Empowering women in cycling

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Progress is Motivation

0 Cycling Workout

It is amazing to me how much encouragement you can provide yourself, when you allow it.   As I’ve talked about, I’m slowly trying to get back in to the swing of a healthy, full, life.  This includes eating well, exercising, setting a routine and sticking to it.   Daily, I’m waking up and setting forth to really change and change how I am living.

After two weeks of sticking to a routine, exercising and eating healthy I’m seeing changes.  Physically, on the scale, running longer and feeling stronger when cycling.  The scale doesn’t lie and it feels good! It also feels good to lift larger weights or pedal up that hill without sucking breath.

Keep At It

If you are doing things for the right reason and in a healthy way, you will see change.  Are you listening? Please do.   At this time of the year many people are dusting off their bikes and finally throwing their legs over their bike the first time this year.   They pedal off, and unless they rode the trainer or kept up in shape over the winter (and holidays,) they are going to feel it on that first hill.   Maybe your pants feel too tight, or you feel like an outsider anytime you visit that gym you have a yearly membership to.  My advice to you is as simple as this: Keep At It

You’ll learn your way around the gym, what machines you like or what times to go, you’ll start saying hi to more people and look forward to visiting instead of feeling awkward.  You’ll start pedaling easier, and your bike will need a tune-up for using it, instead of a check over for sitting in the garage. And an extra benefit is your clothes will fit better!!

Photo Credit : lululemon athletica

The Shocker at the Scale #17DayDiet

3 Camelbak Bottles

I lost track of time last Friday when I meant to originally write this, so you may get a bunch of 17 Day Diet posts…

Never have I been a fan of diets.   Counting points or reading every ingredient on every piece of food or drink you put in your mouth does not sound appealing to me.  This is what causes people to lose focus, drop the ball, eat the double stuffed Oreo’s or lose their mind. In the past I have told my friends that go on Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, etc, etc etc, is to ride more.   Yes, I am lowering my head in shame..

Enter the 17 Day Diet

For the past year from stress of running a micro-managed bike shop, to starting a new job in a completely different industry, to being run over by a car, to life at work, and excuses, excuses, excuses…

A couple weeks ago my mother sent me a few links of a new “diet” that she saw and if both Dr. Phil and The Doctors said it was good – well I’ll check it out (sarcasm.)  After reading through the basics of this 17 Day Diet I decided “What do you have to lose, Arleigh?”

Things Not to Do

I didn’t weigh in when I started, I don’t know what my starting point was and that’s frustrating.  I finally weighed in on Friday, that’s 5 days into the diet, and god I hated what the scale said. I have tons of work to do!!! Looking back I wonder if I lost any weight over those initial 5 days and it puts fear in my heart if I was even heavier than what the scale said on Friday.

Camelbak Bottles

No Cheating

I haven’t cheated, not once.   Some people have said on the weekends you should cut yourself some slack, but I can’t.  I know myself, and if I give in at all – in routine, food, work life, etc.  I can’t cut my self slack or cheat, that is what has gotten me here and I’ll go sliding down the hill that I’ve been marching up.

Motivational Monday : Karen Skorochod

0 Karen Skorochod em:pwr cycling

A Monday morning tradition that we are starting to keep you motivated and to be striving for your goals even during a hard week or long hours at work.   Do you want to get involved?  Send us your answers and photo to girly@BikeShopGirl.com

What’s your name and location?

Karen Skorochod, Wind Gap, PA
Karen is also a member of the new Bike Shop Girl Cycling Club : em:pwr cycling

What type of cycling do you enjoy?

Track and cyclocross are my favorites so far

What is your first cycling memory?

Pedaling a tiny used bike I got for my birthday – my first two-wheeler, without training wheels, with dad running beside me the whole way.  It took me a while to get used to that, I have not-so-good balance apparently!

Who in the current cycling industry inspires you, and better yet WHY?

