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STEVE SWICK – COWBOY – ATHLETE – AMERICAN – BIKE RACER

My Dad gave me advice early in my racing career. He said: “you don’t have to brag or ask for attention, it will just happen if you deserve it.” Wow! What a concept. I tried to adapt that early but it was difficult, especially since I was hanging around Wayne Croasdale, the ultimate in self attention grabbing! The opposite worked for Wayne and he went on to be a legendary downhill champion. I did not want to be that kind of spotlight focused athlete. For me, I put my head down and worked and worked and worked. I was aspiring to be a Factory Sponsored Pro. It was difficult as I was losing opportunities to people with less skills and bigger mouths. I never changed my values and probably never will (and probably passed up a lot of potential offerings because of it). We are all out there doing what we like, and that doesn’t necessarily deserve a compliment. We should be doing that for ourselves. Getting kudos should not be the focus of your bike ride. I believe if someone does something worth recognizing you make a point and let them know they are bad ass.SteveSwickProfileSteve Swick is that kind of Bad Ass! Let me tell you why. He is a handshake cowboy. That means if he tells you he is going to do something – it gets done! He is the kind of cowboy that better be on your speed dial when you are in a crisis. He just simply comes through. He and his wife Dianne are the most helpful and giving human beings you can encounter. They put others way in front of their own needs and are constantly looking out for the people around them. I really got to know them a number of years ago when they asked if we needed help at a cycling event that we were promoting. They rolled out their huge 5th wheel and camp setup, about 5x the equipment that we showed up with to put the event on. First in, last out. That is how they roll. No punches pulled, no shortcuts taken.SteveSwick4Steve The Racer. It took him a long time to get to where he is today in the mountain bike race world. Let’s call them distractions. This is not a negative whatsoever but rather a definition of a bicycle racer in comparison to a rider. There are more riders at the races than racers. Meaning that they are satisfied with riding around a course rather than standing on the podium. Steve made the podium jump this year and continues to excel every month. It takes hard work, determination, suffering, experience and focus to be a champion. No amount of verbal hype can make you go faster. Shut your mouth, put your head down and get to work – that is the formula. This year Steve has figured it out and it continues to work.

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No one gives it to you, you have to take it. Steve has always been competitive, and pretty damn good at everything he does. But we expect that of cowboys. He struggled early on in different events for the sheer fact that he was trying to do too much. 100 mile road bike rides, Crossfit, Triathlons, Rodeos, camping, side by sides, it just never ended. The guy was beat down, always sore, always overtrained with something that was not complimenting his cycling. The difference was Steve was building a base and the bike results weren’t the main focus. He was getting stronger, lighter, leaner, just not faster. Then in spring this year the blinders went on and MTB racing finally got it’s chance. Steve took a solid years worth of base and applied it 100% to his mountain bike events. Everything changed overnight. He went from a mid pack beginner who loved riding and finishing to series champion. The big compliment was moving up a class and going right back on the podium. Not many people are able to do that. It usually takes a full season to get the confidence and experience to win at the next level.
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There are a number of ways to ride bikes. Winning races, standing on that top step, is a feeling that most people will never get to experience. When you do it is magic, it is addicting, it is the reason you continue to put in the work and improve. You are only as good as you last race and you are forgotten overnight. That is why we put the hay in the barn so to speak. This is not to say that a non-racer isn’t just as stoked on his/her training and events. That being said the stoke level of achieving your goals is always the highest! Steve has done the work, sacrificed time and effort, hown up to every event that he can get to and is no stranger to that podium. Did I mention this was all on his own program? If you want to know more you’ll have to ask him. Steve doesn’t brag…

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Steve Swick is one of a kind. He is a working class cowboy – literally. He puts shoes on horses for a living. His fashion is camo, kinda like his personality. He is a nice guy who doesn’t have a tell. Never a bad attitude, always upbeat and positive. He sees the good in things. Not many people are able to do that. He does what he wants and is not influenced by nonsense. The simple old school route seems to work the best. Everything is not a race either. He can shut it down and enjoy the most casual ride. Always animated and charismatic people appreciate his personality and he is always invited to events because he is able to mesh into every crowd. OK, maybe not every crowd…
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I have always considered myself a student of the sport. I would guess that Steve would say the same. We learn something every time we go on a ride. There is no ceiling, there are no limits. I hope that we look back at this a year from now and laugh and say – remember when you thought winning the sport class was so great! It will be awesome to know what that expert box feels like!!!

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Life and Times of Trinity Peck

Trinity Peck, a guy we have all come to love and respect. We have known him fit, we have known him – let’s say – not so fit… But, always a love for the bike! Family comes first so Trinity has sacrificed his ride time to do the right thing. But when the time comes and he can share the experience with his kids he takes full advantage!

