Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Revamping and Updating

This blog post comes to you with some feelings of "what did I just do?" and "am I ready for this?" along with a dose of feeling like my name is becoming "so far out there."

You will notice some re-branding and changing of the name of my blog. This is something that was prompted by a simple and beautiful question "have you thought about purchasing a domain?" Well, the answer to that was simple. Originally, no. Why? Because I thought it was a little silly to actually purchase something for my non-profit blog.
I don't even have a business card for my blog! (Which I've contemplated.)

A wonderful friend who has some amazing editing skills created a glorious logo for the FWD Movement, and I had asked her about making a banner for my blog. That is originally where the question came forth and it brought about some pondering. "Life on Two Wheels" is the general concept of the blog- but it's one that's been commonly utilized for other blogs. I've worked really hard to get my link and so-called "brand" out there, but unless you are a .com...there really isn't any "legit" ownership.

FWD on Facebook

I could've totally purchased for over $3,000 plus a yearly fee, and that simply is not going to happen.

Josiebikelife has been utilized many locations thus far, and published in Inspired magazine as well. No sense in changing anything a whole lot- if I would change the current link, basically all pre-linked interviews would get lost.

So, Josie's Bike Life was born. Now I'm going through the process of changing my name in so many's pretty crazy. Buying a domain is like getting divorced in a way. Making my blog more of a representation of me- not necessarily more focused, but branded.

Life on Two Wheels still exists in the title, because it IS about Life on Two Wheels. Yours and mine.

I was able to get a .com for less than I spend on my unused Barnes and Nobel membership. If that's the price I pay for a little more simplicity instead of typing all the time-why not? Do I have anything to lose? Not really.

I have no idea if Facebook will okay the page name- it's not a business. It's not really something that I have bills associated with.

This should be the last time that I have to go through something like this, well at least I can hope!

I'm really excited for the opportunity and potential growth that this blog has. When I created it I had no clue how it would expand- how I could grow along with it. It's quite an adventure. For next year, I do hope to continue finding rad women (and guys!) to interview, but I have no idea how frequently I can make that happen. I would expect to still be giving First Lady and Race Day updates- but beyond that...I can't say! All I know is that I'm thrilled over the inspirational stories and adventures this blog has brought to light and I hope to continue for years to come.

Thanks to those who contribute and enjoy this blog for what it is; real life lessons, inspiration, and adventures!

I also want to note for those who have submitted interviews to me over the past several months. Rest assured yours WILL BE POSTED unless I'm waiting on either a. information from you pertaining to your post, b. unanswered questions, or c. no photos submitted.
Prior to starting my job at Decorah Bicycles I did a lot of pre-scheduling of interviews due to worries that my work schedule would not allow me much time to work on that part of my blog. I have interviews booked through August (some segments through November). I schedule interviews on a first-come-first-response

I cannot rely on deadlines to be met, if I did, I would be shorted regularly. This is another reason I pre-schedule as many as possible. My goal is to have one more solid year of regularly scheduled interviews- lofty goal but one I feel is attainable!

I'm more than happy to work with people on deadlines that work for THEM, letting me know where you stand on your email interview helps me a lot! I usually give around a month to have responses sent to me, after that I will contact you. I respect/acknowledge personal life getting intense, so if I send you a check-in, please don't be offended- just let me know what's up and when I might get a response.
If it's been weeks after the date you send, I will check in again unless I get a response indicating you are no longer interested.

Feel free to pass on individuals who you feel would be a great fit! You can send me an email at:

Women Involved: Tammy Donahugh

Riding BMX at local skate park
Tammy Donahugh is a well-known and respected name in mountain biking. 
She has been riding for 22 years and has about 13 years of experience in the industry including: racing downhill in the Pro circuit, and assisted with the development of the world’s largest mountain bicycles skills instruction program, competing in slopestyle/dirt jump competitions, and coaching bike skills clinics.

About ICP:
"It came from the CMIC (Canadian Mountainbike Instructor Certification) but I spearheaded the acquisition of the materials and then turned it into a comprehensive program for IMBA. Myself and Shaums March have worked together over these past two years to update and improve the curriculum and get things more current."

She is one of the few sponsored female dirt jumpers and the only female Freeride Mountain Bike Association (FMBA) judge.

Tammy has been with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) for almost 10 years. 

Her tenure has included work as the Operations Manager, designing and building bike parks for the Trail Solutions program, and creating and administering a comprehensive skills curriculum in her current role as manager of the Instructor Certification Program (ICP). Tammy is currently a Level 3 ICP instructor, and she has been teaching individual and group clinics for eight years.

Tammy has a passion for the sport and loves to share her knowledge with others. She created and produced Dixie Trix, an all-women's freeride event that included clinics with certified professional riders and a slopestyle competition for amateur and pros.

Follow Tammy on: FacebookInstagram, and Twitter

When did you first start riding a bike?

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Different periods of my life have provided a multitude of motivations, but bottom line is that it’s fun and completely addictive! I am competitive with myself and at this point couldn’t imagine a life without bikes.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
I’m a horrible competitor actually, but would have to say that the Ranch Style events were by far my favorite. The Ranch Style was held on private property for about 5 years and consisted of a day teaching women’s clinics, the most awesome dual slalom, and a slopestyle comp. This is where I got my start teaching women and kept my slopestyle skills sharp. Unfortunately I was the only woman who would compete in the slopestyle event each year, but it was always a fun and positive vibe out there camping, riding with friends and taking runs together with my husband, Jimmy. 

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Total exhaustion! I pretty much hyperventilated trying to keep up on a horrendous fire road climb.

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
Visualization and taking in a few deep breathes. 

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 rode clipless for many years, but ride flats about 100% of the time these days. Personally I don’t think beginners should be clipped in. They should be focusing on proper body position and skill development. 

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
Gravity fed and freestyle riding is no doubt more consequential and therefore injuries do happen (and I’ve had my share)– especially in the earlier years when you’re constantly challenging yourself and learning where your limits are. There is no easy way to deal with injuries unfortunately. If there is a way to continue releasing endorphins through another activity that doesn’t involve using the injured body part then obviously you want to do that. Otherwise you just have to take the hand that was dealt to you and utilize your down-time the best you can.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
There is not one skill that sticks out in my mind. I was very lucky to have a group of fun guys to ride with when I was younger and we would go on weekly night rides and “street ride”. I never pulled off any amazing tricks, but riding in that focused environment and watching the guys inadvertently taught me a lot about bike handling.  

