2013 January

Female cyclocross rider in Georgia.  Photo by Nathan Bolster.
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Preview of Louisville 2013–Cyclocross World Championships

A guest post from Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA

Normally, I’ve just started making my weekend plans by this time in the week, but I’ve had this weekend planned for months…maybe longer.  This weekend I’ll be traveling to Louisville, KY for the UCI Cyclocross World Championships!  So stoked right now!

This weekend in Louisville is sure to be amazing for several reasons:

1. It’s the first time that the CX World Championships has been held outside of Europe.  Last year, UCI gave Louisville a practice run with the Master’s World Championships.  The masters returned to Louisville again this year and brought the rest of the World Championship events with them.  The first time for anything is fun and challenging and special.  This weekend will set the bar for US-hosted world CX events.  If it goes well, maybe the World Championships will come back to the US.  If it doesn’t, you can bet that Europe will be hosting all the major CX races for years to come.

2.  It’s taking place in Louisville’s Eva Bandman Park.  Bandman Park is the only park in the U.S. that is specifically dedicated to the sport of cyclocross, which means that the course should be great.  If you want to preview the course, check out this guy’s blog.  If you want to know what cyclists and officials think about the course, Velo News has a great article with thoughts from a lot of the top cyclists that have ridden it.  If this weekend goes well, maybe other cities will consider building their own cyclocross specific venues.

3.  European-style excitement about cyclocross!  The event organizers say that they’re expecting 5000-6000 people to attend each day of the event.  In addition to massive crowds, I fully expect that we’ll see some amazingly ridiculous cheering and fanaticism.  Cyclocross is not exactly America’s national pass time, so American cyclocross events don’t often elicit the same enthusiasm that they do in Europe.  That will not be case this weekend.  The U.S.’s biggest cyclocross fans will be out in full force, with some back up from European visitors and guests from around the world.  Expect awesome crowds, creative fans (I bet we’ll see some face/body paint despite the cold temperatures), and lots of noise.

4.  The possibility of home court victories for the American cyclists!  If you’re not familiar with the US’s world champion roster, check out USA Cycling’s report and 22-person roster here.  I do not usually shine with national pride, but I inexplicably swell with patriotism during sporting events.  I can’t help it.  The world championships are here, at home, and may never return to US soil.  Our American cyclists have to make the most of this moment and capture some podium spots.  Win on their home court.  Prove to the Europeans that America can produce cyclocross champions.  Velo News has a good analysis the American chances of winning this weekend.

If you have a weekend with few plans and live in any state that borders Kentucky (or are otherwise reasonably close), you should cancel your plans and make your way to Louisville.  If you aren’t able to make it this weekend, no worries.  CX Magazine is live streaming the event right here.  Also, check the Louisville 2013 Facebook page for updates.

I’m going to be taking lots of pictures, checking out the course, pits, and venue, and talking to as many cyclists and spectators as I can.  Next week, I’ll be reporting back about the weekend and the races.  Leave a comment if you want me to try to chat with a specific cyclist, or get a picture of a particular part of the course, or whatever.  I’ll do my best.

Photo credit to Nathan Bolster of Bolster Photography.

Charlotte Short Track
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Race Report: Winter Short Track #3

Could I keep consistent lap times? Could I make the podium? How did my skinsuit do under mountain bike conditions?

Let’s Cut to the Conclusion

Short Track Results

Mission, possible. 2nd place, behind a super strong (pro) Debbie, and in front of a damn good field.

I’m not going to give you play by play but here are cliff notes.

Went into the woods on first lap 3/4 behind the field. I simply didn’t have the gearing to power through the start which sucks as I’m normally good at stopped starts.

Through the woods, on the brakes, riding someone’s tire,  over the rock and on the gravel. Picking off girls, calling my passes and not knowing how this was happening. I was “picking girls off”???? For a few laps I tried to work with Patty Smith. She’s fast in the short track, I could help her on the gravel and road but in the end I was giving up too much time on the road  not pushing hard enough. Around lap 4 I put a gap between us, holding it steady (losing 5 seconds or so on the last last lap.) I could see Debbie through the trees, but the guys winner ended up between us, ending my last lap a lap down from her. I wish I knew the time gap better before that extra lap she did.

Hard Work Means Harder Work Ahead

Charlotte Short Track

Yes, I am super proud of my accomplishments in a short amount of time. It is two days after the race and I still don’t believe I placed 2nd as my goals of this series was to not get lapped.

My goals are still lofty, but feel a little closer after this past weeks performance.

Photo Credit: Cheryl Anne & Paul

Motivational Monday with Alicia Vin Zant
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Motivational Monday with Alicia

WHAT’S YOUR NAME AND LOCATION?

Alicia Vin Zant, St. Paul Minnesota

WHAT TYPE OF CYCLING DO YOU ENJOY?

