Friday, June 28, 2019

Getting Shreddy with Shredly: A Shorts Review

Since re-discovering my love of baggy shorts, I had been tempted to get a couple pairs of Shredly shorts. Thankfully, I have a friend who is pretty much a carbon copy of my height/weight/body type, so I was able to try on a pair of her shorts for sizing purposes.

One of the things that I'm most picky about would be how wide the legs are. What had me fall out of love with baggy shorts were wide legs that would snag my saddle whenever I would get off the seat on climbs or to simply get back on my bike.

Thankfully I didn't find the legs of the Shredly shorts to be too wide for comfort. I also liked the embellishment for the snap closures (wee jewels!) So full steam ahead on ordering some fun and expressive shorts!

With the Shredly shorts, there are several style options available depending on what you are looking for, where you ride, or body type.


All of the shorts come in a wide variety of patterns/prints, but depending on which short you go with, it might have some key features for comfort or functionality. If you want an in-depth look into those differences, checking out the Style Guide is super helpful.

With my first Shredly order, I ordered the MTB Short and the Multi-Sport Short. I had contemplated going with the MTB Long shorts, but I didn't feel like the extra length for the majority of where I am riding would be necessary. I'm 5'2" so most shorts have a tendency of looking a bit long on me without trying!

I picked a pair of Multi-Sport shorts because I thought it would be fun to take a pair to wear in Florida, but to also use them as mountain bike shorts first and foremost. Between the two shorts, I didn't see enough difference to make me think I'd lose out too much. Upon delivery, I saw that the Multi-Sport shorts did come with an internal waistband adjustment, which I was prepared to go without, but was stoked that it was there!

The Multi-Sport shorts I snagged were the Nikki shorts.
The MTB Shorts I got were the Tina shorts.

I've had the opportunity to wear both shorts for a good bit of time and I feel I can say that they are a quality product that is fun, stylish, and functional. I don't have saggy bum syndrome when wearing them, the cut is flattering, and the legs aren't too wide. I'm used to riding where I live, so I'm not crashing a whole lot or anything of that nature to put the fabric to the test in terms of durability, but I feel they have some weight to them so should survive some sort of impact in some capacity.

I recently wore the MTB Shorts during a nearly 3-4 hour day of riding/tree trimming/ice cream eating. I was comfortable the entire time, granted I did get super sweaty- and I did take advantage of the vents towards the latter portion of my biking/time outdoors. I really liked that the hand pockets were deep enough to put my foldable hand saw in when I wasn't using it. Pockets are amazing when they are a functional size!

All in all, I am very pleased with my purchase of the Shredly shorts, and I can't wait to meet the folks behind the brand at the Roam Bike Fest in Sedona! If you are looking for a short that allows mobility, functionality, and a bit of style with fun prints- this is a great short to look into!

Check out a prior interview with Shredly Founder, Ashley!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Being A Unicorn

I apologize for the radio silence. I've been struggling to write the updates in my life over the past few months. Every time I've sat down to type out the words, I end up feeling unsatisfied with what comes out. I think I'm also just mentally and emotionally fried from the estate dealings. I'm very close to closing on the sale of my dad's property. I have a mixture of sadness and relief. There are many emotions surrounding the whole thing, and when the estate business is done, I think I will actually be able to take time to grieve (that is if I'm feeling the need to do so, which for the past year+ I have not allowed myself to really do so.)

A few months ago (before the busy season started up at the shop) I talked with my doctor and decided that I needed more help than CBD, bike riding, or meditation could bring. I'm grateful to her as a friend and patient, as she does believe there is a time and place for everything. I went on medication to help with my anxiety because I knew it was getting out of hand. 

I've always had high anxiety, but there were enough things happening to me on a regular basis to know that it was time. I, thankfully, didn't have horrible side effects- however, I can tell I'm on the medicine. I started on a low-dose and am currently taking half of the original dose. 

I cannot express to you how awesome it is to have a brain that is not traveling at 500 mph. I feel as tho it's been trying to multi-process so hard for so long. I call that "panic brain" and having lived with "panic brain" for so much of the time, to have it be quiet and allow me the time to think and speak without the fear of not being able to get my words out is immense.

I'll be honest, I spent a lot of 2018 in I'm sure, a depressed state for a majority of the time. My anxiety over all of the unknowns that I had to deal with was also very high. I wanted to give myself a break in 2019. If I felt like time was right.

I'm not sure at this point if I'm going to ever go off of the medication. Being on it has given me a good bit to reflect on, and I'm sure I will go off of it in the next few months (towards the slower end of the season at the shop) and see if it's something that I need to incorporate for long-term. I can say with what I've experienced now, I do feel like a different person. I'm still me, but more normal and can process much better. I'm a better me. I'm not as quick to fly into fight or flight mode, which "panic brain" had me go into quite often. I'm less inclined to jump into a "defensive" mode. 

I'm riding my bike more this year than last year, but also riding a bit differently. Even tho I logged onto Strava and started tracking my rides, I'm not as judgemental of my rides. I know I've been hyper-focused on maintaining averages/speed, but this year I'm allowing myself to just ride. Sometimes with purpose and other times for fun...solo or with friends. I feel like I can appreciate the rides more this year.

