Saturday, November 29, 2014

Riding with Friends During the Day and Night!

It was Saturday (October 11th) and I was going to be riding with a good friend of mine out on the  mtb trails. Kristin and I haven’t ridden together as much as we would’ve liked to this year, so we were exceptionally happy for this day.

It was probably about as perfect of a fall day that you could get! We rode on an easier set of trails with limited technicalities that I knew would be enjoyable and give an adventurous feel.

It was a morning that was good for the soul. You can't really go wrong with conversation, laughs, and lunch. 

I mentally prepared myself for the second ride I'd be going on in the early evening.

Travis had a friend in town that used to work at the bike shop a few years back. Plans were that we'd start our ride at 6 p.m. and it would turn into a night ride. I was a bit nervous with how it would go as I'd never been on a night ride before. I also didn't want to mess up on silly things in front of a person I've never ridden with before, nor did I know if I could keep up or not. I made sure Travis knew that I didn't have interest in leading the ride. Better for me to be behind everyone in case I fumbled or bumbled; both men had more riding experience and I figured it would be nicer to not have them worry or get held up by my possible moments of inexperience.

Soon enough Jason had arrived and it was time to head out!
Travis said we’d ride our normal route for the first part of our ride, that way I would be able to start out in familiar territory.

When we got to the entrance of IPT, Travis announced that I knew the trail well and that I should lead. What?! That was not what I had planned at all, nor was I able to seemingly convince him that it was a negative idea. Oh fine. I was nervous because of the rock garden, as I still have difficulties maneuvering my Cali through the rocky pathway. I didn’t want to “fail” in front of Travis, let alone another person I’ve never ridden with before. I like the thought of being able to seem impressive for a new mtb rider, especially for my first year along with being female.
I successfully made it up the Yard Sale hill and before I knew it, I had maneuvered my bike past the rocks and was off! Travis was able to witness my small victory, and I felt confident that the rest of my ride wouldn’t be awful.

After IPT we were going to head up North 40, and again, Travis indicated I should lead. I was anxious because the two climbs have a way of easily tripping me up. If the first one doesn’t, the second one probably will or vice versa. I led the way and hoped for the best. The first climb was okay and I slowed up a little after the corner so I could have a better chance of making the second (and longer) climb. I made it around the corner and pedaled hard, doing my utmost to keep weight on my back tire as the ground was drying out and the rocks were loosening. Yeah! I made it!

Gunnar and Pines were next, and from there we made our way to the upper half of Little Big Horn. That is when I had to turn my light on, which had me thinking I shouldn’t lead anymore but Travis felt that with LBH and Fred, I would do fine. After Fred’s our plan was to hit up Lower Randy, Captian’s, Dunning’s Loop, Upper Randy’s and back down. I figured I would let Travis lead up those trails, particularly because there are a few sections that I’m not always amazing at.

I was a mixture of nervous and excited while I rode the trails in the dark. My depth perception sucks when it’s dark out, so there is a new challenge to riding trails I have established a comfort level with.
Shadows loom out of nowhere and while riding down Fred’s I was sure I saw a panther. I managed to stop myself before I let out a gasp. I felt a little silly about that.

When we made it down Fred’s Travis asked me how I was doing and wanted to make sure that I felt comfortable with the light set-up. I did have him adjust it so it angled down a little more and mentioned that (much to my surprise) I would rather be in the lead on the following trails. Reason being-it’s my first night ride. If you go first you don’t have to worry about a body blocking your light and I felt I’d fare better seeing things right away rather than behind someone.

I did have a moment where I slipped up while riding up Lower Randy’s and I had a second stall-out on Backside. Travis passed me but allowed me to reclaim my lead once I was able to get going again. I have this habit or determination that I will find a way to get started partway up a hill (rather than finding a more level area to get going again.) That determination seems to baffle, amuse, and/or entertain the people I ride with. I figure if I can get going rather than walking and starting, I’ll have some sort of advantage. Plus, it'll be my niche.

I made my way to the root section on Backside that always seems to trip me up more times than not. I slowed up to catch my breath from climbing, shifted into a slightly harder gear, and then pedaled as hard as I could.
Thatta girl!” said Travis as I pedaled the rest of my way up the hill, slowing down once I got to a more flat area. Bursting is still tough for me, but it doesn’t stop me from trying. It’s worth the effort when I can make tough spots here and there; I will get them more frequently in time.

As I led us up to Captain’s I saw pairs of eyes from the resident deer and raccoon that inhabited the woods. I hadn’t seen so many deer up close in one spot before and I must say it was truly amazing! We rode around the top of Dunning’s and continued down to Upper Randy’s. Twists, turns, and acorns made riding that trail more entertaining than I cared for. It was an accomplishment to ride that trail successfully, and I proceeded to lead us to the Luge.

Oh I love blasting on the Luge, however, I must say again- depth perception.
I felt like I was too close to the left and the last thing I wanted to do was biff it badly in front of Travis and Jason. I became more reserved, much to my annoyance, but I would rather be safe than sorry. 
At the bottom had discussed how we felt, if we were tired or if we’d have enough energy to ride up to Palisades and do Upper, Lee’s Loop, turn around and do them in reverse and hit Middle and Lower Pali on the way down. We opted to do so, because why not?

After our first loop I found my legs were becoming tired and I slipped out on a section. I ushered Travis and Jason to take the lead as I finished that trail on my own.  I had to admit that my legs were tired. I felt bummed. Travis and Jason have the ability to really “go” and I was leading the entire ride as a first year rider. Not very fast, a comfortable pace, but definitely a bit more reserved in the dark. I told myself to not worry about it, if it was that big of a deal they would go off and just ride with me somewhere behind, like I originally thought would happen. 
Someone had enough faith in me to have me go first. I also had accomplished some climbs and sections that I was worried about having an audience for. The whole purpose of the ride was to go out, re-introduce Jason to the trails, and have fun. That is what we did.
After we finished the trails and headed home, I said to Travis, “How many months did it take me to ride the Pali trails alone? Now I just rode them in the dark!

It was a great learning experience for me on multiple levels. My first night ride experience was very positive and I’m really excited to go on another one sometime soon. Also? I proved to myself I can ride with multiple people and do so successfully. If I messed up it was minor and looked at in a “We’ve all done that and sometimes still do” way. 

Having good people to ride with that are encouraging and help you brush off the small things will keep you filled with the desire to keep growing and getting better. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Women on Bikes Series: Nikita Ducarroz

Photo Credit: Ryan Guettler (TV Interview)
Meet 17 year old Nikita Ducarroz who is an avid lover of riding BMX! She started when she was 14 and has grown with her sport. A young entrepreneur, she started a clothing company called FDV Clothing with the hope and desire to connect other BMX riders in the area. It was a treat to interview this inspiring young woman!

You can follow Nikita on Twitter and Instagram!

When did you first start riding a bike?
I pedaled my first bike at 3 years old, but only started riding BMX when I was 14.   

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I guess I just wanted to try and push women’s riding further, and push myself more as well. I wasn’t content with just riding in the driveway anymore (although I still do that all the time and have a blast) and wanted to see where I could take riding.

