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Properly Preparing for the Offseason

0 Offseason Fall

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?

Finding the White Line

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When people ask me what time of rider I am normally say a mountain biker. It isn’t true though. I started out fascinated with road biking and racing, and happened to enjoy the adventure of mountain biking a lot over the past 5 years.

Recently I picked up a Foundry Auger B1 as a rep sample. Built as a cyclocross bike I took the knobs off and put on some Michelin Pro4 tires and have been treating it as my road bike.  The miles of bonding with that bike are growing, at the end of the rep sample season it will be hard to let it go. The 25c tire on the front and powertapped wheel on the back have become my main vehicle of training next to my prized Salsa Spearfish.

The Moral of this Rant

It is funny that I live in the bike industry and yet it has taken 5 years and a cyclocross bike to make me fall back in love with road riding. Less than a month on it and I’m already looking forward to my next road ride. When training plans say to go either MTB or Road I am now torn on which to go with. This is an exciting twist in my cycling life and a door that has opened back up with passion and love for a sport I grew up in.

Once you’ve been riding for awhile you often forget the fun you had on your first bike, you also forget how a new bike – the perfect bike – can harness so many emotions and create a great motivation to ride further and faster than before.

My Thighs are Fat

0 Fat Thighs

Last Friday I went for a spin on my cross bike. Nothing major, some dirt, some neighborhood roads, and all that good stuff. As I rode I had the time to take in the bike fit and feel of this new cyclocross bike. I’ve had in my grummy hands for roughly a month a 2012 Ridley X-Fire for a demo with the new gig. I’ve raced it, it did splendid but I haven’t had long thought filled moments with it yet.

One thing that this bike provides is a shaped carbon top tube that flattens out to provide comfortable portage on your shoulder during cyclocross races. This also showed me quickly that my thighs are a bit chubbier than the last time I had some a cross bike (roughly 4 years.) Normally, I would get discouraged by this. Who wants fat thighs? Especially as a cyclist the fat thighs make your spandex look like stuffed sausage links. Instead I found inspiration for long rides on the bike, the goal to lose the thighs and to continue to find happiness in things I would normally be frustrated about.

Here’s to winter, fat burning, miles and fat, happy, thighs.

Louisville 2013: Imperfect but awesome

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

There are a lot of Cyclocross World Championship race reports floating around the internet by now.  I think that other people have done an excellent job covering the technical details of Saturday’s races–who won, by how much, and what were they riding.  (If you didn’t watch it live on cxmagazine.com or haven’t read the race reports yet, check out these: Bleacher Report or Bicycling.com.)  As I said in last week’s post, I was looking forward to attending CX Worlds and planned on reporting back.  Rather than rehash what’s already been done by others, I thought I would provide a review of the event as a whole, from the fan’s perspective, rather than a sports reporter’s.

Last week, I wrote that the first time for anything is fun and special and challenging.  A first kiss, a first win, a first job.  Those firsts may not be what you thought they would be, but they hold a special charm that will always be remembered and felt.  That’s how this weekend felt in Louisville.  It was a first and because it was a first, it was imperfect but charming, and challenging but better for it.

The first and probably biggest challenge of the weekend was the Ohio River, next to which Eva Bandman park is located.  Due to recent storms in the northeast, the Ohio River swelled causing hydrologists to predict the park would be flooded by late Saturday night, making Sunday racing an impossibility.  So the organizers compressed the race schedule into one day.  Racers and coaches reportedly took the news angrily or ambivalently depending on their country of origin.  As a fan who was planning on standing in freezing temperatures for two days, I was stoked to hear it would be just one day instead.  And once the races got started, I can’t imagine having the event any other way but compressed.  There was only 30 minutes to 1 hour between races, so it was just enough time to get in line for beer, visit the restroom, and find another good spot on the course before the next race.  Plus, it added to the excitement to have 4 championships in a day.  Each race built on the previous one and by the men’s elite race, you couldn’t have found more excited fans even if you had moved the races back to Europe.  The men and women of the Louisville Municipal Sewer Department deserve a big thank you for the work they did to hold back the Ohio River.  They were literally building temporary levees and piling sandbags next to the river through all of  the day’s events.  I don’t think we would have made it much past the women’s race if they weren’t so damn good at their jobs.  Thanks Louisville MSD.

Thanks to the Louisville Metro Sewer Department for the sandbags, temporary levees, and water pumps.

