Empowering women in cycling

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Your Feedback Wanted: What Makes a Great Women’s Cycling Team?

8 Team Cycleton

Over the years I have been lucky enough to be embraced, grow with and learn from some great women’s groups. The first that comes to mind is Artemis Racing out of the Mid-Atlantic and then there are the Dirt Diva’s in Charlotte, NC.

As I mentioned earlier this week, one of my goals over the next year is to help my Team Cycleton build and grow a women’s team. As I build the groundwork and before I put out a call for applicants for the team I want to hear from you.

What Makes a Great Women’s Cycling Team?

The specific word I want to point out in the above question is TEAM. While there will be some club aspect, social events and rides, it is also a large goal of mine to help develop female racing. This includes having like minded goals, training rides or events and education on all aspects of bike riding/racing.

So sound off, what have you seen work in making a successful women’s cycling team that helps develop women into strong riders and racers?

The Fine Line of Not Getting Dropped, and the Guys Being Chicked

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Thanks to Facebook I stumbled across a great summary of a girls chicking the guys. As a female cyclist I often feel the double edged sword of riding with guys.

Recently I’ve been fortunate to find a couple groups of good guys to ride with.

One based out of our home community is a team based out of Cycleton. I’m the first girl invited to the team and I feel like I have a lot to prove. Not only for myself, but to create an opening for more women to join. If I’m needy, whining or slow I’m killing the chances or possibly setting the impression of women.

The second group are my coworkers. I’ve had the chance to do a handful of lunch rides since starting at Pearl Izumi. Some are chill, and some I’m popped off the back but always dragged back by a couple willing teammates.

In the end, the only time I want to be the girl that chicks guys could be racing or maybe when those group rides get a bit too “testy” and they need to be reminded we are all human.

How about you? Do you enjoy beating up on the guys just because you are a girl, or do you prefer to be part of the group instead of making a point that you are a girl that chicks guys?

Mailbox Question: Larger Sized Cycling Shorts

15 Mailbox Cycling shorts

Daily I receive a good amount of email questions from the Ask a Question form. As I find frequently asked or interesting questions I will be answering them from the Mailbox.

Mailbox Question

I have decided to begin to ride a bike to lose weight and get fit. I am currently a size 18/20.

I want some gel bike shorts but not only can I not find any big enough but also none that are big enough for my chunky thighs. I don’t want saddle soreness to put me off so can you suggest any answers? The bike gel seats that you can buy to go over the saddle seem to be made for small mountain bike saddles and mine is a normal wide sprung saddle.

My Opinion

There are two parts I want to address, the first is finding a pair of shorts that fit.

Many manufactures have women’s XX-Large shorts that fit much like an 18/20. Also, I’ve had great success with women over size 14 wearing men’s shorts or bibs. I highly suggest trying a bib short on (it will feel weird in the dressing room but amazing on your bike) as the spandex is removed from your waist and pulls everything together under your jersey.

You mentioned gel short and saddle. I try to push folks away from gel under your rear as much as possible. The first reason is that gel compresses after some saddle time and causes more pressure in areas you don’t want. The second reason is that it wears out/moves and breaks down rather quickly. If your handlebar and saddle are in proper height you shouldn’t feel any extra pressure that you wouldn’t when seated on a wooden chair.

Recommendation

Pearl Izumi has a good Select In-R-Cool short that goes up to 2x if a shop doesn’t have anything near you. If there’s a good shop near you try on things, don’t be scared of the guys. When you are trying on, use underwear but no after you buy them!

Disclaimer: I work for Pearl Izumi but those are awesome shorts.

 

5 Fundamentals of Riding Everyone Should Take Note Of

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When I tell people I run a website with the goal to empower women in cycling they automatically hear “feminist.” This is as far from truth as you can get as I simply want more people on bikes, and realize that a huge opportunity is to empower women on two wheels.

Last week the Bike League released a report wrapping women’s cycling stats and misconceptions together. The report, Women on a Roll, is a great summary of the state of cycling but not just for women – for everyone. Anyone working to get more people on bikes could benefit from reading the stats and assumptions found in this report. Stripping the spandex and politics from getting more bikes on the road this report gives a great baseline for many shops and advocacy groups to build forward momentum off of.

Focus on the 5 C’s

Catchy, but effective. The 5 C’s will help increase ridership in all communities (and across most niches.)

Comfort
Convenience
Consumer Products
Confidence
Community

If brands, product managers, bike shop owners, and advocacy directors focused on the 5 C’s cycling will be headed in a positive direction.