Sugar Showdown- Duthie Hill 2013
Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Always! I would love to improve my single wheel skills – longer more controlled manuals and stoppies.
You gotta focus on your improvements – not the skills you wish you had. The challenges never cease. If you want to improve on a specific skill, practice it in a controlled environment if possible.
Otherwise put some extra protection on and session a section of trail with a friend that provides the technical riding aspect you’re feeling inadequate at. 

What do you love about riding your bike?
What’s not to love? 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Dirt Jumper – SuperCo.  Handmade in SLC, UT. They no longer produce frames, but I love the geometry and feeling of the bike so much that I don’t want to ride anything else. While in business SuperCo was the most supportive company not only to me, but to women riders in general. 
Slopestyle – Specialized P Slope. It’s the best tool for the job!
BMX – Verde Spectrum & FBM Steadfast. I ride the Verde in the parks and the FBM on dirt.  20” wheels work better on skate park transitions in my opinion. I dirt jump the 20” sometimes, but you have to be really “on-it” and precise.
Trail Bike – Specialized Stumpjumper EVO. A 150mm bike that provides the best of both worlds – good at ascending and great at descending. It’s very active, has a short rear end, and is extremely playful.
Big Squish Bike – For the last few years I rode a Morewood Kalula, but I just ordered a new Transition TR500 (the Morewood is up for sale fyi). I prefer 170-180mm travel bikes for downhill riding that I can switch back and forth between a single crown and double crown fork depending on the terrain and location. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
Sombrio apparel, IXS protective gear, Deity components, Profile hubs, Schwalbe Tires, Spank rims and Native eyewear.

You work for IMBA as an Instructor Certification Program Manager- tell us about your job and what it entails.
Some of the day to day tasks include planning and organizing certification courses, managing our Instructor Trainers, enhancing and improving the overall program, training materials and curriculum.

What inspired you to get involved and work for IMBA?
When we moved to Colorado ten years ago I took a customer service position with IMBA.  I actually didn’t know much about the organization, but the people there seemed great and I could tell that it was the type of environment I wanted to surround myself with.

Why is IMBA such a valuable asset to the mountain biking communities?
Many reasons, but one would be their available resources. Whatever challenges your community is facing regarding bicycles, another community somewhere else has most likely already faced those challenges. IMBA’s staff is very wide spread and part of the reason for that is to be more effective in communities and grass roots efforts.

Sugar Showdown- Duthie Hill 2013
What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
They are worried about breaking themselves off, and think they are not good enough to do the sport. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
I think we are slowly but surely making progress in this area in past 3-5 years. 
There are many more women’s clubs and special events out there. Making instruction and fun events more accessible to women and girls will inherently bring more females into the sport. 
The hardest part is contacting those females who have an interest in trying the sport, but they aren’t yet connected to the bike industry.

Combining our sport with other action sports like dirt bikes, bmx, snowboarding, surfing, etc., will help give us a broader reach and find those females who already love outdoor sports that offer a taste of adrenalin. This has recently happened on the men’s side of our sport, which a very good sign.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I just don’t want them to miss out on what riding bikes has to offer and I want to share what I’ve learned over the many many years of trial and error. I’ve watched girls become stronger, more confident people through riding bikes and there’s nothing better than knowing that I had a small part in that transformation!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
In junior college not only did I play Volleyball, I sang the national anthem before the start of our games. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Rae Gandolf

I consider myself equal parts veterinarian, mountain biker and artist. I found my passion for all things mtb after reaching the goal of becoming a veterinarian. 

I think that after spending so many years working out my brain, I embraced the physical challenge & adventure of mountain biking. I figure art will play a bigger role in the next phase. Rather than waste time wishing I found biking sooner, I'm just glad I found it!

See what Rae is up to-

When did you first start riding a bike?
I don't remember spending much time on bikes as a kid, but I know I had one- with banana seat. I bought my first hybrid mountain bike for occasional commuting in grad school. 

That endeavor put me on some dirt paths alongside the river, which ignited some deep desire to mountain bike. With no clue of what I was doing, I started what some people might call mountain biking in 2000. 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years? 
While the woods and the exercise were my earliest motivations, I soon learned to appreciate the challenge and sweet reward of accomplishment... and that intoxicating adrenaline rush after tackling something scary. 
Racing inspired me to increase my saddle time exponentially. I admire people who get out and ride several times a week just because they enjoy it, but for me it's setting my sites on a competition that gets me out there rainy days. 

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
I competed the first year I mountain biked, in triathlons to emulate a friend I admired. Within a year I realized the biking part was my favorite and I soon met some mountain bikers, including my now husband, who helped me along that path. I enjoy competing because it drives me to be more fit and continually improve my skills. Further, competitions bring me to new and amazing places and new and lasting friends. It's great to get out among like minded people. 

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
I started out in XC and then added endurance events like La Ruta. I wouldn't trade those grueling experiences for anything, but I've been hooked on DH ever since my mind was blown seeing my first event- pro women racing NORBA nationals on Snowshoe mountain. I enjoy the technical riding and high intensity interspersed with line analysis, sessioning, and socializing. 
Enduro is a fun place in the middle that embodies the type of cross-country trail riding & racing I prefer- pedaling uphill non-tech sections at a cruising pace  then rallying what you have to keep momentum when it counts, and cruising while you relive the bobbles and triumphs with your buddies until the next section.  

What kind of riding is your favorite?
I love what can be done on a DH bike - jumping 50 feet or dropping 10 feet down to flat, but I have to travel for that. With the help of some members of our small mtb club, my husband and I build trails to our liking- enduro friendly with jumps and tech that continue to challenge us. I can session pretty much all day long, pushing back up to try and perfect landings or get more air....that's probably why I also love riding dirt parks or indoor parks like Ray's. I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven when I visited Valmont Bike Park this year! 

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Accomplished but in over my head! 

If you’re nervous what do you do or think to overcome it?
I try to cram the nerves into a pocket and I think about how awesome it's gonna feel after I conquer the section. Then I start pedaling and commit, commit, commit. 