There are so many inspirational people in cycling!!   I am inspired by people like Liz Reap Carlson, a world-class track cyclist who started later in life and worked relentlessly to get back to the top once again and taught my very first class on the track, Tom Kellogg of Spectrum Cycles – an overall classy gentleman who builds the most beautiful bicycles I’ve ever seen, coaches like Gil Hatton and Bobby Livingston who have reached the top of the sport and now spend countless hours coaching and mentoring cyclists of all ages, and Julie Lockhart – a multi-time national champion who I believe is turning 70 this year.  She has an amazing attitude and races all cycling disciplines, I just love talking to her and watching her race.  I am also encouraged by the fact that she took up competitive cycling in her sixties – goes to show you it is NEVER too late to try something new and to get in shape!

What was your best moment on a bike in 2010?

Winning the Air Products Womens Finals at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center.  I took one beginner class and really loved riding on the track.  It was a huge thrill being able to compete in and win this race with my very limited experience and training time.  Racing under the lights with a big crowd cheering me on felt absolutely unbelievable!

In the next year, what are your goals with cycling and pushing yourself forward in 2011?

First, for 2011 I need to have a procedure to get my heart arrhythmia (supra-ventricular tachycardia) repaired once and for all!   Then, after that I would like to try my first-ever road racing.  I plan on racing in the Masters and Rookies track series at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center for this summer and taking some more Air Products classes to acquire more skills.  Then, in fall, I would like to try cyclocross once again now that I have my very own cross bike!  I just want to ride as much as my schedule allows (with 3 kids and 3 jobs) and HAVE FUN on the bike all year!
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Race Report : Southern Cross 2011

1 George Berger at Southern Cross

George Berger, the first member of the new em:pwr cycling team.  He’s on his way to be a good cyclist…well, a good shortish, stoutish, strongish mid-40′s Flemish ‘cross racer.  George resides in Davidson, NC with wife and daughter.

George Berger at Southern Cross

Southern Cross 2011, at Dahlonega Georgia’s Montaluce Winery; the first race of the American Ultra CX Championship Series

I’ve never raced an endurance cyclocross event before; and, frankly, even though I’ve raced both cyclocross and mountain bike, this was going to be something decidedly different…tough, hilly, non-American type (grass crit) cyclocross course at the start and again at the end with some HUGE run-ups; a few miles of paved county road after that; gravel/chert/pumice fire road; STEEP and LONG rocky dirt fire road (if you could call it that); and screamin’ fast descents on those same fire roads. At the call-ups, co-organizer Eddie O’Dea said it best: “this is not a CX race; it’s not short and painful, it’s gonna be long and painful. So try to finish—it’s an enduuuuurance race, not a sprint race.”

Goals for the Southern Cross

My goals were right in line with that: 1) to finish the race; 2) to have some fun doing it; and 3) to use it to judge my early season fitness in this, my first year back to cycling after a layoff of over 10 years (I’m now 9 months into it, have lost over 15 lbs., and although I have a long way further to go, I’m getting there).

I signed up for the 40+ Citizen Race—the shorter version, which was only 30-something miles—20 miles shorter than the full Pro/1/2/3/4 race, with one or two fewer steep climbs. First time in this type of racing, and me still a ‘stout’ and older guy, it wasn’t my purpose to kill myself. There were a few people I knew—I finally met Namrita and Eddie O’Dea, the race promoters from Atlanta’s 55nine Performance (two really nice folks, and whom I knew only from Facebook at that point); and Stephanie Cole from Charlotte, who I met at last January’s Greensboro Cyclocross race, who came down. She was also racing the Citizen race, and I saw later finished with a really good time! I met a few guys (from upstate New York, for God’s sake!) when I was pre-riding the course on Friday afternoon, and more at Dahlonega Wheelworks—a really FANTASTIC bike shop where Jon and Zack fixed me up after a little mechanical snafu, and hooked me up with a free High Life while we talked. Oh, and BTW—they’re wheelbuilders to the stars, so I’m thinking about having them do some 29er wheels for me later this year.

