Thursday, January 15, 2015

It's All About The RIDE!

When I first relocated to North County San Diego in 2013, I was in a bit of mourning bike-shop wise since I'd been spoiled for so long by my friends at Sweet Pete's in Toronto. My new go-to shop had a very high bar to live up to. I quickly learned that there are a lot of awesome bike shops in San Diego! But for me, there was one that stood out from the pack: RIDE Cyclery.

Stage 2 of #BCBR2014 in my RIDE kit
From day one, these guys have impressed me with their customer service, and how they work to be involved in the community. They host amazingly well-attended group rides every weekend (complete with coffee and bagels!) as well as trainer workouts during the week, led by IRONMAN World Champ, Michellie Jones (for free dollars!).

And the mechanics have been top-notch, taking on the simple stuff (like I'll be forever grateful to Brent who taught me the trick to getting the battery cover off my PowerTap!), and big stuff, like getting my bike BC Bike Race ready for a week of abuse. Blaize worked long and hard to clean out every bearing, tighten every bolt, replace cables, tires, and other parts, and deliver a bike that felt better than new. Swear, I've never been on a rig that felt more frictionless.

So it's with a huge amount of pride that I share the news that RIDE is officially going to be taking care of me and my race bikes in 2015.

Scenes from RIDE's holiday party at the Carlsbad shop
I'm excited especially because for 2015, RIDE has also shown the cycling community they're serious about us mountain bikers by opening up a second location a stone's throw from Carlsbad's Calavera trails. There you'll find some seriously drool-worthy machinery from the likes of Intense, Specialized, and Yeti, as well as all the parts, snacks and soft goods (like ZOIC and Eliel!) you need to enjoy "the dirt side."

You'll also find me! 

I like hanging out at RIDE so much I asked if I could have a few shifts. So come see me on Fridays! I'm there because I'm hoping I can help the ladies of mountain biking with their women's specific needs. I read all the time that having a female in a shop helps invite more women to the sport, and I thought, "I could do that!"

Find us under the chicken!
I hope to learn more about bikes, and meet more members of our awesome riding community, while also serving them. I'm also leading a MTB ride on Friday mornings (TGIF! Dirt before work! Yay!), so stayed tuned for more information on that. It will be social-paced, no-drop, and we're extending a special invitation for ladies to join us (though dudes are welcome too!).

Please join us on Facebook:

And find us on El Camino Real, between Tamarack and Canon (under the Chicken!) 

I start on January 23 and I can't wait! Thank you so much RIDE Cyclery for being an awesome shop, for welcoming me to the team, and for being cool people who love bikes.

RIDE Cyclery is the latest 2015 partner I've been so grateful to announce, joining the fine threads of ZOIC, and the singletrack crushers of Rocky Mountain. Stay tuned for more announcements!

The end of Stage 2 in the 2014 BC Bike Race. #BCBR2015, here we come.

Monday, January 5, 2015

I Heart Baggy Shorts. Thank You, ZOIC!

Ripping my favorite La Costa single tracks in the Naveah Shorts, and Vivid Jersey.
Chris Wellhausen photo

When I put on a pair of baggy mountain bike shorts, a few things happen. I feel like adventure is around every corner. I totally ignore my Garmin, which is normally telling me where my heart rate zone should be, how long I should stay out, and a myriad of other rules and regulations. And usually, I'm with friends, and we're exploring, laughing, and learning from each other. 

Baggy-shorts rides are oxygen. Lycra rides are, conversely, usually all about oxygen-debt. (For the record, I love both!) 

That's why this year, I'm thrilled to be riding as a Brand Ambassador for awesome baggy shorts maker (and maker of other equally-awesome apparel), ZOIC

When they approached me I was stoked right away because this is also a company that has worked really hard to make clothing for women. It's always a good sign when every time you reach for your favorite shorts, they're already in the laundry hamper. 

In the fall, I attended a special women's-only sale that was complete with features I wish were in every one of my shopping experiences: Awesome ladies to chat with, an attentive ZOIC crew, and even champagne! The only cost of admission was a humble request to let them know exactly what us girls are looking for in our gear. Can't wait to see the results of the survey as the next few seasons roll out. 

A few members of the gang, helping out for CRC
My excitement deepened when, freshly into our new relationship, I was invited to their "holiday party." This one actually didn't have champagne. Or any other markers of a traditional holiday party. Instead, the ZOIC crew and some other local ambassadors headed down to the Del Mar Fairgrounds to clean, repair and spiff-up bikes for Community Resource Centre. It's a non-profit that helps families get back on their feet, especially after instances of domestic violence.  Knowing the bikes we worked on went to make a difference for people who need it most got me in the Christmas spirit. And I'm thankful for the reflection it inspired on my own blessings, too.   

So, stay tuned for more about this exciting partnership. In 2015, I'll have the chance to not only learn and share more about ZOIC's MTB apparel, but also influence what's coming next from this local brand. ZOIC is also a sponsor of Team Ninja so be on the look out for our custom Naveah and Ether with the signature pink embroidery. Ladies, if you're sick of shopping for your riding gear in the boy's section, check out ZOIC

ZOIC joins Rocky Mountain on my list of helpers for 2015. Please keep checking back over the coming days as I continue to share more exciting news! #grateful

That time I helped Zoic get some photos for their catalogs and website

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Why The Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Is My Bike Of Choice For The 2015 BCBike Race

The coveted BCBR Belt Buckle
Update: First Impressions post now up! 