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 went to clipless almost immediately after a brief time on in toe clips. Now I go back and forth (ie. flats for dirt jumping and some off season training, clipless for race season). My advice is don't ever use toe clips and if you want to go clipless, invest in good clips to start. They will make your experience easier and help you to avoid some "clipless moments" like when you fall over because you can't unclip. But then what will you have to laugh about over beers afterward? 

"Ray's indoor mtn bike park has brought so much joy our lives that my husband and I got married there!"
Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
Hahaha! Haha! Ok, I'm not sure a number exists for the amount of biffs I've had! I always try to laugh if it doesn't hurt, if it damages the bike I try to be thankful that it was the bike and not me, if it hurts I try to be thankful that it wasn't more serious and I "pedal it off" when I'm ready, and if it requires medical attention....well I could still use improvement on that one but focusing on the things that I can do when I'm injured definitely helps. 

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love how riding technical terrain forces me to live in the present, and I love the excitement and pure happiness that jumping brings me. I also love when the perfect ride group comes together, creating an awesome social event. 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
1.   Kona Operator carbon- my tried and true DH bike because I have immense respect for the company and the bike.
2.   "Han Solo" a Santa Cruz 5010 that I use for trail riding and enduro racing because it's got fantastic pedal efficiency and  geometry and just enough travel for nasty rock sections and slightly miscalculated landings, and my husband sells them so it's a demo bike.
3.   A Santa Cruz Jackal for dirt jumping and indoor park riding because it is light, has great jump geometry and is set up for single speed.
4.   A Kona Rove cyclocross bike for the occasional pure road rides because it pedals great and is comfortable - I've never gotten comfortable on a road bike.
5.   A Specialized rock hopper hard tail (my first mountain bike). I use it for gravel riding, it doesn't see trail anymore.
6.   A Redline stationery bike with customized handlebars so I can sit more upright and have a mtb posture, because it's completely quiet and girl's gotta get through Ohio winter somehow.
7.   A 26 inch frame transformed into a trampoline bike. I use it to work on aerial awareness and I hope I can flip it one day!
8.   A Bridgestone 26 inch rigid, because it's a funny conversation relic. I call it the "skid bike" and use it to practice skidding down my road and bring it to races to use on my wind trainer for warming up.
9.   I hope to get a slope style bike this year because I'm a spoiled rotten mountain biker and I want the perfect bike for every discipline! 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
#1-3. Seat dropper post - one with a handlebar remote so you don't have to sit down on in order for it to come up (ie. Kind Shock).
#4. Lakes winter shoes- for any trail riding below 40 degrees, helps keep you on the trail all year round!
I'm not sponsored by either one of those! 

Tell us about TheSisterhood of Shred and how you became involved?
I have made some great friends all over the country through mountain biking. Some of the closest were involved with the development of the Sisterhood of Shred and so kindly embraced me! 

What has been the most rewarding thing since joining The Sisterhood?
Kat Sweet came out to instruct an IMBA course here in Ohio with me and I got to show her around some of our trails. She really enjoyed the trails and had just as much fun filming me for a project. It was so much fun to not only to ride "my" trails with her but to feel like our trails and my riding were worthy of her getting the video camera out!

Why is The Sisterhood so important to you?
Being a female mountain biker, never mind pro downhiller, in Ohio has its unique challenges. Aside from the obvious (we have no mountains), women who can relate to my passion are few and far between. Just knowing that there are these incredible ladies who understand me and are only a text away really helps me to stay confident and focused rather than questioning my pursuits and dreams. There's always someone out there to say "Go for it, I believe in you!" and that's amazing. 

What changes to your life have come from being involved with such a positive group of women?
Getting these rad women in my life has opened so many doors through networking. I wouldn't be on the Kona Super Grass Roots Team without this community or have landed an incredible job this year as an Instructor Trainer for IMBA's Instructor Certification Program. 

What has it been like to learn and ride from other women vs. men (being mountain biking is so men-based?) What are the positives that you've had from female coaching/encouragement?
My first women's event was at Ray's MTB park several years ago. The experience was unexpected, mind opening and unmatchable. There is this unique energy that forms when women all get together for the sake of riding, having fun and improving- we have immense influence one another and the capacity to reach our potential expands dramatically.  
I owe the brunt of my technical improvement to a gifted male coach, Shaums March. That said, there is something extra about having a great female coach. Mountain biking is a different experience for men than it is for women and that's something a female can innately understand. 

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking.
Let's face it, mountain biking isn't the sexiest sport and plenty of women just don't want to look sweaty or get dirty or risk injury. For anyone who can get past that and has even the smallest desire to try, that's a mountain biker in the making. After they give it a try and get interested, lack of riding buddies is a big limiting factor for women who are in the early phases and not quite ready to join the local ride group. Theoretically we are working to help change that. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
More coverage of women's divisions in competitions would give women something to aspire to or simply show it as something women do! You can't come up with the idea to start mountain biking unless something sparks it.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
The wonderful things mountain biking has brought to my life make me want to share it with others. Does everyone love to give advice to people about something they feel that they struggled through the hard way and learned so much in the process about how to make it easier for the next person? That's why I particularly enjoy coaching women, I feel like I can help them to get farther faster (figuratively and literally!). 

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I'm published in areas such as eye ulcers in rhinos and electrocardiograms in brown bears.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Adventures of the First Lady- Lessons in being Rad!

The week has been pretty typical. Build some bikes that were ordered in. Work on repairs (Well, Travis does!) the generals. Repairs ARE getting done, slowly but surely. There is a daily tag row that I'm calling to inform people that their bikes are ready to be picked up along with the tag row of Call When Close bikes.

Some website updating in, oh boy, some closeout bikes weren't removed after they were sold. Gads. After the Spring Sale, there is still a bit of catching up to do.

Our monthly newsletter is slated to be sent out on Monday the 27th! At some point I'll do a blog one, but figure that would be best to do after the Time Trials. (Which will be talked about!)

Let's talk about some of the fun things we're bringing into the shop to spur forward the women's off-road riding! We have two brands of baggy shorts available now that I've tried out and really like: Race Face Piper shorts along with the Specialized Andorra Pro shorts. Both excellent- the Specialized shorts also come with a removable chamois liner! PLUS? They are on sale.