Cyclocross, and just getting out to ride. I’m thinking about trying out track this next year…

WHAT IS YOUR FIRST CYCLING MEMORY?

For Easter my mom would make clues from the easter bunny. It lead me to my very first two-wheel bike! It was pink with pompom like strands coming out of the handle bars.

WHO INSPIRES YOU TO RIDE, AND BETTER YET WHY?

Hope this doesn’t sound selfish…but I inspire myself. Getting out riding gives me time to think, and is a little break. This is the first time in a long time that I’ve found something that I absolutely love to do, and challenges me every step of the way. I can’t do it w/out the support of my husband and kids (we have 6 kids..ages 12-2). My new cycling friends inspire me, and the commuters I see riding to work every day. Especially the one this morning carrying his bike cross style over a snow bank!

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST MOMENT ON THE BIKE SO FAR THIS YEAR?

Just one? I actually started riding for the first time this year in June. (It had been since I was probably about 12, and I’m 33 now..) My friend talked me into doing a triathlon with her. I hate running, and swimming wasn’t a big deal, so I spent most of my training on a bike. I stumbled into a bike shop, and ended up YouTubing cyclocross…and in July bought my cyclocross bike. I’d have to say…this being my first season racing bike/cross IN MY LIFE that finally being able to ride through the blasted sand felt absolutely freaking amazing!!

TELL US ALL ABOUT YOUR BIKES

I am the proud owner of a KHS CX-200. It’s a beautiful bright green and my new addiction. I had butterflies in my stomach for days after buying her. I go through withdrawals if I don’t get to ride at least twice a week!

Motivational Monday, a Monday tradition at Bike Shop Girl, my goal to keep you motivated and to be striving on the bike even during a hard week or long hours at work. Are you a woman that bicycles? Fill out this easy form and be part of our motivational movement!

Charlotte Winter Short Track Series
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Race Preview: Charlotte Winter Short Track #3

Today was the first time in this race series I’ve been able to sleep in. Maybe the nerves are calming down and I am realizing I don’t have to wake up at 7am to dance around in spandex all morning. Restless. Excited. Hopeful. Is today the day I’ll earn myself a place on the podium?

My goals for today are simple. Solid, consistent, lap times. I won’t be relying on the Garmin for this, but my internal clock. My heart rate, my pounding heart, and the time gaps before or after my position.

Twin Six Skinsuit

My other goal is that today is skin suit rocking weather since it is going to be under 55º! This skinsuit, TwinSix team issue, has been in my arsenal all fall long but I haven’t been able to wear it so today is the day! On a side note, I don’t know which color sports bra to wear as the kit is black/silver. Thoughts? (Yes, these are the thoughts that go through my head…I am a girl!)

Hope to see you out there ringing the cowbell!

 

 

Mountain Goat FKR
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Bike Shop Build: Mountain Goat FKR

The thoughts and details during a bike build are what make a great bike shop a resource and a dream factory for bicycle geeks like myself. These custom bike builds are what keep me inspired and excited to continue to work within the industry.

Mountain Goat FKR from First Flight Bikes in Statesville, NC

Photo Credit: Jeff Archer

SDC10047
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Trail Review: Coldwater Mountain, Anniston, AL

A guest post by Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA

Since Monday was a federal holiday, it was one of the rare days when both my partner, Chris, and I have the same day off of work.  After a week’s worth of rain in Atlanta, we needed some outside play time, so no idea seemed better than a day on our mountain bikes.  Chris had been talking about these new trails in Alabama for a while, so we decided to head west to check them out.  I have to admit, I was skeptical about driving to Alabama to go mountain biking.  Living in Atlanta, we usually head north to Tennessee and the Carolinas for the best trails.  Alabama didn’t seem like an intuitive place to go for awesome trail riding.

All of the reviews that I found of the Coldwater Mountain trail mentioned a 1.5 mile beginner and a 9 mile intermediate loop; however, when we arrived at the trail head we heard from some locals that they had recently added an optional loop off of the beginner loop, adding another couple of miles.  Starting from the parking lot, we descended immediately at that great angle that looks flat but is just downhill enough to make you feel extra fast.  The trail builders didn’t hesitate about including jump opportunities from the start, so be ready as soon as you clip in/put your feet on the pedals.  After about a mile , the trail splits 3 directions (from left to right): beginner loop extension (new), intermediate loop, beginner loop.  We went left and continued our jumpy, smooth descent, with the added benefit of some wide, easy berms.  So fun and so fast!  When the downhill ended (as it inevitably does…), the uphill was pretty reasonable.  It didn’t take too long to get back to the gravel parking lot.  Total extended beginner loop–a fast, fun 2.5ish miles.

