Trek Women
August 28, 2007

Very, Very, Velo Fast!

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There are not very many velodromes out there (only about 23 in the US), and there are very few people who have actually seen races held on these tracks.  Thanks to my new friend Michele, I saw my first one on Thursday night at the National Sports Center in Minneapolis, MN.  They have races there every Thursday night during the summer months. Michele's husband races there every Thursday and invited me to come watch the fun.

Talk about exciting!  The riders were going so fast around the velodrome and I got to watch every second of it.  The fans got to choose winners in some of the races and prizes were handed out if your racer won.  I even witnessed one of the riders crash on the last lap of his race.  He wasn't hurt too bad, but seemed pretty angry that he crashed.

There were women racing too!  They were going really fast.  That's a good thing too, because your speed is what keeps you upright on the very slanted track surface.  Anyone who is interested in fixed gear velodrome racing should check your area for some races.  For those who plan to stay purely spectator, like me, check for a velodrome in your area. Admission is usually free, or relatively cheap, and it is a fun outing to take your friends or family.

August 27, 2007

Winning the Contest

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Becoming an official Trek Woman Who Rides was a dream come true.  It started with my husband and I browsing the internet for information on bikes.  He was in need of a new road bike - after riding his into the pavement for eight years. We were researching all the options and went to the Trek website once again to look at the 2007 Madones.  We were oohing and aahing, and discussing whether to get the Madone 5.0 or the 5.2 when we clicked on the Women Specific Design link.  We read about this contest to become a Trek Women Who Rides...

I thought it would be really cool to win, but I am a realist when it comes to contests, and didn't think my chances were great.  I told Bill (my husband) that I would write an essay later.  He had big plans for me though - "You better start today! You only have a couple weeks, and it says here that they (Trek) want three pictures!" 

I wrote, Bill read and critiqued. He took me out on my bike and we spent the better part of the evening taking pictures of me winding down the trails of Boise.  Dsc_0033_2

The final draft of the essay had to do with an experience I had in college. (Go to the blog entitled "I stole my first bike" to read the essay)  It was short, to the point, and definitely different than any other entry that Trek would be receiving.  Bill and I picked out the best three pictures, read the essay one last time, and sent it away to Trek.

We then sat back and had one of those moments where you dream about having something amazing happen in your life.  "Wouldn't that be awesome if you won?" Bill said to me.  "Yeah", I said.  But inside I knew that I wouldn't win.

Dsc_0059A month went by and the winners were already supposed to be notified.  I had heard nothing, but was not too disappointed. (I didn't think I would win anyways)  A couple weeks later I got a generic email stating that thousands of women entered the contest, and the winners had still not been chosen.  This gave me hope that I could still win, but with so many contestants, I was back to a realistic point of view.  I didn't even give my contact information with my essay- They had no idea who I was!

I am so glad I have such a go lucky and supportive husband.  When I got an email from Trek saying they wanted my phone number so they could call me, my husband almost had dropped dead from excitement. He started jumping around the house yelling, "Are you serious? Are you joking me?", over and over again.  I, on the other hand just sat in front of the computer and came up with reasons why Trek would want to call me; they had nothing to do with me actually winning the contest. Maybe they are calling all the runner ups to give them a free t-shirt.  Or maybe the have a survey they want me to take.  I told Bill to calm down, "I don't want to get my hopes up yet."

The stars must have aligned just right, because the next day Lindsay from Trek told me that I was a winner.  One of the five winners in fact. Not a runner up.  An actual and official Trek Woman Who Rides. I was so happy that I couldn't stop smiling the whole day long.

Bill came to see me at work and gave me the biggest hug possible. He was just as thrilled as I was. When we got home that night, Bill said "Remember when I said 'wouldn't that be awesome if you won?'"  I said "Yeah", and we both just laughed.  Life is full of great moments like those!

August 21, 2007

A Weekend in DC!

