Bike Events with Kat: StuporBowl 16

stuporbowl 300x300 Bike Events with Kat: StuporBowl 16Minneapolis is host to one of the country’s most well-known and largest alleycats – STUPORBOWL.  This year is the 16th annual and its coming up fast.   It will take place the day before that huge football game thing that happens in the beginning of February.  The task at hand is to complete a bike race where each stop involves some sort of drink.  Sometimes it will be a PBR at someone’s house, other times it will be a drink of your choice at a bar.  The bottom line is to find the best and fastest route, drink at all the stops, finish the race, and stay coherent enough to accept your prizes if you win.  Sound too intense for you?  There is also a speed race option that doesn’t include drinking alcohol, but will test your endurance, routing skills, and speed.  Ah yes, and it is FEBRUARY IN MINNESOTA, so the weather is completely unpredictable.  Hundreds will come from all over the country to take part in StuporBowl 16. If you just want to enjoy the event without the race there are still opportunities to volunteer, or come out to the after party (21+) to witness the aftermath of an epic bike race.  WARNING: Shirtless bike messenger dance party is not unlikely.

Click here for more info. 


Bike Events with Kat – CYCLOCROSS SEASON!

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Elm Creek Park race in Maple Grove.

There are a million reasons to love fall/winter in Minnesota but cyclocross season is a really BIG one.  Cyclocross is a type of racing and riding that incorporates all types of terrain including: road, gravel, grass, dirt, ice, water, sand and mud. To ramp up the challenge barriers are set throughout races in order force cyclists to dismount, pick up their bike, get over the barriers and remount. In any given cyclocross race you may have to carry your bike up stairs, bunny hop small barriers, ride off-camber lines, and steer-through technical turns.

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Varsity sponsored Brian Kozicki after very dusty Tuesday Night Cross race in St. Louis Park.

Minnesota serves as a perfect backdrop for cyclocross racing with our countless parks full of rolling hills, gravel and dirt trails, and beautiful trees. This year races have been staged at various metro locations including Elm Creek Park in Maple Grove, Dakota County Technical College’s truck driver training course, Theodore Wirth Park Mountain Bike Trails, and many more.

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Cx races at DCTC.


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This mud was no joke in Madison, Wisconsin.

This past weekend capped off cyclocross season with Nationals in Madison, Wisconsin.  Racers faced grueling conditions that included days of 40 degree temperatures creating lots of snow melt and inches of mud. Racers were covered in mud and grass and many faced mechanical issues due to the caked mud on their bikes. On last day of the race the temperature dropped way down into single digits causing mud to become hard, icy, and bumpy.  It all made for an incredibly exciting set of races.  New England’s Jonathan Page came in first for the Men’s Elite category, while Kerry Compton took it for the Women’s Elite.  Congratulations to everyone who faced the intense conditions in Madison – including Varsity sponsored racer, Brian Kozicki, and Minneapolis’ own, Josh Bauer!

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The run-up section of the 2-mile course.

Whether you’re interested in taking part in next year’s cyclocross season or you’re simply interested in watching some spectacular athletes put themselves to the test, check out the links below.  Also stay tuned to Varsity’s Blog and Facebook page for updates on rides, races, and training opportunities for next fall’s cyclocross season.

USA Cycling:

Information of MN Cyclocross:

Information on upcoming World Cyclocross Championships:



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Bike Events with Kat – HALLOWEEN!!! (Late is better than Never)

Halloween has come and gone and (though I’m a little late) it’s time for me to highlight some of the best Halloween bike events of the season!

The first major bike event this year was the Scaredy Cat alley cat race thrown by Bjorn and Jessica. Though I didn’t get to race I did run across the racers at one of their stops and saw the awesome photos documenting the spooky, funny, and weird costumes alike. Congrats to the winners Erin Young and Jana Velo! Here’s the link to check out the photos yourself!

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Jeff Frane – Track or Treat

The next major Halloween event was Jeff Frane’s annual Track or Treat. Track or Treat works like this:  Show up to the race with a Halloween costume and a fixed gear and you’ll be rewarded with a time advantage. No fixed gear bike or costume? Geared bikes, freewheels and those without costumes are more than welcome, you’ll just have to make up a bit of lost time if you’re in it to win it. This event is perfect for people new to the alleycat scene. It’s 5$ to race (this year a six pack donation was also suggested for the after party), its relatively short (12-15 miles) and its usually not a routing nightmare.  Jeff Frane makes it very female friendly with an equal chance for the ladies to win rad prizes regardless of how many female riders come out. I came in third place and won a small bag and rechargeable light.  Congrats to Kesha and Loretta Treviño for snagging first place!

