Posts Tagged ‘bike’

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).

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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 bike shop Now open: SALE!!!

October 26, 2009

girl meets bike shop is now open.

Oh, it took me so much longer to get the store open and properly Googlefied, but now it’s all hooked up and ready to go!

To kick off the store I have almost everything on sale for 15-55% off (with most savings around 30%). For an EXTRAORDINARY deal, follow me on twitter:
http://twitter.com/girlmeetsbike . I have a Black Friday coupon coming up that will saving you even more money off ALREADY DISCOUNTED items.

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.

Girl meets bike gift Ideas

December 18, 2008

Searching a for a gift for that special girl on a bike?

Here are some cool new gift ideas, along with a little advice on what not to get for your girl on bike.

First, let me save you some money with the do not gets:

  1. Do not surprise her with a bike she has not participated in buying. Instead, arrange a few days worth of demos (do your research on women’s fit). It will make her feel more connected to the bike if she participates from the beginning. Besides, women can be harder to fit than men, so it’s important that she’s there, physically, so that you can get it right. Far too often people are sold bikes that are too big for them, because that’s what in stock at the shop, and the salesman is trying to make his/her commission. Be wary of this, PARTICULARLY for mountain bikes, where she’ll need to get behind the saddle, for riding safely, downhill.
  2. Do not get expensive components without being absolutely sure that they can be returned after they are installed, if they don’t fit. Things like handlebars, stems, and saddles are often the solution to women’s bike fit issues, however, some bike shops are not friendly about returning these kinds of components, once the have been installed. And no, they don’t care that you’ve never ridden it; they care about the tightened screws, and the clamp load, and that the part really can’t be sold as “pristine new” after that; they are within their rights to worry about such things. So talk to them, and make sure about policy before you buy/install.

Anything else is pretty much fair game.

Now to the FABULOUS gifts for your favorite girl on bike.

Nice Little Stocking stuffers for Little Money:

  • Knog Frogs ($14.00) and Gekkos ($30.00) – They are little, stylish LED lights, that keep you seen, as with Frogs, and allow you to see as with Gekkos. Frogs require a watch battery, so although it’s replaceable they don’t last very long,. They are sort of an emergency light, for people find occasionally find themselves in a situation where being seen by traffic would be an immediately awesome thing. Gekkos, on the other hand, run on two AAA batteries, and have three LED lights as opposed to one. Although it’s not amazingly bright, it’s enough to allow you to see along a dark road fairly well. The AAA batteries mean that you can get rechargeable batteries, and never worry about having to buy batteries for your bike lights again. You’ll have that battery thing taken care of.  EDIT: Ever since I posted this, I’ve had numerous complaints about the Knog lights. Most of the complaints are about them not being bright enough. THAT concerns me so much, that although I like the Knog lights, I will no longer recommend them. I will be trying some by Planet Bike, and write a head to head review when I have more info. Thanks to those of you who voiced your concerns.
  • Action Wipes – I have just discovered these. This is an AMAZING product. They are these reuseable “Apres Sport” moist cleansing wipes made with fresh ingredients like Eucaplytus and Tea Tree oil; they come in a little ziploc packet that you can tuck into your back pocket, and WOW are they cleansing and refreshing. Did I say that you can wash them and reuse them? 5 count pack is $3.49!
  • Brave Soldier’s Crash Packs – Does your gal mountain bike, and occasionally push the envelope? Get her the gift that says you care about her knarly extreme sport boo-boos. For $12.00 you have almost everything thing you need to get yourself through trail/road rash crashes. I’d add in one big patch of Tegaderm or Duoderm for good measure (cause nothing says “I love you” like taming the burn of road rash). Find this at your local bike shop.

    Makai Bikes Bell

    Makai Bikes Bell

  • Makai Bike’s Bells – I have to mention this cute little company and their cute little bells. If they weren’t cheap enough at $10.00 a pop, they have some adorable fishie bells on sale right now for $3.79!

