Friday, February 27, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Steph Hageman

I live in Ossian where I own my own salon. I split my work week between doing hair in Ossian and being in Decorah at Day Spring Spa as a part-time massage therapist. I really enjoy variety of all kinds in life. I may be one of those people who gets bored easily with too much of the same thing.  I enjoy many outdoor activities including biking of course, hiking, skiing which I'm also new at, kyaking, horseback riding, dancing, and laughing.  I love to travel. I enjoy reading, learning new things, trying new things/food etc. 

When did you first start riding a bike?
I've been riding a bike since I can remember. I don't know what age I was; somewhere around the time most kids learn to ride. I grew up with endless sidewalks around me, and I can remember making numerous laps up and down the sidewalk daily. It was how I got to school in the nice weather months, softball practice, and any other social event around town.

I would sometimes ride my bike out to my friend's and cousin's house about 5-6 miles outside of Ossian when nobody was available to take me before having a driver’s license. It was transportation and fun! 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
As I've gotten older getting exercise has been a big factor in motivating me to get on a bike.  Aside from just getting exercise, I really want to have fun while I'm at it because I've found it's a lot easier to go out and do something you enjoy and it has a much different feel while you're doing it. It's too easy to stay indoors more than I'd like to, so I've really tried to embrace as many outdoor activities as possible. Mountain biking is totally different from other outdoor activities because it requires more skill, courage, and being present on my part which is really cool. Mountain biking requires more of me all around.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
I felt like a badass! I remember a friends' boyfriend taking us out on some trails up around Palisades in 2006 after I bought my first Trek mountain bike. It felt like, “OMG I can't believe I'm riding my bike in here!” and “Holy crap this is a steep hill, but he's taking us here and I'm going to follow, I guess.” Pure FUN!  The trails we were on weren’t super technical because I don't recall ever getting off my bike. I loved the view from being inside the trees, it's always better than from a road!

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
The first time out it was just a matter of trusting the people I was with because they knew I was inexperienced.  I think I was having so much fun that it helped cancel out a few of those voices in your head telling you that you could fly over your handlebars at any moment and land in a wood pile.

What do you currently do to help yourself out when you feel nervous?
If I'm on a trail that I've been on a few times and I find myself feeling nervous or unsure about my skills that day, I first start by mentally reassuring myself that I have done this before and managed just fine. I'm capable of it again. I'll even go as far as telling myself it's easy.  I will pretty much lie to myself until it goes awry; if my anxiety wins I get off my bike to take some slow deep breaths to get rid of as much of that physical unsteadiness that I can.

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 clipless. I'm not opposed to trying them in the future, but they aren't high on my list because I hear a lot of people hurt themselves with them. I realize it's a matter of practice, but for me I feel there are so many other skills I want to learn before I add them to the mix. Flats are familiar to me, which equals feeling safer. Once I get feeling more solid I will totally give them a shot.

Have you had any moments where you really felt frustrated or uncertain of yourself? How did you overcome the mental/emotional bump?
Too many to count! Accepting that my physical condition and skills aren't what I want them to be leads to regular frustration on the trail. Sometimes I set out on a trail that I think will be a fun challenge and I end up doing a partial endo, falling into my bike on the way down. It will result in a “holy crap” moment or sometimes I'll chuckle a bit if everything feels okay.  I will laugh about how ridiculous it may have looked IF someone saw me. The Mental/emotional bumps get tricky because once I get stuck in a story about how lousy of a rider I am, it's hard to get off that train. I don't have any magical answers for that, but I try to always give myself credit for getting out and riding and remind myself that first and foremost I am doing it for the FUN

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
I struggled with and still feel challenged by tight corners on a downhill as well as finding effective ways to climb.  One day when I was really frustrated with my ability to keep my bike on the trail on a steep downhill set of corners. I came home and got on YouTube and watched a bunch of videos to help me see what I was doing wrong and to help me visualize what I could do differently the next time out. It helped, but putting on more miles is what I think is going to be the biggest help. 

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Well, like I mentioned earlier, handling corners gracefully on a downhill has been a challenge for me. Along with that, the usual shifting when you’re new to mountain biking can be tricky. I think that gets a lot better after you've ridden the trails awhile. Big logs intimidate me, the smaller ones not so much. Endurance when climbing is hands down the one that causes me the most internal drama. It's something that could easily be improved upon if I put in more time on the trails.  How do I not let that drag me down? Ummm, I'm not always successful with it, but when the ride is over it's a lot easier to forget about. It’s far more intense when I'm peddling as hard as I can to get up a hill and I'm just not going to make it. After the ride, I just feel good for going.

What do you love about riding your bike?
The freedom, fresh air, challenge, and fun- all rolled into one. It's lead to places and people that I wouldn't have gotten to otherwise. It takes me places I can't go in my car. It's been a great tool for getting exercise too.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I traded in my 2006 Trek 4500  this summer for a Trek Stache 8.  It's a men's bike and it's was the best fit for me.  I like how light weight it is and how responsive it is.  It's the first bike I test rode at the shop and nothing else felt as good to me out on the trail.  It was meant to be.  That's my only bike because I really don't do paved riding enough to own anything else yet.  I stick to the dirt when the trails allow.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
There's so many I'd love to acquire, but for now it's really some great shorts with padding, and shoes without a lot of grip on the bottoms since I use flat peddles. I also appreciate gloves when mountain biking because of how close you get to trees.

With what you have currently experienced with mountain biking, why should other women give it a go? 
Because it's FUN! That's always been enough of a reason for me. It's a great workout and it makes me feel like a kid... a kid with no rules!

What has helped you, overall, with your confidence with biking off-road?
I think doing it on somewhat of a regular basis with people I trust; who know what kind of a rider I am and why I'm out there. It's great to ride with people that are better riders than me because it pushes me more than riding alone would.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Getting hurt. I remember talking with a family member who is in the health profession over the summer about me doing more mountain biking and she had this scared look on her face the whole time because she said she'd seen so many people with injuries from biking. I guess it's stories...other people's stories and our own stories about what will happen when we try something where we could potentially hurt ourselves.

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
I think when you talk about something it naturally sparks interest in people. They can hear in your voice how much you love and enjoy something. I think there are many out there who would be willing to try if they had someone to show them the trails and a few basic starting skills. 

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
The sheer fun I have when I'm out riding and the sense of accomplishment when I can see little bits of improvement with my riding. The simple fact that I can ride means there are a lot more women who too can ride if they decided that they wanted to.

Tell us a random fact about yourself
Sometimes I feel I was born into the wrong generation because I seem to lack the techy skills that so many my age have picked up very naturally.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Kellie Weinert

I'm a 19 yr old student studying a sports and exercise science degree, who loves to go out riding, socially and in competition. Just having fun all around!

I Study at uni, work 3 jobs (barista, learn to swim instructor and receptionist for an osteopath). Train to keep improving fitness for cycling competition and general health.
I’m involved with helping the young children/some with disabilities learn to swim/gain confidence in water. 

I also help young girls get into sport of mtb, encouraging when they are at different races (it's only 2 years since I've started!) and hopefully once my coaching course is complete I can do that on a more professional level!

I love riding on anything with wheels! Grew up on motocross and now primarily focus on downhill, love gravity Enduro and the odd bit of cross country racing (enjoy riding it a regular social level.)

When did you first start riding a bike?
I have been on a motocross bike since I was six years old and always enjoyed riding push bikes. It was only about 2 years ago that I discovered downhill and started racing competitively. I haven't looked back since!

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Downhill and that cycling in general is pure fun! There is no way you can’t get on a bike, surrounded by friends and family, and not have a ball. 
The competition encourages you and pushes outside your limits as you race against the clock and yourself.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
The new Cannonball Festival in Thredbo, NSW, is by far one of the best run, action packed race weekend ever!! Holding five events over three days keeps you riding thge entire time, no waiting around. The atmosphere is incredible, hundreds of people riding all the trails, with constant commentary and action! It is a great event not only for riders but for spectators, with so much to see and all with Mt Kosciusko as a backdrop.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Well the first time I ever threw my leg over a downhill bike was at Thredbo on an All-Mountain bike. I was so nervous I didn't sleep for nights leading up to my first ride! But it was great fun! 

If you had nervousness at all, what did you do or think to overcome it?
I was very nervous! But as I am sure most people would agree the excitement of experiencing something new and out of the ordinary overrides any other emotions. Pure adrenalin runs through you! 
It’s still the same for me to this very day, at the start of every race I get butterflies in my stomach and always need to do a nervous pee! But as soon as the clock counts down it’s just me, my bike and the trail that lies ahead. 

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 currently run clips purely because of confidence on the bike. for me having my feet locked in takes away the temptation to back out of a drop or technical section, I feel I am a better rider for having done this. I began on flats and I revert back to them when conditions are muddy and really slippery. 
Flats are great for all abilities, for those just starting out I would recommend ensuring that you have very sturdy shoes with lots of grip on the sole and pedals that have a reasonable amount of grip (not the plastic ones).

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
For me, being such a small build I sometimes find it hard to manhandle the bike when needed, going to the gym has definitely helped with this as I am nowhere near what I would like to be strength wise.
Emotionally my nerves always get the best of me, and often impacts upon my performances, purely because at the start in so nervous that I'm not always concentrating on what I have to do. I am still trying to find the happy medium between being too relaxed and too nervous. For me it seems to be a matter of trial and error!

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
For me jumping and drops have always been my nemesis. Growing up on a motocross bike I was used to having the power to get out of tricky situations easily, on a push bike there is none of that, it’s all you! To tackle these on my first few attempts I over exaggerate every movement, from getting off the back of the bike to having my elbows up and knees ready to absorb the landing. Gradually the movements I need to do become more natural, until i don't have to think about it. 

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Cornering on tight berms I still find very difficult, I just can’t keep my flow! As for not letting this drag me down, I think of it as through everyone has their own weakness and this happens to be mine, so I just have to keep working at it and I’ll get it how I want it one day! A positive attitude is all anyone needs to learn something they find difficult. 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Merida 140
- This is now my cross-country/All mountain bike. It’s a great little bike, perfect for trail riding and handles the easy bits of downhill really well. 
Summun Pro Team downhill bike- I am extremely lucky in gaining a sponsorship with Mondraker Australia!
All of my Bikes have bright pink grips!!

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I love DHaRCO clothing! For me having a female range to choose from allows me to stand out on the mountain, with a full face helmet on boys and girls all look alike, having girls’ clothes really allows us to be noticed!

Pink grips on my bikes are a must for me, I’m not the girly type, but being able to have the pink grips, like the clothes, lets everyone know I’m not a guy!

What do you love about riding your bike?
The best bit: riding my bike is once again the fun factor. If I didn't enjoy it I wouldn't do it! Going for a ride allows me to clear my head, train and get my fitness and skill level to where I would like it to be. There are always times where I don't ride; everyone needs some downtime on the side of anything that they love doing. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Adventures of the First Lady- Baby Steps

When you don't have a off bike shop flowers!
Last weekend I heard the front door open and see a couple walk in. First things running through my head "Oh gosh...oh man...what do I say? What do I DO?!"
Let me fast forward to some time after the hellos and such were exchanged. I gave the first bit of intro. Travis had been with a customer who was contemplating on purchasing a custom bike. (Yes, custom built bike. Travis does amazing work with custom builds.)
(The custom bike build was a go, and it's awesome!)

He gave Travis the go-ahead to see if the couple needed more assistance. I'm still unsure to start asking the customer(s) questions, when to let alone, etc. You don't want to bombard a person and make them feel like they are in a department store where the young teenager is trying to sell you 50 pairs of skinny jeans. You don't want them to be left without having questions answered.

It was interesting.

Another couple came in, a fellow wanting to know about some specific pedals. We were able to give a price for the specific pair- Travis gave me a general location of where the pedals were. I was unfamiliar with the box and didn't find it until after the person left. The price of the specific pedal set was something that he needed to think about. So, that wasn't bad. I still felt a little embarrassed tho.

The first couple wanted to try some bikes on the stationary trainer. Travis also wanted let the potential custom build customer try his fatbike so he could see what a Fatboy rode like. I opted in to assist with the trainer bike try-outs. I'm fumbly/bumbly yet with taking skewers out and putting trainer skewers in. My fingers lose their grip too easily yet, I guess because you can't take 5+ years of repetitive motion stress and make it go away instantly.
I also forgot to set the trainer resistance once. (Travis did too.) It's too easy to open the trainer up and forget to set the resistance back up, especially when you want to be in a hurry/efficient.

Then skate sharpening.
Then questions I was kinda sure on answers for but not.
Adjusting the bar settings, swapping out a pair of bars for a different set to try on a bike to see if it helped with body position. Learning to know which tools to use for maximum loosening/tightening. OY. You'd think I'd have all that jazz down by now. NOPE. One tool gives you more leverage, the other is best to use when something is loose. Then you torque it down with the first, because it has more leverage. Hold the tool like THIS so you have more strength.

Lots of stuff.

So they would remember the bikes chosen, our business cards have an area on the back for size, model, and color. I saw Travis give me a smile as he reached down under the desk to pull out my card for the woman. Armed with information to make their future purchase smooth, we parted ways.

Overall it was a positive experience for me. I was very thankful for the patience the couple had with me not being the fastest with changing skewers. Also for having to go back and forth with question-asking. I have to remind myself I did not become fast at cashering after a couple transactions, I shall not be fast with bike-related things in a matter of minutes, weeks, or even months. Oh patience, how much I lack of thee.

I survived it. A future customer received my business card (beam!) and I got a bit more hands-on experience.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Sarah Rogers

My cycle sports of choice are touring, commuting, and I'm just now getting into singletrack via fatbike. 

Some of my longer tours included riding in (and organizing) a 40-person bicycle village from Madison, WI to Minneapolis, MN, a tour up the coast of Maine, and an adventure from Seattle, WA to Wisconsin (half of it by myself). 

