Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

AIDS/LifeCycle 10 Podcasts a success…

April 18, 2011

It seems that AIDS/LifeCycle is taking up all of my time right now. We are in crunch time of ALC preparation, and I’ve also taken on these podcasts (which has been a HUGE learning experieince in itself), so I have not been able to blog for Girl Meets Bike in a while.

What I can tell you is this:

  • Being an ALC Cyclist Representative is wonderful, but requires a lot of time and multi-tasking.
  • Much of what I do is either coaching, teaching my cyclists how to fundraise, or filling out reports mentioning every interaction I have with them (that’s right, it not all fun and games 😉 )
  • Being a podcaster is insane and wonderful; it’s also like a second job right now, but I think it’s really important, and worth my time.
  • Podcasting it for AIDS/LifeCycle is an experience of a lifetime, if just for the stories I get to hear from our participants and clients.
  • When I can get out for a ride on my own, it is usually on my New Specialized Myka. I hope to put up a review of the Myka soon, but I can honestly say right now that this bike is the most versatile bike I’ve ever owned.

UPDATE:
The Podcasts Can Now Be Found On The Girl Meets Bike YouTube Channel

The quality of the first one is bad, but it gets better as the series continues.
http://youtube.com/girlmeetsbike

ALC 10 Podcast- Episode 2: Positive

March 16, 2011

This is the Second podcast for AIDS/LifeCycle 10, coming to you directly from the AIDS/LifeCycle offices in Los Angeles, from Cyclist Representative Lisa Hachadoorian. It is a mix of stories from past AIDS/LifeCycle participants, and information for the upcoming ALC 10 ride.

Episode 2:

Positive

AIDS/LifeCycle Podcast – Episode 2: Positive

New Segment: AIDS/LifeCycle News

1.  Lifeline

  • Carlos Hernandez of Positive Images helps me field a call for help.

2.  Ask Everyone

  • Fundraising Advice from Jay Lennox.
  • 3 Fundraising tips from the Fundraising Workshops

3.  Positive

  • Pos Peds help a young man learn the I’mpossible.

AIDS/LifeCycle 10: CR Lisa makes a Podcast “For the Newbies”

February 21, 2011

This is the first podcast for AIDS/LifeCycle 10, coming to you directly from the AIDS/LifeCycle offices in Los Angeles, from Cyclist Representative Lisa Hachadoorian. It is a mix of stories from past AIDS/LifeCycle participants, and information for the upcoming ALC 10 ride.

This is not an official AIDS/LifeCycle podcast.

PODCAST 1:

For the Newbies

1. Urban Legend.

  • Hearing is believing. Brendan Patrick helps us remember this one.

2. What is a Training Ride Leader (or TRL)?

  • Mark Botello explains the role of these vital volunteers

3. Where do your donation dollars go?

  • The Prevention On Wheels Mobile Unit (or the POW Van) is just one of the life saving programs that is, in part, supported by your donation dollars. Jimmy Ramos, who is program manager for the POW van, explains the process of the FREE HIV testing service, which the POW Van provides.
  1. What’s so special about a bike ride?
  • Matthew Campos sends us on a trip down memory lane, back to California AIDS Ride 3.

Music:

found on fma.org, all this wonderful is available under Creative Commons Licencing. Thanks SO MUCH to the musical artists, Lee Rosevere, and Northbound for sharing!

Forward by Northbound

Do What You Can by Lee Rosevere

Up All Night by Lee Rosevere

Nightlight by Lee Rosevere

 

ALC 10 Podcast 1- ForTheNewbies

Interbike: A First Look at Specialized Women’s Bikes

September 29, 2010

The Specialized Women’s 2011 bicycle line is very impressive indeed.

Specialized has rethought bike design for women in a three dimensional way; this makes their mountain bikes particularly easy to handle in all types of terrain.  The Specialized MTB bikes I tested are light enough to Manipulate and maneuver,  but  have a weight distribution that made it easy to keep  “tires to the ground”.

For Women’s road bikes, the Amira will be the bike to look out for. This is their premium bike for women. There are a lot of details that make the Amira stand out (it has all the earmarks of a really fast bike). One look at the geometry and you can see how nothing compares. It’s also sexy as anything.

If you are a fan of Specialized already, you need to try one of their 2011 bikes.  But if you’ve had questionable results with their Women’s geometry bikes from previous years (hey, I wasn’t always a big fan), then you really need to try the 2011 series. Specialized really went back, did their homework, and found what really works for Women’s geometry; and in this 2011 line up, it  shows.