SDC10031

After getting some directions from a local dad with a lot of unsolicited advice, we headed out for loop on the longer intermediate loop.  We began with the same quick descent as before, but this time took the middle fork.  We descended a bit more and then began the 6 mile climb that you’ll find mentioned in almost every online review of this trail.  I have a habit of getting grumpy during long uphills, so needless to say, I was not happy by uphill mile 4 or 5; however, now that I’m not looking ahead at more uphill trail and breathing hard while trying to drink water, I would like to note that the climb wasn’t hard.  It’s just looong….  I think most people who have some time in a mountain bike saddle will be able to find the right gear and spin it to the top.  There’s nothing too technical to get in the way, just a lot of pedal strokes.  When you do get to the top of the mountain, you ride through a section of flat baby-head rock before getting to this sign:

SDC10043

and this sign:

SDC10045

Then the descent starts. :D  The descent splits not too long after it starts: left–intermediate, right–most difficult.  I chose to go right, knowing that Chris had probably made that same decision 30-seconds before me.  I was a bit nervous at first to pick this option, but it turned out it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. There  were no sudden drops, no rock sections, no roots or generally sketchy sections. There were jump opportunities from beginning to end of the 3-plus mile descent.  As a girl who is just beginning to get comfortable jumping, I stayed on the ground most of the time, but the trail flowed well, whether grounded or airborne.  The most difficult part of the “Most Difficult” trail was just knowing what speed was right for me going over the manmade jumps and berms.

Unfortunately, this downhill doesn’t spill right out into the parking lot, so we did find ourselves about 2 miles from the parking lot with another long uphill to climb.  It takes away a little of that 3 mile downhill buzz, but definitely not all.  After climbing back to the parking lot, Chris and I unloaded our water and snack supplies and did one more fast lap–just the extended beginners loop–to finish off the day.

SDC10042

While writing this review, it took a lot of effort not to overuse the word “fun”, but if asked to summarize these trails in one word, “fun” is exactly what I would say.  Coldwater Mountain is a great place to be if you want to spend some time jumping and riding around berms, but it’s also built so that it’s fun if your jumping skills are limited/non-existant.  The fun to work ratio is pretty spot on.  I wouldn’t go to Coldwater Mountain to hone my technical skills, but I will be back when I need a fun, fast day on a mountain bike that I know I’ll feel good about.

The other thing I really liked about our visit to Coldwater Mountain is that there was a great mix of skill levels and types of riders on the trail.  We saw families with kids on scoot bikes on the beginner trail.  We saw overweight adult dudes trying to get back in shape by riding the extended beginner trail.  We ran into guys who ride trails multiple times per week.  Most impressively, there were many more women of varying abilities than I usually see on our trail rides.  It really seems like NEABASORBA, and Alabama’s Forever Wild organizations have done a great job of promoting this trail system and including the community in its development.  Even after a bunch of fun jumps and long downhills, the different trail users might have been my favorite part of our visit.

I’ve read that the goal is to make the Coldwater Mountain trail system the next mountain bike mecca in the southeast.  The plan is that within about 5 years, the current 15 miles or so will expand to 60 miles.  Sure enough, we saw evidence of construction and heard from locals that more miles are already in progress.  You can bet that if the remaining 45 miles of trails are as fun as the first 15, I’ll definitely be back.

Bonus feature of Anniston, AL: It’s home to the U.S.’s tallest chair, formerly the tallest in the world.

Chrome Niko Camera Pack
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Preview: Chrome Niko Camera Bag

Chrome has launched a big brother to their Niko Messenger Camera Bag.

Meet the Niko Camera Pack

The Niko pack was designed and built for day shooting and travel with a tough weatherproof denier nylon outer shell and military grade truck tarpaulin liner. It has a fully customizable interior compartment for lenses and flashes and multiple pockets for cable and gear storage. Other features include quick access top loading compartment for items like a windbreaker or phone, a padded laptop compartment that fits up to 15” Macbook Pro, front Velcro straps for securing a tripod or skateboard, and side access u-lock holster.

Features:

  • MSRp: $180
  • Fully weather resistant Video/DSLR camera pack with PU coated zipper
  • Large zip around opening and customizable main compartment for organizing lenses, flash and other equipment
  • Padded laptop compartment fits up to Macbook Pro 15
  • Quick access top-loading camera compartment
  • Front velcro straps secure large tripod or skateboard
  • Side access U-Lock Holster

See more on Chrome’s website

 

Michelle beer handups
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Ladies Night, a Guest Post

I belong to a newborn bike team that was formed by a popular LBS as a way to bring more cyclists into the sport. I’m one of three women on the co-ed team and, through sheer terror that I will lose any fitness and no longer be able to keep up, I’m the most consistent woman on the group rides in town.

