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small business colorado
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Why Should We Buy Local When It Isn’t Equal?

During the past month of mad scrambles to get presents and my new routine of walking the streets of Boulder, Colorado, past boutique’s and chains I have become jaded.

Sidebar:

I believe my feelings changed around the time American Express started pushing “Small Business Saturday” the day after Black Friday several years ago. If you really are a small business owner, there is a chance you don’t even accept American Express because of the raised fee’s the card brings. Small Business Saturday should be sponsored by the US Treasury to promote the exchange of paper bills and metal coins, not plastic that costs the small business more margin (think 3% of the maybe 30% that the merchant may be netting.)

Back to my original thoughts.

I’m a proud gold card carrying Starbucks customer. Daily, I walk past many cute little coffee shops in Boulder, Colorado, on my way to the office in the morning. I have tried three over the past month, a couple of them numerous times, and it has been a 50/50 split of leaving with happiness. Maybe I have high expectations but to me a local business should deliver me an equal, or maybe even better, experience of the chain next store. I’ll happily pay a bit more for this. The coffee should taste equal or better, the atmosphere should be welcoming.

Here have been my experiences at these local coffee shops

  • My credit card was accidentally charged twice
  • My drink order was forgotten
  • The staff treated me like I didn’t belong (no smile, no exchange of pleasantries)
  • Twice, I have walked away with an amazing cup of coffee but all other times my Keurig produces equal quality

Get to the point

This venting is not to ridicule the local coffee houses of Boulder but to prove a point that buying local does not mean that you should be settling.

There have been many comments over the years when I link to JensonUSA or any online retailer to buy a product that I’m not showing love for local bike shops. While I have the softest place in my heart saved for local bike shops with out the name “Trek” or “Giant” in their name, I also have a higher level of standards for these shops. Being a local bike shop does not mean you have arrogance about you, your mechanics are too good for hybrids and your bathrooms reek. Being a local shop means you need to be better, work longer hours, and have higher standards. If you can’t deliver that, then I will take my money elsewhere and recommend for others to go somewhere I know they will be treated well like REI or JensonUSA.

As the world of consumerism changes, I don’t believe Amazon is the devil or the end of local businesses. I believe local businesses need to step up the service, the quality and they will be happily rewarded.

Off the Map Art
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Handmade Cycling Gift Ideas

You have less than two weeks until Christmas and you still haven’t gotten that perfect gift for the cycling loving person in your life. Here are some unique ideas that you probably won’t find on Amazon. Tomorrow I will be posting my “must-have” gift list for all of you last minute gift buying friends. You can also checkout my Pinterest Cycling Gift Guide.

Bicycle Tube Toiletry Bag

Bike Tube Toiletry Bag

A perfect bag for makeup, art supplies or small electronics. Website

Campagnolo Toe Clip Keyring

Campagnolo Toe Clip Keyrings

If you have a cycling snob in your life, this keyring will be a treasure to them. Website

Bicycle Inner Tube Cuff

Bicycle Inner Tube Cuff Bracelet

Unique designs that I hadn’t seen before. Website

Off the Map Art

 

Off the Map Art

My girlfriend purchased a couple of these paintings for my office when we moved. They are gorgeous and a lovely touch to any room. Website

IMG_4493
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Recap of Interbike 2013

Incase you missed it, last week was Interbike in Las Vegas. While I was there mostly on official business working the booth of Pearl Izumi Custom I did have the opportunity to walk the show room floor early before the masses were let in.

Buzz Words of the Show

27.5

27.5

It seems that every brand has a 27.5 wheeled mountain bike coming out.

Bags

Chrome Bags

Backpacks, frame bags, panniers and all sorts of lifestyle bags.

Fat Bikes

IMG_4565

Carbon, a ton of tires hitting the market and a lot of booths using them for display

Bern Allston Helmet Review
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Review: Bern Allston Helmet

Back in July I introduced Bern Helmets’ new ventilated model, the Allston. With a couple months of testing, three different reviewers and some matchy handlebar tape, I’m ready to give you my opinion.

The Bern Allston

The Allston has 16 vents, weighs in at a claimed 13 ounces and comes in 4 colors. With the classic Bern visor style, lighter weight and a decent amount of ventilation this is going to turn some fixie riding heads!

Key Details

MSRP: $89.99
Colors: Matte Black, Matte Grey, Matte Neon Green, Satin White
Features: 16 vents, 13 ounces, Available in 3 sizes (M, L, XL), Snap in liners to make this an all season helmet

Wear Test

The size Medium that showed up in Neon Green fit many heads. The nicest feature of this helmet in my mind is the liner that comes pre-installed. With a baseball cap flap, the adjustment comes from a soft fabric being tightened by velcro at the back. There isn’t a plastic cage tightening against your scull, it also acts as a sweat catcher!

Bern Allston Helmet Review

Ride Test

Bern Allston Test Riding

For bike commuting and low milage city riding this is a great go-to helmet. The vents allow some air flow but the skateboard style shell wraps around your head, a bit lower than most bike helmets these days.