I'm a bike mechanic at a local commuter- and student-heavy business in Madison, WI where I've been working 2 years (just starting now as service manager). 

I worked for 5 years as assistant manager at a non-profit shop called DreamBikes (Madison, WI) that mentored/trained underprivileged youth and helped with community/advocacy events.

Prior to that, I volunteered as mechanic and organizer of a community-run, free bike workspace called FreeWheel (also Madison). I do a lot of bike-related creative stuff on the side as I have time, including zines and blogging, bike-related cross stitch (which I sell on Etsy), and bike-part jewelry which I make for myself and friends.

Check out Sarah's Twitter and Blog!

When did you first start riding a bike?
I started biking when I was about five years old. I remember the bike: an ancient department-store 16-inch cruiser. It was a puke green color, with either "Dill" or "Pickle" written on its tubing. The neighborhood kids, with their newer '80's mountain bikes, made fun of me. But I didn't care. I loved riding that thing. 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
My reasons for riding as an adult are, for the most part, pragmatic. I didn't get my driver's license or a car until age 28, partially for financial reasons, and partially because I never needed a car. I've had the privilege to live in places easily navigated by either public transportation or by car (and I've had more than a few friends and partners with cars, able to drive me around as needed). Riding my bike is nothing special to me; it's something I do every day to get from Point A to Point B.

That being said, I do use a bike for recreational reasons, as well. I'm an active person, and I love to explore new places. Without a car, that leads me to traveling by bike, touring the countryside loaded down with camping gear and food. I've also recently gotten into riding singletrack and urban exploration via fatbike. All of these things keep me active, healthy, and are great stress reducers. I honestly don't know how I could survive without a bike, as biking has become a huge part of my identity.

Tell us about a bike tour that you've been on and why you enjoy longer-distance riding!
My longest tour was in the summer of 2012, where I rode from Seattle, Washington back to my [current] home state of Wisconsin. I followed Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier route. Half of the trip, I rode with my good friend who also happens to be named Sarah.  For the other half, I was alone. Travelling thousands of miles for weeks upon weeks, meeting all kinds of people and exploring new places... it was an amazing opportunity that renewed my hope for humankind. I met so many generous and kind souls on that ride, and put my own skills and fortitude to the test. It was difficult, exhilarating, exhausting, and uplifting.

I like longer-distance touring because it slows life down to the simplest of levels. I'm a very busy person when I'm at my homebase, juggling millions of projects, work, friendships, and household chores. When I get out on the road for several days, all of that disappears, and this switch in my mind flips to a sort of "survival mode." I start to become more in-tune with weather and time, more attentive to my surroundings.  I get a LOT of time to process the rest of my life while sitting in the saddle. I remember that there's this whole world out there, happening outside of me.  And, because I camp as I tour, I start to feel more in my animal skin as I sleep under stars and cook meals by campfire.  I live more spontaneously. It's comforting pushing my boundaries like this, as someone who usually plans out every move in life.  

What tips or suggestions would you give to someone interested in long-distance riding?
For anyone interested in touring, and who has the ability and a bike, my biggest piece of advice is to just do it! A lot of people (and corporations) would tell you that you don't have the "right" equipment. I've done short tours on shoe-string budgets, using a 30-year-old 10-speed steel road bike. It's totally possible.

For a first bike-camp ride, I recommend picking a nearby destination a day's ride away and doing an overnight. Take the camping gear, food, and water you need, and study your map to make sure you're riding the safest route as far as low car volume and rest stops/water refill stations. Riding with friends is certainly safer and more fun, but not necessary, depending on your own comfort levels.
Of course, for longer rides, it's important to make sure you have a bike that fits you well, and padded shorts make a huge difference in long-term comfort. 
Check out Adventure Cycling's website and maps.  I could go on and on about touring and what I've learned over the years. I'll need to cut myself off here!

You are also a commuter, do you commute year-round? 
Yes, I do commute year-round, through frigid and icy Wisconsin winters. I think my record commute was at a negative-40-degree windchill! Again, I don't necessarily think this is anything special; it's how I get around. I'm actually quite amused by weather and enjoy pushing myself through snowstorms, sleet, high winds, and tornado sirens. Honestly, the extreme heat gets to me more!
I owned a car for all of a year, and the trade-off of expenses and worries just wasn't worth it. I'd gladly take longer to get places by bike just so I don't have to deal with repairs, parking, insurance, plate renewal, de-icing, and maintenance. By bike, I feel more in-touch with my city and surroundings, with my body, and with ecosystems and life in general.

What tips or suggestions would you give to a new commuter?
The #1 concern of new commuters, from my experience, is safety on the road.  As the saying goes, "Cars are coffins" for drivers and bikers alike. My biggest piece of advice here would be to plan safe routes. A lot of cities are starting to cater to cyclists and create infrastructure that makes commuting by bike safer and easier. If your city has this kind of infrastructure, stick to it!  Some cities make bike maps available for free, or you could check out Google Maps' recommended bike routes. Find a buddy to bike with. Try the route on a weekend when there are less drivers on the roads. Start small, and be cautious. And wear a helmet!

You are starting to get into single track via a fatbike, what inspired you to give it a shot and why on a fatbike?
I'd been wanting to get into mountain biking since my first (and only) ride with coworkers several years ago. I love bikes, and I love the outdoors, so it seemed like a good fit. I just didn't want to factor a new mountain bike into my tight budget until I knew I would have the time and means to ride regularly.  Without owning a car, how would I get out to mountain bike trails?

Last winter, I met a fatbiker who would become my best friend. He loaned me is his fatbike for a ride over the frozen lakes. I enjoyed the versatility of the fatbike, although it seemed a bit overboard to me.  And expensive. There's a strong community of fatbikers in my city that make it look like a lot of fun. Through my friend, I heard about the social rides and camaraderie, and the welcoming of all skill levels. I learned that there were all sorts of single track trails within a 40-minute bike ride; I didn't need a car! The entire city transforms into a playground when you get on a fatbike: construction sites, abandoned lots, deer trails by the river, and empty beaches. I was down for some adventure.

I chose a fatbike for the friendly community, for the versatility of riding through all terrain and weather, and for the confidence the fatbike gives me. Those huge tires make me feel like I can do anything. And I don't have to worry about maintaining shocks, which can be expensive and bothersome. The fat tires take in a lot of road and trail vibrations, and yet the bike is not much heavier than my commuter!

What was your first ride like? Did you have any nervousness?
My first off-road fatbike ride, which was only about a month ago, was exhilarating! I borrowed a loaner fatbike from Revolution Cycles, a hotbed of fatbike mayhem here in Madison. One of the employees rode with me, showing me some trails they'd been building up not far from the shop. I was certainly nervous, especially with a pristine bike I didn't own, riding with a veritable fatbike guru. But when we hit those trails, my belly dropping with my bike, I couldn't help but smile the whole way through. The adrenaline and thrill got the best of me, and I was flying. I found out later that I was riding relatively technical stuff for a newb. From that point on, I was obsessed. A week later, I was already building up my own fatbike from parts I ordered.

