Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Liv Beyond!

Making laps to all my favorite bike makers' websites today and I see a familiar face on Giant/Liv's! That's me! Brought me back to the photo shoot that almost never was.

Jake and Elise asked if I would be a part of their annual catalog project and I said yes. And then I put a very unsightly and unphotogenic hole in my knee that would definitely not work. Instead of being a model myself, I helped them find models from the sidelines (even Gerhard had a photo shoot!). I felt terrible, because I of course never intended to let them down, and plus, I love photo shoots!

But at the last minute, and with enough time passed for my knee to heal back to function, Jake again asked if I could come out for a photo shoot. I was really happy to work with him because his work is always amazing. But it's also nice to have photographic evidence of the rediscovery of my trail mojo. This was only my second ride back after the big crash, and sessioning these rock gardens with the welcome pressure of a camera was the perfect catalyst to getting back on the bike.

Thanks to Jake, Elise and Liv Cycling for the chance to play on the new Intrigue. Super fun bike, with a confidence-inspiring ride.

Gerhard Gross sur velo! Jake Orness photo.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Your Questions: I should budget HOW much for a bike?!?!

Cumberland, BC will get anyone hooked on riding - Kyle Hansen photo
So you want to start mountain biking? You're keen to explore the roads and bike paths in your area on a road bike? You think you'll be spending more than 90 minutes at a time in the saddle? Maybe even try a race?

Let's start by reminding ourselves that purchasing a bike is more like making an investment than buying a commodity. This is about carving out some time for yourself, staying active, meeting new people, seeing new places, and of course having fun

With so many amazing advances in technology, and an abundance of choice (and an avalanche in the realm of women's specific, I might add), purchasing a bike is a big decision, and I'm guessing it comes with a bigger price tag than what you were expecting. Every time I get asked this question, my answer is met with a jaw drop:

Two thousand dollars. 

If you're buying a new bike, I recommend having at least $2,000 to play with. That's usually about twice what people expect so if you are set on $1,000, I would recommend checking out the used market on Craigslist, Kijiji or the classified of popular cycling sites like,, or Have an experienced friend help you vet them, and be sure to inspect the bike before you buy, if possible. 

If buying new, the jump in quality you experience from that first extra $1,000 is really substantial and could make the difference between you riding the bike for a few years, or quickly growing out of it and buying the $2,000 one anyway.       

This is one woman's opinion, but here's my thinking: 

Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt's geometry.
All these angles and measurements combine
to make a ride that's perfect for you! 
1) Frame 

This is BY FAR the most important part of your bicycle purchase. Take the time to figure out which frame works best for you by visiting your would-be beauties in the shop, or better yet, at a demo day. Sit on it, ride it, get that experienced friend or someone from the shop to help make sure you've got a good fit. You'll need to decide if you want to go with a hard tail (more economical) or a full-suspension (more expensive) and that will depend on what kind of riding you plan to do. Once you have your frame figured out, most manufacturers offer a range of builds that will suit your budget. For example, since I am currently in bike-shopping mode, I know that for the BC Bike Race, I am stoked on Rocky Mountain's new Thunderbolt frame. The frame has the same basic geometry across all six models on offer (caveat: the MSL bikes in the top end have a few small geo tweaks thanks to the Ride-9 System), which range in price from $1,999 all the way to $10,999. So what's the difference? Read on ...  

A high-end groupset by Campagnolo
featuring carbon fiber details
2) Components and Tech

Your $2,000 will put you on the low-end of most trail- or road-worthy bicycles. Not to say that you'll be unsafe on a bike that you got for $400 at Wal-Mart (well actually, you might be), but I can say with almost 100% certainty that as you quickly surf that learning curve into the sport, it won't take long before you become unsatisfied. The more money you invest in your bicycle, the better, lighter, and more durable the components that come with it. I'm talking about shifters, derailleurs, cassettes, chainrings, cranks, bottom bracket, hubs, brakes, wheels, suspension (if applicable), and even saddle. This is one of those areas in life where you do truly get what you pay for. 

