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St. Valentine rode a bicycle

1 A weekend away together on bikes

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

Hey love birds!  It’s Valentines Day and while I’m not a big fan of this day, I am a fan of going on dates on other days of the year.  I also like giving/receiving romantic gestures on days that are not explicitly prescribed for that purpose.  So, in the spirit of St. Valentine, I thought I would provide those of you last-minute Valentine’s Day planners and others of you who plan dates year-round with a couple of fun bicycle-related date ideas.  Let’s do this!

  1. Bicycle picnics–Required supplies:  weather that both you and your partner enjoy, portable food,  a bag of some kind, and a place to which you will cycle.   Good picnic foods include: a nice block of cheese, fresh bread, some pretty grapes, a fancy salami or other no-refrigeration-required meat, and beverages.  (Don’t forget your picnic accessories–cups, pocket knife, eating surface like a paper napkin.)  The critical part of a romantic picnic is the location.  Traditional choices include parks and scenic overlooks.  I have friends who like the tops of parking garages.  Scout out fun, private locations in your city.  Get creative.  You could even make it a fancy occasion by getting dressed up for your picnic and bringing flowers for your significant other.  There are so many fun ways to make a picnic extra romantic or fun (whichever you’re going for), so let your imagination run wild.
  2. Dinner and a race (or other bicycle-related event)–My partner and I regularly visit Atlanta’s Dick Lane Velodrome for a fun Saturday evening.  One of us treats the other by buying the tickets.  We pack beer or coke, buy dinner from the concessions stand, and we picnic in the bleachers.  It’s a unique twist on dinner and a movie.  You could do this with a lot of cycling related events.  Criteriums and cyclocross are good for dates because of the shorter, repeated courses.  Bicycle parades (think Halloween Critical Mass in any major city) are also a good opportunities.  Sometimes even an alley cat stop can make for some good spectator fun.
  3. Ride your bicycle to somewhere together–Both my partner and I ride bikes, but we often comment that we don’t ride many places together.  Ride to dinner at your favorite restaurant or ride to a movie together.  It doesn’t have to be a long ride.  It’ll give you the chance to chat, comment on the funny/weird things you see along the way, and otherwise enjoy each others’ company.
  4. See the city tour–Spend an afternoon on your bikes together.  Don’t plan a route or even a destination.  Just get on your bikes, pedal at a comfortable, no-sweat pace, and go with the flow.  Maybe you’ll find a cool bar that you didn’t know existed.  Maybe you’ll pedal around the park.  Who knows?!?!  Take your time, make a couple stops, and have fun.
  5. Try a tandem–Find a bicycle shop near you or a friend that owns a tandem and you borrow it.  I guarantee that you’ll learn something about each other while you’re straddling a tandem.  A couple tips for those of you who haven’t ridden a tandem before: Captain (person on the front)–be a good listener and compromise with your partner.  Stoker (person on the back)–Trust your partner because they don’t want to crash either.  Good luck!

I think the most important things to remember for a bike-related date is that it’s not a race and you’re doing it to spend time together.  There’s no need to be serious or competitive about it.  That takes “date” part out of it and just makes it another bike ride.  Enjoy each other and your bikes–whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not.

What other good bike date ideas or advice do you all have?

 

P.S. Saint Valentine did not actually ride a bicycle.  Historians think he lived around 200 A.D., when the bicycle was not yet invented.  Still, I bet he’d ride a bicycle if he were alive today…mostly because he was deeply religious and would probably live a minimal, car-free life.  Just a guess….

Oaks & Spokes Bicycle Festival in Raleigh NC

0 Oak & Spokes

Bike Polo, Alley Cats and Tweed Rides, Oh My!

Oaks & Spokes Raleigh’s Inaugural Bicycle Festival will be held March 1st – 10th 2013 in and around Downtown Raleigh. Join us for social rides, game nights, charity races and more! All events are free to attend and open to the public.

Friday March 1st: Bike First FridayRaleigh Bikes Art Show

Saturday March 2nd: Triangle Tweed RideParty Like It’s 1899

Sunday March 3rd: Oak City OpenFrankenbike Part Swap 

Monday March 4th: Bike-in Movie

 Tuesday March 5th: Benelux Cafe Social Ride 

Wednesday March 6th: Bike & Build

Friday March 8th: Crank For a CauseVelolympiad

Saturday March 9th: WESACatNC Ride to the Capitol 

Sunday March 10th: Kidical Mass

 

Reveal the Path in Charlotte

0 Reveal the Path

Pretty bummed that I won’t be able to make this as I’ll be off in the sunshine and warmth of Minneapolis, Minnesota for Frostbike.

Reveal The Path will premiere in Charlotte, NC, at Theatre Charlotte, 510 Queens Road, on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $11 in advance at www.imathlete.com/events/revealthepath ($10 base plus a $1 service fee). Tickets the day of the event will be $15 at the door. This event is a benefit for the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance (CABA).