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Some of the lovely costumes at Track or Treat


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Track or Treat winners about to ROCKPAPERSCISSORS

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Boys in Tutu’s… Track or Treat 2012

And finally I want to document an event that isn’t specifically a “bike event” but is (in my opinion) the greatest event of the Halloween season – The Annual Barebones Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza.  Barebones is very difficult to describe because it is really beyond words. It takes place at Hidden Falls Park near the Ford Bridge.  In the park a candle lit pathway is set to take you to the performance area with hay-bail seating.  Along the way are small groups of performers giving you an introduction of what is to come.  Wandering around are people on stilts and giant dancing skeletons.  When you get to the stage area a performance ensues that includes fire dancers, silk rope gymnasts hanging from trees, a slew giant of skeleton puppets, live music/orchestra, and a short play that symbolizes the importance of death as a reminder of the beauty of life.  I can’t say it any better than Barebones themselves:

“The physical properties of everything we know are balanced on a thin knife edge. Here at All Hallow’s Eve time, when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead thins, we invite you to slice through this mystery with us. We reach out with yearning towards those who have moved on through the portal. Maybe they can shed their starlight on this strange journey we walk together. At the very least, our longing for them reminds us that someday, we too will die. Our heartfelt longing reminds us to embrace this rare opportunity called life to be exactly who we are and fully ALIVE!”

It’s a great event to ride your bike to as it is so popular and very difficult to find parking!   I’ll leave you with a few SPOOKY pictures from this year’s Barebones event.

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Giant skeleton puppet!


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12 foot tall dancing skeleton!


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Don’t forget to check out their website.  Until next year!!!




Varsity Gets Greener with Zap and LED Lights

Here at Varsity Bike&Transit we are excited about two new green projects, the U of M and Minneapolis Zap bike commuting program and changing out all of our lighting for LEDs.

We are tagging bikes for the Zap programs that are run through the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Commuter Connection and St Paul Smart Trips. Anybody can come in a we will install a RFID tag onto the front wheel of your bike. There are over 30 receivers around downtown Minneapolis and St Paul and the U of M. These receivers keep track of how many days in a month you ride and you get entered into a drawing for great prizes like a $50 Varsity gift card if you ride at least 8 times in a month. Not only can you get personal benefits but it will help the cities determine how many bike commuters there are. This is very important because with the elimination of the Federal program to fund alternative transportation the cities need hard numbers to bring to the state for funding. If biking mileage is a percentage of the total transportation miles then they can request a similar percentage of the transportation budget. So come on in a get Zapped.

Varsity just finished replacing all of our lighting with LED bulbs. It started as a project to replace the grow lights on our plant wall. With the help of Xcel Energy we were able to replace a of our lighting. We went from 4 600 watt grow lights with a total of 2400 watts being used 12 hours a day to 6 35 watt lights at 210 watts. That is a difference of 2190 watts a 10 fold decrease in power used. We also saved over 20% by replacing all the standard lighting in the store. Even though we have been buying wind source power it makes us feel good to decrease our footprint so dramatically.


Bike Events with Kat – Babes in Bikeland

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TOP THREE!!! From L to R: Christina Peck (Chicago, 3rd place), Elise Adair (Minneapolis, 1st place), and Beth Franklin (Minneapolis, 2nd place).

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Babes in Bikeland Podium, from L to R: Christina Peck (3rd place), Elise Adair (1st place), Beth Franklin (2nd Place) PhotoCreds to Eric Shoultz

As the leaves change colors in Minneapolis and the sweaters come out, bike events in Minneapolis get especially awesome.  The season starts out with the largest alleycat race for women and trans riders in the COUNTRY – Babes in Bikeland.  This year Varsity Bike & Transit was a sponsor for the event in which nearly 380 women came out to race a series of stops all over Minneapolis.  The race encourages women to enter the world of racing and come together as a community regardless of experience, bicycling style, or speed. This year Elise Adair (Minneapolis) took home the first place win, followed by Beth Franklin (Minneapolis), and Christina Peck (Chicago).

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Getting ready to start! (PhotoCreds to Eric Shoultz

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My friend Joell on the left who raced for the first time! Me on the right representing team Spoke Girl.

This event holds a special place in my heart as in 2011 it was my first serious alleycat race.  When I raced last year I was incredibly nervous as I didn’t know many other female cyclists and I didn’t know a lot about bikes in general.  Despite my nerves and with a little encouragement from a friend I got out there and raced.  I finished somewhere in the middle of the pack, felt incredibly proud, had a lot of fun, and met a lot of friendly women along the way.  The event was so welcoming and inclusive that I had no hesitation in coming back again to race this year. With a lot more experience and riding time under my belt this year I was able to finish in the 15th place – a huge improvement from finishing 95th last year and easily my proudest bicycling achievement yet.

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Get that manifest stamped! (PhotoCreds to Eric Shoultz

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The most amazing event organizers you could ever ask for, Kat McCarthy and Kayla Dotson. (PhotoCreds to Eric Shoultz

This race is an unique opportunity to empower yourself, meet other rad women, and participate in strengthening Minneapolis’ cycling community as a whole.  The organizers Kat McCarthy and Kayla Dotson work their butts off to get the raddest sponsors in the city to provide prizes and swag, and they throw an awesome after party.  Most importantly they have successfully created an event that is very inclusive and welcoming in order to encourage women to get on their bikes and ride.  It’s easily one of the coolest bike events in the country.  Check the website for pictures and information about next year’s Babes in Bikeland!

