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Colorado Ranked 2nd in Bike Friendly States

2 Bicycle Friendly State Colorado

As the move to Denver, CO gets closer, Emily and I are researching more and more about biking and outdoor activities. Becoming familiar with bike routes, day trips and places to explore will allow us to feel quickly at home and adding various levels of excitement for our next chapter.

Everyone knows how Colorado is an outdoorsman dream, especially a cyclist. The latest rankings of bike friendly states from the Bike League only shows this more!

Landing in 2nd place only behind Washington state. My current home of North Carolina is down in 28th place! I’m excited to see what it will be like to be in a little more “forward thinking” bike state.

Race Report: 2013 6 Hours of Warrior Creek

0 6 hours warrior creek 2013

This was the fourth year of testing my metal against the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. Each year as half of a women’s duo, my partner Melissa has always been the ringer for us and I wanted to be able to pull my half of the race as strong as she could.

Originally, this race was supposed to be a tuning race for the Burn 24 in late May. As plans have changed, boxes are being packed and I realized this would be my last race in the southeast it became clear that this race mattered more to me than I originally thought.

Prep Work

I pre-rode the course a week before race day. The course was excellent. The rock gardens were much easier and the climbs seemed to pass with less time. All good signs.

Aligning with my coach on all workouts, making sure my legs were rested and “loaded.” Bike was safety checked and then as it rained a few days before race day, I installed my more aggressive Maxxis Ardent tires (which saved my ass first lap.)

Brap, BRAP, BRAAAP

It was my year to run first lap, which is a full lap plus some road section and singletrack in the beginning to break up the field. I did my best not to blow myself up on the road, and keep a steady pace for 3/4 of the lap. Putting in some effort on the last sections of climbing and downhill gnar rock gardens.

My partner, Melissa, was rocking a single speed and turned over a pretty fast first lap. I headed back on the trail hoping to maintain our 2nd  place position. Quickly 3rd place overtook me and I never saw her until my lap was over (damn it, she was only 2 minutes a head!) Melissa held our 3rd position and we ended on the podium. I coulda/shoulda/woulda gone for a 3rd lap (5th for the team) but 2nd,4th and 5th place girls (and I) all agreed not to go out for a 5th lap. Thank god for negotiations.

6 Hours of Warrior Creek

Fun Facts

• Melissa rocked a 1:16 lap on her single speed

• We were in the “money” in 3rd place and somehow I walked away with cash in hand

• My high visibility yellow shoes, and Lazer Magneto pink/yellow glasses were a big hit.

• The Foundry Broadaxe with SRAM XX1 performed flawlessly, compared to last year this was an AMAZING feeling as most of the day I was fearing some mechanical that I couldn’t fix with my multi

• First place women were 16 and 17 years old! Hopefully I’ll be able to rope one of the girls, Sophie, into a race report!

• Warrior Creek is one of my favorite trails on the east coast. The Garmin has a hard time tracking milage but Strava thinks that I rode 26.7 miles with 2,752 ft of elevation.

6 Hours of Warrior Creek

Thank You to the Pit Crew

The day wouldn’t have been possible without a group of amazing friends. My girlfriend flew literally around the world from Turkey to get to the race. Shelley, Syd and Allen all were great support as Melissa and I came in and out of the pits. The guys from Bicycle Sport were there for mechanic assistance (though I didn’t need it) and the guys/girls from Total Cyclist had amazing encouraging words as they kicked our asses. Finally, thank you to Taryn and Jacob who watched the dogs for us so they didn’t have to be at the races all day!

Photo Credit: Lynn Willis (I purchased a full print version too!)

Race Report: Bouldergeist at San Lee Park

1 Stay Humble

My main goal for the 2013 season was to move from Sport to the Expert class. That was THE goal.

Thanks to a killer performance at the Winter Short Track Series I was moved up to Expert or CAT1. If you aren’t familiar with the difference of the two categories, it often is double the distance and sometimes on a different/harder course. Racing 22 miles on a rough, rocky, course was a bit humbling.

