Bike Law Clothing Kit

The First 24 Hours of a Bike Tour

Let’s turn back time by a month or so, do you remember that I won a wonderful scholarship from BikeLaw.com to join their Blue Ridge Bike Tour?   That’s where I am now, on that 4.5 day tour from bed & breakfast to bed & breakfast down the Blue Ridge Parkway with Black Bear Adventures.

Day 1 of my Blue Ridge Parkway Bike Tour

Thankfully co-rider (and scholarship winner) Weldon Weaver nicely picked me up to carpool the two hours from Charlotte to Blowing Rock, NC.  A ton of great conversation and scenery we arrived at 1pm to our hotel.   Our fellow touring friends didn’t roll in until 3pm so Weldon and I were biting at the bit (dressed and ready at 3pm Peter!) Finally everyone was ready, and I think we rolled out around 4pm.  Most of us rocking our new Bike Law kits, wool socks and awesomeness.

Bike Law Clothing Kit

30 miles, a lightening storm, Blue Ridge Parkway and a killer descent.   A great way to start a 4.5 day bike tour!

Day 2 of my Blue Ridge Parkway Bike Tour

Blue Ridge Bike Tour

Wake up sore, feeling hung over (didn’t take enough electrolytes the day before) and not sure I was really prepared for the days climbing!   At breakfast we happen to see the days weather, and it didn’t look pretty.  Cycling cap on, Gore water proof jacket, and a baggy full of treats in my bag.

I suffered, and suffered some more.  Wet socks, wet cap, wet gloves, we ass.  You get the point.  We went up a whole lot, and down for what seemed like seconds (some of the best seconds I’ve had in a road bike in awhile.)

I learned a lot about myself.  I thought I sucked at climbing before, I am even worse than I thought.  But, damn I love going down hill fast!  I learned to keep pedaling, to find a rhythm in your body and keep trudging.

Tomorrow is a new day, I hear we are riding up Mount Mitchell.   For now I leave you with photos from Peter @ Bikelaw.com

Liz Hatch Photo

The Bike Industry Needs More Women Like Liz Hatch

The name Liz Hatch is a sensitive subject in the women’s cycling peloton .  The sexy blonde has made many pro women cringe.  Last year I mentioned her name during an interview with Team Vera Bradley and they weren’t happy.  Why?  Some call her a wanna be. Not fast enough to compete with the great girls.  Some call her a sand bagger.

Read More

Burn 24 Hour

Questioning a 24 Hour Solo Mountain Bike Race

Burn 24 HourLately when I race and people ask how it was I simply can’t answer as I don’t feel like I am really racing.  I feel like I’m riding around in circles, trying to find the next gear within my own.   I’ve finished mostly last for the past year of my cycling life.   I argue with myself that this place is better than not starting which I had been doing for the year prior.   I struggle with the mental piece, knowing I am better than this, knowing that I am the puppet master and only allowing myself to fall.

Racing for the past year has been motivation.  At the finish line when I knew I could have done better, that is motivation.  I pay the race entry fee so that the other girl doesn’t come in last, and that I get a small kick in the ego…large enough to want more, but small enough not to do anything about it.

Doing Burn 24 Hour was this.  There were moments on the trail I was questioning my sanity. Especially at 11:30pm when the roots were wet, my chamois was sweaty and my glasses were so fogged up from the humidity I was simply praying the whole 7 mile lap not to bust my face open.

I question why I slept for 5 hours.  I question why I didn’t bring my full suspension bike with more “wet root friendly tires.”  I question if I could have done 12 laps instead of 8.  I question if my pit crew thought I was a pain in the ass and realize how much I appreciate them.

Looking back at this event I question myself, my strength and my will to do better in life.

Maybe that is the point of racing?  To question yourself and everything that leads up to the moment.   How else can you become better if you don’t question and change yourself?

 

2011 Burn 24 Hour Challenge

Looking Back at my First Solo 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race

2011 Burn 24 Hour Challenge

Several months ago I had a plan going into the 2011 season. It included a duo race at the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, a solo at the 6 Hour Grind on the Greenway, a ton of riding and then my first solo at Burn 24 Hour.    As any good plan there was a few snags within this.  My geared race bike, the Airborne Goblin, showed up a few weeks late which kept me on my fully rigid single speed for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, and kept me from racing the 6 Hour Grind.    I quickly started commuting on the Goblin and riding it everywhere possible to get used to the fit and gearing.

I’ve never done a 24 hour mountain bike ride on my own, I’ve never come close to that.  Even with tons of great inspiration and information from sources like Rebecca Rusch and Team Ergon I still didn’t know exactly what my body would think or my mind would do.   Doing my best to prepare myself I lined myself up with some of the best support and gear a person could ask for.   Amazing lights from Light & Motion (Seca 700 and Stella 300.) A great pit setup and location, and a great prepared pit crew.

