Monday, June 29, 2015

Women in Bike Shops Series: Grace Pooley

Here's a shot from BicycleSPACE's
photographer for a Light n Motion promo shoot we did,
that's my Surly
I'm an environmental chemistry student that also loves bicycles! 
I am a saleswoman and I also write for the blog about products & personal experiences (Click to View Blog!)

You work at BicycleSPACE- tell us about the shop and what you do-
Our shop is one of America's best 100 bicycle shops and we've won Best Bike shop in DC several years in a row now. My favorite part about our shop is how community oriented it is, we hold weekend rides every weekend and sponsor fun events around the DC area for everyone to participate in. We also hold free mechanic classes so our customers can learn how to work on their own bicycles.

Are there other women employed at the shop you work at?
Yes! We have two phenomenal women mechanics and I think (including myself) four saleswomen. Our comm. director is also a lady!

Why do you feel women are hesitant to get involved with the cycling industry?
It's been male-dominated for so long... When I first started at my first shop in College Park, I was the only woman and it was definitely an intimidating experience/environment until I began to learn the routes and actually have a concrete knowledge of the industry. At my first shop, I worked both sales and minimal-mechanics.

What inspired you to get involved with the cycling industry?
Simply put? My love for cycling. I adore riding bikes and I used my bike as a commuter so at 17 yo I wanted to get a summer job, so I applied to my local bike shop. And now it's history.

What do you feel could change for more women to seek employment in the cycling industry?
I think having more women already working in the industry will allow more women to join the industry. Haha... But really, having a more welcoming and nurturing environment would be helpful. 

What are some challenges you've faced with working in sales?
Haven't had many in recent times, but during my first gig at a bicycle shop I did face some sexism from customers who wanted to speak to a man instead of me... it was about something as simple as a flat fix too.

At the previous shop you worked at, you did basic maintenance- tell us about what you did-
Basic maintenance mainly included brake pad installation/adjustments, cable/housing installation/routing, and flat fixes. But I did learn the basics of a tune up for a little while, although I wasn't professionally required for that knowledge.

What are some basics in terms of maintenance or basic upkeep that you feel would be good for women to know how to do themselves? (ex. learn to read tire pressure, etc.)
Reading tire pressure is the most basic thing any cyclist should do, man or woman.
Flat fixes. Everyone should learn that - BicycleSPACE even has a free class for it!
Here's the Summer 2014 BicycleSPACE employee photo!
Why are women so vital to the cycling industry?
Obviously because we make up half the world population!

How can bike shops make women feel more welcome (as customers or employees)?
Just don't be condescending or judgmental. A good shop is a shop that treats all of its customers and employees as valuable members of the cycling community.

Do you feel your presence at the shop is a positive draw for other women?
I believe so, yes. I've had many women customers gravitate towards me (or another woman employee) before the men as a safe place to talk bicycles. We also provide a reliable, relate-able source of cycling knowledge for cycling specific topics. 

What are some of the things you’ve learned since working at the shop?
Everything, except how to ride a bike. That involves good communication skills, how to sell a bicycle, 

Tell us about your personal bike(s)!
I have a beautiful steel, sparkly red Burley road bike named Kenz, she was my first bike-shop bike and I love her tremendously! My daily commuter is the dark blue Surly Cross Check, disguised as an 8-speed with full fenders and front/rear racks and a lovely red Brooks saddle. I also share a Santana Rio tandem with my boyfriend (who also works at a local bike shop!) and that's an awesome ride too. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I always recommend anything by Chrome - I own their shoes, bags, jackets, hoodies etc... I'm basically sponsored by them. Also, Brooks saddles are well worth the cash. 

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling?
The truth that it's been male dominated for so long now... 

Here's a shot of me from November at the Philly Bike Expo.
representing Santana Tandems.
What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Just having a larger women presence, I believe. 

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Seeing how happy it makes me and knowing that other women feel the same!

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I was born and raised in the DC/MD area and have been riding since I could hop on a bicycle! My whole family also rides :) 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Veronika Voracek

I live in Squamish, BC and have been riding for 8 years.
I started out in the Whistler Bike Park on an old Downhill bike which I loved more than anything. In my second and third season riding I dabbled in racing but didn’t have the time or the funds to commit to very many. Since those first two seasons, I have raced BC Cup DH circuits, Crankworx, Cascadia Dirt Cups, Local Toonie races, BC Enduro series and many races in between.

I have my PMBI Level 1 coaching and volunteer with the Trek Series and with a local Squamish women’s riding group as much as I can. I love seeing riders progress and spreading my love of riding with others!

Riding has taken me to so many amazing places and allowed me to meet some of my closest friends; I cannot wait for the next adventure!

I also part of a team of amazing women, follow our team blog:Team Danger Pony

When did you first start riding a bike?
I rode a bike my whole life in some form or another. I didn’t get into mountain biking until I was about 25 years old and had moved to Squamish. I remember seeing girls on downhill bikes in Whistler and just feeling the most painful jealousy. That was enough to motivate me to buy a beater downhill bike and the rest is history!  