*Tip: Almost all components can be swapped out! Start with a basic build on a frame you know works for you, and extend the life and enjoyment of your bike by making upgrades as you go. 

 Carbon Fiber is LIGHT
- from
3) Materials 

Carbon fibre is nice, but it's not mandatory. Anytime carbon is introduced into the mix -- frame, wheels, fork, stem, bar, seat post etc -- the price is going to go up. The weight will also come down which for many riders (especially women and racers) is worth the price you pay. But if you want to keep the price of your bike down, stick with aluminum, steel or titanium. 

4) Must-have

Marin's Cortina T3 CX Pro, complete with
Shimano Ultegra Di2 and disc brakes
There is really only one thing I would insist is included on your bike and that's disc brakes. They're safer, stronger, and they'll bring you a ton more confidence in your riding. Most modern mountain bikes now come with disc brakes, but if you find the rare exception, I would advise you to steer clear. Now, even road bikes are coming over to disc brakes, so keep your eye out for those and bring the same braking confidence we've had on the trail out onto the road.

Best of luck to everyone thinking about making a bicycle purchase this fall -- the 2015s are out and hopefully these tips will help you bring one home to your stable that you can enjoy for years to come. Just remember to leave some room in your budget for the other stuff, like pedals, helmets, shoes, kits, and my personal favorite: A bike fit

For a list of 12 affordable mountain bikes, check out MTBR's roundup here.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On Women's Racing, with Anka Martin and Juliana Bicycles

Anka Martin - Juliana Racer from Juliana Bicycles on Vimeo.

This one gave me chills. Anka Martin puts into words exactly how I've been feeling. I hope this inspires some more ladies to try racing.  In fact it's part of a new invitation Juliana is sharing to get involved with their brand:  

Thanks to one of my frequent readers Ben for sharing this with me today, saying, "If we all want more women racing or just riding mountain bikes i feel this video can appeal to both genders. I know i race to push myself and to take me to new places. Podiums are just one very small aspect of riding to me. Maybe we are not advertising properly to women?"

I think Juliana Bicycles was one step ahead of Ben on that one, which is one of the [many] reasons I find the brand exciting. Here's what I had to say in a past TGR article on this topic: 

...the Juliana Bicycle Company is especially women’s specific in one meaningful way: Marketing.

Remember what catalogs used to look like? Big, cheesy smiles in a studio with every sock, sweater set, and trouser laid out in grids, complete with order form in the back? The marketers that speak to women from the fashion industry—a very powerful, insightful chorus, I would argue—still send a catalog. But today they call it a “look book” and each one is themed and styled with models, carefully selected pieces from the latest collection and far-flung locales, all captured by an editorial-style photographer. The look book is designed to make you want to be the people in the pictures, not just have their clothes. They sell ideas and lifestyles just as much as clothing and accessories.
A fleet of Julianas descend. Photo by Will Ockelton.
The Juliana brand does the same thing. It shows women on epic adventures at the tops of mountains, getting out of helicopters, railing corners, and riding off into the sunset. The website is full of images with golden-hour drenched sunlight and women ripping. The images help women feel like mountain biking is for us too, and in a much more meaningful way than a cute paint job (though they definitely have those) or a slightly narrower grip, or a saddle that accommodates a woman’s anatomy. 

As a racer, I can’t help but notice the low turnout at my local start lines, but I think it’s because women see mountain biking the way Juliana Bicycles does: A way to connect with each other, have adventures, challenge themselves, see beautiful things—and that doesn’t necessarily mean racing. Juliana Bicycles is active on social media, reaching more and more women, and encouraging them to share photos of themselves riding their way through contests like #MyRoubion. They make you want to go on a ride with them, and I think that’s a good thing for women, and the sport.

Full article here: