Strava Awesomeness: GPX Download Functionality
If you are a contant reader you will know my love of Strava. It keeps me motivated, up to date with my friends rides across the world and technology makes my world go around.
When I visit new places (which is weekly) I’m always trying to find new rides, routes and cue sheets. Using a split of Google, Garmin Connect and Map my Ride I’ve been doing okay. But now, Strava is allowing me download peoples routes to upload into my Garmin! I can dominate QOM’s all day long now.
For the Love of Knee Warmers
From mid-September to March I am living in knee warmers. My tan lines will prove this as it is pretty far into the summer before the lines around my mid calves start disappearing. Here is my ode to knee warmers…
Trail Riding with Fiona
Back in 2004 I picked up mountain biking seriously. A friend and I would go 3-4 times a week, crushing the souls of boys on our pink (matching) single speeds. We rocked, we rolled and that year I grew more as a cyclist than any 12 month period in adulthood.
The other unique thing about these rides were our dogs.
Fiona – my Australian Shepard mutt. Kona – Taryn’s squirrel chasing yellow lab.
They kept us entertained in the woods, they gave us (or maybe just me) a feeling of safety. Fiona often would night ride with me when I was alone. Her blinky on her collar and loud barks if she got far off trail are a memory that makes warm and fuzzies in my heart when I think of night riding.
Then Life Got in the Way
I bought a house, my trail riding was snuck in after work or before. Fiona no longer went to work with me everyday but instead was at home, in a yard and bored out of her mind.
Fiona and I are back on our own. She will be going on dealer visits, road trips and I’ll be sneaking her in to hotels late at night. More importantly, Fiona is back on the trail. This past Thursday I took my cyclocross bike out on a mellow trail in Wilkesboro, NC called Overmountain Victory Trail. The trail is part of the Kerr Scott Trail network. Super mellow, but still a mountain bike feel to it. Perfect for my ‘cross bike and perfect for Fiona’s first day back on the trail. Some how I managed to sneak the 45 minute ride in between a 2 hour car trip and a handful of dealer visits/clinics.
Fiona did perfect. I feared that after 4.5 years of being off the trail (and surrounded by crazy dogs/boys) she would forget her commands. She didn’t. She trailed to my right, near my rear derailleur. When the trail got fast she would drop in behind, when the trail got technical she would run ahead and wait. Encouraging me with her wagging tail and cocked head. “hurry up mom, this is easy!”
We didn’t go far, at one time during the winter months she would be able to knock out 15 or so trail miles. This wasn’t the day for that, this was a mellow 3.5 miles. Stopping often for her to play in the water, to celebrate.
Do you ride with your pup? Not all trails is this legal or safe (for rider and dog) but proper timing and research can lead to a happy dog and rider!
Battle Royale A GUEST POST BY LAURA COLBERT
An on going series from Laura Colbert from Loose Nuts in Atlanta, GA. Click to read more from Laura.
Mountain bikes vs. real world
In my previous post, I wrote rather sentimentally about my love of mountain biking as a way to check out from real life, if only for a short time. Unfortunately for us, mountain bike rides end. At some point, we all have to rejoin reality.
Part of my reality is working in a 9-to-5 office at a company that loves its business casual dress code. I love my job and, to be honest, I kind of love business casual clothes (pencil skirts! patent leather heels!), so that part of real life is pretty awesome. What I don’t like about returning to reality is that evidence of my out-of-work activities is usually conspicuously apparent (e.g. a 4-inch, blue bruise on the outside of my otherwise professional shins framed beautifully on top by the hem of a skirt and below by the aforementioned heels). When my co-workers and superiors notice the new marks on my body, my mountain bike and professional worlds collide. Despite being fiercely proud of what I do and how I spend my time, these moments always make me a little self-conscious, like an awkward pre-teen who’s the only non-adult at Take Your Daughter to Work Day.