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
At first I think it was the adrenaline and the amazing feeling of progression and scaring myself. Then all of a sudden I had a whole new circle of friends that rode bikes and kept me motivated. I got into different styles of riding, not just downhill and that kept things fun and interesting and now, it’s just a way of life. My schedule is worked around bike events and races in the summer.

What inspired you to start competing?
I am a very competitive person. I’ve never done a sport just for fun; I don’t think I know how! It was a natural progression for me to start racing. My first event was the Crankworx Air DH; I came 4th in Amateur and felt pretty darn good about it. It was only my second season riding so I figured I could only get better.  

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
My favorite one has always been the Sunshine Coaster DH in Roberts Creek, BC. It was the first race I ever won but that’s not why I love it. The course is one of the most fun trails of all time; it’s so great for beginner racers and experts alike. It’s a totally casual grassroots race and we’ve always made a camping/party weekend out of it. The riding there is so fun that we barely practice on the race course because all the surrounding trails are so great too!  

Which event are you looking forward to for 2015?
I’m hoping to get another crack at the EWS at Crankworx. I had a spot last summer but due to a slight injury and the massive intimation factor I pulled out last minute. I really didn’t feel ready fitness-wise and although I was hugely disappointed in myself, I believe I made the right decision. Hopefully, I can secure another spot this season and give it another go.  

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Addicted. I felt addicted. I never once questioned if this was the right sport for me. I started out in the Whistler Bike Park and loved it. I only had male friends that rode, no female friends were into it but riding with the boys really helped push me to become faster and braver I think.

If you had nervousness at all, what did you do or think to overcome it?
I’m always nervous when I race, that never really goes away. Downhill was the worst, I’d have the craziest butterflies in my stomach! I would try and breathe and tell myself that it was just another ride and that my friends were just around the corner ahead of me, I just needed to catch them.

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 do use them. I switched over on my all-mountain bike and the following season used them for DH as well. I love them! It takes all the guess work out of where your feet should be, and they are such a help when climbing. Also, say goodbye to bleeding, scabby shins!

My advice would be to BE PATIENT! Your riding confidence will regress quite a bit and then you have to slowly build it back up. Start with pedals with a bit of a platform around the clip for those moments you want to have your feet unclipped, eventually you will never feel that need and can progress to a more streamlined pedal. Shoes with minimal tread are great to start with too because they allow you to wiggle your foot around a bit to clip in, I find shoes with an aggressive tread make it really hard to clip in on the go. But seriously, just be patient, it sucks at first, I won’t lie, but stick with it.

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 had plenty of falls and been fairly lucky with my injuries (knocking on wood). I’ve had periods where I’ve been injured and had to be off the bike; the key is to find something you CAN do to fill the time that biking did. The mental recovery from injuries is by far the hardest obstacle to overcome. I try and focus on easier, slower rides and find the joy and fun it them and eventually, your mind allows you to try harder and harder things. It’s a slow process for sure.   

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 the first couple of seasons riding, I didn’t stray far out of Whistler Bike Park. I could ride almost every trail there with confidence and genuinely believed I was a great mountain biker. It wasn’t until some friends took me riding down some super gnarly trails in Squamish that it hit me, I had all the bike park trails memorized but had no idea how to transfer my skills to other trails that I didn’t know! Racing really helped me overcome that. It forced me to work on my technical riding and skills so I could apply them on any race course.  

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
I have many weaknesses in my riding. The key is recognizing them and working on them constantly. Every ride I go on, I try and work on something that will improve my riding whether it be a new obstacle, a new tip for cornering, a more aggressive approach to a familiar trail, whatever. Different riding friends inspire me as well; I love following friends down trails and finding new lines and styles!

Any tips/suggestions for someone new to mountain biking?
Take a lesson!! I had no formal coaching for my first season and it was hard to go back and change all the bad habits. There are so many pieces of advice that people try and give beginners that are generally wrong. Do yourself a favor and spend a few bucks getting a lesson with a certified instructor and you will have all the tools you need to get started properly.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I am currently riding the 2015 Giant Reign 1. It climbs great and feels like a mini DH bike on the descents. Amazing! I will hopefully be rocking a hard tail in the spring as well, that will sure be different! I also have a road bike and a dirt jumper neither of which get used as much as I would like.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I’m a fan of Sombrio shorts and jerseys, Troy Lee shorts, Dakine jerseys, Sugoi makes great a chamois, and Dissent socks will change your life! 

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love the places that it takes me and the people that I meet. The mountain bike community is so wonderful and welcoming. I’ve made some of my best friends through racing and riding and never lack riding partners or travel companions.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Women Involved Series: Maaike Everts

I am a Dutch native who was transplanted to the U.S. in 2002 to be a post-doc at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, with the intent to return to Europe after a year or two. Little did I know that Birmingham is a great place to live and UAB a great place to work, so here I still am, more than 12 years later! I am currently the Associate Director for the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance—a collaboration between UAB and Southern Research (a not-for-profit research institute, also in Birmingham), in which we try to develop new therapies for diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s Disease.

