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How we named our products

We love cycling and we’re all about riding bikes in cities around the world. Our products are intended to help improve every bike journey you take, with smart design features specific to cyclists and lots of little influences from the heritage of the sport. One of the most obvious places where we’ve been inspired by classic cycling is in our product names – many of them are taken from Dutch and French, because those two nations have such a strong connection with the sport.

STRAAT means street in Dutch and is the name of one of our urban-centric pairs of pants. DRAAI is the name of our courier-style military shorts, and it’s taken from the Draai van de Kaai bike race – an elite criterium that has been won by Quintana, Contador, Kittel and Valverde in the last few years. Then we have MUUR, which literally means wall, but is also used to refer to a super-steep climb – the most famous example being the Muur de Huy, which is always decisive in La Flèche Wallonne.

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Crankk’s PLAKKER is a warm hoodie for wearing when the weather is cold or at night and it’s named after a Dutch expression meaning ‘someone who sticks on another rider’s wheel without sharing any of the work’. We all have at least one Plakker as a friend! The KISSMISS is a 100% cotton denim shirt, inspired by the Dutch nickname for podium girls.

OMLOOP is our unique combination of shirt and hoodie, which will be available shortly, and it’s named after the famous Classic race, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. RENNER is another Dutch word, meaning racer, and it’s the name we gave to a couple of our lightweight shirts – smart enough for meetings, but comfortable for riding in.

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From France we borrowed names like ETAPE, COURSE and PISTE (which mean ‘stage’, ‘race’ and ‘track’, respectively), and applied them to three of our different styles of pants.

We named our first collection of T-shirts after the great cycling classics, so you can wear a ROUBAIX or a LOMBARDIA, both featuring graphics inspired by vintage cycling posters. Paris-Roubaix is considered one of the toughest of the Spring Classics, with riders tackling the dreaded pavé of northern France. Il Lombardia is the last monument and the traditional curtain call of the road season. Taking place in Autumn, it’s nickname is ‘the ride of the falling leaves’.

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Ostrobój 3 – amateur races at the velodrome in Szczecin, PL

A group of local enthusiasts from Szczecin, a town in northern Poland just few kilometres from German border organize the third edition of OSTROBÓJ a series of amateur races on a fabulous open-air velodrome. Participants from Poland and abroad are expected to take part. This year they have official partnership with Polish Cycling Federation which provides professional referees and time measuring system to ensure accurate results. Training session will be held on Friday (July 15th), while the competitions on Saturday and Sunday (July 16th and 17th). More details below.

Registration fee:
Registration by 1th of July -80PLN
Registration by 1st – 15th of July – 90PLN
Registration after 15th of July – 100PLN
1 day pass – 70PLN

Registration form: https://goo.gl/H7EcGT

Schedule:

Friday – 15/07/2016

Training session 17:00-19:00

Saturday – 16/07/2016

  1. 200m flying start – qualifying for the sprint
  2. 400m from standing start
  3. The longest lap
  4. Sprints Final
  5. Elimination race / Australian race

Sunday – 17/07/2016

  1. 1000m individual pursuit
  2. 1000m pair race
  3. 2000m individual pursuit
  4. Points race
  5. 400m from standing start for road bikes
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Tom in Transylvania

Our writer, Tom Owen, headed out to Romania to check out the relatively undiscovered mountain bike trails they have in the mountains of Transylvania.

I didn’t know much about Romania before I went there. I had a few ideas about rolling rural landscapes and Bucharest being perhaps a little too full of drunken English stag parties for my tastes. But I had never been there so see it.

The three-night trip started in Budapest, after a really terrible flight from London Luton with WizzAir. I’d recommend you steer clear of both airport and airline. Then it was a two-hour drive up into the mountains to Fundata, a tiny village totally out of the way, within sight of the mighty Bucegi mountain ridge, which forms part of the Carpathians. After an evening welcome meal and a quick look at some maps of the region it was time to hit the hay.

The first day was set aside for getting used to being on a mountain bike again, after not really hitting any technical trails for a couple of years. That’s not to say it was easy. There is no easy riding in Transylvania as far as I can tell.

