Happy Bike Shop Day – Saturday, December 9

New Bike Shop entrance at Alpine Shop Kirkwood
The all-new dedicated Bike Shop entrance at Alpine Shop Kirkwood

On Saturday, December 9, we hope you’ll join us to celebrate the Inaugural Bike Shop Day at Alpine Shop Kirkwood and The Pathfinder in Manhattan, Kan.

Drop by our Kirkwood shop and be one of the first to use the ALL NEW dedicated Bike Shop entrance. We’ll have it open for a sneak peek between 11 am and 3 pm before it opens permanently later on this winter.. While you try it out, stop in and sign up to win Alpine Shop gift cards and more prizes in the department.

To make it an even better event, we’ll also have in-store only sales going on during that time period that we can’t advertise at both of our bike shop locations! Shhh, don’t tell any of our brands…

Come for the prizes and sales, stay for the complimentary hot chocolate, coffee, wine, beer and snacks! (Or vice versa. Whichever applies to you best.)

Happy Bike Shop Day!

Up to $50 Back with Yakima Product Purchase

Yakima-Rebate-Offer-webSpend $300 or more on any Yakima product from April 27, 2013 through May 27, 2013 and qualify to receive a rebate.

You can take advantage of this deal at any Alpine Shop location or on-line at alpineshop.com. The specifics are below:

 

Purchase Yakima gear for the following amounts to qualify for a rebate:

$500 purchase (receives a $50 rebate)

$400 purchase (receives a $40 rebate)

$300 purchase (receives a $30 rebate)

 

More specifics:

Rebates cannot be instantly redeemed at the time of purchase.

Rebates can be completed online at www.yakima.com/promotions or mailed in.

To mail in your rebate, please print and use the official rebate form and mail by May 27, 2013.

Rebates are issued in the form of a Visa debit card.

Rebates will be sent via mail within 6-8 weeks of completion and submission of rebate form and proof of purchase.

 

 

5 Reasons to Buy Your Next Bike from Alpine Shop

The most important thing to remember when buying a new bike is this: Buying a bike is not like buying a television or a stereo. All bikes, no matter if you purchase yours from Alpine Shop or some other store, are shipped un-assembled in boxes to the store. What happens after that box arrives depends on the store you purchase your bike from.

The Staff of the Bike Shop at Alpine Shop
Do you know who built your bike? One of these fine technicians at Alpine Shop did if you purchased your bike from us.

1. Do you know who built your bike?

If you buy your brand new bike from a mass market chain store, your bike will be built buy someone back in the warehouse who may or may not have any experience putting bikes together. He may have a pedal wrench to make sure your pedals are firmly attached to the bike – or he may not. She may know the correct way to make sure your wheel’s tubes aren’t pinched – and prone to blow out – when she installs the tires, or she might not.

If you buy your new bike from Alpine Shop, your bike will be built by one of our bike shop technicians whose only job is to build and fix bikes. These people know what they are doing. Not only that, but they will also customize the bike for you before you ever leave the shop. Our techs will take various body part measurements that translate into a starting point for every moveable part on the bike. From there, they work with you to find out what position provides you with the most comfort and the most power.

As even Consumer Reports states in their Bike Buying Guide published in January 2012:
Find a good bike shop
You’ll pay more, but we think you’re more likely to be satisfied. Bikes from big-box stores might not be properly assembled or well matched to your body. If you don’t like the pedals or seat on a particular model, some bike shops will swap components at little or no cost.

2. Every pound added to the bike is another pound you have to pedal

The lighter a bike is, the easier it is for you get it moving. Take a look at the weight of the bike you’re looking to buy (if the mass market store will even provide it for you). Ask yourself if you really want to pedal an extra seven or eight pounds up the first hill you encounter.

