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A Guide to Choosing an Indoor Bike Trainer

Tomorrow will be my first ride on the trainer in a year. Some people may groan when they read this thinking that riding indoors is boring or worthless but these indoor rides are critical for my sanity and fitness during the winter. I don’t mind riding when it’s frigid cold out, but in Denver we get a lot of freeze/thaw/freeze which leaves a lot of black ice. Black ice and over confident drivers shouldn’t be put together, but they often are on the streets of Denver. Additionally, riding the trainer gives you very dedicated training time to knock out intervals and pile on the watts. You don’t need to find the perfect road, or be frustrated with stop lights and you can get your work out done quickly during kids naps!

There are many trainers on the market these days, and in an effort to add clarity to the confusion I put together a quick guide to the essential pieces that you need to know when buying a trainer.

Entry Level Bike Trainers

There are two types of entry level trainers. One uses a magnet to add resistance to your wheel, and the other uses wind. Both of these would work well if you are in the garage and basement with headphones on. The wind is by far the loudest, and I have experience “out pedaling” the resistance so that I couldn’t make my ride harder. I wouldn’t recommend these options if you are trying to do dedicated interval speed work, or if you want to be in the house. The magnetic one is the best value of trainer on the market. Perfect for the person needing to get in a spin, and doesn’t care about the noise. If you buy a magnetic one make sure it has a remote to change the resistance from on the bike. There aren’t too many wind trainers out there these days, but you may find some on craigslist for dirt cheap.

Recommended Magnetic Trainers

CycleOps Mag+ Trainer With Remote

CycleOps Mag+ Trainer With Remote


Kinetic Magnetic 3.0 Trainer

Mid Range Bike Trainers

As an avid indoor trainer user I’ve typically fallen in this mid-range area. This level of trainer will use fluid to provide the resistance to the fly wheel, and will get harder as you go faster. The only noise is that of your tire and you can easily watch a TV show with someone else while riding. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on my Kinetic Road Machine (original) and have not experienced any issues with it. This includes long endurance rides of 3+ hours, and hard interval work. There are a few trainers in this category that I would recommend.

Recommended Fluid Trainers

Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer

Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer

CycleOps FLUID2 Trainer

CycleOps FLUID2 Trainer

CycleOps Jet Pro Fluid Trainer

CycleOps Jet Pro Fluid Trainer

High Performance Bike Trainers

For over a decade there has been only one “high-performance” trainer, the Computrainer. This is the trainer you’ll see at indoor cycling studios, or at your cycling coaches paincave. It measures all of your stats, connected to a computer and allows you to ride in a game like environment. A few others have hit the market like Tacx, Wahoo Kickr, CycleOps PowerBeam, and even “smart” trainers that offer wattage tracking. Most of these trainers have integrated apps for your computer, iPad or smartphone. These applications integrate videos, and a gaming experience to push you are hard and keep you interested through the monotonous indoor time. I haven’t used many of these other than the Computrainer and Tacx, but I can tell you based off friend’s experiences what is the most sought after for this season.

Wahoo Fitness KICKR Bike Trainer

Wahoo Fitness KICKR Bike Trainer


CycleOps PowerBeam Pro Bluetooth Smart Bike Trainer

CycleOps PowerBeam Pro Bluetooth Smart Bike Trainer


Wahoo Fitness KICKR SNAP Bike Trainer

Wahoo Fitness KICKR SNAP Bike Trainer

Bike Trainer Accessories

None of these are a requirement but nice to have. Your new trainer should come with a trainer skewer to replace your current one. If you are going to use multiple bikes on the trainer, buy multiple trainer skewers. You don’t necessarily need to take these out everytime you are done with the trainer. I leave my trainer skewer in from now until March. It adds a few grams to my bike, but it’s a lot less hassle. The riser block below is for your front wheel to be level with the rear wheel, it also has a few different heights to help engaged your muscles (you can also use a phone book). The bike thong will keep a good amount of sweat off your bike, and your mechanic won’t hate you as much come March.