Preparing for a 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race

Friday I pulled a half day of work, finished packing up the little Jetta and headed up to Wilkesboro from Mooresville NC.   Quickly setting up my tent in fear of the rain storms headed towards the race course, I can say the purchase of the REI tent and garage was one of my smartest moves this year so far.

REI Hobitat Tent Review

REI Hobitat 6 Tent

Somehow I set up the tent all by myself, losing about 2 lbs of water weight in the process.  Looking over my shoulder the whole time at the large RV that was simply sitting there with generator and air conditioning running.  Jealousy ran through my head for a moment.

After helping Jason B. with race sign up for 30 or so minutes, I ran out of things to do.  I finally sat there in my chair, sucking down water and contemplating my next move.  Would it be to nap, eat more beef jerky or go find friends.   I sat, and thought about my life until friend, em:pwr teammate and pit neighbor, Stephanie Cole, showed up.   We quickly pitched her ez-up, sleeping tent and staked them all to the ground so we could head off to dinner.

What did I eat for dinner the night before my solo race?  Really good ribs of course.

Morning of my Race

Sleeping in the tent the night before my race was fine.  The weather was perfect and I was sprawled out across two sleeping bags and my Thermarest! The week leading into my race I did my best to be over hydrated.  Counting bottles of water as I drank them at work, and having a water bottle near by at all times.   I think this was a smart choice but at 11pm, 2am and 4am my bladder thought other wise.  The idea of walking around in the dark to the line of port-a-jons, through a large mud puddle and having to wake up enough to do all these things…well it didn’t fly for me.   Fortunately for me, I have been taught by my better half to pee in bottles.  If you look at the tent photo above we had added a “garage” to the tent.  Both sides zip down to provide shelter for the bikes, dogs or whatnot and additional room at night.   It also provided a perfect place to “pee in my bottles” in the middle of the night.   Between all my wake up calls, I think I filled two bottles and was thankful when 7am came to use a real toilet.

Burn 24 Hour Pit

I did my best to setup all my gear, label my batteries, swap my tires from Small Block Eight to the most “mud tire” I owned which is the Bontrager XDX.  Checked over my bike and laid out all my gear for the first couple laps.  At around 10:30 my pit crew showed up, set up more stuff and prepared themselves for the next 28 hours of their lives.

Introducing my Pit Crew

Somehow I had recruited a few friends to come take care of me, entertain each other and really “hang out” for over 24 hours of their Memorial Day weekend.

Kimberlee Welsand

Kimberlee - Chef, nutritionist, first aid and medical provider (all of these things came in handy.)

George Berger
George - Engineer, official time keeper, and master scientist.

Ben Wilson
Benjamin
– Comedian and pit jester.

The Race

The race, broken down into bite size pieces will be up for tomorrow.   I’m still trying to process everything that happened in that short time span of 24 hours. What I did wrong, right and what I need to do better in life to get me further in racing.

cyclingadvice

Cycling Advice for Women


My Best Advice for Women Cyclist

In no particular order these are things I have said over the years to friends, customers and myself.  If you have more advice to add please join the conversation in the comments at the bottom of this page.

Research, learn and learn some more

You may find a great local shop, but unless there is an experience girl there, they won’t be able to tell you from their own experience.  Boys are made differently, even their thinking is different, which makes for some things not to be comparable. (Saddles, shorts, clothing, etc.)   Try to learn from as many people as possible, test ride, and ask a ton of questions.  Don’t stop learning or asking!

fi:zik Vesta Saddle

fi:zik Vesta Saddle

Invest in a a good bike seat and bike fitting

You should not have any numbness or pain when you ride your bike normally.  If you start training for Ride Across America or something like that, it may be different.  A two hour ride should be fun and enjoyable, make it so.

Also, make sure your favorite bike shorts aren’t causing problems.  With a seam or stitching in the wrong place, it can cause a ton of problems.

The wonderful woman behind Lovely Bicycles posted a great article that I could never do justice.  Go read over there about bike saddles and the female anatomy.

Be careful shaving down there, especially the first few times before you ride

When you first start riding, purchase a new saddle or change your bike fit, it is very important to take note of these changes when you are shaving or trimming your crotch area. This goes for any area that is touching the bike saddle.  In grown hairs, shaving burns and all those things can be heightened by cycling shorts and saddles rubbing up and down for many revolutions of your pedals.

Try some sort of butt and “cooter” lube

You may not realize you are chaffing or rubbing areas.  Also, many have an anti-bacteria add in.  My favorite is DZ Nuts “Bliss”.

