Favorite Things of 2017

Last year around Christmas time I came out with a "Favorite Things" post and figured I needed to come back with another list for 2017!

#1. Bontrager Anja Saddle 
I have finally found the saddle that I feel is my go-to for trail and gravel riding. It's firm, it has a generous cutout for comfort, and it's supportive. Finding the right saddle for different styles of riding can be absolutely frustrating, and when you find the right one- it's liberating! We spent time investing in this style of saddle to update most of my bikes. It's been the ticket. After 2016 Chequamegon I had a lot of regrets- 2017 Chequamegon I fared much better. Even with a shorter 12-ish mile paved trail ride on a bike that we didn't change the saddle out on, I knew instantly that I wouldn't want to make that same decision again. Take the time to find a saddle that works- it might take time. You might think what you have is okay, but I can assure you- once you find the right one...you'll be mind blown!

#2. Specialized Women's SL Pro Bib Short
2016 was my first season trying out bibs, and it was a challenging experience. Eventually, once I figured out the fit, it wasn't so bad, but I wasn't entirely sold.
I gave bibs another shot by trying out what Specialized had to offer, and I will say it was much better!

The Specialized bibs had a little clip on the women's style that allows you to (carefully) pull the bib away from you without having to take it off, or you can more easily remove the halter strap without having to unzip your jersey too much. I felt like it was easy to use- the magnet aspect is slick. The chamois is designed for longer rides, and even tho it doesn't feel super thick- it was awesome on my longer gravel rides. There were times I'd scoot and find that "magic spot" and felt like I could keep going for a few more hours beyond the ride.

The fit of the shorts is comfortable, I felt, almost too comfortable to be true. The leg gripper is wide and will not tug your skin. The fabric is soft and silky. Without a doubt, definitely a great investment piece. I still prefer shorts, however, these are very comfortable and I enjoy wearing them.

(Don't forget to check out the SL Pro Women's jerseys! Comfortable, silky, great-fitting. They perfectly compliment the SL Pro Women's shorts or bibs!)

Decorah Bicycles has access to ordering anything in stock from Specialized, and it takes 3 days to get it if it's from the California warehouse!

#3. Specialized 2FO Flat 1.0 Shoe
I'm a die-hard Five Ten shoe-wearer but I have to say that the updated 2FO design is much better than the first style that had come out. Plus, Dynamite Panther is absolutely cool, and for women who would love to have something colorful that can fit larger sized feet- this will be the ticket! 38 is the smallest size the Dynamite Panther shoes come in, and I fit in them well.

This size goes across the board for the women's shoe as well as the men's shoe. (I made sure to ask my rep, because I was curious in case I wanted to try the women's shoe.) They work well from the rides I've used them on! I usually wear Five Ten Freerider Contact shoes- These more resemble the Freerider Contact shoes with more of a honeycomb design. The sole is much improved from the first pair of 2FO's I had, I feel it sticks better to the pedal pins. They feel comfortable, and the material that rests above your heel (closer to the ankle) is nice. More flexible, not going to cut into the area under your ankle- a solid win.

#4. Shebeest!
Divine Jersey, Virtue Jersey and Petunia Shorts for the win! I told myself "Josie, you aren't going to buy more Shebeest things this year." Then they came out with the updated Shelastic 2.0 pad in their Petunia shorts and it became a top favorite. If the bibs I had last year had THIS chamois pad...they would see more time outside.
The Divine jersey is soft, silky, and fits beautifully once you fine-tune your size.

#5. Skinny Americano Shorts
Again, Shebeest, but this gets a special spot for being baggies with fit, functionality, and attitude.
I have been off the baggies bandwagon for a season and a half now, but I'm going to find myself slipping these on a few more times next riding season. They are not overly long. They are not baggy! They don't snag my seat. They have a zipper pocket. They have a zipper AND snap closure on the front. They are a soft, stretchy, forgiving material- you can wear these over a lycra short and feel very comfortable. They make your butt look awesome!

#6. Enso silicone rings
Travis and I got engaged before Christmas 2016 and we picked out a ring for me to wear at work and a prettier one to wear out for dates, social, etc. Very practical. However, I have hands that get very cold in the winter months and had some serious issues getting my traditional rings sized to where I could (with confidence) wear them out or at work.
I became increasingly concerned how my claddagh ring would do during the busy season at the bike shop. I wasn't concerned about wearing down my beloved ESI grips- but I did worry about it getting caught on bikes.
Travis is a mechanic and he (understandably) did not want a metal ring to wear at work. So, I did some research on silicone rings and found that I loved the options Enso had. If I was going to lose a ring due to my fingers being too cold, not a big deal!
Enso rings come in different styles, you can get stackable ones or others that are more traditional. My favorite (and Travis') is the Element ring that was released during Earth Day 2017- Peacock Quartz Element ring. We've had several folks comment about how beautiful they look! I picked up a pair for us along with a black one for Travis and a purple one for myself, just in case we would want to switch things up! I never notice it while I'm working or riding- they are fantastic.