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
I have! I entered my first contest (all boys) in 2012, about a year after I picked up my first BMX bike. I ended up with a 1st and 3rd place. I was really nervous about competing but the contest was organized by a friend and I really wanted to try it. I’m also a pretty competitive person, and had always wanted to try competing. After the contest I found out that riding under the pressure of a time limit got me to throw some things that I was usually scared to do, which made me want to do more!

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
I like all the contests I’ve done for different reasons. The Recon Tour series is pretty fun, and I get to see a lot of friends from all over the country. The Little Big is also great, as it’s pretty much the one time a year I get to ride with all the ladies!

You attended The Little Big event this year, were there any differences from last year? What did you enjoy about it this year?
The main difference this year was that it got rained out :( Fortunately, we were able to do the clinic on Saturday with minimal rain, so we got to goof around on the pump track, but weren’t able to hit the big sets.  Even though the contest was rescheduled, I basically got to spend 4 days riding Woodward Tahoe with all the ladies, and it was definitely a really fun time.  

During the Little Big you were filmed for the documentary Sisterhood Of Shred, what was that experience like and how excited are you to be featured on this film?
Filming is always really fun for me, and this experience was no different.  Working with Meg, Joe, and Stephen was awesome, and I can’t wait to meet up with them all again soon.  I am beyond excited to be a part of this documentary.  I love the message that the film is sending, the story it is representing, and I couldn’t be more honored to get to be a part of that. Beyond that, I have made great new friends through it, who have been nothing but supportive.  

What kind of riding is your favorite?
I tend to ride more park…ramps and stuff, but I don’t mind a little dirt here and there, and have been trying to ride more street lately too! If you’ve got a good crew, you could be in a parking lot and still have a killer session!  

Do you remember how you felt on your BMX ride?
I definitely felt sketchy haha. And I still do, all the time. But it’s also just a feeling of freedom. Cliché, I know, but it’s true. And when you spend hours and hours trying to accomplish a trick, falling repeatedly, feeling like your body is going to fall apart, but you keep pushing, and finally land that trick, there’s really no feeling like it.    

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
Funny you ask- I actually have pretty bad anxiety. A lot of normal, daily things that people don’t even think twice about, make me panic pretty bad at times. BMX has sort of been an outlet for that. When I was around 14, I wouldn’t even leave the house. I started riding in the driveway, but soon I wanted to take it further, and little by little, that’s what motivated me to push myself and go places. Look back to 4 years ago, although my anxiety is still very present, it’s crazy how far I’ve been able to come, and I honestly don’t know if it would have happened if I didn’t find BMX. In terms of BMX tricks, when I have mental blocks, I try to just close my eyes, relax for a second, and visualize what I want to do.  

What inspired you to take up BMX?
I’ve just always loved jumping things on my bike ever since I can remember. One day I saw a video of some people doing BMX tricks, and I really wanted to try. It didn’t work so well on my MTB that I had, so I saved up for a BMX and it just continued from there.    

What do you love about riding BMX?
Man that’s a hard one. There are so many things to love about riding. I love the challenge, I love the community, I love the places it takes you, and the people you get to meet. I get to learn so much, see so much, experience so much, and do it all with really amazing people.   

What has been the hardest trick for you to accomplish?
It changes, but at this point, I’d go with my air bars. I used to do them every once in a while, when we would have a really good session and everyone was throwing down, but they were so inconsistent that 9 out of 10 times I would slam really hard, and that made it difficult for me to want to throw it. I haven’t done one in a while so I’d probably have to relearn them. I definitely want to, but I know it’s gonna be hard mentally to get over the fear of throwing them.   

Photo Credit: Dave Smith
Any tips or suggestions to those new to BMX?
A buddy of mine told me a while ago, don’t worry about the tricks, and learn the basics first. Unfortunately when I started riding I just went straight to tricks, and didn’t learn how to properly jump a box, or how to manual or any of the basic stuff. That’s definitely not a good idea, and I do regret it for sure. But, I’m trying to learn more flow now, so hopefully one day I’ll have tricks and style haha.

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
I fractured my foot back in December doing double bars. That was the first injury I had that put me off the bike for a bit, but I definitely got lucky, only two months to recover. During that time it was definitely hard, going from riding all the time to not being able to played with my mind a bit. I just made sure to get the guys together to ride and hang so I wasn’t just sitting on the couch doing nothing. Getting back, I was most anxious the week before I was going to be cleared to ride. I was mostly afraid that my foot would just snap as soon as it took any impact. I went to Woodward Tahoe the day I was cleared, and after about an hour or so I completely forgot I had even done anything to my foot, and everything pretty much went back to normal.      

You broke your foot during a session ('14 Little Big/Filming for Sisterhood Of Shred), what were you doing and how did it happen?
It was the last day of the 4 day trip up to Tahoe. The contest got rained out, so some of us headed to Woodward Tahoe to ride indoors. We got a pretty full day of riding in, and as we were starting to wind down Meg and I decided to try and film a double barspin. I had tried it quite a few times, unsuccessfully, BUT I could feel that I was getting very close, so I kept going.
On the last one, I dropped in, and as I was spinning the bars, I started rotating a little bit. As I came down, I landed at 90 degrees right at the knuckle, my hand slipped off the bars, and I fell off the back of my bike. I guess the force of the impact was a little too much, and my foot (which was halfway on the pedal) broke. I knew right away that it was broken (8 months ago I fractured my other foot also doing a double bar, but a different crash) and was pretty bummed, since I had a contest in San Diego two weeks later that I had been looking forward to all year. We drove home a few hours later, and then 2 days later got an X Ray to confirm the break. Thanks to everyone who helped me out!  

How has healing and recovery process been for you? What are some things that you do that helps you stay positive?
The healing process has been a little boring, but it could have been so much worse, so I just keep thinking that whenever I start feeling bad. The doc basically said 4 weeks on crutches, and then we would reassess to see if I could start putting weight on it.
At 6 weeks I should be allowed to ride lightly again. I have listened to that, and am not trying to rush anything at all, but the Doctor just said not to put weight on it, and riding a MTB up and down the street adheres to that rule, so I haven’t gotten off bikes completely LOL. I don’t think that would be possible for me. I also use a little 12inch bike to roll around the house because crutches take forever and wheels are fun. I’m not bed ridden or anything, so really I can still do anything I was doing before (other than riding) just a little bit slower.
It’s really just an inconvenience more than anything else, and I should be grateful that’s all it is. The first week I was in a really bad mood but I got that out of the way and now have been doing more stuff to heal quicker and more efficiently. Just gotta keep my head in the right place, focus, and heal up!    

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Currently I have one bike that I use, and I am also building up a spare bike using a bunch of old parts I had sitting around. I ride more of a park set up, gyro, no pegs, but I like to change it up every so often. I wouldn’t say I am a weight weenie, but I do like to keep my bike on the lighter side, especially since I am not that big. I am lucky enough to have some great supporters, so most of my parts will come from them. Haro parts and Alienation Rims. The reason I chose these companies was because of the passion and dedication that is put into making the parts and the companies. Now a days there are so many bike companies out there, and choosing can be a challenge, but Alienation and Haro both have some amazing people behind them who put in so much work, and I was just drawn to them. You can tell when someone is passionate about their work, that’s for sure.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I definitely am a sucker for Vans shoes haha. Other bike accessories that are a must for me are my G-Form pads, my certified helmet, my Fight Dentist mouth guard, and my Novik Gloves. As you can now tell, I like to be protected, and I definitely recommend all those companies to keep you safe.  
     
