Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Joys of an Urban Ride.

For years I was a mountain biker. JUST a mountain biker. No road bike, no cyclocross bike, no commuter bike. I have ample trails a short ride from my front door and that was enough for me. Why would I ride pavement when there's singletrack? Why would I deal with cranky drivers when there's singletrack? Why would I chose anything else when there's singletrack?

I still mostly feel like that but then winter happens and the trails get wet and stay wet. Around here, you don't ride wet trails. (It's hard on the trails, creates damage and erosion. It's just bad form.) So, I went to spin class even on the weekends when the weather was otherwise pretty nice. Last winter I didn't get to ride my bike on the local trail loop for the better part of two months! That sucks! So this past April I bought a cyclocross bike...and proceeded to ignore it until August. I was unfamiliar with the handling and braking of a road-style bike and it scared the crap out of me. I hated it.

So, I did the next logical thing, I decided to race it. Hahaha. I know. After a few exploratory rides with various patient friends, I competed in 12 races from September-December and now I'm the total boss of that little Fuji. And I love it. So, when the trails are wet we do what I call, "urban 'cross" (though sometimes I still ride my mountain bike.)

If you're not from Richmond, let me tell you - my city is the best for urban 'cross. We have all kinds of cool historical and industrial bits to explore. We have a river, we have tiny islands in the middle of the river, we have a floodwall, we have gravel roads, we have all kinds of crazy cool places you can ride bikes probably some of them not quite legally.

We also have a series of "pirate" trails through the little bits of scrubby brush and trees that most urban areas have. I can't tell you about them because technically they don't exist. These kind of rides are the balm of winter. It's exactly like when you were a kid and your bike represented freedom and exploration. Sometimes I go with friends and sometimes I go alone, but it's always an adventure.

(All pics are from my Instagram account. Pls follow if you like bikes, cats, shoes and/or booze.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Perils of Spin.

It's that dark, dark time of year when I have to resort to spin classes in a crowded gym full of irritating people. A short list of people who irritated me at spin class last week:

  • Girl who thinks putting her bag in line is the same as being in line. Nope.
  • Guy who wouldn't stop spinning during stretch, thus almost clipping my head with his pedal. Ouch.
  • Oh, you know all the words to this irritating song? PLEASE BY ALL MEANS. Stop.
  • Guy who left puddles of sweat under his bike for me to step in. Die.
  • Girl who texted throughout class. Go home.
  • Girl who glowered and eye rolled through the whole class. Oh wait, that was me.

ANYWAY. It is what it is and I will eventually settle into a routine. My issue right now is that last year they put mirrors in the spin room (whyyyy) allowing me to see exactly how much boob I was exposing. A lot. A lot of boob. Too much boob. So, I started hunting for tanks with higher neck coverage. They're surprisingly hard to find. Lululemon made one that's perfect and then immediately discontinued it. (Before you get all huffy about LL remember this happened.) They have a few other options but they're all expensive and fit weirdly.

Athleta had a really cute spin tank last week and when they posted a 20% off code I was all set to buy it:

I'm cute! You can't have me.
And of course it was gone as if it never was. You can't tell me they sold out of all the sizes in all the colors over night. I am suspicious. Whither thou Spinner Tank? Ugh. Zella, another brand I like, has a tank that looks like it might have potential:

Zella Adrenaline Singlet
But it's not cheap and might also look like a sack on me. I don't know. On the other hand,  if you want to look like a total Fred I'm happy to tell you that Les Mills (my spin class of choice) has their own line of really Fred-y spin apparel. Please observe:

Les Mills Cycle Zip Tank
It's not the absolute worst thing and I'm sure it's functional, but they could take it down, like, a notch. The back is pretty busy too and do I really need zippy pockets for a 45 minute spin class? They also offer matching shorts that look pretty awful, but I guess it's tough to make padded shorts look flattering.  (Zappos does this thing where they photograph the model wearing the shorts inside out. LOLOLOL. But for the record, those Pearl Izumi shorts are great. )

I'm tired. You got any suggestions? My criteria: Must be a tank, must have a high neck, must be a wicking fabric. Thank you!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cold Weather Riding (Is The Worst.)

I will be the first to admit that I rarely qualify for Rule #9. I love the weather everyone else bitches about - the full humid glory of summer. I feel 800% better in the summer.  My joints are happy, I don't have to worry about layers, and it stays light in the evenings so I can do long rides after work. Summer is the best.

Winter can kiss my ass.  I hate riding in the cold - the chapped skin, the runny nose, the layers and layers of sweaty-but-cold clothing. However, I also hate not riding my bike, so it's a necessary evil. I'm usually the person on the group ride who's over-dressed and I rarely regret it. I'd rather be warm, thanks. (I've had people ask me a surprising number of times if I really need that jacket or leg warmers or whatever. Hi, I'm an adult. I've been dressing myself for 35 years. Stop being rude.)

So, like Randy in a Christmas Story, my winter riding preparation is akin to extended deep sea diving. So many layers I can't put my arms down. I will say that a really good jacket is key. My Road Holland Rotterdam jacket (super on sale right now!)  is definitely my favorite bit of winter gear.

I also swear by a Craft base layer, which is something my friend Paula recommended to me. The are expensive but SO worth it. Nothing else even comes close.

