Here are 16 things sure to keep us pedaling as we enter the new year.
An American Winning the Tour de France?1 of 17
Two of the last three American GC champions were stripped of their victories, so the 50 states could use a little positive PR in the cycling world. It has, after all, been 25 years since an American "officially" won the Tour. It's fair to say those living stateside are drooling over the prospect of one of their fellow countrymen donning yellow yet again.
This year might be the best opportunity the U.S. has had since Floyd Landis left the United States Postal Service Team (sincere apologies to Levi Leipheimer). With Team BMC signing super domestique Richie Porte away from Team Sky, Tejay Van Garderen finally has the firepower to assist him up the Alps. Let's just hope he stays healthy through all 21 stages.
New Bike Lanes in Big Cities2 of 17
What everyone really wants to see is more cyclists on the road in 2016, and mammoth undertakings in two of America's largest cities, Los Angeles and Houston, will make urban commuting far easier. With Houston's plan nearing completion and Los Angeles' plan getting underway (if they can jump a couple of hurdles), this signals massive gains for health and sustainability.
Nothing advances the culture of cycling more than pocketing your car keys and opting for two-wheeled travel, so if your city has enacted more progressive policies and constructed miles of bike lanes and paths, be sure to use them.
These POC Sunglasses3 of 17
While promoted as mountain bike-specific sunglasses, we can see ourselves rocking the upcoming POC Craves no matter our bike's suspension or wheel size. In fact, these handsome yet casual shades could make any commuter ensemble really pop.
With lenses designed by high-end camera manufacturer Carl Zeiss, the Crave comes in four different lens options, each providing more contrast depending on your environment. Whether you're riding on the road, deep forest or desert, there's a lens that will not only block the sun but also increase visibility.
Spring Centuries4 of 17
The line for when the off-season begins and when it ends might be murky, but as we enter mid-December and the weather turns full cold-as-balls mode, we're undoubtedly in the off-season. But if you have a century ride coming up in March or April—a popular time to host such rides—you better put down the potato chips when that calendar turns and start riding again.
Setting a goal and putting a great deal of time and energy into your preparation is fun. Even more fun? Going out and achieving said goal.
The Shattering of a 76-Year-Old Record5 of 17
Two men set out this year to beat a record that's stood for 76 years: the greatest distance cycled in a single year. While the ambition itself is no doubt impressive (do you think you could cycle 75,065 miles in one year?), even more impressive is that with both riders having less than 25 days to go, Steve Abraham and Kurt Searvogel are on track to shatter the current record.
The record should change hands sometime around or just after the New Year. You can track their progress and learn more about their amazing journeys hereand here.
The Women's WorldTour6 of 17
The UCI has reorganized and reenergized women's cycling with the retirement of the old World Cup and the birth of the Women's WorldTour. While the World Cup was simply a coalition of 10 one-day races, the new WorldTour will feature a mix of events—including stage races—that will total 30 race days.
This new format should give a shot in the arm to women's cycling, providing momentum for a sport that should increase in popularity among fans and media. And the timing couldn't be better for...
The Return of Marianne Vos7 of 17
With all due respect to Chris Froome and Alberto Contador, Marianne Vos is the world's greatest cyclist. Completely dominant across multiple disciplines (road, track, cyclocross) there is no doubt she is the current matriarch of two-wheeled competition.
After a year struggling with injury woes, Vos elected to scrap her 2015 goals and focus on recovery, keeping the world's greatest cyclist off some of the year's biggest stages. But with a potential shot at competing in mountain biking at the 2016 Olympics and the inaugural season of the women's WorldTour, she'll need to be 100 percent to reclaim her position at the top. With cycling fans craving her return, 2016 will be a great year with Vos back in the saddle.
The New UCI-Legal Factor Bikes8 of 17
This is like making a vehicle that broke the land-speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats street legal. Well, that might be an overstatement. But it's at least like seeing a Formula 1 vehicle on the Interstate.
Five years ago, Factor introduced the 001, a bike touted as the most advanced in the world. And it was, perhaps a little too advanced. The 001 was not UCI legal, and since, the company has been tweaking its design for mass production and consumption. This fall, Factor unveiled three new (legal) models: the One, One S and the O2. In 2016, these newly legal Factor bikes will be available to enjoy in any race.
