Friday, May 29, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Sylvi Fae

I have a full time Program Management position with Dirt Series and I co-own and operate Moab Mountain Bike Instruction with my business partner, Wendy.

I’m based in Moab during the spring, fall and winter, and coordinate remotely when I’m away.

In the summer I instruct for, and manage Dirt Series camps in the western United States, British Columbia and Alberta.


I serve on the board of directors for Moab’s IMBA chapter, Moab Mountain Bike Alliance.
I volunteer with a local after-school mountain bike program for at-risk and struggling students in Moab.

I feel like, after twelve years, I’m still learning all that this sport has to offer; whether it’s a new place, a new trail, a new friend, or a solo ride to re-focus and gain perspective after a bad day. I guess I’m just in love with mountain biking!

When did you first start riding a bike?
My brother put me on a bike at the top of a hill when I was four. I rode it to the bottom and then flew into a pond. The next time I got on a bike I was eight. My parents gave me a pink bike with a banana seat, training wheels and streamers. I discovered Mountain Biking at age 20 in Durango, Colorado.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Three things:
1. Riding with amazing women. My like for mountain biking turned into love when I found other women to ride with and inspire me.
2. I’m addicted. (aka. the feeling I get when I ride my bike). Challenge, focus, and the success that comes with practice. No matter how much I ride, there is always that next thing seducing me to improve and grow.
3. Sharing the sport with others. Seeing people conquer their fears and accomplish new things is so rewarding.

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
Nope. But I can get pretty competitive with myself. I like to time myself on trails, and that’s the only time I care about beating.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
I’m really not that into it, but there’s a local event in my home town that I love: the Moab Ho Down. It’s a mountain bike festival that includes an enduro race and a dirt jump competition, but it also includes a mountain bike film festival, ridiculous costume party, townie tour, and women’s skills clinic.

What style is your favorite?
I love the rocky ledgy technical trails in Moab.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Yes, determined. I practiced on the bike path for a month or so before going out on a trail.  The trail I was on ended up being way over my head, I walked about half of it.  That trail became a measure for my success, as one by one I conquered each switchback, rock, root, and steep loose climb.

With nervousness, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I take a few deep breaths and mentally walk myself through each step of what I need to do. I look through to the other side of whatever is making me nervous, and see myself there. I believe that whatever you tell yourself, you’re right.

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 love both. I prefer clipless pedals for trail riding, and I like to teach, learn new things, and downhill with flat pedals. A couple years ago I rode with flat pedals for a season, and it made me a better rider. I think beginners will have more fun getting into the sport if they start out with flat pedals first. For riders interested in trying clipless pedals, take your time and practice clipping in and out on very easy terrain. That month I spent on the bike path, before ever riding on a trail, I practiced getting in and out of my clipless pedals.

Were you a natural when you started out mountain biking or did you have some struggles? What motivated you to keep at it?
I had to work for it. I really liked the mountain bikers I knew, and wanted to be able to ride with them.  I would go out alone and spend hours sessioning technical sections of trail.

What was one skill or technique that gave you the hardest time to master?
The follow through after a front wheel lift up onto a big ledge. Getting my front wheel up was easy; learning to follow through with my rear wheel took more time. I remember the first time I made it over a ledge and kept pedaling, without having to put a foot down. It felt pretty awesome.

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
Yes, I have three memorable crashes. The worst of these, a little over a year ago, is the only time I’ve gone to the clinic for a mountain bike injury. I fractured my radius. Rebuilding my confidence took some time. I gave myself permission to take it easy for a while, but I missed riding interesting and challenging trails. Any mental/emotional trauma that might have held me back was outweighed by my desire to get back out there. I knew what went wrong and how to prevent it in the future. I knew I still had everything I needed: strength, skill, knowledge, and an incredible bike. I think I’m pretty calculated in the risks I take. I love rough trails and riding fast, but I also know what I’m capable of.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
My new bike is en route to me right now! It is a gorgeous black carbon Trek Slash 9.8. I chose it because it suits my riding style and the type of terrain that I love. Last year I rode a bright orange Slash 9. Descending on my Slash is as amazing as I knew it would be. What surprised me is how well it climbs. I love love love it.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
Essay or short answer?  I love clothing and accessories, and could list dozens of things.  Here are a few.  Stance socks: my favorite pair has a rose print with metal studs. Dakine Amp hydration pack: the air mesh suspended back panel is super nice, and I like Dakine’s reservoir. Topeak Road Morph pump: it converts to a floor pump out on the trail (I like it better than their mountain morph pump). Bell Super helmet: light, comfortable, so vented it’s like air conditioning. Maxxis tires. Shredly shorts: amazing, comfortable, stylish. Oakley Miss Conduct Squared sunglasses: the perfect sunglasses for mountain biking, they’re light, flexible, have a huge rimless field of view, and they look amazing.

What do you love about riding your bike?
Um, everything. Mountain biking has brought me my most cherished friends and experiences, and has been a constant through the best and worst times of my life. I love the way it makes me feel. That state of awareness, exhilarated focus, in tune with the terrain and how to move through it, moving with my bike. Mountain biking offers so many great analogies to life. Taking on challenge, overcoming obstacles. Looking ahead (focusing on where I want to get instead of the obstacles). It reminds me that I can do things that are difficult, and that things that seem hard become easy if I just keep doing them. I especially love riding with other women. And it’s a nice way to experience nature.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Women Involved Series: Kaytlin Melvin


I’m 14 years old and am in 9th grade, first year of high school :D.
I’ve been riding mountain bikes for about 4 years and racing for 2 soon to be 3 seasons.  While downhill is my first passion, I also enjoy competing in freestyle events and enduro races.  

This year I decided to move out of the junior women class to the women’s open where the level of competition is greater and I love racing with other women even though they’re older.

I am pleased with my continued progression in spite of a serious injury last winter. 
When I’m not study or riding I spend my spare time trail building, volunteering at mountain bike camps and snow skiing. 

Mountain biking will always be my passion no matter where my life takes me!


What inspired you to move up into the women's open with competing? Did the transition have any challenges?
Basically I had no competition and wanted to challenge myself. Again, it goes back to that passion for improvement. With no competition my age, I didn't know if I would be able to handle the stress if it came down to it. 
So I moved into the women's open to challenge my mental capability and push myself to be better. I knew that most of the women were stronger than me, had more experience than me so I was not expecting to podium every race. I was prepared for good competition. I didn't find any challenges aside from myself. I'm naturally a shy person so at first I didn't really talk to any of the other women but eventually I did. They immediately accepted me in and taught me their ways. We all bonded really quickly and became close friends. They all supported me in everything I did and pushed me to do my best. 

Overall, do you feel accepted with moving up into women's open?
I immediately felt supported and excepted in the women’s open category! All the women took me under their wings and taught me their tricks. We take practice runs together, talk about the course, and laugh a lot. They all supported my endeavors and never saw me as an outsider but as a fellow lady rider and good competitor, not a like a kid or an outsider. We all help each other; we take practice runs together, talk about the course, and laugh a lot. They ask for my advice on lines and we tow each other into new trails. When it comes time to race, we all head to the starting line together and wish each other luck. By the end of the season I was on the podium and many of the women were more excited than I was!

What would be the most challenging aspect of your training?
Time. Surprisingly, the most challenging aspect of my training is having enough time for it all. I’m an honor student and academics are an extremely important thing in my family, which means school first. No grades = no ride. Most of the time I will be doing homework for hours on end. Staying up extremely late studying and doing homework leaves limited amounts of time of training during the week. I try and workout or ride the stationary bike a few days during the week. In the spring it stays light later, so I do get a few weeknight rides in.  I do most of my training on the weekends and during school breaks.