I've made good use of the handsaw that I took from my dad. It's the only way I'll cut any sort of tree. I've found it to be therapeutic in a way, and I'm also happy to be able to do some trail work that I know I can accomplish. I feel connected to him in a way, because I know he used the hand saw for his own tree-trimming purposes. 

Earlier this year I talked about the decision to pull away from racing, and I have to say that I'm very happy that I've made that call. Again, I'll do Chequamegon this year, but I'm looking forward to biking adventures that are not "race-based." Frankly, I feel like I've just gotten myself to a good place where my body is starting to recover and adapt, plus, I'm just needing a break from the stress and adrenaline that comes from "races." This year and next, #bikelife is strictly for enjoyment and/or trimming limbs and small trees off the trails.

I'm already excited for what next year will bring per #biking adventures, and I can't wait to share them with you! I want to get back to my roots and write more, which brings another change of sorts.
Josie's Bike Life is still in full swing, but the interviews and that format may be changing next year.

I guess blame it on another busy year. I mean, I can't believe how quickly it's flying by and trying to secure interviews months in advance take a lot of time and it creates a good bit of stress. Especially when you have folks on board that ultimately get busy and can't commit. With the interviews, I end up not writing a lot for various reasons. One being I want the person interviewed to have the spotlight, and two, it takes time to curate content- and I spend more time drafting and getting an interview set up than I do with my own writings and reviews.

It's not that interviews will stop, but I can't continue to focus on them being the sole goal of the year. I'm running out of resources and the format isn't what everyone is up to doing (writing). It's also mentally/emotionally tiring to send out messages all over Facebook/Instagram to not get a response at all. I've spent hours upon hours over the years, working to connect with folks, and sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. 

I figure during the winter months would be the perfect opportunity to work on that side of JBL, during the busy season I can go back to writing reviews and general #bikelife thoughts, and during the fall months (when we can travel!) I can write about the places we go and biking adventures!

I've really missed writing, and there are reviews I wish to write on gear that I've been using this year, follow-ups on bikes, and general stuff. I'm excited to give myself some time to focus on bringing a bit more of "Josie" back to Bike Life.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Women Involved Series: Keely Shannon

I'm a mountain biker living the dream in Bellingham, WA! I started a small fender company, Ground Keeper Fenders, in December of 2017 and gradually made the leap from side hustle to full blown job. Our “fancy bicycle fenders” are all made in Bellingham, use recycled plastic, and feature funky, loud designs.

After months of testing different plastics and printing methods, a rad product was born and people are STOKED! It’s really been amazing to be on this side of a business and watch your baby grow. I still get a big ole’ smile every time I see one of our fenders on the local trails :)

Before the GK hustle became a full-time gig, I had been working as a graphic design contractor for clients in the bike, motorcycle, startup, and financial industries. Having worked in the bicycle industry for the last 7 years, it was really cool to dip my toes in other industries. 

I’ve been self-employed for almost four years, but prior to that, I worked as a graphic designer, and eventually marketing manager, at Specialized Bicycles in California.

My time at Specialized was incredible - it shaped me as a young professional, taught me how to work with people from all over the world, and gave me a genuine love for the bike industry. But awesome times were also accompanied my bathroom cries and being a young woman in the bike industry did not come without it’s challenges. My ideas were trampled on a daily basis and I felt like I was never taken seriously. A week after calling out several teams for not including women in their marketing plans, I was “quitted”, a Specialized term for being let go. Later, I even learned my male counterparts with the same job title were making double what I was. It was a rough time for me, but it gave me the kick in the butt I needed to start my own business. And so began the hustle….

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
It’s hard to remember when I first started riding because it was so long ago! My parents had me on two wheels at a very early age and I’m fortunate to have started riding mountain bikes so early. But in my later years, jumping has been something that continues to challenge me. I suck at jumping, but I’d say spending as much time pumping on a pump track helps you learn timing and the basic feeling.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
I’ve been battling injury for the last two years so have been off and on the bike between surgeries. Upon returning, just about everything seems a bit trickier than it used to be. Roots and chutes have been a mind battle for me lately, and it’s been frustrating to walk things I used to ride without hesitation. For me, it’s all mental so the best thing I can do is try to shut my brain off. And maybe have a beer before the descent ;) I also have to make a conscious decision not to compare myself to others, or to pre-injured Keely.

Clips or flats? What do you use when and why?

Clips on the MTB. I’d like to try flats though. I feel like I’ve picked up bad habits with clips so I may give flats a try one of these days. I did recently get some magnetic pedals for my gravel bike and I’m not a big fan of those.

For folks who are nervous about giving mountain biking a shot, do you have any suggestions on how they can go about creating a positive experience?
Start small and work your way up. Don’t go out for a three-hour ride with seasoned riders - you’ll get frustrated and will hate life. Try and find people of similar skill-level and start with manageable rides that you can enjoy. Facebook and other online groups make it easy to find riding buddies. Once you start to feel comfortable on your bike and new trails, build up from there! If there’s a tricky section of trail you struggle with, go out by yourself or with a patient friend and session that section a few times until you feel comfortable.