My main concern is fingers and toes. I have decent winter gloves, but I'm tempted by this lobster-claw pair of cycling mittens. (Does anyone have a pair?) As for toes, I don't feel like I ride enough in the winter to justify the expense of winter cycling shoes so currently I wear wool socks (SmartWool are great, especially the ski knee-socks) and chemical toe-warmers and toe covers.  As long as my feet are warm, the rest of me generally feels okay.

My toe covers are Pearl Izumi and they suck. I generally really like PI products but the shoe covers I bought are already coming apart at the seams and they don't stay on very well. Suggestions? I'm considering something more cover-y like this:

But... for that price I might as well just invest in winter shoes. Ugh, winter. Such a pain in the ass. What are your winter ride coping mechanisms? (Please don't tell me you loooove riding in the cold because I will shun you.)

Friday, January 9, 2015

An Introduction of Sorts.

So, if you're reading this chances are you know me or maybe you read the style blog I write with a friend of mine. I've actually done a couple of posts and reviews on that blog about cycling/fitness apparel but it never felt like it quite fit there. So now I have a place to talk about women's cycling and fitness apparel and all things related.

So, what is Rule #18? According to the VelominatiRule #18 // Know what to wear. Don’t suffer kit confusion.

Kit confusion is a problem. Women's cycling gear in general is a problem. I'll be writing honest reviews, lists of things I like (or don't like) shopping suggestions, and probably some general rants. I might also post a race report occasionally or tell you about an awesome ride I did.

Also! I'm also a Runnerbox ambassador and recently did a review of Cyclebox which you can find here.

photo credit: Dusty McKinnon
Stay tuned! Lots more to come.

Review: Cyclebox by Runnerbox

(This was originally posted here but I figured I'd repost it to it's new home!)

So, those of you know me probably know that my main hobby is cycling, specifically mountain biking and cyclocross. I compete in both but also just love to ride my bikes. So, when RunnerBox asked if I'd be interested in being a CycleBox Ambassador, I jumped at the chance. BOX O' BIKE STUFF? YES PLS. (For full disclosure, this means they give me the box to review.)

It's no secret that I love box subscriptions and I was pretty excited to try CycleBox because I buy a lot of this kind of stuff already and I'm always interested in what's new. RunnerBoxes are available in three varieties - Runner, Tri and Cycle. They come every other month and cost $20 plus shipping. Aside from the bimonthly subscription they also offer one-time gift boxes and limited edition holiday gift boxes. Very cool.

My first box arrived last week and, while it looked small, I couldn't believe how much was packed in there. Check it:

Actual size


This is only the first side of the card.

So. Much. Stuff.
Many things!

YOU GUYS. That is a lot of stuff! Here's a list, with my thoughts:

Runnerbox Buff-  I was really excited about this because I don't own a buff and I am tired of my face freezing off when I cross the Nickel Bridge in the winter. Bonus that the color matches my team kit!

Honey Stinger Organic Gingersnap Waffle - I inhaled this right after my final cyclocross race of the season last weekend. It was delicious. I already like the regular flavor so the gingersnap was a nice seasonal touch.

Salted Caramel Gu - This made me super happy because I buy this flavor all the time!  It actually tastes like salted caramel so I don't have to gag it down the way I do other gels. Highly recommend.

Innergy Sports Performance Towel - I’m quite intrigued by this product, it sounds like magic. Apply to sore muscles and it makes them better! I am not sure if it’s reusable, it doesn’t say.

InstaBOOST - This is an energy supplement. I like that it doesn’t have artificial sweetener in it, but I’m not sure when I’d use this. Before a ride or race?

Cognitea - This is tea for mental clarity & focus. The magical ingredients appear to caffeine and L-Theanine. I like tea, I love caffeine, I’ll definitely drink this.

Arctic Ease - This cold compression wrap sounds fantastic because there’s nothing more annoying that strapping a drippy bag of ice to your body. I'm sure this'll come in handy.

Detour Smart Bar - Le sigh. This whole grain oatmeal bar sounded great until I got to the blueberry part. I’m not a big fan of blueberry but I have a cyclist friend who is, so I’ll give it to him. Or maybe I'll just eat it anyway. I like having ride snacks on me.

PickleAde - Okay, this one. It’s a little bottle of pickle juice. I get it, I do. The salt and vinegar in pickle juice makes it a great electrolyte replacement during sweaty summer rides and races but I just can’t imagine chugging a shot of pickle juice. I will try it, though, for science.

Skout Organic Trail Bar - Mine is apple and cinnamon and I’m eating is right this second. It’s chewy and very tasty in a healthy natural bar kind of way. There are definitely little bits of dried apple in it, which is nice.

Nuun All Day - These are hydration tablets with vitamins and minerals. Definitely something I’d chug if I was feeling a cold coming on, though I don’t particularly like Sorbitol as a sweetener.

Beljum Budder Chamois Creme - Oh yeah, I’ll always try a new chamois cream! I never used to use it but last year I discovered what the term “saddle sore” really means and I’ve seen the light.

Heavenly Organics Honey Pattie - This is chocolate mint flavor and it’s the perfect size to stick in a Camelbak or jersey pocket for a quick mid-ride treat.

That's the box! I'm really delighted with it overall. The products are high quality and it's definitely a fantastic value.