In the coming weeks I will have separate reviews of 2011 Women’s Specialized bikes, including:

Myka – A 29er Women’s Hardtail Mountain Bike, with entry level pricing (warning, this bike could make mountain biking addictive).

Safire – Women’s All Mountain Bike (a dream to ride in 2010, with some interesting changes for 2011)

Era – Women’s Cross Country Performance Mountain Bike (2011 line adds a budget conscious carbon fiber level).

Amira – Women’s Premium Road Bike, redesigned again ( the delight is in the details).

Have Things Changed for Women in Bike Shops? (Updated 9/27)

September 17, 2010

Update: Sept 27th 2010

So far, about half the women surveyed said they recognize these, shall we say, regrettable sales tactics. But the other half say they have no problem in their local bike shop, or that their shop has improved. It makes me think that things are changing, but we have yet to reach the tipping point when it comes to the female cycling consumer. There are truly great cycling products available for women nowadays. So why are they not making it on the the floor the of local bike shop?  Why are these bike shops still not connecting with their female clientele?

Could it be that they need a lesson on “Selling to Women?”

This was the title of a seminar I attended at Interbike, put on the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition. It was a wonderful seminar and panel discussion; I personally walked away with new ways to help women feel more comfortable and confident about cycling purchases, and the whole shopping experience while in their local bike shop.

However I couldn’t help but notice that most of the audience were female. I have to say, it felt a bit like preaching to the choir. Why didn’t male dealers/buyers/ local bike shops owners jump at this chance to learn about how to easily increase their customer base?

Guys, if you were at Interbike,why didn’t you check out this seminar? What would get you to go to a seminar like this?

Members of the press who attended, what did you think? (By all means, post a link to your site in the comments).

(coming soon: Women’s Products at Interbike: A First Look)

Have Things Changed for Women in Bike Shops?

About a year ago, I made this cartoon series called “Jane Meets Bike Shop”. I’ve reposted two of them here.
Would it surprise you if I said that this was actually more than just a joke?

These were based on a compilation of real experiences of many women. OK, perhaps with a bit a humor and sarcasm, but my question today is:

Have things changed over the past year?
Is it any easier for a woman to “through a leg over” a bike in her size, at the bike shop? Are women getting treated with more respect as a consumer, at the bike shop?

Take a look, then take the quick poll at the bottom. (please leave a comment, if you like).

Jane Meets Bike Shop

Some women of a town would like to enjoy riding their bike. However, the one “good” shop in town just isn’t very good when it comes to understanding the female cyclist.



Mountain Bike Review: Specialized Safire Comp Women’s Full Suspension MTB

August 30, 2010

I tested the 2010 Susan Komen Limited Edition Version from Bear Valley Bikes

I tested the Susan Komen Limited Edition Version from Bear Valley Bikes

Small Safire from Bear Valley Bikes

The Demo Bike

TESTED: Specialized Safire Comp, Susan Komen Edition from Bear Valley Bikes

Price: $2400 for the Comp (tested),  to $7400 for the Carbon Fiber Top o’ the Line Pro Version

Bike Size: Small, with an Effective Top Tube of 540mm,  Weight: 27lbs

Rider Size: 5’4″  Back Length: 545mm (find out why that’s important HERE). Weight: 120lbs (135lbs with gear).

Terrain: Big Bear, California

(The Exact Specs can be found on Product Wiki HERE, or BikPedia HERE


Spec Highlights:

  • FRAME: Safire FSR M5 manipulated alloy frame w/ women’s ORE TT/DT, sealed cartridge bearing pivots, DMD front, replaceable derailleur hanger, disc only, 120mm travel
  • REAR SHOCK: Fox Triad, custom on-the-fly 3-position switch 1) lock out 2) Open 3) ProPedal pedal assisting damping, rebound adj., 7.25×1.75″
  • FORK: Fox F130 RL, 130mm travel, compression and rebound adj. w/ LO, alloy steerer
  • FRONT BRAKE: Custom Avid Elixir SL, alloy backed semi-met organic pads, 160mm rotor
  • REAR BRAKE: Custom Avid Elixir SL, alloy backed semi-met organic pads,S/M: 140mm, L: 160mm rotor
  • BRAKE LEVERS: Custom Avid Elixir SL Hydraulic, tool-less adj. reach
  • FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano M660 SLX, DMD, top swing, dual pull
  • REAR DERAILLEUR: SRAM X-9, 9-speed, mid cage
  • SHIFT LEVERS: SRAM X-7, aluminum trigger

