Empowering women in cycling

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St. Valentine rode a bicycle

1 A weekend away together on bikes

A guest post by Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA.

Hey love birds!  It’s Valentines Day and while I’m not a big fan of this day, I am a fan of going on dates on other days of the year.  I also like giving/receiving romantic gestures on days that are not explicitly prescribed for that purpose.  So, in the spirit of St. Valentine, I thought I would provide those of you last-minute Valentine’s Day planners and others of you who plan dates year-round with a couple of fun bicycle-related date ideas.  Let’s do this!

  1. Bicycle picnics–Required supplies:  weather that both you and your partner enjoy, portable food,  a bag of some kind, and a place to which you will cycle.   Good picnic foods include: a nice block of cheese, fresh bread, some pretty grapes, a fancy salami or other no-refrigeration-required meat, and beverages.  (Don’t forget your picnic accessories–cups, pocket knife, eating surface like a paper napkin.)  The critical part of a romantic picnic is the location.  Traditional choices include parks and scenic overlooks.  I have friends who like the tops of parking garages.  Scout out fun, private locations in your city.  Get creative.  You could even make it a fancy occasion by getting dressed up for your picnic and bringing flowers for your significant other.  There are so many fun ways to make a picnic extra romantic or fun (whichever you’re going for), so let your imagination run wild.
  2. Dinner and a race (or other bicycle-related event)–My partner and I regularly visit Atlanta’s Dick Lane Velodrome for a fun Saturday evening.  One of us treats the other by buying the tickets.  We pack beer or coke, buy dinner from the concessions stand, and we picnic in the bleachers.  It’s a unique twist on dinner and a movie.  You could do this with a lot of cycling related events.  Criteriums and cyclocross are good for dates because of the shorter, repeated courses.  Bicycle parades (think Halloween Critical Mass in any major city) are also a good opportunities.  Sometimes even an alley cat stop can make for some good spectator fun.
  3. Ride your bicycle to somewhere together–Both my partner and I ride bikes, but we often comment that we don’t ride many places together.  Ride to dinner at your favorite restaurant or ride to a movie together.  It doesn’t have to be a long ride.  It’ll give you the chance to chat, comment on the funny/weird things you see along the way, and otherwise enjoy each others’ company.
  4. See the city tour–Spend an afternoon on your bikes together.  Don’t plan a route or even a destination.  Just get on your bikes, pedal at a comfortable, no-sweat pace, and go with the flow.  Maybe you’ll find a cool bar that you didn’t know existed.  Maybe you’ll pedal around the park.  Who knows?!?!  Take your time, make a couple stops, and have fun.
  5. Try a tandem–Find a bicycle shop near you or a friend that owns a tandem and you borrow it.  I guarantee that you’ll learn something about each other while you’re straddling a tandem.  A couple tips for those of you who haven’t ridden a tandem before: Captain (person on the front)–be a good listener and compromise with your partner.  Stoker (person on the back)–Trust your partner because they don’t want to crash either.  Good luck!

I think the most important things to remember for a bike-related date is that it’s not a race and you’re doing it to spend time together.  There’s no need to be serious or competitive about it.  That takes “date” part out of it and just makes it another bike ride.  Enjoy each other and your bikes–whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not.

What other good bike date ideas or advice do you all have?


P.S. Saint Valentine did not actually ride a bicycle.  Historians think he lived around 200 A.D., when the bicycle was not yet invented.  Still, I bet he’d ride a bicycle if he were alive today…mostly because he was deeply religious and would probably live a minimal, car-free life.  Just a guess….

Motivational Monday with Lori Cooke

1 Motivational Monday Lori Cooke

Motivational Monday, a Monday tradition at Bike Shop Girl, my goal to keep you motivated and to be striving on the bike even during a hard week or long hours at work. Are you a woman that bicycles? Fill out this easy form and be part of our motivational movement!

What’s your name and location?

Lori Cooke, Pembroke, MA

What type of cycling do you enjoy?

All of it!! Especially cyclocross

What is your first cycling memory?

Back in college; using my bike as transportation.

Who inspires you to ride, and better yet WHY?

I inspire myself. Riding is my escape. I can go anywhere and always away from the stresses of daily life. It doesn’t ever matter what the weather is… My bike is my outlet to peace and happiness.

What has been your best moment on the bike so far this year?

