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The 2014 Breck Epic – Prologue

0 Amy Thomas Breck Epic

Amy Thomas, of Yeti Beti Racing, is tackling the 2014 Breck Epic with full determination. She has the motivation from recovery of a shattered pelvis last year and the inspiration of riding with the memory of a friend who has passed away earlier this year from cancer.

Follow along and cheer for Amy during the 2014 Breck Epic 6 day, high alpine, mountain bike stage race.

After last year’s Breck Epic ended, I got an idea. I was inspired by my teammate Natalie and her husband Sean duking it out all week for the Duo co-ed win. I thought, If I can suffer in a hospital bed for 6 days from a shattered pelvis, I can suffer through a 6 day stage race in the high alpine altitudes of Breckenridge, CO.
Now that the race is only a couple weeks away, I’m thinking I must have still been high on pain meds when I schemed this grand plan.I didn’t show for Day 4, the Queen Stage, in 2010. After 3 hard days and a tactical error on Day 3 when I thought I was going to freeze to death off French Pass, I was mentally exhausted, physically spent, and had had enough. I locked myself in the bedroom so no one could talk me into starting the next day. Something happens when you combine 10,000 feet altitude with at least half that climbing per day. You make stupid (read really stupid) decisions. The stages sound short at 35 miles each day, but anyone who has raced up high knows each day can be good, bad, or ugly. I was in the the UGLY. I now regret my decision of not starting Day 4. For me it took something like a big injury to make me  realize how quickly things change. One minute I was fine, the next minute I couldn’t  walk.

Perspective is a gift and now I have it, whether I wanted it or not. After last summer’s #SPT, Shattered Pelvis Tour, which was me racing at the end of the season to prove to myself that I wasn’t permanently injured, the real training started. I joined a local Crossfit gym to continue to strengthen my weaker leg. I started adding up the miles in late February after a long mental break from #SPT. The last 11 months have been all for this: a bucket list check and a “finish what you didn’t finish” 4 years ago.Not everything in life is a high point but eventually the lows rebound to even higher. My greatest strength now is knowing that I can do this because I have come back from far greater things. There are people that don’t get that opportunity and for that, I am humbled my what the human body can endure despite its own best efforts to try to knock you down.

Review: Trek Lexa SLX Women’s Road Bike

0 BSG - REVIEW- TREK LEXA SLX

3-4 years ago Trek launched a women’s aluminum road bike model line up called “Lexa“. Since, the Lexa has become a widely popular road bike in the US as Trek has offered many different model levels and a variety of colors to appeal to any woman. Additionally, the WSD fit of these bikes is a hit with women of many proportions. I’ve had the opportunity to test ride many Lexas and finally was able to snag an SLX model for a long term review to see how it really will last for women looking to invest in a new road bike.

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Colorado Women’s Cycling Events

0 Yeti Beti Bike Bash

Photo Credit: Yeti Beti

Colorado is home to fabulous cycling events like the US Pro Challenge and  the Triple By Pass. Our lovely state is also home to several amazing women’s only bike events and races.

Here’s a list of ladies-only cycling events in Colorado!

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

23 small business colorado

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.

Handmade Cycling Gift Ideas

10 Off the Map Art

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

Recap of Interbike 2013

12 IMG_4493

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

Review: Bern Allston Helmet

10 Bern Allston Helmet Review

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.

 

Review: Portland Design Works Aether Demon

9 PDW 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.