Have you had any biffs (accidents) that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
Yup, sure did! Like I said before, it’s a huge mental battle. In May of 2017, I fell off a weird skinny/bridge and completely destroyed my knee. I’ve had 6 knee surgeries in the last 2 years and am currently dealing with some chronic knee issues. In between surgeries, I would start riding again and quickly get myself in over my head trying to follow friends or ride moves I used to. Honestly, the best thing for me was to ride by myself for the first few weeks. This allowed me to walk what I needed and not feel pressured to go fast or ride moves that everyone else is.

What do you love about riding your bike?

So many things! I used to be a lot more competitive and always enjoyed pushing myself harder and faster, but in the last few years I’ve really enjoyed the social aspect more than anything (this makes me sound old! Ha). Living in Bellingham a mile from the trail, it’s so easy to meet up with friends and head out for a rip. Also, there’s no better feeling than finding your flow on familiar singletrack :)
Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I JUST got a new Transition Sentinel that I’m super stoked on. I just started riding again since my last surgery and it’s nice to start fresh with a fancy new whip!

Tell us about Ground Keeper Fenders, what inspired you to start creating fun and colorful front fenders for mountain bikes?
I definitely didn’t set out to create a fender company, but discovered a gap in the market and went for it. It all started when I tried to order a small run of fenders for a project I was doing with my finance, Tony (of Made Rad By Tony). To my surprise, I couldn’t find any fender company who could print what we wanted. Most of the companies were in Europe and only screen print, so colors and designs are very limited. Not to mention, minimum order quantities were upwards of 200! So I decided to try and make the fenders myself. After months of testing prototypes and printing methods, I solved the puzzle and decided to start a fender company! We have no minimum order quantity, no printing restrictions, quick turnaround and sweet graphics! In the end, I’m really just tired of lame race graphics so I’ve really enjoyed bringing rad art to the bike industry!
Being your "own boss" what has been the most challenging aspect of owning your own business? The most exciting?
I’ve been self-employed for about four years, and I’m not sure I could ever not be anymore! Besides the obvious benefits of setting your own schedule, traveling, etc, it’s exhilarating to build something from scratch and watch it grow. I suppose a challenging aspect is just holding yourself accountable. If I don’t do basic things like make Instagram posts or reach out to shops, we don’t have sales. And when we don’t have sales, we don’t pay mortgage! So when the couch and a good movie are calling my name on a rainy morning, I just remind myself of that.

You also work as a graphics designer, what do you enjoy most about working with other industries?
As a freelance graphic designer, it’s been fun to dip my toes in lots of different industries. When I started freelancing, I made it a point to take on jobs outside the bike industry in order to gain another business perspective. I have clients in the motorcycle, health care, and finance worlds and each of them have unique challenges and processes- all of which gave me great insights for starting my own business.

Being involved in the cycling industry for so long, what has been your biggest frustration?
I started working in the bike industry immediately out of college. As you might expect, being a young woman in the cycling industry has its challenges. Pay discrimination, mansplaining, general lack of respect: these are all very real things that I experienced quite often.
Aside from gender inequality, the other frustration for me was how serious everything was. When a launch plan has to go through 15 people and is completely watered down by the time it’s approved, you've lost the point. Bikes are fun! This isn’t rocket science. I applaud the brands, big and small, who are able to keep it light and not take themselves too seriously.

With Ground Keeper, I try to keep it fun. At the end of the day, we’re making pizza fenders for bicycles….

Do you feel there has been progress during the past year? What are you most stoked about?
For sure! It seems like there’s been some progress for professional female racers in the last couple of years, which is good to see. I can only hope ladies working in the bike industry are seeing progress also. From the mechanic in the bike shop who isn’t trusted by their male customer, to the marketing managers and product developers. I hope they see equal pay and feel respected.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
I think the best thing we can do is start with kids. My two nephews are on NICA mountain bike teams but when I ask my niece why she doesn’t join, she shrugs her shoulders and has no good reason. When I go to her brothers’ practice, it’s obvious why she doesn’t join. It’s all boys! WHY IS THIS STILL THE CASE??? Programs like Little Bellas are what will make a difference. We need to change the perception that mountain biking is not a boys sport.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Again, perception. Mountain biking is seen as a boys sport. And it’s true - there are way more men on mountain bikes than women. We need more women in order to get more women. Last year, one of my friends asked who cut my hair. Within a year, my whole lady friend circle used the same hairdresser. Women talk and word of mouth is very real. When Susie Que tells a couple friends about this awesome sport of mountain biking, they’ll buy a bike! We just need more Susie Ques :)

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Women like my friend, Haley. She’s incredible. She rides a very old school Specialized Endruo Y-frame that her dad bought at Goodwill for $60 many years ago. She is the ultimate “rung what ya brung” girl and she absolutely kills it. She is proof that you can be a mountain biker and have fun with everyone else no matter what you ride. 

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I can walk on my hands. You can take the girl out of gymnastics but you can’t take the gymnast out of the girl ;)

Monday, June 17, 2019

Men Involved: Ken Barker

"I ride bikes, crack jokes, develop trails, love my kids; work to make my community a better place."

