Empowering women in cycling

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Bike Shop Girl on Versus.com

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Commute By Bike, and Bike Shop Girl is now syndicated at Versus.com to help lead the cycling community with commuting tips, stories and how to.  Much like we do on Commute By Bike already but to a bigger community!  I will be writing for Versus on commuter needs as well as showing highlights from events such as the upcoming National Handmade Bicycle Show.

Please go over to Versus.com, create a login and join my community! Also, make sure to keep up with the blog over there but I hope to have some sort of widget on the sidebar of Commute By Bike to keep you up to date with what’s going on over there.

Go on already…

On the Burner : Upcoming on Bike Shop Girl

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There are many things going on at Bike Shop Girl and Commute By Bike.  A quick run down for all of the readers, and potential readers so you can look forward to many things.

  • Versus.com – Yours truly will be covering various cycling events for Versus.com, targeting the Commuting and Utility Cycling market.
  • Podcast, videos/audio – Working out the kinks to have some reviews and thoughts via video and audio podcast.
  • Interviews – we have several influential women I am working with for interviews to inspire and motivate you.
  • Road trips - I’ll be going to the Handmade Bicycle Show the end of February and many races this spring.
  • Product Reviews - Continuing to cover the latest and greatest product out there for you

Thank you all for a great first few months and we will continue to be your resource for getting women on their bike.

Why I Ride with an iPod, and Don’t Think I’m Stupid

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For many years I’ve been riding on the road with music. Originally it was one of those crazy Mini-Disc players that my mom thought would take over the music scene.  Little did she know, it fueled my cycling passion.  One of those little Mini-Disc players could hold hours of music, and run off AA rechargeable batteries.  It had the ability to record on various disc and dub out/delete.  I could ride, ride and ride without listening to the same song twice.

For many reasons music was needed for my riding style

  1. Boredom – normally kicking in around 45 minutes to an hour and a half
  2. Riding alone – see above
  3. Motivation – Certain songs would kick me in 6th gear and I would be able to push it, be it for time or watts.. the music moved me.
  4. That Go to Track – On days I would put a song on repeat for my 3 hour ride, it allowed me to focus and tune out the day of crap
  5. Wind whistling pisses me off – the noise that the wind makes when it hits your helmet straps, or hair.
  6. Feeling “PRO” – All the pro’s were wearing radios in their ears back to the team car, I’m sure their managers played some sort of music for them.  If they didn’t, they should start now.

At first I rode with one earphone in, leaving the left one that was closest to the road out.  Actually, I had a couple headphones that I cut off the left earphone so not to get in the way.  Time went by and I had theories, if the music was low enough I felt I could hear just as well as I did with the wind whistling in my ears.  I tested my theory for several rides and feeling confident enough, yes my hearing isn’t paired as long as the volume is kept low.

Mirrors are your friends

Often mirrors are even better than your ears.  You can SEE, you don’t have to turn your head and you are prepared.  By the time I hear a car coming up behind me, it might be too late to react.

iPod is not iDeath

one of the main issues of the headphones is not so much its removal of the individual’s ability to hear
it is more the combination of the inability to hear and the lack of focus
instead of being in tune to the surroundings the individual is focused on the music
letting the focus drift away from the variables around them
the same goes for mountainbiking… snowboarding… rollerbladding… whatever…
- Gwadzilla

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to disagree with my buddy, Gwadzilla. The main issue within congestion or lack of senses, are the bicycle riders and not the iPod.  As a cyclist for many years, all my senses are tuned in more than the average rider.

Now, I do find it hard to ride mountain bikes with both ears plugged in.  The hearing that Gwadz mentions above is very necessary while mountain biking.  Hearing how the bikes handing, the tires gripping and the gears shifting are all very important.

One Last Thing

Out of the few times there has been a run in with a car, my bicycle, and myself.. there was never ANY music playing in my ears.

Photo Credit : Gwadzilla

Top 5 Online Resources for Women

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When I created Bike Shop Girl a few months back it was mainly out of frustration for the lack of information that is readily available for women.   The basics are out there, but you have to be a Google Jedi Master to find the right answers, and often you are left with half-assed ones that only confuse you more.  My goal for this site has always been to be a resource, and maybe a place I have a rant or two but that isn’t the point.

Though limited, here are some of my favorite online resources.  Some of these resources are targeted towards women, others are targeted towards cyclist in general but have great knowledge within their .com walls.

Forums

  • Team Estrogen – A full range of forums for women.  The forums aren’t very strict so often guys will be able to search/post if they need.  Keep private information just that, private.
  • Bike Forums - The moderators will keep tabs on you, and after a few months of them knowing you are “female” they will allow you in their private “women only” section of the site.  This is my used forum online for resources, I used to post often but now use it mainly for its search function.
  • RideMonkey - A mountain bike oriented forum and online community.  This is another forum that you’ll have to request to become part of their “women only” section.

How To Advice

  • Blue Collar MTB – One of the original sites I wrote for online.  It is no longer active, but a great resource for how to do things on the cheap.  Long term if there is interest in this type of maintenance I maybe persuaded to start writing for it again.
  • Park Tool - The leader in bike specific tools, this company also has invested in teaching others.  Check out their how to’s broken down by bike part.

Your Turn

What sites do you frequent or recommend?  Turn us on to other blogs or sites that have helped you become a stronger cyclist.  Better yet, how can Bike Shop Girl become a better resource for you

Saddle Talk : Adamo Saddles

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About 3 months ago, my shop started carrying the Ideal Saddle Modification (ISM) Adamo saddles.   These saddles, at first, look very goofy.  There is no nose on the front of the seat and often are referred to as the tuning forks.  Flash forward the last three months and these saddles have themselves on more bikes than I originally thought they would.

