Friday, June 6, 2014

Women on Bikes Series: Carol B. Iverson

Photo by Carol
I have known Carol since starting my job at Oneota Food Co-Op and last year, discovered that she was a bike rider. After that we managed to get together for a couple bike rides before the colder weather took over. When I came up with the idea of interviewing women bike riders, I knew I would have to talk to Carol!

I always wonder about when people started riding bikes: Carol started out as a kid on a farm, rolln’ around on a bike where ever she could. It wasn’t until the early ‘80’s while working at a sporting goods store in Rochester, where she really started to seriously ride bikes.

Carol said: “I've been active most of my life.” She has done a century race (6 hr), a time trial in VA, and the time trials here in Decorah in 2004 (approx). The time trials were her last competitive event.

Carol also said: “The first major biking I did was TOGIR: "The Other Great Iowa Ride" in '82/83 (approx)
 It averaged the same miles/day as Ragbri (75), but this route stayed in the east/northeast and we stayed each night at colleges along the way (like Luther). The centurion race was in Rochester and that one I definitely trained for on my Colnago. Racing has never been my interest: both time trials were more spontaneous “what the hell” attempts
.”

Carol’s adventures had taken her to Florida where she went to massage school where she took sports training and worked with athletes.
After massage school she got her Merlin bike (titanium being the most shock absorbing of the frames, at that time.) This was all before mountain bikes had front shocks. Carol spent time in Virginia biking, hiking, and backpacking with her girlfriends.

I asked Carol about her experience with clipless pedals: I do remember going clipless! Yikes, I had several "Help-I can't get out of my clips"! in Virginia. It also happened in Moab after my clips got clogged with sand. One of those slow motion sideways falls…I finally got the multiple release kind and that helped.
Then came Colorado, where she immersed herself even more into mountain biking and cross-country skiing; from there came Moab.
Moab is known to be the mountain bike capitol of the world, and I can only imagine what kind of adventures Carol had! Moab is known for the outdoor recreational scene; filled with positive energy and a play hard attitude.

Carol described her slickrock experience: “My first ride on slickrock was when I had the meltdown before we actually lived there. I think I only rode that famous slickrock 14 (?) mile loop maybe 3 times. There are so many other places to ride in the area and other slickrock places less popular. There are dotted lines painted on the rock as well as warnings of how dangerous it is. Between those warnings and the mind challenge of weight distribution, it is definitely an experience! Many people bite it and many who try it are extremely inexperienced (no helmet or bike shorts, sometimes cheap bikes). Moab's search & rescue squads stay pretty busy!”


And of another ride, which just goes to show how improvements to the bicycle can improve the overall riding experience: “One particular ride down a "baby head" trail in Utah (rocks the size of baby heads! ), my vision was actually blurry from bouncing on my bike. That's when I made up my mind I needed suspension. It made all the difference! When full suspension came out, that was even better: it really allowed great speed. It was like comparing riding in a truck (bouncy) to a Cadillac (smoooooth).”

Carol had a lot of girlfriends who loved to spend time outdoors with various activities, biking being one of them. Several of her friends owned tour companies in Moab, and Carol said of them: “The Moab gals weren't just impressive with their bike mechanics (as were the women racers), they were fearless PERIOD! White water rafting/kayaking (a couple even did the Grand Canyon in their kayaks), downhill skiing or heliskiing, running back country tours in rugged wilderness, multiple day backpack trips, etc. They definitely broke all barriers.

Also Carol regularly went on a supported mountain bike back country trip at least once a year in Utah (and one in Colorado). She said supported trips were a great way to see and enjoy the area(s). 
Carol was doing sports massage while she lived in Moab and worked on athletes during the spring training. She was even able to go on bike rides with a couple, such as Cindy Devine and Susan DiBiase! Carol said that originally she felt nervous, but they usually went on the slower ride training days, so it was fine. 

She described how some of the trails were literally pass/fail. There was also trickiness in learning how to ride in sandy areas. All of this was taken in stride and I felt myself fantasizing what it would be like going on these adventures with other women. Seeing different places of the world and going on liberating adventures! (Perhaps not on pass/fail trails, tho!)

Eventually Carol moved to Decorah and spent her first week camping/living along the Upper Iowa River. That is, until she found a place to call home-but what an experience! After 3 years of biking the trails in Decorah, she had a fall in Van Peenen that pulled her hamstring. That is when the realization of mortality and livelihood came into play. Her hands were part of her work and her work provided income; she would tackle easy trails from then on.

Carol said “I never thought I’d move back to Iowa, and I love the fact that it is safe to go anywhere at any time.” She would look at a map and find fantastical loops to do if she made trips to Wisconsin to visit her brother (or anywhere else she chose). She would be able to take in all of what nature had to offer and go on longer adventures by bike.
In the warmer months Carol and her husband Curt will ride the Trout Run Trail as well as go car camping in WI and ride glorious loops in that driftless area.

Carol also said: “I still feel very much at home on a bike, particularly a mountain bike. The drop handle kind I've left behind, but once I get on a bike, I feel great comfort. Still consider myself a biker in all the sense of the word. But yes, the aging then has calmed my zealousness a bit. . .  I find myself reigning in the downhill speed more than I used to, things like that. But nagging injuries has also taken its toll.”

One last thing about living in Moab that Carol had to share-“Friends don’t let Friends ride junk!”

In conclusion: “I grew up crazy about horses and rode a lot. It was my door to getting out and feeling free. Bikes replaced the horse for me. There's really nothing like the freedom I feel on a bike. It can literally take you (almost) anywhere.”

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