Speaking of clothing, you have a company called FDV Clothing. How did you get started and what was your inspiration?
I started FDV when I was 14, really just out of boredom. I wanted to make a website for local BMXers to connect, and then it turned into making T-Shirts, and continued from there. I really enjoyed the design aspect, from graphics, to web design, filming edits, and taking photos. It was also a great way to connect people, especially since I’m a pretty shy person.   

What challenges have you had being a small business owner?
I think the biggest challenge is just keeping up with it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been focusing a lot more on my own riding as well as school, so I’ve slowed down a bit with promotion and pushing new product. FDV is first and foremost a family, and the clothing part just comes along with it, so I’m not stressing about it or anything, when I’m ready to get back into it full force I’ll do that.   

What has been your greatest success so far?
I’d have to say my biggest success has been the steps I’ve taken to overcome my anxiety. I’ve had some great accomplishments riding BMX, like landing my first backflip, winning contests, getting in magazines, but nothing feels better than overcoming something that has been such a huge challenge for a large part of your life. I’ve stayed home from my family's biannual vacation to Europe since I was 11 because I won’t get on an airplane. This year, I finally decided to face my fear, and flew to Indiana for a contest. It definitely didn’t cure me, I’d still panic about doing it again, BUT, it was such a huge accomplishment for me, and really got me motivated to push myself more.   
    
What do you feel keeps young women (or women in general) from being more involved with the various cycling styles?
I hear a lot of reasons why, but I’m really not sure. I definitely feel like it’s probably not as much of an interest to a lot of women, but there are the few of us who did find this passion and stuck with it. I guess it might be hard for some people if there isn’t a lot of support, or places to get started and learn. Fortunately for me, I had a lot of support from all the guys, and never experienced any discrimination from them, but I guess it’s not always that way. Either way, I think it’s great to have events like The Little Big that are so inviting to women.

What would you like to see in the future for women’s cycling?
I’d love to see it evolve more and become a little more “official” I guess. In terms of being recognized as a “real thing". To have girls classes in major competitions like X Games or Dew Tour, I feel, would really make a huge impact on the sport. I definitely see it growing more and more every year though, so I think it’s going in the right direction!

Tell us something random about yourself!
I don’t know if it’s that random, but I plan on becoming a firefighter/paramedic. I got to be a Fire Explorer when I was 14 and have been hooked ever since. I don’t really know where it came from, but I have a strong passion for it and can’t see myself not following that path.  



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Transitions- A Thankful Post

Choices, chances, and changes are decisions and actions made on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes they are small and other times they are quite monumental and result in transition.

Buying a bicycle was a chance- I would either love it or hate it, but at the time I didn’t know which one it would be. I made the choice to follow through with the decision and ultimately changed my entire life.

Entering a new relationship was also a chance. However, I would regret a lot if I hadn’t allowed myself to pursue the opportunity. I have been able to have an enriching relationship that pushes me to explore outside my boundaries and keeps me learning and growing as a person.

My blog! I took a chance on my writing, whether or not people would enjoy reading my personal posts and if I could connect with other women. I had no idea that people would enjoy the interviews and how quickly they would travel. I never expected to have such positive feedback on my writing. 

I want to say a special thank you to Pedal Love, IMBA’s Dig In blog, and League of American Bicyclists for allowing me to share my stories. I am humbled and forever grateful to have the opportunity to potentially encourage and inspire others!
Another thank you to Whooha Gear, Shebeest, and Dirty Jane for giving me the opportunity to be an ambassador for such great companies! Your support is so appreciated!

I’m looking forward to the next year and the adventures I can share!
Speaking of adventures…there is change coming that several of my local readers will notice in the new year; you won’t see me behind the cash register at Oneota Community Food Co-Op.
Yup! You read it right. In January you’ll see me shopping at the Co-Op vs. working.

I will admit it was a decision that was difficult for me to make; I’ve worked at the Co-Op for over 6 years. I have seen so many faces, made great friends, watched kids grow up, and have experienced many wonderful moments. The Co-Op has been a second home to me; having been there during my tough life moments. I found solace behind the register when I felt overwhelmed with internal chaos.

I imagine most of you have already put two-and-two together, but for those who are still wondering, here’s my next step.......

I’ll be working at Decorah Bicycles!

Like I said, this decision came with a lot of thought behind it. I wanted to make sure that I would be mentally and emotionally ready to work alongside my significant other. I also had to come to terms with starting all over when it came to knowing my job, what I was doing, and the information I would need to have in my head. I’m leaving the security of a job I know like the back of my hand, to a new job where I will be starting over from square 1. If you know me on a personal level you know that kind of change/transition scares the crap out of me.

Bicycles are something I really love. I love what they can do for a person and how they can change lives. I know momnumental moments at the bike shop will be similar to when I worked in a salon. You don't get the customer that comes in wanting an extreme makeover every single day. However, the day they do come in-you will have that “Yeeeah!” feeling that really reminds you WHY you are doing what you do.

Earlier this year I was helping Travis out at the shop on a Saturday and a couple came in with their two younger kids. Their youngest had been riding a kick-bike and was ready to graduate a pint-sized bicycle! Seeing this little kid ride his first “real” bicycle for the first time around the shop was really inspiring. It gave me a happy that I have kept with me for quite some time. It was thrilling to see a child have such a wonderful and positive experience with learning to ride!

I realized that I had a desire to do something more for the community in terms of cycling; currently I do not have the time nor the freedom pursue my goals and ambitions in the ways I'd like to.
I put my all into something I believe in.

I have some great ideas that will be implemented sometime next year that will hopefully introduce more women into cycling and/or expand the terrain they ride.
I hope to do that with education and experiences
(Introductory mountain bike rides that can be one-on-one format vs. bigger groups. No-Drop, weekly group ride(s) throughout the season (paved trail/off road), and a women's night (possibly quarterly) where they can learn basics- changing tires, checking air pressure, and asking questions on bicycles/products.)

This isn't a good-bye by any means, more like a “Hey! Now you have a reason to stop by the bike shop!
Blogging, interviews, and product reviews will still happen full-force. Now I’ll be able to write about my experiences with riding as well as what I’m learning as a bike shop employee.

To everyone I’ve worked with and all the wonderful customers I’ve interacted with- thank you for making the past 6+ years of my life so memorable. You are all family to me, and I'll always have a smile for you!

Thank you, Travis, for allowing this opportunity to grow and delve into something I’m passionate about. Being there for me for these past few years and being so supportive of my blogging and riding. You've been a fantastic teacher throughout all of our head-butting moments. You're dope.

Thank you to my family and friends, who have been there for me, supported me, encouraged me, and have ridden bikes with me. Ya'll are the best and I really appreciate all you've done for me.

Thank you to all the amazing people out there who have helped with my blog. Reading it, being interviewed, or having written a guest post. Those who inspire me, have supported me, and given me the encouragement to keep up with it! The wonderful connections I've made have been fantastic and I hope to meet you all in person someday!

