Empowering women in cycling

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Women in the Bike Industry, Who is to Blame?

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There is a hot debate going on at Bike Hugger.  Two articles are to be mentioned : The first is “Women as Outcast’s in Cycling Industry.”  The author goes on to tell about how it was very difficult for his wife to find a bike that truly fit her, even after trying several different types of bikes and bike shops.  He ends his story with a suggestion that every shop have a key individual for fitting problems. The follow up to the above article is “It’s Women’s Fault.”  After a tweet, that mentioned that women are walking into the bike shop without knowledge.  Changing blame from the bike industry, to the shoppers themselves.

How Original

My original thought to this was, how ironic that both of these articles are wrote by a gentleman.  A well rounded, educated, cycling, gentleman – but a guy. My brain then went in full tilt as these are things I deal with daily running a bike shop, and monthly in the cycling culture surrounding the internet.  Cycling is a double edge sword when it comes to education, training, customer service and what I will call “the boys club.” Many people walk into a bike shop every day, not knowing what they want or why they want it.  Apparently, all customers can be broken down into 2 of 4 personality types.   All the sales training classes, education and personal experience I have had.. its true!  Here’s the catch, it doesn’t matter if they are male or female!! Why do companies such as the Ikea or Apple excel in a hard economy?  They know how to educate their staff, keep a store and help their customers.  Sure, it sounds great and easy but it isn’t.  The bike industry is a hard one to walk into, most employees are paid less than a comparable job in a different industry, the learning curve is steep, products change daily and that damn internet is telling customers all our secrets. (Half joking on that last one.)

Why do women notice?

Women notice how a store is kept, customer service, knowledge and experience because they tend to be shoppers.  They are sensitized to all of the above thanks to shopping with companies that have their act together.  Walk into your local Gap or Brookstone, follow by walking into three of your local bike shops and then tell me your feelings as you left each one.

Women Spend Money

Make two different fitting bikes, create a line of women’s clothing and now multiple it by 2 because you need choices for a woman to pick between.  Create a buzz, a community, a clean store with knowledgable, well kept employees and you’ll see the bikes and clothing. Why? Because women want to buy those things, they want to be better cyclist, outfit their bike and body and feel GOOD about it.  Make them feel good, give them a reason for purchasing and they will buy it.

The Boys Club

I’ve worked in the industry for a long time and have a pretty thick skin.  Still there are things that once in a blue moon will kick me off my rocker.   If you want to become your local area’s “women’s shop” I would recommend to hire 2 women that know something or another about bikes, and can learn.  Pay them $2 more per hour than their male counterpart, believe me they will earn it and will deal with more crap than $2 per hour can make up for.  If you happen to be a bike shop owner or manager, don’t let the boys club get out of hand.  A joke here or there is good thing, but comments about female customers, employees or female products should be stopped quickly.

There is No Easy Answer

Changes need to happen from both ends.  Bike manufactures need to stop painting bikes pink for floor models, and need to give more choices to women.  They also need to encourage training, merchandising and demo’s.   Bike shop managers and owners need to take large jumps forward from human resources to store design.  Create a shop you would be proud to show to your mother for a week at a time, not just for a drive by visit.

Join the conversation on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BikeShopGirlcom.

Lab-Gear 99 : Full Review

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Lab-Gear 99 Mid & T

The end of October I was approached by Lab-Gear to review a few of their new woman’s line, 99.  Today we are going to go over the pro’s and con’s, as well as share some photos of the different shirts we reviewed.  First, make sure to read our preview from December.

The Process

One thing very unique about Lab-Gear was the process of ordering these garments.  You go through a whole build out picking sizing, color weighs, and options.  The options include a GT Stripe (racing stripe,) thumb holes, and various stitching for the cuff and collars.

After submitting your order the customer service is top notch.  At anytime it is telling you where your order is along in their system.  Finally, you take delivery.  They are wrapped up nicely like a brilliant gift for you.  Made exclusively for you!  It happened also, to be delivered on my birthday.

99 T


This is a lighter weight long sleeve top.  Easily worn with jeans or on your favorite long ride.    We chose to build out our 99 tops to match well together as you can see in the photos.  Due to this being very close to your skin, if you are sensitive to wool, you may get itchy while wearing this top.

Merino wool does its job, even though a very thin (tshirt like) top.  This guy will keep you warm by itself on slightly chilly days, or team it up with the 99 Mid to have a very warm outfit.

With the fitting we decided to order the top to be a fashion fit.  Not too tight, but a normal size you would by from a clothing store.  The shirt fits well, but is on the shorter side for the size it is fitting.

99 Mid


As an outerwear top it is not quite a jersey, not quite a full on jacket.  It reminded me a lot of a track style jacket.  The Mid has a higher collar, thicker weave of merino and a zipper collar.