Piper Shorts:

Piper shorts are available in turquoise and black. Price- $79.99

Specialized Andorra Pro Shorts:

Now, let's talk about the FWD Rides!

The first week was completely spontaneous and wonderful, it was really great to see some rad women out enjoying themselves. It was a fantastic group! Positive, supportive, and encouraging. It was fine that it wasn't "race pace" and that will open doors for others to join, for sure.

Our second weekend was a bit exhilarating! Kristin, Steph, and I chose to brave the potential weather and try our chances with the trails. It was a good lesson in learning to maneuver and maintain traction when trails were a little more on the slick side. You could definitely say it was something for more intermediate riders- I called it our "Advanced Class" for the day. It was what I considered good practice for Time Trials, getting myself readjusted to riding trails that were not dry.

Note- we made sure that if we rode, we would not be causing trail damage. No ruts were being left behind.

Towards the end of the ride is when the rain really started to come down! I have not been so wet and muddy during a ride since last season. The wind picked up, especially on the road- we quickly had enough and made our way back to the shop vs. extending the ride.

Bikes were rinsed off and chains re-lubed. After being out in that much rain/water my chain sounded TERRIBLE! Good reminder to those who get caught in rain or ride when it's wet- check the chain!
 Then supper and beverages at T-Bocks ended the evening nicely.

 So far there has been positive feedback from having a set evening for weekly rides- and we look forward to seeing more women on two wheels!

Let's talk about the Time Trials-

Decorah has had a Time Trial race for 25 years now, this year is the 25th anniversary, which makes it extra special!
Last year when I started mountain biking I made the decision to attempt the time trials next year (we're to next year already!) Originally the Time Trials were to be my first competitive event, but some friendly peer pressure had me participating in the PWC. However, this will be a different ball of wax...and my impression is that it will feel more "race like."

Of course I'm going into this with not really having "trained"....I'm not disciplined enough for training, but I'm determined enough to practice riding things that challenge me. I discovered prior to the race that I am able to climb the second switchback on Little Big Horn, something that challenged me last season and I accomplished maybe 2 times?

I won't go into super details about the Time Trials as they deserve their own post. However, we so greatly appreciated the support from our friends for being closed on Saturday. Travis hasn't been in a Time Trials event since 2004 or so. It was really great to have him along behind as my I guess you could say, rolling coaching.

I placed 3rd overall out of 9 fantastic women! As a rider starting her second season, AND riding flats, 3rd was completely unexpected. And talk was that it was possibly the most women who attended a TT event, ever!

It was my first Time Trial, so I will say without a doubt it's been my most fun one so far! Our friend Lucas brightened up the day with his The Flash body paint job. (Yeah, there might've been a part to play in that!) and was rewarded nicely for bringing fun to the Time Trials!
Also, seeing friendly faces that I don't often get to see and the huge amount of support in general just humbles me. We really are lucky.

You'll see more of Decorah Bicycles at the Time Trials from here on out!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Progression of Self and Second Race Jitters

Time is ticking and we are waiting for when we can go register for the Decorah Time Trials.

My riding outfit is chosen, thankfully the weather seems to be cooperating and I will not have to don multiple layers to keep myself semi-warm or a sad attempt at staying dry. The trails might even be pretty alright, but just in case we have "digger" tires on my bike to aid with traction.

The ONLY expectation I have with today is to go out, have fun, and do my best. I have no idea what I will accomplish in terms of climbs. I might be one of two people using flats as well (Josie don't care!...said in same context of that Honeybadger hooplah.)

One question that a friend asked me yesterday is something I feel is good to talk about
 "What made you feel like you could and should give it a shot even though you're not a super-fast, hardcore mountain biker"

You know, I'm not entirely sure.

This was supposed to be my FIRST ever race. However, back in January or February some guy had come into the shop (super nice, by the way) and inadvertently peer pressured me into joining the PWC. As a "new generation woman mountain biker" I feel it's almost my local duty to attend mountain bike events. Competitive streak or not. (Which, my competitive streak is pretty damn small.) I can get riled up, but ultimately I'm not there to "win" I'm there to bring more women into the equation. Something that I know I can do.

PWC was a wonderful event and I experienced the kindness of our local friends who helped me out during some struggles. I met new people, who at first I wasn't sure what I thought of- but ultimately I found them to be rad people and my worries went away.

I'm still very new to the whole "race culture" and I'm sure that there are those who would see me and think I should just stay home. I look at it like mountain biking- I was not a natural. It took me months of hard work and practice to get remotely competent at it. Racing is something I'm not a "natural" with, either. I shouldn't even judge; can I say much of anything when my first race was on half-melted snow?

I'm nervous. I'm excited. I think part of it is a. I have not ridden an event when it's not had snow and b. I have a fascination with the (I guess you could call it) culture.

 There are going to be people that I will see maybe 1-2 more times this year, then it'll be seeing them again EXPERIENCE.
next year with the races. It's almost like a holiday when you get to see the "cool" relatives; even tho there are individuals out there literally racing, there are others who are out to simply experience the

Did I ever think I'd fit in with a sub-culture of biking? Ha! I didn't think I could really ever learn how to mountain bike.
So I guess it shows how much some boundless determination and bullheadedness can get you.

I don't know how I managed to get accepted into a circle of uniquely eclectic people, but you know what? I'm not going to argue. I've been waiting for them probably most of my life and I just didn't quite realize it until now.

Ride on!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Theresa Nelson

I live in Southern California where we can cycle year round. Although I work a full time job 8 to 5 during the week, I feel a weekend is not really a weekend without a bike ride in it.

When did you first start riding a bike?
My parents belong to a cycling club in the late 60’s and my husband’s parents belong to a cycling club in the mid 70’s. I grew up being taught that a bicycle is not a toy but a mode of transportation. One of my husband’s and my first dates was on a bicycle to a picnic in the park.

In the early 80’s we were trying to find a form of exercise we could do together and we found cycling was something we stuck with. We joined the Orange County Wheelmen in about 1985 and it became our social life. We’ve been members ever since and our children were raised as part of the club. The oldest was riding in a trailer behind our tandem at 5 weeks old and the 2nd one at 2 weeks old. By the time they were 4 they were on the back of our tandems and we did many rides as a family with two tandems until the girls were into their late elementary school years. In the early 90’s we did our club’s annual Amtrak century by riding the first half on our singles and picking up our girls and tandems at the lunch stop handed off from our parents and rode the 2nd half with the girls.

