Women’s Mountain biking

Laura Colbert
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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.

Shelley Childers
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Motivational Monday with Shelley Childers

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?

Shelley Childers – Charlotte, NC

What type of cycling do you enjoy?

Mountain biking

What is your first cycling memory?

Getting my white Huffy ‘BMX’ bike for Christmas when I was about 10.

Who inspires you to ride, and better yet WHY?

I have to admit that my friends inspire me. There are so many different levels of skillset and they all represent the ‘why’ part of this question. The inexperienced riders are the most vulnerable on the trail and helping them understand how to clear a TTF or to merely feel more comfortable on the bike gives me a warm and fuzzy. Seeing the smiling faces after their first ride is the inspiration for me to continue to ride and learn more about this sport so I can help others.

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

My best moment this year was not necessarily ‘on’ the bike, but rather teaching disable children how to ride their bikes. I have volunteered the last 4 yrs at a camp called ‘Lose The Training Wheels’. It is here in Charlotte(and all over the US) sponsored by the Autism Foundation of the Carolinas. It is a weeklong camp for kids who need a little help with the basics. The goal at the end of the week is to have the kids on a true two-wheels bike. For more information please check out their website here.

All About my Bikes

2007 Gary Fisher Hi-Fi Pro 26” & 2011 Salsa El Mariachi 29er

Marla Streb Interview
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Motivational Monday with Marla Streb

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?

Marla Streb, Baltimore, MD

Where in Baltimore are you living?

We are currently in Fells Point- loving it!

What type of cycling do you enjoy?

Mountain biking of every type, but I can be talked into a road ride now and then

What is your first cycling memory?

at 4 years old, I learned to ride 2 wheels on a little blue Schwinn. Of course one of the most liberating moments of my life!

Who in the current cycling industry inspires you, and better yet WHY?

Mountain bike legend and Hall of Famer Jacquie Phelancontinues to inspire me because she is one of a kind. She’s articulate, intelligent, zany, hilarious, outspoken, inventive, and still very fast on a bike!

What was your best moment on a bike in 2010?

Teaching my four year old how to ride a bicycle for her first time. It was an after-dinner, spontaneous moment, and the two of us ending up riding together past dark. She was happy, I was ecstatic

In the next year, what are your goals with cycling and pushing yourself forward in 2011?

I’ve only raced once this year, but I’d like to beat my old downhill record at Downieville Classicin CA, and possibly race the La Ruta in Costa Rica again.

Wanna Know About my Bikes?

At the moment, all Orbeas!

What are the struggles of opening a shop, and the daily worries a shop owner has?

Funny, I haven’t even opened my shop yet and it’s been a major struggle! For the last 4 months, I’ve been trying to buy a 6,000 sq/ft commercial property (with liquor license- woo hoo!) to create Baltimore’s first “Bike Cafe”. We hope to close the deal within a month… The “HandleBar” will be a full cafe with fresh roasted coffee, light fare, beer/wine/liquor, and unlimited, free indoor bike parking. Also, we will retail new and used bikes and accessories.

Rebecca Rusch
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Motivational Monday with Rebecca Rusch

A Monday morning tradition that we are starting to keep you motivated and to be striving for your goals even during a hard week or long hours at work.   Do you know someone that motivates and inspires you?  Send us your answers and photo to girly@BikeShopGirl.com

I can’t say enough great things abouthttp://rebeccarusch.com/.   In years past I’ve had the honor to be in her pit as a mechanic, get a pat on the back at a race and more than that she’s always that constant voice in the back of my head on hard rides and long races.

Rebecca Rusch

1. What’s your name and location?

Rebecca Rusch, Ketchum ID (AKA Sun Valley)

2. What type of cycling do you enjoy?

Endurance mountain biking, but I also ride ‘cross, road, pump track, super D and townie/commuter.

3. What is your first cycling memory?

Ripping my purple banana seat Huffy down the brick street in front of my house. We lived on a quiet street on a hill and our house was near the top. Rolling down without pedaling was pure freedom, but I also kind of liked turning around and working hard to get back up so I could do it again. I guess that was my first type of “training” and the realization that it was rewarding to “earn your turns” so to speak.

4. Who in the current cycling industry inspires you, and better yet WHY?

Marla Streb. Hands down. She has handled a very long term racing and cycling career with such passion and grace and has done pretty much EVERYTHING. She started mountain biking at 28 after leaving her job in molecular biology AIDS research. Since then she paved the way for women in downhill by earning multiple national titles, world cup podiums and a SS world champ title. She’s also competitive in endurance races like La Ruta. She’s a Mom of 2, manages trail building projects in South America, she’s written two books, lived on a sailboat and manages the Luna women’s cycling team. She just announced her 2011 return to racing and will also be coaching ride clinics this year and just launched the opening of a bike cafe called Handle Bar in Baltimore. On top of all of that, she’s super friendly, funny and just the kind of person you want to hang out with. I just hope I don’t have to race against her this year!

5. What was your best moment on a bike in 2010?

Winning the 2010 Leadville Trail 100 and breaking the long standing women’s course record. The beauty of that day is that I worked hard all season for that one event and, like magic the training, dedication, equipment all aligned perfectly on that specific day. Peaking perfectly and having a race unfold as you visualize it is an elusive, slippery goal to grasp at. More times than not, things don’t go as planned. This time it did and I was elated with my performance and thankful to the team of people who helped me pull it off. It’s a day I won’t forget.

6. In the next year, what are your goals with cycling and pushing yourself forward in 2011?

The #1 race goal is to try to defend my Leadville Trail 100 title for a 3rd time. It has never been done and my training plan is built 100% around this goal.

However, I also have some new projects that I’m super excited about. I have designed the SRAM Gold Rusch Tour for 2011 that will include various mtb events for women and girls. The events are all different, including a women’s only mountain bike race in Colorado (Bike Beti Bash), a high school girls race team in my home town (Wheel Girls), and the first event of the year, SRAM Ladies Lounge at Sea Otter! I will also hopefully be showing the 2010 Race Across the Sky Leadville 100 film in various locations as IMBA fundraisers. I love racing and have no intention of stopping anytime soon, but I also love to share my experience with other riders and help people find out how great riding a bike is! These extra projects are all just a natural progression in my own education and riding experience.

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