We ordered this top a size bigger than the T as it was going to be worn over other tops.  Teaming the Mid and T up together is going to be the perfect spring morning ride apparel.   The colors we decided on go well together for the pieces separate or together.

Final Thoughts

The cost are high for these tops, but merino wool comes at a price, as does customizing to your own liking.  At the time of typing this the convert of currency from AUS to USD is:

$130 for the Mid
$78.35 for the T

After a couple months of weekly use, washing, wearing and riding in - these tops look brand new.  This isn’t normally the case with wool, you often get pulling or threads snagged.

The Mid will be a great purchase for multi use, and the T is a dream if you are a fan of wool.

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.

Wrapping Your Handlebars

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After playing most the weekend with video editing and voice overs, I decided to continue learning and pull YouTube video’s from TriSports for your viewing pleasure. (The guy isn’t bad looking either.)

Here is a great video on wrapping road handlebars:

A couple notes from my personal experience :

  • Go slow
  • Make sure to overlap half way as you go around the bar
  • Have all your supplies ready to rock prior to starting
  • Clean your hands, it is very frustrating to get done a perfect wrapping job to have grease marks every where.

Review: Cutter Tech Knickerbocker

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MSRP : $149.99
Details : A very stretchy, comfortable knicker that was designed for those that pedal more than stand.

Roughly 11 months ago we were gifted with a pair of Cutter Tech Knickerbockers, which were originally reviewed for commuting purposes at Commute By Bike.  Since I’ve been rocking them lately for mountain biking and they will be going in to my “How to dress for winter mtbing” video, I pulled the review over here for all you ladies (or gents) to benefit from.

Continue reading →

iPhone Bicycle Ready Cases

1 Broken iPhone Screen

Yes, this is a bike blog but behind it all I’m a tech freak. Ask anyone about any tech product I have purchased, I research and research…then research a bit more. By the time I get to a store I tend to know more about the product than the person selling it to me.

At the end of 2007 I purchased my first “smart phone” an iPhone. It was awesome, it had a camera, could connect to WiFi, did all smart things with my MacBook Pro. I was smitten, it went every where with me.

Then one day I crashed with it in my back pocket. The delicate screen cracked. I was saddened as there was no insurance for these things. I sent it off to a place in Florida that specialized in replacing the screen. $150 later I had my phone back and it was back to being in love. 6 months later I dropped it 1.5 feet to a counter, it cracked again. I was done, with it cracking it shattered my heart. How could I love something so much that was so delicate?

At this time the cases were very flimsy and the famous Otterbox was not invented, but there was rumors about it. Fast forward, I had a BlackBerry for a year and a half, and then an Android for almost two. At the end of this past December I was gifted with a new iPhone 4s and again I’m back in love with my phone. I work more efficiently, I talk to Siri when I am driving and I am content. (I’ve been doing my best not to live on the phone btw.

Cases that Seem Bike Shop Girl Proof

Otterbox Defender Case
Over the past couple weeks I have been looking at all different cases that would keep the iPhone in one piece and safe from me. Cases have been recommended and the general consensus has been Otterbox Defender has been the general consensus. There has also been talks of the LifeProof Case.

iPhone Lifeproof caseThe above cases seem the most durable, the LifeProof can be waterproof but is recommended to test prior to submersion.

 BioLogic BikeMount

BioLogic Bike Mount Case – seems cool, the idea of having my iPhone on the front of my bike does worry me, but probably safer than my jersey pocket.

Recycle iPhone case

This guy won’t keep your phone too safe, but it sure is cute – found on Cafepress with oceanem.

Wahoo Fitness Bike Computer Wahoo Fitness Bike Pack turns your iPhone into a cycling computer with wireless sensors. It mounts to your handlebar through a pretty simple looking mount (has anyone used one?) I’m going to try to get my hands on one of these for testing, or if you have one please contact me for a review.

Topeak iPhone Dry Bag

If you want something more basic, Topeak has a cool dry bag with foam built in. Plus a mount on the back to put on the handlebar. Oh, they come in white – which is catchy for me!

Booth Babes at Interbike are a Turnoff

8 Interbike Booth Babes

This past Interbike I saved my vacation time and dollars for other things, leaving my coverage to be from industry friends and stalking the internet for worthwhile product to talk about. On return from Interbike a few female friends that work within the bicycle industry emailed or texted about the outrage from an article running in the daily version of Bicycle Retailer.

Booth Babes have a Hard Life

The attached scanned in version of the article talks about how difficult the job is. The women are paid between $100-500 a day, and are paid to “attempt to charm strangers and lure them into trade show booths by talking about products you know little about.”

As a woman in the industry that does know what she is talking about this insults me. Pretty faces and large breast may attract guys to the booths, I get that. The ways of marketing to guys isn’t something that bothers me, hell I even second the notion if it means you see more women in the industry supported.