As a young woman, why do you feel it is important to be a good role model for the younger generation?
As a young woman, being a role model for the youngsters is one of my highest held values. I remember when I was like them, and I looked up to inspirational women riders like Jill Kintner, Kat Sweet, and Trish Bromley. They shaped who I am today and they are continuing to inspire me every day.  I use those thoughts as motivation to be a good role model so that I can inspire more and more girls to join the sport and keep our own legacy going. 

What has been the most inspiring moment (or moments) that you have had since competing?
As a woman in a male dominated sport, I have had PLENTY of inspirational moments along my journey of progression. One of the most inspirational was quite recent and had a huge impact on my riding and self-esteem. It was at the Sugar Showdown Seattle on the instruction day. My group had been working on the advanced trail and I started focusing on this one drop that I had struggled with a very long time. I ended up standing at looking at it and walking it for 20 minutes. Eventually, my coaches and all the girls in my group said you can do it, stop thinking and go for it. I was still nervous but the girls still kept saying I could do it and to stop doubting myself. After that, I went for it; and I cleared it. Nailing that drop and the encouragement of my coaches led me to move up a level and compete with the pros. It also showed me how much ALL the ladies supported not only me but everyone beside them; it showed me how large and supportive the women's mountain bike community is.  

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
I feel like the largest thing that deters women mostly is intimidation. It's like any sport that male dominated- the boys are always showing off or going for extremely difficult features. This immediately makes women nervous because they've been told for so long by society that men are better at sports and dangerous things. These thoughts counteract what society has engraved into our minds. When people think of cycling and mountain biking, they immediately think male which then deters women because they are afraid of being alone, the only one, left behind, or worse – holding everyone else back. Women specific events aren't only made to help women improve but also to encourage to break out of their shells and have confidence in their ability.  This is key to feeling comfortable enough ride along side other guy, to go out on their own to events and try new riding spots. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Even now, they are SO many opportunities for women considering so many inspirational women creating their own women specific events and classes. The events are amazing and extremely helpful but it’s all women and then the women attending still don't have that single final push that allows them to ride where and whenever they want. As a girl with a father that rides, which then results in me being surrounded by guys quiet often, I've come to appreciate every compliment and encouragement guys give about women's events and women in the sport. When a guy says how cool they think women's events are or how cool it is that more women are riding, it actually encourages me and makes me proud to be a woman in a male-dominant sport. And men's support for women in the sport doesn't only occur at women specific events. Just at normal local races you can see how much men support the female racers and categories.  

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Everyone has that response that they want more people to ride with and those reasons are still true with me. My reason relates directly to young girls in the sport. If we can reach young girls and inspire the love of riding in them, they will grow up without the preconceived notion that it’s a man’s sport.  I want to make more role models that in turn will encourage more women. My reason is to not only expand the female community but to expand the entire mountain bike community. If the female community grows, in turn the entire community will grow which is good for everyone involved. I encourage women to ride because I love the sport and I want to allow other women to fall so deep in love with the sport as much as I have. 

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I’m a ginger!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Kim Kurle

I just turned 29 and I work for Time Inc. as a Principal Program Manager in Technology & Product Engineering. I'm an outdoor enthusiast and avid weekend warrior, typically doing something fun outdoors. 

Whether it's whitewater kayaking/rafting, camping, skiing, or mountain biking, you can typically find me in the mountains with my husband and two dogs, Oreo and Ozzy.

Seattle has proven to be an excellent hub for mountainous recreation, and discovering all of the great mountain biking opportunities in the area has been quite an adventure!

You can find my 1st year video on my PinkBike profile and I’m on Instagram!

When did you first start riding a bike?
I learned how to ride a bike really young; however I hadn't had much mountain biking experience until the Fall of 2013. The past year or so has really been a lot of trial and error trying to keep up with our friends who have been riding for years.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
What motivates me most, is my desire to go bigger, higher, and faster, and the only way to get there is to get out and do it. I also want to represent for the ladies; if a guy can do it, I can do it. I also love the adrenaline rush : ) 

What inspired you to start mountain biking?
My husband was sitting on the couch, recovering from ACL reconstruction and watching all of the Crankworks live feeds from Pinkbike. Feeling inspired, he sold off his ski gear and bought a bike, thinking it would be a fun way to rehab. So naturally, I tried it too.  Before long we were both in over our heads, and loving it. At this point in time, I can't see our love for riding bikes fading anytime soon.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Excited, apprehensive, maybe a little scared? My husband and I had a long weekend, and decided to do some exploring on the south side of Mt. St. Helens. We found out that there was a great MTB trail called Ape Canyon, and threw the bikes on the car and headed out. Making our way up the trail, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it back down. The trail isn't really all that difficult, but it was way crazier than anything I had ever done. Making it to the top and seeing the amazing views was incredibly rewarding, and the decent back down was a blast. But I was still a total beginner, and at one point I ended up going over the bars in true tomahawk fashion. Luckily I made it out pretty clean, with only a few bumps and bruises. Overall I was glad that I accomplished something I didn't think I could do.

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
When I see a jump, drop, or some other intimidating feature on a trail, I think; other people have ridden here, I can ride this too. It's important to understand your skill level though, and not go flying off of things you have no business being on. With kayaking or rafting, we call this "scouting," it's sort of a look before you leap mentality. Figure out the lines, practice hard moves on easy features and master those before you step up to the harder trail.

What do currently do to help yourself out when you feel nervous?
I try to visualize myself doing the jump or drop and think about how I want my body to be positioned when I hit it. The mental aspect of any extreme sport is a big thing to overcome, and visualizing success can really help with conquering your fears.

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what do you like about them? If no, do you plan to try them out in the future? If not-why do you like flats?
I have never tried riding with clips, but I do think they have their place. Most of the riding I do is freeride and downhill, and being a beginner, the ability to ditch the bike in a split second can be a life saver. With flats, I feel like I have a great amount of control over where my feet are placed, and feel plenty connected to my bike. Though my shins are looking a little battered these days...

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
Yes. Recently I had two significant beater sessions back to back. The first, I was riding really high on a wooden berm, it had rained recently and the berm was pretty slick. I pumped out of the berm, slid out, and landed hard on my left side. The day after that, I slipped a pedal dodging someone in the trail coming around a blind corner and ended up with my first set of stitches. After that weekend, I thought a lot about how I was riding, and what I had done wrong in those circumstances. For me, it’s best to visualize what I would have done differently and then go try it again, and again, and again. :) 


When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Well, pretty much everything challenged me at first. But wheel lifts up and down curbs were something I made sure to master early on. Jumps and drops are also what I have the most fun on, and I'm always trying to go higher! Repetition and continually pushing yourself to ride trails that you know you will have to use that skill on forced me to put my practice in to action. If I can't make it to a trail, ripping around the neighborhood can provide some really valuable practice sessions. 

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Yes, of course! I am working on wheelies and JHops right now, also cornering faster. When I get frustrated, I try and remind myself that I have only been riding legitimate mountain bike since March 2014, so I can't expect miracles to happen overnight.   

What do you love about riding your bike?
The main reasons I LOVE mountain biking are 1) The feeling of flying down a trail and 2) That weightlessness you get when floating through the air off a jump or drop.  It's scary, but exhilarating at the same time.  

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have two bikes. I have a 2007 Giant Reign x1, which was the first full suspension bike I have ever owned, purchased that one last year. In February, I picked up the 2015 Kona Process 134 SE, which is my go to bike now. It is by far the BEST bike I have ever ridden. It is an XS, which gives me great stand over height, it has a shorter chain stay, so it’s easier to manual, and it has a much lighter frame than my Reign (probably 10lbs lighter). I chose these for the fact that they were some of the only bikes I could find that were "smallish" enough for me. I'm petite, and it was really difficult to find anything that gave me enough stand over.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I ride in Dakine Jerseys and shorts. I highly recommend this gear as it has been super durable for me and fits well. Dakine makes shorts in smaller sizes than most brands, and I find that they fit the best and they are a bit longer than some other ones I've tried. I also love my POC elbow and knee pads. They fit great and keep me protected in those OTB (over the bars) moments.