Sunday Bike Ride with the Greenwalds

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For the past few days Emily’s parents have been visiting us in Denver. They are a fairly mellow couple but also very active. It’s a great joy to have them around, watching their mutual loving relationship and the enthusiasm for adventure is contagious. I can only strive to be to Emily what her parents are together!

Yesterday we decided to go on a bike ride down the Sand Creek Greenway. Without a goal in mind we reached the end and decided to head into Denver on the Platte River Trail. A few things to note: Emily’s parents are in their early 70′s, her mom rode a Pugsley and her dad a folding Dahon with 16″ wheels. We went 24 miles for the full round trip.

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In my humble opinion yesterday’s bike ride was amazing and I’m super impressed with both of Emily’s folks. I know where Emily gets many of her traits that I love so much!

What did you do this weekend?!

Weekly Bike Commuting Update

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After last week’s post of finding motivation, I’ve put my legs to the grindstone and found happiness in both days of commuting on Thursday and Friday. With threats of rain (flooding to be exact) each day as I pedaled closer to home I found myself chasing rainbows and finding peace with where I am.

Next week I hope to track my food intake better, at least for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Not down to calories, but just to have a better clue have how much food it’s going to take to hit the 1,000 miles this month. For now I’ll leave you with some Strava stats and Flickr photos.

Stats for the first 10 days of August (4 on the bike)

  • 169.0 miles (831 miles to go!)
  • 11hr 28m of ride time
  • 5,856ft elevation

Commuting, Setbacks and Motivation

5 Rainbow Hunting

Last week I committed to commuting 1,000 miles in August. Not less than 12 hours after typing that post I woke up swollen, looking like a chipmunk, in great pain from a tooth that later that day would need to be removed. After a dentist visit, one less tooth and one more hole in my head I spent most of Friday through Sunday being lazy around the house and controlling the swelling of my face. By Sunday night I felt pretty alright but needed the dentist to confirm this.

With a pocketful of other excuses I can say I haven’t been on the bike since last Thursday, and today is Wednesday of a new week. No commuting miles and not any closer to my 1,000 miles. While for a moment this morning I allowed myself to be frustrated with this fact, I swallowed my shame and remembered I made the decisions that put me in this situation. All I can do is get on my bike tomorrow morning and maybe add some longer routes to my commute strategically to hit the 1,000 mile marker.

Setbacks Happen, Moving Forward is the Success

A wise friend once told me that when a setback, injury or change of course happened they welcomed it with open arms. It shaped them, it allowed them to show true strength, intelligence or humility where some might find frustration, embarrassment or anger. It made them mentally and emotionally stronger, but more importantly a better person than if it was all smooth sailing.

Lately I have been finding comfort in these thoughts and words.

We are only as good as how we handled our biggest failure. Your true character is the one that shows up when you are handling stress, struggles and fear. As an athlete I find excitement out of proving myself when the chips are against me and this commuting challenge isn’t any different. The strongest people I know aren’t numb to their emotions or ignorant to fear, but instead they find the rainbow and learn how to dance in the rain.

How do you handle a setback in training or life?

Everyone handles things differently, how do you handle a setback? How do you stay motivated? Is it through music, an idol or an inspirational quote taped to your bathroom mirror?

August Challenge: 1,000 Commuter Miles

4 Bike Commuting

Last week I wrote about the bike commute into my new job at Pearl Izumi. After nailing down my inbound and outbound routes it takes between 1.5 – 2 hours each way. This is going pretty easy and really only attacking on the way home to get home faster!

Fast forward to this week, I drove in the first couple days this week and became more frustrated as I sat in traffic 45 minutes each way. I also learned about a pretty cool challenge going on by LiveWell Colorado called Colorado Get Moving Challenge. The challenge is to make Colorado the most active state by having folks commit to 30 minutes of exercise every day in August.

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All of this got my wheels turning…I need base miles for cyclocross, I need to be on my bike, I hate sitting in traffic and I would love to commit to this challenge. With the encouragement (and reality check from my better half) I checked myself thinking I would commute all 22 work days of August and decided committing to 1,000 commuting miles in August is more reasonable. This allows me to drive one day a week to bring food and clean clothes in/out of the office and 3 days of recovery.

Along this process I’ve also become an ambassador of the Get Moving Challenge. You’ll see my tags #COgetmovin on Twitter and Instagram, and my fitness updates on MapMyFitness. Every few days I may do a mental download here on things I’m learning, food I’m eating and adventures I’m having by putting in roughly 240 commuter miles a week. I may not be very social this month during the week, and if you see me I’ll probably always have food and water in hand!

