Women on Bikes Series: Wendy Davis (aPabstSmear)

Meet Wendy Davis, blogger at APabstSmear and LivingOutLoud.
I contacted Wendy after discovering her blogs and loved her honest writing.

She is a woman who can admit to her past choices (the unhealthy ones) with the ultimate goal of inspiring others to make more positive/healthful decisions. It's wonderful to see someone who has worked hard to make her life better and show others it is not impossible to loose those spare pounds or quit smoking.

Keep in mind- you hold the key to your future, it all depends how you turn it!

When did you first start riding a bike?
I rode as a child but started again after the birth of my daughter. It was 2007 and I was 38.

My first ride ended with a cliff launch 12 ft into a ditch. ER visit, broken elbow. (She was still breastfeeding so I covered my boobs as I fell, I thought “Oohhh no, the milk!" Hence, broken elbow.) 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
My daughter, now 8, motivates me to stay healthy, I want to meet her children and go on bike rides with them. I want to live (out loud) as long as possible.  

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
I have done many races, short, 3hour, 6 hour, 12 hour, 24 hour, and 200 plus gravel grinders. Not one race was for a trophy. I ride to be around like minded people, if I net a trophy GREAT! But it’s not my reason for being there. I like to race/beat my own times from past years. I race to see improvement.  

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
I like to watch cyclocross but won't participate because it's not my thing. I like LONG stuff, not 30 minutes of feeling like I am going to puke. Mountain bike races and gravel grinders are very competitive; I just try to do my best. At this year’s Dirty Kanza 200, I did not podium but I knocked 2 hours and 33 minutes off last year’s time. That feels like a podium to me. 

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain, etc.)
I like riding everything. If I have a choice I will choose dirt over gravel, even though it is a close second. Gravel over paved for sure. I haven't ridden in the mountain yet but can imagine it would be wonderful. 

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 know exactly how I felt in the first 1 1/2 miles...I was not a Mom or wife, even though I enjoy being both. I felt free, like a bird, just floating along the trails and smiling. That was until I launched, lol. I couldn't wait to get back on and try again. Three months later I did, and signed up for my first race... a 60 miler in Arkansas. Being on a bike for only 4 months didn't stop me.  

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I feel nervous every ride/race. I think that is my gut check and I listen to it. Being nervous is not a bad thing in my opinion, it keeps me grounded and reminds me I have people who depend on me to be safe and not do anything stupid. The feeling usually fades once I start pedaling; if it doesn't I sing in my head or out loud if no one is around.   

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 started clipless pedals about 8 months after I started riding. I came back with bloody knees and fell nearly 20 times on an 8 mile trail. I would suggest trying them out on the pavement first to get a feel for them, loosen the pedals so they are easy to get in and out of. Move to gravel next, then to the dirt. Learn how to fall before you actually fall is the best piece of advice I can give. Tighten up the pedals once you start to get comfortable. Practice getting in and out of them MANY times before going on a trail ride. I fell over more than once while clipped in. 

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
I ride to my daughter’s school and do some grocery runs. I wear a glo-vest and ride defensively, constantly looking behind me on busier roads and not riding with music. I do not run stop signs and follow the rules of the road.   

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?
There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. I have a job I can do from home though, LOL!
I have purchased some quite expensive gear to help keep me warm and my skin protected from the harsh Midwest Winters. I bought some items in the off season and saved some $$ 

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
My first bike ride at age 38 put me in the ER after a mile and a half. I launched over a cliff, (about 12 ft) I was hurt but wanted to get back on, that was 3 months later. I was very nervous but stuck to flat stuff and trails that were easier. I also spent 7 days in the hospital after a fall, almost lost my arm to a horeshit infection, seriously. I was scared to get back on, honestly thought about quitting after that.  My daughter was 4 at the time, I thought I might kill myself out there, I should stop. And then just as quickly I thought I would just have to work harder and get better. (This question could be a blog in itself

What do you love about riding your bike?
. I love the wind on my face and just pedaling. Doesn't have to be super fast, it just has to be. I love how accomplished I feel after I get off the bike. Maybe I tackled a technical spot, or was finally strong enough to pull my wheel up over that big root/rock, possibly the distance too. I get these amazing adrenaline rushes after I ride long.  All of a sudden I get this second wind and can't relax. I feel wound up instead of exhausted. I love that the bike has empowered me to stand up for myself, helped build my character, helped make me strong, and finally helped me come out of my shell as a writer. I feel most creative on my bike, I should tape a recorder to my handle bars and then I would have blog posts for months. 

