Bike Shop Girl

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 

 

Motivational Monday with Renee
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Motivational Monday with Renee

WHAT’S YOUR NAME AND LOCATION?

Renee Jordan, Plano, TX

WHAT TYPE OF CYCLING DO YOU ENJOY?

Recreationally with a club or alone; commuting to work; occassional dirt ride

WHAT IS YOUR FIRST CYCLING MEMORY?

Riding my first bike, purple with a banana seat & ape hanger type bars, in semi-rural North Carolina up and down the hilly asphalted road in front of my house…these early times on my bike were my first real independent adventures (no parents, no little sister in tow.)

WHO INSPIRES YOU TO RIDE, AND BETTER YET WHY?

I’m not really inspired by anyone in particular, but rather by the fun of riding & the experiences you have while riding…it keeps me going back for more

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

Some of my best moments were late this summer, returning to the bike after some time off for an injury, riding around the nature preserve alone, at sunset.

TELL US ALL ABOUT YOUR BIKES

A Cannondale road bike for pavement
A franken-bike single speed w grocery panniers for commuting
A Gary Fisher mountain bike for dirt

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 #2

After my break through 4th place finish last week I seem to be a marked woman going into this race.

Reasons being marked sucks

I had a power test yesterday, which (to be explained at another time) wrecks your legs completely.

Several girls will not be there today that I was using for pacing last week.

Several friends are coming out, hopefully I don’t crash in front of them!

Things to Debate for the next two hours

Do I wear the same Twin Six kit?

Should I ride home after the race or hail a ride?

How many snickers should I eat to make this race a success?

Bike Shop Build Surly Troll
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Bike Shop Builds: Surly Troll

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.

Surly Troll from Ride a Bike in Lincolnton, NC

Take your spare parts bin and turn it into a functional drop bar multipurpose bike!

Photo Credit: Brantley Smith

All City Ladies Clothing
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All City Cycles Ladies Clothing

All City Cycles, one of the awesome brands I represent, and a group of cool kids, have released some new clothes for us bike geeks out there. See the full line up on the All City website.

Foundry Auger
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For Sale: Foundry Cycles Auger 56cm

‎$1800 + shipping

Foundry Cycles Auger Canti • Size 56cm • Raced one season
Mostly stock build but I’ll spell it out…

SRAM Red (2011) Shifters, rear derailleur
SRAM Force front derailluer
PAUL Mini Moto Brakes
FSA 42 Compact Wing Pro
FSA SLK Seatpost
Alex A23 rims to Formula Hubs
Tires: Clement PDX front, Michelin Mud2 rear
Lizard Skins DSP Tape
No saddle or pedals

*the brakes are setup moto right now, easily switched back but I didn’t want to rip up the tape just incase.

http://foundrycycles.com/bikes/auger

SRAM XX1 Review
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Preview: SRAM XX1 MTB Drivetrain

When my work started “pre-selling” the new XX1 group I knew this is what I had to have for my new hardtail race machine. Not only is it the latest and greatest, which doesn’t always appeal to me on my own bikes, it was very tested and several pro racers I know whispered in my ear that it REALLY was the bee’s knees.

Setup of XX1 Reviewed

MSRP: $1450
Shifter: Trigger shifter
Cranks: 175m, 32t, 168 Q
Cassette: 42 x 10 (with 11 speeds!)

Benefits of SRAM XX1

Rear Derailleur – Redesign of the rear derailleur. With an offset of the upper pulley, larger pulleys and a “straight parallelogram” that takes away ghost shifting and making it easier to shift. This derailleur also has the Type 2 clutch which keeps your derailleur from bouncing when you’re going down hill.

Chain- I can’t even begin to explain the chain, so I’ll show a photo!

XX1 Chain

Cassette- 10x42t. The cassette also has larger gaps to clean out better.

Cassette body- due to the size of the cassette going down to 10t, you have to get a new freehub called XD. I picked up a set of SRAM Rise 60 wheels (preview to come at a later date) and had to do a freehub swap. Super painless, and the freehub feels awesome. I haven’t had it on technical uphills to test out the engagement, but it feels good at most the trails I ride. A bit of a warning that there isn’t a ton of selection yet on freehub bodies.

Shifters- One shifter, pick your poison, either Grip Shift or Trigger. (I went with trigger, long term when I build up an all mountain bike I’ll switch the trigger to it and get Grip Shift for the race bike.)

Learn more “tech” stuff from SRAM by clicking here.

 

Initial Impressions

Pimp. I’m a bit biased as I’ve always preferred how SRAM shifts. I’ve ridden XX, I’ve ridden XO and XTR. This by far takes the cake. The range I get out of the rear cassette is amazing. There is no cross chaining and it performs perfectly throughout the range.