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This past July, Trinity surprised all of us by finishing the Tour de France Challenge on Strava. He didn’t even reveal what he was doing until the last week. He suffered some ups and downs and the whole event emotionally took it’s toll at times but he sucked it up and finished it off strong. I don’t know about you but having to do something, anything for 3 straight weeks is tough. You wake up tired, cramped, hungry, sore, it wears on you day to day. The reward is 100% self gratification. No one really knows what you go through or cares from that matter. But when you are done you are stronger, and more sure of yourself than you can imagine. We have recently witnessed Trinity’s gains from this past month and they are incredible! To truly respect what he did you would need to do it yourself. As difficult as you think that it was, you have no idea!

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There are times that things are out of your control. You have to deal with adversity. Trinity has not escaped this. Some-days the most simple things are out to get you! You have to be prepared and hope for the best while expecting the worst. Evel Knievel said: “If you fall during your life, it doesn’t matter. You’re never a failure as long as you try to get up.”
Overcoming obstacles is what makes it so rewarding, if it was easy – everyone would be doing it!

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Trinity has been a big part of Block Bikes for over 10 years! He has joined us for nearly every event and has been a integral part of our success. We wish him the best of luck in the future and can’t wait to see what he is up to next. Follow Trinity on Strava if you want to be inspired. He is proof that you don’t have to sign up for events, race, or draw attention to yourself to be a badass! Just do what you love – people do take notice!!!

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Experience + Discipline = Reward

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You take a kid, an average kid, a kid who’s Dad loves him and wants him to experience what he wasn’t able to in his youth. You take that same kid and pair him up with a guy who spends his entire life living a bicycle experience. A guy who got to travel the world, race, teach, and live bicycles. A guy who almost broke through but was missing just one element.
Finally you take that same kid and put him in the right time and place.
Wait – we still need one last element. That average kid needs passion, he needs hunger, he needs DESIRE!
He can not just talk, his actions need to scream over his words.

12/15/14 “I’m not gonna brag.” says 15 year old Sean McElroy. He had just destroyed about 10 local Strava segments on the morning ride without saying a word during the ride about them. Inside he couldn’t wait to upload his GPS and crush the spirits of his team mates and riding buddies. But it is totally positive. Just be better than yesterday, that is all it takes.

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12/16/14 “My elbow hurts, and I kinda have a headache”. It’s the very next day. Same trail, possibly better time… Sean is dirty, his bike upside down, his helmet packed with dirt. This is what people don’t see. Remember Wide World of Sports – The Agony of Defeat! Every person in those clips were world class athletes – the best of their discipline. It hurts to be good! None of this comes easy. When it all comes together like yesterday you are on top of the world. Today – reality. It is cold, it is misting and ready to rain. Your legs are sore from yesterdays efforts, you’re hungry, the bike is miss-shifting, and full of tumbleweeds. But you’re out there putting in work. This is what separates a local rider from a champion.

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This is the day in the life of Sean McElroy – 7 time National Cycling Champion (1 BMX, 2 MTB, 1 Time Trial, 2 Road 1 Crit). More State and Regional titles than he can remember. For the past 3 Seasons he has been on the Specialized Factory Jr. Development Team. But he has never for one second forgot where he came from. Now coaching the Jr Devo team at the shop he grew up in he isn’t just giving back – he is living the lifestyle. Ask him and he’ll tell you, this is what made him fast. Find someone faster and race them until you beat them. It has taken Sean 5 years of doing just that. Right now, right this very moment he has crossed that threshold of hierarchy. He has claimed the local title and no one can dispute it. In his mind this is just local, business as usual. He is a National Champion, he has won races in Europe, and he beats top pros at races all over Southern California. Of course he is gonna crush the locals in his town!

2011-09-15_18-01-38_281Take a step back. A few years ago at Interbike (after winning 3 National Titles that year) Sean and his Dad (Norm), ran across Greg Lemond (Norm’s cycling hero for decades). Ironic doesn’t even begin to describe the meeting. Greg is with his son, Sean is with Norm. The show is about to end and everyone is anxious to leave. After an introduction and explanation of Sean’s accomplishments Greg stopped and was fully engaged for over a half hour. He took a huge interest in Sean and shared advice and experiences. Greg was a junior – just like Sean. The conversation felt like one that next door neighbors would have. Sean and Norm left Interbike in Vegas that year hitting the jackpot! These are experiences that happen just once in a lifetime and change everything!