3. You get what you pay for

It might seem like a good deal at the store, but what about when you actually use it? Mass market bikes have cheaper construction all around, from the frame to the components like the shifters, the tires, the handlebars, even the seat post. The biggest quality issue, and possibly most important one, is your brakes. Not only do many of the least expensive bikes have brakes that hardly work to begin with, if you’re brakes are installed wrong, even the best ones won’t work properly.

Even our lowest priced bikes will have higher quality parts than what you can find at the big box stores. And the true measure of value isn’t how much you spend, but how much you enjoy riding the bike.

Again from Consumer Reports:
Avoid cheap bikes, except for very casual use

Inexpensive bikes selling for less than $200 from brands such as Huffy, Mongoose, Roadmaster, and Schwinn may seem like good deals, but we advise spending $300 or more, if your budget allows. Why? Because you’ll get a lot more bike for your buck.

Mass-market bikes have cheaper construction than higher-priced bikes and can weigh seven or eight pounds more. They come in only one size, so you’re not likely to get a great fit. And mass merchants can’t match bike shops for quality of assembly, expert advice, and service.

Adults should consider inexpensive bikes from a department store only for the most casual use, and stick with a front-suspension model, which is likely to be better than an inexpensive full-suspension bike.

4. Support and Service

Simply put, bikes are complex, mechanical pieces of equipment exposed constantly to dirt, water, oil, potholes and just plain bad roads. More than likely, your bike will have some sort of issue come up while you own it. If you purchase your bike from a  discount chain, don’t expect them to be able to fix the problem. Their only option may be to replace the bike, if they’ll even do that. But do you really want a new bike that may have the exact same problem as the bike you just brought back?

Our bike techs work to make sure that your bike – you know, the bike you’ve worked to set up just the way you like, that you’re used to and trust – will be fixed to not only your standards but to our standards. Alpine Shop also offers free maintenance on every new bike we sell.

5. We want you to know what you’re doing

We don’t assume when you come to talk to us that you’re an expert cyclist. We don’t assume that you’ll understand everything we can tell you about a bike. That you’ll know the difference between disc brakes and rim brakes. That’s why we make hours of instruction available to you at our Kirkwood location for everything from changing your tire to the basics of maintaining your bike at your home. We’re not just in business to sell bikes. Our mission is to see “Generations Transformed by Discovery Outdoors.” What that means to us is we want your time on the trails or on the roads to be a potentially life-altering activity. We want you to discover that you can do things you never thought possible. And then come back and tell us all about it.

Come visit the Bike Shop at Alpine Shop Kirkwood. Discover what makes us different. And why buying a bike from us just makes more sense.

Top 20 Outdoor Family Destinations Near St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri

Family Adventures Outdoors

St. Louis and Columbia are amazing locations for outdoor adventures with your children. With our two cities as your base camp, you have access to miles upon miles of wilderness featuring trails, rivers, springs, caves, forests, bluffs, rock formations, waterfalls and more. Set your sights within just two hours of our metro areas and we have more opportunities than we can possibly tell you here. Best of all, many of these locations are absolutely free for your family for a day visit. A camping trip may cost you as little as $10 for the night.

Each of the areas we have listed below have the potential to provide your children (and you) with experiences that will last a lifetime. We may not have the dramatic mountain silhouettes of the Rockies or the crashing waves of the ocean; but we do have the beauty of the Ozark Mountains, spring-fed rivers that run stunningly, perfectly clear and a vast system of caves that appeal to every child. Best of all, because of our Midwestern geography, most of our outdoor destinations are surprisingly kid-friendly.

So if you’re looking for some ideas for a new adventure for you and your kids, we’ve included a list of our top choices below. Some are nearby. Some are further away. But all of them offer families a chance to have fun and experience the great outdoors.

Camping Adventures

Meramec State Park, Sullivan, MO – The absolute gem for camping and outdoor adventures for kids. Trails, beaches on the river, and over 75 caves and numerous springs.
Onondaga Cave State Park, Leasburg, MO – Camping, cave tours, canoeing. Great place for a long weekend.
Silver Mines Recreation Area, Fredericktown, MO – One of Missouri’s unknown wonders. Explore an old dam. Watch whitewater kayakers make their way through the St. Francis River rapids. The Missouri Whitewater Championships are held upstream of this location each March.