It’s certainly not because I’m the fastest. Not even by a long shot. I’m a forty-two year old mother of teenagers that only started riding anything more than a commuter bike in 2010. I believe in cycling for transportation and for health. I think cyclocross is the greatest sport ever invented and, someday, I hope not to crash my mountain bike every time I get on it. In other words, I’m just an average chick that likes to ride a bike. Yet I can’t seem to convince many other average chicks to join me out there.

I think it has to do with the fact that it’s intimidating to be a woman in a group of very fit guys. And when I say very fit guys, I’m talking about the fastest cyclists in our community. Nice guys, but very fast. Most of the group rides we do have a “catch-up” segment that allows the group to re-form before moving on down the road. I’m usually the last one in, or next to last if I’m having a good week, and often a few of the guys will swing around to accompany me to the end. This is what keeps me going. I love these guys and, though I hold things up, they always encourage me. Still, I will do just about anything to not have to be the one to ask them to dial it back a bit.

And they are guys. Though we may all keep a Lady Schick in the shower, cycling is a very testosterone oriented sport. With the one-up-manship, crude language and large amount of spitting, it’s hard to convince a girl friend that pedaling a bike for two straight hours in a harrowing pace line is sane, let alone fun.

I think women have a place here though. All of these guys have wives or girlfriends that only want a bit of encouragement to get them regularly riding. There are plenty of women in the LBS glancing at the zippy new road bikes, but talking themselves out of it because they have no one to ride with. Well, dammit, I’m going to do something about this. I’ve learned from the best how to be encouraging and supportive and it’s time I pay it forward.

March 2013 will see the start of a new Weekly Women’s Ride in our community that is fun, inclusive, and all female. No intimidation to keep up with the guys, no worries about how those funny shorts look, and no spitting. We will ride for the sheer joy of the wind in our faces and for the happy-hour margaritas we will consume when we’re done.

But I’m not done with the guys. As the year progresses, maybe I can convince one or two of the women to tackle the Thursday night group ride with me. Then, a few weeks later, maybe someone will try Tuesday Night Worlds. If I’m really successful, there will be a group of women enjoying cyclocross with me in September. The crowning achievement, however, would happen when another woman and I get on the front of the November gravel ride and we hear a masculine gasp from the back say “Can you gals slow it down a bit?”

Michelle Windmoeller Michelle Windmoeller first learned to ride in 1977 on a used gold chopper-style bike with a wicked banana seat. Since then she has toted schoolbooks, kids, household furniture, and, literally, a commercial kitchen sink on her bike. Based in Columbia, MO, Michelle owns Blue Cypress Solutions and writes about health and wellness issues. She officially invites you all to join her for a long, leisurely ride in Missouri sometime. She’ll bring the PBR. Photo Credit: Kate Woodard

Short Track #2
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Race Report: Winter Short Track #2

Lesbi-honest.going into this race I was super pumped but had pretty realistic expectations. My legs would be loaded and weighed down from the previous day’s threshold test, plus I had a 3 hour mountain bike ride planned for Monday. I wanted to do well, but these Short Track races aren’t goals, they are pieces of a bigger puzzle!

Pre-Race Warm Up & Getting Jacked Up

This past weekend I honed in on a Pre-Race routine. Food, music choices and even received a few really stellar songs for my playlist from Facebook friends. I timed my ride to the race a bit closer, getting there around 1:15pm. I still ended up standing around for close to 45 minutes, so I’ll need to plan on being there even later next week. The 30 minute spin to the course is perfect, utilizing a couple spin up and short sprints right before the race line up.

A few key players including Bonnie and Elsa showed up, they hadn’t been there the week previous and replaced a couple girls that kicked my arse (Jane & Sarah.) It would be interesting to see what Bonnie did to the field and how I could respond.

Go Time, BRAAAPPP

I couldn’t get clipped in off the bat, but I still settled in 3rd going into the woods. I was happy, didn’t want to push it and needed to settle into a nice rhythm as we ticked off the laps. Finding my home between Jodi and Layla, I was putting time between Jodi (behind me) and trying to stay within a few seconds of Layla’s wheel. Going into the last lap I knew if I wanted 3rd I needed to make a move. Looking at my heart rate sitting at 185, I hadn’t hit my ceiling but my legs were. My quads simply did not have the snap left in them to attack that last lap full gas. Realizing no one was behind me, I slowed down a tick so that I would still have legs under me to get me home.

Where’s Your Head At?

Several people have commented that I should have attacked the last lap, and I agree to a point. These races are part of an interval training and part of a bigger, endurance, plan. Wrecking my legs for one place, while glorious, if it means I can’t ride the next day… is pointless. Sometimes you have to lose a pawn in the long term plan of check mate.

To the 5 or 6 friends that purposely got in their car to simply be there on the side of the trail, I am super grateful and humble.

Here’s to next week of Short Track Domination!

Photo credit: CLT Photography 

 

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