Ken Barker has been building and riding trails for decades and as a result, gained vast experiential knowledge. His travels have taken him, along with friends and family, to first-rate trails across North America, deepening his belief that quality trails are a conduit for outdoor appreciation and building community.

Ken has a passion for the exceptional trail experience and understands the value this can bring to communities everywhere.

Ken’s professional experiences outside of trail development have been predominantly in the field of education, where innovation and collaboration are a must. During his 18 year tenure as an educator, Ken has led teams of teachers in designing and executing student-centered educational programming.

As a trail builder, Ken Barker has an unwavering commitment to quality and sustainability, noting that, “Building mountain bike trails is an art form. Trail concepts and design best practices are based in science, with new techniques continually evolving; however, the final result is truly a work of art. This merging of science and creativity contributes to unique and exciting trail experiences. I strongly believe these sorts of trails should be within striking distance of every home.

"My biz BYT is a trail development firm... design, education, assessment, construction, maintenance, etc. all things trails!"

Tell us about your introduction to #bikelife, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
I'm sure most everyone you interview says something to effect of "I've been riding bikes my whole life!" and I pretty much have been, but as I think about it... for me it's the general positivity of the activity and lifestyle: it's fun, it's healthy, it can provide challenge - exercise - escape - etc. and many friendships have come of playing around on these silly contraptions. Simply put, I love riding bikes, always have, and likely always will.

Have you always known that biking would somehow be incorporated into your work?
I've always tried to use a bicycle when feasible for "regular life" stuff like commuting to work, grocery getting, traipsing my children around, etc. This has led to me continuously advocating in favor of community improvements for cyclists of all types, pedestrians as well. I've started mt. biking clubs in schools as an educator, and in communities as a rider / advocate. And now: trail development as a profession.

How did you get started with trail building?
Like many kids, I was digging in the dirt in order to have more fun on my bike, somewhere between Star Wars and The Goonies movie releases. Upon ditching my automobile for an MTB in the early 90s I began to cut paths in wooded areas, feeling that I could do better than the deer when it comes to flying through natural environments. Eventually, this led to advocating for trails and working with land management agencies to bring "legal" singletrack to various properties.

When did you decide to create Backyard Trails LLC.?
I’d been thinking about starting a trail development firm for many years, but it wasn't until 2017 that I went all in and launched the official business.

What inspired the name of your company?
My belief is that the most important trail in the world is the one you ride most often... i.e. your hometown (backyard) trail(s) #LocalSingletrack #HometownTrails #BackyardTrails and now IMBA's #MoreTrailsCloseToHome

What has been the most challenging trail you've constructed?
Nearly all of the time I'm building trails it is for others, and those trails are often in the novice to intermediate range. It's exciting when I get the opportunity to build something challenging. There's some fairly tough stuff in my own backyard, however, on public property I was recently able to design and build a local trail named The Miscreant; I think people would call it challenging. It's a good thing when riders of all skill levels have access to trails that challenge them, it's rewarding to be a part of that growth / progression.

It should seem logical, but what do you do as a trail builder? How do you build trails right?
It begins with intentional design / planning... to meet the needs of trail users of today and the future, the intent: trail experiences that satisfy a variety of what people are seeking; or may not even realize they’re seeking. Practices that keep the trails sustainable are a given, the part that leverages my expertise is creating trails that satisfy the wide variety of what trail users are looking for.
As a rider, where is your favorite trail located? (You can have more than one favorite!)
Omigosh, that is a tough one! Holy Cross Trail - Grand Jct. ColoRADo is one of the first to come to mind. The variety of amazing trail experiences in British Columbia is so vast there is simply no way to choose one… Samurai Pizza Cat at the Whistler Bike Park, Full Nelson in Squamish, the list goes on and on. A zone that really surprised, and inspired me, is Whitehorse & Carcross in the Yukon, very remote yet amazing trails. I also enjoy how creative and fun many bike park trails have become… Little Switzerland in Wisconsin has all sorts of fun lines, on a little Midwest bump in the landscape, I love it! I have also been visiting Arkansas for years, and to see the steady evolution to explosion of trails occurring there is mind-blowing.

As a builder, where is your favorite trail located?
The way the feeling of flow is eeked out of minimal elevation in the upper Midwest will make anyone smile. I find it amazing trails of that quality can exist in such harsh environments, it is inspiring to me as a builder and rider. They get after it up there, do yourself a favor and check it out: Marquette, Houghton, Copper Harbor all in Michigan; Bayfield, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota are a few of the places you can find what I’m referring to.

How do you work with mountain bike chapters/communities?
It depends where they are with their trail development needs: planning / designing new trails or reroutes, rehabilitating old or damaged trails, consultation and or training for trails advocacy / construction / maintenance / etc. And my favorite… actually building trails.

What has been the most interesting thing you've learned since making trail building your job?
The “sales cycle” can take years! Operating a small business has its own set of challenges and rewards. Overall I feel lucky to engage in my passion as a means to make a living.