Let me give you guys a real-life example:
I recently returned from a shred-cation (My friends and I created several names for our 4-day, Oregon mtn biking tour of awesomeness–”shred-cation”, “shred-venture”, and “shred camp”. I’m sure you can pick out the theme there.) and returned to work the next day wearing one of my favorite skirts. My outfit revealed some small bruises, a couple minor cuts on my arms, and one patch of peeling skin near my elbow. At some point in the day, I was catching up with a co-worker and at the same time applying some antibacterial ointment to the cuts and scrapes. I apologized for doing this while we were chatting, although I’m not sure he had even noticed. This leads him to ask why I had bruises and cuts. (He’s a new employee. The rest of the office is very familiar with my recreational activities.) When I explained my choice of vacation and the consequences of coming around a washed-out, sandy turn in the high Oregon desert too quickly, his response was something between apologies and disgust. It was an uncomfortable and awkward reaction…”I’m so sorry for you”, “Why do you do that?”, “Ugh”, and so on…. Mountain biking was obviously an activity that he had never tried or considered.
I quickly felt like I had to defend myself and my choices, not because I was doing anything wrong, but because of this other person’s complete lack of understanding or comprehension. I felt like I was trying to explain my choice of feminine hygiene products to a teenage boy, rather than my choice of leisure time activities to an adult co-worker. I don’t think my co-worker meant anything by his reaction. I think the idea was just new to him and he was trying to understand it. That didn’t make me feel any less embarrassed in the moment though.
These situations are not uncommon in my work life and I certainly don’t mind being “the cyclist” for my co-workers. It’s just that when my mountain bike world and my work world rub against each other, it creates a really uncomfortable friction. I don’t want to have to explain what I do in my free time. I dread these moments. Having to justify how I spend my time and the resulting consequences (bruises and cuts) takes away from my enjoyment of riding. It steals a little bit of that awesome post-ride glow. It also unfairly makes me feel a little less professional, like I’m not as suited to be in the office as my co-workers. While I know it’s not their intent to make me feel that way, the result is the same.
My co-workers don’t have to explain why they choose to tailgate at college football games every Saturday in the fall or go to the gym a couple times a week. Why do I need to explain and justify what I do for fun? Whatever the answer, this battle between my mountain biking and professional worlds makes the return to reality after a great weekend of riding just a little more disheartening.
10 Things to Know as a Beginner
As with any sport it can be very daunting and overwhelming when you walk into a completely foreign arena. Questions, fears, hesitance, embarrassment, and so many emotions are rushing through you that by the time you even get on a bike you are stressed out.
Here is a list of things I wish I had known, and I wish more women knew, when they first walk into a bike shop or get into the sport. Over the next few weeks I’ll explain more in depth so they become clickable links.
- You do not have to ride a women’s bike just because you are a woman
- Don’t wear underwear under your bike shorts – it will cause chaffing and can trap in moisture
- Bike shorts will feel like diapers, the more expensive they are, the better they will fit, and the longer they will last.
- Do not put a gel pad on top of your bike seat, you are putting a band aid on a bad fitting bike or saddle
- Wear a helmet you idiot. It won’t save your life if your head gets run over a car, but most of my accidents it has kept me from getting a concussion, broken nose and in some states it can be looked at as negligence if you are hit by a car without a helmet and have head injuries.
- You do not need to feel uncomfortable while buying a bike. Just like a car, find a new shop, or in the beginning tell your fears or worries so the bike shop can address them.
- Bike shops can not read your mind. Tell them to the best of your abilities what you want to do with your bike, what your longer term goals are and what your budget is.
- As fast as humanly possible, find a group to ride with. It will make you a better rider and you will feel safer.
- It is okay to be scared and have fear. Learn to harness it and “push” through things. Always try to conquer your fear, if you can’t manage the hill or rock garden, get off but at least try. (I forget this one at times!)
- You do not need to have a fancy bike to enjoy riding a bicycle.
This list could be 100 points long. What are the things you know now that you tell beginner cyclist?
A Setback of Confidence
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. – Helen Keller
After last weeks race I can tell you I didn’t do everything right. I didn’t get back on the horse and I didn’t do recovery rides. My legs and thoughts are paying for it.