As I said, the start was a hilly, off-camber cyclocross course in tough, high grass that hadn’t been ridden much; not much of a problem, but at the end of it was a very steep, 300-foot “run-up” that even Namrita described before the race as a ‘trudge-up.’ Overcoming hyperventilation at the top was the critical element there, so I’m glad I did it on Friday and knew about it beforehand. Then we left the winery development and headed out for a few miles of paved county roads before heading into the gravel and dirt fire road. Catching someone’s wheel to draft was pretty critical in this early section, getting as much speed on the CX bike as you could while conserving as much energy as possible.

The climbs started with a few miles of decent rollers, trending uphill, but a lot of fun since even with a CX cassette I was able to climb with some of the faster male 29er riders. But then the real climb started…the slog up Winding Stair, a 9-mile steep climb up some of the worst fire track I’ve been on…soft, powdery pumice on top of unpacked mountain sandstone gravel and loose stones. You could call it double-track, but when we witnessed a full-on endure motorcycle spin out at only 10 mph and crash on an uphill section, you knew it wasn’t easy to get traction. I’ll admit it—I walked the steeper pitches since I just didn’t have the gears to spin, nor the tires to get any traction. My Maxxis Raze clinchers were great for most of the race, but not enough read knob or width for this climb. Strangely, I found that I was hiking it faster than some of the other racers were riding it. Reaching the top of Winding Stair Gap and stopping at the aid station for more water for the CamelBack was a relief…looking around off the top of the ridge, it was an absolutely beautiful day…but after a couple minutes, a picture, the water and a ClifBlock for some energy, I was off again.

When you go up, you gotta come down. And the back side of Winding Stair was the best part of the whole race for me. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to be a bigger guy who can still pick a fast line while gravity does most of the work. Eddie had warned the racers beforehand that the roads were open to vehicle traffic, and that there were a lot of blind curves…but still, it’s fun to bomb downhill! So, knowing my health and disability insurance were pretty good, I took off from the top and tried to catch some of the folks who I’d had to let go on the climb. In the drops, I clocked over 42mph on the rutted clay or relatively hard-packed long gravel downhill, passed one guy on a 29er like he was standing still, and…just as soon as I hit the bottom, pinch-flatted going over a rutted section. Big bummer. Fixing it (only losing a few places) I started back up again; this time, the climb up Sassafras Mountain didn’t seem as bad (after Winding Gap, not much could), and there was another long flying downhill section that I had a white-knuckle blast on, making up another place and seeing lost water bottles all over the road from where they’d been shaken loose from their cages.

At the bottom, I was all by myself from then until almost the end, and found myself back on pavement at the ranger station…a long stretch of pretty, rolling county road, then some steep little paved hills with about five or six miles left brought us back up into the Montaluce property and the course went back into the cyclocross course again. There was nobody in sight behind me, and I was almost catching a younger guy that I’d been trading places with throughout the race; but another super-steep and long “run-up” caught me instead. I’d just been passed by the leader of the ‘full’ race, and we started up the hill together…except he didn’t dismount. Holy S*it, I thought—he’s gonna try to ride it!?! I was so shocked (this guy had some serious legs and stamina to do this) that when I got up to the top a good bit later after hooting for him spinning up the whole damn thing, I almost crashed…chain suck city. I lost all my momentum, had to get off and fix that, and just couldn’t get back into the rhythm.

The last mile or so inside the winery property was a mix of CX course and paved road hill climb; not that hard, but by that point I’d pretty much left it all out there already, and just couldn’t catch up to that one guy at the end. The finish was through a chute right at the food tent, with a picture for everyone. I was pretty spent, but nothing that a couple cans of (real) Coke and a couple of bottles of water couldn’t help. I finished in 17th place overall in the Citizen race, and 10th in the 40+ category, at 3:06:49.