Thanks to the Louisville Metro Sewer Department for the sandbags, temporary levees, and water pumps.

The second challenge was the weather.  It snowed about 2 inches on Saturday morning before the races started.  Despite Kentucky’s historically bad handling of winter weather  (Yes, Kentucky gets snow every year, but for some reason it can’t quite get a handle on what to do when that happens…every year….  I’m a Kentuckian.  This is a fact.), the roads were salted and clear.  The races started on time and never fell behind schedule.  To add to the snow, Saturday’s temperatures proved difficult for cyclists, but made for a fantastic course.  Early on, in the Juniors race, the course was frozen which made for tricky run-ups, extra sliding around corners, and pit stops to pick up fresh bikes whose gears weren’t frozen.  As the day warmed up, the snow melted into the dirt, creating Super Mud Fest 2013.  The U23 and men’s elite cyclists all look like creatures from the Black Lagoon they were so muddy.  I’m not sure how the cyclists felt about that, but it made for an awesome spectator experience.  Oh, and maybe my favorite weather moment of the day was when it started to snow as the elite men began their race, the last race of the day.  Anticipation was tangible, camaraderie abounded (partly due to intoxication levels), and snow started to fall at almost the same moment that the race began.  It felt like cycling magic.

A snowy, icy course made the juniors race extra exciting.

A snowy, icy course made the juniors race extra exciting.

The amount of mud on the course increased exponentially for the U23 and the men's elite race.

The amount of mud on the course increased exponentially for the U23 and the men’s elite race.

 

A challenge for every race organizer is how to keep crowds under control, whether at the ticket line and entrance gates, the concession stands, course crossings, or restrooms.  With 10,000 estimated attendees, the Louisville organizers did a pretty good job.  All of the volunteers, race officials, and other people in “Louisville 2013″ high-vis vests were courteous, professional, and for the most part, fun.  I was especially impressed with the course crossing guards.  They did a great job making sure people got through the limited crossings efficiently, but also made sure the course was safe and clear for the riders.  That said, the one sour spot in the day was the concessions.  There was only one concessions tent and two smaller beer tents.  The snack line at one point was an hour and a half long.  You might miss 2 races if you got stuck in it.  Beer was supplied by Sierra Nevada and their supplies were gone by the end of the women’s elite race (only half way through the day).  They were able to bring in a new shipment, but the entire U23 race was a dry one.  In the big scheme of things, concessions are probably a small detail, but when spectators aren’t allowed to bring in their own food and drink, race organizers should make sure supplies are plentiful and lines are short.  Grumpy, hungry, not-drunk-anymore fans are no good.

The hour and a half long snack and beer line.  The line snaked several times in the tent too.

The hour and a half long snack and beer line. The line snaked several times inside the tent too.

 

Thank god Sierra Nevada delivered more beer supplies before the men's elite race.

Thank god Sierra Nevada delivered more beer supplies before the men’s elite race.

One thing that makes or breaks a big event for me is the crowd, the fans.  If fans suck, the event sucks.  Lucky for me, the Louisville fans were amazing!  The event organizers report about 10,000 attendees, which doesn’t compare to European World Championships, but exceeds naysayers’ expectations.  Those that came to the races proved that American fans can be just as enthusiastic as European ones and that there’s a growing group of us–enough to support a World Championship.  There were amazing costumes, coordinated outfits, and homemade clothing.  Best of all, everyone was super nice, stoked on cyclocross, and ready to have a good time.  Check out my favorite fans:

Check out those awesome bald eagle jackets!

Check out those awesome bald eagle jackets!

What do you think is under that kilt?

What do you think is under that kilt?

That girl made that dress by hand.  It was beautiful and well-made, but mostly perfect for the occasion.

That girl made that dress by hand. It was beautiful and well-made, but mostly perfect for the occasion.

 

U-S-A! U-S-A!

U-S-A! U-S-A!

We saw lots of jumpsuits, none more high-vis than this one.

We saw lots of jumpsuits, none more high-vis than this one.

First times are special and this one was no exception.  I am stoked that I got to be a part of this event.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was a success despite the challenges.  I think that Louisville showed Europe that the US can handle a CX World Championship.  I hope we’re given another chance to prove it.

So much fun!

So much fun!