Yesterday’s 2 hour endurance mountain bike ride at my local trail was a total mind game. Dabbing on sections I haven’t dabbed on. Legs feeling like lead. Brain occupied on how the bike wasn’t responding right, that my rear end felt loose. I hadn’t ridden this trail with the installed tires for a couple months, but that doesn’t give reason for what was loose in my head.
A Setback of Confidence and Momentary Fitness
All things reasonable I did hit the ground pretty f’n hard last week. Knocking the sense out of me and keeping me off my bike for 5 days. My will was weak and I shoulda, coulda, woulda gotten on the bike sooner.
My soul knows this a momentary setback. In a week or so my coach will have my legs spinning around properly. With the right about of trail riding my confidence will be back as well. For now I’ll go for a 2.5 hour road ride, returning home to take apart my Spearfish, check over everything from the crash (shoulda done this before my ride yesterday) and hope that nothing is broken.
Confidence on a bike can take years to build. Feeling safe crossing bridges, logs, and going down steeps. It takes only one good hit to knock it out of you and make you feel human.
Today I am feeling fortunate to feel human. Allowing myself to put my realities in check and find the next thing to work on. We aren’t perfect and being able to find our flaws is part of having confidence too.
Chamois Cream: What is it and do I need it?
A popular question after cycling shorts and saddle recommendations is normally about chamois cream. If you haven’t heard about it before, don’t feel too left out it basically is under carriage lube.
Wait what? Yes, a cream you put between you and the shorts.
Why do I need Chamois Cream?
I go through spurts of not using chamois cream because I forget it or forget to buy new. Depending on my shorts, saddle and bike fit sometimes it is fine. Below you’ll find a list of reasons I recommend it!
- Prevents chaffing, keeping your skin from rubbing together or rubbing against your shorts/saddle
- Many creams have anti-bacterial in side of it
- Helps with shaving bumps and in grown hair
- Many creams have a cooling sensation that is helpful if you get hot spots or are simply warm down there on a hot day
What kind of Chamois Cream do I recommend?
This is tough, at the end I recommend to try different types and to figure out what ingredients you like. I’ve never had any rash or allergic reaction to any of the ones I recommend.
This is the original to me. I remember being 16 and the only other cycling girl I knew recommending it. It because ritual and the smell still reminds me of long rides. It has a cooling sensation which is also nice.
One of the first to make a “female specific” cream. I’ve used it, and can say I can’t tell a difference..it doesn’t seem to have such a cooling sensation and smells less medicated. I have also used the standard “guys” version which works just as well for me.
This is probably the most popular kind you’ll find in any bike shop. The standard version doesn’t cool as much, and I have been using the Eurostyle for the past few months. One nice thing about this type is they sell tubes of “sample” sizes to bike shops. I like these for folks trying out chamois butt’r for the first time, or for long rides to keep in your pocket!
How to Install Chamois Cream
I’ve heard so many ways to do this, either put it on your short before you put it on, or slather it all over yourself. I’ve tried putting it on the chamois and hated it. It made it feel like I was putting on a damp diaper.
- Try starting with a quarter size of cream, I’m a fan of the squirt bottles over the scoop style jars
- I personally put it in my butt crease, the groin crease and lightly on soft tissues that come in contact with my shorts
- Don’t over do it! Start small and see how much you need!
What do you do??
What do you like? What have you used? Chime in below!
Coach or No Coach, a Guest Post
Pam Sayler wrote this guest post earlier this year. Somehow it was categorized incorrectly in my email and I found it during holiday break. I believe this is a great post to start thinking about plans for 2012. Coaches, and if you need one is a common questions as people start pushing themselves in the sport.
While pushing the Kirby this weekend my mind drifted to the subject of coaching. Why would the average rider hire a cycling coach? What advantage would a coach have to one whose cycling ambition is less than the current world champion?
I paused vacuuming long enough to check in on my son who was practicing piano.
Jacob is in his second year of lessons and progressing nicely. But like many 9 year olds he looses focus and spends about ½ of his time just playing. While I try to take a back seat and not micro manage him I do find it necessary to step in and make sure he is completing the work of understating music theory, structure and technique. By ensuring he spends time on developmental drills I am assured that my investment has a positive
return and Jacob has a broad awareness of music, stronger hand to eye coordination and simply plays better. Even if he does not have the desire to become a concert pianist Jacob’s father and I see music as a door to many future opportunities and will give him a well rounded view of life.