Day one takes us into the valley below Fundata and then back up the other side. We spend the day going uphill and down dale – through the tiny villages of rural Romania, complete with horse-drawn carts and aggressive shepherd’s dogs.

We head down a narrow cowpath that gets thicker and thicker with muddy sludge, before hitting the bottom of a long gorge near the town of Zărneşti. It’s a tough old battle to get up the gorge, especially on the full-susp downhill bikes we’re riding, but eventually we hit the summit and the view from the top (and the following descent) are more than worth the struggle.

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On the second day of riding things start to get properly fun. We drive to the foot of another valley, one that leads straight up into the Bucegis. From the very outset it is tough going, the gravel track we are following soon switches to a singletrack path up through the dense pine forests that cover the mountain’s lower half. Before long we are all four of us off the bikes and pushing our machines. As more of a roadie, I’ve always found the pushbike element of MTB quite funny. Why spend all that time shoving your bike uphill when you could be pedalling? Well the truth of it is that pushbike can be as satisfying a part of cycling as slaying a climb on the road. It’s all about effort, anticipation and reward.

After more than an hour of slogging up the side of the mountain we hit the timber line. Suddenly the close alpine confines are gone, replaced with exposed buffeting wind and rain. We have made the summit of the ridge, which we’ll now traverse to reach the ‘start’ of our descent.

Riding across the ridge is phenomenal. Especially dropping in to the singletrack path, with steep declines on either side. It’s really, properly wild up there.

To get to the topmost point of the ridge, from where we will descend we have to pushbike across snow. The incline must be 25% in places, basically a wall we are climbing up, through the snow, carrying 10kg of mountain bike each. It’s ridiculous. But also fun.

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Then finally it’s time for the reward, as the rain starts to intensify we set off down through the rock gardens that make up the ‘path’ back downhill. Going as fast as we dare in an attempt to quickly get back under cover of the pines. It takes ages to get all the way down, we thrash the bikes along precipitous. tree-lined paths, up minor inclines and round the banked turns that seem as though they have been built just for us. The rush is massive, even better than descending a tight, hairpin-filled road descent. I remember just how awesome MTB can be.

All-too soon it’s over. We are back at what passes for ‘ground level’ up here in the high hills. We hop in the car, absolutely obliterated and glad to be going back to a big meal and a warm bed.

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I’ve been riding Crankk gear for almost a year now and in that time I’ve put it through plenty of different challenges – from city riding in London and Buenos Aires, to hilly days in the Ecuadorean Andes – but a weekend of mountain biking in the Transylvanian mountains was definitely a new one. I was stoked with the way the its own on those long bumpy descents.

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Tom Owen is a professional cycling writer. He went to Romania as a guest of Martin Adventures, a travel company specialising in outdoor and adventure trips.

 

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2016 Berlin Rad Race Last Man/Woman Standing recap

On March 19th 2016 Rad Race series inaugurated with a Last Man Standing and Last Woman Standing race during the Berlin Bicycle Week.  128 male riders and 36 female athletes from all over Europe took part and eliminated themselves until only 2 were still standing. We at Crankk are glad to be a part of such an amazing and perfectly organized event.

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Special thanks to the Rad Race team for creating a great atmosphere working in a cold weather environment. Fortunately Crankk/Rad Race PLAKKER hoodies kept them warm. 😉

Last Woman Standing is Francisca Campos (Raw Santafixie Team), Carla Nafria de Miguel (8bar Team) was second and Samantha Moreno (Dosnoventa) finished in third place.

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Last Man Standing is Augusto Reati (Supernova Bikes), while Stefan Vis (369/Bombtrack Bicycle co.) and Mattia Zoli (Supernova Factory Racing) came in second and third.

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Congratulations to all participants and winners!

Here are some images from race action.

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Check out Rad Race website for more pics and information about the 2016 Berlin Last Man/Woman Standing event. 