Who knew!?! I coulda been a little faster if I’d been in better shape and could have pedaled more of the hills (especially that second big climb), and hadn’t had the two mechanicals. But the race could not have been more fun.  Next year, I’m gonna do it again, and will probably change a couple things on the bike… It was easy to see that the 29ers had the advantage going uphill, but the CX bikes had a huge overall advantage (at least with the course conditions as they were—fast and mostly dry). So a cassette change (maybe to a 12-32), and some wider tires to get more uphill traction and downhill flat protection, and I think we’d have a winner setup. I’ll be doing the Three Peaks USA in September (a Pirate Race Productions event by Andrew Stackhouse), so we’ll see how that works out.

Rear View Mirror

The wrap-up? I could have finished the longer race, but it woulda been far less pretty at the end. So my fitness was ok, but not great—I’m still fat and mostly old; comparatively, anyway. But I finished what I’d started, and had a lot of fun doing it. The first time doing anything is always tough because of the unexpected, and I can’t wait to do it again next year. I couldn’t stay for the after-party and awards (and raffle…bummer), but had to head back to NC so I could put my daughter to bed. Four hours later, a beer down the hatch, and I was ready to sleep like a baby, too. And here it is, Monday, and I’m ready to get back on the bike for a little lunchtime spin.

Time to Join em:pwr cycling

2 em:pwr kit

It’s time to make this official.  We’ve been talking about em:pwr cycling for the past month, we’ve secured some sweet sponsors and its ready to launch!  Please read below for all the perks of joining, or the “elevator pitch.”   Our initial order is closed, but we’ll be doing a reorder ever 3-4 months depending on needs. Please email me girly@bikeshopgirl.com if you want to be on the to order list!

em:pwr cycling is in session

The Basics :

em:pwr cycling is a group/team focused around motivating and EMPOWERING yourself and others on bikes.   From the beginner to the CAT1 racer, you’ll have a home with us.  Also, we don’t have to be your “race team” but a large group of us are racers and will be all over the circuit in the United States. (From old fat guys, to junior mountain bikers and of course a boat load of chicks kicking ass!)

The Benefits :

We are a USAC licensed team (Club #13664).  As cool as it sounds, it more adds insurance on our end, another reason to have a few kick ass races this season and if you happen to race one of those races that like to charge you “unattached fee’s”  you won’t have to any longer!  If you’ve already gotten your license for the year, let us know and we can contact our USA Cycling rep to have you added to the team and a new license sent out.

An Email List. This is one of my favorite parts of this group.   We are forming a Google Group/List for everyone to email between themselves.   No, we aren’t doing a forum as they can be a pain in the arse for upkeep.   The idea for the group is this : are you looking for a friend to ride with or do you want to buy clipless pedals and would like to have an idea before walking into a store, do you need motivation before your first group ride, or did you just CAT up and worried about turn 3 in that next crit?   Well that is what we are here for.  We will not only be ringing a cowbell at the races for you, but a virtual one on this Google List for whenever you need!   Everyone is encouraged to participate and if you like, you can trim down your interactions with the group from daily to weekly (or to receive them whenever someone emails.)

Extra Things from Our Sponsors.

The first 10 people to sign up get a Lazer Genesis helmet in team colors for free (worth $130)
Pro-deal from Lazer on all other helmets through a Lazer Retailer
A bag of Kinetic Koffee
Swag & Water Bottles from Twin Six

Testing Sweet Product. Through out the year as Bike Shop Girl gets product to test.  If you fit the bill, we would like to include you in the testing.  (Example, we get fenders and you live in a rainy area, or a baby helmet to test and you have a cute 2 year old!)

New Product: SKS Longboard Fenders

6 SKS Longboard Fenders

As I sit in my office in Charlotte, NC the rain is pouring down. The road and ground are starting to pool up with water and I’m fortunate to be in dry clothes and happy wool clad feet as I watch silly cyclist roll by. The cyclist aren’t silly for riding in the rain, but for riding with out proper fender’age. If only they had been able to read about the new SKS Longboard Fenders that have the “best coverage on the planet” as the company brags.