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

Cycling is social and it’s an activity that people with different strengths or skill can do together. My husband and I found we could exercise together and spend time together easily. We never “dreaded” going for a ride.

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
I did a few cycling time trials and club races in the early days, but most of my cycling events have been century rides. I was an active Cat 3 USCF road official (usually chief judge) for a period of 7 years and did it to support the sport. Promoters loved hiring my husband and I because they could get two experienced officials and only have to pay fuel costs for one and we worked so well together. My husband and I were high school swimmers, and in 2011 we both needed to do a lot of work travel so we started running because we could keep up our conditioning while traveling. So the obvious next step was tackling a triathlon. We have competed a couple of years doing sprint distance and finished up this year with our first Olympic distance and have a half on the schedule for next year. However, I don’t consider myself really a triathlete, I think of myself as a road cyclist who does tris.

What kinds of cycling do you enjoy and why? (road, gravel, etc.)
If it’s a bike, I enjoy it. Most of my miles are on road, but I love my mountain bike and have done some touring in New Zealand and France on hybrids on gravel. We were avid road cyclists for several years and when mountain bikes first came out in the late 80’s, I remember getting my first mountain bike and being so excited like a kid again. How nice it was to not have to feel like you have to kit up to ride and being able to ride on dirt and up and over curbs. That first night I took my mountain bike into my bedroom and parked it next to my bed so I would wake up next to it in the morning.

Have you had a bike accident or a situation that was challenging? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
Hmmm… the closest I’ve had are friends that have crashed, and it does get me thinking, what if. I’m a firm believer that the more miles your ride and experience on the bike will help you handle tricky situations. The more miles I have in a season, I find it easier it is to do the more technical mountain trails. You no longer have to steer but your mind just tells the bike where to go. I am a very fast descender, but I trust my bike and become part of the bike on the descent. I always try to keep my bikes in top condition to avoid issues. Probably the toughest physical/mental/emotional challenge I had was the Ride around the Bear Century in Southern California - 100 miles with over 9000 feet of elevation. I had a great group of friends to train with but I knew I was a slow climber and knew it was going to take a lot of hours to complete the ride. But I made a plan to have a friend personal sag me after the cut off and just kept moving. I did overheat and dehydrate at one point, but was able to get some cold fluid in me and finish strong (great downhill).

You are involved with Team Tough Chik, how did you hear about the team and why did you join?
We had cut back on the riding when our girls were in their high school years, but when we decided to get back involved on a more frequent basis, I noticed that there were no longer the couples and women in our bicycle club and it had turned into a bunch of old men. I decided right then I needed to help get women riding. I knew that if I drove home after work it was going to be too easy to not get back out of the house to get my rides in, so I planned rides after work close to my work. One of my girlfriends from work wanted to join and other women asked about it and before I knew it I was mentoring a group of beginning women cyclists who had never really done an exercise program before.
These women were very nervous riding and most of them started on mountain bikes or hybrids. We started on the bicycle trails through Irvine in the middle of March and by the end of summer they were riding on the streets and increasing in distance. Most of them had transitioned to road bikes. We had fun on our rides, sometimes stopping for Frozen Yogurt and celebrating with a champagne toast for any of the women that got a new bike. That first year three of us did the club Amtrak century. The 2nd year I trained a group of 5 beginning women to complete the century and the next year I helped another OCW club member doing a series of Saturday rides for women to train them for the century. That year we had 27 women join the club. Many of these Saturday riders also started attending my Monday/Wednesday evening rides to get in their miles. My husband has been supportive of our group since day one and we consider him our personal Rico Sauvé.

During this time I was Google searching for cute clothing that featured cycling and stumbled across the Tough Chik web site. I read about the team mission and knew it was the team for me and will be starting my 4th year as a team member. I’ve met many women across the US and the love the camaraderie and support the team members provide each other. In April 2014, Team Tough Chik did So Cal Ragnar and we had team members come from Canada, Chicago, New York, Texas as well as our California girls. Imagine 12 women stuck in a van together for 30 hours that had never met in person before. This was a true example of the TTC mission come to life.

Why has being involved with a group been beneficial for you?
Whether it’s the OCW club, my Chicks that Ride group, or Team Tough Chik, being involved with a group makes it social. You have people that like to do similar things out together exercising. So many of the cycling race teams are about elite and podium wins that a person like me would not fit in. The groups I’m involved in welcome all levels of riders and seek to encourage one another instead of just breeding competitiveness. Also when you make a plan to go on a ride with someone, it keeps you accountable to show up so you can continue to work on your goals.

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love that it’s an activity I can do with my husband and we can talk and experience things together. I’ve often told people that since I’ve joined the OCW, I’ve seen more of Orange County on my bike that I ever will see from a car. Riding makes me smile and I’ve met a lot of friends through cycling. I taught swimming for many years and teaching adults was the most rewarding because of how excited they were when they got over their fear of the water. Mentoring women cyclists is similar experience because they realize no matter what shape they are in, they can become an athlete and be successful and enjoy a physical activity. Accomplishing these kinds of goals helps them be successful in other areas of their life. My favorite part of my ride is who I share it with.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I’m really good at getting children to learn to ride a bike. (Or coaching parents on how to teach them).

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Well….you’ve heard of the theory of N+1? When we first started seriously road riding I borrowed my mother-in-law’s road bike. My husband wasn’t sure I would stick to it and didn’t want to invest in a good bike for me until he was sure. When one Saturday, he really didn’t feel like riding and I said I was going anyway, he decided it was time and bought me (with his annual bonus that year) a professional Italian Steel Faggin frame and had it built up with Campy components. 
There were no women’s specific frames back then and I bought the smallest road frame they made. Supposedly this was the bike that the Italian Olympic team rode in the 1984 Olympics. I loved that bike and still have it and will bring it out for Vintage road rides. I rode many centuries on that bike for over 20 plus years. We had several tandems during the middle years that we rode together and with our children. Then when we started riding seriously again in about 2007, I realized it was time to get modern and bought a used WSD Trek aluminum bike and switched to Shimano components (still feels weird)
Less than a year later, my grown daughter decided she wanted to join my women’s group and train for a century so I bought another used bike, a year old Carbon Fiber (metallic pink & black) Felt ZW2 with Dura Ace. It was in immaculate condition. My husband converted it to Ultegra DI2 electronic shifting and it continues to be my race bike. Every time I get back from a ride, I tell my husband, “I love my bike”. Just picking it up to load it in the car makes me smile. That year my daughter and I rode the Amtrak century together. This year Diamond Back sponsored Team Tough Chik and I was able to get a pro bike deal on an Arien 5 with DI2. This is more of an endurance frame and I use it for century rides and longer training. It has a larger gear for better climbing than my Felt. I also have a Raliegh Eva 29’er mountain bike. It’s my 4th mountain bike but I’ve given away all the others now – had to make room in the garage. I consider these my “play” bikes and love that they can get me really out in nature.

