nod. “Yep we’ve been here a long time,” We reply.

Highroller Cyclery has been serving NWA area for a good long time. What does that mean though? I decided to dig a little deeper into our shop’s history and see what skeletons I could rustle up. I contacted Clay Bass, longtime owner of the Highroller from 1974 until 2006. I figured he could give me some info. Here’s what I came up with.

Highroller was started on February 15 in  1972 by Bobby Young and Dan Burton. However, the rich history of Highroller doesn’t start with the bike shop. The building was originally built in the 1930s as a grocery store which it remained until Johnson Plumbing used the building for their headquarters.  A motorcycle shop moved into the location in the 1970’s and the building was almost lost to a fire when a gas tank leak was ignited. Luckily all was not lost and our location in Downtown Fayetteville stands strong to this day. Well, OK the business is strong… the building is a little worse for wear.

In 1974 The Highroller was sold to Clay Bass a young man from Fort Smith with a desire to own his own business and control his own destiny.  Under his eye the Highroller grew to have the reputation of the go to bike shop in the area. The main focus early on was service and repair with some sales of new bicycle as well. This may explain the emphasis we place on service to this day, though we sell many more new bikes. Back in the beginning mechanics at the Highroller even repaired broken frames by welding and brazing.

The back of the shop. A long time ago.

In the 80’s this little thing called the mountain bike came along and we were on board! Highroller realized the benefits of fat tires early on and adopted them early on. Thanks to many of them the Ozarks are still one of the best places to ride mountain bikes in the US. These pictures have some of the states more famous cycling personalities in them from “back in the day” Are you in there?

Trialsin has come a long way.

Some early media.

In 2006 long time manager Chris Dillard bought the business from Clay and has nurtured the business to the highest level in its long history. Hiring only the most qualified staff and continuing to stock the industry’s best products, Highroller is poised to endure long into the future. Many other shops have come and gone throughout the years but the Highroller is still here, serving you like always.

Community events will be a big part of our buisness in the future

The shop has been here for so long and served many generations of cycling enthusiasts that the Highroller staff are always getting customers that tell us how they got their first bike in the store when they were a kid or about races back in the day. If you have a story about the Highroller we would love to hear about it. Email us your stories at

Thanks for reading,


Continuing Education

16 Feb

New technical knowledge dropping on your cabeza like an A-bomb.

All the exhibitors at the event

That’s right people Highroller is ready for whatever you can throw at us. Earlier this month Jonathan and Sam flew out to Chicago for the Park Bike Tools Technical Summit. All of the leading component companies in the bike industry were in attendance with their inside tech guys and brought their latest products for the attendees to work on.

This guy from Fox Racing Shox really knew his stuff

Your Fox Talas won’t travel adjust any more…Avid brakes gone spongy….broke a spoke on your high end Mavic wheel…Shimano Di-2 won’t compute……bring it in. Hands on dealer events like the Park Tools Technical Summit are vital to staying on top of how to wrench on all the latest high-tech goodness and picking up insider tricks of the trade.

Fox tech disassembling the new FIT RC2 damper

Sending our guys to the industry seminars like this keeps them on their best game and keeps your bike running smoothly. It also allows us to bring that information to our customers that are interested in learning more about their bike. Through our seminars and clinics that we offer in house you can learn as much or as little about your bike as you want.

Thanks for reading. See you out on the trail (or road).

Highroller Shop Clothing Review

15 Feb

I know this time of year is not when you would normally expect to find a review of summer riding clothing. However, a recent occurrence triggered me to want to put this review up a little before spring.More on that later.

Many of you may know about our shop’s custom clothing that we put on the shelves back in November. If you don’t, then allow me to introduce you to it a little more. This may sound a little like a sales pitch, and it is in a way, but you will find out why.

I have ridden and raced bikes for a long time now. I started when I was too young to know the difference between good clothing and bargain basement junk. Then I started going to college and couldn’t afford the good stuff that I knew was out there. Once I started racing it was hard to pass up the “Team Kit” ( note, Kit refers to a clothing bundle that is designed to match and be worn together.) Even though the majority of the clothing in these kits was sub par still.

Last year we had the opportunity to purchase a Highroller “Kit” that we can sell to our customers. I was very excited to be involved with the process of selecting design, fit, and materials. I knew we could provide something that I would enjoy wearing and offer it at a good value. We worked with a couple of local designers for the layout, and sourced the clothing from Pearl Izumi, possibly the leader in quality cycling apparel.

The following is a long term review of the clothing. As any of you that come into the shop know, I always review a product critically and don’t hesitate to point out features that I think could be improved upon. I have been riding it since last November and this is what I came up with.

The first time I used the kit was in a Microcross race


My first impression was “wow this is a very well ventilated jersey”. I got chilly that night even going a bloque (all out). Many of the other people wearing it confirmed this that evening.  The following pics outline some of my favorite features of the Jersey.

The ventilated neck is cool year round.

The zipper is ergonomicaly designed for easy up down use.

The jersey is full zip and offers a media port.

The media port is accesed through a weather resistant pocket.


I was impressed by the feel of the pad on the shorts, though they did seem to move around a little on the mounts and remounts. We later got the bibs in which took care of that problem. On my longer road rides the pad in the shorts performed very well.  I would definitely recommend the bibs though for any application where you are moving around on the saddle a lot.  Using the shorts for more than 2 hours proved very satisfying. I never felt any bunching or “squishing of the pad material. We chose to use the Pearl Elite 3D pad and it was worth the extra investment.



The short construction is also very high quality. I am used to a pretty flimsy lycra and low panel number. These shorts did not follow suit. The material is almost supportive, but without being restrictive.  The flat lock stitching makes them comfortable even on longer rides, and you don,t get those annoying seam marks on your thighs after you take them off.  Another thing that I love about the shorts is that they don’t have the traditional elastic at the leg opening. This makes them very comfy and keeps me from having to flip the band up to keep the silly grippers off my skin.

The leg openings are non constricting

The red stripe on the shorts matches one on the jersey.

One thing that I didn’t like too much about the shorts is the waist band. For some reason a drawstring feature is included. It is my opinion that if a person selects the correct size they will not need a drawstring. I promptly removed this useless addition.


So, the reason I decided to write this in the first place is that I decided a couple of days ago to do a roller workout at home. I normally ride in only bibs or shorts and no short. This time, I decided to show off the kit to my wife and wore the jersey too. I was amazed at the wicking aspect of the material. I was actually sweating less because I was wearing it. I had been wanting to post something about the kit for a while but thought I would wait for warmer weather. Who knew? You don’t need warm weather to enjoy the Highroller Shop Kit.

Roller ride front view

Side view of the roller ride

The Pitch

So why would you want to get the Kit?
First, all the cool kids are doing it.
Second, We have a variety fits to meet any need.
Third, Economy we are actually selling the kit for lower than the price of a comparable pearl clothing piece
Fourth, from today onward we will be giving a free kit with any bike purchase of a regularly priced bike $2000 or more.

Men shorts – $100
Women shorts – $100
Men Bibs – $125
Men team fit jersey – $95
Men club fit jersey – $95
Women jersey – $95

Buy any two items and get 10% off

Thanks for reading

Keep the pressure on.

8 Feb

Your friendly neighborhood armadillo

We have all been snowed in for the past while. I think the worst may be over in terms of weather, but the carnage on the roads is just about to begin.

We have all been inside chomping at the bit to get out on the roads. The first sign of dry roads (or at best, roads that aren’t covered in ice) cyclists will be out on the roads and trails in force. Not too long after that we will see a plethora of flats coming in for repair, or slowing us down on group rides.

The streets are a "minefield" of small sharp objects.

This will happen… We know it will happen, but it doesn’t have to.  The most likely cause of these flats is the grit, grime, and debris on the roads after the snow and ice are gone. The roads will have this on them long into the spring, and the normal summer / fall tires that most people keep on their bikes are not equipped to handle it.

So..? How does one go about preventing these flats? The best bet is to ride tires that are appropriate for this type of road condition.

Standard tires that most area cyclists use are lightweight, with a good grippy rubber compound for cornering. Other cyclists use a very high TPI tire that offer a very supple ride. These tires lack the basic requirements for winter riding, and will almost never last long in the adverse conditions we see on the roads in the winter and early spring.