Very Nice Choice gifts for $40-$500

  • Deuter Race x Backpack/Hydration system – I use this for commuting, as well as mountain biking and hiking. It has everything I need and nothing I don’t. The back length is  small, the straps are comfortable and placed for small shoulders, the weight is distributed well on the back, and the hip belt which has two front pockets, conform to the curver of women’s hips. All of this lead to an exceedingly comfortable pack that stays puts on rough mountain terrian. It even has a stow-away helmet holder, something I appreciate as a commuter. $100.00. The Deuter name is European, and had been making backpacks for generations. I find the general consrtuction and quality of these packs to be some of the best ever. By the way, another good Deuter Hydration pack for women is the Deuter EXP 6 SL, for $80.00

    Nutcase Helmets

    Nutcase Helmets

  • Does she NOT wear a helmet, but you wish she did? Maybe she’ll wear this one – Nutcase Helmets – Perfect as a commuter helmet, Nutcase helmets may be the answer for women who have hair damage from the stupid plastic parts on the inside of ALL the other dang helmets. Girlz with long hair, you know what I mean. These have pull out pads, and each helmet comes with two sizes of pad. I have not tried one of these helmets yet, because I just got mine in. Try to get the Nutcase Helmet at a local bike shop if you can, because the the graphics have to be seen in person to be believed. The girly ones are SO cute, she’ll want to wear a helmet, for once.  What a great way to say “I love your brain.” $40.00.
  • Base Layers – I am an absolute sucker for that which keeps me cozy and warm. To keep me cozy on the coldest days I go for Craft Base Layers, particularly the Pro Zero, which has ribbing, to form a small layer of dead warm air. It works very well, and the wicking capabilites exceed any other synthetic layer I worn. But if I think even for a moment that I might get wet, I immediately switch to wool. Technology be damned, wool is the only thing I know of that keeps you warm, even when soaking wet; some things we just can’t improve upon. I like both Ibex Wool the best, followed by SmartWool as a close second. Either way, it’s like giving warm hugs.
  • And speaking of keeping dry How about a really great Rain Jacket? – Castelli has done a beautiful job in designing the New Amazzonia. The shape is precise, and form fitting, without being restrictive. There’s no doubt that this is a cut meant to fit in “bike position” as the tail swings way down to protect your bum from rainy day “skunk pants” (also avoided with fenders), or any torential downpour you might happen into. This jacket is actually rugged in it’s materials and construction, quite surprising for the less than rugged Castelli brand. Of course, they didn’t skimp on the style points either. Zips under the arms help to control temperature regulation. $140.00
  • Baby, it’s cold outside! Keep her Apple Cider Warm in a Bombshell Red Batitti jacket from Castelli. The cut is casaul on the bottom; there’s no elastic, so it’s non-binding. Up top is all style and tech that keeps the cold completely off of her neck. Inside is thick luxerious fleecy goodness and outside is a special Windstopper fabric with 4-way stretch made exclusively for Castelli. And can we say gorgeous? Oh yes we can. $190.00.

    Castelli Vertice Jacket

    Castelli Vertice Jacket

  • And the best Jacket for Winter 2008? That would be the Vertice by Castelli. $330.00 will say she’s this kind of special. There, now that you are over the sticker shock, let me tell you about the jacket. It has Moto styling that says “hot and ready for action”, Fabric that stretches just enough for comfort, that same awesome keep the cold out collar as the Batitti, and Full Windstopper 4 way stretch fabric. As the Batiti feels cozy, fluffy, fuzzy warm inside, the Vertice is not; it’s fleecy, but the fabric is thinner, making it a perfect shell. The zips on the chest are vents, and have the best placement I’ve ever felt or seen. This is the jacket for the gal who has to deal with large temperature fluctuations, like 40 or fity degrees in one ride. Oh, and this jacket laughs at rain, and wind, and general inclement weather. So, is she this kind of special? Wouldn’t you spend that much on a stylish and warm coat for her anyway?