As far as transitions go, I’ll use the phrase I’ve said a few times in blog posts- “Get out there and enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Women Involved Series: Tina McCarthy (Wheel Women)

After a career as a graphic designer spanning 25 years, Tina McCarthy has had a total career change. Now trained as a Level 1 AustCycle coach, Tina set up Wheel Women at the end of 2012 and now works full time running rides and teaching women to be safer and more confident cyclists.

Having experience running her own design business, many of those skills have carried through into building Wheel Women into one of the most talked about women's cycling groups in Australia in just 2 years.

Motivated by a loss of fitness and too many years of inactivity, Tina returned to cycling in her late 40's after a health wake-up call while riding with her son.

Though once a very fit part time running coach and veteran of many 10km fun runs, returning to cycling and then taking up the challenge of being a cycling coach seemed almost a natural progression.
But it took a lot of rides and a lot of learning before Tina realized she needed to ditch the design and get on the bike as a full time coach.

Tina lives in inner city Melbourne, Australia with her husband, teenage son and 2 lovable rescue dogs!

Check out Wheel Women on their WebsiteTwitter, and Facebook!

Tell us about Wheel Women and what you do!
Wheel Women is a social and recreational women’s ride group with a non-competitive focus. We ride because we can…no lycra necessary!
The aim is that we encourage all women to ride bikes, we don’t care what kind of bike or what your ability is, we just want to encourage the fact you give it a shot and get out there. 

We are there to guide riders and teach the skills required to build confidence so you ride more often. We don’t race, we don’t even compare Strava (I have banned Strava posts on our Facebook page), and we always ride as fast as the slowest rider.

The environment we encourage is really supportive, so it doesn’t matter if your haven’t touched a bike for 20 years…we’ll help you along the way. 
There is no such thing as a dumb question in our books, so we encourage women to ask all they want to know. We run programs to build skills, have private lessons available for those who feel a bit uncomfortable in the group and we run regular rides every week…there is really something for everyone.

What inspired you to use social media to share your experiences?
I think social media is really easy to use, and it’s so accessible too. It seems that one of the largest groups to use social media is exactly our target age group so it works well to disseminate info. It also is a great way to make everyone feel involved – we post photos all the time of the day’s activities and we can get messages to everyone so quickly.

I think also social media allows us to be imperfect – we can make some mistakes, we don’t need glossy fabricated photos of perfection…we can just be us!
I think the social media aspect of Wheel Women has really helped us grow too – it is very viral and word spreads quickly.

What has been the most interesting thing since you've started blogging?
I think the blogs are quite differnet to the Facebook or Twitter scenario. I can just write what I feel and being able to do that is often a more powerful tool – I get to speak from the heart.
Probably the most interesting thing has been having the blog shared on Total Women’s Cycling website in the UK…I was so happy that happened and it also created a real buzz about what we do at Wheel Women.

Any time we get interest from overseas I get excited…I think we have a long way to go in Australia with women’s cycling and what we are doing with engagement. When we get interest in Wheel Women internationally it kind of validates what we do and lets me know we are on the right track. That feels good.

Why is it so important for you to encourage and inspire other women to take up cycling?
I’m not sure what it is that makes it important for me…maybe it’s because I can see what could happen if they got on a bike. Endorphins make excitement infectious…you just want to share the fun with everyone!

I was at a lecture recently by eminent Australian molecular biologist Professor Suzanne Cory. Just to quote her:
A walk along any shopping mall will open your eyes to the dangerous obesity epidemic, fueled by sugar hits and lack of exercise’.
She commented that ‘we are in danger of complacency, of taking health for granted’. I know I did…I sat on may arse, put on weight and had a wakeup call when I went on that first training ride with my son’s school. I was a ticking time bomb for mature inset diabetes and heart disease. There is no question I was obese.

Riding a bike has changed that for me – I’m fitter, stringer, healthier and I’ve lost a lot of weight. I know the answer to so many of our health issues is at hand with the simple gesture of getting on a bike and riding. But we need to encourage women to do it and make it attractive, not intimidating and above all, FUN!

I had been thinking so long along the same lines as Professor Cory – every time I walk into the mall and see people sitting around eating crap food, or making the choice of inactivity of activity I weep for the future of their health and their children’s.
Nothing makes me feel more satisfied than seeing one of our riders get caught by the ‘bug’ and really embrace cycling. It can be life changing and I love seeing that happen!

What do you love about the Wheel Women community? What has been one of your most inspiring moments?
I just love meeting all the new riders, seeing them through their riding journey and seeing what they can achieve. It’s amazing what women can do when you give them a comfort zone to challenge themselves.
I think probably one of the most inspiring things was seeing 50 women front up for this year’s Around The Bay In A Day ride…it was great seeing so many in the team kit and taking on their own personal challenge.

But really, I think the best moments are when I see a new rider join in and just get the bug, buy a new bike and see them out there with the group each week. But I also love it when I’m out riding on my own and I see one of our riders out with their family – they have role modeled enough so the whole family wants to ride! That’s pretty awesome…that is the change maker!

Why do you feel some women are apprehensive about getting involved with cycling? What do you feel could change that would make women less leery to trying it out?
I think it’s the bloke thing…it seems intimidating. But lots of women can be intimidating riders too. The full lycra kit, the fancy bikes…when you first get into cycling that can seem pretty scary! It’s like looking at warriors.
In my opinion, so many bike companies focus on the upper end of cycling, the elite level. The advertising brochures state that they have a bike for everyone, but the pics are still of the elite, or the perfect rider.

We aren’t perfect at Wheel Women – we have bumps and lumps where we don’t want them, we are short, tall, overweight, skinny, old and young. We are just real women having fun on bikes…I think that is what attracts so many to Wheel Women – there is no bullshit. What you see in the pics is real – they are our riders!
If bike companies and stores could recognize this, then maybe we might see a few more women less afraid.

What would you like to see happen with Wheel Women in the next 5 years?
World domination!! Actually, what we really want to see is Wheel Women in every state of Australia – we have a very clear philosophy and we stick to it like glue. I make sure all our coaches adhere to it like crazy and never waver from it.

If we could get Wheel Women up and running in every state then I think we could have a real chance at getting a whole lot more women riding, mainly because we seem to resonate with many women because of our grass roots focus and our very real image.
We’ve had interest from Sydney and Adelaide and we’d love to take it there. But I also see no reason why we wouldn’t go international at some point – it has the potential to. We just have a serious shortage of coaches who are prepared to fit to our way of working. They need to recognize that on every ride and session we do, it’s the attendees ride, not the coaches! 
We also are very strict about taking away discussion about anything competitive.

What would you like to see happen with women in the cycling world in the next 5 years?
I’d like to see a really global movement, not based on the elite end. I think there is some seriously GREAT stuff happening in the US at present for everyday women cyclists and I am currently trying VERY hard to find a way to get there to investigate more and bring back to Australia more info.  I BADLY want to go to the Women Bike Forum run by the League of American Bicyclists, and I want to go and talk to various groups in the USA.

If we could work together on an international level we could really get some great stuff happening as far as sharing, learning, exchanges, and of course promotion of the cause at the non-elite level. There seem to be so many fragmented groups all over the world trying to create the same changes, but none of us are working together.
I think a body of women at the international level who can drive this would be great – I’d be in that for sure. Any takers – who wants to do this with me???
What would you say to someone who is completely new to cycling but wants to take it up?