What would be some handling skills that you find challenging (singletrack)?
As a newb to single track, I'm still learning the terminology, so bear with me here! It took me a few rides to get the hang of how to hold my body off-road, which is very different from the road riding I'd been doing. Having toured with a lot of weight on my bike, riding over sometimes-questionable touring trails, I do have a little more confidence and muscle-memory that can translate to off-road riding. It took me a few single track rides to get comfortable riding banked curves, or down particularly steep, rocky hills. I'm starting to work on the skill of bringing up my front wheel so that I can hop curbs and such. I feel rather silly riding up to curbs with these ginormous tires and having to stop and lift my bike up awkwardly.  

Do you use clipless pedals for any of your bikes? 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 actually don't use clipless pedals, which is uncommon for a lot of long-time, long-distance riders. I'm very picky with shoes, and since I'm an explorer, I like to hop off my bike to run through woods or into buildings. I know they make recessed clips for off-bike wear, but a pair of comfortable shoes and my platforms and toe clips seem to work just fine! 

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
I've fallen off my bike plenty of times, but never serious. I generally get up, wipe away the blood, and bike to the nearest washroom to clean up! I have plenty of scars and pebbles embedded in my dermis to remind me to play it safe.  I'm really lucky to not have been hurt more over time. I can't recall ever being mentally or emotionally affected by any of my crashes. My occasional challenges with biking come in a different form: surviving endurance.

During tours, I've had some really rough days where it's difficult to get back on the bike. Usually this correlates with not getting enough water or sugar or food. I recall some particularly difficult days on my cross-country trip, for example, where I cried and cried both on my bike and when I got off. It's sometimes really tough to keep going when you're in the middle of nowhere by yourself, and you're just plain having a bad day. When this happens, calling a friend or family member to cry to, taking time to refuel, and getting a good night's sleep usually helps. 

What do you love about riding your bike?
Honestly, one of my favorite things about biking is feeling the weather. A lot of humans don't get outdoors enough, and we have this idea that we can master nature. Feeling warm breezes from pavement, coolness from the lake, sleet in my face, or rainwater seeping into my socks... these things remind me that I'm just another animal living on the planet Earth, and that I experience the same elements every other living thing on this planet experiences. Knowing that nature will always have the final say is comforting to me. Biking is a daily reminder of what is means to be human. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Women Involved Series: Candace Mastel

My name is Candace and I’m a 46 year young female who lives in beautiful (I am biased) Bozeman, Montana. I came here via Pennsylvania and Ohio, searching for
a gentler way of life (haha, that didn’t happen) and freedom from the expectations of the mid-west culture. Typical story. It hinged on starting my new life with just me
and my dog.
Within a year I met my soon to be husband and we got married two years later. I work at the local college, Montana State University, as a Planner and Landscape Designer.

My focus lately has been to make campus even better by focusing on promoting active transportation and biking infrastructure. I am also involved in a local community biking group called “The Dirt Concern,” which was instrumental in restructuring a failing hiking and biking trail into a sweet flow trail and also building a pump track.

You are involved with several local bicycle/riding groups, tell us about them and why they are so important to the community.
I am involved in The Dirt Concern and the Montana State University Bike Task Force. The Dirt Concern is not really an advocacy group, but rather a group that promotes biking opportunities in our area for many different genres of riding. We reach out to the free riding community, the downhillers, the XC folks, and the kiddos that are just learning to ride a bike. We try to be advocates for riding, in general, not any one movement or mission. We build trails, have movie nights, group rides, and built a pump track at a local park.

My work at the university has recently involved a new endeavor as being a member of the Bike Task Force. This group is looking into promoting the culture of biking on campus, improving the bike share/commuting opportunities and working hard to fight for bike facilities in all new construction  or building projects on campus.

Why should people consider joining a group in their community?
If you’re a beginner rider, it helps you develop a network of riding friends. It also helps if you find people who can give you tips and tricks for better riding and lead you to the most fun trails. As an advanced rider it can help you do those same things (improvement is always an option) and also let you contribute back to the community with trail maintenance, construction, advocacy building, etc. And, you can pay it forward to the next generation of riders who are stoked!

Any suggestions/tips for people on what to look for when choosing a group to join? 
Try them all out and choose the one that makes you most comfortable and either rides what you like to ride or stands for what you stand for. If you are interested in road bike riding, seek that kind of group out. If you are into DH, go for that. But, realize that we all ride some sort of two wheeled bike type of thingy (not sure what’s up with the unicyclists…can’t even understand that…and I’m pretty understanding).

Tell us about the trip you will be going on this spring!
In the spring I’ll attending an Active Transportation class in the Netherlands and Germany, which is being offered through the Department of International Programs here at Montana State University. I am so excited. It directly relates to so much that I am doing at my job but also my personal interest in exploring what other countries do for bike facilities. I have never traveled outside of the US or Canada, so this is a big deal for me. I am so excited! 

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Men. Men. Men. (I’m partially kidding on this one).They can be intimidating. They can be gnar. They always talk about wanting a girlfriend that rides and then when they meet them, it’s a funny thing. No really, sometimes it’s hard to break into a male dominated activity. And, its male dominated where I ride. Especially DH. I ride with seven dudes and one or two women. It’s tough. A lot of times the dudes leave you in the dust. I try not to make them wait. It pushes me to be a little faster even if I’m not as fast as them. I think the overall price of bikes deters a lot of people from riding bikes these days. Geesh, in the old days you could get a decent full suspension bike for under $3K. Now it’s like $6K. What the heck?

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Women want to ride. They want to experience riding. However, a lot of the groups they end up trying a “beginners” ride with becomes some “leave you in the dust, Lycra-infused, alpha peloton female BS” that a new rider doesn’t want to deal with. Sometimes women are our own worst enemies. I see lots of clinics being held across the country for beginner or intermediate riders that actually ARE tailored to beginner or intermediate riders. So glad someone is doing it right. If a women’s group is going to call it a “Beginner’s Ride” than they should make it one. Just sayin. 

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Knowing that in the future they might be a potential riding partner. And, because it’s so much fun. I see the smiles on their faces. Of course, not every woman is going to get hooked. Sometimes the first ride is a totally nightmare and they don’t ever want to get on two wheels again. But sometimes you see the eyes light up…then you know they are hooked. 

You also commute to work; do you have tips for those who are new to commuting?
Commuting can be a challenge. I mean who wants to be all sweaty when they get to work. You pretty much have to resolve to yourself that you aren’t going to have a perfect Brazilian blowout that morning or that you might need a little extra deodorant that day. I swear by having clothes that you can shed. My commute is almost all uphill, and undoubtedly, always into the wind. Have a decent bike that functions well, that can carry some stuff to change into and leave with plenty of time to freshen up at the office or to grab a warm drink if it’s cold out.

What is the greatest thing about using a bicycle for transportation?
Freedom to take alternative routes like trails, alley ways, etc. to save time in traffic. You can also have some breezy, alone time without dealing with road rage. I will have to say that you still deal with idiots on the road. And, in our town, car drivers can’t seem to understand that we want to be seen as cars, not yielded to like pedestrians, which can create dangerous situations for us. So, I do get frustrated. 