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South American Hustle

Lima is not really a bike-friendly city. First of all, it’s an absolutely massive place – so the idea of cycling across town becomes daunting straight away. The second reason you don’t really want to ride a bike in Lima is that the traffic is murderous. Whether it’s so jammed up at rush hour that there isn’t even space to thread a pair of handlebars between two cars, or the cabs and cars are flying through junctions without stopping, with only a cursory honk of the horn to let others know they’re coming – it really is a tarmac jungle out there.

It was a total fluke that we stumbled upon a press release for the inaugural Peruvian National Track champs. We decided this campeonato could be bit of fun so, with curiosity piqued, we headed down to the national sports centre that weekend to see what was going on.

 

Champions and hopefuls

Peru as a cycling nation is at a crossroads. At grassroots level it is unorganised and underfunded, but it’s also on the up. For years, what is now the National Velodrome was disused – the only people who rode its concrete banks were members of the city police’s amateur cycling team.

Now though, for the first time ever, Peru has a world champion cyclist and suddenly as a sport it’s been dragged into the public eye. The world champion in question is Israel Hilario, a Paralympian and the current world champ in the C2 category. Hilario was at the championships in person, bedecked in the unmistakeable rainbow bands and schmoozing with the media like he was born to it. He is the public face of an optimistic new dawn in cycling in Peru.

There’s no doubt that Hilario has already arrived at the top of his game, but an almost-equal amount of attention is being paid to a young man called Hugo Ruiz. He has already shown significant promise on the national road racing scene – placing third in this year’s five-stage Tour of Peru. On the track, the kid does the kilo in 1:08.333 – not quite world-beating – but enough for him to become the new National Champion and to be seen as the next great hope for Peruvian cycling on a world stage.

 

Cometh the hour…

As well as a world champion and a hotshot youngster, Peru can now also boast an hour record-holder. While there’s no need for Sir Bradley Wiggins to hop off the couch and start training to reclaim his title just yet, the National Championships did see a certain Victor Gamarra beat another Briton’s mark. The Peruvian – known by those on the bike scene in Lima as ‘Don Victor’ – smashed the previous distance record for someone aged between 80-84 – eclipsing an effort by Sidney Shuman, of the UK, who has held the record since September 2014. Shuman is now too old to compete in this age bracket, so it remains to be seen whether Don Victor can hold onto it a little bit longer.

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Depending where you live in the country, Peru is largely pre-occupied with either football or surfing. Cycling hasn’t historically been able to get a look in. But now it feels like things might be turning around. Peru has a population of more than 30 million people, many of whom live at high altitude. The possibility that there may exist somewhere in the country another Nairo Quintana or Winner Ancona is electrifying.

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An extended version of this article has been published in the March issue of Conquista. Read it online or order a print copy now.


Tom Owen is a cycling writer who travels the world in search of two-wheeled adventures. He’s ridden bikes in Bali, Vietnam, Andorra, Spain, Cambodia, Thailand and the UK. This winter he’s going to South America to explore the cycling culture of Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia and many more places. Tom is going to be writing about his experiences for us, so make sure you check out our blog to keep up to date with his travels.

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ECMC 2016 – European Cycle Messenger Championships

We are glad to announce that Crankk will sponsor the 2016 European Cycle Messenger Championships. The event will be held July 21st – 24th in Copenhagen. We will host one of the checkpoints during the main race and provide our urban cycling apparel to podium winners of the events. See you there!

Copenhagen, the City of Cyclists, is proud to host the 21st annual ECMC. The European Cycle Messenger Championships are born out of the passion and enthusiasm that thousands of bicycle couriers around Europe (and beyond) put into their daily work. Messengers from around the world will converge on Copenhagen for a celebration of the vibrant global courier community and wider urban cycling culture.

A series of races, events, markets and parties will be held across the weekend, culminating in the main race, in which a gruelling combination of speed, stamina and smarts will be required in order to be crowned the European Champion.

More info at:  www.ecmc2016.com

 

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I rode a beat-up old town bike in the Andes (sort of)

I didn’t know what to expect from Mendoza. It was recommended as a ‘must-visit’ to me by an Argentine who said it was an incredibly beautiful part of the world, and I was already aware that it’s the home of Malbec wine – so that was two good reasons to visit right there.