When not working, I can usually be found on my bike; I have raced on the road in the past but am mostly doing MTB endurance races these days, and although I have taken this particular season off, I have done many cyclocross races in the past and plan to do so in the future. I am also heavily involved with Magic City Cycle Chix (MC3)—a Birmingham-based women’s cycling organization founded by my good friend Kim Cross. MC3’s motto is “Building courage, confidence, and community…two wheels at a time.”

You are involved with Magic City Cycle Chix- tell us about MC3 and how you are involved!
MC3 is a Birmingham-based women’s cycling organization, started by Kim Cross as a Facebook group back in 2011 as a way to connect with other women and find people to ride with. It quickly exploded to nearly 900 women in the group, and this year we applied officially for non-profit status.

I am currently the treasurer, but also help with organizing events such as women-only or co-ed mountain bike skills clinics, road rides, road racing clinics as well as “Wine Wenches and Wrenches,” in which we have an event at a local bike shop where we learn something useful while sharing appetizers and something to drink.

It has really built the women’s riding community in Birmingham by providing a safe place to ask questions like, “Should I wear underwear under my bike shorts?” or “What is a good chamois cream?” or “How do you keep your hydration pack from getting moldy?” It also created a network of like-minded gals that you can tap into if you want a riding buddy.

What have you enjoyed most about being involved with MC3? Why should people consider joining?
I can tell MC3 is really making a difference in encouraging people to ride and get involved, and it’s always a great feeling when you can do something that touches people’s lives! If you’re in the Alabama area I would encourage you to join the Facebook group (we screen prospective members to make sure they are female and seem like real people, not fake profiles) as a way to connect with other women and learn about events going on in the Birmingham and greater Alabama area.

We also introduced a paid membership this year, which is only $25 for a full year, which gives you discounts at local bike shops, and free access to some of our skills clinics and other events. The money helps us to offset the costs of putting on the clinics and organizing fun events, and the costs associated with being a non-profit organization.

What inspired you to become an IMBA-ICP Level II instructor?
I love to teach, and have been caught in the past teaching my competition in cyclocross races skills to for example navigate a mud pit, while the race is going on. Maybe not the smartest racing strategy J, but I get so much more satisfaction of helping other people get better than winning a race. The latter is a good feeling too, and don’t get me wrong, I like it, but it’s much more fleeting than the much longer lasting positive emotion of seeing something “click” in somebody’s head, making them a better cyclist.

When Kim raised funds to get Shaums March to Birmingham to get a team of us certified, I jumped on the opportunity to get formal instructions in how to teach mountain bike skills, and it had the added benefit of raising my own skill level through the roof.

What have you enjoyed most about being able to help other women hone their mountain bike skills?
It’s a great feeling to see the confidence of students rise through instruction, and the happy giggles and squeals of delight that happen when somebody learns a new skill, like how to lift their front wheel of the ground in a controlled fashion.

During a more advanced clinic last May, we had Lindsey Voreis come to Birmingham to help teach us how to navigate a particularly tricky downhill rock section called Blood Rock, and I actually started crying when several women made it down Blood Rock safely and in control. It was such a powerful moment! I’m not someone who cries quickly, so it was really surprising and awesome to feel that level of emotion for seeing someone clear something they’d never done in their life.

At the end of the clinic, Lindsey coached Kim and myself down Blood Rock (both of us had been so intimidated by it for years), and I think everybody was bawling by the time we made it down. Happy tears, for sure!
What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling?
Probably a (perceived) lack of riding partners of a similar fitness and skill level, perhaps a fear of your bike breaking down and leaving you stuck on the side of a road or in the woods. For mountain biking, there may be a sense of it being too difficult. With MC3 we are trying to address all these things.

I also think that many women don’t see too many other women riding, and they may not want to be perceived as “weird” or less feminine when they ride. I cannot really speak to the latter much, because in the Netherlands everybody rides, so it’s less of a male/female thing, but I’ve noticed some of my friends and colleagues here in the South express the opinion that you have to be “tough” to ride, which sometimes gets equated with “masculine.”

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Having more visibility of women riding will help, and creating more communities such as MC3 will overcome some of the barriers by providing a platform to find other women to ride with, learning skills, and technical maintenance tasks such as changing a flat or converting your bike to a single speed when your derailleur breaks.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I have so much fun on my bike, that I would love for other people to experience the same joy. So many people work out just because of health reasons, but then it becomes a chore, instead of something that you enjoy. I wish everyone would find something active that they enjoy so that they experience happiness while doing it and can enjoy the benefit of a strong and healthy body as a result.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I am really wary of big mascots that you see at sporting events; I’d be mortified if I’d be chased and/or hugged by one! I usually try to avoid eye contact and ignore them…:::shudder:::

Monday, June 22, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Daly (Dolly) Costanza- Cuter Commuter

Photo Credit: Dave Christenson
I'm a wife, bicycling advocate, mother of three cats and bicycle commuter. I commute about 20 miles roundtrip between home and the office, often times wearing skirts and heels to avoid having to change clothing. It's one of the reasons why I don't like going to the gym! I love bicycling in all its forms but on my blog I mainly write about bicycling as a lifestyle and stylish accessories for the bicycle commuter to encourage more women to use bicycling as a way to get around for commuting, errands, social activities, dining or shopping. 