Hiking & Exploring Adventures

Rockwoods Reservation, Eureka, MO – Trails for hikers of all ages and skill levels as well as wildlife exhibits. Plenty of picnic grounds and fields for group meals.
Powder Valley Nature Center, Kirkwood, MO – Easy to get to, incredible nature center, easy trails. Great local asset.
Amidon Conservation Area near Fredericktown, MO – The Castor River Shut-ins here is one of Missouri’s best play spots for kids both young and old. (Shhhh! It’s a secret!)
Pickle Springs Natural Area near Farmington, MO – Short length, incredible rock formations, fun for everybody!
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, Columbia, MO –  Diverse trail network for hiking or mountain biking, or plenty of space for a nice weather picnic as well. And for a true adventure, explore Devil’s Icebox on a park-led tour.

Paddling Adventures

Simpson Lake County Park, Valley Park, MO – A local, hidden gem just off Highway 141. Bring a bird guidebook, a canoe and fishing poles.
Meramec River, Consider launching your boat near Steelville, Leasburg or Sullivan for best water quality and natural beauty. Besides the Missouri and the Mississippi, probably the most recognized river in the area – and the easiest to access.
Huzzah Creek, Leasburg, MO – (Hoo-za) More advanced young paddlers can take off on their own sit-on-top kayaks (rented through numerous outfitters) on this gorgeous clearwater gem which drains into the Meramec near Leasburg, MO
Missouri River, West and South of Columbia, MO – Experience the same river Lewis and Clark explored; offers great opportunities for experienced paddlers.

Rock Climbing Adventures

Okay, we’re cheating on some of these here. Some aren’t really outdoors. They’re climbing gyms. But, the skills learned here could very well lead to the ability to tackle the real rock walls of the area.
Center of Clayton Climbing Gym – Clatyon, MO – Geared towards kids more than any other gym in St. Louis.
Upper Limits Climbing Gym – St. Louis, MO – Best overall climbing gym in the area.
Capen Park – Columbia, MO – Close to campus and featuring some good top roping and sport routes.
University of Missouri – Columbia Climbing Wall – Columbia, MO – Open to University Students and Staff

Biking Adventures

Grant’s Trail in South County, St. Louis – Flat, easy, and even at its most crowded is still enjoyable. And now the trail starts almost in our Kirkwood store’s backyard!
Katy Trail, beginning in St. Charles, MO – One-day trips to week-long adventures on 235 miles of bike trail between St. Charles and Clinton, MO.
Lost Valley Trail in the Weldon Springs Conservation Area in St. Charles – Fabulous for  both hiking and biking with clear creeks and miles of wooded, flat trails.
Forest Park, St. Louis, MO – Local, with a myriad of opportunities for other activities.
MKT Trail, Columbia, MO – Another rails to trails project, but runs right through Columbia for some easy, family-friendly riding.

Tent Goes Up. Get Your Used Gear In. Swap Starts Friday!

Alpine Shop's Winter Swap Tent Going Up

For 17 years, Alpine Shop has always had two distinct Swap Celebrations: a Spring Swap dedicated to bikes, boats, camping gear and all warm-weather pursuits, and the Winter Swap devoted to all things done outside in the cold including skiing, snowboarding and playing in the snow. So for the 18th year, of course, we threw all of that out the window.

Welcome to the 18th Annual Winter Swap.

Bring all of that stuff in this time. If the gear meets our standards, we’ll sell it out of the Swap tent and put some cash or store credit in your pocket. (Or if you’re at our Columbia location Swap, we’ll do the same thing without the tent!)