I wouldn’t ride this helmet for 20+ miles unless it’s <60 degrees. While it has good airflow, it isn’t a match for ventilation like Lazer, Giro or Specialized.

Overall Opinion

If you want a great looking helmet, look here. If you want a helmet that can add some warmth in the winter, look here. If you are looking for a solid mountain bike or road helmet and you are often sweating or in warmer temps, do not look here.

I’m a huge fan of the helmet for the right purpose. In city bike shops Bern is selling like hotcakes. The style of the helmet is undeniable and a huge step up from their standard low vent styles.

Support Bike Shop Girl

Looking for a Bern helmet? If you can’t find something at your local bike shop, click through to JensonUSA as I make a commission off all sales you purchase after clicking through from Bike Shop Girl.

Disclaimer: This helmet was provided at no charge for review purposes.

 

PDW Aether Demon
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Review: Portland Design Works Aether Demon

It’s pretty apparent how I feel about bike lights and the level of safety they add to your bike rides. A blinking front and rear light are found on most of my bikes, including some of my mountain bikes if I’m going to hit the road on the way to find my dirt diet. When Emily started commuting to the hospital every morning we purchased a couple lights for her All City Nature Boy that were bright, but it became apparent that the USB front light was kicking the watch battery powered rear light’s arse. Every couple weeks the batteries needed replacing or the rear light wasn’t shining as bright as new. Make fun of me that something this small stressed me out, but at 4:30am I want her seen as much as possible.

That’s about when a little birdy told me about a new USB powered rear light coming out from PDW.

Meet the Portland Design Works Aether Demon

MSRP: $49.00

Details: 

  • Nichia™ 0.5 watt LED
  • USB charging Li-ion battery
  • Texas Instruments™ integrated circuit (I have no idea what that means)
  • 4 modes (run time): Dance (8 hrs), Breathe (8 hrs), Group Ride (175 hrs at 10% power), Rock Steady (3.5 hrs)
  • Includes seatpost, seatstay mounts

Overall Thoughts of the Aether Demon™

Sometimes, though very rarely, I review a product and all I have to say about it is “it really works.” This light is it. The short USB plug that comes with the light plugs into the bottom and then either into your computer, or I use the USB box that came with my iPhone/iPad. It blinks demon blue until it’s charged, you unplug it and go on your way. With included mounts you can install the light on your seat post or on a seat stay on the bike frame. Both mounts allow you to pivot the light to be pointed properly behind you.

Pro’s and Con’s

For $49 it’s hard to beat a USB charging rear light that last for a good long while. Especially one with a great company standing behind it. The only thing I would change has to do with the light output, I’m a big fan of the Light & Motion Vis 180 rear that has light output on the sides for cars coming towards you perpendicular. That’s really my only feedback of the light.

The mount is solid, the USB plug closes up well and the light strobing options are great. If you are in the market for a new rear light and you want something that won’t blow through batteries, take a look at this beauty from Portland Design Works.

Check them out online, or find your local bike shop that stocks them.

Disclaimer: This light was provided at no charge for review. Saying that, I would buy one full retail.

cyclocross
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Colorado Cyclocross Calendar

it’s my first year living in Colorado for cyclocross and I’m starting to get excited! The calendar on BRAC (Bicycle Racing Association Colorado) is lacking links and non-sanctioned races/clinics so in my effort of research, here is what I have found for cyclocross racing in Colorado.

Cross of the North 2012 – Men’s Open from Jamie Servaites on Vimeo.

August

20Formula Four Boulder

23 – FasCat & Jeremy Powers Cross Camp Boulder

27 – Relay Sixty Boulder

September

7 - Women’s Cyclocross Camp 2-5pm in Fort Collins. $25 for the camp
crosscamp
7 - Kick It Cross Festival 
Fort Collins

8Cross of the North Fort Collins

14 - Zero Gravel Cross Littleton

15 - Cyclo X Flatirons Mall Boulder

21 - Cyclo X Valmont Boulder

22 - Body Synx CX Golden

27 – BRAC Junior Cyclocross Camp

28 – BRAC Junior Cyclocross Camp

28 – Cyclo X Rhyolite Park

28 – Queens of Cross Arvada

28 – LTR CX #1 Grand Junction

29 – BRAC Junior Cyclocross Camp

29 – Storm the Castle Castle Rock

October

5 – Frisco Cross Frisco

6 – Primalpalooza Arvada

19 – Colorado Cross Classic Boulder

20 – Boulder Cup Boulder

26 – Cyclo X Xilinx 

26 - LTR CX #2 Grand Junction

27 – Frites CX Parker

November

2 – Schoolyard Cross Brighton

3 – Feedback Cup Golden

9 – Cyclo X Interlocken

9 - LTR CX #3 Grand Junction

10 – Blue Sky Cup Longmont

16 – Cyclo X Louisville Louisville

17 – Mile Hi Urban Cross Denver

23 – Cyclo X Westminster Westminster

23 - LTR CX #4 Grand Junction

24 – Green Mtn Sports CX #2

28 – Turkey Cross Morrison

30 – Castle Cross Castle Rock

December

1 – Cowboy Cross Denver

7 – Cyclo X Boulder Boulder

8 – The RLW “in Memoriam” Cx 

14 – Colorado CX Championships Louisville

15 – Colorado CX Championships Louisville

28 – Tune-up Cup Golden

 

Raleigh Capri Carbon 4.0
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Review: Raleigh Capri Carbon 4.0

A women’s carbon bike that is happy on the all day century, yet stiff enough for trying your hand at criteriums.