Connect with Cuter Commuter! Blog, Instagram, and Twitter  

When did you first start riding a bike?
I started riding when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My sister tried to teach me how to ride and during our first lesson, I ran squarely into a tree…in front of a bunch of boys! So I'd have to say that I actually learned to ride a bike as an adult, in my late 20s after marrying my husband. He's the reason I got into bicycling and is my biggest supporter! 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I don't like going to the gym so riding a bike is my way of building physical activity into my commute. And the cost and responsibility of having a second vehicle (again) keeps me riding. We have been a single car household for over three years. 

What kinds of riding do you enjoy?
Commuting and social rides. And riding with my husband to all of the local restaurants and breweries popping up in Reno. 

You've competed in road bike racing- tell us about your experience and what you learned-
It was a lot of fun and I met so many nice women that I became friends with. But it can be stressful. I learned that I didn't need the increased risk of hurting myself when I tend to do that on my own. I also learned that I can crash and still race the next day. 

Tell us about your experience completing your first century ride! What did you do to prepare yourself?
My first century ride was for charity and, fortunately for me, it was pretty flat. Leading up to that, I rode with my husband who was much faster and stronger so that helped me build endurance and strength. When I finished it was incredible and I wanted to keep going as if five hours wasn't enough (probably because of the adrenaline). We actually had a 55-mile ride with a lot of climbing the next day and when THAT was done; I was finally ready to go home! 

You commute by bike-what inspired you to reduce car usage?
In my profession I work in front of a computer ALL DAY LONG and I decided that if I was going to get any physical activity in, that it was NOT going to be on the dreadmill (like when I used to run as a sport). My daily exercise was going to have to be on a bike because cycling is fun AND I can get from place to place at the same time! 
I also realized that having a second vehicle was such a waste just to transport myself to and from work only for it to sit all day in the parking lot (that I paid $400 a year for a permit) not to mention all the other costs associated with using a vehicle. So we got rid of it! Initially my husband was hesitant but I assured him that if it didn't work out, we could always buy another car--and we haven't needed a second car since. 
I also do not like to drive or be in a car for that matter. So if we go anywhere in our car, my husband drives even though I feel out of control as a passenger and I tend to get a little car sick. So what it all boils down to is riding my bike is fun, it makes me happy, keeps me in shape, allows me to indulge on sinful foods on occasions without having any guilt and the extra $400 to $600 per month on average that we would have spent for having a second vehicle goes towards more fun stuff!! Those benefits outweigh the benefits of driving a car so it was an easy choice! 

What are some of the commuting challenges you face in your area?
I am fortunate that I have several routes I can take that is a good balance of low-risk and time to get there. After we moved homes, I took the most direct route which was 7.5 miles one-way. The route had a bike lane the entire way but it was a fast street (with a 45 m.p.h. posted speed limit). Eventually I decided that I shouldn't be too trusting of people driving past me and found an alternate route. It's just over 9.5 miles one-way but goes through residential streets, along slow streets with and without bike lanes, and a bike/ped path. MUCH more pleasant. Less noise, exhaust fumes and more time on my bike is a good thing! 

What do you do when the weather isn't ideal?
I ride all year 'round so if it's not actively raining or snowing, you'll find me on the road. Otherwise, I'll catch a ride with my colleagues or my husband. We have a roof rack on our car (it’s totally worth it) so on days when the weather turns for the worst, I have a backup plan for any direction of my commute. I can take my bike with me to work and then ride home. Or take my bike home with me so I can ride to work in the morning. What I really need, is to build my bicycle collection so I'll always have several bikes at both locations!! Though that could be tough because I have a favorite bicycle I prefer to ride more than the others. 

What do you love about commuting by bike? Why should people consider it as a viable means of transportation?
I know it's cliché to say but it is fun. It makes me happy. It saves on the cost of owning a second vehicle. I think I calculated close to $12K a year not including the unexpected expenses like parking tickets or door ding repairs. Not having a second car has more than paid for my commuter bicycle and gear to commute with. And instead of going to the gym my workout is done in the morning and the afternoon on the bike. Goodbye gym memberships and hello to lunch time with friends! The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of activity a day so that's 150 minutes a week but I get 1 1/2 hours a day or over 8 hours a week just commuting to/from work. And that's not counting the rides I do during the day to run errands, go to appointments or on the weekends to meet friends for drinks or lunch!! ALL without stepping foot in the gym. Look Ma--I have real calves!!

Have you had a bike accident? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
Knock on wood--I have never had a bike accident in all of the years I have been commuting. The only times I have crashed was when I was racing or trying to catch my husband on a road bike ride!! I knew the mistakes that I had made. I learned from them. My bike was okay or repairable – whew!! And I got right back in the saddle just like any other setbacks I’ve had in life. My cool scars are great conversation starters J 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
My daily commuter is a 20-speed aluminum mixte. I chose it because it came with front and rear fenders, a rear rack to carry panniers, and enough gears for the climbs on my way to work and home yet still has that classic look from European bike builders of the 40s and 50s. 
I have a road bike that is white and we had many, many rides together. I still love it but don't ride it as much because I use my daily commuter to get around even on the weekends. It's a carbon road bike and not really built for commuting. 
I have a project bike that I picked up from a garage sale for $25!! It's an Austrian built Sears 5-speed from the late 60s but it's stuck in one gear at the moment. I need to replace the cable before I ride it downhill from our house because it would not be fun to ride back up an average 9% grade road for a mile. 
I have a Papillionaire diamond frame that I ride to breakfast with my husband on the weekends.