Women’s Cycling Shorts, saddles and handle bar tape/grip wear out

The same as you look at your drive train and tires, keep a good look on these things before they cause you problems.

Encouraging Women's Cycling

Photo Credit: Dirt Divas UK

Find other women to ride with

Even if it is once a month and you have to drive, do it. This spring I made a vow to do my best to ride with a local women’s ladies mountain bike group the Dirt Divas or atlas ride with some of them when time allows.  The social aspect, the motivating factor, the “belonging” feeling and finally to motivate OTHERS, are all reasons to do it.

Women cyclist should ride with the boys

It will make you stronger and faster.

Become self reliant

Learn how to change your tire, clean your chain and the basic lingo so you can maintain your bike with your local bike shops help.  You don’t need anyone else for those basic things, plus you’ll be safer when riding if you know these things.

Encourage

“There’s a place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.” – Madeleine Albright

Try to remember the first time you went bike riding with a group, tried clipless pedals or entered your first race.  Make sure to smile at the start line and encourage.  Competition is healthy but women will be the back bone of making this sport a success, I can promise you that one.

Be proud

You are a woman, you are an athlete and you should be proud of all these things together.

30 Days of Biking

#30DaysofBiking Update

30 Days of Biking It has been over a week since updating you about my 30 days of biking challenge, so here is a quick update.

Day 1 : A 19 mile road rideCharlotte Commuting

Day 2: A daily commute of 5 miles to Davidson, NC – take the bus from there to Charlotte and then a mile commute.  In the evening I reversed it

Charlotte Commuting
Day 3:
I only did the end of day commute, riding the bus completely stinks and makes me feel that I’m in a 14 ton coffin.  Avoided it for the past week.

em:pwr cycling group ride
Carson Street Station

Day 4: em:pwr cycling lunch time group ride and then the bus/commute home.

em:pwr clothing

Day 5: A early morning mountain bike ride before work.

Day 6: Rode my mountain bike into the weekend by knocking out 12 miles after work on the singlespeed 29er.  I also scurried home to build up the new Airborne Goblin 29er.

Airborne Goblin in the Trunk

Day 7: A shake down mountain bike ride at Lake Norman State Park.  Adjusting my cock pit, getting used to gears and suspension

Road Riding the Airborne Goblin

Day 8: A 28 mile road ride on the 29er mtb for fit and adjustment reason

Girls on Bikes

Day 9: 7 mile afterwork mountain bike ride

Day 10: Built up a friends new Airborne Goblin, tweaked his new Stevens cyclocross bike and test spun around.

Day 11: (Today)  Changing out some bits on my Goblin and beating it up around the block.

Bike Shop Owner Tips

5 Pieces of Advice for the Bike Shop Manager

It is frequent that questions arise towards me for recommendations on how things should be done, or changed within the bike industry, especially bike shop management or culture. Maybe it’s the name Bike Shop Girl that brings it out of the person? I like to think it’s my charm and large brain…
With an outsiders perspective, here are some recommendations I am giving to active or maybe new bike shop managers.

Visit many corporate retail stores near you and take notes

Most shops want to keep that “home grown” feeling. I’m not recommending to lose that, if anything harness it but don’t forget in the end you are fighting to win customers over. Retailers that I recommend to visit include The Gap, REI, Apple, Best Buy, and Starbucks. Did they give you breathing room for when you first walked in? Did they great you warmly? Was the store clean and organized? Did the staff present themselves well and provide help when needed? Were you ever lost in the store? Did you feel rushed? How was the checkout process if you purchased something?

Visit them often and compare notes. These companies pay good money to train their staff, merchandise their store and have great processes to make sure all these things are handled correctly. Save your money and learn from them. Pull from as many great ideas as you can, use the ones that you can relate to.

Clean your bathrooms as if your mom was visiting

I visit a lot of bike shops, and I always ask to use their bathroom. You can really get an idea of how a shop is run behind the scenes by their bathroom. Are there magazines of half naked women? If you have one bathroom for men and women, ask your male staff to put the seat down every time they use it. Better yet, make it mandatory. If your staff has to clean the bathroom daily, they will keep their pee in the toilet and not leave greasy chains soaking in the bathroom sink. I understand some staff’s need to use the bathroom sink for this use, but let the chain soak in a water bottle and wash it off in the sink. Don’t leave it in there. I also don’t think anyone will be offended if the kit you rode into work was in there, I will be offended if it is hanging chamois side out right next to the toilet (where my face has to be!)