I also have my "city bike" a 3 speed mixte frame with panniers and a basket. I use it for ALL my errands within 7 miles if home. Giant Via. Love it! We live close to two malls and never have to worry about parking.

Hubby complains because when we go on a camping trip I always want to take two bikes, one for errands and the other for fitness (either mountain or road).

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I love my Garmin 500. When I started cycling we had wired computers which only really kept track of miles. With my Garmin I can track everything and analyze the heck out of it on Strava if I want. I would recommend women invest in a really good chamois and find a saddle that really works for you. I have a Selle Italia Diva on all my road bikes. I never have an issue and can go for miles. I rode on a man’s narrow race saddle for years and it’s really true, you do NOT need a wide saddle to be comfortable.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling?
I think women are intimidated by the male dominated sport and men just don’t take women seriously. I once asked my husband if he thought men would think it’s silly that my bike is pink, and his reply was, “Not once they see how you ride it, they will be impressed and it doesn’t matter what color the bike is.” Of course I learned to ride fast and hard with the men in the early days and that muscle memory comes back pretty easily. But by having a group of women to ride with can be encouraging and make it easier to get out and just ride.

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
I believe there is a current movement by the industry that is making changes and recognizing this group of consumers. Continuing to mentor and educate women will only help to change the next generation of women to not even think of it as a man’s sport. I’ve never thought of it as a gender specific sport and I hope that we can continue to set examples so that women are no longer intimidated.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Working with women who never thought they could ride “that” far and each week do their longest ride ever. Watching them get stronger and being able to climb the whole hill without stopping. Watching them training and finishing a century but not have that be the final event. Having them come back out in the weeks after the century and continue to ride. These all inspire me to keep encouraging new riders.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Adventuring By Bike- Chelsea Hartmann

Chelsea contacted me via Wheelwomen Switchboard to see if I would post about her bike riding adventure! This will be a 2-part series, a before trip/after.

"It will be a 60 day 3,600ish mile trip from Portland Oregon to Schenectady New York. I am going alone, and I have never done anything like this before."

Chelsea is embarking on this trip as a commuter who bikes 12.5 miles a day and it's her main form of transportation.

I am 24, with a house, two dogs, rabbits and a boyfriend. I have a love of travel and of all things requiring yarn (knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving etc.). 

For the last three years, since graduating college, I have worked in the energy efficiency sector working on programs that reduce demand for electricity. 
I am very close with my family, who are all both excited and worried for me, and I have a few close friends that I enjoy spending time with.

When did you first start riding a bike?
I have been riding a bike on and off for my whole life. I remember learning how to ride without training wheels on my street when I was five or six and crashing my bike in the park because of some sand on the path (it was a bright green GIANT boys bike). I road through middle school, but stopped for a few years when I was in high school and college. When I moved back to Portland after college and saved up some money from my first office job, the first thing I got myself was a really nice bike. I have been riding consistently since then.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I have always been rather environmentally conscious and I think that has something to do with it, but mostly I just enjoy seeing the world at 10 to 20 miles per hour. Usually I can get where I need to go faster on my bike than by bus, and driving is expensive, so I tend not to unless it’s a long trip or I need to take my dogs.

You are a commuter, what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
As a commuter, there are three general groups of challenges: the health/maintenance of myself and my bike, the weather and other road users. When I am feeling lazy or no so hot, I usually just make myself ride anyway because it usually helps me feel better. When my bike is having issues is usually when I have a harder time. I am learning a lot about bike mechanics as I prep for my trip, but often, I stop by my local shop to get their input before doing much fiddling. Regarding the weather, I am pretty lucky living in Oregon. The weather is usually pretty mild in the valley, sometimes you get some high speed winds coming from the Gorge or some really heavy rain, but a hot shower and a cup of vanilla chai usually solve that at the end of the trip. I always carry my rain gear with me though just in case and I slow down when it’s wet for safety. 

Other road users tend to be the most challenging to negotiate. We have some pretty good bike infrastructure here, but we still have a number of drivers that don’t respect cyclists’ right to the road and a number of pedestrians who are unaware of their surroundings. I try my best to ride in a very predictable manner, stick to roads that have bike lanes or are designated as low speed shared roadways and keep an eye out for pedestrians or drivers acting erratically.

What do you love about riding your bike?
For me, riding is a time to think and observe. I love the quiet hum of the pavement under my wheels and the simplicity of riding that allows me to think about life and the state of the world. I get to see a lot more of what is around me when I am riding than I do in a car and I love that too. I enjoy the diversity of biking (fun, transportation, exploration, exercise, community interaction). Biking makes me feel connected to my community and the world around me.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have two bikes currently, a Focus Cayo Evo carbon fiber road bike and a Liv Alight aluminum commuter.

My Focus is super light-weight black and gray with blue accents, paired down to the minimum of water bottle cages and an under seat bag for tubes and patches. This was my big pot college splurge and it has seen me over many miles of road riding. Because of my 5’4” stature, I was able to get the extra small frame for a steal and the bike just feels like an extension of me when I get on it. I couldn’t ask for a better fit when it comes to frame geometry without getting something custom made.