What do you love about riding your bike?
That I can see everything around me. The changing seasons. Neighbors and people along the way that I exchange greetings with. Life happens SO FAST and riding my bike slows down life for that moment so I can savor it. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Britney White

I was born in Jackson Hole Wyoming; my father was an outfitter and hunting guide who always took me to the mountains with him from a very young age.  

My family later moved to Bozeman Montana and I became an avid skier, and then picked up rock climbing. I was 18 when I first bought a mountain bike and have been totally hooked ever since.

Check out Britney on: Facebook,  Instagram, and her Website

When did you first start riding a bike?
I learned to ride a bike at 3 years old. My family used to go on family bike rides as far back as I can remember. 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
My motivation comes from always wanting do better than the day before. I have also always surrounded myself with like minded people who are just as stoked as I am. New ideas and challenges pop up daily so motivation to ride has always seemed easy. 

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
My favorite competitive biking event would be sort of Enduro style DH, only lifts take you up and you are timed on a combination of downhill trails on the way down, say 5 runs or so, but all mixed up with tech and flow dh trails.  

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
So out of control but not in a scared sort of way. I remember I laughed alot, went over the bars a few times figuring out which was the front and which was the back. Then I remember as I became better and faster my arms always itched. I think this was due to vibration of riding a rigid bike. 

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I listen to nervous, because I think that's my minds way of telling me maybe I shouldn't be doing this. I usually feel excitement if I see I line I know I can ride. I then have a sequence I go over in my head that I learned as a child in gymnastics. My coach told me to close my eyes and picture myself doing it perfectly over and over, then I open my eyes and there is no other way than to do it the way I pictured it in my head. I always try to keep negative thoughts out. I never think of crashing as an option.

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've honestly never given them a try, not even once. I do have some coming in the mail though, so this is going to change real soon. 

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
Yes the biff that I remember most vividly was a big line in Whistler where I went over the bars near the top and cartwheeled to the bottom and ended up breaking a small bone in my back. It happened slowly and I suppose that's why I remember it so clearly. As for mentally hard injuries to overcome, I snapped my achilles tendon about 4 years ago. This was a scary injury because it's not one that everyone comes back 100% from. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to mountain bike how I wanted anymore and it was that fear that pushed me to recover and ride as quickly as I did, I was off the bike for 6 months.

In 2014 you broke your hand during an Enduro Race- how did that affect your training? How did the healing process go?
Breaking my hand back in April, at the beginning of the season, definitely affected my training. This is the time of year I spend the most time on the bike getting ready for summer race season so having to take 2 months off was really hard mentally as well as feeling like I was letting down my sponsors. When I was able to ride again, I felt I had some making up to do and flatted my very first DH race of the year up in Canada. Bad luck I suppose but at least I was able ride again.  

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
I learned the basics very early on, bunny hopping was first on the list, then riding a wheelie off curbs and then off of loading docks my first year. I learned these skills on an old Trek XC bike, so I don't think the bike makes much of a difference. Learning to corner has been an ongoing challenge; I always want to corner better. I think the most important things to learn early though are bunny hopping, wheeling(sp?), and manueling (although I'm not very good at this one), and spending time on a pump track if you can (this will teach you flow). 

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Cornering is always tricky for me, I tend to ride over the front of my bike and unfortunately sometimes grab too much brake. I did just read an article where Leigh Donovan quoted saying "brake 3 times". Maybe that advice will help. I am also always working on tricks.

What advice would you give to someone completely new to mountain biking?
Take it at your own pace and what you feel comfortable with. Not everyone perceives things the same way so expecting you'll learn at the rate of a 14 year old boy or someone who has been riding much longer is a little unrealistic. 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
My bikes this season are an Evil Following(29er), an Evil Faction (dj), and an Evil Undead(dh) complete with (Fox suspension, Profile Racing Hubs, Spank Rims and Deity handlebars, Shimano Saint brakes and drivetrain, and Continental tires).  Really excited with the change of a frame sponsor, although I was with Transition a long time, it's cool to be able to ride a different suspension design that is so looked up to in the bike industry, the DW Link. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I ride in Royal Racing clothes and I highly recommend this brand to anyone who is abusive to their apparel, by abuse I mean mud, tree branches, hip meeting dirt and rocks etc. They're materials seriously don't even need Spray n' Wash and while I don't put them in the dryer the colors are still as bright as they were new. I also love the Royal Minus glove for winter riding; they are super durable as well.

What do you love about riding your bike?
The ease, flow and focus required. Being able to tune everything else out but the trail, sounds, and people around you. It's really just plain magical. 