SPECIALIZED OFF-ROAD: A REAL WOMAN’S BIKE

Specialized really does want us girls to ride mountain; why else would they make, not just one, but a series of REAL women’s mountain bikes? These bikes are not candy; they are hardcore mountain bikes that a woman can tailor for the way she rides. And on budget . From the sizing, weight and geometry, to budget and componentry, Specialized seems to be one of the “Big Boy” Companies to actual listen to what we women mountain bikers have asked for; then they stepped it up a notched and gave us some dream bikes, like the Safire, which is available in Carbon. (Oh, how I would love to test that bike!) But what I tested while I was in Big Bear CA, was the more budget conscious “Comp” level of the Safire. It seems that Specialized Comp level is a perfect Beginner/Intermediate bike, due to the “bang for your buck” quality of the components.

But what draws me in to this bike, is the unbelievably correct geometry. It is absolutely spot on. Somehow they managed to figure out how to make the head tube angle slack enough to handle any downhill (at 68.5°), yet not sluggish on tight corners and uphill.

Descending

At first I was a little unsure of it, so I picked my way down some trails. Well, that’s not what this bike wants to do. It wants to go fast, and it told me so. Steep downhill with roots and rocks means nothing to this bike, and given a chance, and some well guided direction, the Safire will glide down the trail pretty effortlessly, without “tugging me down the trail” the way some bikes do when they’re longer in the cockpit. Cornering was so easy, even at speed off-camber. The tight geometry made even tight corners smooth and fun. After a few trail runs, this baby felt as secure as a sofa, on the downhill.

Climbing

But how does it perform, going uphill? I really thought that the slack head tube angle combined with the 130mm fork meant a lousy ride uphill. SO wrong, was I. Specialized figured out how to make the head tube just a little shorter, which allows a woman to move her weight further forward for the climb, without losing traction in the rear.

Out of the saddle on climbs, I was able to get over the front end without leaning on it, and the front end never felt like it was was trying to force me to sit down (which also happens when a head tube is too tall). The kicker for me? When I stood up and tried to give it pedal bob, it responded by smoothing out the ride. I felt none of that “walking in molasses” feeling that you can get with a lesser suspension system.

Of course for longer climbs it’s very easy to lock out the suspension which completely eliminates all bob. Sorry Bob.

I would heartily recommend the Specialized Safire for women who would like a light all-mountain to cross country bike. This is a fun bike to ride.

In the last few years, I’ve demo’ed MANY mountain bikes directed towards women, but this is the first one that’s good enough for a “Girl Meets Bike” recommendation.  No, I don’t work for Specialized or anything like that; I’m just a girl who really appreciates good design.  I’m looking forward to testing other frames before I decide on which full -suspension bike is “The One” for me, but this is DEFINITELY in the running.  I’m hope to try the Myka FSR, which is Specialized’s first Women’s Full Suspension 29er.

Proper suspension set up is vital to truly experience what a bike has to offer. Without it, even the most amazing bike can feel like a dud.  Many thanks to Clay and Derek of Bear Valley Bikes for setting up the suspension beautifully for me. A review of their Bike Shop is coming very soon…

Girl Meets Safire, the Bike:


For those of you that want the quick and dirty version, here are some thoughts from the day.

  • Women’s geometry, 130 mil suspension, fairly light. Has my dream come true?
  • Why does the chairlift have to be so friggin’ cold!
  • Take your hand off the brakes..the brakes.
  • OH SH* , oh, no, I’m OK.
  • Trust the steep…Wow, do I love this bike.
  • the bike wants to go fast.
  • OH SH* no, I’m… Actually, that was fun. Should do that again!
  • Wheeeee!!!!
  • Stomping it! It can handle uphills!
  • Love these trails.
  • Love this bike!
  • Comes in carbon, there’s a 29er, comes in carbon, there’s a 29er.

Girl Meets (Electric?) Bike: Sanyo Dreams Big with Eneloop Bike

October 7, 2009

It’s a good idea; sometimes big companies have them. Sanyo has entered the North American electric bike market, with one sweet little bike:
the Eneloop:

Guess which one they had me ride?

Guess which one I got to ride?