With what you have currently experienced with mountain biking, why should other women give it a go?
Because it’s fun!  It is a great way to explore the outdoors, challenge yourself and have new exciting experiences. 

What has helped you, overall, with your confidence with biking off-road?
I think the fact that I have continually pushed myself to go harder and bigger, and seen myself succeed has given me the most confidence. 

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
I think it is because you have to be OK with crashing once in a while. I tend to be more risk averse than my husband when it comes to sports and trying new things. Once I had crashed a few times and realized it wasn't that bad, I got over my fears and tried things that I never thought I could do. I also think that mountain biking has traditionally been a man's sport, and the fact that there are not a lot of options for women creates some barriers for entry. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
There needs to be more readily available options (Smaller more affordable bikes) for women, and more female riders. I also think that women in the sport need more exposure for people to realize that ladies can shred too! 

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Women who are badass. :)  I get so inspired by seeing pro women crushing trails with big jumps and drops. I can't help but show my friends how awesome these women are!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I spent about a month living in a van and traveling around. My husband and I converted a Cargo van this last summer and went on a long road trip hitting bike parks and trails in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah; ending at Redbull Rampage in Virgin Utah. We hit all of the big parks in Utah and road at Moab. It was my first time ever riding outside of Washington; it was an amazing experience. I look forward to future adventures!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Debbie Buckland

I’ve lived in Georgia since 1997 and am originally from Commack, NY. I enjoying spending time with my two “kids”, Riley (8 year old Chocolate Lab) and Jethro (2 year old hound mix). 

When I am not riding and fundraising for Team in Training (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society), I love to cook, walk and draw.  To support my cycling habit, I work as a Solution Manager in the banking and software industry.


For 2015, I have been selected to be a Vanderkitten VIP or brand ambassador, promoting the Vanderkitten brand, women’s cycling and equality in sport for all.

When did you first start riding a bike?
I started riding in 2007 when my friend talked me into doing my first Oly distance Triathlon for Team in Training. I fell in love with the bike and hated swimming.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
 I just love the people I ride with, they have become family. I also pedal for a purpose, to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through their Team in Training program.

I am committed to pedaling until we find a cure (or my body doesn’t let me pedal anymore).

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
I do not race, I ride. It takes the pressure off. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very competitive person, but I am not built for speed so I ride to stay healthy and for those that are not healthy.

What kinds of cycling do you enjoy and why? (road, gravel, etc.)
I road cycle, however I love dirt roads. I ride at least once a year out in Boulder Colorado and love road cycling on the dirt roads out there.

Have you had a bike accident or a situation that was challenging? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
Yes I had an accident on June 5 2011 while doing the AMBBR with Team in Training. The weather was awful and coming out of a rest stop I rode through a puddle which turned out to be covering a deep crevice. My tire fell in and immediately launched me and my bicycle 10 feet into the air. I landed on my head. I walked away but tore the ulner collateral ligament in my right thumb. Two surgeries later, only 2 months after my second surgery and only after 12 training rides, I rode 113 miles at the Tour de Tuscon with my team. Incidentally, that is where I met Shannon and got introduced to the team (at the expo).

You are involved with Team Tough Chik, how did you hear about the team and why did you join?
I met Shannon at her both at the expo for Tour de Tucson. She put me on the mailing list for the 2012 team and well I have been a part of the team ever since.

Why has being involved with a group been beneficial for you?
The emotional support is amazing. Also they give you a boost when you don’t feel like doing anything and a kick in the pants when you need it!

What do you love about riding your bike?
Some people go to church on Sunday, I go for a ride. It is my way of decompressing, relaxing and exercising all at the same time. I have also seen some pretty amazing places from the saddle; places I don’t think I would have gone to otherwise. It has gotten me to Hawaii, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, Lake Tahoe, Maryland Coast, Asheville NC…it’s a pretty long list.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have two bikes: Gunney is a 2012 Giant Avail Advanced 0 with Di2 electronic shifting. I got him after my accident because shifting a manual bike was still very difficult.  Ziva is a 2012 Giant Avail Advanced 3. Same bike as Gunney but with manual Ultegra shifting.
I got them because Giant has a discount program with Team in Training and because it is a nice stiff ride.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
LOVE Louis Garneau Neo Power Shorts. I recommend them to everyone. Very comfy on long rides.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling?
Fast boys. You cannot be intimidated by the front of the pack. They are really nice and will offer good advice, if you can catch them for a cup of joe after the ride! 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
In Atlanta we have a lot of women’s only rides that has helped a lot. Also, groups like Team in Training that teach you proper form, bike fit and how to shift, hydrate and fuel for long rides.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I started out life as a teacher and love to share my knowledge with people. I have been a cycling mentor for Team in Training and have gotten many women involved in the sport who have gone on to be amazing riders. In fact one of my mentees just participated in Race Across America this past summer as part of an 8 person team. They came in 3rd in their division riding 3000 miles (from Oceanside CA to Annapolis MD) in 6 days 7 hours. I am a very proud mentor!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I have two fur babies, Riley and Jethro

Monday, May 18, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Yvonne LeFave

My Stites Design Truck Trike delivering a grill
Well, howdy! My name is Yvonne LeFave, and I'm a professional cargo cyclist. I'm the founder/owner of a commercial cargo delivery service that uses heavy duty electric assist tricycles and bikes with trailers in Lansing, Michigan. The name of my business is Go Green Trikes, and it officially launched on Earth Day (April 22) of last year. What better day to launch a completely green business??

When did you first start riding a bike?
Ooh, probably quite young. At least my mother tells a story of me on a tricycle crashing into something because I was looking to see if she was watching.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?

For me, cycling has played a large part of my life and started in earnest back in the early '90s. During the First Gulf War, folks were shouting "No blood for oil!".


I'm Quaker and consider myself a peaceful person, and I just couldn't reconcile driving while all that was going on, so I started experimenting with driving less, and soon I parked my leased vehicle for the last two years of its lease!  Cargo cycling became my main method of getting groceries and other items back home after shopping excursions, and eventually I decided that skill could become a business of benefit to others in my local community. That brainstorm became Go Green Trikes.

What styles of cycling do/have you enjoyed and why? (gravel, road, mtb, etc.)
I do some group rides with my Kona Ute -- and occasionally head up local Ride of Silence processions (either carrying a ghost bike on a trailer or banners on the Truck Trike), but for the most part my bikes/trikes are pretty specialized critters that don't adapt well to off-roading.

Do you commute by bike year-round or during the warmer seasons?

The contract work for Go Green Trikes is seasonal to ensure I can do the deliveries, but as long as the roads are clear, I can make deliveries year-round. Personally, I do commute year-round, but prefer to ride with clear roads.

If you commute year-round, what do you do to make it more tolerable when weather is poor?

I wear multiple breathable layers, a face mask and ski goggles, and leg warmers in the winter when on my biggest trike (a Truck Trike by Stites Design) and my Kona Ute. I also deflate the tires a bit to allow for added traction. When I want to spoil myself, I use ATV handlebar mitts on my ELF by Organic Transit and put a small battery-powered generator behind the seat and plug in a seat warmer!

Do you have suggestions for new bike commuters?

Sure! Dress in layers as if skiing. And if there's a winter cycling commuter class near you, take it! Seasoned riders (pardon the pun) often attend and will have tips specific to your locale that you can't find in any article online -- although DO look up online articles about winter cycling, too! Also, in nicer weather, check to see if there's a League of American Bicyclists safety course offered near you. It's typically a one-day workshop that includes on-bike safety instruction like how to safely swerve, stop fast and other skills for safer on-road riding.

Have you had an accident while biking? If so, what happened and how did you heal (physically/mentally/emotionally)?

Yes. Twice my bike has been hit by a car (thankfully both times at low speeds) and once last winter, I wiped out on black ice. I haven't broken anything so far, but these small brushes have made me aware of my surroundings and a more cautious cyclist.

What do you love about riding your bike?

I love the freedom and the independence cargo cycling affords me. And the slower speeds means I don't miss much that's happening in my neighborhood!

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?

Kona Ute (2007) - this is a long tail cargo bike with a double kickstand and huge panniers with a wooden deck above the panniers. The frame is capable of carrying 400 pounds. I chose this one long before I started the business. I wanted something that could bring home whatever I needed hauled after a bulk shopping trip.

Organic Transit ELF (2013) - The ELF seemed like the perfect commuter vehicle for me. It's a covered recumbent trike with storage space behind the seat, electric assist and a solar panel on the roof to recharge the electric.  Her frame can hold 350 pounds and weighs in at about 130 pounds with two batteries.  The electric assist allows the ELF to travel up to 20mph for up to 20 miles on one battery.

Stites Design Truck Trike (2014) - This is a specialty commercial cargo hauling machine. The Truck Trike weighs about 275 pounds and her frame can hold up to 800 pounds. The front tire is a manual chain-driven 8-speed while the two back tires are electric assist motors. Under the deck is a dual 48volt lithium ion battery pack that allows her to travel at about 15 mph for up to 100 miles!

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?

When I first started this venture, I asked around and found out that many cargo cyclists wear gear by Showers Pass. I can't say I'm disappointed by any of it!  I wear their Elite 2.1 jacket, rogue hoodie, and their Storm pants. For gloves, I use their crosspoint hard shell glove with a Under Armor glove liner. Lately I'm loving something brand new on the market: a You Saw Me LED RGB Verve vest with a rechargeable lithium ion battery. That's made my night rides feel much safer!

Ooh, and I love my Bikes at Work trailer. I sprung for the dual-wheeled version with dry wall racks It's modular design so versatile. Depending on what's needed, I can modify the length to 32", 64" or the full 96" (8' foot) in length. And the dual-wheeled model means it can haul up to 600 pounds while weighing less than 50 pounds!

Tell us about Go Green Trikes, what inspired the idea?

About a year ago, I confided to a life coach (Jaya the Trust Coach out of Ithaca NY) that I was bored. I'd been a geek and working with computers and/or in an office setting for about 30 years and I needed a new challenge but had no clue what that could look like. She stepped me through some exercises of her own design that helped me figure out that my new job had to include the following:
  • I wanted to make a difference (preferably for a local environmental or community group)
  • Work at/create an environmentally sustainable business
  • Job needed to have a creative component
  • Nothing with tedium
  • something with spirit/depth
  • quiet environment
  • Less-pressured situations with a mental component to it.
  • Solo, one-on-one or small groups (or ability to tune out others)
  • Enough money to support myself and set something aside
  • Working from home preferred
  • Passive Income so I can pursue other interests?
  • natural beauty/wild critters /environmental concerns
  • innovative (regularly support efforts to help bring about positive change)
  • green technology/sustainability/reuse ideas
  • spiritual dimensions -- NOT religious rhetoric, but new-agey answers to questions
  • puzzles (actual or problem-solving)
After looking at the list, I realized that what I wanted didn't exist in Lansing so I'd have to create it. I thought at first that it would be a bike courier service, but after researching it found that wasn't quite what I was looking for. Then a friend sent me a "Top 10 Cycling Articles for 2013" sort of article, and one of them featured commercial cargo by bike and I knew that's what I wanted to create here.

What should people know about cargo bikes and what they can do?
With enough skill and practice (and some ingenuity!), cargo bikes can carry a surprising amount of STUFF!  It's fun to have folks stop and gape at what these bikes can do!  Some notable hauls this past year included: a queen size mattress, a cubic yard of mulch, a grill, and a washing machine!

What do you love about having a bike-related business?

Mostly, I love that it forces me to be creative. It sounds duh-worthy to say I have to keep things in balance, but I'm not just talking while on my two-wheeled bike. I'm still working full-time while getting Go Green Trikes up and running, so, in essence, I'm working at least two jobs.  And each cargo run requires forethought. I can't show up without any required gear; it all has to be carefully planned out (and I like the logistics of all that).

I also like offering this service to the community. It's unique enough that folks have a hard time envisioning how it can be of use to them. I remember calling the Greater Lansing Women's Center and speaking to its director, Cindie Alwood. I asked how I could be of service to her. She said "about the only thing we have to deliver anywhere around town would be posters and that would be a waste of your time and skill."  I knew, though, that they were holding an event later that year along Lansing's River Trail where no vehicles are allowed. I reminded her of this and I could see the light bulb go on!  Having a large trike on hand for their event saved their volunteers countless hand-held loads down to the river trail, and my fledgling business got some fabulous local exposure!

What has been the most challenging situation/experience you've had since you started your business?

This past September, on an unseasonably cold and wet day, I was slated to have my Truck Trike haul two banners for a Ride of Silence in honor of a woman that was killed while cycling. Over 200 cyclists were on hand to ride, and with the rain and winds, the banners just weren't cooperating. Finally, one of the cyclists came forward. He happened to be an engineer and devised a different way to tie down the banners with the ratchet straps and bungees I brought and I was able to do the rest of the 35 mile ride without incident.  I was so thankful; it's one thing to have to stop to resettle a load, but it's quite another when 200 cyclists and a police escort are waiting for you!

What has been the most inspiring situation/moment you've had?

That Ride of Silence, I would say. To be the lead cyclist for 200 others in a silent ride with a police escort. And when we all pulled over and lined both sides of the street for a moment of silence at the crash site. It was so moving and memorable. The cyclist that was killed was doing all the right things -- reflective clothing, riding on the right side of the road, wearing a helmet -- Yet a teenager that was texting while driving didn't see her. I think every cyclist there could identify with her, and knowing that we're all here for a finite moment makes our choices to live and ride freely that much more conscious.

What suggestions do you have for someone wanting to use a cargo bike on a regular basis?
Think through what you most need/want to haul on a regular basis. Can you do it with your current bike? Or with your current bike and a trailer? I made do with a Diamond Back mountain bike with a modified back rack and panniers designed for groceries for years until I found my Kona Ute on EBay.  It's quite possible that you can haul more with your current bike, but whatever you do, do it safely! Test out your equipment BEFORE you need to take it out on the road for a must-do haul.

How can someone get involved and/or help out with your business?

Globally, I could use more FaceBook (https://www.facebook.com/GoGreenTrikesLLC) and Twitter (@GoGreenTrikes) fans! If you live or are visiting the Greater Lansing area (perhaps for the DALMAC?), look me up! I'd love to show off my rigs to those with an appreciative eye. You can find out more about Go Green Trikes at my website, too: gogreentrikes.com

My Organic Transit ELF
(Orange covered trike) preparing for a catering delivery
Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I'm all of 5' 1" tall and about 120 pounds -- and 50 years old! All of that helps people realize that they, too, can do more than they think they can without a car AND on a bike!

Have you participated in any competitions? If so, tell us about it!
Go Green Trikes participated in a monthly business model competition last January. I'd just figured it all out within a week of the competition and submitted the idea thinking I'd present it in February, but they contacted me and said if I could get them a PowerPoint within the hour, I could present that night (gulp!). So, I got them their PowerPoint, presented, and somehow walked away with both the cash prize ($1,000 and legal help starting my business) AND the popular vote!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Michelle Swanson

Michelle Swanson has been riding her bike as much as she can for over 25 years. She is a transportation planner for a small city in the Pacific Northwest.

She rides between five to seven thousand miles a year, on average. Michelle would really love to find the "All Powerful Bike Lobby" someday.