Kinetic Turntable Riser Ring

Kinetic Turntable Riser Ring

CycleOps Bike Thong Sweat Catcher

CycleOps Bike Thong Sweat Catcher

Other Things

I would be remiss not to mention a few other things in this guide. In the future we will dive deeper into other indoor options like rollers, stationary bikes, and various apps/videos that you could subscribe to. Finally, I want to mention a new product coming out in January 2016 that could change the trainer world. Feedback Sports is releasing a new portable trainer called the Omnium that is one part rollers and one part amazing. This will be the perfect trainer for space crunched cyclists, or for warm up and cool down at races.

Feedback Omnium Portable Trainer

Feedback Omnium Portable Trainer


17 Nov ’15 0 comment
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31 Years Old

It’s Friday the 13th, it is also my 31st birthday. 31 years ago my mother had been in labor for too many hours. I was stubborn, and that should have been a sign of what she was in for!

I have always treated my birth day much like people treat New Years Eve. A day of review, joy, and new goals for the next year. Looking back on my 30th year it is very easy to say it was my best yet. Emily was in her 2nd trimester as my 30th year began. We welcomed Ellington in to this world. We built a house. We moved in a beautiful community of green space, walking paths, and like minded families. We have also created an amazing village of friends, and family. I became a stay at home mom and have experienced the most joy ever in my life thanks to the days surrounded by children.

My 30th year ended up being nothing like I thought it would be 365 days ago. A house purchase, and stay at home mom position was not in our family’s minds! It is difficult to predict what my 31st year will bring, but I am committing to a positive, loving, and joyous year. I started off the day surrounded by loving friends, their amazing children, and my favorite biscuits and gravy. Later this morning I talked to my coach from CTS for the first time to plan out the next year of goal setting, and tonight I will end the day surrounded again by so many loving friends and family.

Thank you to all of my readers for sharing in the journey with me, and joining me for another 365 days!

13 Nov ’15 1 comment
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8 months into this new life chapter of parenting and I have found pieces of myself that I didn’t know existed. Most days I find that I have unlimited patience, a knack for distracting a busy baby, and sometimes I cook a surprisingly good meal. The concept of life balance has really come to light as my household juggles a crawling baby, resident life schedule, college classes, and keeping a healthy relationship between all parties. Your belief system around your priorities completely shift once you have children, but a small voice in the back of your heart reminds you not to lose yourself in the mix.

Our family is tuning out this next week to enjoy some quality rest and recovery. We plan on recharging our batteries, and to work on a schedule for the next 3 months until our next vacation. What are our goals for those 3 months? What do we need to do to achieve them? How can we support each other to meet our goals? Wash, Rinse and Repeat.

As we head into the off-season for most of my readers, I want to take some time to recognize a change within my life and to reflect on the space that I see this community fulfilling for me and for you. One of the hardest things to figure out when becoming a mom, and then a stay at home mom, is how to be the best mom, wife, and partner you can be without losing yourself. Before motherhood I would identify myself as an athlete, and since motherhood I have lost that identity. My goals must be more realistic now that there is an adorable small human filling up my time but I plan on taking the next 3-6 months to better understand how to lead a healthy and active life while balancing the rest of it. Not only is this for myself, but it is for all women out there trying to juggle – and to teach my daughter that above all you are the sole provider of your happiness.

In the middle of November I will be teaming up with Carmichael Training Systems to break down those walls for the do-everything-woman. How do we be the best at everything? How do we fit in excercise around work, kids playdates, family budgets, grocery shopping, or late night homework assignments? The first step will be identifying some reasonable goals to work towards. Hopefully at the end of this next week from being unplugged I will come back with that list of tentative goals to share with you, and my coach.

Turning it over to you

What are your life-balance goals? How do you find the balance? How has your life changed in order to find that balance?

28 Oct ’15 5 comments
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FitWell Bikes Fahrlander II Review

It has been a pleasant sight over the past 2 seasons to see more road bikes become “Any-Road” bikes with a more upright fit, disc brakes and ability to take fatter tires. For many years I have been selling cyclocross bikes to normal everyday folks as a road bike because that style of bike offers more tire clearance and a less aggressive ride than a typical road bike from 5+ years ago. FitWell Bicycle Company’s version of this category is called the Fahrlander, pronounced far-lander with an accent that I can’t duplicate. In September I did a quick video preview for this bike, and also wrote a piece on how to fit and order a FitWell. Today we are going to dive a bit deeper into a full review including pros and cons, and who I believe this bike is suited for.


MSRP: $1,310 (Currently <$800 online)
Key Specifications: Shimano 105 10 speed drivetrain, steel frame, Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes
Sizing: Currently only available in the Riley fit, which is rather upright. They are working on two other fit options.

Out of the Box Impression

Pulling the bike out of the box the first thing I noticed was the color. It has a great mix of a steel gray and a purple to add personality. If purple isn’t your thing they have a blue and orange version. The next thing that I noticed was the overdose of logo usage. You get used to it after a few rides but it reminded me of late 90’s Trek and Cannondale logo placement on every tube possible. The cockpit is made up of no-name handlebar, stem, and seatpost decorated with the FitWell logo. The handlebars for the medium sized bike seemed rather narrow at 40cm. Much like any major manufacturer, the bike  came 90% pre-assembled where you need to install handlebar, front brake and tweak all of your gears. Everything went together fine, but the brakes were an extreme PITA to install as the pads didn’t seem to center no matter what trick and tool I threw at them.

Fitwell Bicycle Fahrlander II Review

Riding Characteristics

The bike is a pleasure to ride as long as you don’t have in mind a typical twitchy road bike handling. It lends itself to more of a touring bike than cyclocross bike due to the front head tube angle BUT it has much shorter rear stays than most touring bikes so it does corner quickly and accelerate well with a tight (short) rear end. I also found it appealing that this small little company has unique tubing lengths for each size bike. Most manufactures will keep certain tubes the same length on all sizes to save on costs and headache. This is a great bike to put under someone that is unsteady or twitchy with little core muscles to keep them upright. The head tube (front end of the bike) is rather tall so I kept my stem flipped to the flat side and lowered down to keep a relatively 0″ drop from seat to handlebars. Out of the box with the stem flipped up and at it’s highest point the handlebars were 2-3″ above my seat which is great if you have super tight hamstrings, back problems or a lunch muscle in the way. As I mentioned, the front end steers more like a touring bike while the rear end skirts around very nicely. This leads to a great everyday bike especially on unsteady roads or loose gravel.


Build Quality

Whenever I see a bike that is significantly less money than competitors and sold mostly online I get concerned for safety and spec. Where did they cut corners? The frame and fork itself are of fine quality. You aren’t going to win any lightweight awards but it rides well and the steel tubing can take a beating. The drivetrain is mainly 10 speed Shimano 105 which is perfect for an adventure/touring bike because it won’t wear out quickly and it won’t be a huge price to replace parts as parts do wear out. The Novatec hub to Weinman rim wheelset is an above average wheel set for the price point. As an avid (abusive) gravel/sand and all weather rider if this was my goto bike for an entire season the wheels or bearings would need replaced before long as the hubs and bearings are already starting to show some signs of wear. If you are a fair weather rider these wheels will treat you perfectly fine. The Maxxis Columbiere tires were a pleasant surprise for me. They roll well and didn’t experience any punctures even when riding through goat head strewn paths. The brakes are a deal breaker for me and would be upgraded the same time I bought the bike. The pads never stayed centered and would alternate dragging from one side to the other on any given ride. The paint on the frame chipped in a few places from rocks hitting the down tube, but that isn’t uncommon on bikes that travel on gravel. Overall I think the build quality is strong and hopefully they will change the spec of the brakes for upcoming seasons.


There are a couple odd things I noticed on this bike that don’t really fit in any specific area of the review. They are more for your information if you buy the bike than a review of the actual bike.

  • Bar tape is installed backwards from the typical technique. The bar wrap starts at the stem and goes to the end of the bar instead of reverse.
  • The thread diameter for rack and fenders seems to be an M6, which is a bit odd as most rack hardware is an M5.
  • I would recommend chasing all the threads on your bike as paint covered most of the eyelets and even the bottom bracket shell wasn’t faced as well as I would prefer.
  • When I wore my clip-in shoes with worn out cleats that have a lot of play side to side I did experience excessive heal strike on the rear chainstays. I wear a size 43 and was riding a medium. Something to think about if you have big feet!

