Monday, March 31, 2014

Moms on Bikes: Kelly Erbach

I am 9 months pregnant (any day now!) with our first baby, so most of the questions don't yet apply to me, but I can answer the prego ones:

What were the biggest challenges you faced with biking at different stages of pregnancy? Did you stop biking at all during pregnancy? Why?

In the beginning, my biggest challenges were fatigue, headaches when I would really exert myself, and my gigantic, super sore boobs; hitting any bumps was pretty terrible with those things! I did a team 12-hour mountain bike race when I was 5 weeks pregnant (mostly because we had been registered for months already) and it was a challenge due to the aforementioned reasons. 
It was also really fun and I am so glad I participated, but it was certainly a little trickier than riding non-pregnant. I continued to try to ride into the fall, but was plagued by the headaches and fatigue. I finally threw in the towel after taking a weekend trip to Levis Trow with friends. A college buddy, Victoria, and I set out for a mellow mountain bike ride in the fall colors; I ended up making it about 3 miles (at a quite slow pace). I really didn't like the feeling of my uterus shifting side to side. Luckily, she was patient with me (probably even more so because she had just been through the same experience the year before).
Going into pregnancy, I planned to be one of those super women who lift weights and do all kinds of stuff despite being knocked up; it was a definite transition to have to accept being more sedentary than I would like! But, it will all be worth it soon. Bring on the baby trailer!

After reading about Kelly and her active pregnancy, I thought “why not share what it was like month-by-month?”
I'm certain that every pregnancy is different, but we can all learn from each other's experiences. One of my friends from New Zealand (who was living in Europe) recently rode her bike to the hospital to deliver her baby girl! She said it was easier and more comfortable than calling a cab. She is amazing! Anyhow, I can try to break it down into month chunks of how-I-was-feeling:

Month 1: I was still riding regularly for exercise, despite my boobs being huge and quite sore. In fact, my hubby was out of town for work when I found out we were having a baby, so I took my phone with me on a road ride knowing that he would likely call sometime soon; we shared the news while I stood on the side of a country road sweaty in spandex! Riding was becoming more challenging, but nothing that was going to stop me from trying to be in some sort of shape for the mountain bike race that was coming up. (We were living in St. Cloud, MN, which means local mountain biking options were essentially non-existent. Most of my race training was on the road bike, which is not ideal, but at least it kept the legs in shape!)

Month 2: I competed on a 'Four Person Female' 12 hour mountain bike race in Wausau, WI...and we won! There were only two teams in our category, but it felt awesome to get a giant medal anyway. Challenges this month included fatigue, headaches, and massively large, super sore boobs. That or all my sports bras shrunk.

Month 3-4: I tried to continue going on some road and mountain bike rides, but it was really starting to suck. The fatigue and headaches were getting to be too much and my 'fun meter' was basically on zero. I did one last (incredibly mellow) mountain bike ride with a girlfriend, then officially decided I was done, as I hated the feeling of my growing uterus shifting side to side as I pedaled. 

Months 5-7: I was a little cranky about my decreasing (let's be honest, non-existent) exercise and the hubby and I were trying to transition from me being a very active member of our relationship to me being more and more of a couch potato. 

Months 8-9: I finally accepted my couch potato status, knowing that the end is near, summer is around the corner, and I will be back on the bike (thus in nature/exercising, which equals a happier mind) hopefully soon!

Thanks so much to Kelly for sharing her experience on being a pregnant, bike riding woman! I’m looking forward for some updates over the months (years) to come!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Women on Bikes Series: Paige Schmidt

When I started looking for individuals all over to talk to I came across LUNA Chix. There are several groups of LUNA Chix and I was lucky to find a group that had individuals willing to be interviewed! So here is Paige who is involved with the Team LUNA Chix Tulsa Mountain Bike group.

When did you first start riding a bike?
When I was a kid. I rode my bike everywhere. It was our source of freedom as latch key kids.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Exercise, need, and fun.

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain)
I'm not a roadie but have commuted off and on over the years and enjoy riding paved trails in Tulsa. I also love riding my mountain bike but love any sport or activity that I can do without getting in a car to get there. Having a bike and feeling comfortable riding it from your home whether for transportation, fun or fitness is very empowering.

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.)
 I was very uncomfortable on my first mountain bike ride. Despite riding constantly as a kid I hadn't ridden in years and yes, you do forget how to ride a bike despite the adage. Plus, riding a mountain bike with my boyfriend, now husband, was much different that riding around the town as a kid. Luckily, I persisted.

----Forgetting how to ride a bike: Riding a bike is like any other skills you use it or lose it. I think having ridden a bike as a kid helped me to know that I could do it and that it was something I had enjoyed previously. That said, I don't think it is necessary to have learned as a child to be a confident or skilled rider as an adult, however, I can't speak to that directly.

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
 I don't really remember. I think I took it down a notch and tried to ride on gravel trails without obstacles and easy dirt trails. I also began commuting on bike regularly. Being comfortable and strong on your bike in a 'safe' environment certainly lent itself to mountain biking better than having not ridden a bike in 10+ years; not knowing how to shift gears, etc and dropping down a switch back the wrong direction.