Check out the link below to see all of Eric Shoultz’ incredible photography from the event!





Witch’s Hat Hill Climb 2.0


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Top three finishers (L to R): Alex Oenes (3rd), Evan Gianoble (2nd) and Bobby Brown (1st).

Originally the brainchild of Minneapolis expatriate Rob Green, the Witch’s Hat Hill Climb is an individual time trial from the East River Flats Park to the tower itself. The intent was to throw a sprint race from the one of the lowest points in Minneapolis to one of the highest. In the tradition of any urban alleycat-style race, riders must devise their own routes from the start to the finish, factoring in traffic patterns and efficiency regarding distance and elevation changes. Riders were released in one-minute increments and their finishing times were recorded when they reached they (and their bicycles) reached the tower.

On Sunday September 16th Varsity’s own Chris Graham organized the Witch’s Hat Hill Climb 2.0. Mr. Brown finished with a final time of 5:34 and all three finishers were the only racers to finish with times below 6 minutes – a short but truly beastly effort on the part of all riders. Though challenging, riding hills is the best way to grow stronger as a cyclist and Varsity Bike is happy to donate prizes and support such healthy competition.


Pure Fixed Parts

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We just received a whole bunch of new parts from Pure Fix Cycles. The glow in the dark Kilo bike has been great for the price and the components look right on the same track too.

There are super deep v wheelset with a flipflop fixed/freewheel hub in a variety of colors for only $119.99. Also Aerospoke wheel sets to cut through the thick Minnesota air.

The wide velcro pedal straps in a variety of colors are easy to use and a great price at $19.99.

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Colored cranks with a 44 tooth ring at only $49.99. Their shipping company scratched a number of the cranks for some so they are half price now for only $24.99.

Come on in and check them out


University of Minnesota Begins

School has started here on the University of Minneapolis campus, welcome back ! Get around campus in style, walking is fine but biking is easier. The late summer and fall is a perfect time to ride, the weather is great and it keeps you in shape. Whatever you ride we can help you, repairs or if you need a lock. If you need a bike we have some great deals right now. Varsity Bikes can get you around in style. Come down to Dinkytown and check us out or call us at 612 623-0990.


Welcome University of Minnesota Bike Riders and Students

Hopefully we will have another stellar year to ride your bike.  Whether you use your bike for transportation or recreation the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus offers some unique challenges.

Bike Theft is a huge problem on the campus. ALWAYS LOCK YOUR BIKE. Lock it in a well traveled brightly lit area with other bikes. For more info on Bike Locks and Security.

The U of M is a challenging area to navigate and Varsity Bike&Transit carries free maps to help you get around.  We are everyday riders so we can offer route suggestions.

Currently we are having some great deals on U-Locks, helmets and lights.

If you ride your bike regularly at some point you will need to service it. We can help with any fix from the $10 30 minute flat fix to a $60 full tune up.

At Varsity Bike&Transit we carry a great selection of commuter and recreation bikes. We have many models in the $199-$300 range. We carry hybrid, mountain, single speed, fixed gear, folding, road, electric and cargo bikes.

Welcome and have a great year



Bike Events with KAT! Cycle Messenger World Championships

Imagine a place where there is an endless flow of PBR, some of the most beautiful bikes you’ve ever seen, bicyclists from all over the world, and a Minneapolis boy racing sprints in a hot dog suit – this wonderful place was the one and only Cycle Messenger World Championships (CMWC) in Chicago.

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SK racing sprints in his hot dog suit.

The CMWC originated almost 20 years ago and provides an opportunity for cycle messengers from all over the world to come together. Messengers and non-messengers alike test their skills, build community, celebrate messenger and urban cycling culture, and (of course) partake in a little bit of partying.  In Chicago, the event revolved around a race that took place on a closed course at Soldier Field.  Designed to simulate a day a in the life of a Chicago messenger the course involved a series of one-ways and sharp turns.  Riders were required to pick-up and drop-off packages to various locations throughout the course while following specific directions for each location.

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Getting ready to race…


On Saturday a qualifier race took place to determine the top 100 to advance to the final race on Sunday.  The final grueling two-hour messenger race on Sunday determined the top two overall winners (along with several other winners from various categories), and was followed by a cargo race, track stands, and sprint competitions.

As a spectator, not only did I spend time out at the races, but I biked Chicago for the first time, went to Messenger Prom, witnessed open forum discussions, and met a ton of really great bicyclists from all over the world. It was an all-around remarkable experience celebrating bikes and messenger culture.  Start saving your money for next year! CMWC will be held in Lausanne Switzerland!




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Andy Larson (not pictured), owner and creator of Trash Messenger Bags, made Chicago themed Wastebaskets for the event.


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