Each October I head to North Conway to outlet shop under the guise of some pro-active Christmas Shopping–shopping for others. Right. But let’s face it, when you land in a mountain resort where they ski & board all winter, they ride their bikes all summer, the product offerings seem to suit me better than the people on my Christmas list. This place is an absolute playground for someone like me. Hiking, Cycling, skiing, snowshoeing…why don’t I live in the White Mountains? I’m seriously asking myself this question lately. But this entry is about the shopping. If you’re into cycling, you know it’s not a cheap sport. A decent bike is going to cost at least $1200, and that’s entry level. A really nice ride, without pretending to be the Olympian that you’re not, can go up to the $2500-3000 range. And that’s just for the soup to nuts bike.
Now you must clothe yourself, and you must look good (mustn’t you?). I visited the Louis Garneau www.louisgarneau.comoutlet store on Route 16 in North Conway first. I found lots of stuff there–a fantastic selection, large store and skilled personnel. They had the 2001 Tour de France playing on the overhead televisions sets when we walked in. It was the mountain stages, the one when Lance gave what’s now known as “the look.” So instantly I’m having a good time. I found a bunch of stuff I was interested in, but what I did NOT find was anything that resembled “outlet pricing.” This has become increasingly common in North Conway as the rich people have found this mountain playground and retailers have discovered they really don’t HAVE to markdown the merchandise in order to sell it. But it was fun to window shop.
Next we visited the Pearl Izumi www.pearlizumi.com shop on the other side of the street on Route 16. This was a smaller store, men to one side, women’s stuff on the other. I ended up with a nicest pair of socks ever for cool weather riding. There were more bargains here, but not many more. A small clearance rack had some good markdowns and some selection, but the vast majority of stuff was full price (you may actually do better with some catalogues).
But regardless, it was fun to shop for cycling gear and be surrounded by a cycling environment. It was a great way to kill a rainy day. –Karen