Monday, October 27, 2014

A Warm Invitation To Our Would-Be She-Ninjas

At the Team Ninja party last Thursday, I had the chance to share some thoughts about women's racing with my teammates, and with people curious about joining Team Ninja, too. Thanks to everyone for listening then, and to Richard for the chance to speak! I thought it might help with my "challenge" to share my words here as well.

I have been racing mountain bikes for a long time and I have never been part of a team that made it as much fun as Team Ninja does. This is a really special thing, and I want to make sure everyone knows I think that because as the saying goes, “fish don’t know they’re in water” … we’ve got a really good thing going. And even more special to me is to be part of a team that has such a strong female core. 

We girls are gems in every sense, of course -- brilliant, beautiful, sparkly, and you can find us in the dirt -- but actually I think the quality we share most with gems is rarityRichard asked me if there’s anything I’d like to add to tonight's presentation so I'm here to say this:

Let’s invite more women to find out how awesome racing is. 

Women’s mountain biking is going through this amazing growth spurt … but women’s racing seems to shrink with every event. I think this team has the momentum, influence and inspiring qualities to help more women discover racing. 

So for 2015, I would love it if everyone, especially we ladies, invited a lady to try racing. You can do it in person, you can help promote local events to groups you ride with (events like Ninja Night Race, for example), and you can share stories about all the other stuff about racing that’s easier to warm up to than redlining for two hours straight.

Let’s talk about how this team is also a bunch of friends that hang out in cabins and campgrounds and goes for awesome trail rides together, and trains together. Let’s make sure they know that we’re all here to help them make sure their bike is ready, that they’re ready, and to high-five them once they cross the line in glory! Because there’s no feeling like it ... setting a goal, reaching it, celebrating it.

And finally, let’s find out what’s keeping them back. Ask them. I’d love to know what they say because if it’s something manageable … like confidence … maybe we can help remove the barrier.

And if it’s something bigger -- like being intimidated by aggressive riders on the course as we saw after Fontana this year -- then maybe we can use our influence as the best, most-awesome team in SoCal to talk to organizers or the USAC to bring on change.

This is a topic close to my heart, so I’d be happy to chat more about it, any time, on any channel.  

Thank you. 

She-Ninjas at the Team Ninja Cabin in Big Bear this spring:
Heidi, Paula, Kris, Lisa, Regina

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Your Questions: Do I have to wear one of those funny-looking jerseys?

My RIDE kit by Squadra - one of my favorites
thanks to its very bright accent colors
(and Gerhard, another one of my favorites)
I recently had the absolute joy of introducing road riding to an athlete as a way to build her endurance/fitness in her off season.

While she is super excited about learning all she can about bikes, components and even the nitty gritty things that come with proper training, she has yet to warm up to our funny cycling clothes. 

"Do I have to wear that jersey?" she asks.  The answer is of course not. Wear whatever you want. It's far far better to get on the bike than let something like wardrobe anxiety keep you on the bench. 

However, for me, a jersey -- with full zip, technical material, bright colors and three pockets -- is required equipment. The only time I wear something *other* than that is if I'm out for a "baggies" ride and carrying a pack, or if I'm just commuting. 

Here's why: 

Giro's new Halter Bib shorts go
with almost any top for
easier calls of nature.
As seen at Interbike
If you wear bib-style shorts (the kind that have straps like built-in suspenders) this is especially important. Because bathroom breaks. Jersey off, straps down, business time (although check out Giro's new bib shorts - halter top style really helps in this department, as do "uni strap" designs by Assos and Eliel).  

I also like a full zip in case I want to unzip the front for maximum cooling. California gets hot so being able to add all that extra venting is a very nice option. 

I know I said you could wear whatever you want on the bike, but I'll back pedal a little here and say "anything but cotton."  Yuck. Soggy mess. Technical fabric, unlike cotton, breathes and wicks away sweat for much more comfortable riding. 

Jason from RIDE models the new Eliel kits
in highly-visibly pink
Bottom line: I want to be seen. 40% of all collisions of cars and cyclists that result in the death of the cyclist occur in hit-from-behind situations. I do everything I can, short of a  safety vest, to be seen. I'd also recommend a red blinky light to go with that new jersey and stay safe. 

One note though. The yellow jersey is reserved for the winner of the Tour de France. So pick any other color for your jersey. I'm a fan of RIDE cyclery's kits by Eliel Cycling because they look bright and awesome, perform great, and they're made right here in California. 

If you're new to cycling, you may be surprised to learn you've gotta know more than how to ride your bike. It's a great investment in your future avoidance of frustration and anxiety to get some instruction on how to do some basic fixes. Like changing a tube, or adjusting your gears. 

Hero Kits are a great option for pocket-sized
solutions. I flatted on a BC Bike Race training
ride and thanks to these tools, I was able to
keep going with just a few minutes of
roadside maintenance. 
To help with these tasks, on every bike ride, I bring the following items: 
- spare tube 
- tire levers 
- co2 cartridges (2) and dispenser 
- multitool
- phone 

It's also nice to have some arm warmers (and a place to put them when you're done with them), extra sunscreen/chamois cream for those longer rides, and of course, snacks! 

All of these items fit in my pockets and it's MUCH more comfortable than riding a road bike with a pack. That's pretty much the worst. 

If you want to get really nerdy on jersey tips, I encourage you to check out "The Rules" number 7, 16, 17, 18, and 31. But for now, I hope this helps you to answer the eternal question in any situation, including bike rides: "What should I wear?"

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Your Questions! A New "Racer Diaries" Series

You know what's really flattering? When one of you gents or ladies out there asks my advice on something to do with bicycling.

Whether you want to get into the sport, are wondering about something you've tried or experienced, want to talk about racing, or have questions about what bike or equipment to get, I love helping you figure out what might get you to your next level. 

Thanks for trusting me with your wonderings! 

I was telling Gerhard about it after a question came in this morning and he had the genius suggestion that I could blog about it! That way, you can all benefit from each others' queries. And don't worry, I'll keep it anonymous. 

So if you have a cycling-related question, do what you've been doing--get in touch via Facebook, Twitter, in the comments, or by text/email. And I'll start posting up some recent answers in the very near future, right here. 

Happy Saturday! Hope you get some miles in. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Ridge

If you have mountain bikers in your social feeds, you've probably noticed this stunner has taken the internet by storm.

I love Danny MacAskill videos because he clearly looks at the world in a different way than I do, and it's a delight to see things his way.

So enjoy this one. DM is back on a mountain bike and with hints of Jeremy Jones' "Higher" from the snowboard world, he's also doing some heavy-duty mountaineering to access the lines of his imagination.

Also enjoyed the opening in which Danny rows to the "trailhead" (my other favorite sport!). Though I felt bad for him at the end when he was clearly wishing he'd moored his boat a little more tightly ;)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

2015: It Starts Today!

Happy October 1!

Today is the day Coach Richard and I have selected as day one of base, strength training and ultimately, the 2015 race season. So if you're looking for me, I'm probably out on the road bike, doing long, lonely, steady miles. Now taking music recommendations!

2015 has many exciting things to look forward to, including the Kenda Cup West series (as opposed to the Eastern edition -- new this year!) and the US Cup, which appears is really just the California Cup, with one token Colorado stop at the end -- no wonder, since everywhere else will be covered in snow, and mother nature has not blessed us with precipitation of any kind. Expect dusty race courses!

Anyway, mark your calendars and get to work on those race schedules. 2015 is coming.