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share?
I use clipless pedals. My suggestion would be to practice on grass where it is softer to fall or if you have access to a trainer, put your bike on it and practice unclipping and stepping off your bike and putting your foot down when you stop. You can also practice on easier trails until you get more comfortable.

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
 I'm not commuting presently but I think there are a multitude of challenges you can or may face, unfortunately. Some of the challenges may be mental while others are practical. I think being in a situation where you don't have a choice certainly makes your options clear. Once you ride your bike in the cold snow or pouring rain because you have to, doing by choice becomes a lot easier.
 XTerra world champ Shonny Vanlandingham and myself.
 She taught our skills clinic this past fall.
Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
Many.  I think the best way to recover is not to pretend like it isn't okay to be shaken by the experience. If you expect it, then you are less likely to beat yourself up about being scared or nervous to get back on the bike. Allow yourself to be set back either in your confidence or skills is okay. If you give yourself that chance to be uncomfortable and get back in the saddle in a way that is less scary then I think you are more likely to have a positive experience and get back to the type or level of riding experiences you were accustomed to before your accident.

What do you love about riding your bike?
 Freedom, empowerment, health, community, friendship, fun, fitness....

How is it to have a husband/partner ride with you? What would be one of the more pivotal experiences you've had together on bike?
I love that my husband and I both enjoy riding bikes together. I do think that in terms of mountain biking it was challenging learning from him. I don't think I am alone when I say that men and women approach mountain biking very differently.
I spent most of my early years trying to keep up with him and didn't have anyone to ride behind to learn lines or skills. It was like the guys just did it so I thought that if I rode faster, harder, and longer that I would eventually make the obstacles. I now know that brute force won't get you over the log, it may, but skill definitely will.
 Skill and strength are complimentary but not equivalent. I think that is what is so powerful about riding with other women. They get what you are going through and can explain things in terms that make sense to you. I've spoken with other female riders that agree men and women ride very differently both due to physical differences in our bodies but also in how we approach riding. I still love riding with my husband but I also appreciate the benefits of riding with other women.

How did you get involved with LUNA Chix? 
I was just trying to get back into mountain biking after a several year hiatus after having a baby and moving from an area that lacked trails. The terrain near Tulsa was VERY different from what I had ridden previously and it was covered with rocks. They were everywhere and I was terrified of them. I also had a heavier, low end hard tail bike, was not as fit as I had been previously, and didn't really have any skills. Remember, I used force to get over obstacles so I lacked a lot of control. 
My husband and I were on our second or third ride and didn't really know the trails. We had stopped on one of the rockier, more difficult trails to let an oncoming rider pass. It was a woman and she was riding ALONE.  She seemed to know what she was doing and where she was going so we asked her for trail directions. She kindly got us up to speed and told us to turn around and follow her if we wanted. My husband and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and followed her.

This was Heidi, the first LUNA Chix I met. She immediately started showing and telling me lines and skills. She told me to look her and the LUNA team up on Facebook. I did and started attending their rides, religiously. I even did my first race. After riding as a participant for two years, they invited me to join the team!  I was so thrilled. This is my second year on the team and I feel so fortunate to have a vehicle to help other women enjoy the sport of mountain biking while raising awareness and money for The Breast Cancer Fund .  LUNA has teams all over the country so I encourage any women that runs, cycles or does triathlons to look them up Team LUNA Chix to see if there is a team nearby.
Me (2nd from right) at Midwest women's mountain bike clinic last summer

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Women Involved: Rachel (Scott) Beisel

Rachel is a rider for Naked Women's Racing and is also involved with Ride for Reading!

In this interview you will learn more about the Ride for Reading program and the Naked Women's Racing program.

How did you find out and subsequently get involved with Ride for Reading?
I’m originally from Nashville and also used to work with a sponsor of there’s Swiftwick International. Small world, right?

And again, the cycling community is small so when I heard about this delivery taking place, I promptly signed up and had THE TIME of my life. It was so cool to see the kids cheering and super stoked to get to pick out a book. After having moved to Colorado and wanting to start a women’s cycling team that was more about giving back rather than taking, Ride for Reading came up and my co-founders and I agreed it would be great to support. We hosted the first delivery outside the Nashville area and now it’s in more than 20 cities and even featured on Forbe’s. It’s a requirement to volunteer for Ride for Reading to be on our race team and we’re now on our fourth delivery. We’ve helped deliver over 4,000 books to 5 different elementary schools. Our next one is coming up May 9th at Trevista Elementary in Denver.

What is the best part about being involved with Ride for Reading?
It’s hard to pick just one part. Can I do three? 
1. When rolling up to the school, hearing all the kids screaming and yelling for you and so excited that we’re giving them books.
2. Kid hugs. I get more hugs from children that day than all year. We choose schools that are 95% free or reduced lunch and come from poverty-stricken areas. Most don’t have any books, let alone have someone giving them something for free. And they show you appreciation by hugging you and telling you the million things they are going to do with their new books! Hard not to cry at that point.
3. Watching the volunteers get into the delivery. A lot of our women on the team have done them repeatedly but many volunteers are first time Ride for Reading participants. They are almost as happy as the kids are. 