Laying my Cards on the Table

41 St. Mary's Glacier

I’ve been known to pour my heart out on various blogs. If it’s falling in love, falling out of love, or even the moments after my car/bike accident a few years ago. I dealt by writing and wearing my heart on my sleeve. Here’s to having feelings, grabbing a beer and putting it all out there for my own reference but also for my readers to know where things sit these days.

About a month ago I moved to Denver, Colorado. There was a lot of excitement of this new chapter in my life, with an amazing girl, but also a lot of fear. I’ve always lived on the east coast, I had a strong tribe in the southeast and I was finally finding my way racing again. The move was rather sudden (less than 60 days to prep) so things were a bit shaky as we landed.

When we moved I started working pretty quickly at a bike shop, Salvagetti. Within a couple weeks I knew this wasn’t where I belonged. Working retail hours, retail wages, trying to get in time to ride and time to live life with the girl I moved for…well it simply wasn’t doable. Bowing out gracefully, I still hope to spend time with the shop helping with events and on bike fun things.

A new page in this new chapter

This past week I started in a new job at Pearl Izumi. I’ll be working within the custom department in sales and customer service. This department is growing with leaps and bounds, leaving me very excited to be apart of the growth and excitement!

The new job has shifted many things for me. First off, I have off weekends again which allows for adventures with Emily and friends. Empower Adventure is my blog documenting this (and every day adventures too!) Second, I hope to get base miles back in over the next few weeks by commuting 2x per week (60 miles a day) to hopefully get my legs back in order by mid August to start cyclocross prep! Finally, this change to working for a powerhouse in the biking apparel world, and that Pearl Izumi is owned by Shimano… well things on Bike Shop Girl will be shifted a bit. The content I review won’t be too much around apparel, unless I get something from work that I really like and want to share with you. The stock pile of review apparel I’ve been testing out will be reviewed with the honest opinion I have always given but once the pile is gone, I won’t be accepting anything new.

Where Life Leads

While I still am finding my footing in a new Monday to Friday job, I’m excited to finding myself on the bike more often, meeting new friends and documenting new adventures. Is it cyclocross season yet?

Week End Roundup

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Philly Bike Expo

This weekend, Nov 9 & 10th

Juliana Bicycles Hiring

Juliana Bicycles, a women’s specific mountain bike brand, is looking for a Brand Manager

Quick Start Cyclocross Training

Have you been bit by the cyclocross bug? This quick start plan will get you in better shape for the late season successes!

Bikenomics

Bicycle infrastructure creates more jobs per million dollars spent than any other kind of transportation

A Winter of Cyclists

The story of a group of Colorado cyclists who challenged each other to commute by bike, at least 52 times, during the cold, dark, and snowy months.

Bicycle Practice

19 Bicycle Practice

As humans grow older it is easy to forget that we aren’t perfect at everything and we must try new things, or practice old ones, to continue to grow. Cycling adults know this to a certain point. If you aren’t good at climbing, go find a hill. If you are trying clip in pedals for the first time, practice on the trainer first.

The apparent things, that are new or rusty, are easy to practice. The learning curve is quick and you see improvement which keeps you motivated. There are other things such as flat fixing, group ride etiquette, or eating healthy, that come slowly or aren’t practiced at all until you are in the moment.

We don’t think of eating healthy as something you practice. You’re either doing it, or you are failing. You practice fixing a flat when you have a flat. The only time you ride in a group is on the Saturday morning anger-fest, and you are doing everything you can to hang on.

I encourage you to take this new month and practice a bit more

Practice is how I’m viewing my first few cyclocross races, and I will be putting in my schedule to practice cyclocross specific drills one day during the week (outside of racing) through ‘cross season.

Find a couple friends that you trust and practice pace lines on a friendly stretch of road. Ask your friend that is a billy goat on climbs to take one ride a month to help make you a better rider, in return if you are a better mechanic or descender – you pass on your skills.

What skills on a bike, or in life, could you practice a little more?

For me it’s climbing, cooking and patience. All three are things I plan on practicing a good amount this month. Hopefully the practice becomes habit and next month I can practice something different, or take these three things to a higher level.

North Meck CX #2 Race Report

0 Aspercreme

This past week was my first real cyclocross race of the season. There I said it. With all of the last minute traveling, work and now working on landing a new job I simply have not put as much effort as I thought I would in to cyclocross this fall.