My crank setup is a 32t chainring with 168 Q-Factor (going to be the most popular option.) I plan on picking up a 36t chainring closer to XC season but right now on the road I spin out the 32×10 at roughly 27mph. Your speeds my vary and my legs can only spin so fast! The biggest reason I want to go up on a chainring is so that I’m using the middle of the cassette more. Currently when hitting the few off-road intervals I’ve had in the off season I have been riding lower in my cassette, which (in my experience) wears out parts faster. PLUS, I like to have more wrap on my cassette when going down hill so my derailleur /chain are under tension a bit more. Yes, you can tell me that is what the Type 2 derailleur does but I still like what I know has worked for years.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for new parts, building up a new bike or simply like the best. I would recommend giving this a spin, if you can find it. As a rep my bike is always in my car, and most shops that I have visited have NOT seen XX1 themselves. At least not mounted on a bike that can be test ridden. The first group sets have been out in the market for a few weeks (I believe the started shipping the beginning of December.) I’ve seen some Specialized S-Works coming out of the box with XX1 too. Give it a couple months for more shipments to come from SRAM and I’m sure it will be more readily available at your favorite bike shop. If you see me, you can take mine for a spin, BUT not moments before a race, just a warning.

$1450 is a pretty penny for a drivetrain only setup, if you are looking to take yourself and bike to the next level you won’t regret it with this.

Once I need to replace my chain I will chime back in with a full review of wear and long term thoughts.

Disclaimer: I purchased this drivetrain out of my own wallet. This wasn’t given to me, and my opinions will always be honest.

Arleigh Jenkins Charlotte Winter Short Track
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Race Report: Winter Short Track #1

Going into the first race of the Charlotte Winter Short Track series I was nervous and unsure. How shell’ed off the back would I get? Would I clog up the berms for the fast single speed boys that needed to blow past me?

The morning routine was off. I’m not used to racing in the afternoons, so I was up and “Ready” about 3 hours earlier than I needed to be. The plan was to ride to the course around 12:15, race time at 1:50. Next week I plan on making it a lot closer as there was a lot of sitting around and getting nervous.

BRAAAPPPP, Race Time

Lining up among 9 other pretty fast women I knew I could hold a strong line in the trail, but half of a lap is on a gravel road or asphalt parking lot. At the moment of go I settled in quickly. My starts from cyclocross paid off , though I could have easily been 2-3 in to the woods and I was comfortably seated behind fast girl, Sarah Matchett, in maybe 5-6th position.  I was faster in the woods, she was faster on the straights. 9 laps, Sarah left me in her dust after the first lap. I settled into my heart rate,  trying not to spew Perpetuam all over as it was 70 or so degrees. My body wasn’t used to zone 4/5 in these temperatures!!

Slowly I was picking girls off. My lap times were pretty consistent, but not as consistent as I would like. A goal for the series is to find my “pace” so that my lap times get faster, not slower, as we tick them off. I found myself in 4th with two girls within eye sight behind me. Going through the finish line with “Two laps to go!” I was trying to hit a hard effort through the parking lot and look across to the finish line to see the two girls being lapped by the finisher of single speed. I still had a lap to go, but does that mean they are done? Do I just need to stay up right?? With a fear of them working together and chasing after me I kept going. Not full effort, but pretty hard.

Short Track 1 - Strava

Improvement is Motivation

Pulling through the finish in 4th out of 10 pretty fast women I feel ecstatic with my results, along with knowing internally I’ve only been training “consistently” since Thanksgiving time. I’m sure these girls aren’t on their top game, but it feels pretty good to be in front of girls that have normally lapped me in the past! I realize it isn’t a true Expert field or length, but my goals of being able to CAT up this year to Expert seem a bit more obtainable!

Amazing motivation to continue to hit training hard, listen to my coach and make healthy decisions. I can say this is my best start of a racing season ever and the most overwhelmed feeling of encouragement and motivation from my friends.

Rich Dillen Loves Me!

Photo Credit: CLTPhotography.com

Motivational Monday Amar
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Motivational Monday with Amar

WHAT’S YOUR NAME AND LOCATION?

Amar, Los Angeles, CA

WHAT TYPE OF CYCLING DO YOU ENJOY?

Commuting, Touring, Recreational

WHAT IS YOUR FIRST CYCLING MEMORY?

I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was a senior in college, so my first memory is of being entirely certain that I was going to lose my balance and swerve into the path of an oncoming Metro Bus. Hasn’t happened yet, although I did lose my balance many times and became quite familiar with the pavement in the parking lot of the Federal Building on Wilshire Blvd.

WHO INSPIRES YOU TO RIDE, AND BETTER YET WHY?

My husband. He loves riding for the sheer joy of it and I always want to join in on that happiness. It was a lot more fraught for me for a very long time, until I started commuting regularly and didn’t have to focus so hard on the mechanics of riding. Now I can capture some of that freedom and joy when I ride too. Also, I hate idling in traffic and worrying about parking. To me, it’s easier to just bike everywhere and with our traffic it takes about the same amount of time as driving.

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

For our wedding anniversary my husband and I biked from Seattle to Portland with a friend of ours. It was so beautiful and fun. I think about that trip whenever I need to relax!

TELL US ALL ABOUT YOUR BIKES

Surly Long Haul Trucker in a pretty blue color. Setup is pretty upright since I have a bad back and am finicky about positioning. I catch wind like a kite but I’m not exactly built for speed anyways ;)

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!

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