Share the event with your friends on Facebook.

Motivational Monday with Nicole

0 Motivational Monday with Nicole

WHAT’S YOUR NAME AND LOCATION?

Nicole in Memphis, TN

WHAT TYPE OF CYCLING DO YOU ENJOY?

City cycling (commuting by bike), group rides with friends or my husband, light mountain biking

WHAT IS YOUR FIRST CYCLING MEMORY?

How about my most powerful cycling memory? I met my husband on my 1st metric century ride and he proposed on that same ride 2 years later. He put signs up near the end of the ride with a poem he had written. I didn’t get it at first (silly me) but when I saw the last sign, I knew. We stopped our bikes and he asked me to marry him. I said yes and like any good bikers, we finished the ride, ate a hearty breakfast and then came back for pictures!

WHO INSPIRES YOU TO RIDE, AND BETTER YET WHY?

I inspire me. Cycling in Memphis can be…challenging. It is getting better but you have to be committed to biking to take on a 15 mile, each-way commute to work on a 100 degree, 98% humidity day. But, the challenge is part of why I make it a point to do it. It is part of staying healthy, supporting a greener planet and being less car dependent.

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

Our city has been converting old train tracks into multi-use paths and recently I was out on my own, tooling down the path. It was a perfect 75 degree day, the sun was out, and no one was vying for space in front or behind me. As I reached the end of the path and prepared to head out onto a traffic-filled street, I realized to my amazement that the next section of path had been finished since my last trek. It made my week, to continue along for another five miles in quiet solitude enjoying the beautiful weather and zipping along on two wheels.

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!

For the Love of Retail Experiences

3 Pinterest Retail Board

When you pair my love of design and retail you have a very, very, strong passion for the “retail experience.” What is a retail experience? A mix of great customer experience, accessorized displays and a well laid out “flow” of a store.

As I travel across the country, visit more bicycle shops and share stories of retail experiences with shops I am slowly watching a transformation. No more than 5 years ago most bike shops looked much like an auto parts dealers, aisles of bikes, slat wall, grid wall, and really anything that you could hang a bike or product on. While there still are many of these slat walled shops around you can watch the smarter shops transform into boutiques or speciality shop, REI’s and Ikeas. Less slat wall, more story telling and a beautiful EXPERIENCE.

Amazon and the online retailers of the world are changing what a bike shop has to do to be relevant. A good local bike shop will be three things: 1. A resource 2. Pillar in the local cycling community 3. Deliver a retail experience.

To encourage this retail experience I have started a Pinterest board to share others photos, my own from travels and hopefully encourage more shops to step up and create better experiences for their consumers.

Bike Shop Build: Orbea Occam 29

0 Glory Cycles Orbea Occam 29

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. Few more bike profiles over yonder.

Orbea Occam 29 from Glory Cycles in Greenville, SC

 

Louisville 2013: Imperfect but awesome

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

There are a lot of Cyclocross World Championship race reports floating around the internet by now.  I think that other people have done an excellent job covering the technical details of Saturday’s races–who won, by how much, and what were they riding.  (If you didn’t watch it live on cxmagazine.com or haven’t read the race reports yet, check out these: Bleacher Report or Bicycling.com.)  As I said in last week’s post, I was looking forward to attending CX Worlds and planned on reporting back.  Rather than rehash what’s already been done by others, I thought I would provide a review of the event as a whole, from the fan’s perspective, rather than a sports reporter’s.

Last week, I wrote that the first time for anything is fun and special and challenging.  A first kiss, a first win, a first job.  Those firsts may not be what you thought they would be, but they hold a special charm that will always be remembered and felt.  That’s how this weekend felt in Louisville.  It was a first and because it was a first, it was imperfect but charming, and challenging but better for it.

The first and probably biggest challenge of the weekend was the Ohio River, next to which Eva Bandman park is located.  Due to recent storms in the northeast, the Ohio River swelled causing hydrologists to predict the park would be flooded by late Saturday night, making Sunday racing an impossibility.  So the organizers compressed the race schedule into one day.  Racers and coaches reportedly took the news angrily or ambivalently depending on their country of origin.  As a fan who was planning on standing in freezing temperatures for two days, I was stoked to hear it would be just one day instead.  And once the races got started, I can’t imagine having the event any other way but compressed.  There was only 30 minutes to 1 hour between races, so it was just enough time to get in line for beer, visit the restroom, and find another good spot on the course before the next race.  Plus, it added to the excitement to have 4 championships in a day.  Each race built on the previous one and by the men’s elite race, you couldn’t have found more excited fans even if you had moved the races back to Europe.  The men and women of the Louisville Municipal Sewer Department deserve a big thank you for the work they did to hold back the Ohio River.  They were literally building temporary levees and piling sandbags next to the river through all of  the day’s events.  I don’t think we would have made it much past the women’s race if they weren’t so damn good at their jobs.  Thanks Louisville MSD.