They call it a Synergetic Hybrid Bike. The idea is that the feel of the electric motor shouldn’t be jerky at all; on the contrary it should feel completely seamless and unnoticeable. Yup, it’s true, the feeling is seamless and fluid, and easy. Plus it’s lots of fun. Did you know that one in seven bikes, is battery operated (worldwide)? Surprising, isn’t it? I could see these bikes being a big hit, if Sanyo works it properly.

The Eneloop has the lightest e-bike battery, weighing a little over 3 pounds. For reference, most electric bike batteries are about 6-10 pounds. But the bike overall, is still a bit heavy for most women to lift (upstairs, into a car, etc.), at fifty pounds. It’s not something I’d like to lug around if the battery runs dry. However, that seems unlikely, as the battery can go up to 40 miles per charge (on auto-mode, or 17-20 miiles on standard mode). The battery charges whenever you coast downhill, and whenever you brake. I really wish this technology was hooked up to something a bit lighter, as I could easily imagine loading the Eneloop with bags, and using it like the sherpa of shopping.

The look of the bike itself is pleasing. It is a step through bike, so you don’t have to swing your leg over the bike to get on. Sanyo presented models complete with fenders, racks, and wicker baskets up front. I loved the one I tried, which was an white color, with pink flowers a bow. Sweet, but what was really sweet, was the ride itself. It was fluid, fast and felt light on the pedals. It was easy to make it go fast, easy to control in general. With a three speed internal hub, I can imagine that this would get you up and down most anything.

Love the Bow

Love the Bow

But Sanyo isn’t just thinking about the normal bike buyer. No, their plan is much bigger, and far better. They plan to have fleets of rental bikes (with all the bells and whistles like these), at convenient stations around cites and towns. Sanyo’s bike recharging station is revolutionary, in that it is fully Solar. That means the electricity to run these bikes will be off the grid. Can I get a Wow!

An extra tip’o’the’hat goes to both Sanyo and Panasonic, for working in cooperation to bring you the best of both worlds for the motor.  You guys had me at “Double Torque Start-up motor.” The “double torque start up” is for when you have a heavy load, or you’re starting out on an uphill. It will allow an easier start, with less strain on the motor.

I’ve often said that if we get the women of a community on their bikes, then the rest will follow. So how will women react to the idea of a “bike sharing program?” I don’t know, yet.  I can only tell you the things that would get me involved in a “bike sharing”program:

  • I’d need to make sure that the routes from station to station were safe, both from traffic, and nefarious characters.
  • I would want to know that the bike I was borrowing was in good shape, i.e. no flats, saddle is in good shape, lights work everything safe and on tight.
  • I would want an inspection sheet at the station, in case I forgot how to inspect a bike to make sure it’s safe.
  • I would want at least one of the fleet with a “baby carrier” option.
  • I would want a bike that was ALREADY adjusted down to my size. Did you know that over 53% of American women are under 5’4″? Personally, if I’m in city clothes, then I don’t want to spend my time, and break a nail, adjusting the stem, the seat height, etc. This would be solved by a simple, two-size option; sm/med and lg/xl.

So, make it safe and easy and fun for me to get from point A to point B, while looking fabulous, and I will ride it.  And share it.

Girls, would you participate in bike sharing? What would your perfect bike sharing program look like?

Engadget wished for an Eneloop bike, back in 2008.

All the Specs for the Eneloop bike are HERE.

Article from Scientific American:  How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road: To boost urban bicycling, figure out what women want

Three-Peat World mtb Champion Rebecca Rusch talks with “girl meets bike”

October 2, 2009

You should know Rebecca

Rebecca Rusch is an incredible mountain biker. Yes, she is a crazy adventure racer, but she’s also dominated Women’s Endurance Mountain Biking for a while. Recently, she won the 24 Hour Solo World Mountain Bike Championship (for the 3rd year in a row) then just three weeks later, won the Leadville 100.  This is the signature of a true champion: the ability to extend their peak season and win. And her wins over the past eight years have been staggeringly good. So my number one question isn’t for Rebecca Rusch. It is for sports news and cycling news outlets. My core question is:

Why isn’t Rebecca Rusch more well known? Why isn’t the media making a HUGE fuss about her? Isn’t this a great role model for your girls?

Girl Meets Bike Meets Rebecca

I have to wonder if my questions showed Rebecca how much I’m NOT a “reporter”. Each one seem to take her slightly off guard, and at first I wondered if she understood why I was asking such “different” questions. But after a few, she got it.  It’s because, when talking to women riders who aren’t necessarily racers, they have VERY different questions from those being asked of her, in Pro journalism. As we sat down outside of Interbike’s Specialized booth she welcomed the more fancy free questions of a “girl meets bike” interview. What I found in Rebecca was a warm and approachable woman, with a passion for sharing the biking experience with other women. Truly, she is a valuable role model for getting girls on bikes.IMG_0485

Girl Meets Bike: How many bikes do you have? Do they have names?