Check out Britney's Videos! Time Machine and Frozen Ground

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Women Involved: Mary Dettrich (Tonik)

Meet Mary, co-founder of Tonik Cycling  the biking gear made for fit and performance for women with REAL bodies of all body types.

Tonik was founded by two friends who loved to cycle but laughed until their sides hurt or dreaded coming out of the dressing room when they tried on cycling jerseys. Why was it so difficult to find functional and fun cycling clothes?

So Tonik was born- their jerseys come in several colors/styles so there is something for everyone! For sizing, Tonik recommends you go by your t-shirt size for a comfortable, flattering fit. If you prefer a more tight fitting jersey- order a size down.

Visit Tonik: Website, Facebook, Pinterest

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do (outside of Tonik)
Lisa and I are first and foremost outdoor enthusiasts.  We are blessed to live on Whidbey Island, a beautiful island in the Puget Sound outside of Seattle, Washington. We love to run, hike, paddle-board and ski but our true love is cycling.  We met as a group of women cyclists who were training to do a double century in Seattle.  

You were inspired by your personal experience to venture into the cycling industry- how has it been to make a name for yourself and Tonik?
Tonik began when Lisa and I, along with five other women, were participating in a double century together and were on a mission to find cycling apparel we felt good in. Seven women, seven body types – and none of us could find cycling apparel that fit and flattered our bodies. And so we started Tonik – which means “solution,” as we are a fit solution. We strive to provide more fashionable options for women, and we are inspired by the fashion in other sports. We want our customers to look good and feel good. Our motto is "Real Jerseys for Real Women."

What were some of the initial struggles you had with creating your brand?
We had to start from scratch when it came to fit. Traditional cycling apparel has a lot of great options if you are an elite athlete or blessed with an iron woman body, but for the rest of us – shopping for cycling apparel is about as much fun as shopping for a swimsuit. Women who have had a difficult time finding cycling apparel have quit looking. It is sometimes difficult to get women to believe there is apparel out there that really fits. 

Our belief is, if you normally wear a size medium in your other clothing you should be able to wear a medium in cycling apparel as well. We wanted our clothing to take you comfortably from the bike to the coffee shop. 
That meant some changes – no elastic in the waste, long enough jerseys to cover the backside, room for the chest, etc.

Also, bike shops can be a very intimidating place for women.  We have shops seeking us out because we can fit their customers, but that is not true with all shops. It is tough to re-educate a male-dominated industry.  

We are inspired by the women who write our reviews, women who drag their friends to try our jerseys on, women who had resigned themselves to t-shirts or men’s jerseys. When they find us, and see how Tonik is truly different, it makes our hard work worth it.

Why is it important for women to be involved with the industry, either as a consumer or employed? 
We understand this market because we are the market.  Who better understands the needs of a woman cyclist better than a woman cyclist? 

We want women to feel comfortable and confident on their bikes, which is why we created Tonik. We want our fellow women to get out there, ride and have fun!

What would be your favorite jersey from your current line and why?
That is a tough one. I love the new Beth. It is lighter weight and I like the way it slenderizes. 
(Let's be honest – we need the technical features but we also love the way it looks).

What inspires you to encourage more women to discover their life on two wheels?
We travel to as many bike events as possible to tell people about Tonik. At these events, women try on our clothing and tell us their stories – stories of life-changing physical changes. At our last event in California, a woman told us how she had a relative die of diabetes and she was headed down that road, so she decided to change her life. She starting riding, lost 60 lbs, came off all her medications and is now controlling her diabetes with just her diet. She was loving life! We hear stories like these all the time. Cycling can change lives and is a sport you can enjoy at any age! 
It may sound silly, but when you have worked hard to become a cyclist and cannot find apparel to fit you, it is heartbreaking. Tonik takes pride in the fact that we fit XS-XXL!  (And those are real sizes, not Italian). 

Any words of wisdom for those wishing to get involved with the industry and/or inspiring women to ride bikes?
If you are lucky enough to know the joy of cycling, find a way to share it with other women. Work with your favorite bike shop or cycling club to start "women only" rides, beginner women rides, clinics and women's nights. Help create a place for women to learn and grow in cycling. And be supportive of all body types. We can make a difference if we inspire ALL women to bring out their inner athlete.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: Carley Young

Meet Carley Young, BMX racer, coach, and the woman behind Ride Like A Girl! She is extremely passionate about getting more females involved with two wheels.

You can find more on Carley with these links:

Ride Like A Girl:
Ride Like A Girl Facebook Ride Like A Girl on Instagram

Videos posted on Carley’s YouTube page!

When did you first start riding a bike?
I always remember riding a bike as a kid. My brother and I would go out and ride in the neighborhood when he could stand to be around his baby sister. Ha! I started racing BMX when I was 6 years old and a day doesn't go by when I’m not on my bike now.  

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
It is my escape from life and the one thing that never gets old putting a smile on my face. I also love to better myself so I can coach and inspire others to be better riders as well. 