I made a last minute trip to Washington DC on Friday.  Bill was there on business so we decided that I would meet him there and we would see the sights.   We had tons of fun being tourists and hiking around the city.  We barely got to touch the surface of all the good things there are to do there. We are determined to go back, and we put DC on the top five "places we would like to live".

The best part of the vacation was our bike ride on Saturday morning with Laura and Russ.  Laura lives in DC and offered to show us around while getting a good bike ride in. I had never been to DC before so she pointed out all the memorials and historic buildings as we went.  The scenery was awesome and the weather was perfect.  We went along a bike trail that was right on the Potomac River.  We had a lot of fun.  Thanks Laura and Russ for the ride and the bikes!

I hope you enjoy the pictures of our little trip to DC!

August 17, 2007

This is me!

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I thought I would give everyone a quick background of my life. I grew up in a wonderful family in Moreno Valley, California. During high school I played soccer, ran track, and cross-country. I went to college and earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. I have always been into sports and athletics, so it should come as no surprise that I played every intramural sport I could while in college. Soccer, football, ultimate frisbee, dodge ball, and even inner tube water polo. It was during college that I also fell in love with my now husband, Bill.

Bill introduced me to the cycling world. I started out by borrowing his friend’s road bike, to test the water. When I decided I liked it, I got one of my own (see the “I Stole My First Bike” entry). I rode that bike around till I saved up enough to buy a new one. The new one was a shiny blue road bike.


After we both graduated, Bill and I moved to Boise, Idaho. We were there for about 6 months, which brings us to our latest move. On July 7th we moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Bill’s job.


It has been about two years since I bought that blue road bike. Just recently (about 5 months ago) I discovered I also had a keen interest in Mountain biking. I jumped on the opportunity to buy a Trek Fuel Ex 9. It is a 2006 model and also one of Trek’s WSD bikes. I have loved that bike from the day I got it.


For me, biking has opened up so many opportunities in my life. I have found something that is not only a hobby and a form of exercise, it is my passion.  I am so excited to be a Woman Who Rides.

August 15, 2007

Girls can do it!

Dsc_0006 I am living proof that girls can do it. I just finished installing a rack on the top of my car. I had to put on towers, bars, and extension kit and two bike racks. It looked complicated at first, but once I got going it was really simple.  It took me a total of two hours, but if I had to do it again it would probably take me half that.

Back in Boise, ID I worked at a bike shop (Idaho Mountain Touring).  We got a lot of women who came in for car racks, but they never took them home in their trunks.  They would pay to have the shop put them on, or have their husbands install them.  I thought that was pretty reasonable. I had never put one one myself, and knew that I shouldn't attempt to install one for a customer since they would be paying for the work. 

Now I have a wonderful set of Yakima racks on my car.  It is so much better than taking off the wheels and shoving two bikes in the trunk. My car, and bikes took a lot of dents and scratches doing it that way.Dsc_0015_3

Girls, don't be afraid to try something that you have never done before.  I am so proud that I have racks on my car finally, but even more proud that I put them on.  If you are putting car racks on yourself, I have 3 tips for you:

1) Read all instructions carefully.

2) Clear enough working space. You'll need a lot of space when you lay everything out. If you don't have enough garage space, just take it all outside.

3) Don't get frustrated or give up.  You have to do a lot of measuring and it can get frustrating when you measure and move one side, only to find that the other side, which was already in place, has also moved.

 


August 13, 2007

City Riding

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I am riding fast to catch the yellow light, cars breathing exhaust down my leg, left hand turn - drivers staring at me.  City riding can be scary at times, and at times it can be as exhilarating as the trail.  I learned how to ride on the city streets, and have had a few close shaves with cars – a couple of my friends have had bad accidents.  In order to be a pro at city riding there are a few things that you should do. 

1. Act like a car.  Try to be as predictable as possible.  Make left turns in the left hand turn lane, signal even for stopping and don’t do anything too sudden.

2. Wear bright clothing.  A yellow vest goes a long way when you are competing for attention with a Porsche.  At night always have lights – a rider is a black hole without lights.

