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Cannondale SuperSix Evo Women's
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Preview: Cannondale SuperSix Evo Women’s Hi-MOD Dura Ace

While the growth of available product for women in the bicycling industry is evident there are two key area’s lacking, high end mountain and road product. It takes a bold company, with a strong belief in women, to invest in product with a high price tag for women. Cannondale is doing it with their SuperSix Evo Hi-MOD. Available in SRAM Red, Shimano Dura Ace and Ultegra Di2. I recently took delivery of the Shimano Dura Ace model and will be putting it through some abuse to see if the $6600 road bike is for you.

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Women’s Hi-MOD Dura Ace

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Women's

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Denver
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Denver Here I Come

Here’s the short story, between now and middle of June my little family is moving to Denver Colorado.

Why Denver, CO? Great question…

My better half is starting pediatric residency as a rockstar doctor at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Orientation starts June 17th, and we are relocating!

Looking for Jobs, Houses and New Friends!

We head out this coming weekend to look at new houses. Somewhere in Denver proper as she needs to be within an easy ride to two different hospitals. I have a couple of job opportunities in mind but I would love to hear of any positions in the area that you think I’ll be interested in!

If you are looking for the mushy stuff, read here. 

Balance Bike Session
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Balance Bike Session in Oundle, England

Over the weekend a friend/follower on Twitter mentioned that he was headed to a balance bike session. Quickly, I asked him to take some photos to share!

A quick blurb on the day from Mat

Trying to get nippers riding bikes in a rural area of England…lots of issues here with kids in villages not riding/not starting to ride, for no good reason. Loads of mums starting to ride and it’s great seeing mums and kids starting to hit the roads again.

See the complete set over at Mat’s SmugMug gallery

Balance Bike Session
Balance Bike Session
Balance Bike Session

Glory Cycles Colnago Master
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Bike Shop Build: Colnago Master

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.

Colnago Master from Glory Cycles in Greenville, SC

 

Surly Womens Jersey
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Review: Surly Merino Wool Longsleeve Jersey

This winter I’ve had the opportunity to add pretty key pieces to my cold weather attire. With a good amount of cold base miles, I’ve shredded some items and some have stayed strong and worthy of a solid review. A few different long sleeve jerseys are my main highlights from this shredding that I’ll be reviewing this week.

There is something comforting about a soft merino wool piece of clothing. It wraps you up in it’s natural warmth, and can be reused for a couple weeks at a time if you don’t sweat it up too badly. Most folks who are purchasing their first piece of merino get sticker shock, but quickly they understand they are replacing 2-3 piece of clothing due to the wicking, warmth and longevity of wool. Ever purchased a pair of Smartwool socks? I bet you wish all of your socks were that amazing.

Features

MSRP: $140
Colors: Black or Gray

There are a handful of features that Surly will want to tell you about, but the best feature for me is the ability to wear this on and off the bike easily. The jersey turns into a sweater when paired with a pair of jeans. The sleeves with thumb holes are long enough and easily flipped up for casual use. The back has a “cigarette pocket” which is one pocket with zippers on either side.

Surly Womens Merino Wool

Fit

Traditionally women’s wool jerseys have fit pretty baggy and boxy on me. I can say that this jersey in size large fits me pretty darn well. With room for a tshirt or jersey underneath it isn’t super snug but it does allow me to feel like a woman when wearing it. As I mentioned I often wear it into shops as a sweater and it does look like a women’s sweater (with a sweet pocket in the back!)

Overall Thoughts

If you can swallow the price tag of $140 this jersey will last you many seasons, keeping you warm and dry. It’s an essential for me when traveling as I can wear it a handful of times and not be overwhelmed by stench or dirt.

See it on SurlyBikes.com

Photo Credit: Benjamin Wilson

Pinterest Retail Board
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For the Love of Retail Experiences

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.

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.

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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:

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and this sign:

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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.

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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.

Bike Shop Build: Parlee CX
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Bike Shop Build: Parlee CX

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 CX from Reality Bikes in Cumming, GA

 Photo credit: Duncan McGuire

8222933564_fef8484275_c
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Shifting Your Gears Forward

It’s that time of the year that I’m doing slower and longer miles, mostly by myself. Having lots of time to think through intervals and the long road in front of me I seem to reflect the most on the bike from January to March due to the speed and lack of companionship (my choice.)

Yesterday I struggled through my workout for many reasons. #1 As I’m getting towards the end of a couple blocks and haven’t had a threshold test so I’m stronger than where my zones are set. #2 The gearing on a cross bike with slicks is much different than a standard compact. It’s my own doing and I can fix both of these things. Regardless, the workout left me frustrated with finding the right gear and terrain for workouts.

Today I entered my 2.5 hour ride with a bit more optimism. Without any intervals to chase after I stopped looking at the Garmin page that listed watts and went off my Perceived Exertion scale that I have internally built in me from 15 years of cycling. I focused on pedaling strokes, enjoying jumping the potholes and digging deep into the turns.

Then I focused on shifting.

Shifting covers so many pieces of our lives. Often in cycling I find that I allow myself to sit in the gear I’m in. Maybe even falling behind the cadence I need to turn over my gear comfortable. Then there is the fear of the shift to a harder gear as it may be too hard. Maybe I’ll need to shift back? Maybe there will be a miss shift at the wrong moment or maybe it will show that I’m weak?

Shifting gears is as much about the mental feeling as it is the physical. Picking up your cadence and finding that you can push the new, harder, gear just as well as the easier. Your speed increases and often, especially off road, you find that it is easier to ride at this faster pace as momentum and speed is your friend.

Much of life is learning when to shift, when to push yourself, when to be happy with your pace or when to slow down. As I pedal around for the next couple months my thoughts will be focusing on the shift. Shifting the bike, shifting my mind and shifting how I live my life.

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