Women Involved: Jaimee Erickson (Red Frog Athletics)

I cycled across the US with a friend four years ago, and I have been in love with cycling and the freedom / endorphins it brings ever since. I am currently designing a line of women's specific cycling gear (focusing on jerseys first). The jerseys are super functional, made from merino wool blends (which means they don't smell and are super soft) and styled to flatter and comfort the body.

I finished the first samples this last summer and rode across Europe to test them out. I returned more excited than ever to launch the line and am currently in the process of working with manufacturers to produce my first run.

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When did you first start riding a bike?
I started riding a bike when I was old enough to walk, but I kept it pretty casual for the first 20 years of life. I mainly rode on cheap bikes with limited gears and handle bars that left black residue all over my hands after use. It wasn't until I ended my field hockey career post college that I turned to cycling as an alternative for my fitness / competitive outlet.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Once I figured out my setup and started feeling comfortable on my bike, I was completely hooked. Cycling gave (continues to give) me an incredible endorphin high coupled with an amazing sense of independence. It is such a unique combination of both mental and physical challenges, and it has taught me so many things about myself (as challenges often do). I can, with 100% certainty, say that I have become a better person since I started cycling.

You rode across the US with a friend a few years ago, how long did it take to plan and complete your trip?
I did! I rode with my best friend Ale from Los Gatos, California to New York City, New York. This trip was planned over a 6 month period, and we took just under 100 days to complete it. We zigzagged all across America and ended up completing just over 5,000 miles.

What would be the 3 most favorite stops/locations on that trip be?
Portland, OR - I loved visiting Portland. The culture and people are wonderful. We ended up staying with an awesome group of open-minded, down to earth, Portlandia (ish) group of 30 somethings. The night included: great conversation, lots of super organic, high quality ice cream, and laughs for hours.
Guffey, CO - This little town was one of the strangest places I have ever been. It had animal / human skeletons and old machinery everywhere. It had a post apocalyptic vibe, and made us pretty uncomfortable but was definitely memorable.
Western KY - The landscape was surprisingly beautiful and the people were incredibly friendly and warm.

What types of cycling do you enjoy and why?
I enjoy road biking, touring, mountain biking, and causal cruiser rides along the coast. All of them bring me different forms of happiness and serve their specific purpose in my life.

What do you love about riding your bike?
I am most creative, peaceful, and present when I am on my bike. I get into a rhythm of climbing, descending, pushing my heart rate, recovering, and then doing it all again. The exercise in combination with the peaceful mind state allows me to reset and work through anything that is going on in life. Cycling is my therapy :)

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
The first bike I bought was a tricross by Specialized. It has an aluminum frame and disc brakes (that have saved my life more times than I would like to admit), and a Brooke's saddle (which is potentially my favorite part of my whole set up). Full disclosure: I named this bike Elvis. Elvis was picked out by a friend, who had many more years of cycling experience, and was willing to help a sister out. I rode Elvis across the US a few years back and continue to use him for city commute and off roading adventures.
I recently purchased a road bike by Specialized (Amira). It lives with me in my room, because the garage is too much distance. I didn't know it was emotionally possible to become this attached to a non living thing. But alas, I am in love.

You are in the process of starting a clothing line, Red Frog Athletics, tell us the story behind the name?
Red Frog Athletics was born from a sticky note family brainstorm, where all of my family members wrote words or phrases that might describe our brand, product, mission, and story. Red is often associated with power, love, danger, adventure, seduction, and energy. I dig all of those things. And "frog" represents "transition, rebirth, opportunity, and renewal," which is what I want to do to the cycling market space. The word "frog" has also more recently been associated with high end design, which is an added bonus. 

What inspired you to create your own line of jerseys?

Short answer: I saw a gap in the market and thought the current status of cycling wear for women could use some improvement.
Long answer: http://www.redfrogathletics.com/red-frog-has-a-blog/

What has been the most interesting thing to happen since starting your clothing line?

The most interesting and awesome thing that has happened since starting Red Frog Athletics has been the response from people willing to help me build out the company. It is so inspiring and motivating to have friends, family, and random strangers donate their time and energy.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling?

There are many factors that could potentially deter both men and women from cycling. I was horrified by my first experience on a road bike and have heard similar stories from many of my cycling friends. Let's be real: most "beginner" saddles feel awful on the bum (especially if you don't have the correct set up), the clothing is hideous and uncomfortable, the anxiety of forgetting to unclip your pedals at every stop to prevent toppling over is terrifying, the bike feels incredibly unstable, and the list goes on and on. BUT, for me, the adrenaline rush of my first down hill and the post ride endorphin high was enough to bring me back for more. With each ride, the pros slowly started to eliminate the cons, and now I can't imagine my life sans cycling.
But I am getting off topic. Women have a few more hoops to jump through to begin their cycling adventure simply because the industry caters to men.

All you have to do is walk into your local bike shop to notice the giant discrepancy between male and female gear. The male cycling apparel is everywhere. It is sleek, technical, and form fitting. The women specific jerseys are in the back left corner near the bathroom. They most likely have some sort of floral design or pink piece of flare and look like they were form fitted around a giant hour glass.

What do you feel could happen industry-wise and locally to encourage more women to ride?
The ratio between male and female cyclists in the US is a bit shocking and upsetting to me. In Denmark and the Netherlands, women outnumber the men in a 55:45 ratio, which leads me to believe that the giant imbalance in the US is something that can be improved upon. There are many strategies to improve these metrics, but I am choosing to focus my efforts in one area: women's cycling apparel.

I wore men's cycling gear in combination with women's running or yoga apparel for the first four years of riding my bike, simply because the women's cycling gear was not up to par (wasn't available). It fit horribly and most of it was covered in pink floral patterns. I am a bit of a gear junkie, so one of the most exciting parts about trying out a new sport or activity is to invest in some sweet gear. It was incredibly demotivating to visit my local bike shop and not find a single piece of apparel that would excite me to get on my bike and feel / look like a badass. I want to change that experience for female athletes looking to invest in some cycling wear. I want to excite them with products that motivate them to get out on their bikes with confidence wearing technical, stylish, super comfortable gear.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?

Riding gives me such a wonderful sense of independence and brings me so much joy. It puts everything into perspective and serves as my reset, my outlet, my adventure source, and so much more. It blows my mind that our American male to female cyclist ratio is so uneven, as I think both genders can benefit from cycling. I would love to be involved in the motivation behind that initial decision to ride.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

I love doing handstands. I do them everywhere and incorporate them into most outdoor adventures.