As of Monday, October 17 at 10 am, Alpine Shop Kirkwood and Columbia are ready to accept your used items into the Swap. Bring them in early to avoid the line. If you prefer to leave things until the last minute, please note that ALL used gear registration needs to be finished by 5 pm on Friday, Oct. 21. More than likely, this means you need to be in line at 4 pm at the latest to check-in your gear. As we continue to improve the Swap to make sure our lines don’t stretch back for hours on Friday night, that same technology has forced us to make some changes in how we do some things. Check-in is one of those things.

We’ll still open the tent at 7 pm on Friday night. We’ll still have people tailgating for the tent opening hours before then. You’ll still find the tent filled with great prices on used and clearance items. (Or, you’ll still see the money coming in from the items you’re selling!)

You will find a few changes inside our stores, however. All of our new-gear sales will begin when we open our doors first thing in the morning in Kirkwood, Chesterfield and Columbia (or on-line at alpineshop.com). If you’re just interested in new gear deals, you no longer have to wait until the 7 pm starting time anymore. Also, we’ll have Early Bird and Night Owl deals on new gear on both Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-23 and Sat. and Sun., Oct. 29-30. You can find those limited time specials on page 3 of our on-line new-gear sale catalog here.

Used gear sales are open in Kirkwood and Columbia on Friday, Oct. 21 from 7 pm–11 pm; Sat., Oct. 22 from 9 am—9 pm and Sun., Oct. 23 from 11 am—6 pm.

See you soon!

 

Comparing Cycling Sunglasses: Oakley vs Smith

Oakley Jawbone and Smith Parallel

I’ve recently gotten in to cycling, and like any new activity, I’m realizing there are products out there that could make it more enjoyable.  I own more sunglasses than a person should, kind of an addiction actually, all however in the “fashion” category. I quickly realized I needed something more practical for riding and narrowed it down to two styles:  the Smith Parallel, and the Oakley Jawbone.

Smith includes three lenses with this frame – the main style lens you choose along with Clear and their Ignitor lenses which are great for overcast days –  while the Oakley’s come with two lenses – your main choice of lens along with a light grey option. Never underestimate how important it can be to be able to choose the best lens for your cycling conditions that day.

Price is another factor: the Parallel sits at $129 with just about any lens option- including polarized lenses. The Jawbones cost $200 with their base lenses while the polarized option adds another $60 to the price.

Sizing could also potentially slide someone’s decision. With Smith, you can choose among (from smallest to largest) the Parallel, Parallel Max, and Parallel D-Max. With this Oakley frame, you can choose between Oakley’s “standard” and “Asian” fits.

While both Oakley and Smith feature their own proprietary hydrophobic lens coatings which reduce smudges and repel water from the lenses, Oakley also offers their Transition® or photochromic lens option (at $260 as well) that changes the color of the lens from dark to light depending on outside light.

All in all, both are great frames for all types of cycling.  If money wasn’t a factor, my decision may have been different, but I went with the Smith Parallels this time around. I’ll give you an update on them in the near future.

What decision would you have made?

Jake White
Buyer/Assistant Manager

Why This Year’s Tour Actually Matters

We all know about the doping scandals that have rocked (and continue to rock) the cycling world through recent history.  With that said, the 2011 Tour de France has turned out to be an absolutely riveting race – yes, quite possibly even for those of you who have absolutely no interest in a Tour without Lance.

In 2011, we haven’t sat back and said “So, when will Lance make his move.” Instead, it’s been “How long can Thomas Voeckler hold onto the yellow?” Evidently, Voeckler himself keeps forgetting that he was supposed to have fallen out of the race for the yellow jersey long, long ago. It’s like the bike race version of the Little Engine that Could. In Thursday’s brutal stage which featured 17,000 feet of climbing including the highest summit in Tour history at the top of the Galibier, the little Frenchman somehow managed to stay in the yellow by just 15 seconds.

Today’s stage 19 features the famous l’Alpe d’Huez, featuring its 21 historic hairpin turns with an average of 7.9 percent grade up nearly 14 kilometers.