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I always hate this question because I can never think of anything brilliant or amazing. Ha! I guess a relevant random fact is that I have a bad temper. It comes from my Italian heritage I always say. I think it’s the reason why I have such trouble failing at anything I try on my bike. I get really mad, might even have a tantrum, haha. But, eventually I take a deep breath, clear my mind and give it a try. Sometimes I don’t give it a try again…I just put the bike on the rack. That always disappoints me. I really made an effort this summer to not ever do that. I always wanted to leave the trailhead feeling fulfilled. Life is too short to get pissed and have regrets.

As a little background to the last paragraph, almost a year ago I lost my Mom. My Dad died right after I graduated from college in 1996 and that crushed me. When my Mom died last New Year’s Eve, after a two week illness, I was devastated. I was the executor of her estate, I had a house of hers to sell, and a six month probate legal process to go through. She was an eight year survivor of stage 3 lung cancer. She was a fighter. Despite being only 98 pounds she was a strong little woman full of so much fight. I promised myself after she died that I would not waste a single day wishing I had rode my bike or done the things I always wanted to do. And, so, I spent the entire riding season, from May through October, from when the snow melted to when it fell again, riding my ass off. If I can say anything to anyone who is younger than me, live your life now…live it like you don’t have tomorrow, or ten years from now.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: AJ Sura

Meet AJ! She was born and raised in the Detroit area, venturing to Southern California after college to pursue big opportunities.
Not of the athletic sort, AJ fell in love with the canyons and went on her first trail mile in 1996. Falling in love with running, she found the desire to explore grew. On her runs she would see bikes ride by and finally curiosity got to her- “where were they going?!” 
In 2007 she purchased her first mountain bike and the rest is history!

Check out G2 Bike and GIRLS RIDE 2 on: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

When did you first start riding a bike?
I am 42 today and I bought my first bike since middle school at age 35 on 2007; it was brand new. It was a Specialized Epic XC, bright green, and it cost more than two mortgage payments! I went big for my first bike hoping to love it.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
The sheer freedom and power I felt. The first time I clipped in I felt alive! I was full of energy and I loved the speed and adrenalin. I quickly realized this sport was for everyone and anyone. It didn’t discriminate based on my height, weight, or gender. Everyone could turn pedals. I gained confidence, explored new places, challenged myself, and met some great friends! I kept setting higher goals for myself and achieving them. Reminds me of Dr. Seuss “Oh the places you’ll go” or “Today is your day your mountain is waiting so get on your way.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
I don’t know that I “enjoy” competing but I discovered Cyclocross and got on a skinny tired bike for the first time in Sept of 2013 and did my first ever CX race. I fell in love! I loved the venues in the park and the challenge of the course. Mostly I loved the vibrant and alive atmosphere; the people (racers and fans alike) are amazing!

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
The first time I clipped in I felt alive and full of energy; I loved the speed and adrenalin. I knew this sport was for me!

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I remember little things along the way, albeit I am more of an advance rider now, I still talk out loud to myself. Things like “power through it”…. “if you’re sitting back off your saddle you can’t go over the bars”, and “speed is your friend.” Sayings like that have stuck with me through the years and I always congratulate myself out loud. For those who have ridden with me, they often hear me say “Good job AJ”… LOL!  I also want to go further, do more in order to do that you have to overcome your fears.

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 was clipped in first day I rode and I think that helped. There was no other way. I would start with pedals that have a larger base around them and have them as loose as possible. Start on the grass in a park and practice clipping in and out at a slow roll.
I try my best to explain the benefits of being clipped in: the rotation, power, and better for your joints/knees/alignment etc. and I think people understand that; they want to better the feeling of being on the bike.

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
I broke my elbow about a year into riding. I’m not going to lie, 6 years later I’m still a little hesitant in that same spot even though I ride through it almost daily. I got back on my bike ASAP after the elbow was nearly healed and I feel that helped. It was a huge learning opportunity for me to understand what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it.
I was crossing a creek with pavement under it and “slime” and I went through the slime running under the water. It was slick, so I the wheels came out from under me. I take that opportunity to teach others to also be aware. Learning, then teaching, is the best experience.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
I think switchbacks are challenging for most riders. I actually sat and watched YouTube videos and tutorials online. Then I started to follow others and watch their line. That’s where the “power through it” comes from. I would suggest having someone watch you as well as show you how they ride them so you get a better understanding. I feel everyone should take a basic skills class even if you think you know what you need to know!

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Rock drops! I love the downhill and am pretty fast at it. Whenever ride a new trail or am not very versed with the trail, I get scared of the obstacles and tend to drag my foot or walk down it. I tell myself there isn’t any shame in walking, but then become frustrated as I know I could have ridden down it. I’ll turn around, walk back up, and re-ride it. Otherwise I let a more experienced rider go first and closely follow their line. I keep in mind “If they rode it, I can ride it.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I currently ride a NINER Jet 9 RDO. It’s super light for a 29er, I have no toe overlap, and I got rid of my seat dropper as the slack allows for me to not feel like I am going over the front of the bars. It’s an XS frame as I am short so it fits me. It’s all black and stylish, LOL!
Focus Mares 2.0 is my current Cyclocross bike. Focus is a flagship brand in Cyclocross. The bike is super light and responsive and it has Di 2 for easy shifting. I have been very happy with this bike thus far. I am 5’4 and the frame is small enough for me.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I wear only Pactimo. I love the fit and comfort of these kits. I also am in love with my Lazer helmet that has a built in sweat gel guard for comfort. I really hesitate recommending anything that’s personal such as clothing etc. as I think you should try out a few things and choose what is best for you. As women we all have different body types and I think do what feels right for you.

What do you love about riding your bike?
Challenging myself and not competing with others. I love the new trails, new terrain, freedom, adrenalin, and lastly the accomplishment.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Adventures of the First Lady- Keep on Keepn' on

Found this while unpacking a bike!
Coming to the close of a pretty darn good week. You can tell that the seasons are changing as more people are coming in to look at bikes. I'm trying to weedle my way in here and there so I can listen to some of what Travis has to say. All I can do is hope for the best.

Working my way to "Ninja" status on Trek U. I have oh, say 400+ points left to get. Then I'm there. Boom.

It's been strange. Fulfilling, but strange the past few days. I'm doing a lot more web work now because I'm sure I'll find myself scrambling here and there once the warm weather hits. I have our rental page set up- prices still need to be put up for road bike rentals...but the important thing is all our bikes, trailer, trail-a-bike, tandem, and winter rentals are up. That's pretty cool.

We have an email sign-up box at the shop, it's not really "out in the open" yet, but I made some nice email slips for it. Much more professional looking than using scrap paper.

For the future fundraiser/contest for DHPT I made some sign up slips that I'm mighty proud of.

Also, something else- A little paper that we can give people looking to buy a bike for the first time. This will be especially nice during the Spring Sale. I will have essential accessories that we feel are important for people to invest in. Most times people only budget for the bike or find out that they should've gotten this or that. We can now give them a paper that they can use to either check off their "list" or for sure have for future purchases. Even if they choose not to purchase the items- they were at least informed.