FitWell Bikes Fahrlander II Review

Overall Conclusion

At $1,300 this bike will be difficult to match on price to spec. The company which is based out of Minnesota, FitWell Bicycle, saw an opportunity to make bikes around the fit and less about the object. If brand names matter to you, this company probably won’t be a good fit but if you are care about sizing and value than this is a bike I would tell you to look at. This bike would be someone’s first road bike, light touring or bike packing bike, an everyday commuter or for sand bike paths. You won’t buy this bike if you care about weight, stiffness or being aerodynamic. FitWell also offers two programs if you don’t feel comfortable building or fitting your bike that help pay for a shop to assemble the bike, and for a qualified shop to fit you on the bike. Information on these two programs can be found here. These are two unheard of offers from online retailers.

Personally, if I was looking for a daily do all commuter and a get out of town bike-packing bike this would be the first option I would look at.

Click here to find out more about the FitWell Fahrlander II.

Disclaimer: This bike was provided at no charge for review. We were not paid nor bribed in anyway for this review.

15 Oct ’15 2 comments
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A video review of my pros and cons of the Birzman Studio Tool Box. A full review with more photos and in depth options will be coming next week!

Read the preview over yonder.

Can’t Find It Locally? Buy it through my affiliates (Currently on sale for $325!)

Tool Box Info:
37 Tools

Tools Included:
1 Torx®Key Set T10/ T15/ T20/ T25/ T27/ T30/ T40/ T45/ T50
2 Hex Key Set 1.5/2/2.5/3/4/5/6/8/10mm
3 Chain Wear Indicator 0.75% to 1%
4 Patch Kit
5 Tire Lever Set
6 Shimano®Cartridge B.B. Tool
7 Shimano® HG Cassette
8 Shimano® MF Freewheel
9 Universal Crank Puller For ISIS® Drive and Octalink® crank arms
10 Cable Cutter
11 Hollowtech® II B.B. Tool
12 Socket Wrench For 1/2″ drive hex bit sockets
13 Crank Arm Installation Tool
14 Spoke Wrench 12G/13G/14G/15G /Shimano® 4.3/4.4
15 Chain Rivet Extractor 1/8″, 3/32″, 9,10 and 11 speed
16 Pedal Wrench 15mm pedal wrench
17 Chain Whip 8/9/10/11 speed
18 Flathead 5.5
19 Crosshead #2
20 Combination Wrench 8/10mm
21 File
22 Link Pliers
23 Campagnolo® Cassette
24 8MM Hex Key 8mm
25 10MM Hex Key 10mm
26 Shifting Spanner 0-33mm
27 Disc Brake Piston Press
28 Rotor Truing Fork For hydraulic brake systems
29 Disc Brake Gap Indicator
30 Threadless Saw Guide 1”, 1-1/8” and 1-1/4”
31 Mavic® Spoke Wrench
32 Threadless Nut Setting Tool 1-1/8”
33 Diagonal Pliers 6″
34 Chainring Nut Wrench
35 Radio Pliers 6″
36 Dead Blow Hammer
37 Tape Measure

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no cost for review. We were not bribed or paid for our review.

31 Aug ’15 0 comment
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Kids Bike Trailer

In this “Hauling Your Kid by Bike” series I’ll walk you through different ways to carry your kids with you on your bike, the pros and cons of each, and how I ultimately decided on the product I did to help you figure out what fits your needs the most.

The most popular ways to haul kids by bike in the United States are bike child seats and kids bike trailers. Today we will look at the options in each of these styles and the pros/cons so that you can make an educated decision for your family. The article will end with a preview of the next part of this series, cargo bikes!

Kids Rear Mounted Bike Seat

Credit: Incase

What You Need to Know About Rear Mounted Child Seats

Let me begin this section with a disclaimer. Rear mounted child seats are my least favorite option to sell when behind the counter of a bike shop. More times than not the person buying the child seat is just getting back into riding, unskilled, out of practice, and now strapping a 30+ lb squirmy kid to the rear end of their bike. If you are inexperienced or have to get on and off your bike a lot please look at the kid trailer option below.

