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Frostbike–A bicycle non-professional at a bicycle industry trade show

1 Fat tire wheelie courtesy of Chris

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

So, I know my byline up there says that I represent Loose Nuts Cycles when I write.  The truth is that I am by no means a bicycle industry professional.  I ride my bike to work and around town, love a mountain bike ride, help out at the local velodrome and am marrying a bike shop owner, but I have never been paid to ride or work on bikes or to be knowledgeable about bicycle-related things.  I am a bicycle non-professional.

This weekend, my partner (owner of Loose Nuts Cycles) and I flew to Minneapolis so that he could attend Frostbike 2013–QBP’s annual conference and trade show.  I originally signed up because I have some family in the city and wanted to visit with them, but I was also curious about what went on at bicycle industry gatherings.  I’m in public health, so I’m used to peer-reviewed abstracts, break out sessions, suits, and networking events when I go to a conference.

Before we even left Atlanta for the frigid northern lands of Minnesota,  I knew I was in for something different than the expert-packed, abstract-ridden, brain-overwhelming days of public health conferences.  Chris forwarded an email to me with the subject line “2013 Frostbike Beer Hunt”, which described a scavenger hunt-type activity that you could complete at the vendor expo in order to earn “a 22oz. bottle of limited-edition Frostbike beer that was brewed and bottled by the QBP Vendor Sales Team”.  It’s not that we public health folks don’t have fun at our conferences, but we’ve certainly never hosted a Beer Hunt.  I could tell that Chris’s “professional” trip was going to be a very different kind of professional than I was used to.

Essentially, our schedule was this:

Friday–arrive in Minneapolis and find hotel.  Go to All City Bikes party (via a party bus called the Night Rider) and have beer- and bike-related fun.

Saturday–Go to QBP headquarters.  Check out the vendor expo for the morning.  Eat delicious lunch provided by Thompson and QBP.  Ride Surly fat bikes in the snow.  Back to expo.  Return to hotel for dinner.

Sunday–More expo. Take tour of QBP headquarters.  Eat more delicious lunch.  Ride more fat bikes (Salsa this time).  Win stuff at a raffle.  Back to hotel.

Monday–Sit on butt.  Fly back to Atlanta.

After4 bicycle packed days, these are the things that stuck with me:

  1. Fat tire bikes are awesome, especially when used for their intended purpose–snow.

    fat tires

    fat tires

  2. QBP likes girls.  My name tag said “Dealer” which probably helped, but all of the brands and bike professionals with whom I spoke treated me very equitably, like I knew as much as Chris did.  They made sure to look at both of us when talking about products.  I liked the feeling of not being talked down to and treated knowledgeably, even if I wasn’t actually knowledgeable.  I hope that Frostbike 2014 includes seminars for bike shop owners about how to make women cyclists feel like that in their shops.  It seems pretty rare in the bike world.
  3. The bicycle apparel industry apparently hates women–I’ll rant more about this in a later post, but women’s bicycle clothing continues to be made to look exactly like men’s cycling apparel but with an added flower or ruffle.  I saw not one piece of clothing at the entire show that I would be excited about wearing.
  4. POC Helmets look awesome–awesome enough to reduce how dorky I normally feel when wearing a helmet.
  5. Brooks still makes beautiful, drool-worthy leather products–I fell in love with this Brooks bag.  Oh yeah, and this bag is pretty amazing in the grape color.
  6. The Surly display.  They had obviously put a lot of thought and design into their space, even though it was just temporary.  Plus, the new Big Dummy cargo system premiered, which was exciting.
    Custom painted Moonlander just outside the Surly display area

    Custom painted Moonlander just outside the Surly display area

    New Surly Big Dummy bag and top plate

    New Surly Big Dummy bag and top plate

     

  7. There is a common sense of purpose between the Frostbike attendees.  Even though people didn’t know each other, they shared a priority and experience that connected them.  It sounds like hippy talk, but it made Frostbike feel welcoming and warm.  The feeling helped to re-energize a lot of attendees (including myself) about riding, even in the middle of winter.
  8. Kenda’s new tube vending machine–this is being tested in several pilot areas before it will be available to the mass market.  Pretty fun product.

    For all those times when you need a tube and your local bike shop isn't open to help you

    For all those times when you need a tube and your local bike shop isn’t open to help you

I was prepared to come back and report that professional bike trade shows are just an excuse to have a good party and talk about bikes all weekend.  While partying and talking about riding bikes and actually riding bikes was essentially all that we did for 3 days, I was surprised at how much actual business got done.  Vendors with whom I spoke were really excited and helpful when talking about their new products.  Bike shop owners were stoked that these new products met the needs of their customers (with the exception of women’s cycling clothing–ugh! Still unreasonably pissed about this).  Everyone wanted to ride bikes and generally the atmosphere at Frostbike fueled that fire.  It was fun to come home and be stoked to get on my bike and know that thousands of other people were doing the same thing as they returned home from Frostbike too.

Preview of Louisville 2013–Cyclocross World Championships

0 Female cyclocross rider in Georgia.  Photo by Nathan Bolster.

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

Normally, I’ve just started making my weekend plans by this time in the week, but I’ve had this weekend planned for months…maybe longer.  This weekend I’ll be traveling to Louisville, KY for the UCI Cyclocross World Championships!  So stoked right now!