Office/Media/Website stuff is fulfilling to me, but it's strange that I'm doing work that doesn't physically stress me out. I feel like if I'm not hurting I'm not "doing" anything.

A friend of mine stopped in to rent some snowshoes. I'm realizing that I do miss the Co-Op a bit because I'm not seeing my friends regularly like I used to. It's really a treat to see people and have conversation. I guess I miss it more now because I'm not continually talking or interacting with people for 5+ hours. The job of a cashier and store manager are completely different at this point.

I like it.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Jill Van Winkle

Standing in an erosion gully while doing a
 trail assessment at Tai Lam Country Park, Hong Kong
For the past ten years I’ve designed, constructed, taught, restored, planned, debated, maintained, and even closed recreational trails. As a Trail Specialist for the IMBA, I am a full time professional trail consultant. Working with federal agencies, state and local governments, environmental organizations and volunteer groups from all over I have critiqued thousands of miles of trails.

I have a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies and an MS in Environmental Science and Management and have a diverse work history in natural resources.

I’m passionate about mountain biking, plants (I love wildflower rides - climbs are the best for trail-side botanizing), and a desire to understand how recreation affects the landscape, and what we can do to minimize those impacts while encouraging responsible recreation to create the conservationists of the future. I hope that I can be a more effective advocate and trail planner with a deeper understanding of environmental science.

When did you first start riding a bike?
First riding a bike? 7, I know a bit late, but we had one small bike that all 4 of us kids used to learn, no training wheels and you had to be tall enough to pedal it. My next birthday, my sister and I received matching huffy star princess bikes from our grandmother. We loved those bikes and rode them everywhere. Sadly, once I outgrew that bike, I stopped biking until the summer before college, when I rediscovered the joy and efficiency of riding. Mountain biking: while I have owned a mountain bike since I was 18, I didn't go mountain biking until I was ~26. 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Joy, exercise, nature, friends, and finding the best riding partner (my husband). I started out mountain biking with a few friends; it was a good fit with my love of trail running. Then I realized that I loved being on a bike anywhere and I became an avid commuter too. More bikes and riding styles followed. 

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
I don't do competitive biking events. I love mountain biking and feel that competitive events take away from my experience. That doesn't mean I don't like competition, I just want to be in the moment - sometimes I love to race my friends down the trail, sometimes I want to chill. I do like to watch some competitive events: jump jams, bmx, road criterium, and, even cyclocross (but only if it's crappy weather - if it's nice, I want to be out mountain biking somewhere!). Running events, now that's something I love! Especially if I can be in costume. 

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Anxious, elated. And so, so glad that I was with other newbies! Despite having a heavy, crappy bike that was too big for me and riding mostly steep, muddy roads, I was hooked. 

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I get nervous all the time. If I'm riding with my peers, reminding myself that I can ride anything they can. Asking someone to let me follow them through a section or off an obstacle - this helps me a lot, if that other rider (often my husband or a good female riding buddy) knows my riding skills and style. They know I can do it, so I just let go and trust that they are right. Most women are better than they think they are (a huge generalization, but most men ride above their ability and most women ride below it, just my observations…). I cheer myself on, out loud - it may sound funny, but it totally works for me. The best thing for my skills has been riding with women who are just slightly better than me. Usually it's a rider that is comparable to me, but we each have things we are a little better than the other on. It's the perfect balance in a riding buddy - you can push each other but it always seems doable. And you aren't always the one following. 
Sometimes I just can't get out of my head and it sucks, but I'm getting better at letting go and not letting it ruin my ride. It's okay to have an off day, walk a section you know you can ride, but still be thankful for getting out to ride, enjoy everything else- being outside in a beautiful place, getting exercise, sharing with friends. 

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 clipless pedals for most of my riding, unless it's super techy or I'm riding a bike park. When I first got them, I went to a park with nice soft grass and practiced clipping in and out. Of course, clipping out on the fly is totally different. My first mountain bike ride with them was a disaster - a night ride in the mud, but I just ended up with a few bruises and lots of laughs. I made a mistake in using old, cheap SPDs, though. I'd make sure to have cleats that are worn in and don't clog with mud! Even after clipping in and out became an automatic motion, it doesn't do any good if your cleats are cemented to the pedals. After a few nasty crashes, I switched to Time pedals (thanks to my hubby!) and haven't had any trouble since.  

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
So many. I think most of my big crashes hurt my ego and confidence as much as my body. For my body: being committed to the prescribed physical therapy; yoga has helped immensely too - for balance of mind and body. For my mind: much harder to recover, but with age I've gotten better. Accepting that once I'm hurt, I have to heal and being angry won't help that happen. Finding other outlets for exercise is one of the best ways to help with the emotional challenge. Feeling fit and strong, even if my wrist/shoulder/ankle/whatever still needs to heal and rebuild, helps so much with my confidence. I'm thankful that I'm a runner - it's saved me emotionally through several injuries. As has the gym: as much as I hate it when I'm well, using stationary equipment was a lifesaver for my sanity (and fitness) with several injuries. I'm pretty lucky to have a supportive partner - we've been there to help each other through lots of breaks and bruises. 

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Hmm, lots of things, and so many still do! I had a really difficult time with elevated wooden structures. Even a simple, short, flat, relatively low to the ground ladder bridge would freak me out. I knew it was all psychological, but it took me a really long time to get past. This was particularly bad because as I was really getting into mountain biking, we lived in a place where the trails were littered with them. Like so many riding challenges the key is not to look at the obstacle, but where you want to go. For these shorter bridges, that made a huge difference for me - looking through to the other side and not at the bridge at all. Also, following someone and committing myself ahead of time to follow their line. And, riding flats! Seriously, for technical challenges that really freak me out, not having to worry about getting away from the bike is a big help. These 3 things are, honestly, the most useful tools for most technical challenges for me. I just have to remember to use them! These basically free my mind to allow me to focus on the skills, rather than getting bogged down in anxiety. 