After dashing last year's hopes for a shiny BC Bike Race belt buckle in a dismal example of why you should always keep the chit chat to a minimum and watch where you're going (or else risk falling on your face, and breaking your hand), I have rallied, my support crew has rallied, and we are going back to [hopefully] finish this thing.

We learned a lot from our maiden voyage and this year's campaign will be even better than before. Mom has already started booking our campsites, Dad picked out an RV that is bigger and badder than last year's rig, and Gerhard is putting up with an absentee wife while I am busy logging those base miles.

But I think the thing I am most excited about for the 2015 BCBR, is getting to ride it on the 2015 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt MSL 770.  The decision has been made, the order is on the books, and this red rocket will be here in just three short months.

Thunderbolt MSL 770 on the Interbike floor, where we first met. Jon Grinney photo
For those of you wondering what bike to choose for the "Ultimate Singletrack Experience," here are the six things that tipped the scales for me. And believe me ... I did not make this decision lightly. My coach and I carefully evaluated the geometry and specs of about six frontrunners on the short list. When we put all the data into an elaborate excel spreadsheet, the Thunderbolt was the clear winner.


When picking a bike out, there are two schools of thought: play to your strengths, or play to your weaknesses. Last year, I chose my Trek Top Fuel over a loaner Juliana Furtado because when it comes to BC single track, my strength is climbing, and I didn't want to bring the extra weight of the Furtado. The Top Fuel is a pure XC race machine ... which for me, I discovered, is not the bike for the BCBR.

Ride-9 chip. Jon Grinney photo.
The Thunderbolt's geometry is almost purpose-built for this race. I'm getting a slacker head tube angle so technical descents and rough trail will be more manageable, but not so slack that I'm sacrificing on the climbs.  And with Rocky Mountain's Ride-9 technology, you can actually change the geometry to match the stage you're on. Genius. The chip has nine different settings that move the shock mount-point into different configurations: Forward = Aggressive, Back = Efficient, Up = Lightweight Riders, Down = Heavyweight Riders.

The RIDE-9™ System Explained from Rocky Mountain Bicycles on Vimeo.

It also comes shod with 27.5-inch wheels, which are a great choice for demanding trails, especially for riders of my stature. Basically, choosing the Thunderbolt means I don't have to play to either my strengths or weaknesses ... it's almost like magic how much capability is packed into this one frame.


My Top Fuel gave me 100mm in the front and back and to be honest, I didn't feel like I was coming up short in this area in last year's race. But, more is always nice, so the 120mm that comes with the Thunderbolt is a welcome addition. Rocky Mountain also thoughtfully included a remote for the rear shock -- for me, that's a critical feature that will ensure I make use of the shock's settings, even on the fly.

The suspension is also the feature that put the 770 MSL past the BC Edition of the Thunderbolt. For me, at 125 lbs race weight, a 130mm Rockshox Pike is a bit much ... though dang, that bike was a close second. If you're a guy reading this, I think that's what I would recommend. For us lighter-weight riders, we can get away with less.


I think one of the biggest lessons I learned (the hard way) at the race last year is that a dropper post is mandatory. There is just so much technical descending, a little help getting your seat out of the way is a no-brainer. The Thunderbolt comes spec'd with the one I'd choose: the RockShox Reverb Stealth. I like that it's the most reliable one I've tried, and you can drop/raise it to whatever height you like, rather than pre-set levels.
Me, racing the 2014 BCBR, stage 1, North Vancouver
Margus Riga photo


It's not that I have anything against a 1X system ... but for this race--with 29,000 feet of climbing--I'm a fan of keeping a smaller chain ring. Shimano's XT has always been my go-to for its low-maintenance, reliable, takes-all-of-my-abuse capabilities. With Rocky's add of the XTR rear derailleur 'great' just got better. For me, a less-cluttered cockpit is a big price to pay for the tendonitis I'd get from rifling through my gears up and down, rather than a single left-hand shift. I like gears. I use all of them.


It's red. Red is fast. And it's also the color of my very first "real" mountain bike. The one I got because I wanted something "cool" to ride when my Raleigh Tarantula was stolen--my gateway into the sport. It was a Rocky Mountain, too. A Fusion to be exact, with a RockShox Judy fork. I loved that bike and the places it took me. I get nostalgic thinking about it, so for me, the paint comes with some very good vibrations.

RED hot. Jon Grinney photo.


Rocky Mountain is an awesome Canadian brand that's now in its 30s. But more than that, it's British Columbian. These guys build bikes they'd want to ride in their back yard. Which happens to be where the BC Bike Race takes place. So for me, there's an extra level of confidence that comes from knowing that the bike I chose has been tested and tried against the very terrain waiting for me and 599 other racers this July.


The BC Bike Race is a "cross country" event, but it's a little more than that. The enduro sections are challenging, the single track is technical and though you'll want to bring an XC racer's fitness to the start line, you'll also benefit from a downhiller's technical skills. That's why when choosing a bike for the BC Bike Race, you need a little more than a cross country bike. The Thunderbolt is the perfect amount of "more."

But wait, there's more more! When I let Rocky Mountain know I was totally enamoured with their new Thunderbolt--in carbon this year for the first time--they were stoked too and made me an official ambassador. That's why in 2015, not only am I thrilled that a Thunderbolt will be taking up residence with me, but also a Vertex, their 29er hardtail, for all the racing leading up to BCBR.

More on that beauty later, but before we get another minute into 2015, I wanted to share this most exciting news for the upcoming year. Thank you so much, Rocky Mountain!

Over the coming weeks, I'll be sharing even more news like this welcoming all of the amazing support that has come to the table in 2015 so stay tuned. It's going to be an awesome year. Love the ride!!