Rebecca Rusch: “Ha, just like shoes, you can never have too many.” Counting for a sec, then “Eight. I think…some have names, others haven’t earned one yet.”

GMB: Which is your favorite?

Rebecca Rusch: I’m favoring the 29er at the moment, that’s the one I rode in the Leadville 100.

GMB: Oh (that’s a rather tall person’s bike, so I asked) How tall are you?

Rebecca Rusch: 5’7″

GMB: Ah, so you can fit a 29er without much problem.

Rebecca Rusch: Yeah, it fits me fine.

GMB: How does it ride?

Rebecca Rusch: Smoother, faster on doubletrack; good for a course like the Leadville 100. But I also love my Era, Specialized’s Women specific model.

GMB: I noticed that your bike has a Bike Pure Spacer on it. Why did you join Bike Pure?

Rebecca Rusch: They approached me, and I liked what they represent. That is, that they concentrate on praising the clean riders of the sport. It’s a very positive message.

GMB: Is doping a particular problem for women’s mountain biking given that upper body strength plays an important role in mtbing?

Rebecca Rusch: I haven’t really seen that, but the prize money is so low for women, that it just wouldn’t be a consideration.

GMB: Is doping likely to become an issue as Women’s Mountain Biking becomes popular?

Rebecca Rusch: I hope not, but I don’t think it’s likely.

GMB: Why Not?

Rebecca Rusch: Because [both monetarily and health-wise], it’s expensive, and it’s not worth the payout.

GMB: What would you say to a U23, or teen that is considering using EPO, CERA, or other kinds of drugs to enhance their performance?

Rebecca Rusch: NOTHING, absolutely nothing, is worth your health.

GMB: What about the issues of Pay Equity? Many of us have heard the argument that women’s racing doesn’t attract enough women, and so the purses should be comparatively lower than the men…

Rebecca Rusch: I do understand the dilemma that promoters are in, but  lower payouts for women is not the answer. An example (of pay inequity) is The 24 Hours of Moab race. The first place woman came in well before the second place man. But second place man got $2600 while the first place woman got only $600. The fact is, it is just as expensive for women to train for a race as men, and the fees to enter aren’t lower. The solution is, have the same payout for first second and third place women, and less payout or no payout beyond that. Women don’t need payouts for tenth place.

GMB: That makes a lot of sense.

GMB: Now, moving on to things more personal:

what’s your favorite saddle, chamois, chamois cream combination?

(She laughs, at first. I realize how I’ve just asked a question completely out of left field, and something a normal journalist would NEVER ask.)

Rebecca Rusch: Well, the saddle has got to be the Toupe, which is a Specialized men’s saddle. Chamois is the BG chamois in the higher quality Specialized women’s shorts. And for Chamois Cream, I use Beljum Budder with a little Noxema (yes, like in Grandma’s medicine cabinet) mixed together.

spec chamtoupebeljum budder

GMB: What’s your favorite outfit off the bike?

Rebecca Rusch: Flip flops, definitely ; with Bermuda shorts.

GMB: What’s your favorite outfit, on the bike?

Rebecca Rusch: My Team kit (her specialized uniform). I’m proud to wear that.

GMB: So Specialized has been good to you, as a sponsor…

Rebecca Rusch: Yes, they’re very supportive of their women riders. They’ve done a lot for women’s fit with BG (Body Geometry) , in both bikes and clothing. I’m very picky about who I choose to sponsor me. I have to believe in the products I use.  Specialized has been a good match for me.

GMB: Do you think women ride differently than men, given that our size, proportions and strengths are different?

Rebecca Rusch: I certainly see a difference in the attitudes of riding between men and women. Men have a more gung-ho ride-it attitude. For me there are some things that are easier and faster to walk, particularly in a race.

But yeah, women ride differently than men. Women ride with more grace and finesse…

GMB: As opposed to “brute forcing” through it?

Rebecca Rusch: Yes.

GMB: Do you think it’s helpful and important for women to ride mountain together, so that they can get visual cues of how to ride certain obstacles and trails?