When did you first start riding a bike?
As a wee one. One of my earliest memories is learning to ride without training wheels, and I think I was about four. I remember my father teaching me in the garage, and the exhilaration I felt when I realized he’d let go of the seat and I was propelling myself.


What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
To be honest, this is a painful question. I started riding as a teenager, because I hated my body and wanted to make it disappear. You can see from the photos that didn’t work. I still exist, and my body stubbornly refuses to disappear.
Over the years, though, the weirdest thing happened: riding my bike became the fulcrum that everything else in my life balances on. If I don’t ride, I get depressed, I can’t sleep, I can’t focus, and my brain feels fuzzy.  Something happens deep after the first hour of a ride, and the static in my head goes silent.
I ride, quite simply, because it makes me happy.

You commute regularly. What inspired you to go by bike?
Oh, this one’s easy: I was broke, and I had no money to fix my crappy car. I was about 23, and I’d already been riding recreationally for several years. It was an easy transition to ditch the car and just ride everywhere.
I should also mention, though, that I lived in Seattle, so it was easy to make this choice. Everything I needed – job, grocery store, coffee house, bar – was close by. I’d deliberately chosen to live in an urban environment, because when I was 17 and living with my parents in the ‘burbs my car broke down. I had no money to fix it, but I had to get to my job, which was some 20 miles away.
So for several weeks I made the 40+ mile round trip bike ride in a super dangerous, suburban environment while I saved up for the car repairs. It was brutal.
I needed to keep the job so I could save up to move out of my parents’ house when I was 18. I did, and I have never lived more than three miles from where I work since. I’m terrified of being dependent on a piece of machinery that can break at any time and leave me unable to meet my basic needs. Never again.

What were some challenges you faced when you first started commuting?
Clothes! Oh my god, the clothes! I worked in this rigid office that had a dress code several pages long – the women’s section was way longer than the men’s, of course – and the transition from riding my bike into those clothes was the worst. 
I didn’t want to wear my work clothes on the bike, because in the summer I’d sweat and in the winter I’d get rained on. So I’d carefully roll up my clothes (minimizes wrinkles), put them in a plastic bag, and then put them in my backpack, along with my shoes and lunch. I also carried baby wipes (armpits), an extra stick of antiperspirant, and I’d change in a bathroom stall.
Oh man, it sucked. The bathroom was hot, half the time someone would be pooping the next stall over, and my coworkers treated me like a freak.
When the employer installed a shower and changing room to get a tax break from the Commute Trip Reduction Act, they only allowed upper management access to it. That place was awful, and I worked there for seven years.  On the other hand, it sure motivated me to go to college.

Are there any current challenges that you have to deal with?
Honestly, no. I have the sweetest deal now, because I’m a city transportation planner. Not only do I work at a place that has a shower, lockers, and a safe place to stow my bike without having to fiddle around with a lock, but people don’t treat me like a freak because I ride. In fact, I’m expected to ride.
I’m also salaried, so I can work a schedule that allows me to go for a recreational ride most days before work. Best part: I get to ride my bike to off-site meetings. That sends a powerful message to other agencies, as well. It shows that my city is serious about the bicycle as transportation.
My workplace also has an “emergency ride home” program, so if you walk, bike, or take the bus to work and something happens that requires you to go home, you can use a fleet car to get home.  A few months ago my husband had a medical crisis, so I just hopped in a city car and ran home to help. It was a tremendous relief.
I am very privileged, and I bring that awareness to my work every day. I feel a deep responsibility to extend that privilege to everyone in my city. They make it possible for me to have this sweet job, and I owe it to them. 

Do you commute all year/all weather? If so, what are some tips and suggestions that would be helpful for others who are curious about it?
One of two must-haves for winter riding is fenders on both wheels. It’s worth taking the time and spending some money for fenders that are properly installed. They can be tricky.
Lights are the other must-have. I like to have two tail lights and headlights, because one of them will inevitably stop working at some point. Cheap LEDs are easy to come by and totally worth it. I keep a stock of new batteries on hand, so whenever the lights start looking dim I can freshen them up right away.
It also takes a little longer to get places during the winter, because you ride slower. Just plan on it.

What would be a good way for someone to get started with commuting in their local area?
You know, I think commuting by bike seems complicated at first, but once you do it a few times and get your routine worked out, it stops feeling like an exotic deviation from the norm and just becomes part of the background noise in your life.
I do think it’s worth investing some time in learning good routes to take to get to where you’re going. When learning to navigate a new city or new destination, I always spend some time poring over a map – many cities have bike maps for this purpose, and Google maps has a “bike” option – to find lesser-known streets to travel on. The less interaction I have with cars, the better.
And then if I’m unsure about how long it will take, I’ll ride the route on a weekend and see how it goes. The first few times I ride somewhere new, I usually leave way early, so I’m not stressed out.

Where else do you like to ride?
At this point in my life, most of my riding is commuting or the morning trail ride, with occasionally detours to the farmers market. I do ride sometimes as part of my job (sweet!), but on the weekends I like to spend time with my daughter, who’s four. Securing the bike and trailer at our destination is always a crapshoot and a pain in the ass, so we usually take the bus. She loves the bus, and I love the leisurely walks with her to and from the bus stop.
When I was younger and single, I rode to the bar a lot. Heh. And the grocery store, and the movie theater (what a quaint idea – does anyone even go to the movies anymore?), and class, and Critical Mass and and and!

Have you ever had a cycling accident or situation that was tough for you physically/emotionally/mentally? If so, how did you heal or deal?
Yeah, I’ve had some crashes, especially when I was younger and rode more aggressively. For me, just riding is my way of healing and dealing with life’s difficulties, so my rule is to get back on the bike the next day, before I get too scared to do it again.
When I was 8 years old I had an epic crash that was pretty traumatic. I didn’t ride a bike again until I was 11, which is a long time when you’re a kid. I learned from that experience to not let fear get in the way of doing something worthwhile.

What do you love about riding your bike?
Oh man, I could go on and on.
When I ride, I feel like I belong to my city, the planet, the mountains, the water…I’m not separated from the outdoors like I am when I drive. My husband will remark about the weather sometimes, and I’m just like, “Yeah, so?” I always know what the weather report is, because I have to dress for it every day. To him, it’s a bit of trivia. To me, it’s a central part of my everyday life.
Every time I’ve moved to a new city I’ve developed a network of friends and community much sooner than he has, because I’m out and about every day, seeing other people walking and biking.
I also love that I’m not dependent on an expensive piece of machinery to get my needs met. When stuff breaks on my bike, the repairs have always been within my budget, or I’ve been able to do them myself.
Or maybe I’m just in it for the endorphin high.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Oh, the bikes I’ve loved and lost…it’s like reciting a list of old boyfriends.
Right now I ride a bike that I won in a contest, if you can believe it. It’s a mixte with an 8-speed internal hub and a chain guard, which means no more worrying about getting my dress caught in the chain. I wondered if I could deal with the hills on an 8 speed, but it’s got a nice range and it’s a relief not to be shifting all the damn time.

I rode road bikes almost exclusively for 20 years, but the hand and neck pain is losing its appeal. One of those bikes is a custom and feels like an extension of my body. I still ride it in the summer when I want to go long, hard, and deep into my mind, but it sucks for commuting. The mixte has a built-in rack, so I can schlep all my crap around.
I have an off-the-shelf mountain bike that I mostly use when towing my daughter, because the mixte won’t accommodate the trailer hitch. It’s got disc brakes, which is helpful in our rainy climate.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I only a little embarrassed to say that I got these so-called “body shapers” off Amazon a while back, and they are amazing for riding in a skirt! They’re indestructible!  They don’t prevent me from breathing or moving, they’re just like lightweight bike shorts. Plus they keep me from wearing out my expensive wool tights. Yay!
I also love my cheap-ass balaclava, which I wear under my helmet when it’s raining or cold. I do wear a helmet when it’s raining, because it keeps the rain from getting in my eyes. Helmets are a touchy subject, so I gently suggest that each person make her own choice.

