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.
In the beginning of January I signed up for an 8 week challenge called Whole Life Challenge. The 8 weeks ended this past weekend and I wanted to capture my experience while encouraging all of my readers to sign up for the next Challenge in May.
The overall mission of the Whole Life Challenge is simple in text: To create lives of unbound possibility where health and fitness are limitless resources and the right of every human to design and share. You know when you sign up that you are making a lot of changes in your daily life but I didn’t realize what type of healthy habits I would be developing over the 8 weeks (or how hard some of them would be!)
My Biggest Challenges of the Whole Life Challenge
It is easy to look back and think “I owned that challenge”, but really, the challenge owned me.
Food Prep and Planning
I signed up for the advanced eating challenge which equates to paleo eating with no grains, diary or soy. This meant that we cooked 98% of our meals for 8 weeks. Besides the last week when we were on vacation I can count on one hand how many times we ate out. The process proved that meal planning and proper food prep is necessary even when you live in a moderately progressive area like Boulder/Denver.
Working out and Stretching Daily
During this challenge I really drank the CrossFit kool-aid but as a true beginner I am only going 3-4x a week. If I missed a workout it was never due to being lazy but due to time constraints of work and commuting to/from. To the same tune getting in 10 minutes of stretching after a 12 hour day at work wasn’t always top of mind when I stumbled in the door. These two pieces of the challenge are something I still carry with me as I don’t feel like I overcame them 100% or have nailed down a great balance.
My Biggest Wins of the Whole Life Challenge
The great thing about this challenge is it truly challenged every piece of my life in a healthy and exciting way. The wins outweigh the challenges greatly and picking out the biggest is difficult.
Most importantly my biggest win was completing (and dominating) this challenge with my new wife. We signed up together and created many healthy habits together like cooking and working out together more.
The stats: 5″ lost around my hips and waist, 10% improvement on my baseline test (11 mins: 800m run, 75 airsquats, 50 situps, 25 pushups and then as many burpees as possible in time left)
My Overall Review
Cliche as it is, this challenge was life changing and I would recommend it even to a die hard athlete.
I plan on continuing to eat mostly paleo, with proper food planning and prep on the weekends. CrossFit is very much part of my workout habits and will only make me a more balanced cyclist during the season. I’m not sure if I will do the challenge again anytime soon but that is mainly due to wanting to implement the “rules” of the challenge in my everyday life!
The Whole Life Challenge has changed my life, maybe it will change yours too?
Details: 100% poly mesh that is wicked breathable, fast drying, and non-conforming. 2 pocket design, 1 with a zipper to hold your smartphone
This jersey looks great and feels even better. The poly mesh was warm enough with a wind vest on a 50′ day. Personally, I would classify this as a long sleeve light weight “spring” jersey. It also wears well with a pair of jeans. Read More
This past summer Raleigh Bikes released photos and spec of their 2014 cyclocross line, including the RX 1.0 Women’s bike. The bike didn’t change too much other than paint and some small part upgrades. I was excited about the bike (mainly due to the paint job and price) for women and thought it would be a perfect do-all bike for my better half. So here we are doing a second review of the women’s RX 1.0!
This second review of the Raleigh RX 1.0, in the 2014 model, is to look at it as an all purpose bike. This is how most women are looking to purchase a cross bike in this price range as a do all, fun finder. There could be road rides, green-ways, Rail to Trails, commuting, baby hauling and maybe a cyclocross race thrown in there to say you did it.
For any ride over an hour I normally apply a layer of thin cream called “chamois cream” between my chamois and skin. The reasoning is to keep friction low between chamois and body, as well as skin to skin.
Chamois Butt’r Her’ for Women $15.99
As the guys in the bike industry are realizing that women and men aren’t made the same we are seeing more products hit the market that are specially formulated for a woman’s body. Chamois Butt’r Her’ is just this, cream designed to not throw off your pH-Balance while protecting your skin from friction irritation.
Giro Women’s LA DND Gloves MSRP: $26
Details: Moisture-wicking, 4-way stretch breathable mesh. Reinforced fingertips. Flex zones at the knuckles
Gloves are a necessity for me to mountain bike. Between sweaty palms, and crashing I like to keep my skin in place. I’m not needing a ton of padding, which is why these Giro gloves have been my goto choice for a few years now. Flexing in the fingers, lack of velcro to get caught in washing and an affordable price, everything I look for in a pair of XC or road gloves.