Rebecca Rusch: Yes, If I’m out riding with other women, we like to stop and figure out how to ride the obstacle.  Sometimes just seeing another woman do an obstacle makes you think, maybe I can do that too. How did she do that? Then you figure it out together.

GMB: So you really appreciate your rides with other women.

Rebecca Rusch: It’s different. It can be more fun. Guys can be competitive, like trying to get me to “race” on a casual ride. But when I’m out riding with the girls, it’s about fun and connecting with my friends. Some of my best rides have been on my Cruiser with friends.

GMB: What’s your favorite trail and what do you do to maintain it?

Rebecca Rusch: I would say the Perimeter trail on Mt. Baldy (Sun Valley ski resort mountain) is my favorite, because I can do the ride from my house, climb 3300 ft of single track to the top on one side of the mountain, then ride down 3300 ft on sweet, rolling single track down.  Takes less than 3 hours and is a killer climbing workout and great descending skills.

I help maintain my local trails through the Wood River Bicycle Coalition. Wood River Bicycle Coalition is our local cycling organization that works on everything from safe routes to school to mtb trail development.  I recently helped put on two short track races that raised money for them to build two pump parks in the valley.  Local sponsors and companies such as Smith Sport Optics as well as a ton of local athletes are involved.

Many thanks to Rebecca Rusch for this interview.

More About Rebecca Rusch

Recently, Rebecca signed with KT Tape, that excellent Kinesiology Tape I reviewed a while back. KT Tape is sponsoring a promotional ride in Central Park, so if you live in New York City, YOU have the chance to ride with Rebecca Rusch!!! Lucky dog! Details about this event are on blog at http://rebeccarusch.wordpress.com/. Her blog is a good read, and maintains the same approachable experience that I had with her.

More about Rebecca Rusch’s career, articles with “REAL” cycling questions, video and other stuff here:

Rebbeca Rusch at I am Specialized

Best At-A-Glance stats: BikePure.org

She talks to VeloNews about Cape Epic HERE

Cool Specialized Video about Cape Epic, an amazing opportunity, in the form of a race, HERE

Two great video interviews of Rebecca Rusch:

CyclingDirt.org

BikeRumor.com

Best Bike Products for the Power-Full Person: the 2009 Review

September 11, 2009

I may not have had the best racing year in 2009, but it’s been a great learning experience nonetheless. I worked hard training through periodization, and in spite of a rocky start managed to make some gains in my speed and power. In order to do this, I did what I always do to advance my knowledge base: I read. I’ve discovered some great books this year which helped me tremendously as an athlete, and I think will make me a better coach. I’ve admired and used Coach Joe Friel’s methods for quite a few years, but I’ve added to this, a mix of well written easy to follow books which I’m reviewing today, for your enjoyment.Here now, are my impressions of the iBike, the books I used, and a few bike related products that helped turn me into a Power – full person.

iBikeAero

iBike Aero Power Meter

This is the first year I used power as my gauge rather than heart rate training, and I agree with many other coaches, it makes a great difference. This meant that I had to buy a power meter for the first time, something that I didn’t think I was going to able to afford, but I’m here to tell you that is I indeed possible to do power training on a budget. I also read accompanying books which helped me to understand how to use the power meter in the most efficient way. I chose is an iBike Aero for my power meter, because it was the lightest and most affordable way to enter into the world of Power, that is, using watts/kg as my gauge. Unlike many other power meters, this cool little unit uses air flow through the head of the unit, combined with cadence and wheel speed to measure power. And since I’d been using a Garmin 305 for the past few years, I didn’t even have to change sensors, since the iBike can read data from the Garmin sensors (bravo, iBike; way to compliment, rather than compete with those wonderful Garmin GPS units).

I chose the iBike unit because I didn’t want to pay “double the price” for “triple the weight” units such as the CycleOps PowerTap. Though PowerTap is the professional’s “meter du jour” (and for good reason), I simply could not afford it, nor did I want to have to use a special hub (which is FAR heavier than mine), just for data. And, since the sensors for the Garmin were already on my bike, seemed the logical and frugal way to go. I chose the top of the line AERO, because it provides wind data relative to the ground or rider, and that’s important if you live in a windy area. This unit cost $800, but iBike make several units that cost a fraction of this, starting with a $200 unit. But even at $800 for the top of the line Aero, it’s still half to a third of the price of most other power meters.
Set up for the iBike was easy, and with the help of their youtube video, I was on my way to power analysis, in a few minutes. The first month of gathering data was interesting, and it truly showed me that my method for “base training” was flawed without power analysis. I was going out too hard, working on too many hills too soon, and burning out a bit, even before my season got started. On days where I thought “it’s just me, I’m just tired” and would normally have just pushed harder (NOT the thing to do in Base), but still kept within the same “heart-rate zone”. But I was able to see clearly with the iBike Aero that it was the wind pushing me hard, and that I needed to ease up in order to get the true Base workout that I needed. Because of this, I had my best base training year, EVER. The “proof of the pudding” was that my speed improved, this year, and as someone who’s  been a bike hack for a while (20+ years), that’s tremendous. If I had to pick out the one piece of equipment that made the biggest difference in my training this year, it would be the iBike Aero.