With just three stages (including today’s final mountain stage) left in the tour, everything is still up for grabs. If you haven’t been watching the coverage on Versus or following the action live at a site like Velo News, you’ve still got a chance over the last two days to witness some incredible racing.

And, you can check out some gorgeous Specialized road bikes (and mountain and hybrid bikes) at Alpine Shop as well!

Finally, don’t miss out on the rest of the Alpine Shop Short Track Dirt Crit Series at Castlewood State Park next Thursday, July 28! The best mountain bike racing in the Midwest for experts all the way to pure beginners has become the premier bike race in St. Louis. See you there!

Short Track Dirt Crit Mountain Bike Races Begin Tonight

Weekly mountain bike races begin tonight – Thursday, June 30 – at Castlewood State Park as the Alpine Shop Short Track Dirt Crits kick off the 2011 season. This series of races, part of St. Louis’s Off-Road Racing League, runs for five weeks and features three races each night.

Mountain bike racers of all abilities are welcome! Choose your race based on your ability: A- Expert, B-Sport and C-Novice/beginners. Each category follows the same course. The difference is in how long the race lasts. The A racers lasts 45 minutes plus two laps. B race goes for 25 minutes plus two laps and the C race lasts 15 minutes plus two laps.

At the time of posting, registrations were full for the 6/30 races; but spots were still available for the following races. If you’re interested in participating, please click here for on-line registration.

Following the races, all participants are invited to partake of some fantastic food from The Wolf Public House, including beverages from New Belgium Brewery.

Alpine Shop has some drool-worthy prizes to give away all series long for both participants and spectators alike. Just stop by our tent to find out more.

For more information on the series, please visit the Off-Road Racing League page. And if mountain bikes aren’t really your thing, be sure to check out the Trail Run part of the Off-Road Racing League. That series begins Thursday, August 4 (or the week after the mountain bike races have finished)!

Dads: Get Your Kids Outdoors & You Could Win Gift Cards

Dads – Get your kids outside this Father’s Day and you could win a part of a $500 jackpot in Alpine Shop gift cards. The challenge is simple: we’re inviting all Dads to bring their families outside to play. Take a picture of you with them outside. Post it on our facebook page by midnight, Sunday, June 19, 2011. We’ll select random winners from all of our Dad photos on Monday, June 20.

Studies continue to show the need for Dads (and Moms) to bring their little ones outside, to get them back in touch with mother nature. Books have been written about it. States across our nation are actively trying to figure out ways to get kids off the couch and back outside, including Missouri. So Dads, while we encourage you to take a hike in a nearby park, to get out in canoe or kayak, or even to ride your bike; really, we just hope you’ll breathe some non-air-conditioned air for at least a little while to celebrate your Father’s Day. If you need some ideas for a Dad’s Day adventure, we’re happy to provide you a few of our favorite family-friendly escapes at the bottom of this article.

As we did for our Mother’s Day contest, we will accept photos from the past for those Dads who can not be with your family – or vice versa.

And for those of you looking for some last minute Father’s Day gifts, Alpine Shop has a huge selection of presents perfect for any outdoor-loving Dad.

As promised, here are some great kid-friendly adventures in and within 2 hours of St. Louis. Get to it, Dad!

Hiking and Exploring Adventures:

  • Rockwoods Reservation, Eureka, Mo. – Trails for hikers of all ages and skill levels as well as wildlife exhibits. Plenty of picnic grounds and fields for group meals.
  • Powder Valley Nature Center, Kirkwood, Mo. – Easy to get to, incredible nature center, easy trails. Great local asset.
  • Amidon Conservation Area near Fredericktown, Mo. – The Castor River Shut-ins here is one of Missouri’s best play spots for kids both young and old. (Shhhh! It’s a secret!)
  • Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park near Lesterville, Mo. (and the Ozark Trail that runs through it) – One of Missouri’s most popular state parks. If you come on a weekend during the summer, prepare for crowds at Mother Nature’s waterpark.
  • Pickle Springs Natural Area near Farmington, Mo. – Short length, incredible rock formations, fun for everybody!