The only unfortunate piece of these gloves (as with most women’s gloves) are that the size large are too small for my long fingers.
4 out 5 as I’m very happy with the gloves but now wear the guys version.
Going to buy these gloves? Support BSG by buying through this link
Disclaimer: This product was provided at no cost for review. The link to purchase the gloves is an affiliate link and I may be paid commission if you purchase through Jenson.
Fall means less light and a crazy mid-afternoon sun glare for drivers. Why not help them (and yourself) by running blinky lights during the day and night?
Meet my Favorite Lights Reviewed to Date
Key things to know:
Easy rubber strap mount for installation and removal
180′ visibility with orange side lights
Water resistant (maybe proof?!)
Thoughts and Opinion
I’ve reviewed many lights on Bike Shop Girl and Commute By Bike. One thing or another happens after a few months of constant use. Mounts break, lenses fall out, water damage or the battery stops holding a charge (especially in the cold.)
After a year of constant use (day and night) on one bike or another, using the Urban 200 during a couple nights of camping, I can happily say I want this set of lights on all my bikes.
Interested in buying a set? Support BSG by buying through JensonUSA.
Disclaimers: These lights were provided at no charge for review, my opinion is true. If you buy through the link to JensonUSA, I may get commission. Support BSG & do it.
If you know me, you know that I’m not a culinary expert. While I have being doing my best in 2013 to tackle learning how to cook better please know I am not a genius in the kitchen (or grocery store!) This review is a true real world, clue-less cook, review.
Power Hungry Cookbook: The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook
If you are reading this there is a good chance you have eaten some sort of Clif Bar, or Powerbar over the past few weeks. If you are anything like me you are burnt out on the textures, taste or cost every time you swallow one of those $2-5 bars. This is exactly why my interest was peaked when this book showed up for review. Time to branch out of my comfort zone and hopefully make yummy goodies!
The actual book of the Power Hungry Cookbook
The first 30 pages are under “The Power Hungry Pantry” which explains ingredient choices, substitutes and even how to make your own DIY glucose syrup. As a beginner at this, the Pantry pages were helpful and smoothed out some confusion of substitutions.
The book is broken down into a few chapters to easily find something that may tickle your taste buds. Super-Natural Knock-Offs, Activity Bars, Endurance Bars, Protein Bars, Raw and Almost Raw Bars. Something to note, this book doesn’t just make bars but also gel blocks, brownies and cookies.
Reading through the recipes they are easy to follow. As with any cookbook, it’s always good to read through the ingredients and instructions twice before heading to the store. After each recipe there are Bar Tips, Bar Keeping and Bar Variations, all helpful especially after you’ve had a few batches and want to change things up a bit.
Recipes and Rating
Emily and I tried three recipes on our first go around. In the process we created our own rating system from 1-5, it’s a great way to see what we like, or don’t, and what we want to keep making even as we try more recipes. The rating on each recipe reflects an average of our individual ratings combined.
Brewed Awakening Cappuccino Bars – Rating 3.75
Calories: 220 Fat: 9.7g Carbs: 31.3g Protein: 5g
Main ingredients: Rolled oats, walnuts, almonds, coconut, brown rice, some espresso powder and other goodies. These are under activity bars, and make about 16 bars a batch. They are perfect for your jersey pocket, or to chow for breakfast.
Pumpkin Pie Power Bars – Rating 4
Calories: 127 Fat: 2.3g Carbs: 15g Protein: 12g
Main ingredients: Rolled oats (processed into powder), pumpkin puree, whey protein, greek yogurt and eggs. Fall “crack” bars are what these should be called. Perfect to head into fall with one of these in your lunch or jersey pocket. Without any additional chocolate or variations it taste much like the filler of pumpkin pie but in a fluffy bar. These are considered endurance bars and make 10 bars.
Seeds of Power Bars – Rating 2.75
Calories: 199 Fat: 9.2g Carbs: 24.8g Protein: 6.1g
This was my least favorite bar, but Emily loved it. It does have a great taste, but I can’t get over all the seeds and it was by far the most intensive of the three bars. These are under endurance bars and make 20 bars.