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
I love racing and my favorite event was competing for team USA in the World Championship. It’s awesome being on that big hill with the stands packed and racing the best Women in BMX in a foreign country. I did my first Downhill MTB race last Fall and that was exciting to try something new.

How did you originally get started with BMX and why did it suit you?
I started racing in 1990 and won my first race battling with the boys and I have been hooked ever since. BMX Racing really took off for me when I learned it was the first real sport that allowed me to do whatever I wanted and the more I put into it the more I got in return. I am a very independent person and like to do things on my own and with this being an individual sport, I don't have to rely on others to succeed, just the heart I put into it.  

What do you enjoy about BMX?
The unique thing about BMX racing is that the 5 and Under Novice gets to race on the same track on the same weekend and race as the Pros. We have Olympians at our National events you can walk up to and talk to. Always fun to have kids come up to you at races telling you how much meeting me means to them when I remember being that kid walking up to pros when I first started. 

Have you had any accidents or situations that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
In 2006 I fell at the Louisville outdoor skatepark and shattered my right arm and face. Broken nose, busted teeth, snapped my forearm and shattered my elbow just 2 days prior to the biggest race of the year where I sat tied for the #1 plate in both bikes. Devastated about this accident I refused to sit in the hospital and weep. I was released and was taken to the track where I cheered on the rest of my friends and brother. It took me a while to get my confidence back on my bike but once I overcame some fears about getting hurt I was back to racing full time in less than 3 months. Now I use that story to help girls when I coach because I understand fear and what it takes to put it aside when you want be the best at your sport. 

When you started out riding, what were handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
I was always that fearless rider who had a brother who pushed me to try new things, so I didn't have a hard time with skills as I loved to ramp jumps even when I had no business jumping them. One issue I had was I was given a stuck of luck when I started and would win often. My weakness was having poor sportsmanship or a bad attitude about getting anything but first. This didn't come from my parents as they were happy as long as I did my best, but it was my overachiever in me that wasn't happy unless I was winning. This later in life helped me when my competition got harder to be a more aggressive rider and keep my win but I learned to have a better attitude before and after the race to my competitors.  

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
My biggest battle right now is supercross. Racing on the 8 Meter starting hill and jumping a 40' jump on the first straight. I entered in my first supercross race this past October in Rock Hill, SC. I have moved to NC to get used to the hill but unfortunately the track was not rideable until the weekend of the race. The hill was scary and the jump made me second guess my riding abilities. Having never experienced anxiety like this before I could not control my emotions or keep my body from trembling. With everyone around me supporting me and telling me I could do it, I could not understand why my mind didn’t want to do what my body was capable of riding. I was then able to drop in and jump the first jump twice in practice but I messed up my first lap and took a crash that was more embarrassing then hurtful. It was a huge milestone for me as I was 7 years older than all the other girls in the gate. I still gave it my all even when it was something I had been wishing to try for years. 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I ride a 24Seven frame they have sponsored me for a few years now. My bike is an aluminum frame that has a 20'' top tube and 15" rear end. I also have an S&M Park/Trail bike that I ride when I am not racing. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I race in the Women's Specific Uniform thanks to Fly Racing; when I ride park I’m normally in cut off jeans and t-shirt with my G Form Knee and Elbow pads. 

What do you love about riding your bike?
When I am on my bike nothing else matters, no worries no drama. I am able to rest my mind and just pedal and not really have to think about anything. Riding comes so naturally to me so when I am at the track it's nothing but smiles. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Women on Bikes Series: LindaSue Amundson

My name is LindaSue and I'm a marketing project manager. I manage projects by day and by night. Managing work, my family, my household, my life is very fast! We're super excited to go camping this summer! Camping in our household requires bringing the bikes to get around.

When did you first start riding a bike?
​I don't remember not ever riding a bike. We grew up on a farm and had tricycles, bikes and in the winter we rode big wheels in our large basement, do they count? 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
When I was a young adult I was friends with a road racer. She was inspirational with her live life fully each day attitude and ripped body.

She taught me how to ride my bike more efficiently. 

You enjoy riding for the social aspects as well as commuting and occasionally mountain bike. Why is cycling such a great way to explore your community?
Riding a bike is the best way to get around. There's nothing like powering yourself across town. You experience nature and your environment instead of being inside a can.

Why do you enjoy commuting and/or using a bicycle to pull your kids around vs. a car?
Everyone in our family prefers riding over being in a car. To be outside, to experience the world around us, for the positive endorphins, to exhaust the children so they are happier and sleep better :) when we pull the kids to daycare on the way to work the day I feel strong and proud showing them the best way to get across town.

How do your kids enjoy their bike ride? Any tips or suggestions for parents wishing to use a bicycle as transportation for their kid(s)?
The key to young kids riding their bikes is to be a constant example by being on your bike. We started them in trailers so they saw us riding all the time. Kids know what they see and learn by example. 

The best tips for pulling kids in a trailer:
1. Ride the roads like a car (sidewalks can be very bumpy for the kids and cars aren't always watching for you in intersections)
2. Obey stop signs (teaches kids the same)
3. Be predictable
4. Take a safe route
5. Use flashers by day and night.
6. Pump up the trailer tires often as correct tire pressure provides easier pulling
7. Bring a bike lock to protect your investments
8. Use kid trailer helmets with flat backs for comfort
9. Allow plenty of time as it takes a bit to get going
10. Take is slow up and down hills as the trailer can jerk a bit and is uncomfortable for kids.