The race was at North Meck Park in Huntersville, NC. What is super unique about this race series (other than it is on Tuesdays) is that it is at night, the first race starting at 6pm. The way it works is the course wraps around 4 different baseball and softball fields, utilizing the lights of the fields to light up the area outside of the fence. Up and down the hills, between the fields, some run ups, some barriers and always good fun but never on the ball fields!

I lined up this week with the boys. There were no girls to play with. Very sad since I know several women that would rack the season but they never show up to ride around in circles with me for 30 minutes.

While I pushed myself harder than I thought I could, I made some ride ups I didn’t think I would make and in the end I beat a few guys, barely being passed by two younger guys right before the finish.

Success is what I call it. If I race a couple more of these before the holidays, I’ll be very happy! Aspercreme was very needed after the ride…

2013 Southern Cross Race

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Long climbs. Long descents. Gravel. 50 miles. The Wall. Vineyards. Wine.

SOUTHERN CROSS 2013

The first endurance cross race in the Southeast. You can use cyclocross bikes or mountain bikes though the course will favor cross bikes. The course will be mainly gravel roads with some spectator-friendly cyclocross goodies thrown in to distinguish it from a mountain bike or road race. SX2013 is also the first race of the 2013 American UltraCross Championship Series so you must not miss it.

Course Details
More Info and Schedule of Events
Results, Photos, Blogs, etc.

Ladies Night, a Guest Post

12 Michelle beer handups

I belong to a newborn bike team that was formed by a popular LBS as a way to bring more cyclists into the sport. I’m one of three women on the co-ed team and, through sheer terror that I will lose any fitness and no longer be able to keep up, I’m the most consistent woman on the group rides in town.

It’s certainly not because I’m the fastest. Not even by a long shot. I’m a forty-two year old mother of teenagers that only started riding anything more than a commuter bike in 2010. I believe in cycling for transportation and for health. I think cyclocross is the greatest sport ever invented and, someday, I hope not to crash my mountain bike every time I get on it. In other words, I’m just an average chick that likes to ride a bike. Yet I can’t seem to convince many other average chicks to join me out there.

I think it has to do with the fact that it’s intimidating to be a woman in a group of very fit guys. And when I say very fit guys, I’m talking about the fastest cyclists in our community. Nice guys, but very fast. Most of the group rides we do have a “catch-up” segment that allows the group to re-form before moving on down the road. I’m usually the last one in, or next to last if I’m having a good week, and often a few of the guys will swing around to accompany me to the end. This is what keeps me going. I love these guys and, though I hold things up, they always encourage me. Still, I will do just about anything to not have to be the one to ask them to dial it back a bit.

And they are guys. Though we may all keep a Lady Schick in the shower, cycling is a very testosterone oriented sport. With the one-up-manship, crude language and large amount of spitting, it’s hard to convince a girl friend that pedaling a bike for two straight hours in a harrowing pace line is sane, let alone fun.

I think women have a place here though. All of these guys have wives or girlfriends that only want a bit of encouragement to get them regularly riding. There are plenty of women in the LBS glancing at the zippy new road bikes, but talking themselves out of it because they have no one to ride with. Well, dammit, I’m going to do something about this. I’ve learned from the best how to be encouraging and supportive and it’s time I pay it forward.

March 2013 will see the start of a new Weekly Women’s Ride in our community that is fun, inclusive, and all female. No intimidation to keep up with the guys, no worries about how those funny shorts look, and no spitting. We will ride for the sheer joy of the wind in our faces and for the happy-hour margaritas we will consume when we’re done.

But I’m not done with the guys. As the year progresses, maybe I can convince one or two of the women to tackle the Thursday night group ride with me. Then, a few weeks later, maybe someone will try Tuesday Night Worlds. If I’m really successful, there will be a group of women enjoying cyclocross with me in September. The crowning achievement, however, would happen when another woman and I get on the front of the November gravel ride and we hear a masculine gasp from the back say “Can you gals slow it down a bit?”

Michelle Windmoeller Michelle Windmoeller first learned to ride in 1977 on a used gold chopper-style bike with a wicked banana seat. Since then she has toted schoolbooks, kids, household furniture, and, literally, a commercial kitchen sink on her bike. Based in Columbia, MO, Michelle owns Blue Cypress Solutions and writes about health and wellness issues. She officially invites you all to join her for a long, leisurely ride in Missouri sometime. She’ll bring the PBR. Photo Credit: Kate Woodard