Fondo Is Where You Find It: POC’s New Collection Definitely Fondos

POC's new Fondo Collection, shown here in the "Rio de Janeiro" colorway, builds upon the knowledge and experience gained through their AVIP and Raceday lines.
POC’s new Fondo Collection, shown here in the “Rio de Janeiro” colorway, builds upon the knowledge and experience gained through their AVIP and Raceday lines.

POC recently brought a select group of journalists from around the country to Solvang, California  to experience the new Fondo clothing line in its intended habitat: among friends and during adventure.

POC Sports, a Swedish brand renowned for an acute focus on safety, sprinted onto the road cycling apparel scene in 2013 with its research-driven AVIP line. Following quickly with their svelte Raceday Collection in 2014, the decade-old company has this year focused on the rider who is driven more by passion and love than results: the “Fondo” cyclist.

I arrived at our bucolic accommodations for the enviable task of riding bikes through wine country grueling product testing during early autumn, with little idea of who would fulfill the “friends” half of the equation. Luckily, it wasn’t long before I realized the other attendees would pilot wheels I could trust.

This was helped by a selection of beers crafted by Figueroa Mountain Brewing, a local brewery whose namesake we would conquer the next day. We had been brought there to explore the tenet of passion— clad in and aided by the Fondo line, to be sure, but not at the cost of adventure.

“I don’t climb.”

In line with the loosely defined itinerary, an exciting journey would soon follow. Setting out the next morning at 9:37 AM precisely, our assigned guide deftly navigated a brightly clad group past windmills and through wineries of the region — and promptly disappeared when the pavé began to ascend. (“I don’t climb,” he’d said. It turned out that he was being literal.) With little idea of where we were headed other than up, soon came the jokes and hopes about whether every rise was the top.

Dodging tarantulas sunning themselves and entertaining thoughts of getting intentionally lost on the fire roads of Los Padres National Forest, the ten-mile mixed-terrain climb finally relented after an hour and a half. Cresting what was ultimately determined to be the actual top at the height of the afternoon, we began our fast descent back toward the valley with little fanfare other than a cry of “WATER!” from a rider who had, like the rest of us, run dry miles beforehand.

An exciting half-hour of jarring twists and turns followed — the front brake of my rental bike howling each time I pushed toward its limit — until we happened upon our guide taking a siesta from the midday sun beneath a majestic oak tree. He had relied on an intimate knowledge of the area to circumvent the previous hours’ challenges and, with little concern over our thirst, informed the group that there was another 10 miles before we could be quenched.

The nonchalance was perhaps justified as we stopped for a moment before charging forth into the wind coming from town; we’d learned that the tree stood at the entrance of a property formerly known as Neverland Ranch, the notorious home of late entertainer Michael Jackson. Succumbing to star power (as many German tourists are purportedly wont to do), the lycra lineup posed quickly for a one-gloved salute before continuing on to the convenience store oasis which awaited.

A short time later we guzzled the Cokes we’d wished were 4,000 feet above while bantering with locals about the industrial implications of 3D printing — from teeth to automatic weapons to crazy things like bicycles. Replenished and riding high in a way that can be had only through a solid day of adventuring, we mounted our iron horses and pointed them back toward the ranch, tired and happy.

And the clothing? As anyone who is familiar with POC’s previous offerings may have surmised, it too hit the required marks with high precision: from clean, consistent design to quality materials and thoughtful construction, the Fondo Collection supported the ride throughout.

Ultimately, my adventure led to one question: do you Fondo, bro?

Look for an upcoming review of the 2016 Fondo Collection as well as a look at POC’s latest mountain bike gear, the Resistance line.

On the Road With Jens Voigt, for His Inaugural Fondo

The Jensie Gran Fondo
The crowd prepares themselves for a day on the roads of Marin with Jens Voigt. Photo: Jim Merithew/

So Saturday morning I find myself sitting off the back of a giant group of ragtag cyclists pushing up Highway 1 on the California coast. From where I am sitting I can see just a sliver of the rider on the shiny red Trek bike at the front. He appears to be chatting up a storm and waving to anyone and everyone standing on the side of the road.