If you were to talk to a woman who hasn’t ridden a bicycle at all but is interested in picking up bike riding, what would you tell her? 
 Join our club team! That’s what I tell everyone because we offer skills clinics from the very basics up to advanced cornering or different disciplines. But the best way to learn is find a group ride. Cyclists tend to always find each other and they aren’t as scary as they may seem. It always sucks being the newbie but if you can try to think about how exciting it is and you’re learning a lifelong skill and go easier on yourself, you might just have fun. Also, do make sure you’re self-sufficient. Learn how to change a flat tire and do basic maintenance on your bike. Most reputable bike shops can teach you or send you information on a clinic. You don’t want to have always depend on someone else to do things for you because mechanicals can and will eventually happen. It’s empowering to take care of your own stuff! 

Tell me about Naked Women’s Racing and how you got started with it
When I first moved to Colorado I had intentions of joining a different women’s team. Unfortunately, that team folded so I met up with some other women to start a women’s cycling team focused on giving back and making a difference in the women’s cycling community. That year in 2010, my two co-founders and I each recruited one member and started the team with a modest 6 women primarily as a road team. Year after year, we continued to grow. Today we have over 100 women, with half of them on our club team and the other half on our race team. Our race team branched out to and we have a Master’s team, mountain bike team, cyclocross team and a road team for Cat 4, 3, and Pro 1/2. 

You are on the Elite Team, awesome! How does one get to that point?
Be a really slow Cat 2? The elite team consists of women whose road category is Pro, Category 1 or Category 2 because they always group this set of women together - seen as Pro/1/2 on race flyers. Our elite team is also held to a different standard than the Cat 3, Cat 4, Mountain bike and Masters team. We set the bar somewhat high and you have to compete in more races than the other categories but the reward can be higher too. You also have to train more than the other categories to keep up in a Pro/1/2 field too. You earn upgrade points in races by your placing. 

What is your favorite part about being involved with Naked Women’s Racing?
My favorite part is watching the women transform over time. We’ve had some women come to us with zero confidence or couldn’t even ride 3 miles without getting winded, to winning races and becoming mentors themselves. It’s a long process and can take some handholding at times, but we’re not only impacting women’s physical health, we’re giving them a new outlook on life. Read some of our blog posts - they can tug at your heartstrings. Like this one for example:

What would you like people to know about Naked Women’s Racing?
We accept members year round on our club team. Right now, we are primarily a Colorado team but who knows what the future holds. Personally, I would love to see our model expand across the US because we have directly attributed to Colorado’s women’s racing numbers. I know because I sat on the Board of the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado for two years and did the analysis as well as co-hosted the Women’s Summit. Also, we host free clinics that are open to the public. These clinics bring in professionals to teach you skills on the bike, professionals to teach you mental health skills, professionals to teach you bike maintenance skills, and professionals to teach you nutritional skills. Our next clinic is being held at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine on Tuesday if you can make it! Lastly, we also have NO-DROP team rides. We require our race team to lead two no-drop team rides per year. So that’s over 100 team rides that we are doing year round that you don’t have to worry about being left behind. All are posted on our calendar on our website including the clinics

You run USACycling’s Women’s Club of the Year-how did you get involved with that and what does it entail?
It’s an award submission process. We submitted in 2013 for 2012. The submission process usually happens in November and is an awards program hosted by USA Cycling. It was a pretty lengthy proposal but in my day job, I write lots of proposals and our team is so well-documented that it didn’t take that long. We were surprised that we won but deep-down I knew we had a good shot. 

What is your favorite part about running the USAC Women’s Club of the Year?
The other teams who had won who went out of there way to tell us what a good job we’d done and how amazing it was that we were on the list for such a short time of having our team in operation. Made some more cycling friends across the country! Also, our sponsors liked the recognition too!

What do you love about inspiring other women to ride bikes?
I touched on this above, but it’s a passion of mine. I can’t help but share it. The bike changed my life for the better and every other woman I’ve met who was able to get into riding, it’s the same thing. Watching our women almost “grow-up” is the coolest thing. We’ve seen ups and downs and transformations like you wouldn’t believe. Myself included. Being there for your teammates when they need you on and off the bike and developing bonds over hard training rides, inclement weather, not so great race results and a few victories too make for some incredibly, long-lasting and dependable friendships and memories that you’ll never forget.
I do hope that women never forget that they were once newbies getting into the sport and are kind and patient to each person trying to learn. It can be hard to remember that and I’ve seen cycling (especially in women’s racing) get to people’s heads, but just remember to be kind-you were a newbie too you know! You’ll never know the impact you can have on a person’s life with your words and sharing your wisdom. 
What would you want people to know about you? (It doesn’t have to be bike-related)
I’m going for the Guinness book of world records for longest female tongue :) I was scouted out and have submitted my application. I think I’ve got it too with 4” (longest is 3.8”) Weird, I know. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Men on Bikes Series: Benji Nichols