This weekend in Louisville is sure to be amazing for several reasons:

1. It’s the first time that the CX World Championships has been held outside of Europe.  Last year, UCI gave Louisville a practice run with the Master’s World Championships.  The masters returned to Louisville again this year and brought the rest of the World Championship events with them.  The first time for anything is fun and challenging and special.  This weekend will set the bar for US-hosted world CX events.  If it goes well, maybe the World Championships will come back to the US.  If it doesn’t, you can bet that Europe will be hosting all the major CX races for years to come.

2.  It’s taking place in Louisville’s Eva Bandman Park.  Bandman Park is the only park in the U.S. that is specifically dedicated to the sport of cyclocross, which means that the course should be great.  If you want to preview the course, check out this guy’s blog.  If you want to know what cyclists and officials think about the course, Velo News has a great article with thoughts from a lot of the top cyclists that have ridden it.  If this weekend goes well, maybe other cities will consider building their own cyclocross specific venues.

3.  European-style excitement about cyclocross!  The event organizers say that they’re expecting 5000-6000 people to attend each day of the event.  In addition to massive crowds, I fully expect that we’ll see some amazingly ridiculous cheering and fanaticism.  Cyclocross is not exactly America’s national pass time, so American cyclocross events don’t often elicit the same enthusiasm that they do in Europe.  That will not be case this weekend.  The U.S.’s biggest cyclocross fans will be out in full force, with some back up from European visitors and guests from around the world.  Expect awesome crowds, creative fans (I bet we’ll see some face/body paint despite the cold temperatures), and lots of noise.

4.  The possibility of home court victories for the American cyclists!  If you’re not familiar with the US’s world champion roster, check out USA Cycling’s report and 22-person roster here.  I do not usually shine with national pride, but I inexplicably swell with patriotism during sporting events.  I can’t help it.  The world championships are here, at home, and may never return to US soil.  Our American cyclists have to make the most of this moment and capture some podium spots.  Win on their home court.  Prove to the Europeans that America can produce cyclocross champions.  Velo News has a good analysis the American chances of winning this weekend.

If you have a weekend with few plans and live in any state that borders Kentucky (or are otherwise reasonably close), you should cancel your plans and make your way to Louisville.  If you aren’t able to make it this weekend, no worries.  CX Magazine is live streaming the event right here.  Also, check the Louisville 2013 Facebook page for updates.

I’m going to be taking lots of pictures, checking out the course, pits, and venue, and talking to as many cyclists and spectators as I can.  Next week, I’ll be reporting back about the weekend and the races.  Leave a comment if you want me to try to chat with a specific cyclist, or get a picture of a particular part of the course, or whatever.  I’ll do my best.

Photo credit to Nathan Bolster of Bolster Photography.

Night Ride Fail

0 On the way to the trail

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

Arleigh mentioned in her New Year’s Day post that she wanted to focus on keeping people riding when the weather is crappy.  I don’t know what your definition of crappy is but mine involves cold temperatures and darkness.  It’s hard to be excited about being on a bicycle when it’s dark and cold outside, but it seems like a winter necessity if you want to ride any time other than the occasional warm weekend.

In an effort to stick to that theme, I was going to write a fabulous post about my first night mountain bike ride in several years, my third night ride ever I think.  I had even typed up an introduction and parts of the post already (I’m a planner…).  I guess my planning had tempted Karma too much because about half way through the ride I rode over a large stick which stabbed into my derailleur hanger, breaking it completely.  The result looked like this :

Broke bike mountain

Luckily, a fellow night mountain biker had come super prepared with a toolkit that included a chain tool, master link, zip ties, and an entertaining story with which to regale us as Chris converted my bike to a single speed in the middle of the Atlanta woods.  Thanks C.K. for being super-prepared.  I was able to single-speed it home rather than walking several miles across the city with a bike in tow.

Single speedy

So, my original plan was to provide you all with some of my lessons learned or tips for night mountain bike riding.  Instead, all I can say is be prepared with tools or be prepared to walk home.  I’m going to try the night riding adventure again in the coming weeks, so if you have any questions about it that you’d like me consider as I bumble and stumble through the dark, let me know.

Friday Shop Profile – Loose Nuts Cycles

0 loose nuts cycles

As an independent rep for Quality Bicycle Products I travel to bike shops all over the Southeast of the USA. I visit a great amount of killer shops, doing what they love and each one very unique. Next time you’re close, check one of these out! Want to see more? Visit the tag.

Shop name: Loose Nuts Cycles

Location:  452-A Cherokee Ave. Atlanta GA 30312
Number:  (404) 228-5555

Loose Nuts is my largest Surly dealer in most of the state of GA. Running out of a killer store front in the Grant Park area. It has the “urban” feel but you will find beautiful Sachs road bikes, high end wheels being built and a super down to earth guy behind it all – Chris Tavel. (I hear he’s a great mechanic too..)

Housed inside the bike shop is also a custom bag maker, Altrport, making bags of all types and sizes to your liking.