There are Beautiful Women in the Industry

I could give you a list of a 100 women that either work or race within the bicycle industry that could compete in the “looks” category of the booth babes. Here’s a thought :

Hey Mr. Bike Industry Guy, if beautiful women attract people to your booth, why not support more women (that actually ride bikes) year around to attract more people in general to bicycles.

Think of that cute shop girl that sold you a tire a few weeks ago, or the mechanic with full sleeves that could kick your butt in the alley cat. These are the woman we need to turn into poster girls. I bet most women in the industry would be happy talking shop in a booth, to be paid for it would make it that much better.

That $2,000 you spent on the booth girl at Interbike could be spent sponsoring a well deserving female athlete to get to the next level.

Is it the Boobs or That They are Women?

Women are needed in the industry. I wish I could throw you a fancy fact about how women in the bike shop or at shows give off more participation but I can’t. Somewhere there must be one if companies are spending such large amounts of marketing cash for the booth babes at Interbike or Sea Otter.

A friendly, KNOWLEDGABLE,  woman with a contagious personality is going to attract all types of people to your booth, shop or company. Women tend not to be as intimidating to strangers, easier to approach and less cliche.  This isn’t always true but if you are a bicycle shop employee or consumer you have probably felt the “boys club” feeling when walking into a random bike shop.

This goes for booths as well. A bunch of guys in sweatshirts, tshirts and baggy cargo shorts, guys that could be super nice but not over the top welcoming, I would say this is 7 out of 10 booths at any show I’ve been at. If it isn’t sweatshirts and cargo shorts it is crisp polo’s and khakis that you feel they are above you, if you aren’t going to talk to the about Campy Super Record that they are waiting to put their nose up at you.

Look are Everything

Boobs sell, so do colors, smiles and warm welcomes. An early morning at Sea Otter, a booth with free coffee will have more traffic than any booth with tank top clad boobs. The Luna Chix team trailer at Sea Otter is always slammed. These women are friendly, gave away free food and took the time to talk to everyone interested. They are real women that come back from warm up laps muddy, that are well versed on the bikes they are riding and to me, are the best sales representatives for Orbea that you could ever have.

Find the Women

You want to attract people to your booth with boobs? Put out a call, place and ad for bicycle industry models or racers. Ship in some shop employees that already SELL your PRODUCT.

You want more people riding bikes? Put more women behind your product, on the front of your booth selling it, in the design meetings, on the sales calls, and so on.

 

NC Cyclocross Clinic Recap

1 NC Cyclocross

This past Sunday I dragged myself out of bed at o’dark 30 to prep myself and brain for my first cyclocross “clinic”. At around 7 o’clock teammate and all around awesome guy, George Berger, picked me up in his little Prius and we were off into the sunrise. The goal was to get to mountains of Boone North Carolina and the Pirate Race Products Cyclocross Clinics.

NC Cyclocross

Walking into a cyclocross clinic I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have participated in cyclocross practices, and various other road/mtb clinics before but never dedicated for cyclocross.

Here are the things I did know:

The clinic was segregated for women and men. There ended up being roughly 12 women that showed up which seemed to be a decent group for learning and trying new things with two instructors.

It would be a long day. The clinic was scheduled from 10 to 4, and I knew from cyclocross practices that I would be completely worn out doing these quick burst of anaerobic effort.

NC Cyclocross

There would be good food. Burrito’s from Black Cat in Boone, if you haven’t been there – go visit soon.

I had no goals. There were things I want to improve on in cyclocross this year, but a specific skill other than not hurting myself, I didn’t have one dead set in mind. Oh wait, that is a lie.I want to be able to do the “flying squirrel” remount by the end of the season. You know that one were you “hop” off the ground and gracefully slide over your saddle like a cowboy on a bareback horse? Yes that is what I want to be able to do.

Drills and practice makes perfect

For 6 hours I was taken back to high school. All the drills and random technique forming (brain numbing) things you would do, and hate, wanting to just PLAY the game you were practicing for. You didn’t want to practice sprints, side to side, crazy legs, etc.

Quickly these feelings went away and I was left really enjoying myself and fellow company. I hope to have video’s of all the things below later this week. Video editing is just not in the time early this week.

Crazy 8′s -  You basically take two objects, maybe 20-50 feet apart, with a partner you circle the objects/cones/trees/phone poles in a crazy 8 fashion. Learning how to take the corners properly at speed, while at the same time making sure your partner doesn’t catch or pass you (especially in the corners.)

Hill Climbs – This is the one I avoid, I did it twice and stopped. Find a hill and run up it with your bike. At the top either walk down or hop on your bike to ride back down. We started off slowly, simply picking up our bike and walking up the hill to learn where to place the bike on our shoulders and how to use our free arm to propel ourselves up. After a few times in slow, we then would ride into the hill, dismount and “scurry” up the hill.