When did you first start riding a bike?
I learned to ride an old blue kids junker somewhere around 1984, I think. My first Mountain Bike (a white and pink accented Trek) came from Decorah Bicycles around '90 - back when Deke & Karl had the shop underneath the current 'Sport Shop'. My brother got a mountain bike at the same time - and that's when we started riding trails.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I was kind of a fat kid - no joke. And I really didn't enjoy team competitive sports. But biking sort of took me in a different direction - the social aspects were FUN, and the physical challenges were great. From there, I just wanted to ride - there is also something riding does for me that very few other activities can offer me. I find that my "busy" brain really relaxes when I ride - my immediate focus is not crashing, while the rest of my mind can kind of meditate, its an awesome feeling and break from the everyday hum of things.

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain)
I love riding Decorah's Mountain Bike trails. We are crazy, insanely lucky to have the resources we have here -and its only getting better. But I ride the Trout Run Trail with my daughter in the trailer a lot too - its a perfect loop on a lot of days. There are a lot of us who enjoy Bluffton rides as well - either gravel or road, and many other good gravel loops as well. Gravel is a different animal, but really fun as well. My least favorite riding is probably on 2 lane hard surface roads. NE Iowa (like many places) has its challenges on that front. 

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.)
It was horrible. I had my first mountain bike; I was trying to get up into Van Peenen on what is now 'The Luge'. I was young, out of shape, and had no idea what I was doing. That all changed fairly quickly...  
If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
Like many semi-dangerous sports, there is an art to riding a bike - a commitment to yourself to believe that you aren't going to crash. It’s like surfing a bit -you don't EVER go out surfing thinking "hmmmm, today I'm going to get bit by a shark", hell no, you believe that if you respect what you are doing, you'll be ok. Biking is the same way - you have to commit to whatever you are riding and believe you aren't going to crash. Sometimes you crash - it happens, and it will happen if you ride a bike, but if you hesitate while mountain biking (in particular) you're going to get yourself in trouble.  

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. For 15 years+. There is no other way -trust me, do it.  The pure mechanics are all you need to understand. Without being clipped into your pedals, you are automatically losing at least half your pedal strength. Once you are clipped in, you become part of the bike machine - hills are easier, straights are faster, and balance is improved. That said, getting used to them can take a few rides and a couple tumbles. Do some flat - non-pavement riding to get used to clip-ins, and make sure you have a local shop or bike-savvy person help you dial them in. Clip-ins = happy riding. 

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
I have commuted on bike in Decorah, Boston, Northern California, and San Francisco proper. Bike commuting is a beautiful thing. There are always challenges, but with the right equipment, it’s a fabulous way to get where you are going!

I'd love to know a little more about the differences you encountered commuting in larger cities. Where there pros/cons? 
Commuting in big cities can be both invigorating and terrifying. It can also be the absolute fastest way to get around - hands down, especially in a city like Boston where parking is impossible. I commuted in Boston for about 2 years throughout all seasons. I didn't have the best gear, and suffered some soggy rides, but didn't ever have a serious accident. Other cities, like San Francisco are laid out quite well for cyclists - bike lanes, commuting paths, etc - and the consequences for drivers are stiff, so there is a bit more awareness on that front. That said, you have to have your 'feeling confident' hat on to commute in any city!

From those experiences, are there things you wish Decorah would do differently for the bicycle commuters? 
I think more bike lanes would be amazing - and probably won't happen any time soon. I also think the Sharrows that were painted on certain street routes were a really good idea and should be repainted. I know they caused an uproar, but the amount of conversation that came from that alone is exactly the kind of discussions that we need to be having for the general public.
Do you commute even if the weather isn’t ideal? Why or why not? If yes, what do you do to make it more tolerable?
Depends. Winter can be rough - just in the aspect of having the right gear, and then making the switch at work/home. It can be a lot of stuff to lug around, and ice sucks. The right gear = winning commuting though. 

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
Several/many. I really couldn't count how many. I took a really hard fall on my head/face 2 New Year's ago on iced over gravel. I had a lot of gear on including ski goggles and I'm not exaggerating that a full skull helmet and goggles literally saved me that day. That was a wake-up for me, realizing I'm not in my 20s anymore, I have a family, business, other priorities besides myself. Biking can be dangerous, but so can walking across the street to get a doughnut. Physical pain is one thing, I've severely sprained feet /ankles/ wrists/ etc - had the wind knocked out of me a few times - it can be scary. I ride mountain bike a lot more chill than I used to, simply because I want to be out having fun and getting exercise. I don't have to be out leading the pack or winning anything - those risks just aren't worth it at this point in my life - I'd much rather be having a good time and feeling good at the end of the day.

Would you say you are comfortable with your riding now vs. how it used to be when you were younger? I know that sometimes people can find frustrations with cutting back or others find peace.  

I am quite comfortable riding these days - my only qualm is that I'd like to be out riding more! But spring is coming, and it will happen! I have great memories of riding bikes on the west side growing up - to the pool, to west side school, etc - but I love riding now both for fun and to get places. Bikes are rad!
What do you love about riding your bike?
There is a freedom in bicycling that isn't really found in any other mode of non-motorized transportation. Bikes are fun. 