I used to commute on my Focus, but when I bought my house last year and my commute stretched to 6 miles each way, I invested in the Liv Alight for comfort and hauling. I did some research on affordable commuters and found the Alight at my local shop. After a test ride, it was just asking to come home with me. The Alight is white with teal accents and has been modified almost beyond recognition for the tour. The wheels have been replaced with a dynamo hub in the front and a Velo Orange grand cru freewheel touring hub in the back to make changing spokes a breeze. I have racks on the front and back plus a Portland Design Works basket on the handle bars. I have added GP5 grips for multiple hand positions and a Brooks B-17s saddle for comfort.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I love my Icebreaker mid layers and socks. I have a 200 weight half zip and a 260 weight hooded full zip sweater that get me through any weather. I also cannot say enough good things about their socks. I have had my two pairs for years now and they are still going strong and keeping my toes warm.  I am not too picky about my gear as long as it works, but I have to say that the PDW handlebar basket with the roll top dry bag is a huge convenience. I put all of my essentials in the roll top and clip it to the bag, add a net and you have space to hold your rain gear and a spare water bottle plus the built in U-Lock holder. It makes things super easy to access.

You are planning a 60 day trip that will be around 3,600 miles (Portland, Oregon to Schenectady, NY) what inspired your decision and destination?
It was a bit of a perfect storm of events that lead to me deciding to take this trip. The first thing was I had to miss the two week family vacation to Bolivia because I didn’t have time off of work. The second was that I outgrew my job. The third was reading “The Happiness of Pursuit” and days after finishing reading that, I got the invitation to my cousins wedding in Schenectady in June of this year and the next thing I knew, I was starting to imagine quitting my job and riding across the country. I contemplated talking myself out of it, but I finally came to the decision that if I didn’t take this trip, I would regret it for the rest of my life. So I told a few people, and then I told everyone and I started getting things ready.

What are your initial feelings when you think about your solo touring ride? Exited? Nervous?
When I started planning I was much more excited than I was nervous. Maybe because the reality of it all hadn’t sunk in yet or because I was yet to endure months of people telling me how worried they were for me and bringing up all of the obstacles I would face along the way. Now that I am less than two months away from departure, I am much more confident in my success and the nervousness is much more real but there is a determination to succeed now that I didn’t have before and that is what I cultivate and focus on.

For the initial planning stages, what are you doing to ensure you are prepared as much as possible?
I have had two people who have really helped me get my bike ready, a friend, Justin, that works at a local bike shop helped me sort out a lot of the modifications I would want to make and taught me bike maintenance in his off hours in exchange for food and beer. Lead, my local shop owner, has helped me with implementation, maintenance issues on the weekends, and generally just being very excited for me. As for the camping gear and packing lists, there has been a lot of online research, lots of questions to REI staff, and just questions to everyone who might have some input or insight. I have two short overnights planned to test all my gear and to determine what gear I really need and what I can probably leave at home.

Do you have any goals for your trip?
The big goal is to make it to Schenectady with a few days to spare so I can find a dress for the wedding and get cleaned up and rested. Ideally this will be done without taking a greyhound bus or Amtrak train. Other than that, I want to figure out what is next in life for me and just enjoy the views.

How will you spend your overnights?
Most nights will be spent camping. I have a whole tent set up with an inflatable backpacking pad and sleeping bag. But there will be some nights spent with friends, family, or friends of friends/family. I am also looking at using the website to find a place or two to stay as I cross states where I don’t have any connections.

Any parting words/thoughts/suggestions for those looking to do a long-distance touring ride?
Go for it! Take the trip. Talking to people as I prepare for this ride, I have heard a lot of “That’s on our list” and “I wish I had done that before having kids”, life happens when you aren’t looking so make sure to make time to take the trips you want, be that a bike tour or a trip to Europe. When you start crunching the numbers, it’s not as expensive as you might imagine, especially if you are willing to make a few small sacrifices both day to day and on the trip.

For me, the biggest thing is/was keeping the mental fortitude to not quit. 

As the departure date gets closer, I doubt my ability to do it more and more, but April 14th will dawn, and I will get on my bike and I will ride some number of miles be it the idealized 70 or merely 40. And then I will do it again the next day, and the next. It’s my adventure, so if I make it a week in and decide it isn’t the trip for me, that’s ok, but if it is, and I make it, awesome.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Outdoor Research Clairvoyant Jacket: A Product Review

Right before winter Travis invested in the Clairvoyant Jacket from Outdoor Research for me for more of a 3-season coat. Originally, Travis was under the impression it was a bit more "coat" than raincoat. Either way, on my end of the spectrum I didn't have a raincoat that was suitable for more or less 3-season wear. I have a wonderful coat from Patagonia that has a rain/windproof outer shell, but it's longer and much more suitable for the colder months.
I wanted something that wouldn't be so long when it was warm out, and the Clairvoyant jacket was just the ticket!

The jacket is lightweight, which seems like it would not retain any sort of warmth whatsoever.

Being that it is waterproof, people have said to look for something that is waterproof and breathable due to the fact you can be without airflow and get warm.

The very first test ride with this jacket was on a November evening, temps weren't too cold, but there was some light snow falling. With mountain biking, less is more when it comes to layers sometimes and I thought it would be an ideal time to try the jacket out. Especially for the water resistant aspect.

That evening I opened up the two side pockets to essentially "vent" as I had gotten rather warm. A jacket so lightweight really kept me toasty as I climbed our hills!

The hand pockets are positioned to be above a hip belt or harness- in my case, above the waist strap of my Camelbak. This is handy if you store anything in your pockets- you'll have much easier access.

The zippers are water resistant, which are great for keeping you dry inside and out. They are a bit of a beefy zipper, so sometimes you may find you have to work a little to zip pockets up, etc. Not a problem.

The night of the ride I had quite a tumble off my bike, resulting in my somersaulting partway down a hill. There were sticks/shrubbery, and larger branches in my way- and

I worried that my coat had met its match. Darn it. It's not an inexpensive coat (GORE-TEX).
No damage done! Really, it was pretty darn amazing. So let that be a testament to say that the coat does seem durable.

There is a zippered Napoleon pocket- which for me doesn't give a whole lot of usefulness other than money storage if I'd like to not have items near my sides (just use pockets for my hands.) I don't have anything like an MP3 player or device to play music with. So it ultimately is a key/id/money storage pocket!
You can see from the photo that it's more of a mesh-lined pocket. If I'm empty and starting to get too warm, I'll open the pockets to aid with air flow. The two hand pockets are similar in design.