Mendoza pano

In fact, Mendoza has that mountain, resort town kind of vibe – a lot like Aspen and Steamboat Springs in the US, or Andorra la Vella and Chamonix in Europe. The city is really close to the mountains, so during the winter it’s popular for skiing and snowboarders. Once the snows have melted though, it’s time for the locals to stick the skis back in the shed and get out their road or mountain bike.

The cycling ethos here is very much about practical daily use. You see a few hipster single speeds with beefed up tyres around the university areas, but generally people ride mountain bikes everywhere (presumably because the roads aren’t much to write home about). A lot of kids will meet up in the parks and plaza around town and sit on the grass surrounded by their chunky MTBs. At night when the bars fill up the streets are littered with them.

I spent my first few days in Argentina in Buenos Aires, where it was absolutely freezing. Not quite London or Krakow freezing, but still way more chilly than I expected. So it was a relief when I got to Mendoza and the sun came out. See, look how happy I was:

 

Mendoza selfie

After looking into doing a winery tour by bike and finding out it was $150 I decided to stick with the classic formula for a spontaneous bike ride – find a bike, find a hill, see what’s at the top of it, nail the descent back down like Vicenzo Nibali going down the Ventoux. Works every time!

The website of the hostel I stayed at said they rented bikes, but on inspection I never saw a sadder looking collection of clunkers in all my life. In the end I got a pretty crappy red hire bike from a place in the main park of Mendoza. It handled ok and was surprisingly smooth in the tight bends on descents. The chain only fell off three times too, so that was pretty decent.

After a quick spin around the lake in the centre of el Parco I struck out west towards the Andes and a mini-mountain called Cerro de la Gloria. At the top there was a wicked cool statue.

Mendoza statue

Then it was back into town for some post-ride recovery food. In this instance, something I can only really describe as a ‘super-pizza’, with cheese first, then a layer of steak. On a base of fries.

Mendoza food

If you’re coming to Mendoza, definitely get out on the bike at some stage. They have a city bike scheme, much like the ones you get in NYC, Amsterdam and London. Plus there’s a lot of different operators who can give you a tour.


 

Tom Owen is a cycling writer who travels the world in search of two-wheeled adventures. He’s ridden bikes in Bali, Vietnam, Andorra, Spain, Cambodia, Thailand and the UK. This winter he’s going to South America to explore the cycling culture of Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia and many more places. Tom is going to be writing about his experiences for us, so make sure you check out our blog to keep up to date with his travels.

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Exploring the bike scene in Buenos Aires

There’s a funny story they’ll tell you on the Buenos Aires walking tour – it concerns the pigeon population of the city.

As the legend goes, the founders of the city were so desperate for B.A. to look and feel like a ‘true’ European city that – along with aping the architectural styles of Paris, Venice, Vienna and Florence (to name a few) – they also paid to have pigeons brought across the Atlantic and introduced here. Obviously the pigeons took to life in South America, they multiplied in number and quickly flourished. The rest is (slightly dubious) history.

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In the past five years or so, cycling in the city has enjoyed a similar flourishing and, while bikes have been commonplace as functional modes of travel for many years, their popularity as a leisure or lifestyle item has never been greater.

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Rouen is a bike shop in the Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. The area is bristling with cafés, artists’ spaces and boutiques. It’s a creative hub and a highly desirable neighbourhood, especially with the young. Rouen opened its doors in 2012 and has enjoyed success by bringing fresh and modern-looking bikes onto the market, modelled on global trends for single-speed city cruisers and elegant town bikes.

Most of the frames in the store bear the Rouen badge of honour, but they also have a few other second-hand bikes – including this beautiful (but tiny) vintage Pinarello. If I were about 20cm shorter I might have been tempted to buy it!

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A few blocks away, Michael, working at Muvincorp, another of Palermo’s hip bike stores explains that local government has had a part in the rise on popularity:

“The bike lanes have been here for about five years now and people who wouldn’t have felt safe before to ride in the street are now riding a lot. I see a lot more women riding bikes now than before the lanes.”