Dismounts – A great thing for someone getting used to hopping off the CX bikes, especially with clipless pedals. With some momentum unclip your right foot and swing it over the saddle to be behind your left foot. Simply glide in that position. Once you feel comfortable doing this, repeat but this time swing your right leg back over to and clip back in. Next step is to complete the dismount. There were two schools of thought for this, sliding your right leg between your left leg and bike, or swinging your right leg behind your left and allowing the momentum to unclick you. I don’t feel comfortable the first way, and I’m much faster with the second.

Mounting – At a walking pace work on hip rotation and in motion of your walking stride take your right leg and slide it over the saddle so you “catch” yourself on your inner thigh right below your groin. Work on getting faster and “pushing off” your left leg so you get more speed into the sliding onto the saddle. (This is the one I need to work more on.)

Starts- Try out different gearing for your start, where should you be on your seat, do you do better with your hands on the shifters or in the drops, learn your limits so that you can push them but also land in the top positions in the start of the race. It is always better to allow people to pass you than to pick off people through out the race.

Other things gained at the NC CX clinic

NC Cyclocross

The drills were awesome. Having 12 women to talk about womens CX and learn their ways of doing things, was awesome. Having “hot laps” at the end, was awesome. More than anything I believe the best part was meeting 12 semi-local women that will be on the courses beside me. Having people to talk with, making new friends and hopefully helping grow the sport.

Kuat Rack Review

Testing out George’s new Kuat rack was also very informative, if only they came out for a hitch for my new car!

I feel more motivated and able for the season. All I need to work on is my motor and I have over a month to work on that one. Here’s to NC Cyclocross! You can find all the photos over yonder.

A Somber Motivational Monday: Jeff Papenfus

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A day late, but I hope my readers can recognize why and this Motivational Monday (on Tuesday) reaches folks where it matters. The setup will be a bit different, as this is a story from my fingers on someone that has motivated me consistently over the past 10 months.

There are people that you meet in life that hold your thoughts, and make you strive to be a better person or citizen. An example is every time I meet a proud Marine it makes my heart skip a beat, knowing what is behind the Insignia of the Marine Corps. Coaches that make you be a better athlete, bosses that make you smarter employees and parents that create amazing human beings.

Jeff Papenfus was and will always be remembered as an amazing human being. Always there to coach, cheer and motivate. After my accident last year Jeff was one of the main online contributors that got me back on the bike. He has always been at the end of an email string when I’ve had small questions about adventure racing, bike teams, life and even computer technology.

This past spring when I started the talk of EM:PWR cycling, he was one of the first people stepping up with words of wisdom and throwing his own money into the pot for a team jersey. The jersey still sits in my desk drawer, waiting for the lunch he has promised me for the past 6 weeks.

This past weekend Jeff was finishing up a mountain bike ride, the exact cause of why he crashed is unknown but he crashed. Sliding down off the road and into a yellow jacket hive. A friend was trailing behind him and when she pulled up she tried to give CPR while dialing 911 and being stung by over 100 yellow jackets. Jeff was pronounced dead at the scene with a neck injury, my hopes are that it was quick and easy for his passing.

Jeff’s accident and passing has changed feelings in my head and soul more than I thought. A guy that touched so many people, and is still touching my thoughts after his passing. To dedicate my cyclocross season and bike rides do not seem to give it justice. To push myself that extra 50% every time I put out the effort in life, that doesn’t seem to give it justice either.

I employ all of you to go for a ride for Jeff this week. Take in the sights, feel the breeze, look at the leaves and enjoy yourself for a moment. We never know how many tomorrow’s are left.

All the lonely people cryin’
It could change if we just get started
Lift the darkness, light a fire
For the silent and the broken hearted

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

There’s a comfort
There’s healing
High above the pain and sorrow
Change is coming
Can you feel it?
Calling us in to a new tomorrow

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

When the walls fall all around you
When your hope has turned to dust
Let the sound of love surround you
Beat like a heart in each of us

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice? – Sugarland

 

Niner EMD Super Small 29er

1 Small Women's 29er Niner Frame

As shown originally over at BikeRumor.com this is well worth the repost! 

29er with 27-27.2″ of stand over. It doesn’t sound amazing, but it’s more than an inch lower than the small.

I am super interested to see one of these up close and personal, hopefully our local Niner guy will get it on his demo truck. My fears are the handling and front end stack height for those that are on the smaller end of the spectrum on this bike. Yes 29er wheels roll better but never sacrafice handling or fit! I’ve seen super small 29ers like this, but with custom rigid front forks (and only designed around 80mm.)

Small Women's 29er Niner Frame