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Yes! I really need to work my jumping, for instance. And power moves, like technical climbing. But I know it's just like anything else: if you don't do it regularly, you get rusty. I have to remind myself constantly to use those same few tricks to allow my riding skills to show through. I still have a lot to learn and am not as strong as I was a few years ago, but I think I know my limits better and am more comfortable knowing when I'm in a good mental place to challenge myself and when I'm not. 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
My most used bike is my beat up commuter: an old rigid mountain bike converted to utility with fenders, slick tires, lights, a rack for panniers- it is the perfect commuting machine. It's comfortable, practical, efficient, and so beat up that I don't worry about it getting stolen (I still lock it, of course). I ride it almost every day, often several times a day. 
Next in line is my (current) favorite bike, my Santa Cruz Blur LTC (26", for real!). It climbs and descends remarkably well, despite its pilot. I've always loved the feel and fit of Santa Cruz bikes, so even when I eventually upgrade and try a different wheel size, it's likely to be the Bronson. :)
I have another all-mountain style bike, a slighter beefier ride for riding a little burlier trails: a Giant Reign X (also 26"), I love it for our local bike-optimized trail system (Sandy Ridge Trails). It's not as great for long climbs, but it sure feels good descending, in the air, over rocks...a fun bike!
I have a park bike too, a super heavy old Kona Stab set up for riding at our indoor bike park, the Lumberyard, but I don't get it out as much as I should (though winter is coming, so…). Really, I've been telling myself that if I got a sexy new park bike I'd ride it more. There's nothing wrong with that, right?
I have an old, heavy DH bike that doesn't get out very often, occasional trips to Whistler, but that's it. It's fun, but again, I have bike envy when I see all the new bikes with more travel and 10 lbs lighter. But it's not something I'm willing to invest in right now, since we do it so rarely. 
Finally, I have a Surly Cross Check that I use as a road bike, mostly for winter riding to keep the legs ready for mountain biking, but we do occasional touring too. It's been a great bike - comfortable steel, inexpensive, can accommodate big tires and fenders, it gets the job done. I hope to get a "real" road bike soon, something a little lighter and that fits me better. A good road frame can last a long time, so I'm waiting for the right bike (and $ to pay for it).  
I really like purple - here's me in my favorite Maloja shorts getting ready for a second shuttle ride at Mt Hood
 (7 bikes and people in our minivan!)
What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
My sasquatch socks - tall woolies, perfect for riding in the woods out here. 
My bright purple Maloja bike shorts. They fit so well, they're colorful, and they are just an overshort (the chamois that come with baggies are always crappy, why bother?) I can just wear a good chamois underneath. 

Fox Incline women's bike gloves. The best bike glove ever, for my hands at least. I have narrow palms and long fingers, so I've had trouble finding gloves that work (sometimes it seems like the women's large gloves are just men's medium in a different color scheme, not good). 

What do you love about riding your bike?
Gosh, everything - the freedom, that you can really go places, the ability to be immersed in the backcountry, the exercise, the shared experience of riding with good friends, the mental and physical challenge, the simplicity.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Adventures Of The First Lady: Ups and Downs

There is a lot that goes into learning a new job, especially when that new job has a plethora of different areas in which one wants to become adept in. I'll admit, I'm not great at stretching myself out with learning several different areas at the same time. It takes a toll on me. I'm kind of a "Josie of All Trades but Master of None."

However, I'm taking it all in stride. There are definitely days better than others.

Also, the challenge of being naturally introverted. I am still anxious/nervous about the concept of trying to talk to customers about bikes. There is an assortment of vocabulary and knowledge that I have yet to fully memorize.

It's difficult for me to feel confident enough to go up to a person who is looking and greet them, because I'm nervous of not having the answer. It makes me wonder how the Spring Sale will go. I'm slowly trying to gain more knowledge. If I can, sometimes shadow Travis in a non-creeper way to go over the sizing process. However, when you are trying to gain knowledge on a weekend of a kids' ski race- you aren't going to stay shadowing very long.

I'm now pretty darn adept at getting people set up with skis. The one thing that drew me into a panic of uncertainty, I'm now finding myself naturally reaching for a correct size first try, more often than not. It's just getting down in your head what you view for heights and making your best guess. Obviously I won't reach for a 205 for someone my height.

I've had my first work-related injury. A cut on my finger in a spot that bled like no tomorrow. We're not entirely sure what caused it, but I think part of it was just the angle-I mean, I cut myself RIGHT next to my fingernail. A terrible spot. The healing process is going alright, I can't complain. I guess it's a good thing I got that tetanus shot, eh?

We're getting more applicants, which is a good thing. I apparently am not very strong with accepting the natural "ebb and flow" of people looking for employment at a bike shop.

Monday gave me opportunity to work one-on-one with my first potential bike-buying customer. I can't tell you how nervous I was, however, it was (I believe) an overall positive interaction. I could totally see my former self with this customer, and the excitement on the potential to ride a new bike was just brimming over! I'm very excited for this person and the world that a bicycle will open up for her.

Soon on the website you will find our updated service menu along with a section dedicated to all of our rentals! That will be a project, but one I'm excited to get started with. I must admit, it's easy for me to get sucked into web work and make myself not do it during my "day off." Monday I had spent a good amount of time on our website creating future Homepage Highlights. Tuesday lead me to a long-awaited bike ride out on the trails. Then I spent about an hour in the tub reading sections of Leading Out Retail by Donny Perry.

So, for an early week recap- I'd say it's been pretty darn good!

And now-I'm official. I got a card!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Craft Storm Tights: A Product Review

Let me introduce you to Craft Storm Tights. These tights have kept me comfortable during some mighty chilly rides! If you are avoiding going out and having fun on your bike this winter due to temps 25 and below, these tights will take you to the next level! 
They are comfortable, durable, and you can easily layer under them. If you invest in a pair of Craft Storm Tights, you will no longer be able to say you aren’t prepared for the cold weather. Why short yourself prime riding opportunities simply because it’s closer to 5 degrees than 20?

Let me tell you why the Craft Storm Tights are so special.
They are windproof, breathable thermal fleece tights made with four-way stretch to ensure comfort. I have been able to easily wear a second pair of thinner tights along with a pair of liner shorts. You can use the drawstring to ensure a snug fit. The front panel (Windshield) provides additional windproof (and breathable) protection. These are my go-to tights for cold, wet, windy days. I have a thinner pair of windproof tights and they have fallen short to the comfort that the Craft Storm Tights bring.

The Flex-Fleece (found at the back and lower legs) is tightly knit with a smooth outside surface that resists snags. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve grazed my calf with my pedal pins or got off closer to shrubs and branches. So far nothing has created a hole in these tights!
With additional layers or not, I’ve found myself able to keep my mobility-which is something that can be hard with some thicker tights. The kneecap has an opening to allow full range of motion-this ensures full usage of your pedal stroke.
The brushed inner surface stays close to your skin and provides wicking and ventilation of excess heat and the moisture wicking front panel provides extra protection for you in the cold.
Ankle zippers keep you covered from top to bottom! I’m able to easily wear thicker socks under as well as wear my boot over top. (This is personal preference, as some will want to wear the tights over boots.)

Another nice feature is the tights have reflective details to keep you save if you’re out riding after
dark or in low-light conditions.

These tights have turned into my go-to for cold weather riding.  They are durable, comfortable, and functional. I’ve worn these when I’ve been out snowshoeing, so you will find that they are easily a multi-use clothing item for any outdoor activity during the winter months.

As said earlier, if you are inside wishing to be outdoors- these tights will aid you with keeping you warm during your outdoor adventures when temperatures are 25 and below!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Katherine Barry

I am in my final year of an Architectural Sciences degree at BCIT. Currently, I live in Burnaby during the school year and have spent the past two summers in Whistler. I plan to move to Whistler after school permanently. 

I have a bike-obsessed dad who always wanted to get me into mountain biking. I ended up getting into road riding instead and have done that for 6 years. 
My first summer in Whistler my dad convinced me to try downhill. I crashed within the first two minutes and hated it. 