It had to be day 2 of the downeast CX festival. Going in as the series leader, in the jersey. Needed to only beat the former world champ to keep my jersey. Front row start position, whistle blows, I get pushed into the fence. I’m tangled in my bike, on the ground as 50+ cyclists pedal over and around me. I’m stuck, no where to go except hope and pray I can actually get up when the herd passes. They are gone in what seemed like an eternity. I get up, take a deep breath, look at my bike which seems ok, mount and start to pedal. Damn, the chain is off and on the inside. Icant pedal it back on. Off the bike I manually replace it. “do you need medical?” asks the official. “No!” I start riding, tail between my kegs. God knows how big the gap is. “Ride the bike!” I tell myself. I hear cheers and the announcer detailing my trouble. The fire in my belly grows. One racer at a time.. I can do this. Start picking them off. I catch up to the pack. 40 minutes is plenty of time. There was more running in this bike race than riding it seemed. With each lap, I gained on the leaders, finishing 7th overall. Meant more to ne than that damn jersey which I sm now 8 points away from regaining. And I WILL!!

Tell us all about your bikes

My felt blue bomb road bike. Old stand by.
Specialized transition TT bike for triathlons and TT’s
Specualized Crux Pro CX BIKE
Specialized Amira Expert road bike
Antique rigid specialized rockhopper mountain bike

Take a Moment for Carla Swart

0 Carla Swart

I didn’t know Carla Swart, though she went to college an hour from my home and many of my friends rode, races or coached her.   I’ve heard rumors about Carla.   A girl that was ripping legs off at Nationals,  a girl from North Carolina winning big time cyclocross races, a down to earth girl that was fast and genuine.

For full details on Carla’s accident and reasons for death do a quick google search.

Take a Moment

While on your ride, at the gym or while taking a walk please take a moment and say a prayer for Carla’s passing and her family.  I wish all of my readers safe travels during their rides over the weekend.  Please make sure to look all around you and take your safety over convenience everyday.

Photo Credit : USA Today

Race Promoters Use Video for Pre-Race

3 Speedway Cyclocrossapalooza

Tomorrow is my second race of the season and other than being nervous, changing gearing on the single speed cyclocross bike, I am a bit fearful since I’ve never ridden this course.  Being a single speed rider I really like to have ridden the course prior either on a geared bike in another race or pre-riding the course a couple days prior.   I didn’t have the luxury of doing so this race.

Course Preview on Video

The promoters of the race, Speedway Cyclocrossapalooza, heard my cry and pre-drove/walked the course with a helmet cam. The video is long at well over 7 minutes and boring for those not racing, but for those signed up and not able to visit until the day of the race it was well worth the 10 minutes it took this promoter to do his race justice.

Race Promoters What are Your Perks?

The promoters that go above and beyond, with either food, hospitality or pre-race updates create events that you want to return to but also drag a friend along with.  The race this weekend is $20, has hot showers, a heated spectator tent and other benefits.    The promoter also has updated Facebook and their website what seems daily with course previews, terrain and course conditions.   What do you do? Why would I want to come race your race?

DFL #2 for the 2011 Cycling Season

0 NC Cyclocross

The second race of my 2011 season was the NCCX #12 at the Wilkesboro Speedway right here in North Carolina.  This race could be one of the coolest venue’s I’ve been to.  Most of the course was found within the infield of the speedway and the rest was right out the back gate in a grassy field.

The Word of the Race : Mud

In North Carolina our weather is fairly mild and easy going, a few years ago in January I was racing cyclocross in short sleeves and 65º weather.  The race earlier this month was the first time we had any type of weather. This race, we didn’t have any weather but instead we had thawing.  Frozen ground gave way and by the time my CX4 race came around the “tractor pull” area became a slopfest.  The pro’s made it look easier, but I walked slowly through the mud pit every time (maybe I should work on running in mud??)

Progress and Motivation

Dead last is better than not finishing or not starting, and ending last was atleast the motivation I needed for getting to the gym and active.

How’s your season going so far?

Photo credit : George Berger

Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape Review

4 Velo Orange Bar Tape

A few months ago when I was trying to inspire myself to get back on the road bike, I changed out some parts on the Raleigh Clubman I had received for review.   I made it a bit more “women’s fit” and classed it up with Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape.   I’ve always loved the look and feel of the Brooks leather bar tape but it was a crazy price to try out a new type of bar wrap.

Details of the Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape

MSRP : $45-55 from VO (currently they have it on sale for $45!)