N.B. the iBike Power Meter is just that, a power meter, NOT a GPS unit. If you want a great GPS unit, consider the Garmin 705, the next generation up from my 305. The 705 can even sense the iBike data, and combine it with the GPS data to give you a full picture of your workouts. This is particularly useful if you using Training Peaks your data analysis, an EXCELLENT athletic data analysis website. I DO NOT recommend the Garmin Connect website. Garmin used to have a great association with MotionBased.com which gave you the full spectrum of data, but this year they decided to go it on their own, and dropped important data analysis tools which left their customers well, a bit high and dry (I can’t even retrieve my old data in full). If they ever improve their website, I’ll be the first in line to use it, but until then, I choose to pay a pretty penny for Training Peaks, rather than get half data.

Books

IMG_4294

Training and Racing with a Power Meter
by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan
Let’s make this simple: I could not have improved my speed this year using a power meter, if I had not read this book. Allen and Coggan have written a nearly flawless book that has everything you need to get started and train with a power meter. Their methods are clear, and the language is easy enough for most people to understand. The chapter “Using Power to Change your Workouts”, changed the way I think as both a coach and rider. If you have a Power meter of any kind, you owe it to yourself to get this book (or at least make your coach read it 😉 ).

Base Building for Cyclists
by Thomas Chapple
As someone who hates “base training” but understands the need for it, I really appreciated this book. I must admit that sometimes I felt the book title should have been “Nothin’ but Base”, because Chapple labels what I would have called the “build” period as “late base” but I suppose that’s my own “base” prejudice. There were times when I thought, “oh c’mon ANOTHER week of base?” but still held true to his principles, and became a faster rider for it. Truly this was an invaluable book for me this year, and generally, a good read for any racer, or rider who has a goal of doing longer, faster rides. It won’t teach you how to ride, but it will teach you how to train smarter, and that’s exactly what it’s suppose to do.

Nutrient Timing
by John Ivy Ph.D and Robert Portman Ph.D
I WISH I had known about this book in the beginning of the season! This year I made an unsuccessful attempt to gain some muscle mass: I thought that if just gained some weight, it didn’t matter if it was fat weight or muscle weight, because eventually it would all turn to muscle since I workout /ride so much.  OMG, wrong wrong wrong!!!! Although I paid attention to my nutritional needs, just like a comedian TIMING is EVERYTHING. This book is now my go-to book for when to eat, what to eat, and how to think about nutrition. I suspect that, with this book in my quiver, next year I will be a force to be reckoned with, even if there’s less of me (again).

And, if you really want to geek out, and get all the force and momentum cycling equations (without working through pages of equation on your own), then Bicycling Science by David Gordon Wilson is the book for you. I warn you, it’s a dry read, but if you’re truly a a science nerd, you’ll be used to it.

Bike Related Products

kt

KT Kinesiology Tape (aka ‘lil’ pink spiders for you and me).
I am THRILLED to have discovered KT Tape this year. Ever since my snowboarding accident in 2003, I have been plagued by a number of injuries that still haunt me today. Enter KT Tape. Just before I went out on the RAAM as crew, my shoulder began hurting again. I’d been turned onto KT TAPE by one of my Twitter friends, Hilary from Outside Media (aka @outsidehilary on twitter) and thought I’d give it a try, but really didn’t expect it to make much difference. After all, it’s “just tape”, right? WRONG. KT Tape held my shoulder down and back, and allowed the flare up to heal, even though I was hauling heavy items, then sitting still in the van for many days (normally that’s a brutal combination for this injury). When mounted properly, the tape lasted 4-5 days, and performed better and longer than the tape I was given in Physical Therapy, back in 2003. Janet Christiansen, solo rider for the RAAM (who I was crewing for), also tried some on her knee and was also quite impressed. When I got home, I used KT TAPE on my knee and calf, and found that the weakness in that knee was, well, just gone.  KT TAPE is one of those products that, while I hope I never need it, do not ever want to be without it again; it will always be in my medicine cabinet, just in case.