I’d be really happy to go with you if you like, and we can go for an exploration ride. It won’t be fast and we’ll have fun…I’ll buy you a coffee if you give this a shot!”
I’d also be stressing the fact that because I ride a lot, I’m not elite and I ride with anyone, I don’t care how fast or how slow. I just want to see you smile on the bike!
It’s worked so far….and that seems to be the way lots of riders get started with us.

Tell us something random about yourself that people may not know! 
Ooooh, that’s scary….letting the secrets out. Okay, here are a few things:
I make fresh orange juice EVERY morning
I love reading books by Haruki Murakami
Aside from a degree in Design, I also have a degree in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (meaning I have studied Australian Aboriginal culture).
I am a Japan-ofile…I love anything and everything Japanese!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Women on Bikes Series: Joh Rathbun

Photo Credit: Clayton Ryon
Joh's been mountain biking since 1996, and has evolved alongside her passion. After years of racing, and a disastrous injury, she put herself through school to become a journalist.

Initially, I fell into the journalism thing. I've always considered myself a writer, but wasn't published. Losing my waitressing job, and subsequently, meeting an editor at a surf event in Capitola in 2009 was fate.
Having a voice for women in the gravity side of cycling is important to me, and having the epiphany that half of my audience is male was joyous.”

I realized that—over the years—the same core group of women who love the technical aspect of cycling were out racing and rioting. Their scars, and successes push both me, and our sport forward. I am overjoyed to join my sistas in creating the change that we want to see.

Check out Joh Rathbun's Website, Official Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!


When did you first start riding a bike?
I got my first bike—a 10 speed road bike—as a birthday gift when I was around 8 years old. I remember my first skinned knee—in hindsight riding with Dr Scholl's clogs was not the smartest move. And I got my first mountain bike when I was 21—it was a 19” chro-mo Motive frame. That thing was a tank!

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
That sense of freedom—the solace I find only on the trail—I'm closer to my potential out there.

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
I started racing cross-country in 1996 and DH in 1997, immediately after buying my first mtb. My then-boyfriend was racing a lot, and encouraged me to try it. So I did, but since I failed miserably in cross-country, I focused on DH. I started racing pro DH in 2000, and that's set the tone for my life.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
Any dirt jumping/DH/pump track comp where the emphasis is on having fun & bonding while preferably being in the forest.

Why do you love mountain biking and what has it brought to your life?
I love mountain biking because it's been a great metaphor for my life. It's brought me passion, direction, satisfaction, friends, and solace. There's nothing like singletrack through the redwoods to cheer me up. Archive of It's All DH From Here.

What styles of mountain biking are your favorite? Any particular reason why?
Anything tech, singletrack, DH, DJ, pumptrack, slopestyle, freeride. I love that feeling of cheating death! I am a relapsed adrenaline junkie.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
One of the first rides I ever did was up Deadwood Mountain, near Oakhurst, California. I hadn't been working out when I got into mountain biking, and the fire road just seemed to go up forever. I wanted to cry. But, once we turned around, and went down, it was a done deal. I had a mystical, transcendental experience and I've been chasing that feeling ever since.

If you had nerves at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I'm always nervous when riding with new people, or when racing. I tried racing cross-country and I'd get so nervous that my stomach would be all tied up in knots. The port-a-potty at the Keyesville Classic back in 1996 attested to how nervous cross-country riders get. Around that time, downhill was becoming its own discipline, and since I wasn't having any fun with cross-country I jumped to downhill, and I haven't looked back.

I still get nervous when riding with others, this time as a coach and ride guide. I take my responsibilities seriously, and if I don't let it, leading a bunch of women out in the middle of nowhere, looking at me for direction would freak me out! Why are these people all looking at me? Oh yeah, I'm in charge! Oh no!

I circumnavigate my nerves with visualizations. For leading rides, I visualize everyone riding well, and the group at the end, enjoying a beer. For racing, I visualize that there's a hurricane of emotion roiling around, but I am in the eye of that hurricane. I can see the wind of emotions, but am distanced from them, in clarity.

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
I've ridden both clipless and flats all of my mtb life, and I have learned that I prefer the flats. The only advantage to being clipped in is that your foot doesn't slip while riding uphill. But, so much can go so wrong on the DH, that I need my foot to be in its natural position on the bike, in anticipation of any contingency. Now, it feels unnatural to have my toes in a specific position, where I can't move them when I need to. Also, there's no faking a bunny-hop in flats. Either you know how to do it, or don't, where as in clipless, you just pull the bike up with you. That takes no skill. So, my tip for beginners would be to definitely try both types of pedals, but learn how to bunny-hop, regardless of which type of pedal you prefer.

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
I used to crash so much when I first started out that I earned the nickname “Crash.” I've had small wrecks, and crashes where I've landed up in the hospital. Yes, you do need to get over that fear of pain. That's a normal reaction to a serious trauma. I always get back to why I do it in the first place, to get out in nature, smell the loamy wind, and feel the sun on my skin. Appreciating the true beauty of nature, and my place in it, is transcendental. Then, before I know it, I'm shredding again.

What do you love about riding your bike?
Being in nature, finding the flow on the trail, feeling the wind in my hair. The freedom, ditching the watch, and cultural norms, and striking out on my own. Relying on only myself is so freeing.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I'm building up a Black Market Malice dirt jumper with Spank wheels at the moment. Both Black Market and Spanks are rider-owned companies, so they know what they're doing. And I'm currently looking for an all mountain/enduro bike. I'm looking at you, Bicycle Fabrications—how about some American-made fun between my legs?

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
Gloves are one of my favorite accessories. A few years ago, I was riding a curb on the levee here in Santa Cruz. I wasn't wearing gloves, and my front tire slid off of the curb, and my palms were shredded in that crash. I've been wearing Troy Lee Designs (TLD) gloves lately for two reasons—function and aesthetics. This line from TLD is the first to fit my hands well since I started riding in 1996. I've got long hands, and long fingers, so I usually wore men's gloves that were always too wide in the palm for me, making the material bunch up while holding on to my bars. But, what originally drew me to the gloves were the fabulous colors.

Another favorite piece that I recommend for anyone is definitely a nice pair of chamois.  Don't skimp on the chamois—also make sure that there's no seam running through the crotch and that they are paneled. I learned this the hard way. So, don't leave home without 'em!

You're a mountain bike coach and ride guide, what inspired you to become a skills coach and why is it important to you?
My friends inspire me to coach. I never thought that I'd be a good teacher, or that anyone would pay me for my time. I'm glad I've worked up the nerve to give it a go, though. It's so satisfying to give women the tools to shred—and to become self-reliant! It is important to me because I've learned that my mission in life is to help women become self-reliant via the bicycle. Like towing in Jessica during Pumps on Pedals. She was the only one to not ride a section. I felt blessed that she trusted me enough to follow my line, and I had a big smirk on my face when she rolled through it!

Joh "modeling" for Bay Area Bicycle Coalition's 2011 Bike to Work campaign
Tell us about Shine MTB Coaching and why you got involved!
Shine's mission statement is to “inspire and illuminate rad female gravity riders.” Founded by Lindsay Beth Currier (LBC) in 2008, it has mushroomed into its own movement. I met LBC in 2009, and a year later we were in cahoots on how to bring more events, and more coverage of women into the cycling world. The team was reinstated this year, so as outreach, I began leading rides for Shine here in Santa Cruz. I've yet to get insured, so only coach outside of Shine, until I do. While I will always work with Shine, I'm excited to strike out on my own for 2015 in Santa Cruz. I've been blessed to work with Shine, Sacred Rides, Shuttle Smith Adventures and local women's groups like Girls Gone Wilder so I am hopeful that my rides and clinics will fill!