What do you feel deters women from being more involved with cycling?
Shitty infrastructure is the main reason, but the other is a little tougher to get at: many of us live in places where the distance between work, home, school, daycare, and all the other places we need to go are really far apart. As we age into our childrearing years, women do more trips to the grocery store and hauling kids around. It’s pretty hard to ride with your kid and a pile of groceries on a busy street with a paint stripe between you and a driver fiddling with a cell phone at 40 mph.

What do you feel would encourage more women to ride?
Better infrastructure and more dense cities with a mix of uses in each area. I guess I’m a pretty orthodox urban planner.

Why do you feel commuting by bike is valuable?
Probably for all the reasons I’ve listed above: it keeps me sane, it helps me feel like part of my community, it’s cheap, it keeps me healthy, and it’s just so much fun.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
No lie: while I was writing this, my daughter asked me to take a break and help her ride her bike in the garage. She’s had a balance bike since she was 18 months old, but she’s been reluctant to try out her pedal bike.
She just figured it out, and I had that moment when you let go of the seat and watch her take off. I totally cried.
She’s the same age I was when my father did the same thing in his garage. The wheels keep turning, I guess.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Women Involved Series: Adrienne Bee Lane

I am part of Sturdy Bitch Racing, a small, grassroots, all-women mountain bike race team based out of Seattle, WA. I’ve been riding for about 10 years now (!) and love being out in the mountains on my bike.

I’ve competed in all kinds of races, including the BC Bike Race in 2013. In 2014 I had a baby, which has definitely impacted my saddle time.

As a part of Study Bitch Racing I love getting more women involved in riding and racing.

To further this goal in 2014 we put on the Sturdy Dirty Enduro, a women’s only enduro race that sold out with 125 riders – it was awesome! When I’m not riding my bike, trail running, or skiing, I can usually be found hanging out with my baby and husband or drinking a beer… or both.

When we opened registration for the Sturdy Dirty (2015) it sold out in 8 days with 215 women registered! When we approached a local race director for advice when planning the first Sturdy Dirty he suggested that we could only expect to get maybe 50 women to a race - ha! 

We held our first organized pre-ride of the race course last weekend and we had 30 women from 3 states. It was fantastic! Everyone came away having conquered a feature that they'd been struggling with.  

You are the team leader of the Sturdy Bitch Racing, tell us about your team and why they are so vital.
We’re a small group of ladies who like riding and racing together and are motivated to expand the women’s biking community. We host women’s rides, bike maintenance clinics, support women’s events, do trail work, and organize the Sturdy Dirty Enduro, a women’s only race. For a few years we were the only women’s group hosting regular women’s rides. Recently a local Muddbunnies chapter opened up, which is awesome, and now we are able to focus more on promoting racing within the women’s bike community while the Muddbunnies focus on leading weekly rides.
We also represent our awesome sponsors Sturdy Bitch Clothing, Race Face, Georgetown Brewing, Dumonde Tech Lube, and Big Tree Bikes.

Tell us about your partnership with the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, why is it beneficial for both Sturdy Bitch Racing and EMBA?
Evergreen is the local trail advocacy group. They have done a fantastic job opening up trail access throughout Washington, particularly on Tiger Mountain and with the creation of Duthie Park. As a partner with Evergreen they are able to help us navigate a lot of the legal aspect of race promotion (insurance, permits, etc.) and in return we help get more women out on the trails.

Why should women seek out local riding groups in their area? What do you feel are the benefits?
Women’s groups are great! It is a fantastic way to meet new friends, find new trails, and improve your skills.

Tell us about the Sturdy Dirty Enduro! How did it get started?
In 2013 a few friends and I travelled up to Squamish, BC for the Hot On Your Heels women’s only enduro. It was tons of fun and made me wonder why there wasn’t anything like that down in the states. I proposed the idea of trying to put on a women’s only race to the other Sturdy Bitches and everyone was in. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing, but with the help of our friends and other race directors we got the ball rolling. We spent countless hours researching, planning, course planning/riding, and generally scheming. It was more work than any of us anticipated, but totally worth it.

Why do you feel Sturdy Dirty Enduro was such a success?
Well, I think it was successful for a number of reasons, but the main reason is because our #1 goal was to make the race fun.
Other reasons why the race was a success: a bacon aid-station, a mid-transition dance party, tequila shots, fantastic food, tons of shwag, and the best volunteers ever.


Why do you feel so many people supported a Women's Only Enduro race?
I think that a lot of people really want to support women riding, but don’t always know how. The race provided an outlet for support while still being fun and a little bit competitive.

What would you like Sturdy Bitch Racing to accomplish in the next 5 years?
We would like the Sturdy Dirty to keep drawing women into racing, not only by participating in our race, but in other local races as well. As a team we want to keep supporting women riders by leading group rides and trail building parties. We would also like to keep racing ourselves, including possibly doing another stage race in 2016.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Oh man… I think that the barrier for entry into mountain biking for a lot of girls is really high. As girls we are taught from a young age to be “pretty” and mountain biking is not a pretty sport. Mountain bikers get sweaty, dirty, and bloody. It is not just hard, it’s messy, and I think that that turns some girls off. This is not to say that mountain biking and being “pretty” are mutually exclusive – they’re not; but you do have to deal with some mosquito bites, scratches, and sweat. 
Mountain biking can also be expensive. New full-suspension mountain bikes are $2,500 to $6,000. Then you have helmets, pads, chamois, shoes… it adds up fast. It’s a lot to invest in a sport if you don’t know that you’re going to love it. Of course there are lots of ways to shave down the expenses, but still it creates a significant hurdle. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
I think there is a lot of room for change. Although the bike industry is taking steps towards recognizing the growing number of women who ride, there is still a long way to go. But I think that the greatest problem is how society views women in general as less-capable, less worthy of attention, and as sexual objects. One thing that seriously pisses me off is when I’m watching the DH World Cup live footage they always cut the women short. You never see a full run. I want to watch the ladies!!! 
What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
The huge smiles.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I’m obsessed with Dr. Pepper chapstick.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Kerrie Runde

I'm a 42 year old mountain bike girl who lives in Iowa and loves the outdoors all year long. Enjoy a number of outdoor sports but mountain biking is my absolute favorite! I'm a mom of two children, a massage therapist and I also build houses for Habitat for Humanity when I am not on my bike.

When did you first start riding a bike?
My very first bike was a bright yellow banana boat seat bike. I think I was about seven or eight years old.  I grew up in the country so that is how I would get to my friends house or our local country store.   

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
My motivation is just being able to exercise and be outdoors. The challenge of singletrack trails always has me coming back for more to see what I can accomplish next time around. My mountain bike friends are huge motivators and are amazing and talented people! 

Do you compete in cycling events? Why or why not?
I don't compete; I have never had the competitive personality. I ride to conquer the next hill, creek, rock or log.  I ride to get outside and be with nature.

What other styles of cycling do you enjoy and why?
I'm a single-track trail girl ALL THE WAY and I just purchased my fat first fat bike! This will be my first winter in the snow and love it already. My fat bike has given me some extra confidence and it allows me to feel more stable and roll over logs, bridges and obstacles with ease. So now when I get on my mountain bike my mind already knows I can conquer without a second thought. 

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
The first time I rode a mountain bike.... Oh boy...... Seriously I was absolutely terrified! I remember thinking I will just have to repeat and repeat until I get it without falling off and hopefully I wouldn’t die in the meantime! That trail is now my warm-up trail and my favorite fast track. I instantly release my brakes and think “hammertime” I smile and my adrenaline starts to soar!  Best feeling in the world! 