My bike makes me feel sexy and beautiful too. What's not to love about a strong woman out shreddin' a mountain bike, especially those of us in our 40's and beyond? We get the pleasure of showing the next generation how it's done, or not done, LOL! 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have a '12 Kona Big Unit singlespeed and an '11 Kona Jake the Snake crossbike. My husband bought me the JTS so I could try to complete DK200. I had to learn how to ride gears, it took me nearly 3 months but I finally got comfortable. I love that magnificent machine, we have over 10,000 miles of smiles and 3 DK200 finishes, I am really proud of those and I couldn't have done it without that bike. It fits me perfect and I have an awesome saddle on it. My Big Unit is special since it was my 43rd surprise birthday present, it would replace a singlespeed I had been riding that was too big. This bike fits like a glove. The color is absolutely gorgeous. The design is simple and I can work on it myself. I seem to float up and down the trails on this.   

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I recommend wearing bibs if you are riding long, just figure out how to pee before you head out. I love Buff headwraps too; they keep all my hair under the helmet. Lizard Skins bar tape is awesome too. It doesn't get all nasty and lasts forever. Double wrap it and you won't need gloves.   

What inspired you to start your blogs? What do you enjoy about sharing parts of your life?
APabstSmear I started this one after I complete my first 24 hour Mountain bike race. I thought it would be a fun thing to do during recovery. I had no idea if anyone would even read it. Once I had a few followers that sealed it. I found a voice while riding the bike; I was an aspiring writer inside. My husband convinced me after he showed me had it set up already. I love to share the good and the bad experiences I have on the bike and off. I love to inspire women to ride and encourage them to push themselves every once in a while. I tell them they will feel better, look better, and gain confidence riding a bike; I am a prime example of that.

 LivingOutLoud This blog has been around for about 2 years. I have many friends who struggle with their weight, health, and lives in general. I write to let them know that they are not alone, and that I get it. I understand struggle, I understand working my ass off to get what I have now, and I get feeling sad and empty and fat. It is something that doesn't disappear when you lose the weight either. Being fat, over 100 pounds overweight, is horrible. It sucks every day to get out of bed and robot the way through the day, like a zombie, not living, not caring, and not creating memories. I lived that for 5 years. I can't get that time back but I can do some great stuff with the time I have left. That is why I live it loud, tell others they can overcome and get their lives back too.  We have the power and control; we just have to learn how to use it.

What does apabstmear mean?
It was the punch line of a joke: Girl takes huge gulp from a can of Pabst, wipes upper lip and says "Guess what that was?"… "aPabstSmear"  Giggle,giggle!

I love how honest you are in your blog-no sugar coating of things (like the post where you had to buy a PRO cut kit) I particularly love this post because I know there are other women out there who have the same frustrations. Have you had any other moments when it came to cycling gear? What has helped you?
When I buy gear I often think who the hell are they fitting this too? Surely not an average cyclist and surely not an average woman. Some of us need a little extra room in the legs, hello; some need some room in the waist. Either way we have to do something about it.  For goodness sake... give us room for our boobs! We are all not pencil thin and boobless, no offense to anyone. When I find something I like I do not hesitate to buy two.  You never know if it will be around again. I wear men’s shoes too since they are wider. Are there any other women out there with wide feet having trouble finding shoes that don't require cutting off a toe?

Why do you feel some women are uncomfortable with the idea of riding a bicycle?
Be commuting/gravel/paved/mountain? What would you like to say to those who feel they "can't" ?
Find a riding buddy and get your butt out there. Start slow, add mileage over time; give yourself time to get to know your bike, get a professional fit to avoid unnecessary injuries, and remember to smile. You control the distance, the effort, and if there is beer in your pack.  

What would you like to see happen to encourage more women to get involved with cycling?
I think if more women just gave it a chance they would like it. I think having very vocal role models will help. I believe that the women who blog and FB their bike experiences influence other women they can do it. I don't mind putting myself out there if it will encourage another woman to ride. Riding makes me happy; it makes me who I am. I am a better person, mother, wife and friend because of two wheels. I just wish I hadn't been 38 when I found it.