You are a freelance writer and cover cycling-related events. Have you always been a writer?
I've always been a writer. Writers, artists in general, are just born that way. I've always been called “weird,” “different,” “goofy,” “silly,” etc. As an adult I've come to appreciate that those differences are what make me, me. But, I wasn't published until 2010, after graduating from SJSU with a BA in English, emphasis in Career Writing. I knew that I still wanted to be involved in the cycling industry, and I had this degree, so that's when I chose to marry my two loves.

What have you noticed over the years with women in competitive cycling events?
Since the cycling industry is a microcosm of our society, I still see misogyny, and sexism. It was more blatant when I started riding in the 90's, but has become more subversive. An example of that is the statement, “you ride like a guy,” because inherent in that statement is that a women can't be strong, or steezy.  And, why wouldn't our cash prize be equal to the men's category? We had to pay the same amount for the equipment, travel time; all those expenses are the same, regardless of genitalia. And don't give me the “field size” BS that some event directors spew at racers. If you want a bigger field size, you've got to incentivize those racers to spend their hard-earned cash.

Through the years, women come and go. Even me. Some get married, take up different sports, or just lose their passion. After shattering my forearm in 2002, I just walked away from it all. My sponsors, my bike, my passion. After a 5 year struggle, I was back on the bike. And soon back in the mix of things. I just couldn't let it go, and I wanted to share my passion with others. That's also when I noticed that more women were getting involved at a higher-level than before. Some old racing buddies, like Kat Sweet, and Tammy Donahugh had made a name for themselves, and provided me the inspiration to dive back in, and to stick to it when things get rough.

How have things changed/improved/grown?
I love all the work that women like Kat Sweet of Sweetlines, Lisa Mason and Carolyn Kavanagh, of the Women's Freeride Movement, Teresa Edgar and Ash Kelly of MTB4HER, do for women. It's so good to see the mark that they are making on the industry. Through the years, when I've approached sales folks in the industry about more marketing towards women who shred, I was repeatedly told that we are a “niche market.” Well, women spent $2.3 billion in the cycling industry in 2011.1 That's billion, with a B. How's that for a niche? I feel validated knowing that because of pioneers like these women, and the men that support us, we are becoming the change that we want to see in our industry.

Where would you like to see women's cycling go in the next 5 years?
Equal pay, equal prizes, equal airtime, equal opportunities for women.

Joh "modeling" for Bay Area Bicycle Coalition's 2011 Bike to Work campaign
Why do you feel women are deterred from getting involved with the off-road scene?
There are many reasons why women are put-off from the dirt scene. It is decidedly macho, and they get put off from that. Since we may have different reasons for going out there, not necessarily racking the most miles, or the KOM, one cannot entice women to shred based on machismo. Another reason is that some women with families consistently put their families first, leaving nothing for themselves.

But, the elephant in the room is the sexualization of women in a male-dominated sport. When  women are consistently told—and shown—that the only value she has is of a sexual nature,  our industry does the individual—and themselves a disservice by ignoring all that a woman can bring to the table. We shouldn't have to walk a tightrope between the madonna and the whore. This is 2014, for Christ's sake! The objectification of women sets up this false dichotomy and no woman should have to choose. I believe that this is the biggest turn-off to women outside of our sport. So, this is where we need the most change to boost women's involvement in our sport.

What do you feel would help to change involvement levels?
More coverage, equal airtime, etc. It hurts when the sexism is in your face. I approach editors all day long. I had one editor of a well-known mountain bike site say to me, “We don't want your female bike stories.” If that's not blatant sexism, I don't know what is, because I see myself as a mountain biker first and female secondly. I wouldn't be so gung-ho about highlighting women if it was already being done, but when the folks in charge hold sexist ideals, then they're the ones that decide who's involved, and we end up with a sexist sport. So, number one priority is quit sexualizing women!

So how does one stay relevant in our sport without being sexualized?

We need to teach women skills in many trades, specifically entrepreneurship, and empower the generations coming after us with strong, positive examples while encouraging them to take well-evaluated risks—both on and off the trail.

Tell us something random about yourself that people may or may not know about you.
I'm a bad ass potter!

1. http://www.bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/WomenBikeReport(web)_0.pdf

Saturday, November 22, 2014

DHaRCO Shorts and Jerseys: A Product Review


Recently those who follow Dirty Jane were able to get in on a spectacular opportunity to order clothing items from an Australian company: DHaRCO


DHaRCO was established in 2012 and is inspired by the Australian surf culture. Simple design, high functionality, and fun colors bring a bit of summer to your mountain bike wardrobe all year round! You will find jerseys in full length or 3/4 sleeve design.
(They also feature tech fabric t-shirts if you want an even more casual look.)


I purchased two long sleeved jerseys and one 3/4 sleeve jersey. I was pleasantly surprised by the pop of colors on the green/blue jersey. Photos that accurately show the colors of this jersey are almost impossible to get. Just trust me!

The women's shorts are probably one of my most favorite I've experienced so far with trying out gear this year. You will need to utilize their sizing guide to find the fit that is right for you. Normally I wear a size small in most American brands (Specialized, Shebeest, Bontrager, etc.) and for DHaRCO's shorts I had to purchase a size Medium.
(In other words, they size somewhat small and you will likely find yourself ordering a size up. If you are in-between sizes you should go with the larger of the two. I'm a 26/27 depending on the brand/cut of jean. I ordered a Medium for the shorts.)

You can find their sizing guide here.

The fit of the shorts is accurate and the fabric is really great. It has some stretch and feels really durable. You can adjust the fit with the velcro tabs at the top of the waistband for loose/snug fit.

The waistband is high, but it is not uncomfortable, especially for someone who hates that "digging into my stomach" feeling. The shorts have snap/zipper closure, so you have no worries at all of anything coming undone.

Bonus? No back gap allowed! The fit hugs your butt in such a flattering way! The shorts are baggy, but not too baggy. The true test will be when I wear them during the warmer months solo to see if the legs will snag my seat.

For late fall riding I wore the shorts over my tights for extra wind/cold protection. They fit over my layers and didn't bother me one bit.
Just adjust the velcro tabs for fit! I was able to still move around easily and didn't feel constricted with extra fabric.

They feel well-made and like they will last for a long time and I wouldn't balk at the price of the shorts after feeling how sturdy they are.They should easily withstand several seasons of riding.
The shorts do not come with a liner short, so if you choose to wear a padded liner short, wear what you love!


DHaRCO's gear is tailored for freeride, all mountain, DH and trail/casual XC riding.

You will find that the jerseys are light and breathable, so to make them more comfortable for you multiple months out of they year, a baselayer will help. The shorts are also made to be breathable in hotter conditions, which I will get to try out next summer. Like I said, I've been wearing them over my tights as an added layer against cooler temps and have found them fit nicely. (Even over an extra layer-which says a lot!)