At Muvincorp one of their biggest struggles is importing top quality products from outside of Argentina – the import tax is so severe that they have to add big mark-ups just to keep things profitable. So if you want a Brooks England saddle you’re much better skipping over the border to Uruguay and visiting one of their sister stores.

The Uruguayan connection is the reason behind one of the store’s coolest pieces – a spray-painted single speed created by a Ururuguayan graffiti artist called Pum-Pum. The eye-watering paint scheme may not be for everybody, but we like it a lot.

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Tom Owen is a cycling writer who travels the world in search of two-wheeled adventures. He’s ridden bikes in Bali, Vietnam, Andorra, Spain, Cambodia, Thailand and the UK. This winter he’s going to South America to explore the cycling culture of Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia and many more places. Tom is going to be writing about his experiences for us, so make sure you check out our blog to keep up to date with his travels.

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Crankk at the Eroica

Cycling journalist and friend of Crankk, Tom Owen, rode the Eroica this year in Tuscany, Italy. It was some of the worst weather they have ever had at an Eroica event. Eroica means heroic in Italian.

If you want to ride in the Eroica there are some rules you have to follow. First, you must ride a ‘heroic’ bike – a bike that was built before 1987, has the gear shifters on the down tube and is made from steel. You also have to ride without clips on your shoes (toe baskets only) and you have to dress in appropriate vintage cycling gear – that means wool jerseys and shorts, classic ‘casquette’ cycling caps and (if you can grow one) a big moustache on your face. Ladies don’t have to follow this last part.

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There are four routes you can test yourself on – 46km, 75km, 135km and 206km. The last one is for only the true heroes, though. Some of the people who did 206km took more than 15 hours to finish.

We rode the 135km, and it was perhaps one of the hardest things I have ever done on a bicycle. All the routes start in Gaiole, a small town in the Chianti wine region. We set off in the darkness before dawn and the first thing we do is descend 330m into the town of Gaiole. It was terrifying and really fun at the same time.

Once the sun comes up, the scenery is incredible and you spend most of the day riding the famous ‘strade bianche’ roads, which are basically just farm tracks. When it rains on the strade bianchi they turn into rivers of mud and dirt. It felt like riding in a cobbled classic, like Roubaix or the Ronde. It was hardcore man!

The only respite from the rain comes at the food stops. Instead of gels and energy bars though, everything is authentic Italian cuisine. Jam tarts, salami, olive oil and hot peach tea. We arrive and descend on the food tables like ravenous animals. Stuffing cake and nutella into our faces before we can chew. It feels good to be out of the rain, but eventually we realise we have to set off again.

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We pass over and around the rolling Tuscan hills. We see a bunch of vineyards and so many ancient-looking monasteries and castles.

Somebody in the group gets a flat and we have to beg strangers for a spare tubular tyre. Eventually somebody gives us one and we can carry on. Thank you Mauro from Milano. You are a true hero!

At the next food zone we eat steaming hot bowls of rigoletta, a specialty of the region. It’s a thick soup made with bread and spinach. It gives us strength. We also drink a lot of red wine at the stop. That gives us strength too.

Finally the sun comes out for the final 50km.

With the sun on our backs we feel inspired to carry on. To attack the climbs as hard as we can. I get off and push my bike a couple of times. I feel sad and unheroic, but then everybody else is pushing too it doesn’t feel quite as bad. Someone tells me, “There is no shame in pushing at the Eroica”.

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In the last few kilometres I get separated from my group. I continue on alone and get my reward – an incredible winding descent back into Gaiole. I hit every bend at the apex. Maximum speed. My old steel bike flies like an eagle.

The finish line is one big party. I find others from our group who rode the shorter distances and have been drinking for hours already. I join the party.

After riding 135km around Tuscany in woollen cycling kit I’m super grateful for modern fabrics and gear. Wet wool against your skin is the worst thing in the world! Especially when it won’t dry out and you have 60km more to pedal.

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