#7. Borah Teamwear FWD Jersey
We finally have our first Fearless Women of Dirt jersey! These are a freeride-style jersey that wears more like a tech-t. You'll want to size down if you want a less relaxed fit; they are very roomy. We will (in time) get a traditional full-zip jersey made (short sleeves & sleeveless). These jerseys can be purchased thru Decorah Bicycles and retail $74.99. We have sizes Small-XL in store but can easily order in other sizes for you. If you need a jersey shipped to you, just ad $4.00
Don't forget a FWD water bottle! One of the easiest ways to take the spirit of Fearless Women of Dirt with you! They retail for $6.99

#8. A hip pack
I never thought I would like using a hip pack. I was inspired by a good friend of mine who wore one during a FWD ride. The more I looked at it, the more I thought "This might not be a bad idea!" I went with one from Dakine. I had seen it in person (the brand she used) and I liked how sturdy it felt yet didn't seem it would be obtrusive. It has a nice sized waistband and (overall) nice sized pockets. I can put my phone, keys, lip balm, and eye drops in with a little room left to shove (really stuff) a lightweight wind jacket. This is more used for my morning rides when I'm out for under an hour- I'm barely drinking water nor do I need snacks on those quick rides and this frees up my shoulders from having unnecessary weight on them just for a couple essentials.

#9. & #10. 2018 Trek Farley 9.8 & 2018 Specialized S-Works Women's Epic
These two bikes have brought me some huge smiles this season. I'm super excited for the snow season this year and I can't wait to take this bike out in the snow! The rides I've had on it this season (so far) have been very enjoyable. Just recently I would say I found its weak link on our trails, but that's okay. One area out of miles of riding doesn't take away how awesome this bike is.
2018 Farley 9.8
The Epic hasn't had many rides because it was a late-season arrival, but the few rides I've had on it really stoked me! I wasn't entirely sure how I would like the bike with the suspension setup, you can read a lot of reviews on the Specialized Epic and some love it, some like it, and some don't care for it. I fell into the "love" category.
2018 Women's S-Works Epic
Both of these bikes are investments and both bikes are set up to where we wouldn't have to upgrade anything on them. The Epic will be my race bike for the dry season, taking over the Salsa Spearfish I've ridden for a couple seasons (due to us not being Salsa dealers, we felt it better for me to be on a brand we sell.) The Farley will be the go-to winter ride unless conditions get icy and I'll go back to my Specialized Fatboy that is currently set up with studded tires.

#11. ESI grips!
These were on the list last year...they continue to make the list! They are my go-to grip for all of my bikes. I'm still figuring out preference between Chunky and Extra Chunky, really it depends on what gloves I'm wearing. They have a variety of styles and colors that should please everyone!
For those who fight hand fatigue...don't forget about TOGS either! They just came out with a new model that is a little more flexible! I use the carbon ones on several of my bikes and find them to be super helpful for long rides. Especially gravel grinders where being able to move your hands around is helpful to combat numbness!

#12.  Specialized Women's Base Miles Featherweight Backpack
Finding a lightweight backpack for me to use for my commute that would allow me room to help haul some groceries home at night or stow away gear for group rides was tough. I had a bag I was using that was super great for those grocery trips and had plenty of room for clothes- but it was big. I mean...BIG. I looked like a turtle. Now, I might need to break it out for times we host winter group rides because winter clothes can be bulkier than summer gear- we'll see.

Here are some fine details about the Base Miles Featherweight Backpack-
Women's-specific straps distribute the weight across the top of the chest, enabling you to ride in any position without pressure.
Ultra lightweight construction.
Reflective pieces welded throughout to increase your visibility to motorists in low-light conditions.
Laptop sleeve can double as a water bladder pocket and keeps the weight in one place.
Triple-pointed helmet straps keep it tight against the bag.
Win-Tunnel-tested to keep you as aerodynamic and fast as possible.
Magnetic sternum buckle for one handed use while riding.
Volume: 15L

It's been my favorite backpack so far- smaller than one I would've used for school but large enough to accommodate most of my commuting needs! A bag like this vs. a traditional messenger bag has been better on my shoulder- which I appreciate.

#13. Bar Mitts Extreme
2018 Farley 9.8Bar Mitts are something that I have no shame in admitting I use during the winter months. Without a doubt, for my hands, they help keep me warmer than any glove I've ever used. Believe me, as a person who has been told they likely have Raynaud's, I have cold hands from the end of October until May. It's uncomfortable! I also struggle when wearing thick, fat gloves when it comes to having any sort of dexterity.

I used 45 NRTH Cobrafist pogies for a few seasons with mixed results. I liked them, but the donut insert that I had to deal with was not working well. We tried all the tricks we could think of, but I'd have one donut that would always get messed up. Finally, Travis convinced me to change (I was bullheaded!) and I'm grateful I did. No longer am I wasting time looking for a fallen donut or trying to shove it back into place so I wouldn't be exposed to cold hands. Now I put some gloves on and simply ride my bike!

If you are commuting by bike or riding fatbike trails, Bar Mitts Extremes will keep your hands toasty. You can even store snacks! What's not to love?

This rounds up my personal list of favorite things for 2017! Hopefully you've found something that you'd like to try out during your next riding season or maybe a gift for the favorite bike rider in your life! Keep the rubber side down and enjoy #bikelife!