Camping Adventures:

  • Meramec State Park, Sullivan, Mo. – The absolute gem for camping and outdoor adventures for families. Trails, beaches on the river, and over 75 caves and numerous springs.
  • Onondaga Cave State Park, Leasburg, Mo. – Camping, cave tours, canoeing. Great place for a long weekend.

Paddling Adventures:

  • Simpson Lake County Park, Valley Park, Mo. – A local, hidden gem just off Highway 141. Bring a bird guidebook, a canoe and fishing poles.
  • Meramec River- Consider put-ins near Steelville, Leasburg or Sullivan for best water quality and natural beauty. Besides the Missouri and the Mississippi, probably the most recognized river in the area – and the easiest to access.
  • Huzzah Creek, Leasburg, Mo.- (Hoo-za) More advanced young paddlers can take off on their own sit-on-top kayaks (rented through numerous outfitters) on this gorgeous clearwater  gem which drains into the Meramec near Leasburg, Mo..

Biking

  • Grant’s Trail in South County, St. Louis – Flat, easy, and even at its most crowded  is still enjoyable.
  • Katy Trail, beginning in St. Charles, Mo. – One-day trips to week-long adventures on 235 miles of bike trail between St. Charles and Clinton, Mo.
  • Lost Valley Trail in the Weldon Springs Conservation Area in St. Charles – Fabulous for  both hiking and biking with clear creeks and miles of wooded, flat trails.
  • Forest Park, St. Louis, Mo. – Local, with a myriad of opportunities for other activities.

Happy Father’s Day to all of our adventure-loving Dads!

Alpine Shop’s Demo Days: Try Before You Buy!

Alpine Shop knows you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive first. (You wouldn’t, would you?) The same applies when you’re shopping for a new kayak, canoe or bike, as well. Alpine Shop’s Demo Days are the perfect way to Try Before You Buy.

A line of Canoes at the 2010 Alpine Shop's Demo Days
Boat after boat after boat, just waiting to be paddled by you.

Let’s take boats to start. Every craft will handle just a little bit differently, and you’d be amazed at how much little adjustments – like moving your seat forward or back – can have major effects on how a new boat paddles. That’s why this weekend’s Demo Days at Creve Coeur Lake are so helpful to you if you’re in the market for a new boat. We’ll have a full selection of nearly every major brand we carry available to paddle at Sailboat Cove on Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15. And while we’ll continue to have smaller Paddle Demo Days throughout the summer on an almost bi-weekly basis, we won’t have the sheer number of canoes and kayaks each week like we’ll have this weekend.

If you’re just getting started on your paddling career, you won’t find a better introduction to the sport then the chance to discover what each individual kayak or canoe type can offer you. And while some of the finer points of each craft may not be readily apparent to you, what you will find is an idea of the general type of boat that will work best for you.

If you’re an experienced paddler looking to take a step up, here’s your chance to play around with other people’s boats to your heart’s content. Find out which boat matches you’re desires perfectly.

Save yourself some time and register for Alpine Shop’s Demo Days in advance by clicking here.

Below are a couple of links that you may find useful before coming out and seeing us. Let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help you find your perfect boat.

Canoe & Kayak Magazine’s Buyer’s Guide

Alpine Shop’s Learn to Paddle Guide

Not a paddler, but a pedaler?

This year, we’re pleased to welcome the Specialized Test the Best Demo Team to Alpine Shop’s Demo Days! Creve Coeur Lake Park – besides the lake – also has one of the area’s most popular bike paths, so it’s a perfect fit to try out our newest line of bikes to find out exactly what type of bike works best for you.

Bikes and boats are all included in your $5 registration fee – and you’ll also get a free hot dog, chips and drink as well.