Did you introduce Aryn to riding or a riding discipline?
Aryn has been a champ at jumping on a bike - she wasn't very into riding previously, and really jumped right in. Having a kiddo slowed down her wanting to get a bit more into mountain biking, but we're playing with getting her a road bike this summer so we can maybe do some of RAGBRAI together this year, or at least a couple Bluffton rides. 

I'm sure it doesn't happen as much now, but do you and Aryn still plan to ride together?
Actually, riding as a family is a great activity, and when a more dominant rider pulls a trailer, it often equals out everyone's pace for a good ride! That said, I do really love taking off on rides by myself- I find a huge amount of stress relief and personal mediation in riding solo. 

Do you plan on teaching Roxie how to mountain bike when she's old enough? =)
Absolutely. Don't listen to anything that "parenting resources" tell you about how old your kids should be to ride a bike, etc. As soon as they can walk (or even earlier) they can mess around on 2 and 4 wheeled objects. I totally plan on getting Rox on a 'strider' type bike this summer - and hopefully not even ever expose her to training wheels -we'll see how that goes!
What is something fun that you would like everyone to know about you that they may or may not know? (Can be bike related or not)  
I was on the very first Decorah Bicycles Mountain Bike racing team back in the mid-90s. We road several of the Cactus Cup midwest races and others. We had a lot of fun and I was super lucky as a kid to be surrounded by some really, really talented riders.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Moms on Bikes: Elly Lensch

 How do you transport your child? Seat or Trailer?
Definitely a Burley Solo trailer. They are highly rated and I feel safe that my baby, now toddler, will not be exposed to flying rocks, the elements and I feel it is much safer than a seat. If I biff my bike, my baby girl is strapped in with a harness strap and will not risk injury. And, since the Burley can hold up to 100 pounds, she can ride a long time, or, when she gets older, I have a carrier for groceries, etc. at my disposal. The seats, in my opinion- just look unsafe, although without personal experience with them, that’s all I’ll say. The nice thing about a Burley is that you can ride rain, shine, wind, and the child is in their own little world. Have super perfect weather? Just open it up so everyone gets the same enjoyment you are getting! 

What added precautions do you take when transporting a child? (How do you keep your child safe and what do you avoid?)
When I have my girls with, it’s the Burley for the toddler with a helmet fit specifically for her for sure. Since we bike primarily for enjoyment and exercise, rather than transportation (since we live on heavily traveled gravel road) our only precaution is that our ”girl bike time” is considered “paved trail time.” I keep the toddler out of mainstream traffic as much as possible. We always lather on the sun screen, as that is a key staple and bring it and water with to keep from getting dehydrated. And when travelling in town, I have been known to slowly pedal the sidewalk (where allowable of course, as I’m a rules girl), so as to keep off the street.

What is one thing you would like to see different about bike safety/transport in general that would make you feel safer transporting your child via bicycle?
I think if more cyclists obeyed the rules of the road, I think that more motorists would respect cyclists and would make the cityscapes more appealing to families with young children and trailers. I just worry that since the trailer is wider than my bike, she will get side swiped.

Have you ever had any close calls while biking with your child? If so, what happened and what was the outcome? Were you fearful to ride with your child again? How did you overcome?
I have not had any close calls while biking with my children. Thankfully. Having been run over by a car that didn’t see us back in 2000 and having been chased down by farm dogs, I don’t think having an incident would keep me from biking. There is always that initial anticipation of “wonder what will happen” but you have to just get up and try – and over time, that anticipation goes away.

What were the biggest challenges you faced with biking at different stages of pregnancy?
Did you stop biking at all during pregnancy? Why?
I did not ride when pregnant. Primarily because I did not think I was ever having more children. Having had a lot of problems with pregnancies in my younger years... when I did get pregnant, considering it was somewhat risky, I just treated it as a gift and protected it.

What products do you recommend as a bike riding mom and why?
·         Padded shorts or skorts are really nice.
·         BPA free water bottles for everyone. Getting a small one just for your child helps them feel important and part of the ride.
·         I really like my CambelBak because I can take a few little extras with, snacks, etc.
·         Having a spare tire and the knowledge to fix is important.
·         Helmets for everyone. If your helmet is more than 5 years old, get a new one. Helmet technology does change and the foam used in helmets does break down.
·         A comfortable saddle (seat) is essential.
·         Whenever you can upgrade components to carbon, do so. Pulling people can make a ride rougher, so if you use upgraded components (seat post, etc.) you’ll enjoy taking the kids with more. Overall, a quality bike is going to be more fun for you.
·         A good bike lock, in case you decide to get off the bikes and play at the park for a while.
·         Rain gear, just in case.
·         And a camera of course, because every ride is a memory.

What are tips/suggestions you have for starting a bike riding routine with your child?
Life can be busy and hectic. Schedule it, and then just do it! Biking is one of those life-long skills and enjoyments that will keep the future generations healthy. 