So go on over to DHaRCO's website, or check them out Facebook. Another big thank you to Dirty Jane for supplying us with a great opportunity to get our hands on some awesome gear! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Women on Bikes Series: Alex Pavon

Meet Alex Pavon who lives in Arizona, she's a fan of Enduro and Downhill riding-loves accomplishing anything rocky, steep, and technical. As she said on her Dirty Jane profile: "The gnarlier the better!"
Check out what else she's up to by visiting her blog, Dirty Jane profile, and Instagram!


When did you first start riding a bike?
Well like almost every kid, I learned to ride a bike as soon as I was competent at walking.
Granted, I was walking when I was 9 months old, so maybe I was like 3? 

I never learned to ride with training wheels; my parents would just walk behind me holding my seat until I could ride by myself. From the ages of about 7-15 (or until my older friends could drive) biking was a way of transportation; Flagstaff isn’t very big, so you can get anywhere on a bike almost as fast as you can in a car (sometimes faster, depending on traffic). I was also a ski racer for a long long time, so mountain biking was something we would do for dryland in the off-season.
What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I really started riding a lot after blowing my knee out in the spring of 2011. I tore my ACL, MCL, LCL, and Meniscus, and my physical therapist had me on a spin bike ASAP after my surgeries to help regain strength and range of motion. When I was finally allowed to do more rigorous activity, I decided I would try my hand at mountain biking. At that point I was riding a 1997 Specialized Rockhopper up and down the urban trails, but that was good enough for me. That was about the extent of my mountain biking that summer; I moved back to Colorado that November to ski race and put my bike in the shed. I spent the next summer up in Oregon and down in New Zealand training for skiing, but managed to get my parents to buy me a new, modern, full-suspension mountain bike at the end of the summer. Over the rest of the summer and fall I progressed to riding single track, riding more and more miles, multiple days a week. I was hooked. I moved back to Colorado for one more season of ski racing, and after another minor knee injury in April 2013, decided it was time to retire my race skis and fully commit to riding bikes. I began racing enduro in the summer of 2013.  
What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
Really, I love all competitive events. I love biking because it is fun, not just for the racing, but competition just makes it more fun for me. If you asked any riding friend of mine, they would probably tell you that I don’t like climbing or pedaling, but that’s a lie. I love going on long rides, I love the feeling I get when I get to the top of a hard climb, I love the feeling of finally cleaning that technical section even though it made me want to rip my hair out. As long as the riding is rewarding, I like it. I obviously like going downhill the most, that’s why I race enduro. I have participated in NAET races, Oregon Enduro Series races, Enduro World Series races, Scott Enduro Cup races, Big Mountain Enduro races, and they have all been phenomenal.
Where would you consider the best place you've ever ridden?
I was just in Crested Butte, Colorado for the Crested Butte Ultra Enduro and it is easily one of the best places I have ever ridden. There is so much riding to be done there I’m sure it would take a solid month of riding every single day to cover the trails just in the valley. Not only are the trails amazing, but also this place is beyond beautiful. Hood River is also a favorite of mine. BUT my all time favorite place(s) to ride are at home in Flagstaff, and in Sedona. Flagstaff doesn’t have a bike park, but the riding is amazing. It’s a lot like Colorado, at 7,000 feet with a lot of climbing and big descents. Sedona is world famous for it’s riding, and it deserves being so. The trails are incredible, extensive, you can ride to all of the trails from town, you can ride year-round, and it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. But I’m a little biased. 
You ride Enduro/Downhill-what do you like about those styles of riding?
Enduro is the perfect combination of everything that I love. Easy to insanely difficult climbs, chairlifts, bike parks, back country, fast and smooth descents, technical and steep, you name it. I think some people kind of disregard enduro because they think you don’t have to be as fit as you do for XC or have as good of handling skills as you do for DH but it’s completely the opposite. Though the climbs aren’t timed, you do have to make it to the top and sometimes those climbs are grueling. I’m in Crested Butte for the Big Mountain Enduro Crested Butte Ultra Enduro, and over the course of five days we are covering over 100 miles and climbing 23,000 feet, many of the climbs topping out above 11 and 12,000 feet. As for the descending, stages are often held on downhill specific trails, but we ride them on trail bikes with six inches of travel and a 65-68 degree head angle. To be good and to be fast, you have to be insanely fit and have great handling skills.
Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride? (If not a mountain biker, how about first commuter ride, paved trail ride, gravel, etc.)
The first time I went on what I consider a “real” mountain bike ride, I was like “Shit, this is hard” the whole time I was climbing and “Holy shit, this is so fun” the whole way down. I remember thinking, “wow this is so similar to ski racing” as I was descending, and, “maybe I could be good at this.” After my first real ride I was hooked, I just wanted to go again, and again, and again. The feelings of “this is so hard” and “this is so fun” haven’t changed a bit since then. As I get better, I find myself facing harder climbs, and having more fun on every descent.
If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I think that a little bit nervousness is a good thing for a couple of reasons. First, it keeps you alert and on your toes. Nervousness doesn’t allow you to slack off. But I think you have to channel that nervousness into something that will help you—nerves help me set goals, whether I’m just out riding or if I’m racing. For example, if I was nervous about a big drop on in the middle of a stage, I would try and turn that into something I could work with, like “okay, I’m nervous about it, but to pull it off I will hit my line, push my bike forward and push my butt back.” Second, nerves are a good way to monitor your body and mind. If I am nervous to the point where I can’t focus on creating a goal, I know it’s not a good idea to try something. If I couldn’t focus on how to pull off that drop because it was making me that nervous, I would know that it is a smarter idea to take the go-around line.
Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
Yes, I do. I ride Crank Brothers Candy Pedals. Talking to a beginner, I would tell them this: I know they seem really scary, I was afraid of them too at first. Then I slipped on my flat pedal, railed myself with my top tube and wrecked my shin with the pedal and THAT was scary. I would adjust the peals so that they are the easiest to get in and out of, and then go on some mellow rides to get used to them. It really doesn’t take that long before you get the hang of it. And YES, it’s okay to fall over in your pedals when you stop—sometimes it still happens to me.   
I'm sure you've had several bike biffs. Which one would've been the most physically challenging? Was there a biff that was more mental/emotionally challenging for you? How did you heal/cope?
I have definitely had several crashes. It’s part of learning and growing. There are three particular instances that were pretty physically and mentally tough for me. The first one was last November, I was up at Gooseberry Mesa in Utah with all the employees from my local shop (Flag Bike Rev) for a long weekend of riding and I ended up dislocating my right ankle. It was awful. Not so much the actual pain of dislocating my ankle, but the fact that I had to be drive to the hospital in St. George to have my ankle reset and then my boyfriend had to drive me home the next morning because I was one crutches and couldn’t do anything. I felt so bad. My ortho told me that I would be out for three months and I almost had a mental breakdown. Then I remembered that doctors tend to be pessimistic in their recovery timelines. A week into PT my therapist told me I could ride my road bike, a week after that he told me I could ride my mountain bike in an ankle brace. Three months my butt. In this instance, healing was both mental and physical. I had to keep telling myself that I would be back in no time, and work hard and do everything I could at PT and at home to get my ankle better quickly.