Now that I got that disclaimer out of the way…

Pros of Rear Mounted Child Seats

  • Price. This is the biggest reason parents lean towards these seats. You can find them starting at $75-80 new
  • Set it and forget it. You can install the rear seat and leave it. No fussing
  • 5 point harnesses (if you find one that doesn’t have a 5 point harness I do not recommend it)
  • It’s simply riding a bike, your normal bike and you aren’t pulling an additional piece of equipment behind you

Cons (remember I am biased against them)

  • You must keep your bike upright and steady once your child is strapped in
  • There is no roll bar or sun protection
  • It’s difficult for your child to fall asleep without that awkward head lean
  • It is easy for your child to drop anything to the street flying under you that isn’t strapped down

Tips for Buying

There are many great brands out there for rear mounted child seats ranging from $80-230. The Yepp Maxi is by far the most sought after due to multiple colors and available safety/comfort. It is also not cheap at $230. I have seen these resell after 2 years of use for $150 so they do keep their value! Other reputable brands are Co-Pilot (Blackburn) and Giant.

Buying used is another great option for these seats as it is pretty obvious if the seat has been dropped or abused. Triple check the rack that the seat mounts on will fit your bike and has all the hardware. This is a great piece of Craigslist equipment to potentially meet someone at your local bike shop so the shop can confirm everything will work before you buy it.

Tips for Using

Practice riding with out them with the seat installed. My typically recommendation for new moms is to strap a pillow in the seat and practice getting on and off the bike and strapping the pillow in and out without tipping over the bike.

Finally, your child must be old enough to sit and hold their head up with a helmet. I’ve seen recommendations of 9 months to a year, but I will say that my pediatrician wife says a year as the child needs to be able to control their upper body from whiplash if you need to stop suddenly. Your child MUST wear a helmet at all times in one of these. I also recommend eye protection and sunscreen / SPF shirt.

What You Need to Know About Kid Bike Trailers

I wish I could convey how much I love bike trailers. I’m a bit biased towards these and would happily open a bike shop to specialize in bike trailers.

Pros of Kid Bike Trailers

  • A roll bar and typically a knuckle at the trailer hitch that keeps the trailer from tipping over if you knock your bike over
  • Mesh covering. Sometimes a weather cover and tinted windows
  • 5 point harness
  • 1 or 2 kid carrying options (not all trailer carry two children so please double check)
  • Kids are enclosed. Through in snacks, their favorite bear, a pillow, an iPad, whatever you want
  • Some models can be turned into strollers, joggers and tow-behind snowshoe sleds
  • You aren’t limited to kids. Carry other stuff in them like groceries, camping gear or a Home Depot run

Cons of Kid Bike Trailers

  • They are more expensive than seats. Typically starting at $250-300
  • They add additional length to your bike. You have to think about the trailer behind you when riding and turning
  • They take up more room in your car if you need to transport them somewhere
  • It’s another thing to keep up, inflate tires and check over
  • If you use this often I would recommend a rear fender for your bike as you the back tire may fling up dirt or water onto your child

Tips for Buying

Throwing another personal opinion into this as you’re here to read my opinion, right? I prefer Burley trailers over any other brand. They make a great product (not the cheapest), have a strong warranty and wonderful customer service. Additionally I have friends that have had a Burley trailer for 15+ years that is now their grocery getter until they have grandkids to tow around. Other major brands of trailers are Thule (was Chariot), Croozer, and Giant. Decide if you want to fit 1 or 2 kids in the trailer, and if accessories like a stroller attachment sound nice to you.

Tips for Using

Trailers will normally require mounting a small hitch to the back of your bike. It isn’t as major as it sounds but if you aren’t mechanical have a bike shop help you, or click on the advice link and I’ll be happy to help you over FaceTime/Skype if needed! This hitch will attach to your bike and the trailer then attaches to the hitch. Again, read directions please! Practice for a couple rides with the trailer without kids inside if possible. This could be around the block or if you plan on going on a true adventure with sharp turns/speed do test ride without kids. You have to take turns wider and you’ll notice the extra weight behind you on up hills. Tires use tubes like your bike. Pick up a tube in the right size and keep it in the back of the trailer. Check your tires on the trailer when you check your bike. Pay attention to inflation rating as it is probably different than your bike.

Kids must wear helmets and be able to sit up on their own with the helmet. My wife (the pediatrician) and Burley both feel strongly that you should wait until a year for your child. The ride in a trailer can be bumpy and they need to be able to control their upper body if you stop or swerve suddenly. Finally, I had the genius idea of trying to put my daughters car seat into the trailer. She is 5 months old and still must face backwards in her seat so I thought this would fix everything. Well a few things happened: I didn’t get out of the garage because it didn’t seem secure enough. Burley personally emailed me recommending against it. My in-house counsel/doctor didn’t approve (nor did I). The trailer didn’t support the seat enough to keep it secure. Since the car seat was going to be facing backwards I couldn’t stand the idea of not being able to see my daughter unless I stopped and got off of my bike. Moral of the story, you may see photos on the internet of folks doing this, but please don’t.