At best, the grippy and supple aspect of the tires make them prone to getting cuts in the tread and sharp rocks embedded in the rubber, therefore making them ineffective for their intended purpose. At worst a big rock or piece of salt will cut all the way through the sidewall or casing and render the tire useless.

Big slice in side wall / tread. Byebye $70

We recommend that a winter or “all condition” tire be used from the onset of the first winter storm until the threat of bad weather is gone in the spring. The Specialized Armadillo tire is just the tire for the job. With widths ranging from 700×23 up top 700×38, and features like tread compound, casing choices, and bead choices; you can surely find a tire to fit your needs.

A 700x28 Armadillo

The Armadillo tire does everything well, its siped tread blends all-weather traction with a dual radius tread. This allows the tire to perform reliably in all weather conditions. It uses an “armadillo” protection belt to prevent punctures through the tread and a bead to bead belt type protection to prevent sidewall cuts.

My All Conditions after a recent ride. No Flats.

Why should I spend $ on a tire that I use only in the winter?

Well, the answer is that it is economical, considerate, and can make you faster. Most people can get a couple of seasons out of one set of all condition tires before they finally succumb to the hazards of the road. That’s a long time. Plus if you take your “race” tires off before bad conditions arise you can save them for next year too. No one likes to have flats. Respectively, no one likes to wait for the guy on the ride that has flats all the time because they are using the wrong equipment. Winter tires tend to be heavier than the summer tires we normally use so when we do change back over our bikes feel lighter and faster.

Thanks for reading,


White Rock 100 Recap

7 Feb

You may have heard of the White Rock 100. If not allow me to spin the tale of 14 intrepid cyclists that undertook the journey on the 30th of January 2011.

First, you will need to understand what the White Rock is and what it means to cyclists in the Northwest of Arkansas. The WR100 is a beautiful ride that tests the limits of riders mental and physical strength, but rewards with breathtaking vistas, quiet roads, and the memory of a truly special day on the bike.

White Rock Mountain Recreation Area is maintained and owned by the US Forestry Service. It is located in the Boston Mountains and boasts some of the best views and most quiet cabins in the state. It is a very popular destination for area hikes and nature lovers. As the crow flies it is about 27 miles from Fayetteville, but if one were to travel the county back roads the distance is fifty miles from the center of Fayetteville. And then you have to go back. So the total distance is 100 miles. OK no big deal right but here’s the kicker 20 miles of this ride are paved. That’s right 80 miles of dirt road on this one.

The ride is always just a loosely organized ride with no support and really no place to stop for supplies except for the turnaround point at white rock. This means that mostly only riders with experience show up to temp fate and test their fitness and mental toughness.  It is not a race but never the less it always turns into one. Either a race against your team buddy to see who can set a new course record. (Which by the way is still held by Pat Zimmerman and doesn’t look to be broken anytime soon) A race against mental and physical fatigue that can make you want to cry. Ultimately, it can become a race against time to make it back before dark. It is a Fayetteville tradition that has grown into one of the mythical rides of the Northwest Arkansas area.

The 2011 ride started as a birthday wish. Branton, (that’s me) who works at the Highroller Cyclery turned 31 on the 30th of Jan. It was my hope to do the ride with some friends and have a good time of it while proving to himself that he was still relatively hard. A Facebook post and a few emails later the group assembled early on Sunday morning

Getting Geared up

The ride began amicably enough with every one staying together and moving slowly through the double pace line chatting and going on about this and that not fully acknowledging what they were undertaking. As we made the turn that leads up to the first dirt section it was apparent that the S__t was about to hit the fan as a line of blue and black Snapple riders formed and moved menacingly to the front of the group. As soon as we could see the dirt it was on! All that was for sure is that Ben was doing his now patented White Rock Attack and the rest of us were left to chase or just pick up the pieces.  After the Tilly Willy bridge I noticed that I had already lost one of my bottles (a good reason to not try out new bottle cages on the WR100).