My first true race as an expert was at this past Sunday’s Bouldergeist at San Lee Park as part of Southern Classic Series.

The Race

Starting at the line there was 6 of us split between the two age groups, all I need to do was finish and I would be third. The start was on pavement, up a driveway climb and then left over gravel into the woods. The climb felt great on my legs, and entering the woods I slowed down to let some of the faster girls in front of me. It was a great feeling to have the hole shot, but I knew I would be in peoples way.

The course was pretty fast with nice twists, switch back climbs and some “rock” sections that with a proper pre-ride I would be able to clear easier. There was one section that only the Pros and Experts had to ride called Free Fall. I believe I walked 1.5 miles through this rock invested “trail.” Again, maybe with proper pre-ride and guidance I could have ridden more of this section, but it made me feel like a beginner all over again.

After the long walk through woods and over the rocks I was pretty mentally fried. It seemed like I was getting dehydrated and pretty disappointed. After that first lap I was done. There was an 8 hour drive infront of me and the idea of another 1.5 hours on the bike was not exciting.

The Aftermath

Thankfully I have a very supportive group around me. Constantly over the past 2 days I have been reminded that I made a big jump with my categories. It will take time to be able to hang, and then to be competitive. As an athlete this sounds bogus to me, but then I slow down and think of what I would tell someone else. They are right, I need a reality check and time towing the line. It will take time, I need to be patient and put more time on the saddle.

I don’t have another race until 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, here’s to as many long rides as I can fit in!

Shop Branding Ideas from Suspension Experts

0 Suspension Experts

A few photos from one of the best branded shops in the Southeast, Suspension Experts.

WABA’s Women & Bicycles Program

2 Women And Bicycles

WABA (Washington Area Bicycle Association) is putting together an education and outreach program to get more women on bikes! While the program is still in the infancy it seems they have obtainable goals and mission to begin with. I’m excited to follow along with what WABA is doing and how these efforts can be duplicated elsewhere.

From WABA….

Why is getting more women on bikes a critical cause?

  • In 2012, women represented just 22.7 percent of cyclists on the road in D.C. According to DDOT, that’s a slight drop since 2011.
  • In Women on Wheels, April Streeter writes, “New bike commuters are overwhelmingly male. Data reviewed by researchers John Pucher and Ralph Buehler show that almost all of the recent growth in cycling in the united states recently can be attributed to men between 25 and 64 years old. Pucher and Buehler found that cycling rates are just holding steady for women, and have fallen sharply for children.”
  • Our women’s bicycling forum identified three top barriers for getting women on bikes: safety (fear, safety concerns, inexperience/confidence, harassment), logistics (facilities, time commitment, weather, gear, money), and perception (misconceptions, double standards, and professionalism).
  • We aren’t the only group at work! Through Women Bike, the League of American Bicyclists is working at a National level to encourage women to facilitate solutions on the local level.

How is WABA going to fix these problems through the Women & Bicycles program?

  • Ten “Roll Models” will be selected to mentor women in their friend, family, church, and work groups
  • Roll Models and mentees will be invited to a series of bike meetups, group rides, and workshops that will mix practical advice and conversation about how to incorporate cycling into one’s lifestyle with socializing and low-key hanging out.
  • Non-participants will be kept abreast of the program, so they’ll learn more about the issues facing women on bikes and be inclined to encourage their friends and family to bike, regardless of gender.

We don’t want to sit around and talk about what’s discouraging women from biking, so we’ve created a program centered on peer-to-peer encouragement, information, and experience through events.

Want to learn more? Visit WABA.org

Frostbike–A bicycle non-professional at a bicycle industry trade show

1 Fat tire wheelie courtesy of Chris

A guest post by Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA

So, I know my byline up there says that I represent Loose Nuts Cycles when I write.  The truth is that I am by no means a bicycle industry professional.  I ride my bike to work and around town, love a mountain bike ride, help out at the local velodrome and am marrying a bike shop owner, but I have never been paid to ride or work on bikes or to be knowledgeable about bicycle-related things.  I am a bicycle non-professional.