It took me vacuuming the remainder of the family room and down the hallway to connect those dots. Just as I stand behind Jacob seeing he stays on task a cycling coach will help me ride more efficiently – prevent injury and cycle longer. Not just that one day, but cycle longer in life.
In turning to a coach you are entrusting someone to look over your shoulder. Not to compete against, but to draw along side of you and guide you. Coaching is that special mix of relationship and expertise. One needs to trust their coach. A technical and certifiable background is necessary but equally important is the human factor; how well you interface. Before signing on with a coach, ask yourself the following:
Why do you want a coach? – specifically, what are you looking for?
What is your budget?
What is that person’s experience and education?
How much interaction do you want? Individual, group, online?
During the interview process look for someone who asks these questions and has good answers for your questions. Determine how long it will take to reach your goals and make sure your to contract for a brief period first – a longer contract can be drawn up after you are confident this coach is the right one for you.
And finally, remember that no matter how good a coach you hire, and how lofty your ambition nothing will happen if you don’t set aside time and stick to the plan. The investment in yourself will only pay off if you apply time and effort. Otherwise you are just throwing away money. And if you have money to throw away, please let me know. I’ve got a few years of piano left to fund.
Pam Sayler is the North American Sales Manager for Kinetic
She lives in Minneapolis with her Bike-Shop owning husband and their children. Last year Pam commuted 2,000 miles to work on her bike
Properly Preparing for the Offseason
As we head into Thanksgiving most folks that have the cyclist mentality start thinking about the next season. Even those that are deep in the trenches of cyclocross racing are thinking about what they need to be doing for the next season. As the next 6 months of my life are going to be rather haphazard I want to lay out broad strokes of goals and targets for 2012.
My Offseason Arsenal
Goals for 2012 – As basic as it sounds. No matter if it is race dates, milage hopes, or milestones you want to meet. It is helpful to layout something.
- My butt on a bike at least 3 times a week. I know this is my sweet spot for fitness. No matter if it is 30 minutes on the trainer, an hour spin, or a few hour mountain bike ride.
- Eating responsibly on the road. This may include learning to bring more food with me, where to shop, and trying not to eat out too much while traveling.
- Trim down more. I feel comfortable about my current weight, but want to lose more body fat and gain leaner muscles! (Hello Jillian Michaels abs.)
- Three main events – #1 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, #2 – Burn 24 Hour, #3 2012 Cyclocross season
Bikes Ready at All Times – This is something I hope to finish up this weekend, but I want my cross bike and main geared mountain bike to be ready to ride at all times.
Winter Riding Clothes Organized – At least twice a month I run around my house looking for my other knee warmer. Another goal for this weekend is to make sure all my winter clothing is where it belongs, organized and ready to go. When it gets dirty, I wash it and put it quickly back where it belongs.
My Trusty Trainer
– An item in for review this fall is the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine trainer
. This bright green trainer should see some use this offseason, especially on those days I’m cramped for time and need to get 30 minutes on the bike.
Motivation – This part of the offseason is the hardest and can come in many different forms. Some examples of motivation :
- My family. I am fortunately to be surrounded by an active significant other, and very active children. Watching them push themselves and try a bit harder, practice a bit longer or be super pumped around an extra point motivates me.
- Music. The off season is when I perfect my playlist, learn new artist and help the music industry make more money.
- People. Reading blogs, drugging myself on amazing photos and watching helmet cam footage for trails I dream to ride. Some great folks to follow : Jeff Kerkove, Salsa Cycles, Gnat Likes, Milltown Cycles, SheBicycles, Soozed, DJ Scene (Great podcast music), Saddle Up Bike…the list keeps going. Maybe this deserves it’s own post!
Riding with Others – Whenever possible I plan to hit up group rides and drag my family kicking and screaming into the cold.
What are You Doing This Offseason?