Next Up in Our Hauling Your Kid By Bike Series

The next article in this series is about cargo bikes and specifically we will review long-tail cargo bikes like the Xtracycle and front box bikes like the Bullitt. A small hint, I’m ending up with a version of one of these bikes!

Featured Photo Credit: Richard Masoner

15 Aug ’15 2 comments
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Pello Bikes Kickstarter

After becoming a mom earlier this year I have become hyper sensitive to the available market of kids bikes that are decent quality, well fitting and lighter weight. Many, if not most, kids bikes don’t fit well because they are very long bringing the weight forward over the handlebar and don’t allow the kids legs to extend proper. A couple weeks ago I noticed the Pello Bikes Kickstarter and started to get very excited that the bikes use quality parts and have had professional bike fitters feedback. The sweetest part? They aren’t much more than their major brand counterparts.

If you are looking for the perfect present for a child in your life take a look at the Pello Bikes. They come in 3 different sizes and if the Kickstarter is funded the bikes will be ready before Christmas. While I don’t fully support the 14″ size as the parts aren’t readily available at bike shops, I do understand the transition to this size from a slightly smaller strider.

Check out the Kickstarter and maybe buy someone an amazing Christmas gift!

18 Jun ’15 0 comment
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Beti Bike Bash

With the upcoming Beti Bike Bash I have been asked many great questions on how to prepare for and race someone’s first bike race. Over the past 15 years I’ve raced hundreds of races, and have been able to learn from my own failures or pre-race mistakes. Below is my personal list of the things I wish someone had told me. This list could have thousands of tips on it so add your own in the comments below.

Two Weeks Before

Pre-Ride the course at a casual pace. +1 point if you can ride behind a more experienced friend. Learn their lines at a slower speed. Stop and repeat areas if you have to. Go for the sake of learning. I typically do this on a recovery day.

Get your bike checked over. This can honestly be done within one to two weeks but give your shop time during the season as they may be backed up or need to order parts. Make an appointment if possible so you aren’t without your bike more than a day.

Are you registered? Some races sell out within hours of opening, hopefully that type of race isn’t your first. Make sure you are registered and have whatever licenses (if any) are needed for your specific race.

One Week Before

Pre-Ride at race pace. This is the time to learn where you’ll pass, where to recover and make a game plan for race day. If you are traveling to the event do this pre-ride at race pace the day before, but make sure to limit your distance and time!

Dial in nutrition. Hopefully by now you know what to eat or drink on the bike. Test your theory during the race pace pre-ride. If you’re not sure, don’t try something new. For shorter races water will be just fine if you haven’t used any other supplement.

Three Days Before

Get your sleep. I’m always nervous the night before my first race of the season, so I focus on getting quality sleep the nights leading up to it.

Pack. Be prepared for any type of weather, mechanical etc. I typically have two bags, one for race specific gear and one for non-race specific gear. My packing list for a <4 hour race is below.

 [zilla_toggle title=”Race Day Packing List” state=”open”] Essentials (As long as I have these things I can figure out the rest):

Bike (and both wheels!)
Bike Shoes
Credit Card

For Body:

Bike shorts
Long Sleeve Jersey
Chamois Butter
Rain gear (jacket, umbrella, etc.)

For Bike:

Flat kit
Floor pump (check your tires before your race)
Spare tube in the car
Any tools I feel comfortable using before race time


Hydration – One bottle to drink the hour before race. One bottle per 45 minutes racing. One bottle with recovery drink for after. If it is a hot day I will bring extra supplements to add to other water.
Headphones for warm up
iPod or music device with pump up the volume music!
Large Towel – Helpful to wipe off with or to wrap around you to change under
Non-Bike Clothes and Shoes – Get out of that chamois when you can!
Bike Lock – if in a weird place I lock up my bike

Night Before

Pack everything in car but bottles and bike. This may not be possible where you live, but I put all of my gear in the back of my car the night before.

Charge everything. Is your music device charged?!