    Etxe Ondo Sies Tights

    Etxe Ondo Sies Tights

  • Best Winter Tights ever, Etxe Ondo’s Sies Tights – If you haven’t ever read my blog before then know this; I’m obsessed with Exte Ondo. They have bar none, the best chamois, cuts, and construction. The Sies Tights are no exception, in that the quality is superb. The pattern on the leg is not just a pattern; it places compression on the leg exactly where you need it. The fabric is Themalite, which will keep you warm and dry, as it has amazing wicking capabilities. And of course, they are HOT looking. $205.00

    Xtracycle Free Radical longtail system

    Xtracycle Free Radical longtail system

  • Still wanna get her a bike? Okay, how about an inexpensive, one size fits most beach cruiser from Makai Bikes – For less than the cost of a Castelli Jacket, you can get her an awesome little run-around bike. This little online store has cruisers starting at $159.00.
  • OR even better, make it into an Xtracycle! For less than $500.00, you can convert her bike into the most fun commuter bike around. Longtail bikes are more stable, and can of course haul incredible amounts of stuff. For the gal who’s mostly a commuter, this is a really sweet option.
  • OR the Best Gift of all, (still wanna buy her a bike?) A BIKE FIT from a professional bike fitter, preferably one who specializes in women’s fit. This is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. Depending upon Who’s doing it, expect to pay $125.00-$500.00 depending upon the technology and equipment used for the fit. Expect to pay even more when you have to swap out for the parts that fit her. But this is the gift for the Ultimate cyclist.
  • Is she an eco-girl but not exactly the Ultimate cyclist? Consider getting her a Totally Tubular Messenger bag. The bags and wallets are made from used tires and tubes, and remnants from an upholstery factory. Obviously they are wicked waterproof and strong. No two are the same. $80.00
    Totally Tubular Messenger Bag

    Totally Tubular Messenger Bag

    What’s on your wishlist, girls?

girl meets bike meets guitar hero = Girl Hero: the bike

December 13, 2008

Honestly, I like to have fun with my bike builds. I’ve been working on “the look” of my commuter fixie, and I finally came up with it. The Wheel stickers are Wheetags skullz. I couldn’t find anyone selling these in the city yet, so order them online directly, if you want them.

The bar pad is from the most awesome bike shop in the Los Angeles Zone. In West LA, a little fixie shop has just spread it’s wings and blossomed into the bike shop YOU would want to own if you ever opened a bike shop. It’s perfect it’s beautiful it’s friendly it’s LA BRAKELESS. More about them soon (I feel a bike shop review coming on, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it). But for now, back to me and the bike that they inspired.

Coincidentally, I’ve just been introduced to the game Guiter Hero.

So I had these stickers.

Well, here’s the result.

I know it’s a bit, well you know, but I love it! Somehow, I need to make these stickers permanant. I don’t often “show” my bikes, but I thought this might be fun to share. And now, I’m going to play some Guitar Hero while thinking about a bike shop review. B-bwna-naa!

How to choose a good saddle for yourself – girl’s version

December 11, 2008

Finding the perfect saddle for yourself can be a daunting task, particularly for those of us who are sensitive in the nether regions, aka, girls. I don’t know how boys feel in the saddle, because I don’t have those parts. I have girly bits with double the nerve endings, pointing in exactly the wrong direction when it comes to a bicycle saddle. BUT, thank our lucky stars, technology has caught up with our bits. The shapes and varieties that are available for women were great in 2008, but will be even better in 2009. Oh no, more variety, more choices; how the heck do you choose?

Well, here ya’ go. This is all the information I can muster, along with a few recommendations for brands and models.

If you are sitting on a saddle that fits, you should feel the majority of your weight on your sit bones, and you should feel supported around the sit bones and through the labia. There should be no weight at all on the clitoris or urethra. So you should feel weight on the sit bones and only support everywhere else on the saddle.sits-bones

1. Find some way of measuring distance between your ischial tuberosities.

Your Ischial Tuberosities are your Sit Bones. This is the place where you want the majority of your weight. The more upright you are on your bike, the more weight is on your saddle, therefore sit bones. So start your perfect saddle search by answering these three questions:

  • How upright is your spine on this bike?
Specialized Jett Saddle

Specialized Jett – Best Saddle Redesign

  • What kind of riding will you do with this bike?
  • Will you be wearing some kind of chamois on this bike (or what kind of clothes will you wear)?