Colors : Honey Brown or Black

Initial Preview & Installation of the VO Leather Bar Tape

When I received the leather bar tape I was hesitant to install, to be honest it sat in my parts bin for a couple months after receiving due to be run over by a car and the lack of will to ride.  Slowly I realized the bar tape, among other things, is what I needed.  I needed to find beauty in road cycling again.

Installing the bar tape is much tougher than installing normal cork style bar tape.   There is next to no give and the bar tape in the bend of the bar wants to crease.   I had to try two or three times to get it right and have enough to end properly on my 42cm bar.  This may be due to liking more padding and overlapping half of the wrap as I went around, but I don’t know how it would wrap a 46cm bar and not be super thin.  Or, quite possibly my upper body strength isn’t what it should be to wrap leather bar wrap?

Riding with Leather Bar Wrap

The words I can put in this paragraph won’t sum up how nice the leather feels in your hands.   It reminds me of a well loved baseball glove, or settling into an expensive car with the glamorous baseball glove leather seats.   Grabbing on to the bars, and the soft feel that the bar wrap gives back is like a nice hug back from your bike.   The padding is another story.  I have to wear gloves when riding this bike, and padded gloves are not something I normally wear.

Other Notes

If you look closely at the pictures there are two where the bar wrap was stitched together half way through the roll.

White leather would be hot.

Overall Impression

If I had a carbon fiber 14lb road or cyclocross bike,  I wouldn’t use this bar wrap. For a nice classic steel ride, this will be my staple bar wrap.  No question.  And the $55  is well worth it as it will last 5x more than the cork wrap.  When installing it again, I may find one of my strapping muscle clad friends to help man handle the leather, but its good to know the bar tape will be able to take it!

Find online at Velo Orange

This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.

Unplugged for a Week

1 397725_10151054185038832_1787469246_n

Have no fear, I’m still kicking. I took a week off from the blog and riding my bike to spend time with family and work on some other projects.

We all need a break sometimes. Mentally, physically and emotionally. This past week was the physical part. Putting efforts into riding roller coasters, working on excel spreadsheets of bike dealer stats and getting my head on straight for the haul from June to the start of cyclocross season. I believe I’m there as my legs felt great the past two days after the week off. My head is on and while I don’t want to geek out too much yet about ‘cross season – I do have goals that I plan on writing out on my bathroom mirror and on my office desk.

In other news

Hope your weekend was great! Time for rest and recovery for me.

Airborne Bicycles: A Partnership

5 Airborne Bicycles Flight Crew

In February Airborne Bicycles put out a call for Flight Crew members.   Essentially Flight Crew members are a small group of brand ambassadors.   You get to ride a bike, for free, goto Sea Otter (to work the booth), for free, and encourage cycling.   When I heard this news I was ecstatic.  I already had my eye on on an Airborne Goblin for the 2011 season, and if I could become part of the team? Great!

“A” Stands For :  Arleigh Awesome Airborne

That was my tag line for my entry to the Flight crew.  Apparently it worked, but I think I won them over with my sweet talking on the phone.  How could three bike guys from Airborne turn down a girl on the phone that knows a crap ton about bikes?

Red Tape Around Every Corner

There were concerns along the way.  I didn’t want to muddy any water on Bike Shop Girl by having a product sponsor, but on the flip side Bike Shop Girl is a purely passionate investment of my time.   It is a personal blog and doesn’t generate enough money to buy me anything but bottom shelf beer.   Now that I work in marketing full time, the bike industry is not my job and I am going to continue to give unbiased views of bikes or product.

Other details include more guest posting for product reviews that compete with Airborne Bicycles.   Say Specialized wants a mountain bike reviewed, I’m going to ring up one of my em:pwr team members and ask them if they would be interested in reviewing a bike.   Basing it completely on their experience, riding style and needs that fit the bike the best.   Instead of having one person to review a bike, we have 38 voices and opiniongs!

I’m a Bike Rider and Racer

Airborne Goblin 29er

Cycling is an expensive sport and if someone wants to give me a bike, I’m not going to stop them.   If a company structure that I believe in (direct to consumer and brick ‘n mortar) want to sponsor me, why would I turn this down?    As long as I am upfront with my goals and what it means for my readers…why would I say no?