Prepare your spouse / kids /etc. Is your family coming? Make sure they are setup for success the DAY BEFORE so you aren’t dealing with it the morning of. Make sure they know tomorrow is your day!

Print Directions & Registration. Know where you are going and have ready what you need.

Get Pumped. I personally will scroll through Tumblr or read a motivating story from ESPNW.

Hydrate. Eat Well. Sleep.

Morning Of

Car Pool. If possible I love carpooling with fellow racers. It’s rather motivating to get pumped up with others!

Warm Up. Go ride. Relax as much as possible but spin those legs.

Pre-Ride! Typically you want to time your warm up so that you are “warmed up” and can hit the course for one hard lap (or 10 minutes) as close to start as possible.

Test your start out gear. Once I am warmed up I’ll do a few mock starts to help my legs get ready and figure out what gear I need to be in.


Enjoy yourself.

You don’t have to win your first race.

Make friends.

Pass when it is safe.

Say nice things.

Smile when it hurts. It helps, and it really annoys your competition.

Pace yourself. Ideally you’ll get faster as the race goes on, not slower.

Go whatever speed you can to finish, but leave it all out there.


Ride GENTLY for 10-15 minutes to cool down. (Even if you feel like throwing up, do this!)

Hydrate and eat.

Cheer others on.


Did I forget something? Add your own tips below!

Photo Credit: Beti Bike Bash

10 Jun ’15 4 comments
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The Bike Industry is Sick (1)

Over the past few weeks there have been a few articles highlighting the need for better inclusivity for women in order to help grow the industry. First there was Amanda Batty who left PinkBike as a writer after being bullied and not supported by her employer. Then, the League of American Bicyclists released a Women Bike report, “Bike Shops for Everyone: Strategies for Making Bike Retail More Welcoming to Women.” Quickly behind the Bike League, People for Bikes released new research on Women’s participation. Finally, Molly with Bicycling Magazine wrote a piece on how bike shops can be more friendly to women.

Over the past 5-10 years the focus of getting more women riding has spurred a lot of new product, brands and a great amount of debate within the inner circles of the industry if women really need special product. As a woman that has essentially grown up in the bike industry I really hope that the industry will catch up with the times and start to understand the larger problems that are keeping the industry from growing. These same problems will also keep turning women away.

In no particular order, here is my personal take on why the industry is sick and only getting worse. These thoughts come from running bike shops, working on the vendor side, and being an outside rep for 370 dealers in the Southeast.

Why is the Industry Broken?

1. There is No Barrier for Entry or Standard of Training

Finding a job in a bike shop isn’t hard, if you like bikes and present yourself well you can find a job at one of the 5,000 bike shops in the US. As one works up in their shop career or decide to work for brands or distribution some experience comes into play but there isn’t a available degree, school or class regime that you can take to “learn bikes” outside of simply putting in time.

Due to this lack of infrastructure there is no standardization of training. Some folks will go to mechanics school such as UBI but if that is your only experience as a mechanic you probably won’t land a job in a shop right away as these schools do not teach real life situations. There isn’t a class you can take in high school unless you are lucky to have a community shop. There is also no training provided by a hierarchy of the trade commission. If you aren’t a shop that carries Trek, Specialized or Giant than you don’t have much chance to teach your employees (or yourself) valuable skills like bike fitting, sales techniques, or basic accounting functions. Some brands such as QBP, and Mann University, have identified this and are trying to help but it isn’t standard or a requirement.

We have bike shop employees learning under fire and representing that shop to the customers that walk in the door. If they are lucky enough to work at a shop that has their own training protocol they are lucky, but unfortunately the employees often looks at this training as “corporate” and not valuable. Most shop general managers or service managers are there due to Peter Principle and not due to having managerial experience or skills.

2. Lack of Training

This lack of training (and education) breeds lack of basic business understanding. Employees are doing their best with little guidance, and typically when a customer is unhappy you will only know from a negative Yelp review. Many, if not most, bike shops are being run on super tight budgets with low profit margins because the owners, buyers and managers don’t understand where they could be saving money, where they shouldn’t be spending it and how to maximize their bottom line.