Taylor Phinney9 of 17
Before last year's horrific crash in Tennessee, Phinney, who rides for Swiss stalwart BMC, was one of the most exciting young riders on the race scene. At only 18, Phinney won the National Track Championships and finished seventh in the individual pursuit at the Olympics in Beijing, and he became just the third American to wear the Giro's maglia rosa after winning the Grand Tour's first individual time trial.
Phinney broke his tibia and severed his patellar tendon just two days after winning the U.S. National Time Trial Championship, but made a triumphant comeback at this year's Tour of Utah and later won the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Phinney should get a full year of racing in 2016 and keep Americans giddy about the future of professional cycling.
Getting a 27.5-inch Mountain Bike10 of 17
The newest number in mountain biking, 27.5, might not be whole, but it does offer a whole new level of awesomeness on the trails. The 27.5-inch wheel size is fast becoming a rival to the popular 29'er, ushering in a new era of tackling trails.
If you get your rush on the single-track, take this year to join your fellow mountain bikers and go for a spin on one of these new, innovative bikes. You'll immediately notice your new bike's ability to accommodate wider, fatter tires (but do not confuse this with a fat bike), which industry experts swear increases the fun aspect of your ride. Easily cornering and rolling over obstacles, the 27.5-inch bike is what mountain biking is all about—fusing the nimbleness of a 26" rim and the stability of a 29."
Rio11 of 17
Every even year brings with it the excitement of a new Olympics, and every four years brings with it the excitement of a new Olympics with cycling. The 2016 edition features 18 events across four disciplines (track, road, mountain biking, BMX), meaning there's plenty for cycling fans to go gaga over this summer in Rio de Janeiro.
And, as is usually the case with the biggest sporting event in the world, there's no lack of drama. Will Sir Bradley Wiggins claim one last medal? Will Marianne Vos become the first cyclist to compete in three different disciplines? Will one of the bevy of promising American cyclists take gold? We'll just have to tune into NBC this summer to find out.
Annual Achievements on Strava12 of 17
Last year, everyone's favorite mobile app, Strava, announced a new suite of annual achievements for overall and personal records. This gave everyone a chance to start 2015 fresh, stick to their New Year's resolutions and compete for trophies.
As the calendar flips, maybe you didn't quite achieve everything you wanted to on your bike the past 52 weeks, and you're still a little hesitant to boast about your Strava profile. Fear not, with the New Year comes renewed energy, and Strava might be the perfect motivational tool to keep you on track.
Using Christmas Gifts13 of 17
We know you're dying to test out your holiday gifts on a 30-mile ride, but Christmas Day means turkey dinner and family commitments. You'll have to wait until the 26th to try out all of the new goodies Santa brought. And it'll be a week or two before you break everything in and get everything adjusted to your liking. That makes the 2016 calendar flip a day when all of your new, pristine gear feels just about perfect on your daily cruise.
If you see a new bike on the horizon, 2016 can't come soon enough.
National Bike Travel Weekend14 of 17
If your calendar is looking pretty open on the weekend of June 3-5, you might consider joining the thousands of other cyclists who will travel somewhere, anywhere, by bike and spend the night.
Hosted by the Adventure Cycling Association, the inaugural National Bike Travel Weekend is the perfect way for cyclists young and old, green and experienced to go for a ride and gain a new perspective. You can either join a ride by checking out this interactive map, go at it solo, or invite a few friends to quietly enjoy your weekend.
Improved Cycling Safety15 of 17
As bikes and cars continue to intermingle at a higher clip, cycling safety is becoming a big concern for users of all vehicles. While an increase in cyclists could lead to more bike lanes and trails, many cities have yet to catch up with such demand.
Fortunately, manufacturers are taking notice. With a bevy of new accessories and attire that include innovative safety features, 2016 might be the safest year ever for a cyclist. The POC Light-Flex Vest, which includes printed lights on the back of a cycling vest, and LIVALL Smart Cycling Helmet, are great examples of manufacturers putting high vis and safety at the forefront. Let's just hope consumers prove such ingenuity is in demand.
The SRAM eTap Red16 of 17
Industry mainstay SRAM has finally entered the world of electronic groupsets. But, entering a few years after competitors Shimano and Campanolo, SRAM had to—and did— take groupset ingenuity to the next level.
The Red eTap is the first groupset ever produced without wires. Similar to using a remote control to change television stations, the shifters are paired with the derailleurs electronically. In addition, SRAM's gearset is designed to be able to communicate with Garmin computers. While this is not yet a reality, many expect that to change in the near future. The SRAM eTap appears to be a groundbreaking piece of equipment that we can't wait to try out in 2016.