The second biff was actually not my own. This year at the EWS in Winter Park a good friend of mine crashed really hard racing in front of me. I came across her on the trail unconscious and bleeding. Thankfully another racer had already stopped and took care of her much better than I could have. Anyway, she ended up with three skull fractures, a TBI (traumatic brain injury), and two pelvis fractures. She is recovering, but having that happen to someone I know was beyond scary. Mentally, I was kind of messed up for a little while. It took a good break from the bike and some time for me to grasp the idea that I can’t live in fear of hurting myself just because it happened to someone else. Riding scared in a recipe for disaster.
The last instance just happened last week. I mentioned earlier that I am was in Crested Butte for the BME CB Ultra Enduro—well, on day two I clipped a tree with the end of my bar and crashed, hitting my head and face really hard. I had a huge fat lip, a swollen purple cheek and nose, and a black eye. As much as I wanted to keep pushing and finish the next three days of racing, I had to make the decision to withdraw from the race. I know it was the right thing to do, riding hurt is never a good idea, but it was incredibly hard to sit there while everyone was racing. The last day was in the bike park, no pedaling required, so I decided that I was going to “race” the last 3 stages. Really I just wanted to ride and they let me start and get timed. I crashed again, no doubt as a result of crashing earlier in the week, and got really lucky that I didn’t break my neck. I am now strictly enforcing a biking hiatus and letting my broken body recover—all the way this time.
 What do you love about riding your bike?
I love everything about riding my bike. I love the challenge it always presents, I love the feeling I get when I ride, I love being outside surrounded by nature, and I love the people I get to ride with and meet when I ride and race.
Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I ride a Santa Cruz 5010 c, which I LOVE. It’s light, it’s easy to pedal, and it descends really well. I put a 150mm travel Pike on it, a Fox DOS dropper post, I have it set up as a 1x10 drive train with a 34 tooth Race Face narrow-wide ring in the front and a Shimano XT 10 speed cassette in the back, I run Shimano XT brakes, shifters, and a Zee derailleur. I also have a Giant TCR road bike, which I love but don’t pay nearly enough attention to. I have my eyes on a Giant Intrigue 1 and a Giant Reign 27.5.
How did you hear about Dirty Jane?
I heard about DJ through Facebook, if you asked me now I couldn't tell you who posted about it, but I clicked on the link and saw that DJ was taking applications. At that point in time I had no sponsors and I was just trying to get my name out there. I applied and became an ambassador. Being an ambassador for DJ has been fantastic. Anka has been incredibly supportive, especially considering that her company is still in a growing phase. Plus, all the Janes, even though most of us have never met, are all super supportive of one another.
What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I love Pearl Izumi chamois’/bibs, tech tees, and jerseys. I also really like any of the men’s TLD shorts (I don’t own any of the women’s ones) and TLD gloves. I also really like Dakine women’s shorts and tech tees, Mavic clothing and shoes, and Shredly is also an awesome and fun women’s specific brand. I was sponsored by POC when I ski raced so I am incredibly biased toward their helmets, they are awesome. And I LOVE my Smith Pivlock V2s. My biggest recommendation would be to have a few pairs of nice chamois’ a durable pair of shorts, a nice pair of shoes, a GREAT helmet and good glasses.
What inspired you to start blogging about your bike-related adventures?
I really just like to write and blogging is a really good way for me to look back and reflect and for my friends and family to get a glimpse into my adventures. Also, after I started working with Dirty Jane, I thought it would be a good blog for DJ and a good blog for any women who have an interest in biking to read. Plus, when I started racing more seriously I thought it may be a good tool for sponsors/sponsorship opportunities.
What has been one of the most interesting things to happen since you started blogging?
What I have found interesting is just how much I use my writing for my blog as a tool to assess my riding and racing. It’s like the calm after the storm when I can sit down and really think about everything that happened at the race or during a ride, and I find myself analyzing my riding: what I did well and what I didn’t, how I felt physically and mentally, etc. and that all helps me piece together the madness that was the race or ride.
Your boyfriend rides-did you both discover mountain biking on your own? Have either of you introduced the other to a new style of riding?
Scott has been riding competitively since he was a kid. He grew up racing XC and road before switching over to the gravity oriented events. This year was his first year racing enduro, the last couple of years he has spent racing the Pro GRT series. I also started riding on my own, but Scott works at the shop I go to and eventually (when I thought I was good enough to totally embarrass myself in front of the cute mechanic from the bike shop) Scott and I started riding together. Then we started dating and now we ride all the time. I already had an affinity for going fast and I knew how to pick and assess lines from ski racing, but I didn’t know how to execute. I would say that I owe a lot of my technique and handling skills to Scott. I figured a lot out on my own, but all of the finite things, the details and the tricks I learned from watching and be taught by Scott. And there are still so many I am working on.
How do you enjoy having someone to share a mutual interest with?
I love it. It’s a great thing to always have someone there who supports you, failure or success, who knows how you ride, how to push you and when to back off, and who can make you laugh and smile whenever you need it.
Why is it important to you to break down the boundaries in the cycling world and be a woman who rides styles that are very male-dominated?
I’ve just always thought, “Why can’t I do what all the guys do?” I grew up with a lot of boys, so I was always doing whatever they were and it was never an issue. Of course, as I got older I started to see the biologically undeniable difference in physicality between men and women, so I don’t strive to be as fast as the fastest guy, but I do strive to be the fastest female and show other girls that yes, we can do what the guys do. Maybe we can’t send that jump as far, or plow through the rock garden as fast, we be can definitely do it.
What are some of the reasons you feel women avoid getting involved with cycling? What do you feel needs to change so more are encouraged to take it up?
One, I think it’s scary jumping into a sport that is so male dominated. No one likes embarrassing themselves and I think that women often feel more comfortable going out and trying something new if they are doing it with another girlfriend—not their boyfriend. Second, I think some women are too concerned with how they look, physically and in the public eye. I don’t think that they scares on my legs are encouraging to girls that don’t ride, and unfortunately society likes to dictate how girls think they should look—no scares, slender, manicured, and the image that is often portrayed of elite women athletes is “manly.” AKA strong.
If someone is interested in getting into Enduro or Downhill?
Same as above. I think a lot of women are afraid of the gnarliness of the gravity oriented events and they don’t see a lot of other women doing it so they don’t feel like it is terribly inviting.
What do you feel would encourage more women to take up off-road styles of cycling?
Having the media pay more attention to the women in the sport, especially in the United States. Cycling, road and off-road is huge in Europe and the media pays attention to it. Really the only cycling event that gets any media attention in the US is the Tour de France. Which is 21 days long and all male. LAME. Air the UCI Downhill’s, XCE’s and XCO’s, BMX, Four-Cross, Cyclocross, etc.
What is something random about you that people may or may not know?
Some random things: I am a full-time student at Northern Arizona University studying biomedical science and chemistry, but I LOVE political science so it’s my minor. I suck at golf but I wish I were really good at it. If I lived somewhere where I could do water sports year round, I think I would want to be a professional water-skier. I love animals, I have two golden retrievers and a cat, and I’m always bringing home strays or abandoned animals and taking them to the vet and finding friends to take them—This summer after spending a few days down at Havasupai, I almost took a stray puppy home in my backpack from the Supai Village. I am a firm believer that karma is the ultimate force in this world; what goes around comes around. I have a younger brother who is way cooler than me… The list goes on and on.