Ingredients and Side Notes
The ingredients for the recipes we decided on weren’t the easiest to find but with some proper searching and inquiries at local stores we found everything in one afternoon. 90% was found at our local natural food store (Sprouts), the local grocer had everything else. The initial investment was around $70-80 but mostly due to us not having many ingredients for baking in our house. We went to the bulk section for all the seeds and nuts so we could buy very little for this first round. The whey protein was the most expensive at $20 for the jug, but it stores well and will also be used in smoothies. Once you have the key ingredients the cost per bar will go down the more you make them. Don’t go too heavy on recipe specific ingredients until you know you love those bars and that you will make them again.
We plan on trying out some of the knock-off recipes to see if we like our versions better than the store bought. Our rating system uses this idea of store bought compared to final product. I do believe two of our three recipes tested so far were better than what I can buy at the store. Being able to edit and try out new things helps as well. For example we are almost out of Pumpkin bars so I’m simply going to go downstairs tonight and whip up a batch. No need to spend more money or remember to order them so I don’t starve on the next ride.
I highly recommend this book for yourself and it will be a great Christmast gift for active friends in your life!
Disclaimer: This product was provided at no cost for review.
A long time ago I wrote an opinion article on why I didn’t believe women’s designed 29ers worked. Designers were being pushed so hard to get things to market that the result was lack luster, and in my opinion these bikes often handled like crap compared to their non-women’s designed brothers. The front end was flip-floppy, unless you had a crazy short stem and wide handlebar. While this works well for the true mountains, it doesn’t work well for women just learning how to mountain bike. Fast forward a few years, more experienced designers, brands with patience and maybe some more knowledge. Now you have women’s bikes that don’t have crazy head tube angles and carry well in switchbacks up or down. Thus, inspiring confidence and excitement to carry momentum through the trails.
Meet the 2013 Giant Anthem X 29er 4 Women’s
“Made right here in San Francisco, The medium Velo edition backpack is an exercise in minimalist design — sleek, simple, lightweight, black. My goal was to address the essential functionality of the everyday, all-purpose carry-all — nothing less, nothing more. I wanted a casual, yet stylish, alternative to the old-school book bag and the over-built wilderness pack — while still working with technical fabrics rather than canvas and leather.”
-Mark Dwight Founder and designer
Meet the Rickshaw Velo Backpack
• Top-loading main compartment for quick access
• Seatbelt shoulder straps
• Reflective strip and light loops
• Removable padded 13″ laptop sleeve or document pouch
• Organizational front pocket
• Padded base and lumbar support.
• Made to order in our own San Francisco workshop.
• Dimensions: 15.5” H x 11” W x 5” D (16” top zipper)
Initial Thoughts of the Velo Backpack
Pulling the bag out of the box I could tell right away that this is a top quality bag. The seams, fabric choices and the attention to detail is superb!
As the designer stated in the quote above, this is a minimalistic, functional bag for everyday use. You aren’t going to over load it, or use it for epic trips but for the everyday girl bag that needs to work as a backpack but not weigh you down – this is going to work well
When talking to Rickshaw about reviewing this bag it was offered to make a customized version. I jumped at the chance picking a bright color that is easy to spot but won’t show dirt horribly. The process is super simple with the Rickshaw online customizer and the back arrived about a week later.
Using the Velo Backpack
The bag is super light weight and easy to move from backpack to tote with the comfortable straps. The backpack straps are of seat belt material, making them wide and comfortable but not too heavy duty. This bag was meant to get you through the day but not to carry tons of weight.
When using it at a farmer’s market it easily was carried as a tote filled with corn and then swung around on to my back for walking or biking.
It’s a verily slender bag, fitting my bag well and leaving room for visibility when looking behind me on a bike.
Conclusion of the Rickshaw Velo Backpack Review
These days cycling inspired bag companies are popping up in all areas of the United States. The quality of Rickshaw and the “handmade in the USA” all have meaning, add in that you customize your bag to your liking and I can’t think of another bag with these features at this price point.
The need to carry my iPad or MacBook Air with wallet and essentials leads me to using this bag more. Walking or riding down to the local coffee shop or office is what this bag was made for. You aren’t going to use this bag to carry you’re whole life but if you are looking for something trim and durable for the every day needs, check out the Rickshaw Velo Backpack.
Disclaimer: This bag was provided at no charge for review