I knew I wouldn’t make it with out the bottle so I slowed to go find it. Nathan had snagged it and was flying up the road toward me. I got the bottle but could tell he was on a mission to catch the lead group now up the road a bit. I knew from our ride together the previous week he was riding well, and I also knew that I had not ridden further than 36 miles since early December. I backed off and found Pip and Quinn, and we were shortly Joined by Bob Cable. Our small group was joined by Dennis and Dave until the first major climb.

As we climbed up Wallin Mtn I rode back with Dennis for a while admiring the homemade fenders he had fashioned for himself after marking the course the day before.  Dennis said I should not wait for him and I moved up the road to see what the others were up to.

Quinn was on his Beautiful IF single speed. His cadence was slow, but he was managing quite well on the climb. Pip and I moved on past him, but waited at the top for a while only to discover that he had turned back. I was glad to have had him with us for a while and had the opportunity to check out his new bike.

Pip and I  rode on together for the rest of the way to WR. Pip is a WR veteran and this year it was especially important for us to finish. (The 2010 edition on the WR100 was a poorly planed and executed endeavor. It  ended in Pip crashing hard and injuring his hip for a few months, and all the participants ending up in the back of a van getting a ride back to Fayetteville. )

I enjoy riding with Pip. Like myself, he doesn’t feel the need to constantly chat or make observations about the course etc. We rolled along in awe of such a great day and such magnificent scenery. Soon enough we came across a rider happily riding in the opposite direction as us, toward home. It was Ben with a big grin on his face. Pip and I congratulated ourselves on our toughness, but later when we were both hurting and considered several bail points we understood. We kept on our course and trudged up the last four climbs to WR together.

Nickle's Bike

Once we made it to the turn around we met up with Bob, Nickle, Wade, Gary, Dennis, and Dave. I drank a coke, ate a turkey sandwich, and bought some candy bars that I hoped would fuel me back to Fayetteville. I had some serious doubts that I would make it though. Wade bailed there and rode back in with Gary in the truck. I seriously considered it too.

Bob, Pip, Nickle, and I started together on the way back but fairly soon it was Bob and I alone together trudging on ahead on the climbs that leave the rec area. Bob is an amazing rider. He has more miles in his legs than most people probably drive in a lifetime. He goes the same speed uphill as he does on the flats (which is pretty quick). I struggled to keep up on the first three punchy climbs, and he finally broke me on the final climb up to Brannon Mtn. I rode alone and hurting for a good five  miles or so.  I started in on my candy. It worked;  I felt like someone had given me a IV of jet fuel. My bike felt like it had no chain and yet I was flying over the gravel roads faster than I ever remember riding them before.

I saw Bob again only briefly as i came by him on the run up to the last steep kicker of a climb that I call the Koppenberg. I thought he would catch me on the climb but my legs wouldn’t let me slow and I rolled over the top and directly into the long fast paved decent into Hazel Valley.

I met up with Nathan in the valley. He was confused about where the route went and I was glad to see him. We rode together for a bit until I stopped to drink a coke. At that point Ali and Dan were coming up the road like a freight train. I guess they had taken a wrong turn and had climbed and additional mtn. Ali looked really strong on her new cross bike. I was expecting to quickly drink my coke and then catch onto the train as the caboose. Unfortunately, the coke didn’t agree with my over worked stomach and I had to just soft pedal a couple of miles until I got it out of my system.  I could still see them in the distance but never got on top of my gear to catch them. I was alone again.

Dave and Dennis on the long ridge grave of Brannon Mtn

About halfway back on Whitehouse rd I was again surprised to see a rider heading in the opposite direction. It was even stranger when I realized it was Pat! He had gotten into town and headed straight out on the course with food and drink for the riders. Very classy Pat. It was much appreciated by all of us. Next year we will all be chasing him.

I made it back to the house in just over nine  hours from the time I had left that morning. After showering I headed out in search of some food. On my way back from the Hog Haus I ran into Pip and Nickel who had just made it in. I got word that Dennis and Dave were pulling up shortly and were the last ones on the course. Success! All persons accounted for.

Thanks to all who attended this great day on the bike. See you next year.


Here are a few more pics courtesy of Nickel

The last climb up to WR

A little snow from a ride the week before

Another View

A random tower at the top