If you could build a trail anywhere, where would you go?
Right here. I love bringing surprisingly fun and high-quality trail experiences to places people may perceive as not having the potential. Trail systems of any size accessible for more people to enjoy… shouldn’t be an afterthought, they should be amazing as those are the most important trails in the world.

Why do you love riding? 
Many reasons, but what really speaks to me is the feeling of getting lost in the moment, losing yourself in a way that is engaging on many levels; an almost hypnotic immersion into the experience of navigating your bicycle through a natural space.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more folks to be involved?
Dream big for your local trail(s), but keep it realistic and do what you can. Think about singletrack trails as you would any other community amenity (ball fields, playgrounds, etc.) and advocate for them as such. You don’t necessarily need to volunteer every weekend, donate huge amounts of resources, and turn your life upside down to make it happen. It is amazing what can be accomplished by groups of people working together, when they engage with the right partners, think in and outside of the box, it can make a big and positive difference in communities.

What inspires you to encourage people to ride?
The positivity and well being it brings to peoples' lives... exercise, challenge, joy, camaraderie, escape; all the above!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I wore the Singlespeed USA belt for a year.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Women Involved Series: Kristi Mohn

In the bike world, I am part of the Dirty Kanza crew - I've been involved in many aspects of the race for the past 12 years, and I love it!
I am a co-owner of a Coldwell Banker Real Estate office here in Emporia, am proud momma to Sydney and Mason - 21-year-old twins, and I'm married to the stunning and talented Tim Mohn, better known as TFM (Tim F#$king Mohn) :) .
I started riding bikes probably 17 years ago - mostly to spend time with TFM. He needed to find something to do to get in shape. I had been a runner; he hated that when he tried it and so took up cycling.

Soon I was joining him for long-ish rides that were dates....Our babysitter said to me one time - "You are the only person that when you call and ask if I can babysit at 6, I have to ask a.m. or p.m." :)

TFM was one of the initial 34 riders in the first DK in 2006, and that really cemented our love in cycling. I saw an opportunity to get involved and make our hometown a better place to live with DK as the vehicle for that change.

I am pretty passionate about getting women out there on the gravel - our #200women200miles campaign has been super successful, and fun! I also love pushing myself hard on the bike as well. I've ridden LandRun, Gravel Worlds, Rebecca's Private Idaho, and did complete the 200 miles of the DK last year. I've also ridden the Ho Chi Minh trail with Rebecca Rusch on her first MTB LAO trip in 2016. She's become a close personal friend and is really a big inspiration and support system for me. I've met SO. MANY. AMAZING women thru biking, I can't even begin to imagine my life without them in it.

I hope to continue to get more women on bikes and in the industry, and I hope to continue racing different events each year - meeting new folks, greeting old friends, and riding my bike in super cool places!

Tell us about your introduction to #bikelife, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
My introduction to #bikelife....my husband was looking for some sort of exercise that he actually enjoyed. I was an avid runner at the time, and while he tried that, he didn't enjoy it, at all! I suggested he try cycling, and after a few tries and a new-to-him bike, he liked it. I soon joined. Our twins were young at the time and this was a way we could go on our "dates." Hire a babysitter and go for a ride!
What do you love most about being able to share cycling with your husband?
It's a great way for us to connect and have conversations that are uninterrupted. It also takes us to some great places and we've met some of our best friends through cycling.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Descending with confidence was a challenge. Practice helped! I love climbing but wasn't a big fan of the other side of the hill :) Rebecca Rusch gave me some pretty great tips, the biggest of which was to get down in my drops - I never knew. If you are uncomfortable with some aspect of cycling, say it out loud - most likely someone else has experienced that same thing and can help with solutions.

For folks who are nervous about giving gravel and/or endurance riding a shot, do you have any suggestions on how they can go about creating a positive experience?
A great support network is awesome! Finding that thru a local shop, or even looking on FB to see if there is a cycling group in your area, those are great resources. Don't be shy about it - generally speaking, we are a very friendly group that wants to see new cyclists succeed!

Have you had any biffs (accidents) that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
HA! YES! The beginning of Day 2 of an 8-day MTB trip in Lao, I was descending some steps and went over the handlebars. Though the landing was soft, I broke my wrist. I spent the 7 days ahead riding with a broken wrist (luckily it wasn't a bad break). There was no way I wasn't riding - I was halfway around the world. I think that very fact just provided the reason to push through the pain and look for ways to adapt.

Once I got back, I resorted to trainer rides while the wrist healed, then used a Lauf fork for a while to take the edge off the gravel.

I'm fairly stubborn, so it's got to be something big to keep me down for a long time.

What do you love about riding your bike?
All of it. Seriously. I like the training, inside and outside. I like gear and shopping for it. I like learning about taking care of the machine (new found interest). I like how strong and capable it makes me feel. And I love long point to point rides with friends that end at a great restaurant or new location.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
Really? This may get embarrassing -

I have a titanium Salsa Warbird (trusty steed), a salsa bear grease (kept in Ketchum ID for winter fat biking), a Niner RLT RDO (for super speed and comfort), and a Specialized S-Works Epic (newest to the fleet for my newest goal - mastering mountain biking). I also own the back half of a Salsa PowderKeg. There's a pretty crappy Trek road bike hanging on the wall that I need to sell, but motivation. And I have a converted steel frame Fuji road bike that is now a single speed that needs some time spent on it!