Start them out with a balance bike as soon as they are confident walkers. Adjust the seat height as they get taller so their feet are confidently on the ground but a slight bend to the knee for comfort. Wear helmets always. 

Do you have any tips/suggestions for those who haven’t commuted by bicycle, but would like to?
1. Begin in comfortable safe environments.
2. Have an experienced rider friend show you the route until you're comfortable on your own.
3. Ask your experienced rider for riding tips.
4. Don’t listen to music - listen to your environment, hear the cars
5. Always watch for cars - backing out of driveways, coming through alleyways, be observant
6. Be predictable
7. Wear a helmet always (that way if a car hits you only your helmet is broken, not your skull - could mean life or death)

Have you had any accidents or situations that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
No accidents! One time a short bus cut me off as they made a right turn. Now in busy intersections I watch to make sure someone isn't turning into me. Be observant and wear a helmet! 

You sometimes mountain bike, what originally inspired you to get on the paths less traveled?
If you love being outdoors and the woods, there's nothing like riding your bike through them. My husband inspired me to ride in the woods.  

What do you enjoy about mountain biking and why should people consider trying it out for themselves?
Mountain biking is so relaxing and yet thrilling. You're one with nature.  Once you are comfortable with the trail, the intensity turns to peacefulness.

What do you love about riding your bike? (in general)
Mostly riding bike is freedom. It’s freedom from the gas sucking cars, freedom from traffic, and freedom from other people. It’s my peaceful time with nature. 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Surly Crosscheck for commuting to work - one summer I rode this bike 2,000 miles to and from work.
All-City Spacehorse- my "mama" bike - built in a more comfort upright position for preggers belly - with my second child I rode this bike twice a week to work until my 32nd week of pregnancy.
Specialized Rockhopper - single speed for rolling through the woods, lighter weight with less gears, love the lower angled toptube.
Salsa Caballero - full suspension mountain bike, sweet bike
Surly Pugsley prototype - shared with the hubbie. Freaked out the old ladies when I'd ride it to Jazzercise class in the deep fresh snow when they were slipping around in their cars
​Lastly, an old Schwinn I rarely ride cuz it's so heavy but can't bear to part with​

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
Wool base layers & socks - breathable in all weather
Sleeveless jerseys for the hot days
Timbuk2 bags in every size!
Jackets with "pit-zips"
Cycling rain coat so it’s longer in the back as you’re stretched out
Water packs for mountain biking
Clipless pedals for power
Expensive saddles are worth it 
Balance bikes for kids – we love the Strider company

You work at QBP, what do you do?
Marketing Project Management, I manage business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing projects for multiple departments including purchasing requests for website advertising. My largest project is the 1,200 page QBP Print Catalog which arrives to bike shops every February. 

What inspired you to get a job in the bicycle industry?
Bikes have always inspired me to be a better person, to be the person I want to be. Being able to commute 20 miles round trip to work gives me such inner strength, such a sense of accomplishment - that I could do anything. The commute recharges my energy level and my soul.

One summer you rode 20 miles round trip, (totaling 2,000 miles) to your job at QBP. What inspired you to do that?
QBP offers a company commuter team challenge. ​My friends and I were on a team and they counted on me for miles. Comradery - friendship, competition. A very strong mileage commuting coworker was continually inspiring me. Really a lot of the regular riders - you could tell they were proud of me as I hung my bike up on the indoor bike parking.

What are a few things you love about QBP?
What I love about QBP is a pretty long list - here's some of it: walking around without shoes or socks if I want to, not wearing makeup, not worrying about my hair, being able to wear hats and casual clothing, flexible schedule, A PURPOSE - helping to save the Earth, a common love for nature, bikes and the great outdoors, the free table where we put items that coworkers pick up to use in their lives – reusing saving the Earth, being around inspirational people, supporting the small business man, bottom line is a lot of FABULOUS coworkers and a common PURPOSE.

Why should more women consider getting involved with the cycling industry? (working for a shop, company, etc.)
There’s great strength in taking care of yourself. You can go anywhere riding your bike if you have the time. Exercise will have you living longer, healthier, happier. To save the Earth. To save yourself money. Riding bike is way more fun and faster than walking or running.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling?
Bikes are easy to maintain, do not fear. You can be your own mechanic - take classes, learn. Wrenching your bike and being self-supported is an amazing feeling. Make sure you buy your bike from a bike dealer so that it's a comfortable, safely built, and a long lasting fit. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Women in general need more breathable apparel options, especially for large women - they ride bikes too!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I dig kids, my kids especially, dancing, being in the woods, camping, photography, playing piano, scissors, hiking, biking, waterfalls, Jazzercise, clocks ticking, chimes, footsteps on a wooden floor, the sound of rain on a tin roof, closing my eyes during an audience clapping and it sounding like a rainstorm, my bike mechanic and lists.