SKS Longboard Fender Set

MSRP: $44.99-49.99
Dimensions: 700×28-37 tires with a 45mm width profile. 6″ mudflap extension. Stainless hardware and all that jazz
Colors: Black, Silver, Beige *yes beige*

SKS Longboard Fenders on Rivendell

Do You Like Making Videos and Bicycles?

0 Bicycle Film Fest

Submissions are now open for the Eleventh Annual Bicycle Film Festival! The BFF is looking for films with a bike-related theme. Any
style is acceptable: animation, experimental, narrative, documentary and music videos are all a go.

There is no fee to enter your film, simply download a submission form from the BFF website, and send a copy of the film to the BFF Head
Office in New York.

The Bicycle Film Festival began in 2001 when Brendt Barbur, founding director of the festival was hit by a bus while riding his bike in New
York City. He insisted on turning his negative experience into a positive one. The Bicycle Film Festival is a platform to celebrate
the bicycle through music, art and, of course, film.


The BFF travels to over 25 cities around the world, including Paris, London, Tokyo, New York — and Sydney. Last year, more than 225,000
people attended the festival. The BFF is not only a showcase for new films, but also, includes rock shows, street parties, art shows,
dinners, bike rides and more!

The 2011 submission deadline is April 1. Any inquiries please contact Brendan or Jen at:
info@bicyclefilmfestival.com
jen@bicyclefilmfestival.com
brendan@bicyclefilmfestival.com

Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape Review

4 Velo Orange Bar Tape

A few months ago when I was trying to inspire myself to get back on the road bike, I changed out some parts on the Raleigh Clubman I had received for review.   I made it a bit more “women’s fit” and classed it up with Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape.   I’ve always loved the look and feel of the Brooks leather bar tape but it was a crazy price to try out a new type of bar wrap.

Details of the Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape

MSRP : $45-55 from VO (currently they have it on sale for $45!)

Colors : Honey Brown or Black

Initial Preview & Installation of the VO Leather Bar Tape

When I received the leather bar tape I was hesitant to install, to be honest it sat in my parts bin for a couple months after receiving due to be run over by a car and the lack of will to ride.  Slowly I realized the bar tape, among other things, is what I needed.  I needed to find beauty in road cycling again.

Installing the bar tape is much tougher than installing normal cork style bar tape.   There is next to no give and the bar tape in the bend of the bar wants to crease.   I had to try two or three times to get it right and have enough to end properly on my 42cm bar.  This may be due to liking more padding and overlapping half of the wrap as I went around, but I don’t know how it would wrap a 46cm bar and not be super thin.  Or, quite possibly my upper body strength isn’t what it should be to wrap leather bar wrap?

Riding with Leather Bar Wrap

The words I can put in this paragraph won’t sum up how nice the leather feels in your hands.   It reminds me of a well loved baseball glove, or settling into an expensive car with the glamorous baseball glove leather seats.   Grabbing on to the bars, and the soft feel that the bar wrap gives back is like a nice hug back from your bike.   The padding is another story.  I have to wear gloves when riding this bike, and padded gloves are not something I normally wear.

Other Notes

If you look closely at the pictures there are two where the bar wrap was stitched together half way through the roll.

White leather would be hot.

Overall Impression

If I had a carbon fiber 14lb road or cyclocross bike,  I wouldn’t use this bar wrap. For a nice classic steel ride, this will be my staple bar wrap.  No question.  And the $55  is well worth it as it will last 5x more than the cork wrap.  When installing it again, I may find one of my strapping muscle clad friends to help man handle the leather, but its good to know the bar tape will be able to take it!

Find online at Velo Orange

This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.