Thanks to the Louisville Metro Sewer Department for the sandbags, temporary levees, and water pumps.

Thanks to the Louisville Metro Sewer Department for the sandbags, temporary levees, and water pumps.

The second challenge was the weather.  It snowed about 2 inches on Saturday morning before the races started.  Despite Kentucky’s historically bad handling of winter weather  (Yes, Kentucky gets snow every year, but for some reason it can’t quite get a handle on what to do when that happens…every year….  I’m a Kentuckian.  This is a fact.), the roads were salted and clear.  The races started on time and never fell behind schedule.  To add to the snow, Saturday’s temperatures proved difficult for cyclists, but made for a fantastic course.  Early on, in the Juniors race, the course was frozen which made for tricky run-ups, extra sliding around corners, and pit stops to pick up fresh bikes whose gears weren’t frozen.  As the day warmed up, the snow melted into the dirt, creating Super Mud Fest 2013.  The U23 and men’s elite cyclists all look like creatures from the Black Lagoon they were so muddy.  I’m not sure how the cyclists felt about that, but it made for an awesome spectator experience.  Oh, and maybe my favorite weather moment of the day was when it started to snow as the elite men began their race, the last race of the day.  Anticipation was tangible, camaraderie abounded (partly due to intoxication levels), and snow started to fall at almost the same moment that the race began.  It felt like cycling magic.

A snowy, icy course made the juniors race extra exciting.

A snowy, icy course made the juniors race extra exciting.

The amount of mud on the course increased exponentially for the U23 and the men's elite race.

The amount of mud on the course increased exponentially for the U23 and the men’s elite race.

 

A challenge for every race organizer is how to keep crowds under control, whether at the ticket line and entrance gates, the concession stands, course crossings, or restrooms.  With 10,000 estimated attendees, the Louisville organizers did a pretty good job.  All of the volunteers, race officials, and other people in “Louisville 2013″ high-vis vests were courteous, professional, and for the most part, fun.  I was especially impressed with the course crossing guards.  They did a great job making sure people got through the limited crossings efficiently, but also made sure the course was safe and clear for the riders.  That said, the one sour spot in the day was the concessions.  There was only one concessions tent and two smaller beer tents.  The snack line at one point was an hour and a half long.  You might miss 2 races if you got stuck in it.  Beer was supplied by Sierra Nevada and their supplies were gone by the end of the women’s elite race (only half way through the day).  They were able to bring in a new shipment, but the entire U23 race was a dry one.  In the big scheme of things, concessions are probably a small detail, but when spectators aren’t allowed to bring in their own food and drink, race organizers should make sure supplies are plentiful and lines are short.  Grumpy, hungry, not-drunk-anymore fans are no good.

The hour and a half long snack and beer line.  The line snaked several times in the tent too.

The hour and a half long snack and beer line. The line snaked several times inside the tent too.

 

Thank god Sierra Nevada delivered more beer supplies before the men's elite race.

Thank god Sierra Nevada delivered more beer supplies before the men’s elite race.

One thing that makes or breaks a big event for me is the crowd, the fans.  If fans suck, the event sucks.  Lucky for me, the Louisville fans were amazing!  The event organizers report about 10,000 attendees, which doesn’t compare to European World Championships, but exceeds naysayers’ expectations.  Those that came to the races proved that American fans can be just as enthusiastic as European ones and that there’s a growing group of us–enough to support a World Championship.  There were amazing costumes, coordinated outfits, and homemade clothing.  Best of all, everyone was super nice, stoked on cyclocross, and ready to have a good time.  Check out my favorite fans:

Check out those awesome bald eagle jackets!

Check out those awesome bald eagle jackets!

What do you think is under that kilt?

What do you think is under that kilt?

That girl made that dress by hand.  It was beautiful and well-made, but mostly perfect for the occasion.

That girl made that dress by hand. It was beautiful and well-made, but mostly perfect for the occasion.

 

U-S-A! U-S-A!

U-S-A! U-S-A!

We saw lots of jumpsuits, none more high-vis than this one.

We saw lots of jumpsuits, none more high-vis than this one.

First times are special and this one was no exception.  I am stoked that I got to be a part of this event.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was a success despite the challenges.  I think that Louisville showed Europe that the US can handle a CX World Championship.  I hope we’re given another chance to prove it.

So much fun!

So much fun!

Bike Shop Build: Parlee Z5SL

0 Victory Bicycle Studio Parlee

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. Few more bike profiles over yonder.

Parlee Z5Sl from Victory Bicycle Studio in Memphis, TN

Photo Credit: Clark Butcher