This weekend, my partner (owner of Loose Nuts Cycles) and I flew to Minneapolis so that he could attend Frostbike 2013–QBP’s annual conference and trade show.  I originally signed up because I have some family in the city and wanted to visit with them, but I was also curious about what went on at bicycle industry gatherings.  I’m in public health, so I’m used to peer-reviewed abstracts, break out sessions, suits, and networking events when I go to a conference.

Before we even left Atlanta for the frigid northern lands of Minnesota,  I knew I was in for something different than the expert-packed, abstract-ridden, brain-overwhelming days of public health conferences.  Chris forwarded an email to me with the subject line “2013 Frostbike Beer Hunt”, which described a scavenger hunt-type activity that you could complete at the vendor expo in order to earn “a 22oz. bottle of limited-edition Frostbike beer that was brewed and bottled by the QBP Vendor Sales Team”.  It’s not that we public health folks don’t have fun at our conferences, but we’ve certainly never hosted a Beer Hunt.  I could tell that Chris’s “professional” trip was going to be a very different kind of professional than I was used to.

Essentially, our schedule was this:

Friday–arrive in Minneapolis and find hotel.  Go to All City Bikes party (via a party bus called the Night Rider) and have beer- and bike-related fun.

Saturday–Go to QBP headquarters.  Check out the vendor expo for the morning.  Eat delicious lunch provided by Thompson and QBP.  Ride Surly fat bikes in the snow.  Back to expo.  Return to hotel for dinner.

Sunday–More expo. Take tour of QBP headquarters.  Eat more delicious lunch.  Ride more fat bikes (Salsa this time).  Win stuff at a raffle.  Back to hotel.

Monday–Sit on butt.  Fly back to Atlanta.

After4 bicycle packed days, these are the things that stuck with me:

  1. Fat tire bikes are awesome, especially when used for their intended purpose–snow.

    fat tires

    fat tires

  2. QBP likes girls.  My name tag said “Dealer” which probably helped, but all of the brands and bike professionals with whom I spoke treated me very equitably, like I knew as much as Chris did.  They made sure to look at both of us when talking about products.  I liked the feeling of not being talked down to and treated knowledgeably, even if I wasn’t actually knowledgeable.  I hope that Frostbike 2014 includes seminars for bike shop owners about how to make women cyclists feel like that in their shops.  It seems pretty rare in the bike world.
  3. The bicycle apparel industry apparently hates women–I’ll rant more about this in a later post, but women’s bicycle clothing continues to be made to look exactly like men’s cycling apparel but with an added flower or ruffle.  I saw not one piece of clothing at the entire show that I would be excited about wearing.
  4. POC Helmets look awesome–awesome enough to reduce how dorky I normally feel when wearing a helmet.
  5. Brooks still makes beautiful, drool-worthy leather products–I fell in love with this Brooks bag.  Oh yeah, and this bag is pretty amazing in the grape color.
  6. The Surly display.  They had obviously put a lot of thought and design into their space, even though it was just temporary.  Plus, the new Big Dummy cargo system premiered, which was exciting.
    Custom painted Moonlander just outside the Surly display area

    Custom painted Moonlander just outside the Surly display area

    New Surly Big Dummy bag and top plate

    New Surly Big Dummy bag and top plate

     

  7. There is a common sense of purpose between the Frostbike attendees.  Even though people didn’t know each other, they shared a priority and experience that connected them.  It sounds like hippy talk, but it made Frostbike feel welcoming and warm.  The feeling helped to re-energize a lot of attendees (including myself) about riding, even in the middle of winter.
  8. Kenda’s new tube vending machine–this is being tested in several pilot areas before it will be available to the mass market.  Pretty fun product.