The Ass Backwards Ways of the Bicycle Industry

9 Fixing the Bike Industry

If you are a common visitor to BikeShopGirl.com (thank you) than you may have noticed that the tag line and description have changed.  Originally this site was targeted to specifically women and our niche.  We aren’t leaving that niche, and I’m a woman so I’ll continue to concentrate on helping women in the cycling industry.   As comments and emails stream in on a daily basis, I realized that almost everyone other than the bike snob elitist related to the words I have been typing.   Many people are scared to walk into bike shops, they are scared to try on spandex for the first hundred times and they feel like they are trying to be sold to instead of educated.   This is the nature of retail and consumerism thanks to used car and Xerox sales guys.

Recent Observations

Here are some recent musings while talking to friends and cyclist of all types

  • My impression is most people that ride bikes, do not refer to themselves as cyclist
  • They fear shopping for bikes, due to sticker shock and lack of knowledge
  • They relate to their friends and family, wanting to include them as much as possible in their experience
  • Due to lack of knowledge, they will shop based on friends recommendations or sources they trust (this is where I come in)

My Goals are Not to Crush

Making a bike shop profitable in a saturated market is getting more and more impossible.  Margin’s are getting skinnier, there is more knowledge needed by their staff which means higher salaries and more training, more product by more vendors means more room to store it which adds to overhead, and the online retailer (unfortunately for local bike shops) are doing it right.  Call them, ask them tons of questions, price shop, and repeat.

Today, across all industry’s, it is the time for the consumer.  Consumer’s want you to save them money, to be treated like your long lost first love and for it to be all about them.  Because after all, they are giving you their money and they want you to earn it.  They will be needy, helpless and walked through many things.  But, hey, that’s okay!!! Treat them right and they will be your loyal customer referring you to friends for years.

We’ll talk about what bike shops could do, and hopefully get more feedback from end users.  But in reality, my goal is to help the consumer.  EMPOWER the consumer to shop smarter and have a better experience riding their bike.

Soul Run Tool Roll and Wallet Review

1 Soul Run Review

Last summer I mentioned Soul Run products and carrying your tools in style.  Now that I’ve had some time under my belt with their tool roll and jersey pocket wallet I’m ready to reveal my feelings and emotions around their products.

Soul Run Tool Roll

The Tool Roll is a great concept.   It is somewhat like a seatbag, but it unrolls to display all your tools, tubes or bits without having to dump your goods on the ground to find that tube patch or tire levers.    You can keep it in your messenger bag, under your seat or in your pocket.

Soul Run Tool Roll Review

Overall this roll has been a great addition to my daily riding, especially when commuting or changing bikes/bags.   I can easily take the tool roll from one bag into another, or throw it under my seat with a toe strap.   It won’t ever replace a seat bag as it is impossible to attach a light to it, but again for someone with several bags I use to commute with – this was a lifesaver.  I no longer had to make sure I had everything I needed every time I set off on a different bike or with a different bag.

One of the coolest features to this tool roll was the custom colors, I was able to pick anything I wanted for no additional charge!

The only con I found of this roll is due to the pockets and limited space I couldn’t fit too much in the roll.  I routinely kept a CO2, adapter, tube, tube patch and tire levers.   That’s all that fit and even with that it was very bulky and looked “over stuffed.”

Soul Run Pocket Wallet

Soul Run Review

This wallet was the lifesaver that I never knew I needed.   I carry an Android smart phone and a small digital camera on every ride.  As the summer is hot and humid in Charlotte, NC, I would often put these electronic devices in a plastic bag to keep the moisture of my sweat out.  This wallet saved me from looking like a fool, and I started to use it daily for other uses.  On the one side I put my phone with license and credit card, the other either my camera or cash.   It kept everything dry and stink free!  It also kept everything easy to find in a huge messenger bag, or backpack with out stash pockets.

Other Mentions of Soul Run

Back in October when I was run over by a car, Soul Run sent me a “get well card” to my house due to them having my address from sending me their product for review.  It was one of the sweetest things and motivating factors to my healing process.

Check out Soul Run on Etsy to check out their latest colors and products.  Personally I’m eyeballing the pro bike tool roll!

This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.