What tips would you give for introducing bike riding to kids? 
Get them on early. Make sure they safe, know the rules of the road, and ride often. :-)
I think training wheels vs no training wheels varies per child. Some kids need them to build confidence and some don't. My older child is more hesitant. I think she had training wheels until she was nearly 6. But my younger one, I think she will probably not need them, as she is fearless and daring, just like her dad.
I think the biggest thing for me is to incorporate biking into as many activities as possible, which is why I bought a quality 4-bike rack. If we go camping, bikes come with. It's just that simple. It does take some planning sometimes, so leave a rack on your vehicle if you live in the country so you can just go when you need to.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Women on Bikes Series: Lauren Taggart

Becoming a brave soul and wanting to extend my reach to other female bike riders, I started to randomly contact businesses that support the bike industry. I contacted and presented my idea to Lauren Taggart: brand manager and designer of Mechanical Threads which can be ordered at your local bike shop through QBP. Check out the Support Your Local Bike Shop t-shirt and sweatshirt :)

When did you first start riding a bike?
When I first learned to ride a bike it wasn’t a good experience. I looked back in dismay as I felt my dad let go (after promising he would hold on) and I pedaled right into the bushes. I think a lot of riders start out this way, losing a bit of trust in their parents.

I really started biking for fun when I learned to mountain bike. I live in Minnesota and grew up in the 80s so mountain biking was completely new. I was thirteen when I went to the Rock Lake Namakagon Cluster in Wisconsin with my father and my sister. It was my first real mountain biking experience. It was love at first single track. Great single track is like a roller coaster that you can control. A few times I came to obstacles I was too afraid to go over but after trying them slowly and cautiously I was able to go over them the next time twice as fast. Sure I’ve crashed a few times, but I’ve never had any that I haven’t been able to get back up and right back on the bike. The only time I’ve ever really got hurt on a bike was when I was in college and I was hit by a car and broke my hand.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
When I was about 15 years old I won my age class in the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival race. Before you think I’m unusually fast-- I should tell you there were six girls in my age class and two of them road a Huffy. Still, I finished a race through mud, rocks and grinding hills faster than anyone else my age and that was something to be proud of.

I used to go once a year to Lutsen Ski resort to ride in the summer. It was all the thrill of the downhill without the rigorous climbs of the uphill. I spent a year in college in Salt Lake City, Utah. I mountain biked on famous trails in Moab and in the Cottonwood mountains. I did down hill in Park City. It was incredible fun. It was extreme and it was gorgeous. While riding in real mountains my fear of heights would occasionally take over and I’d walk my bike past a cliff while others raced by easily.  I’ve found that looking over the edge is worst thing you can do, keep your eyes on the trail and you will stay on the trail. After about a year I moved back to Minnesota. Minnesota has some of my favorite trails. For example, the Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System because it’s made up of fast red dirt single track along ridges looking over lakes comparable to the Boundary Waters in beauty and serenity. 

For me, mountain biking is all about the ride itself: exploring, navigating the trail, getting some fun exercise and sharing nature with friends. When you road bike you are often commuting from one place to another, when you mountain bike you are transcending to one place in your mind to another.

Do you use clippless 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 switched over right away after learning to mountain bike. When I went clippless I noticed I was faster and had more control over my bike. On the flip side while pedaling up a steep hill I can’t clip out if I don’t make it all the way up the climb. My advice is always to take your foot out of the pedal before you start the hill or MAKE IT UP THE HILL NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOUR LEGS ACHE.

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
 I really don’t like commuting in the winter in Minnesota. Brrr! I think if I owned a fatbike it would be better but the wind and the cold are formidable foes here and I’m a fair weathered commuter.  In the summer it’s great, especially for short rides to the coffee shop or around a lake to get ice cream. It’s great to commute to work too if you can, it can really be an easy way to get your exercise in for the day. Also it’s not stressful like rush hour traffic in a car is.  It’s amazing how much more you notice and how much more you see and experience on bike. Especially if you lengthen your route a bit to avoid high traffic areas and include more paths and bike trials in your commute.  

What suggestions would you give someone who is completely new to riding a bicycle in town (or city)?
Join your local cycling community.  There is usually a group of people that you can quickly find in searching the internet that will have tons of information to offer about the best rides; good commuter routes and you can meet really cool people that way too! Or if you mean new to riding in a city that they have lived in for a while already, I'd say always wear your helmet even if you think it's dorky looking, even if you are not going far. Also it's more fun to ride on designated bike routes so even if your route is longer you will have more fun and be more relaxed if you make your route to include the most bike paths possible. 

What suggestions would you give someone completely new to mountain biking?
 I'll admit, starting off with learning some of the off road trails last year have proven to be a challenge. I do not have that child's fearlessness and am conscientious of my mortality. Learning how to mountain bike is a lot like learning other extreme sports. When I teach people to snowboard, I make them wear all kinds of extra pads so they can fall and be fearless while learning.  Break out some knee pads and elbow pads and even shin guards and go nuts! 