If you are in Colorado check out the Challenge and give it a go!

The Value of Nothing

31 Arleigh and Emily

Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. – Lord Henry Wotton (Oscar Wilde)

It seems lately people are full of stuff. Often, when you ask them what they are saving for it is an object. It is not a destination or milestone but a new car, a new bike, and a new “thing.” Everything has price tags and I know first hand what an addiction that can become. You want the best gear, you want the newest gear, and you want to be the trend setter that has it before everyone.

I do a lot of gear reviews here on Bike Shop Girl. As my site ranks pretty darn high on this thing called “Google” and women’s gear isn’t too widely reviewed so I receive a good amount of “things” to review. At any given time there is a pile of objects to test out, photo, review and tell all of you what I thought about it. Over the past 10 years I have been given the chance to ride a lot of cool stuff from high end bikes to the latest gadgets and expensive stretchy spandex. Yet, over the past few weeks of moving to Denver and really putting an emphasis of LIVING my life with my girlfriend in this new state of Colorado a few things have become crystal clear.

Gear does not make the adventure, you do

You don’t need the fancy, crazy expensive, gear to have an amazing time. It may not be as safe and you may come out of it with a few blisters, you can hike that hike with sneakers and go camping with a tent 100 grams heavier than the one you saw in a catalog. The newest Garmin may tell you the weather as you’re riding, but so will the weather channel before you are leaving.

We often get so wrapped up in what we don’t have that we don’t enjoy the adventure of everyday living

You’re saving for that new commuter bike, and you have in your head that you can’t do your commute until you have it. Well, have you tried? Can you really not do that big mountain route until you have the new wheels?

Life is not about the stuff, it’s about living

The above statement lead me to turning some focus into a new website and new vision for living. Empower Adventure was started a couple weekends back when Emily and I went for a hike up St. Mary’s Glacier. We had our great gear and I carried my fancy camera up with a tripod to make sure to capture a moment together. Other than the amazing company with breathtaking views, I was left in awe of the families really enjoying themselves (and the mini-adventure) in their street clothes walking up the boulders. They were using what they had and not stressed about pressing start or stop on their Garmin.

I’m going to continue reviewing bike product on Bike Shop Girl, and start reviewing more “outdoor product” on Empower Adventure, BUT putting more emphasis on the adventure the gear helps you experience. Empowering and inspiring you to get out and to live.

Remember in the end of all of this, the price of everything is nothing and the value of your life is everything.

Laying my Cards on the Table

41 St. Mary's Glacier

I’ve been known to pour my heart out on various blogs. If it’s falling in love, falling out of love, or even the moments after my car/bike accident a few years ago. I dealt by writing and wearing my heart on my sleeve. Here’s to having feelings, grabbing a beer and putting it all out there for my own reference but also for my readers to know where things sit these days.

About a month ago I moved to Denver, Colorado. There was a lot of excitement of this new chapter in my life, with an amazing girl, but also a lot of fear. I’ve always lived on the east coast, I had a strong tribe in the southeast and I was finally finding my way racing again. The move was rather sudden (less than 60 days to prep) so things were a bit shaky as we landed.

When we moved I started working pretty quickly at a bike shop, Salvagetti. Within a couple weeks I knew this wasn’t where I belonged. Working retail hours, retail wages, trying to get in time to ride and time to live life with the girl I moved for…well it simply wasn’t doable. Bowing out gracefully, I still hope to spend time with the shop helping with events and on bike fun things.

A new page in this new chapter

This past week I started in a new job at Pearl Izumi. I’ll be working within the custom department in sales and customer service. This department is growing with leaps and bounds, leaving me very excited to be apart of the growth and excitement!

The new job has shifted many things for me. First off, I have off weekends again which allows for adventures with Emily and friends. Empower Adventure is my blog documenting this (and every day adventures too!) Second, I hope to get base miles back in over the next few weeks by commuting 2x per week (60 miles a day) to hopefully get my legs back in order by mid August to start cyclocross prep! Finally, this change to working for a powerhouse in the biking apparel world, and that Pearl Izumi is owned by Shimano… well things on Bike Shop Girl will be shifted a bit. The content I review won’t be too much around apparel, unless I get something from work that I really like and want to share with you. The stock pile of review apparel I’ve been testing out will be reviewed with the honest opinion I have always given but once the pile is gone, I won’t be accepting anything new.

Where Life Leads

While I still am finding my footing in a new Monday to Friday job, I’m excited to finding myself on the bike more often, meeting new friends and documenting new adventures. Is it cyclocross season yet?