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
Yes, I still get nervous, but I have some great friends who support me! I have one friend named Margie who has taken me under her wing and is such a great teacher! I know I would not have continued mountain biking without her. Quite honestly when I began my journey of mountain biking I would just hammer it, close my eyes, and hope for the best. I would be amazed if I made it and when I would fall it would just make me want to repeat it over and over until I conquered. I would sometimes repeat a section of the trail 20 times. Often going home being frustrated, tired and bruised. I have had lots of bruises, blood and scars to show my hard effort!

You recently experienced fatbiking! Was it what you expected? Better? Why did you enjoy it?
I love my fatbike, it simply makes me giggle! The bounce and float I get from my fatbike puts a huge smile on my face. My winter beauty has giving me the opportunity to ride all year long. I have gained so much more confidence with my fatbike. I love the sound of fresh snow under my tires. The beauty of the winter in the woods on my mountain bike is a blessing that only a fatbike rider gets to experience. So surreal and I am very grateful to be one of the people who gets to experience it!

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 use clip pedals and I remember thinking I am out of my absolute mind trying to lock my foot in the pedal and go over boulders at the same time! As scary as it was to do, you do you catch on very quickly.  When I first started with them I set them very loose and now I cannot ride without them.

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
Oh yes I have had plenty of wipe outs, nothing broken thank goodness, but lots of blood and bruises. It's just a part of the sport. In a weird way after a ride we are all comparing our battle scars. The more saddle time I put in the better I get and sometimes I can go a whole ride without falling or running into a tree! 

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
My first challenges were looking ahead. I now always look 5 to 10 feet in front of me. Learning how to climb over rocks and roots are pretty tough in the beginning. Being in the right gear about 3 feet before you hit the obstacle and then apply a burst of leg power to give you the momentum you need to get up and over. My first mountain bike was a 26 full distention and I recently moved to 29er! Love love love the 29er!

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Switchbacks still trip me up but I just keep trying until I make it. I ask a lot of questions when I ride with a group. I find following the line of a good rider ahead of me helps out a lot.

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love so many things about my bikes. I now own two bikes- a carbon Niner, 29er and a Trek Farley. I love to be outside in nature and on my bike is my favorite place to be. The challenge of singletrack trail is addicting and I also love the intense adrenaline rush and focus that you need to have to conquer single-track riding. I love how strong I feel after a hard long ride whether by myself or with my friends. My bike always makes me happy! 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I just purchased a carbon Niner. I have a very special guy in my life who built my bike from scratch. So my bike is built with pure love and I'm grateful to have him in my life and share the same passion I do. It is so great to have a partner who likes to do the same things you do. It's also great to be with someone who understands why you want to be on your bike every day! This bike is so light and I roll over things a lot easier with a 29 inch wheel. I chose carbon because I just wanted a light bike. I also have a Trek Farley. I do love both of my bikes so much it's very hard to decide which one I want to take out. Riding in the snow is just so much FUN! 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
Well I don't have all of the right gear but I did purchase CORE battery powered gloves. Love love love them! If I put them on the medium setting they will last for four hours. Now we just need heated shoes and seats!

Do you participate with local riding groups? Tell us about them and why people should join!
I love riding with my local group. People who ride are so nice! I learn something new every time and it's fun to be with the people who share your same passion. I can go to any city and mountain bike riders always go out of their way to make you feel welcome. When I happen to find a girl mountain bike rider I'm sure I scare them. I have a hard time finding girl riders in my area so when I find one it's very hard to let them go! 

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
I guess most women are scared and don't want to get hurt. I say give it a try; it is so much fun once you try it there's no going back!

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
I think people should try and rent bikes and have a good fit for their height. Renting is a great way to just try the sport before you invest a lot of money. Plus you can try different kinds of bikes.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
The freedom, adrenaline, and accomplishments I make while riding makes me feel alive, fit and healthy!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
So my goal this year 2015 is going to try to log 1500 miles on my bike. I also do gravel grinders, and on one of my rides I got chased by two goats. It was the funniest thing ever! Usually I get chased by farm dogs but goats- that only happens in Iowa!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Adventures of the First Lady- Changes

The week at the shop had been going steady as usual. There are the typical concerns that everyone has with a business. Bills needing to be paid, etc. However, things (overall) are going well. Repairs are being called to come in, others that were repaired are being picked up. Bikes are being purchased. It's just waiting for the season to really "kick off" you could say.

Weather is becoming more favorable temperature wise for riding- so as soon as it hits 70 on a regular basis, more rentals will happen.

Rain had been around during the week, and of course overcast skies.

Not completely work-related, but Travis and I certainly had a stressful day on Friday. Our landlord informed me that at the end of the month he would be attempting to sell our place.
(2 apartments, we live on the bottom level.) Now, some people would say "It'll be okay, another landlord will buy it." or "It'll maybe be a year before it sells."

Fact is, I came into the relationship with Travis bearing 3 gloriously wonderful cats. 3 cats to which make it almost impossible to find rentals in Decorah. It's what you get when you take for granted a past relationship and living situation. However, they are as close to kids that I will ever have- so they stay.

Uncertainties overflow. New landlord could decide no pets allowed, also raise the rent up and not include utilities anymore- making this place as expensive or more than us buying a house.

So....we'll go to the bank on Tuesday to see what can be done. It's a big step. One that I thought I would've taken a few years ago but it never came to fruition.

We may also need to hire another helper soon. Something that we weren't expecting and makes us sad, however, we'll get through it one way or another. It's funny, because in the next month or so I had set up a schedule that was going to flow so nicely with the two new hires- now it's kind of not so fluid anymore. Or has the potential not to be. My perfectionist side is again thwarted. My  nerves are up and I'm basically waiting for another ball to drop now.

In July Travis and I were given the opportunity to go to a trade show called SaddleDrive- and we had hopes the shop would remain open in our absence. We're not sure if that will be the case. Of course we will let everyone know what is decided as soon as we know.

I feel a bit helpless again like I did at the Co-Op when I was acting as 1/2 FE manager. All my ducks were in a row, it was great- BAM something got caught in the spokes and all the work I put into it just fell apart. I feel sad, as tho I am a disappointment and didn't do "my job."
It is what it is, and we'll make it work however it happens. Boundless determination. Tho this may mean that regular Sunday rides for guys may not happen every Sunday- and will be more once a month than not. We'll have to see.

Saturday was a good day at the shop. Steadily busy but not super crazy. Kai and I worked with several customers. Some bikes were sold, two that we didn't think would find a home anytime soon- but did!

Popular purchase lately is the Race Face Piper short- we have a size Small left in the black color and Medium and Large in the turquoise color. I say get them now while the getting is good because it may be August before the come back into stock!

Saturday was also New Bike Day for me and I got to go on my first ride with the Trek Carbon Lush! Super excited! It is my first experience with a full suspension mountain bike as well as 650b wheels. The ride was pretty epic, granted I did have some struggles on a few climbs (lost traction on my back tire) I had some super fun on some descends- Old Randy's especially. I scared myself a little with how fast I went and almost creamed a chipmunk! Poor lil' fella, but he made his grand escape and I rolled on with a sigh of relief.

So here's to another week down and the start of another.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Laurie Citynski

I’m a 25 years old outdoor enthusiast! In May 2015 I graduated from UBC with a major in Kinesiology and a minor in Psychology. 


I’ve been working at bike shops in the summer and ski shops in the winter up until now, but what excites me the most is coaching!


I’ve been working and volunteering for the Trek Dirt Series mountain bike camps in Whistler for 2 summers now, Escape Adventures for a summer, and I am currently a strength coach at Marx Conditioning, helping athletes get stronger for their outdoor sports.