The cuffs are easy to adjust with their velcro tabs. You also have a drawcord hem and drawcord on the back of your hood. Gloves on? No problem.

The hood is designed to go over your helmet, but I actually wore it under my helmet recently. Let's be real, I'd been out on the trails and had gotten soaked- the helmet liner was doing to be wet. It fit very comfortably under my helmet, I had no issues with sizing/adjustment. There is a wire brim in the hood that I find very handy. At first I found it a little odd, but I've realized that it completely solves the floppy-hood problem that arises with many jackets.

Spring is here and I've worn the jacket on the cooler days commuting to work. I love how it cuts down on the wind blowing through me as well as provides water protection when it rains.

It's easily stuffed into my bag when I don't need it, so I just leave it in my bag for those "just in case" moments. It also has enough coverage so when I'm leaned over slightly on my bike I'm not experiencing any "back gap."

Without putting it through a torrential downpour (yet), I will say that this jacket is definitely worth the investment. It's not tight and fits comfortably over a sweatshirt when you need added warmth.

I would recommend this jacket for those who want something that is very functional as an article of clothing for on or off the bike wear.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Product Review: Race Face Piper Shorts

Let me be honest, I am a sucker for trying out new bike-related clothes. I know that a new pair of shorts doesn't automatically make me a more skilled rider, but there is a psychological benefit to feeling like you look good on and off the bike!

Recently I was able to try out two short products from Race Face, courtesy of Travis at Decorah Bicycles- the Piper and Khyber shorts.

This review will be on the Piper short which comes in two colors: black and turquoise
Available at Decorah Bicycles for $79.99

First impressions of the short:
Soft fabric!
Sometimes you have shorts that have a fabric that makes you feel like you're wearing a brillo pad. Bending and flexing my legs, I knew I wouldn't have chafing or discomfort from potential "break in" time.

Lightweight and breathable. These shorts will be ideal for warm temps and more humid days. During the cooler months they will be fine to wear over top of lightweight (not thick) tights.
Made with InterFlow fabric, a combination of nylon and spandex the shorts claim rip stop and quick drying properties.

I'm a bit clumsy with mountain biking sometimes, but on my first trial run with the shorts I didn't fall. However, my friend had a tumble and her shorts suffered no damage whatsoever. (I'm not talking epic proportions of tumbles downhill, but you could say sticks/shrubbery, and possibly rocks could be factored into our terrain.)

With mountain biking I prefer having baggies on vs. straight up lycra shorts. I like the extra fabric that could potentially save my upper legs from being scratched, scraped, or otherwise dinged up. I do not want to wear fabric that I feel could be easily torn. I also look to see if the baggies will snag the saddle. I rode in these shorts comfortably the entire time without being tripped up by saddle snags. YEAH!

I'm also a person who will wear clothes for years as long as they are durable- that is key. I ride a lot, I wash items a lot, I want everything to last as long as possible.

I'm a huge fan of waist adjustors, all of my shorts need some sort of adjustment- I'd consider myself athletic in build. Muscular legs, thigh/hip/butt- not large numbers, but typically a 26/27 waist is what I need for jeans. I feel my torso is pretty much non-existent to a point. This also means I dislike waistbands that go up too high and make me feel I'm bending over a bar.
(Short torso/long legs and the inability to wear skinny jeans unless they are jegging-style material due to calves.)

When I put on the shorts I looked for tabs, there were not any to be found. However, the shorts fit fine?! The Piper shorts are built with a Retract waistband system that auto-adjusts up to fit your waistline. This also allows you some wiggle room for post-ride eats and beverages without worry of button busting.
I've not worn an "auto-adjust" waistband short before, so I was a bit skeptical on how these would work. Let me tell you, I have no complaints. For one thing, without having velcro tabs I eliminated the annoying "jersey sticking to the tab" issue that can crop up with one of my most favorite pair of shorts. With the area I ride in there are a lot of hill climbs. Not once did I feel like the short would potentially fall, granted I'm used to being able to get a tighter fit around the waist- I wasn't uncomfortable. The waistband itself was very comfortable. I didn't feel like I was wearing a girdle.

My friend who tried the shorts the same day I did has a different body build than I do. Per reviews she decided to give them a go as they are a stretchy fabric which basically fits to you. She had no issues with the shorts either, and enjoyed them immensely.

Point- if you have wider hips/thighs and have a butt you will probably like these shorts a lot because of their ability to stretch and not feel like they will split seams. If you have more of a waist and are in-between sizes, you should find these shorts to be comfortable and not restrictive.

Note- These shorts do not come with a chamois liner short. Wear your favorite! (Some may choose to not wear liner shorts.) However you roll, you'll look amazing on or off the bike. I appreciate shorts that make my butt look good!

Zippered fly with snap closure. No velcro keeping things covered- I am a huge fan of upgraded shorts that come with zippers.

Zippered pockets- because zippers ensure your items like money, a key, etc. are contained and not going to fall out because your velcro closure wasn't completely shut.

Soft brushed inner waistband- nothing harsh or uncomfortable about the waistband at all. Sometimes stitching can aggravate the skin- no irritation here!

Zippered side cargo pocket- because it's awesome to have pockets with zippers. Not everyone wears a Camelbak, so having more storage is a bonus.

Zippers have zipper pullers to assist you with opening/closing your pockets without having to remove your gloves.

Double reinforced seams mean these shorts are durable and will not fall apart after two wears. (I have not had a pair of shorts fall apart, yet. however, additional stitching is always a bonus.) I love products that can handle tumbles without having to worry they will tear instantly.

Would I recommend these shorts? Yes! I don't consider myself super picky, but at the same time I spend a lot of time mountain biking- so I ultimately am. I have worn several pairs of baggies. These are up in my top 5.

Baggies are my short of choice when I'm out on the trails, and these are definitely comfortable enough for me to enjoy wearing them off the bike. Plus? I love how they hug my butt. (Not too little or too much. Just right!) The length is nice too. I'm one that prefers to have shorts that hit around the knees (or slightly below).

So stop on in at Decorah Bicycles and try on a pair of these shorts! They are durable, soft, self-adjusting, and figure flattering for many shapes. PLUS extra protection against those branches and shrubbery on the trails vs. lycra- you will not go wrong with a pair of Race Face Piper shorts for your summer off-road riding.