Think before you buy

Never write a pre-season order when your rep is still sitting there. Ask feedback from staff, compare numbers from the last 2 years and purchase wisely. Pre-seasons, discounts, and bulk buying is great a great thing that many companies offer, remember that it is ONLY great if you can sell it before the bill is due. Too many shops get sucked into saving 5% on their order and at the end of the season they are left with SKU’s they were required to purchase to make minimums. It doesn’t matter if you save $800 on an order, if you have a pair of $3,000 cost wheels sitting on your shelf for 2 years after you have payed the bill. Those wheels have COST you money by sitting there after you have paid the bill. Depending on margin, there is a change you needed to sell 2x, or had 2 cycle turns on that wheel set to make money when you factor in paying the invoice, losing floor space, and how the cost of the wheels tied up money from being spent on better turning product.

Never buy something that you or your staff wouldn’t use

There is a reason special ordering is around, promote it. If there is something you think is great, bring in one to test out. Let someone try it out, purchase more based on that review. Your staff will sell more of something they believe in, help them do this. Teach your staff how to properly special order a product, require money down, require a time period to pick up and if it isn’t convenient ask the customer if you could drop it off or ship it to them (based on weight, shipping cost and the ability to ship!) If special ordering is treated properly most customers will be happy to wait. You can get me the EXACT bike I want, built and in my hands before the weekend? I’ll be the first person to test ride it? – Direct quote from a customer I had. One season I proved my shop owner wrong, that special ordering is possible and most customers won’t mind a bit! Special ordering over a 1/4 of the bikes sold in the store.

Pick and train your employees as if you could do the same of your children

Teach them manners (customer service), morals (trustworthy and dependable), cleanliness (pick up after themselves and their customers) and a healthy attitude (give them a chance to ride their bike.) You aren’t their parents, and it isn’t your job but to have a stronger company you need to make your employees stronger. They are more valuable than your low margin inventory.

If you have experience running a bike store, or any other retail establishment please add your advice and tips in the comments below!

Burn 24 Hour

Burn 24 Hour Ladies Discount!

The guys behind Burn 24 Hour race in Wilkesboro, NC are trying to get more ladies to enter their race.   If you haven’t heard about this race it is THE 24 hour race in the southeast.   Anyone that is anyone has raced this event during its lifespan.  Now it is your chance to do it for 20% off.

Burn 24 Hour

The BMCC and the B24 want to see you on the trail.  The women’s classes have suffered the last couple of years at the B24.  We’ve set attendance records both of those years so there’s no excuse for you not to come race.  After a brief hiatus, we’ve added the Women’s Duo category back to the fold.  Currently, the solo female class is a no show but The Betty Project is back and so are the Dirt Divas to contest for the Women’s team podium.  In efforts to entice you to to join the field, we’re going to reduce the registration fees for all lady’s categories.  Enter coupon code BIKE SHOP GIRL to receive 20% off the current fees. After you register, check out bikeshopgirl.com for Motivational Mondays, product reviews, news, race recaps and all things relevant to women’s cycling.

SeaOtterDualSlalom.JPG

2011 Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photos

During my stay at Sea Otter something happened to my mentally and emotionally that I can’t explain.  It’s a bit more deep than I want to get into on this post but one of the after affects was wanting, no yearning, to take more bike racing photos.   Saturday afternoon before we packed up for the day, Neal and I hiked up the dual slalom hill to watch the final heats of the races.  While I had no experience of this type of racing, besides what I have seen in the magazines, it was thrilling.  It took a BMX track and pulled it downhill.   In fact it looked SUPER fun.   Everything I love, downhill, speed, berms and a short sprint!

Here are some of my favorite photos I took during the 20 minutes on the course. Feedback and criticism are encouraged!

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photo
Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photo

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photo

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photo

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photo

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Katie Holden

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Katie Holden

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Katie Holden

Sea Otter Ladies Lounge

Sea Otter Ladies Lounge

One of the things I am very excited about for the 2011 Sea Otter Classic is all the “ladies” focused events!   On Sunday there is a full day of events scheduled to get women more active in the cycling lifestyle.

Sea Otter Ladies Lounge

Sea Otter Ladies Lounge Sponsored by SRAM

Rebecca Rusch, pro athlete, endurance racer, and all around great person, has put together the SRAM Gold Rusch Tour for 2011.  The first stop is the Sea Otter Classic where she is hosting the Sea Otter Ladies Lounge.

April 14-16th, 2011 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) from 2-4pm
Meet and mingle with pro-women cyclist like Rebecca Rusch,   Team TIBCO, and the list goes on.
Mini-tech clinics, that’s where Bike Shop Girl comes in!   I’ll be there everyday to help with maintenance, 2×10 MTB technology, trail side repair and so on.

Have questions or ideas of what we should talk about?  Comment away!