MSRP: $4,000
Details: Performance carbon frameset with a taller headtube and a little more relaxed geometry
Drivetrain: Shimano Ultegra 6770 Di2 with 6700 bits mixed in. A full Shimano groupset which is rare to find these days
Components: Handlebar, stem, seatpost and seat are all the Raleigh brand of Avenir. Not top level parts but competitive in durability and weight
Wheels: Weinman DP18 laced to Formula hubs
Full Spec on Raleigh USA

Raleigh Capri Carbon 4.0

Read More

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack
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Review: Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Bags seem to be an addiction for cyclist. You need something for your commute, your mountain riding, your city dwelling and grocery shopping. Finding a bag that can do a little bit of everything and not weigh 40 pounds at the end of the day is pretty important to me.

A few years ago I reviewed the Banjo Brothers Commuter bag. For everyday life the bag was just a bit too big for me. I loved the white color and functions but it was just too bulky for my back. A few weeks back Banjo Brothers sent a care package of review items, one of the bags inside was their newer Metro Backpack, in white of course. As the box was being unpacked my girlfriend quickly put her claim on the Metro Backpack for her daily commute to the hospital. As she is commuting 10 miles a day, 6 days a week, with an extra set of clothes, iPad, overnight “essentials”, lunch and books, I figured she’s a good candidate for testing out the Metro Backpack.

Metro Backpack Essential Details

  • MSRP: $74.99
  • Available in Black or White
  • 18 oz vinyl tarp material (for easier cleaning) with hanging liner for excellent water resistance
  • Full width wicking back pad
  • 12 interior and exterior pockets
  • Padded laptop pocket fits up to 10″ x 15″ notebooks
  • Cell phone holster included
  • Front and rear reflective tape and webbing tab for safety light
  • 16″H x 11″L x 6.5″W / 1100 cubic inches

Details that Mattered to Emily

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Not too big, not too small. The bag isn’t so big that you can overload and have too much gear on your back. You can stuff it, carry tons of stuff or whatever else you may but it’s right at 1100 cubic inches of space.

It’s white and has a large reflective strips. The added safety of a white bag with a large reflective strip across the back flap, a couple reflective strips on the shoulder straps and light holder is pretty thoughtful for when she is commuting at 5am.

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

12 interior and exterior pockets. Each side of the bag has an outside pocket, perfect for a small u-lock, keys or waterbottles. The main flap has a pocket for items you need quickly but want under the protection of a zipper. Inside you have a large compartment with a padded laptop sleeve. Pen pockets, phone pockets and other smaller compartments to keep things organized.

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Phone pocket on shoulder strap that fits a Lifeproof iPhone.

Waterproof. The fabric is waterproof, the flap would keep out water in most rain storms and the most water we deal with normally in Denver are sprinklers. I wouldn’t submerge the thing but it will be more than enough for most commuters.

Removable waist belt. She didn’t ever use it, so we simply unclipped it!

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Compression straps on the sides. Keeps things snug, and when the bags not full you can make it a lot smaller.

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

What’s In Your Bag?

This is a blow out of what is normally in Emily’s bag for her daily commute.

What's In your Bag

Overall Feedback and Thoughts

The bag does not have the classic Banjo Brothers removable liner, which I am thankful for. This is a trimmer, and realistic bag for the everyday commuter (or smaller frame person.) It does still create a sweaty back on commutes over 15 minutes, but that’s really the only downfall of this bag.

There are a few things I would change if I had my way… The material they use is waterproof but that also makes it not stretch or flex very well. The interior and side pockets could be made out of a material that had a little give in it to allow things to get in and out easier. The material also has a lot of friction so sliding things like phones/pens/etc in and out the tight pockets can require two hands. (Note from Banjo Brothers: Truck tarp is stiffer than the ballistic nylon – white is truck tarp, and black and red are in standard ballistic nylon, which is a little more forgiving.)

For $75 I would be surprised if you found a bag comparable for everyday use and easy to use features with out too many thrills to over complicate the bag.

20% Discount with Banjo Brothers Through July

That’s right, Banjo Brothers wants to know if folks that read my reviews actually purchase stuff. They are offering a 20% off discount off anything if use BIKESHOPGIRL at time of checkout (case sensitive.) http://bit.ly/12SPsAu

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no charge for review. 

St. Mary's Glacier
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Laying my Cards on the Table

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?

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