    For all those times when you need a tube and your local bike shop isn't open to help you

    For all those times when you need a tube and your local bike shop isn’t open to help you

I was prepared to come back and report that professional bike trade shows are just an excuse to have a good party and talk about bikes all weekend.  While partying and talking about riding bikes and actually riding bikes was essentially all that we did for 3 days, I was surprised at how much actual business got done.  Vendors with whom I spoke were really excited and helpful when talking about their new products.  Bike shop owners were stoked that these new products met the needs of their customers (with the exception of women’s cycling clothing–ugh! Still unreasonably pissed about this).  Everyone wanted to ride bikes and generally the atmosphere at Frostbike fueled that fire.  It was fun to come home and be stoked to get on my bike and know that thousands of other people were doing the same thing as they returned home from Frostbike too.

Race Report: Winter Short Track #4

0 Charlotte Short Track

A race report that was almost forgotten, as I’m typing this 6 days later in the Philadelphia airport during a layover.

My last race of the Charlotte Winter Short Track Series had a handful of ups and downs. As I was only able to race 4 out of 5 races my placing of this last race would be a wash. Going into a race lacking motivation is difficult for me, so 20 minutes to start time I did some soul searching and finding that mission. Mission: fun, hard pace and working to help a couple key friends on their short track virginity.

This is going to be kept short and sweet.

2nd lap I found myself sitting comfortable in 2nd place. Pushing it hard. Working with a friend Jordan on the road section. Around lap 4 or 5 I decided to slow the hell down. My morning routine was off, and my stomach was feeling questionable. Letting my heart rate drop a zone made me drop two places. Sitting in 4th behind Patty Smith. I coasted along, catching breath and finding comfort in my tempo zone. Two laps to go I knew I needed to either find peace with my 4th place finish or attack.

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Of course, I attacked. Put room between Patty and myself, I had 3rd locked in place. Trying to bridge the gap between 2nd place (Jordan) and myself, I pushed hard but needed another lap to make up the time I had lost. Losing 2nd place by 10 seconds was bitter but I learned a bit about myself, comfort zones and the punch that my legs have in these early pre-season races.

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One last bitter sadness is that I am currently tied for 1st overall with Patty. If I was to race this weekend and beat her, I would have first in the expert category. Unfortunately I am sitting in PA on the way to MN, far away from the race course. I can say I ended the series much better than I ever expected. My goals were to hang on and not get lapped, in the end I was the one doing the lapping.

 

Photo credits: Cheryl Anne & Jodi’s Wife.

 

For the Love of Retail Experiences

3 Pinterest Retail Board

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.

Race Report: Winter Short Track #3

2 Charlotte Short Track

Could I keep consistent lap times? Could I make the podium? How did my skinsuit do under mountain bike conditions?

Let’s Cut to the Conclusion

Short Track Results

Mission, possible. 2nd place, behind a super strong (pro) Debbie, and in front of a damn good field.

I’m not going to give you play by play but here are cliff notes.

Went into the woods on first lap 3/4 behind the field. I simply didn’t have the gearing to power through the start which sucks as I’m normally good at stopped starts.

Through the woods, on the brakes, riding someone’s tire,  over the rock and on the gravel. Picking off girls, calling my passes and not knowing how this was happening. I was “picking girls off”???? For a few laps I tried to work with Patty Smith. She’s fast in the short track, I could help her on the gravel and road but in the end I was giving up too much time on the road  not pushing hard enough. Around lap 4 I put a gap between us, holding it steady (losing 5 seconds or so on the last last lap.) I could see Debbie through the trees, but the guys winner ended up between us, ending my last lap a lap down from her. I wish I knew the time gap better before that extra lap she did.

Hard Work Means Harder Work Ahead

Charlotte Short Track

Yes, I am super proud of my accomplishments in a short amount of time. It is two days after the race and I still don’t believe I placed 2nd as my goals of this series was to not get lapped.

My goals are still lofty, but feel a little closer after this past weeks performance.

Photo Credit: Cheryl Anne & Paul