Falling will help you get rid of your fear of falling. Clipless pedals also help you fall a lot less and give you greater control of your bike.  Learn how to use them on an empty street though, before you mountain bike with them. I suggest going a few times and making sure it's part of your muscle memory to clip out before you stop first.  

Always wear a helmet, never bike alone… serious injury can happen on a mountain bike, so it's a good idea to  start with flatter easier trails. In Minnesota for example, I started at the River bottom trails because they are less rocky and hilly than most other trails in the state.  A good option is starting on gravel and fire roads and many mountain bike trails have beginner loops where it is much less technical.  

Also, don't be afraid to sign up for a local race! Nothing helps you get motivated to ride and find people to ride with like races. Also check out this website for tons of information on how to start mountain biking:

With your accident with the car, did you have mental/emotional feelings to work out while getting back on the bike?
As a designer and breaking my hand I was really angry for a while at people who drive even though they know their reaction time isn't fast enough to prevent most accidents. I avoided the downtown area of Minneapolis for a long time.  It wasn't until years later when I had a job downtown that I overcame my fears and starting riding in to work again.  One reason the accident happened is that I was in an unexpected place, so afterwards I made sure to always be where drivers expected me to be, on the shoulder, in the bike lanes etc. Also I was longer so darn confident that they could see me, I rode a little more cautiously—assuming they could not see me.  In the end you may have the right-of-way but they have thousands of lbs of heavy sharp metal that no helmet can truly protect you from. 
***(These statements are not meant to be a guide)

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Women Involved: Jaime Brede

I stumbled upon The Cycle Effect while I was searching out organizations or business associated with bike riding. Reading a bit more into The Cycle Effect, I felt it was a great organization to investigate and see if I would be able to chat with any of the persons involved.

The Cycle Effect was started by Brett Donelson who wanted to expose girls to mountain biking. The big concept was to provide for those girls who weren’t able to get into the sport in some way. Either because the cost of it was an issue, transportation, etc. A quote from the website: “The Cycle Effect’s mission is to enhance the lives of young women through mountain biking and to empower them through mentoring and education.”

The Cycle Effect has grown and here is where I will introduce Jaime. This is Jaime’s first year with the Cycle Effect Summit County program as the county program director. She spoke with great excitement over how they are able to help even more girls experience the joy of bike riding.

She had coached Summit County’s Mountain Bike Jr. League and love to bring forth the “I can do this” attitude and help young women establish their own “can do” attitude.
There were many different groups of children she’s seen; the kids riding the hand-me-down carbon fiber racing bikes their parents had, the kids trying their best riding the Huffy bikes with flat pedals, and kids coming from a home where they played video games all day long. Being able to help these kids establish their own bike riding journey has been wonderful.

One of the great things about The Cycle Effect’s program is that the girls who are involved with the program also give back to their community. The Cycle Effect helps the girls by setting them up with bikes and the equipment, so as payback the girls volunteer themselves for community service projects.
The projects range anywhere from helping to build and maintain trails, helping out at races, and learning skills to pass onto others. Jamie said that she loves having the girls learn basics, such as changing a tire or what to take as snacks with you on trail rides, plus a plethora of other information. Having the girls learn and to be able to teach what they learn is very exciting.

I then talked with Jaime a bit more about her personal experiences as a rider. She was always an athletic person and came from a ski country family. She admits she was definitely more of a skier and runner vs. a bike rider. It was during her college years where she started to mountain bike; her commuter bike for campus and elsewhere was a 24” BMX bike. She laughed about it and said she still has that BMX bike that she rode during her college years.

After college Jaime moved and worked in real estate, and eventually it was a game of Ultimate Frisbee that started another chapter in her life. What I’m finding is how many women end up finding a deeper love of bike riding because of their significant others.
Jaime met her husband through Ultimate Frisbee and eventually during their dating relationship he bought Jamie her first full suspension mountain bike. Jaime said “I’ll never forget it! It was a Gary Fisher Sugar Plus.”

Jaime also has her pro license, which for me I know very little about. I feel like with the common group of individuals when one says “pro” you automatically think magazines and t.v. however, the professional athlete in the biking world doesn’t necessarily make the cover of a magazine. I asked Jaime to describe what exactly it means to be a professional rider.

Jaime said that you have to meet qualifications set by USA Triathlon and USAC (USA Cycling). There are several criteria, finishing within a place or within a percentage. You will have applications to fill out and have to submit race results and the organization(s) will either approve or deny your application(s). Jaime feels that there is a need for more professional bike riders, so it’s not impossible for one to achieve professional rider status, however, USA Triathlon and other organizations do want serious riders.

Jaime said that being a professional rider is like a “choose your adventure” book. You can define the role you play by not only your results in competing but your overall lifestyle. She loves being an ambassador by pursuing her own dreams and helping others reach theirs.

Because what Jaime does is so mountain biking centered, I asked her about how it was when she first learned to mountain bike. Was it something she easily took to or did she struggle? Jaime said that she experienced frustration when learning mountain biking. Learning the technical aspects and how to get past various sections were challenging. She said for about 4-5 years (taking into consideration she played Ultimate Frisbee as well) her knees and elbows were bloody scabs!