Originally I really thought the saddles were a joke, we would try them out on a few bikes and see what happens.  The women and triathletes fell in love.  All the pressure from the frontal soft tissue was separated back into your two sit bones, where the weight belongs!  Women were able to get into the aero position or drops of the handlebars without cutting off circulation.

This saddle is still towards the end of the saddles I automatically go through in my fit process.  I think there is a need for them, but find they can be too wide and long term will be modifying the shell of the saddle so not to hit the groin or tendons of the inside leg.  Soon the saddle will go on a personal bike of mine so I can give you a true review.

Do you know any women using this seat? If so, what are their thoughts and feelings?  Where do they feel pressure, if any?

Batavus BUB : Initial Thoughts

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This was originally published at our sister site, Commute by Bike. As the bike is a step through design and fits in well with trying to get more women on bicycles, I’ll be cross posting the review on both sites.

When the Batavus BUB rolled into my bike shop a good amount of thoughts rolled into my head with it.  It looked heavy, was it? Where were the hand brakes or gears?  Could I take it down my 4.5 mile daily commute with a decent size hill in the middle?  (My worry was going up and down on it.)

Riding the BUB


I quickly checked the BUB over and rode it home that 4.5 mile commute.  The step through design was very handy and made me crave for one in my daily ride.  Very easy to get on, plus I didn’t worry about ripping my jeans as I didn’t have to throw my leg over the back of the saddle.  The handlebars and saddle seemed to me much like what we consider in the US as a Beach Cruiser.  For the entire first ride I was fighting with finding a position I felt efficient, yet comfortable in.  If I was comfortable on the saddle, it would start to rub my inner thighs.  If I was comfortable with the handlebars I was in a weird laid over position grabbing half way down the long swept back bar.

It took me a week to really grasp the ride of the BUB.  It truly is a bike for folks that maybe don’t ride everyday, or are looking for something on the end of the spectrum from their mountain/road bike.  You can easily hop on this and go, you won’t be going very far or very fast but it is easy and comfortable.

As I mentioned, initially I couldn’t get comfortable on this bike.  Mainly due to the length of my long legs and once I was home I raised the stem a good amount in order to sit more upright than leaned over.  In the end it fit a wide height range, for my 5′10 height down to my 5′5 girlfriend just as well.

The Prototype BUB & What I Would Change

The bike that I was reviewing was a prototype of sorts, it didn’t have the 3 speeds that the standard BUB will.  Gears would of helped keep me in a comfortable seated position on the small climb I have coming from my work.  I also wish it had some sort of rear or front hand brake to assist with the coaster brake, but that was also mainly me as I’m not used to riding a coaster brake bike.

All the options were installed on the test BUB.  Front and rear racks, as well as front and rear lights.  The racks had an interesting mounting design, it is non-standard and you’ll have to rig up your favorite rack to work on this bike if you wish.  The racks felt very strong and stable, a small child could sit on the front, but would completely wreck the steering of the bike.  The tubing on the rack is oversize, to the point a standard pannier clip system (of all types) doesn’t fit without bending or modifying.  Out of all my panniers in my collect only the Basil bags that you drape over one side of the rack to the other worked.

The lights weren’t anything too special.  Yes, a little different in looks but if you already have lights from another bike, save them and reuse them on the BUB.

Small Details

This bike turned heads, and caught many eyes.

The unique paper clip design made people ask questions and want to ride it.  The only other bike I own that causes such questions is my Xtracycle.

The “mood meter” seemed like a joke to me.  This little dial under the top tube that you are supposed to move dependent on your mood.

New pedals are needed unless you are rolling this bike in only fair weather.  There is no grip on them and several times when wet I slipped off the pedals.

Full Chainguard, good fenders, strong wheels, and reflective Schwalbe tires. The small details that many “commuter” bikes are left off with weren’t forgotten here.  I just fear they over thought the design aspect of the bike, leaving it very limited to accessories.

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

Batavus BUB Review : Introduction

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Batavus BUB

Batavus BUB

A quick introduction was posted over at CommuteByBike.com to introduce the Batavus BUB I had teased about a couple weeks ago.  The BUB is a watered down version of most Batavus bikes.  It’s for the person wanting a true city bike but not all the bells and whistles like full chain guard and generator lights.

We are fortunate enough to be one of the first bike testers for the prototype Batavus BUB.  The bike we had in for review was a one speed with a coaster brake.  Slowly I’ll be unveiling my own thoughts, along with a friend who is a pretty new cyclist/commuter.  Let’s start with an introduction from a shop called Renaissance Bikes that was our contact for the BUB.

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 Perfect Bike Fit

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A benefit of my job is being able to work with many different people and customers on various types of bikes.  The shop I manage is a big player in bike fitting and making sure if you purchase a bike, or your body changes, you will be happy, safe and comfortable on that bike.

This leads me to my thought for the day.  Regardless of what type of bike you ride, there is a perfect fit for that bike and yourself.  This fit can also change with time and be open to that idea.  The reason for that is day to day your body changes, you stretch more or less, you sit more or less, you eat more or less (and so on.)

It is Subjective

The perfect bike fit is subjective to yourself and the bike fit technician you are working with, it can also be subjective to the day you walk into the shop to be fit.   As I’ve mentioned before I slowly plan on picking a part a bike fit and highlighting the key things you should pay attention to to find that “perfect bike fit.”

Merchandise on Bike Shop Girl

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I’m tentatively going to expand into merchandise and small product sales on Commute By Bike and Bike Shop Girl. But I would like your feedback. What type of things would you purchase through us vs Amazon? Would it be enough to know you are supporting a great resource to purchase that light or bag through us?

Let me know what you think and what you would be interested in!