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The point to all this is that you need passion. You need to find something that you love. Grab it, hold on to it, and let it take you to a place that you never imagined. Sean is a 15 year old kid. Sure, he likes video games, food, and girls. But there has to be a balance in order to be great! There is so much sacrifice. Sean could be your brother, son, grandchild, cousin, etc. He is a friend, mentor, coach, son, student, and of course Champion. Sean is a product of finding what your are gifted with and putting 100% effort into it. When he walks into the local grocery store no one knows who he is. But, when you put him in his element he is a legend. Hopefully his story will influence more kids to drop the electronics and do something physical. You don’t have to enter, let alone win races to have passion. You do have to show up! But we do need healthy influence. Sean is becoming a young man who will look back on his childhood and be very proud. Not just of his event results but the fact that he is a reason people get dressed and ride their bikes. When he shows up and rides with the kids that he coaches they light up! He brings the best out of them. Only the future will tell but it is quite possible that he’ll be writing this story in the future about a kid that followed his advice and climbed to the top!!!


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Originality and Loyalty

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Two of the most important things to us and our business model is to be creative and provide the best cycling experience possible! We have spent the last 10 years creating a living bicycle scene in Antelope Valley. The friends and network that has been created is second to none. We have seen so many “passionate” bikers come and go in the last decade, yet somehow we have survived and grown every year. This isn’t a testament to us it is a compliment to our network – a compliment to you.

We grew up as BMX kids. This was in a time where there was “true loyalty”. You picked a team and stuck with them – win or lose. You didn’t wear a Nike hat with Converse. You wore the entire package, you were all in. This support and loyalty is what made these companies big and strong and allowed them to still exist today. GT was the biggest BMX company in existence back in the late 80s early 90s. This was due to the fact that Rich Long had vision and he knew how to implement it. Never has there been a company in cycling that was so complete and admired, and there probably never will be again! GT provided the entire package and the only negatives you heard of their business model came from jealousy This was the cycling glory days. There was no fear. You could ride anywhere, anytime – it was simply lifestyle.

Greed has consumed our culture. People no longer value experience, information, or education. We get customers (let’s define this better by: “consumers”) who come into the shop and inquire about products and use our inventory, experience and information to purchase elsewhere because it is a “deal” (cheaper?). Then they return with the product and ask us to install it at a “deal” price otherwise it was not a “deal” for them. This is the toughest part of retail. It is not possible in this day and age to be the “best” and the “cheapest”. If you look at it big picture the “deal” comes from being loyal. Loyalty means everything. The ability to discount is much greater when both parties are exclusive to each other. When you can count on us to give you proper and professional information as well as physical service our stock goes up. When we can count on you to support us it allows us to inventory more stock and give you the best options. There is a certain markup percentage required in business to have any kind of longevity. When you are loyal and support us it allows us to do more clinics, group rides, fundraisers, and events. All of these things take time and resources. Look at the local cycling scene – what is the common denominator? That is right – Block Bikes! We have introduced you to each other, provided events to enjoy each others company. Educated you and given you a complete cycling experience. We hope that we have done a good job and that you appreciate our efforts.

This next era is tough. People are plugged in. Our culture is not – get out and be active. It is – what I do online… We need to get back to fundamentals. We need to get outside, enjoy time with our friends face to face, be accountable and healthy. In order to do this we need to bring more people into our world. The world of the bike that we enjoy so much. We need to network to get our friends riding bicycles. To seeing the sun and moon and amazing desert that we live in. No more excuses, let’s make this our resolution! Block Bikes needs your help. We will devote 100% of our efforts into you and continue to be active and professional!

So the next time you find yourself looking for anything new in cycling remember that we are devoted to you and we ask that you keep that in mind. Sure the price may be cheaper on some things elsewhere but think about the overall value. We have a saying: “sometimes free is not a deal”. Everything comes at a cost, and most of the time things are not what they seem!

We are proud to say that we have been 100% original for the past decade! We haven’t done things based on what our competition does. We have created and introduced new ideas and experiences. They say: ” imitation is the biggest form of flattery”. We say it is insulting… We will continue to be original, to push the envelope and bring you our best. We hope that you will do the same for us!!! Happy Trails!!!


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CYCLING = PASSION = RACE

I use a quote every day: “the minute you throw your leg over a bicycle it is a race”. Some people take it literally but I am going to define it the best that I can. As human beings we all like to be noticed (some waaaay more than others) but we in one form or another are seeking popularity. Also as human beings we tend to take the easy way out. Fad diets, Lazy Man wax for your car, permanent press, baby mop outfits, etc… We ride to lose weight, we ride to beat up or get beat up by our friends, we ride to enjoy our friends company, we ride to clear our minds – but most of all we ride to get better at riding. Whether it is faster speed, shorter time or longer distance we are racing to improve. The beauty of the bicycle is it allows this improvement to happen.