The more weight you have on your sit bones, the more padding you need at that point on the saddle. Not a lot more, just enough. A good example of getting this design right for women, is the Specialized Jett (pictured). They’ve redesigned the Jett this year, to include more padding directly under the sit bones, and have also taken away excess volume on the side to reduce thigh rub. They also got rid of the annoying seams that used to encircle the sit bone pads, which used to rub and wear out clothing, and felt quite uncomfortable without chamois. This is an excellent update for this particular saddle, and shows that Specialized is willing to listen when they find out something is wrong with a part of their design. For such a large company, I’m well impressed. This saddle is excellent for road riding, mountain biking, track, and touring. It comes in three sizes, so get your sit bone width measured at a Specialized dealer, to find out your size. For commuting, which is very upright, choose something with a bit more cush, all around.

2. If you’re a girl, admit that you are a girl and get yourself a split saddle.

I’ve had a survey up for a while, and it is clear from the answers that those who lean on their clitoris because they do not have a split in their saddle WILL in some way experience discomfort. Maybe not for a while, but eventually your body will shift sitting position off of the clitoris to avoid leaning on nerve endings. This subtle shift in bike position can cause a HUGE host of problems that seem to have nothing to do with your saddle, such as numbness in the toes and fingers, pain in the front of the shoulders, and lower back issues. Of course saddle related problems also occur, like thigh rub, sit bone pain, pain or aching in the labia and surrounding tissues. For these reasons, (and because I’ve fit enough women successfully), I’ve become convinced that a split saddle is the way to go for women.  The exception to the rule is commuters, who might be so upright and in such inappropriate clothes that the split in the saddle would not make a difference. For such women, my premier choice is a Brooks saddle, from England. These saddles also come in varying widths (do NOT assume you will fit a women’s saddle) so you can definitely find the saddle for you. The thing that distinguishes the Brooks saddle is it’s fine leather, which you can think of as forming a hammock for your buttocks. The leather can be tensioned to be more or less supportive, and after a while the leather breaks in and comforms to you buttocks, giving you an extremely comfortable ride. Just keep in mind that these saddle don’t work as well if you lean forward while riding (as that will put pressure on the clitoris). If you sometimes lean forward, but like the idea and comfort of leather you might try a Selle Anatomica (pictured).

Selle Anatomica
Selle Anatomica

3. Make sure that the cut out and shape of the saddle fits you.

Saddle brands have different shapes to their cut outs, so you’ll just have to look around to find what really suits you. Most saddle companies and bike shops these days have saddle demo programs, so that you can try their shape and style. An example of an unusual cut out is the 2009 Selle Italia Lady. Pictured below, it’s easy to see the differences in the cutout, between the 2008 model, pictured first, followed by the redesigned 2009 model.

Old Selle Italia Lady
Old 2008 Selle Italia Lady

2009 Selle Italia Lady Redesigned
2009 Selle Italia Lady Redesigned

As you can see, the back of the cutout is more open, which will lead to better airflow. Less volume in the center is probably more comfortable, but I’d be interested to hear how ladies who have been dedicated to the old shape will feel about the new cutout. By the way the shape of the old 2008 Selle Italia Lady, is very similar to the Classic Terry Butterfly. That is, the old SI Lady has a Y shape, like the Butterfly, while the new one has more of a T shape, so like the Specialized Jett, trimmed for less thigh rub. One non-plus thing I noticed about the 2009 model; it has stitching in the thigh area that may prove to be a problem. It may not, but the stitching was definitely raised enough to annoy a “Princess and the Pea” like moi. Ladies, if you get this saddle, please tell us how it is! Kudos to Selle Italia for trying such an innovative and different design.

4. If you love your saddle, don’t change it. But always be open to better design.

I admit that I have a personal preference for the Terry Damselfly, which is a classic performance  saddle for slim sit bone widths. I love it for road, track, and cyclocross (though the nose is a bit long for cross) . For my commuter bike, I use the slightly fluffier men’s Terry Fly Carbon, because the carbon rails make for a dreamy comfortable ride when I’m not wearing chamois. For my mountain bike, I use the Specialized Jett 130, which has a very similar shape to the Damselfly.

Terry Damselfly
Terry Damselfly

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