We talked about Jaime and her husband and I asked if he played a major role in her loving bike riding. Jamie’s husband was very pivotal, not only did they bond with the love of athletics; they also shared many adventures together. He showed her the ropes of mountain biking, “he has been a huge part of my cycling career” Jaime said. “He understands and has seen it all. He’s my biggest supporter.”

I was curious, being I have a significant other who is very invested in my bike riding, as well as teaching me the ropes of mountain biking. How was it having your boyfriend teach you something? Jaime admitted that relationships combined with teaching are difficult. It was definitely not a perfect scenario for them every time. Jaime said ultimately “make it your own.” It’s okay for two people to have a common interest but to go two different directions with it. One might choose to go downhilling with their buddies while the other goes on various trails and meet up later for a beer.

I shared some of my stories with Jaime, how I met Travis and how I got involved with bike riding. I discussed with her how I became a year-round, all-weather commuter in my first few months of riding. I told her about a friend of mine actually stepping up and becoming a year-round commuter as well, based off the fact I did it! We laughed and talked about how we both encounter individuals who think we are “crazy” for biking in all sorts of weather conditions. I love how Jaime put it “It’s like skis vs. snowshoes, why claw when you can glide?”

If you would like to know more about what Jaime does with The Cycle Effect, go to: The Cycle Effect and check them out on Facebook: The Cycle Effect

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dads on Bikes Series: Benji Nichols

I've decided to add additional features to the blog project that is Life on Two Wheels! Dads on Bikes and Men on Bikes/Men Involved. So if you are a guy who bikes regularly with their kiddos, are involved in the bike riding community in some shape or form, or encourage your partner/wife/girlfriend to ride-we want to hear from you!
I've known Benji for almost 6 years now, ever since I started working at the Co-Op. He and Aryn would come in regularly and I'm an avid reader of their Inspire(d) magazine!

Not long ago, Aryn and Benji welcomed Roxie to the fold, and this dawned on me: Benji is a known bike rider in town...*bam* Interview him! 
So here you go, our first Dad on a Bike!

How do you transport your child?
Roxie & I giddyup in a used bike trailer (older burley style) and an old Trek 970 that I have dedicated to being a 'kid puller'. That way I'm not always having to hook up / take off the trailer and its set up nice for paved surfaces with semi-slick tires and a little different gearing - 1x9. 

What added precautions do you take when transporting a child or having your child ride with you?
You can't ever possibly underestimate the general publics' absolutely horrible driving habits. Really, people are horrible drivers in general. I found an extra tall fiberglass rod to attach a flag to, in addition to some pink streamers, and I'm not that it actually does any good for driver visibility. You always have to remember that not only are you the eyes for your normal defensive riding 'bike' self, but you are the eyes for your child too - and whatever additional weight / length / time you need to move your bike rig accordingly. NEVER trust that a driver is going to do the 'right' thing- ever. 
What is one thing you would like to see different about bike safety/transport in general that would make you feel safer transporting your child via bicycle? 
The larger topic of cyclist visibility is something that our country really struggles with as a whole. I find that riding as little as necessary on main streets is the best way to ride safely with a bike trailer - stick to the side streets, paved trails, etc. 

Have you ever had any close calls while biking with your child? If so, what happened and what was the outcome? Were you fearful to ride with your child again? How did you overcome?
I feel like I have close calls with local traffic about 80% of the time I ride - with or without kiddo in tow. Have I mentioned that in general people are just really poor drivers? There are specific intersections in Decorah that I will avoid at almost all costs rather than pull a bike trailer through. (Knock on wood) I have not bailed with kiddo in tow. You always have to be aware of your surroundings, stopping distance, starting distance, and mechanical abilities of your bike. 

What are tips/suggestions you have for starting a bike riding routine with your child?
Make sure you have equipment that you are comfortable with - bike and trailer. Make your trailer a FUN place to be for your kiddo. Kids tend to love bike trailers - getting to see the world zoom by, talk to their parents while doing it, etc. Also start riding in places you know are safe. The section of the Trout Run Trail from The Trout Hatchery to the Campground is a pretty good place to start with minimal street crossings. Over all, you have to make sure you are comfortable with the concept - if so, the rest will work out.

How do you plan on introducing bike riding to your child?
Roxie has been riding in the trailer since she was 6mos. old. Nobody will recommend you do that - but it provided a lot of naps for her, and rides for me, that would not have existed otherwise.  We have a couple sit on toys here that she likes to ride, and I can't wait to get her on a 'Strider' type rider this summer.

What do you enjoy about bike riding with your child?
Kids are awesome - kids want to have fun. They want to see the world differently - and seeing it from a bike trailer can be a really fun way. Its a great added activity to things like grocery getting or errand running, or just for getting outside! 
What would you like people to know about transporting kids by bike?
Don't be scared. Ride defensively. Never assume traffic will look out for you. Go out there and try it. Ask around if you want to try it before you buy something, and don't be afraid to look for used trailers. They can be expensive, and hold their value usually longer than your child will fit in them!