You can do your very first bike ride at 35 years old and with dedication you are capable of being your best ever in your late 50s and well into your 60s. How many other things in life is this true? We keep improving – we keep “racing”. Racing: “A situation in which individuals compete to achieve a particular objective.” Back to the original: “the minute you throw your leg over a bicycle it is a race”. We want to get better, we suffer, we work, we achieve. Then we take time off and it all tumbles down and we start again. But each time it becomes easier because the base exists and experience allows us to repeat the process more efficiently. We race ourselves to allow us to improve. It never gets easier. We get faster, stronger, we’re able to go longer. That is the race. Cycling rejects laziness, it simply doesn’t allow it. That is why everyone is not cycling. But for those of us who get it… We’ll you see us out there “racing”.


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I Started Out as a Child

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Sean McElroy is something special! For the past five years he has accomplished more than most athletes will ever do in an entire career. The funny part is that he hasn’t even reached the starting line. Sean is the most focused, driven and gifted cyclist that I have ever seen. Pair that with a father that would (and does) put absolutely everything on the line for you and you have the perfect specimen. Norm, Sean’s father, is a racer from the heart. Coming from an early seventies motocross background where the sport was just finding technologies to balance horsepower and handling Norm was injured early in what should have been a storied career. High school kids know no limits and I think Norm is being allowed a second chance at what should have been. This time through the legs of his kid! But don’t think for a second that this is not an earned destination. Sean has worked harder than any other 10, 11, 12 ,13, 14 and now 15 year old kid has or is willing to. That is what separates him form the field and that is what has brought in the local, state, national and now international titles.

Sean is currently in Belgium for a 3 week USA Cycling sponsored Jr Development camp. Sean and 5 other American kids were selected to represent the US in the 15-16 age class. Sean is the youngest of the group. Sunday Norms dreams came true as Sean won his first international race!

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Sean hasn’t even reached the starting line! By definition this means his goals are so much bigger than his results. At 12 years old, on the 4th of July we were finishing a 100 mile ride in 100 degrees where Sean was first up every climb. I asked him directly what his goals were. The first (which sunk in hard as the maturity he said it with was so sincere) was to Win Paris – Roubaix. The other was to Win the Tour de France. He didn’t mention one single local or current goal. He didn’t talk about the build up or what would lead to those goals he just quite simply and directly said he was going to win the two biggest cycling races on the planet. Fast forward 4 years and the picture tells the story. Here is a kid from Antelope Valley, in Belgium, the youth cycling mecca of the world winning a race his freshman visit! Amazing! Is Sean surprised? Here is the text I received early Sunday morning: “1st Place dog”. That about sums it up. I am flying to Belgium, I am going to kick ass, and I will come home and go back to school where no one even knows that I race bikes!

I think that is one of the parts that I love most about this kid. He is a human being. He has the same issues, desires, girl trouble, homework and chores that every other kid in his high school has. The difference is he spends a few hours on his bicycle every day, he flies to foreign lands, he mingles with strangers-  looks them in the eyes and has conversations, he does interviews like an all star for newspapers, radio and TV, he wins titles, and best of all he lives here in town and is our humble friend (unless you challenge him – then, not so humble…).

This is the first of many and will not be the last inspiring  tale from Sean McElroy. He will continue to pay his dad back with results for all of the time and finances that Norm has invested in him. Sean will increase his fan base to a level, in my opinion that we haven’t seen since Lance in 2005. But for now he can walk around Von’s, or even QHHS for that matter with 99% of the people only knowing Sean McElroy the person and not Sean McElroy Cycling Phenom!!!


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Unmatched Friendships

This week we found ourselves bidding farewell to a group icon of Block Bikes. Dave Hinkins is off to the mid-west to further his education and new career opportunities. Nearly 70 riders joined us this week for the Saturday Morning Road Ride.
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We had an after party which more than half the group stuck around for. Words can not describe our feelings for the group that has developed from this ride. Friendships and relationships have blossomed and it is way more than just a bike ride!
People use the term family way too loosely. We prefer terms like brotherhood, union, tribe or partnership as there is way too much dysfunction in family these days… The partnership that we have developed with our riders is the biggest reward we could ever ask for in small business. We are so proud to have been a part of Dave’s cycling progress over the past few years. Even more than that we are proud of the way our group continues to welcome new riders and support each other.
This week was bitter-sweet having Dave leave while also knowing that we are better people for knowing him and being part of each others lives. Dave will continue to excel in both cycling and life, and a New “Dave” will take his place in our group. The earth will continue to revolve and Block Bikes will continue to evolve! Best of luck Dave from your Block partners!!!