The tail-end of the group is made up of dude in an AC/DC jersey and a guy riding an “adventure” bike with a giant canvas seat pack, all being pulled along by the friendly guy on the front, retired pro peleton favorite Jens Voigt.

Jens appears to be perfectly happy sitting on the front, plowing into the scenic coastlines famous headwind and chatting with anyone brave enough to join him at the head of this less-than-pro paceline.

The Jensie Gran Fondo
Jens pulls along a ragtag bunch of fans along Route 1. Photo: Jim Merithew/

The night before, I was sent into San Francisco’s bustling financial district to shuttle Jens from a business meeting to his cottage in Mill Valley. I waited for him in the plush, dot-commie offices of FitBit as young casually-dressed and well quaffed FitBitters wandered in and out of the glass-encased conference room where Jens was meeting with his sponsor.

“Oh my god, he is such a nice guy,” mutters the young woman leaving the room.

“Totally,” says her co-worker.

And this is going to be the theme all weekend. He really is a profoundly nice human being.

He finishes his meeting with FitBit and after the third “just one more photo and then we will go,” we pack up. He grabs his bike, his backpack, another backpack filled with the newest toys from FitBit for him, his wife and his six kids. I mean, you should always bring something home for the wife and kids.

And he grabs a giant plate of foccachia sandwiches. “You don’t want to have food hanging out of your mouth while you’re talking to people,” explaining why he waited to grab a sandwich.

I ask him on the car ride across the Golden Gate Bridge if he is worried about ballooning up after retiring from the pro peleton, ala Eddie Merckx or Greg Lemond.

He says he has a theory about how after retiring you are just replacing your body muscle with non-muscle and so you can still look pretty good for the first year. But then you have to be careful.

He says he tries to watch what he eats and he stays away from drinks. “There are a lot of useless calories in beverages,” said Jens.

He thanks us profusely for the ride and you get the impression he actually means it. What a nice guy.

The Jensie Gran Fondo
Jens stopped at every rest stop to sign autographs and take photographs with the fans. Photo: Jim Merithew/

Fast forward to Saturday morning and I have joined about a thousand other people on the inaugural Jensie Fondo. I don’t figure I will actually run into Jens on this ride, but I am wrong.

At the start and at rest stops along the way, he is signing jerseys, race numbers, and taking photos with anyone and everyone.

The Jensie Gran Fondo
Jens poses for yet another photo. Photo: Jim Merithew/

“No. No. You just swipe up and the camera comes on. Then you can press the shutter and away you go,” said Jens. “It is super easy in case you want to get a quick photo of the kids when they are doing something cute.”

He explains how this doesn’t actually unlock your phone, but just lets you have access to your camera with a single swipe. “Yeah, you just press this little icon in the upper right corner and the camera switches around to selfie mode,” says Jens.

And this is how it is at every single rest stop.

The Jensie Gran Fondo
Jensie’s shiny red Trek whip was almost as popular on the Fondo as he was. Photo: Jim Merithew/

I am asked by more than one person if other pros act like this on these charity rides and I have to say no. I have seen pros pose for photos and sign autographs, but I have never seen anyone with this much commitment. Or this much energy for the fans.

It is clear we all experienced something special that day. Jensies first fondo is not a massive event just yet. And so those who signed up for the inaugural spin got to experience the niceness first hand. They got a moment to not only see their hero, get an autograph and a photograph, but they actually got to ride with Mr. Nice Guy himself.

So as long as no one talks, we might all get the chance to grab his wheel, snap a photo, and get an autograph again next year.

Shut up, indeed.

The Jensie Gran Fondo
The weather was typical Northern California with a touch of this and sprinkle of that. Photo: Jim Merithew/