Of course the next day I was out again and a few weeks later, saving every penny I could, I bought my first dh bike. Since then I have been completely addicted! I set goals each year and work to achieve them. 

My goal for 2015 is to enter some races and challenge myself to get better and faster! As well, I hope to get into more of the trail riding side of mtb but am going to need a job to fund it first!

Check Katherine out on Instagram and Pinkbike!

When did you first start riding a bike?
I've been riding bikes as long as I can remember. My real addiction began at 20 years old in the summer of 2009 when I bought my first road bike. 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I am super competitive so having good friends to ride with and to challenge me is the best motivation. Besides that, I just love riding and take any opportunity I can. 

What competitions do you plan to attend next year and why?
I would like to try some Phat Wednesday races at Whistler; they look like a fun way to try downhill racing for a beginner like myself. 

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
I crashed! Hard! First 2 minutes of riding and I went over the bars twice. I swore I would never ride again. Then of course I was out riding again the next morning. 

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I usually listen to my nervousness; my brain is pretty good at telling me when I'm not ready to try something crazy. On those days I just ride at 80% instead of 100%.  

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 them on my road bike but not in downhill. I may try them for downhill once I get more comfortable. For road biking I initially started with a really loose release so that I could unclip in a hurry and gradually worked up to a tighter release as I became more familiar with 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?
I've been really lucky so far, lots of big crashes but very minor injuries.  

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
I have made good use of the Whistler Bike Park lessons. I attended Women's Nights and had amazing guides teaching me the skills I needed for everything from the complete basics to gnarly tech, big jumps and sketchy drops. Meeting an awesome group of ladies to ride with was also huge, I always have a ton of girls on speed dial to ride with which means plenty of saddle time.  

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Tech! Anyone who knows me knows I shiver at the site of roots and rock gardens! I have been practicing hard to improve my skills on the tech trails and have no shame in getting off my bike and walking around anything beyond my skill level. 

Whistler comes up a lot in the mtb world, could you tell us a bit about Whistler and why it's so amazing to go ride there? (For the folks that aren't able to travel much!)
I couldn't possibly list all the reasons it's s amazing! There are trails for every level of rider, designed by some of the world's greatest trail builders. The guides are so helpful and kind, you can watch yourself progress so much faster under their instruction. And for all the female riders out there... Whistler has one of the highest rates of female riders, you can go into any bike store and find gear that fits, you can stand in line with some of the best female riders and watch them training for races, and once again... women's nights! There's nothing better than having instruction geared towards you and a group of your friends followed up by beer and nachos at the GLC twice a week. 

What was it like growing up and having a father who helped encourage and maybe push your boundaries in the bicycle world?
My dad is my inspiration; he was out riding the Shore back in the early days. While a lot of kids hear how dangerous mountain biking is, my dad was always more than happy to take me out on trail rides and show me the ropes. Now when we ride together he's a bit freaked out at some of the features I hit and how fast I go but he will never discourage me. 

What have been some of your favorite goals you've accomplished?
With road biking, I completed my second Ride to Conquer Cancer, riding 290km ride over two days and raising close to $4000.00 (something I will be doing year after year I hope). For downhill, I started off my summer on some nice easy blue runs with the goal of eventually hitting Aline. I exceeded my goal quite significantly, by the end of the summer I was comfortably riding Aline and getting familiar with other black runs like Dirt Merchant, Freight Train and even trying some black tech like Top of the World and Duffman. 

Tell us about WBP Women's nights and what they are about/do-
Women's nights are an inexpensive way to try mountain biking or to develop your skills. Groups of 4-6 women are lead by a guide for 2 hours and taught how to approach features on trails with constant reinforcement on technique and bike handling throughout the lessons. Afterwards we all get together for drink, food and prizes! I've met some of my best friends at Women's nights!

You have ridden roads for quite a few years. Having that under your belt, do you feel it helped you or challenged you more when you started to mtb?
I sure had to learn to slow it down a bit. I am used to reaching speeds of more than 80kms an hour and I am still prone to racing down trails, sometimes beyond my skill level. But other than that the two have complimented each other well, I am now much better at cornering on my road bike and the cardio from road riding means I can ride downhill for longer without getting tired.

What are the differences between the two riding styles that you enjoy?
They are two different worlds! Pretty much the only similarity is the two wheels. Road riding requires sustained periods of endurance and is often much safer (although road incidents tend to be pretty awful as they usually involved little protection and sometimes involve vehicles). Downhill is a lot more strength and requires fast-thinking and reaction times and carries an inherent danger with it. My road bike is 20 lbs; my downhill is 38 lbs and a complete pain to ride on anything that isn't a downhill course! 

With mtb, do you find it hard to go back to riding paved surfaces for fun?
Yes! Riding in the mountains has made it very difficult to enjoy road riding again, especially in my city where it's mostly on congested streets. I think living in Whistler ruined city life in general for me, though! 

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love the friends I've made through riding, I love those days where you have a series of perfect runs and feel like a pro, I love when you clear a big jump perfectly, I love the first time you hit a new feature you've been dreading and realize how much you're improving, and most of all I just love being in nature with my best friends and being goofy, making dirt bike noises and silently competing to be the best/fastest! 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
My downhill is a 2012 Devinci Wilson, my road bike is a mix of my old Fuji Finest 1.0 with a Jamis frame and upgraded components and I have a Norco 125 dirt jumper. I upgraded to the Devinci after starting on a Kona Stinky, I wanted something light and playful. I've been lucky to spend so much time in the bike park and needed a bike that could handle the big features but was still light enough for me to have some fun in the air and the Wilson was the perfect fit! I absolutely love it!  

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I swear by Raceface Khyber shorts... they're pricy but they are adjustable for comfort, they're thick and durable but with plenty of ventilation so you can still ride in the dead of summer. My other favourites include my 5.10 bike shoes for flat pedals (your feet stick to your pedals like glue and they're super comfy), my Kali helmet (super light with adjustable padding and a spare visor- has saved me from a few concussions, too) and my Atlas neck brace (most women fit in the youth size, making it the cheapest option, I won't ride without it anymore).    
What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
I think girls are encouraged to go into more feminine sports. There's nothing wrong with that but when you tell a young girl that some sports are boy sports it can become really discouraging. We need to tell young girls that they can ride bikes just as well as the boys if they put in the same time and dedication. I also think there is this perception among a lot of women that mountain biking is all about big air and crazy tricks because most of the publicity is from Redbull events and YouTube videos these days, a greater focus on videos that show other events like Enduro, XC, and touring may show women that there is a wide range of types of riding.

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
More clinics and clubs for women! And spread the word! I am relentless in trying to get my friends to give it a go- once they've tried it, they're usually hooked! 

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I am always in need of more riding buddies! As much as I love riding with my guy friends, there's something special about those days where it's just you and your girls. The more women I can get involved, the more friends I have to ride with! Plus it's so cool when you aren't the only bike-obsessed girl around! 

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
Hmmm... not sure what would apply here... I ended up in Whistler after getting hired as a student labourer in the municipalities road maintenance crew, so when I wasn't biking I was in an orange jump suit painting lines, filling pot holes, fixing signs.