Officially, I am a Flight Crew Member

Thank you Airborne Bicycles for wanting me, I’m honored and flattered as I know what type of competition there was! In two weeks I’ll be flying to Monterray California to ride many Airborne Bikes,  I’ll take many photos but most importantly it will be the first time I’ll swing my leg over my race rig the 29er Goblin and the new Delta CX bike for my cyclocross season!

For now go visit Airborne Bicycles and check out their line.  The new Delta CX will be up on their site sometime this weekend.

Post Race Bicycle Clean Up

2 Raleigh Hi Life Cyclocross Single Speed Frame

Bike prep is one of the most important things you can do prior to a race or any big ride.   Most people will do a last minute check over before any race or big ride, but when was the last time you did a post race check over?

Road Wet and Hung Up to Dry

When your done with that big ride, the last thought in the back of your mind was to clean up your bike.  Now, this could be the worst thing you are doing for your bike.  If you let your bike sit after a hard ride for days, it doesn’t matter if its dry or very wet, your chain, bearings and others are aching for attention.

Steps to Post Ride Bike Check Over

Today, I’ll be walking you through what I did after my cyclocross race on Saturday.  Some of these steps may differ depending on what type of riding or conditions your in.

  • Gently hose off the muddy bike.  Using a soft scrub brush or rag to clean down the frame and rims. As you are wiping off the frame check for any new scratches, dents or damages, especially if you crashed.
  • Wipe down chain and drip on your favorite lube, leave it soaking in as you do the rest of the checkover
  • Check the brake pads and braking surface
  • Spin wheels and make sure wheels are true, while spinning make sure there aren’t any new cuts or missing rubber from your tires
  • Check shifting and brake tension
  • Wipe off chain lube

The above check over should take 15 minutes after you get used to the process.   Depending on the ride, like my race in the mud on Saturday, I may leave my lube to soak into the chain overnight.   If you don’t have full sealed bearings you may need to soak lube into those as well.

Many people neglect their bike after a race.   I’ve seen chains frozen solid or someone taking a bike for a ride after a race and not having any brake pads!   Make this check over a normal part of your routine and you’re bike maintenance bill will go down and your parts will last longer.   In additional you’ll be happier on the bike with a well maintained machine!

Steps to Recovery After My Bicycle Accident

2 Bicycle Recovery

Bicycle Recovery

Physically, the recovery from my accident has been pretty straight forward. My mom and lady friend (wife in lesbian terms) took care of me in every way possible for the 48 hours immediately following the accident.

My legs, left hip and lower back all didn’t want to work well for me. The drugs helped curb the pain but not being able to walk or even go to the bathroom on my own was the most difficult part for those few days after.

To date, the bruises are starting to fade and granted three weeks after I still have an amazing lump on my left leg from the top tube of my bike. My lower back and hip gets sore after a long day at work or driving. But, those are my only physical complaints.

Mentally I have Been a Wreck

It would be easy to say, great I got hit by a car.. now get back on the horse and ride off in the sunset. That’s what I would have done 6 years ago (that is what I did 6 years ago) but things are different in my life, as well as internally.

  • I have a family that needs me
  • Life isn’t as easy to pass by
  • The “unbreakable” feeling I had most of my youth is gone
  • This accident has made me painfully naked
  • I have moved on from CommuteByBike.com

Leaves are Turning Over

It is fall after all, and its my favorite time of year. The leaves on the trees are beautiful colors, there is cyclocross bike races, beautiful chill mornings and my birthday is right around the corner. Keeping all those things in mind I’ve been trying to take steps forward.

  • Purchased a car. As dirty as it originally felt, I’m very excited about the daily driver (this car will have its own post) and being able to get to the MTB trail on my own time
  • The gym is my friend. I’ve been starting to go to the gym in the morning before work. It sets a great tone for work and hopefully we give me the strength and weight loss I need for further motivation. Hell, I may go again after work.
  • Forcing communication and interaction. The accident made me realize, as did the reminder from friends, I have become a lock box as of lately. A hermit within my own mind. Something inside of me, even before the the accident, has been keeping my emotions safe inside without sharing any feelings or thoughts.
  • More mountain biking. Simple as that, and as happy as it makes me.

Trying to Put the Pieces Together

I’m weeding out Facebook for all the non-friends I have added. I’m calling or writing all the friends I haven’t contacted. I’m trying to connect with my distant family again.

I’m slowly riding, but riding. All of it is off road and I am grateful for being able to return to my MTB roots. I hope to get my lady on the bike more. I hope to take more photos, and write more words. I hope to get this all out so I can start feeling again.