That's not terrible when you consider how much I love riding, right?

You are part of the Dirty Kanza team, tell us about the magic that is Dirty Kanza-
I don't really know if I have words to explain the Kanza...I do know this- Kanza has changed the community I live in and love. Emporia is a different town then it was 10 years ago. I also know it impacts people's lives, including mine. I'm grateful nearly every day for this little bike race.

A couple of years ago, DK started an initiative to increase women participants by creating the #200women200miles campaign. What was the inspiration behind it?
Giving women the courage, space, and opportunity to try something outside their comfort zone. It's done so much more...

What has been the most inspiring part of having so many women show interest in participating in an event that they might otherwise be intimidated by?
Last year when I actually was able to ride in the event (the rest of the DK crew stepped up to cover my jobs and a few key friends and volunteers filled in for me), I found myself in a paceline that was 6 or 7 women strong...and exactly that, all women. After a bit, it really hit me where I was riding, and tears filled my eyes. I have never been in an event where that had happened. We were calling each other by the states we were from, which was pretty cool too!

Why do you feel women should commit to participating in at least one cycling event?
It's important for us to take the time for ourselves. It makes us better at all the other things we do. With the inaugural 2018 Women's Camp, I said: "put yourself first without putting others last." I think that sums up a lot about one of our biggest downfalls as women - we don't make enough time to make sure we are being our best selves. So whether it's a cycling event or some other event, sign up! It's good for your heart and soul.

For folks new to events, do you have any tips or suggestions that might help them feel more confident?
Find training partners, watch the numerous videos available, ask questions, find a great LBS to work with!

What has been your favorite event to participate in?
MTBLAO changed my life. No doubt. But all of the events I've done have really come out of relationships from Dirty Kanza...

Tell us about your experience riding the Ho Chi Mihn trail with Rebecca Rusch-
Rebecca has become a close friend over the years. She's a solid human - both on and off the bike. When the invitation came to ride the first MTBLAO trip, I jumped at it, even though I really didn't ride mountain bikes at the time. Riding in Laos was so unique. Beautiful scenery, kind people, great cyclist to share the trail with, all set against some of the biggest destruction I've ever seen and will ever see in my life. It is the most heavily bombed country in the world.

It's an experience that is difficult to put into words. I remember a day in particular where Don Duvall, our moto guide, stopped to show us an aerial of the trail we were riding on. I'd been riding along thinking about all of the random ponds we were riding by - turns out, they weren't actually ponds. When Don showed us the view from above, you could see all of these for what they were - craters left from all the bomb we dropped on this country 40 years ago. It was sickening. As we rode on, we descended thru a small village on the way to our day's destination. I was thinking about that war, and about my father who didn't have to serve overseas, and my son, who is the age to be drafted. I was super conflicted, and out to the side of the road, villagers had gathered and were smiling and waving and cheering us on. It was surreal. I'm sure I'm not doing this justice, but nonetheless, the Ho Chi Mihn trip was life-changing, and continues to inspire and change me, and give me direction.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling?
I think largely we get in our own way. Cycling is also a pretty expensive sport to get into, and often we don't feel great about making that investment in ourselves.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
I feel we just need to keep asking women to be involved - and when they do, we need to welcome them and support them.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I'm not really sure - I guess I just want them to find what I have found. Plus I love having more ladies to ride with!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I have a birthmark shaped like pac man on my left thigh?
I live 1/2 a mile from my brother and his family and from my parents?
I went to school to be a high school Spanish teacher?
I married Lawrence KS most eligible bachelor?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

What You Learn At A Trail Workday

In this post, I'm going to write about my recent experience participating in a DHPT: Decorah Human Powered Trails workday.

We met up on a Wednesday in Van Peenen Park to work on a handful of spots on a couple of the trails. I'll admit, I was nervous because I've never been at a trail workday yet and I certainly didn't want to be in the way.  I didn't participate in trail workdays in the past due to my arm and shoulder issues. They're still there, but I have a much better handle on them and figured I should be good to go with volunteering.

So here is what I learned with participating in my first trail workday.

#1. Anyone can help! If you don't know how to do dirt work or run a chainsaw, there will be something you can help with. You can pick up sticks, you can be a helpful hand with grabbing tools for other folks, you can help carry stuff, etc.

#2. If you are interested in learning some of the easier aspects of dirt work, simply say so and you'll get help learning! I watched Travis use the tamper to pound dirt down and it looked easy, so I asked if I could try it and the rest is history. It was super simple, tiring, but easy to do- and it's helpful! When I wasn't tamping, I was using a rake to break up dirt clumps to allow for tamping to happen. Something so simple as breaking up dirt clumps is helpful for dirt work.

#3. If you enjoy using the dirt trails, you should find time to join a workday at least one time.
Why? It makes you appreciate the work that has been done that allows YOU to enjoy the trails. It's eye-opening. Also, there is something to be said about taking some ownership and volunteering time to help something you love. After the work was done, you see the improvements, and you can't wait for the weather to cooperate so you can ride it!