Compression garments, for long distance riding
My first experience with compression garments came when I decided to try Etxe Ondo’s Sbaren bibs. As much as I have loved this brand, I balked at trying anything compression because I could never get passed that first impression “that can’t be comfortable”. But then I realized that if I was going to try an ultra-distance race, then it was high time I took the advice of Ultra veterans and try compression. Well, it works; it reduces vibration in the muscles, it’s comfortable, and most importantly makes a BIG difference in recovery the next day. I tried a few weeks of compression, and now I love it! Janet also tried compression this year, in the form of socks, and it helped her quite a bit in helping to prevent edema in her calves.

AW09multiweb

Action Wipes
Saddle sores suxOr, and they can stop a good training regimen cold, and take you off your bike for days, and sometimes, weeks. But saddles sores are preventable if you know the key element that causes them: bacteria. And what can save you from bacteria? Action Wipes!!! When you can’t get to a shower immediately after a ride, use an Action Wipe for a thorough aromatic cleaning, and it will be happy trails all the way. Plus Action Wipes are washable and reusable, which is awesome for the environment.

Tales from the Lack of the Peloton: Janet

July 15, 2009

It’s hard to explain what I experienced, what I saw in the Race Across AMerica; but here’s a tale of something I saw in Janet Christiansen, the solo racer I crewed for on the RAAM.

I’ve played with this blog a bit.  I hope it still reads well.

Upon a bit of reflection, I realize that what I witnessed in Janet was the ultimate in raw will and determination.
But also something more.
When there was nothing left, there was determination.
And when I say nothing, I mean riding non-stop for days and days and days, and every once in a while you get to stop, and maybe sleep a bit, but mostly, as in 21 hours a day you are riding; that kind of nothing left.
But there was always, the determination, the drive to move forward, even when exhausted beyond compare.
Janet forged ahead.

Mostly, she did not complain, but occasionally had a cursing fit. Interestingly, it has recently been found that cursing can be a type of pain reliever, and she did indeed, go through pain (Endnotes 1,  2).
One rarely comes across this breed of human, for surely no human would put herself through such hardship, such challenge, such pain; and for what?
The Honor?
No, no, wasn’t that. It is, in fact, most probably a lot closer to exactly not that.
What was it that kept her out there?
Raw will?
What gave her the fortitude, the tenacity to move forward through bone-aching exhaustion and pain?
(Will someone please let her get some sleep?)

Stories of the other riders unfold.
So many more of them then you’d think.
Not many women though.
And for these Ultra-endurances-athletes, the ultra-cyclists,
for them the RAAM is the Holy Grail;
for soloists, the end all, be all race.
It is The World’s Toughest Bicycle Race.
Yes, it is.
Really. It is.

Start: Oceanside, California
End: Annapolis, Maryland
3,016 Miles
ONE Stage

And each person’s reason for being there is very different, very interesting. And each rider’s experience was unlike anything else that’s ever happened, even if they’d done the RAAM before.
This is what EPIC means.

There is no prize money to be won, nothing but some chance at doing something very special, something that few have the capability to do. No wait, make that very few.

janet 1janet 2janet 3

janet 4Janet is a smart individual. She’s a natural born problem solver and practical to the core. She cycled well through the bad weather in New Mexico,
the corn fields Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio,
where rain and thunder and lightning and hail caught up with her in the dead of night.

janet 5janet 6
She’d been asleep for over three hours.
“don’t let her oversleep. She gets three hours a night.…”
“…and hail is the only thing that stops her.  Otherwise, she’s on the bike.”
That was the advice I was given.
It was my turn to wake her. I was amazed and delighted when she arose immediately and with purpose. There it was again, that vibe of someone who was about to do something absolutely extraordinary. Without much coaxing, she was out of the van (where she slept), and on her bike.
I was watching her at a time where she had figured out “a system” for herself; she’d found her rhythm. And in the quiet, still, dark, rolling hills of Ohio,
Janet rolls her ride again…and again…and again.
janet 7janet 8

Endnotes:

“…cursing may ease pain..”

1.  Web MD:  http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20090713/go-ahead-and-curse-it-may-ease-your-pain

2.  Reuters:   http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE56C3WX20090713



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