3. Low Average Pay

Low profit margins mean low average pay. Low average pay within an industry that requires a lot of knowledge within tech and product. Shop and brand employees are often quizzed by customers who have been researching the heck out of product online. There are tech events hosted by brands like SRAM, Park and Shimano to keep industry employees knowledgable on the product. We have employees working off hours (10-7, including weekends) that must know as much as possible on the niches of bikes their shops carry, including competing brands, making between $11-16 an hour, typically without any benefits other than a discount.

4. Product First Mentality

The industry has shoved product education down these under paid  adults throats but we haven’t taught them about business, about building a brand, about selling or making a community. There are multiple events during the year like Interbike and Sea Otter where brands and shops ship their employees to drink the latest Kool-Aid, but we are serving them product that will be phased out in 6 months and not knowledge that will help any customer that walks in your door.

How Do We Fix The Bicycle Industry?

1. We teach bike shops how to run as a business. This includes marketing, sales and data.

2. Once bike shops are running as businesses (and not passion fueled shells simply sitting in the black every year) we can pay people, and give them benefits so they don’t leave for another industry.

3. Start training with the basics.
Any large retail company trains their employees first on customer service, standard processes like working the register, store layout, and then product. Why? Product revolves every 6 weeks, being a good human does not.

4. NBDA needs to standardize this basic training
. Provide it online at no costs to your members.

5. Shops require this training before an employee sets foot near a customer
. Stop hiring 16 year old high schoolers to help sell kids bikes their first day on the job. Parents will continue to look at bikes as toys if we don’t teach them otherwise.

6. Sponsors and advertisers hold your magazines, bloggers and athletes accountable. If an article is released that talks shit about women in the auto world, even in an off hand remark, do you not think there will be hell to pay?

7. Grow up. Don’t show up to work smelling like beer. Keep your bathrooms clean. Brands keep it classy at demos. If your employer pays for you to go to Interbike don’t be so drunk that you don’t remember anything.

8. Be human and respectful. When a customer’s bike is wrecked and they are heart broken don’t be a jerk about it. If someone is stoked about their first $750 mountain bike, give them a high five and recommend a couple of your favorite beginner trails. Stop talking down to each other. There is absolutely nothing to gain by proving others wrong or showing that you know more than them. You don’t earn a bonus, and you may have just turned someone off from biking.

We Aren’t a Hobby

In conclusion, I would also like to ask that we stop comparing ourselves to golf, or some other hobby. I would love to compare us to the auto industry. Not only because bikes are transportation but because cars aren’t so different. They requires sales, service and have a lot of variations in models. What is different is the training. To work in a car dealer you go through intensive training for both sales and service. My favorite part of comparing the bike industry to auto? You don’t see cars designed only for women.

Next Steps

Are you in the industry, or a consumer? Does any of the above ring true to you in your experiences? Tell us about them.

4 Jun ’15 50 comments
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Social Media for Bike Shops

A few months ago I asked you to chime in on what role local bike shops should play on social media. Some of the best comments came offline when I was face to face with bike dealers that were struggling to understand the impact of social media and feeling overwhelmed by deciding what channels they should be utilizing.

After co-hosting two seminars at QBP’s FrostBike this past February I realized that most bike shops are getting too stuck in the tactical side of social media. For example, what time should they be posting, what channels, how often and so on. Very few shops actually understood that the tactical side is something you worry about after you figured out the basics of branding and story telling. The most important thing about marketing, regardless if it is online or off, is how you capture the essence of your bike shop and show the world.

Below are some of my basic tips to build a strong foundation for social media. This is channel agnostic and more about creating a strong groundwork and game plan to build on to in the future.

The Basic Foundation for a Bike Shops in Social Media

  • Understand what your shop, and the brand of your shop, stands for before posting. If you don’t know that, contact me. What is your tagline or mission statement? Use that as your guide. Post photos, stories and share content that exemplifies that statement.
  • It is about making connections and not your follower count. Create conversations, comment on followers posts and connect as you would if they were in your store.
  • Be a resource. Become the go to place for information about your neighborhood, your niche speciality, or region.
  • Tell stories. They don’t have to be long winded, or well documented. Something as simple as your ride for coffee, as stories make your shop human.
  • Ignore the trolls. There will be people that have nothing better to do than leave rude comments. Serve them a cup of sunshine and move on.

What’s Next?

The next post in this series will be examples of  bike shops that I have found setting themselves up for success in digital marketing.

12 May ’15 0 comment
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