#4. Trail work can be done by and appreciated by everyone. If you run, bike, or hike- you will reap the benefit of trail work. Regardless of how you enjoy the trails, you are part of a community of folks who enjoy outdoor recreation. Volunteering time at a workday allows you to connect with like-minded folks, and you just might make new friends!

#5. Kids can help at a workday, too! It's a great way of introducing them to respecting the trails and understanding the work that goes into creating them. It's a great time to educate trail use etiquette as well.

We were able to accomplish a good amount of trail work within a couple of hours, even if it made me tired! It's really neat to see a group of folks get together, and as the work progresses, see the stoke everyone has over how it looks and how they can't wait to ride it. 

DHPT: Decorah Human Powered Trails will announce their workdays on Facebook and through email. If you would like to be involved, you can send an email to josie@decorahbicycles.com and get added to the DHPT mailing list!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Women Involved Series: Tricia Davis

I am a Canadian physical therapist, wife, athlete, coach, writer, organizer, trail advocate and doggie-Mom.

I live in Brevard but have spent the past 20+ years searching for the perfect place to live. We are pretty close here. Although, no place is perfect. We have been lucky enough to live in Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, British Columbia, Arizona, and Washington. (I may have forgotten some.)

My husband, Chad and I started Crankjoy.com to provide great, inspirational information on mountain bike products, destinations, and events. We hope to get people out of their backyard to explore new places and meet new people while living the passion that we do - mountain biking.

The coaching company I co-founded (killercoach.com) is a way for me to help people reach their athletic goals while staying healthy and preventing injury- a nice niche for a physical therapist. I am also quite active with Pisgah Area SORBA - our local IMBA chapter and serve on the Board of Directors to try to get people involved and stay informed about changes in our regions trails, access, and social groups. I am not a superhero but I do aspire to take over the world with my mission: inspire, connect and encourage people to experience this short life to the fullest- with a dirty little grin.


Tell us about your introduction to mountain biking, what about it made you say "Yes! This is for me!"
I first started riding mountain bikes when I was 18- one of my first rides was a small local race. I was dating a road cyclist during high school and he thought mountain biking was silly, so that made me want to do it even more. I thought it was way more fun than riding road. I just loved the dirt, mud and literally being immersed in nature.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
All of the skills challenged me. Just staying on the bike was a challenge. Being young and recovering from crashes was easy, not so much these days! I always enjoyed riding behind faster and more skilled riders. There just weren't the skills clinics that are available today. If those existed back then I would have for sure started there.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
I think everyone has their nemesis trail or feature that really psyches them out. Mine is for sure off camber slick rock and roots. Knowing that everyone, even the most skilled rider has difficulties with some aspect of riding makes me feel better about my own riding. If I get to a section and have to put a foot down or walk it, I try to get a little further each time to progress, but puckering up before the section comes along usually doesn't help. I try to just let it come and see what happens.

Clips or flats? What do you use when and why?
I am old-school so ride clips usually, but I have been trying to do some skills session and some winter riding here in Pisgah in flats. Learning to track stand and wheelie is way better with flats. I think they are both good and both have their place, but generally, I am more comfortable being attached to my bike.

For folks who are nervous about giving mountain biking a shot, do you have any suggestions on how they can go about creating a positive experience?
Just get out there and try it. Go with a friend and learn how to do it right. Have someone start you out on an appropriate trail for your level of skill and make it safe. Most people learning to ski or play tennis would pay for a lesson, so why not for a sport like mountain biking. It just makes sense to me. Keep in mind that the videos people see on Red Bull is about 0.05% of all mountain biking. You don't have to shred and do backflips to be a mountain biker. You just have to enjoy nature and adventure.

What was the inspiration behind starting Crankjoy?
We (my husband Chad and I) wanted to provide information that would inspire people to get out and enjoy traveling to new places with their mountain bikes like we do. Writing for Crankjoy has led us to some pretty amazing places and has allowed us to meet some really inspirational people. Highlighting these experiences is a great way for people to see how they can connect with their mountain bike community in a more intimate way. The ladies tab is a spot for women to learn about products, experiences and events that are cool.

What has been the best thing you've done or experienced since creating content for Crankjoy?
For sure it has been meeting a ton of people in and out of the bike industry who are passionate about riding. Mountain bikers are an interesting and eclectic bunch of people. Expanding our connections across the country and Canada has 100% been the best thing to come from Crankjoy.

What event(s) have been your favorite to attend and why?
I am a sucker for the ladies Roam Events- especially the inaugural Ladies mountain bike festival in Sedona! It was a magical event and gathering, and Ash and Andi with Roam Events just get it. They do an awesome job of making everyone feel included and truly care about each participants experience. The Brevard Roam Fest is pretty cool too, and it is right down the street from me!

You co-founded killercoach.com, tell us what inspired you to get involved with coaching?
Racing triathlons back in the 90's made me get into coaching. I wanted to do an Ironman and once I started researching how to train, I was hooked. Watching my husband train as a pro mountain biker was also an inspiration. I thought it was a nice compliment to my daily work as a physical therapist, dealing with injured and sick people every day. It was nice to have that perspective working with healthy and super driven athletes. It is a valuable combination now to be a coach and a physical therapist, I think it really offers my clients a well-rounded perspective. I also still love triathlon, especially the off-road variety.