When did you first start riding a bike?
I was a big runner growing up and never overly interested in riding a bicycle until I tore my MCL and then my PCL playing soccer in 2009. I turned to road biking to rehab my knees, and saw a mountain bike for the first time while I was at a shop buying my bike! In 2011 my dad bought a really old cross country bike, so I borrowed it and a friend of mine took me for my very first ride on Burnaby Mountain. I was hooked. I signed up for a Trek Dirt Series mountain bike camp in June 2011 and bought a used bike the next month. The rest is history!

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Progression! Every time I ride a trail I go a little faster and get a little better. I’m riding things now that even a few months ago I would’ve walked. Also, I can’t discount the people! Mountain bikers are super fun, rad, accepting people. I love all my riding buddies and how tight the community is. It really makes you feel like you’re a part of something.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
Downhill mountain biking, for sure! My favourite track so far is the Dag’s Downhill BC Cup course in Silverstar, put on by SE Racing! That was my first time standing on the top step of the podium too, so I’ve got good memories there.

For me, competing is about pushing my limits and trying lines I would never take on a “fun” ride. In racing you need to take the big lines or you won’t have much of a chance, simple as that. I really enjoy the camaraderie of racing as well. There aren’t too many girls doing the dh circuit, so you get to know them pretty well. Everyone is generally really supportive of each other and we can share our lines and talk about our fears. It’s pretty cool. Doing track walks and practice runs with other females is invaluable. If someone rides something big it’s like, well if she can do it, I can do it! It’s great to push each other like that.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Terrified! I didn’t know if I loved it or hated it during the ride, but once we got to the bottom, the adrenaline (from riding over my first root, haha) was addictive and I knew that this was something I wanted to get better at. My best piece of advice is to get some professional coaching and make sure you have a decent bike. It really makes all the difference.

 If you have nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
At the top of every race run I feel absolutely sick to my stomach. I ask myself why I’m even there and feelings of inadequacy invariably pop into my head. I’m so nervous that my body is visibly shaking and all I can do is sit on my bike and squeeze my brakes on and off. At this point it’s essential to calm down, because the worst way to ride is scared and stiff! I know the course, I know that I’ve ridden trails like this before and I know that I’m here because I want to be. The mantra I repeat over and over to myself before and during the race is: “riding bikes is fun!!” It’s easy to forget sometimes, especially when you’re trying to win a race or learn a new skill, but we’re here because we want to be. We started riding bikes because it was fun...as soon as it stops being fun, what is the point, really? Also, a smile and a hoot of joy (even if you have to fake it at first!) goes a long way in relaxing you and bringing you back into the moment. :)

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 tried out clips on my road bike for a month, but they aggravated my knee and I had to take them off. In light of that, my suggestion would be to get properly fitted to your bike with your new clips and shoes. It’s very different than riding flats for multiple reasons, but especially because your feet are attached and unmoving, meaning your ankles and knees are getting a lot of that repetitive stress in the same area. Make sure the cleats are positioned right for your body for the thousands of pedal strokes ahead!

I strongly believe that it is more beneficial for beginners to learn mountain bike skills with flat pedals. Yes, they are more efficient for climbing and definitely have their place for high-speed downhill, but after a couple years coaching riders, I see so many beginners using their clips ineffectively. Instead of learning to relax the ankles to stay on the pedals through more technical downhill sections, they get bounced around on top of the bike, unstable but able to stay on because they’re attached to their pedals. I could go on, but just make sure you’ve talked to coaches and considered the pros and cons before you switch over.

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
The biggest crash I had was on a step down I shorted in Whistler 2 years ago. I bruised my entire thigh and was on crutches for a week. I’m lucky that I’ve never been injured worse than that, but it still took an emotional toll on me. I remember on the way up to Whistler for the first time since the crash I cried in the car because I was so scared. I was full of negative self talk, thinking I wasn’t good enough and that I should quit biking and questioning why was I even trying to ride. We went down a fun, easy blue trail to start and I was stoked again after that first corner. Step downs are still a bit scary, but I find it helps to break it down so you can put full trust your skills. I always look at new features before I hit them so I can judge the speed and distance. It helps to watch your friends ride it too. For step downs I imagine them being just a drop or a table top (depending on how the lip and landing are). I’ve learned that biking is a hugely mental sport. Positive self talk, trusting in my skills and not comparing myself to others are the three things I am constantly working on. These are key!!

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Cornering was the most difficult part of riding for me. There are so many different types of corners: flat, bermed, off-camber, rooty, rocky, soft...they all need a slightly different approach to them. Taking a lesson is honestly the best thing you can do. Getting that immediate feedback that is tailored to you is so important. 
In the meantime, I suggest watching Pinkbike videos! Really! Watching good riders will give you an idea of what it should look like. Be loose and dance with the bike, letting it do the hard work for you. It should look effortless.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Definitely! I feel like there is always something I can ride better or faster. All of us are constantly learning, every ride. When racing, sometimes I catch myself thinking of how I could’ve been faster if I could only do that one thing or take that one really tough line, but it all comes back to positive self talk. Instead of focusing on how far you have to go, think of how far you’ve come. And always remember that mantra: riding bikes is fun!! :)

What do you love about riding your bike?
Being out in nature, exploring, sweating, adrenaline, accomplishment, friends...everything!! The biking community is so fun, friendly and accepting. I couldn’t have picked a better sport.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I am riding and racing the Canfield Jedi as my dh bike and I have a Norco Range as my all-mountain bike. For me it’s all about fun on the downhill. In an all-mountain bike I look for something that is geared towards the down but can still get me up the hill, which is why the Range was my choice in that category. For my downhill bike I’m excited to be on a Jedi, which has a 2.5” rearward travel, meaning that it doesn’t get hung up or slow down on square-edged hits. It propels you out of corners and is a fast, stable race bike! I’ve never felt as fast and confident on a bike before…it’s incredible!

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
For clothes I recommend as much merino wool as possible!! Socks, underwear, shirts, sweaters...whatever you can get! It stays warm when wet and doesn’t smell after a long day of sweating. I barely wear anything else now. Try it. You’ll never go back.

As for bike stuff, Marzocchi suspension is super low maintenance, which is great because when you’re out having fun on a bike the last thing you’re thinking about is the last time you serviced your fork...

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Well, the cost can definitely be daunting when you’re first getting in to it. If you don’t know anything about mountain biking it’s hard to know what to look for and what a good price is. There are so many choices and so many people telling you different things that it’s hard to put down a thousand dollars or more on a sport you’re not even sure that you’re going to love. Women are very practical, and biking doesn’t always come across as practical!

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
I think the ability to try out the sport with other women is the key. A camp or a day of coaching with people at the same level as you is definitely the way to go. It’s how I got into it! Programs like the Trek Dirt Series (www.dirtseries.com) are important because they have women only camps with coaches that are professional or highly qualified riders that inspire and show you what can be possible on a bike! Also having more exposure for women doing cool things is super encouraging. Groups like the Women’s Freeride Movement (womensfreeridemovement.org) are inspiring and promote women doing rad things and post about women’s only events and clinics on their Facebook page.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I’d never even seen a mountain bike until I was 21 years old. No one ever told me about mountain biking and only after I stumbled upon it did I find out that some friends of mine rode. It’s getting better, but it’s still such a male-dominated sport. Women need to be introduced to it and they need to have other women to ride with. Yes, some of us can feel comfortable ripping it up with the boys, but a lot of us need that female encouragement and supportiveness. I know for me personally I need that support and excited high fives after doing a feature, rather than just hitting it and trying to catch up to the boys ahead of me...it’s anticlimactic! I want other women to be a part of this mountain biking family and to push themselves in ways they would never think they could. It’s so empowering and your confidence transfers over to your everyday life. Plus it gives you a cool topic of conversation at parties!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I have a 13 year old Green Iguana named Cinder! He’s just over 5 feet long and likes climbing curtains and eating our cat’s food. J