What has been your favorite coaching moment so far?
Working with my killercoach co-founder Melissa Ross. She is much younger than I am in chronological age, but so wise. I love having her as a coworker and good friend to help my professional as well as personal growth. She is always there for me and I can always count on her for solid advice. She is one of the kindest people I know and has an amazing way of considering everyone's perspective.

You are on the board of directors for SORBA, tell us what you do on the board and how folks can be involved-
I am lucky enough to do all of the Social Media and Community Engagement for Pisgah Area SORBA. I got involved at a time when folks were not that organized and the membership was just not growing. We are now organized and going in the right direction. The past leadership did a great job of organizing grant funding (for a 5 year total of $528,000!) from the government and maintaining a relationship with the forest service. This is a lot of money, but not near enough to get the trails to a place where they are sustainable. These grants also require matching funds and volunteer hours to execute. Now we need to mobilize the "people" who are loving the Pisgah Trails and area, to help build and maintain sustainable trails for years to come. I'm excited to help and if you love the trails here too you can donate to the trails directly via Pisgah Area SORBA's Paypal account.

Why do you feel it's important for women to be involved with their local mtb trail group?
I don't just think women need to be involved with their local MTB trail group, I think everyone who benefits from the trails needs to be involved. If you ride, hike, run, operate a business in the towns that derive business from mountain bikers or just think trails are important to your community (and let's face it who doesn't) then you should participate in some way! Donate, volunteer your time and help promote your local clubs. Women are underrepresented in the mountain biking community, although that trend is changing and I feel we as a user group have plenty to offer. Being a trail advocate has many forms, from digging in the dirt, organizing grants, soliciting donations, promoting club events, helping keep the books, manning a booth at a local fair; there is something for everyone to use their personal talents doing. It takes a village.

What do you love most about being involved in the cycling industry?
Cyclists, especially mountain bikers have a unique perspective on life. It's the people I've met and the connections I have made that I love the most about the cycling industry. I don't think anyone is in this industry to get rich or show how powerful they can be, so there is not a lot of that to deal with. People that ride respect nature, love adventure and just want a positive life experience. Who doesn't want to be around that all day? In my mind, this is what is important in life.

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love feeling fit and strong. I love that there is no limit to what I can do on a bike. There is always a trail/race/event I can do that challenges me. Feedback is usually immediate and absolute. There is very little grey area in mountain biking. I find riding very centering and meditative if I want it to be. It's also a great way to meet new friends and connect with old ones.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I am a huge Ibis fan. I love all their bikes, love the company and love the folks that work there like family. That said my favorite Ibis is my Ripmo. It's an amazing long travel 29er and she's blinged out with custom I-9 wheels to match the blue and orange frame. Its the sexiest bike I've ever owned. I've had it for a couple of months but not been able to ride it much due to the terrible winter we have been having here in Western North Carolina.
I also have a super pimp Ibis Hakka MX, which is a gravel bike with a dropper! This bike has been a lifesaver this winter for me. It has been keeping me sane and when it's too cold/wet/muddy/dark to go outside it's hooked up to a smart trainer and I have been obsessed with riding Zwift. It's like a video game for your bike. Indoor riding is way more fun this way and you can connect with other riders in real time, which is cool. The added fitness will pay dividends in the spring and fall, so I will be able to get right out and do some big rides without having to rebuild fitness lost over the winter.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
I think some of the images, videos, and stereotypes in the bike media can be pretty intimidating for women. Watching some of the mountain bike videos and seeing some of the print media, especially ads makes mountain biking seem a little far from reach for most women, especially older ladies. Sure I'd love to be able to ride a big flowline with gap jumps and whip out my rear end every time I jump, but I really don't think that's gonna happen. It is happening in my mind even if no one can see it. If I can get that feeling of pushing my limits and enjoy trails with a big smile on my face that is enough for me. If women looking to get into the sport realized that it can be whatever you want it to be, I think it would be amazing. Having someone to open up that world to you is important. With the proliferation of women's events and skills clinics over the past 5 or so years, I think this is really contributing to the growth of the sport for women and is super important.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
I'd love to see more of the bike companies sponsoring and supporting events that empower women. The Bell Joy Ride and LIV ambassador programs really stand out as leaders in this movement. Also, bike industry hiring more women will go a long way to changing things. Ibis is pushing the envelope encouraging women participation without specifically making a women's specific bike, in fact I guess you could say all their bikes are for women they just let the men ride them too:} All Ibis are designed by lady-power in a small package, Roxy Lo. She understands the connection between form and function.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I love to see traditional stereotypes shattered and more importantly I love to see how people feel after riding a mountain bike. It really is the best therapy. I love giving ladies the tools to explore their own abilities with regards to fitness and skill on the bike and watching the massive improvements that happen once someone gets "hooked."

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I love collecting notebooks and amazing paper and stationery and love the feeling of opening a new book.