3. Keep your eyes open.  It sounds funny, but sometimes when you ride you get in this zone where you are focusing on how hard you are working and not so much on what is going on around you.  Stuff happens fast when cars are involved, so be aware at all times

Finally, have fun!  All those drivers out there are just wishing that they are in your shoes.

August 11, 2007

"I stole my first bike"

This is the essay that I sent to Trek for the "Women Who Ride" contest:

I stole my first bike.  It was sitting in the bottom of a parking garage completely unchained, with a years worth of dust on the frame, and two flat tires.  I left a post-it note with my phone number on the bike rack and took it upstairs to my apartment.  I washed the dust off the old steel frame, tightened the brakes, bought new tubes, lubed the chain and rode it to school.  And to work.  And to soccer practice and pickup games and drive-in movie theaters. And then things started getting interesting.  I started riding for riding's sake – on solo rides and group rides and up the sides of incredibly steep mountains.  The relationship moved from pure transportation to something like a love affair. I learned that when a bike chain starts to sound like a cricket every time you pedal it is time to wash it.  Actually, it is past time to wash it.  Now it is time to soak it in a solution and re-lube it so that it hums softly like the wind. I learned that when your wheel rubs the brakes at the same point every revolution it is time to true it.  You should only turn the spoke wrench a quarter of a turn at a time max – or a half a turn if the spoke is loose – otherwise you will taco your wheel, make it oblong like an egg, or dish it out so that it always rubs the brake. Truing a wheel is Zen.  It is almost mystical; it is like Mr. Magoo and Yoda.  It is also the reason why I am the woman you are looking for. I saved up for six months to buy a wheel set that cost more than my first car.  I ate ramen and ninety-nine cent loaves of bread and survived the weekends by joining clubs on campus to eat their pizza. I was a member of the Future Dentists club, and the Medieval club and part of the college Republicans and Democrats.  My inbox was loaded with junk mail, but that was fine by me – my wheel set is lighter than my gym bag. I know what cadence means, and how many watts is a lot.   I can fix a flat tire in my sleep and can tell the difference between a pinch flat and a goat head at fifty yards. When I watch the Tour de France I stand up on the couch and yell at the TV. When I graduated from college I brought the bike back down to the parking garage and picked up my post-it note.  Then I loaded a new bike into the back of my car and drove away.  I kind of felt like I was abandoning an old friend – the only consolation was that my new bike is light and fast and hums like the wind. And that is something I can fall in love with.

August 9, 2007

Beginner's Luck

My first race went better than expected.   I got 3rd place in the recreational  women's race.  On the podium already!  I'll be a pro racer in no time!

Hold on...Reality check!

If you check out the race results, you will see that only 4 women raced in that race.  So 3rd place doesn't sound as fantastic any more.  In fact, my only claim is that I didn't get last place.

So, I won't be a pro racer any time soon.  That really doesn't matter.  What matters is I had an awesome time out in the dirt.  Just check out those pictures. I am covered in mud. 

The race start was nerve wrecking just waiting for the gun to go off.  Once the race started, all my butterflies went away and adrenaline took over.  I just tried to focus on staying with the women riders who were in front of me.  I think I really did a good job for my first race. 

The two most exciting things that happened in the race were:  1)The rain that started just before the race and turned the course into one dirty ride.  2)I sprinted at the end to beat the girl who got second- I was winning by a tire, but I had no idea where the finish line was- she turned off to the right to finish and I kept going straight.  She ended up beating me by three seconds. I'll learn next time to find the finish line before the race.

I am so glad I took this first step towards racing.  It was a little scary, but I had so much fun out there. Stay tuned for news about my next race.

August 8, 2007

Taking that next step

Images Today is race day! My very first race in fact.   Buck Hill.  I went out for a little ride this morning to get my legs stretched out for the race.  On the trail I saw another girl riding, so I tried to catch up to her.  I wasn't able to catch her, but I met her at the end of the trail and tried hard to recruit her to race with me tonight.  As it turns out, like me, she is new to the Twin Cities area, and has never raced before.  I must admit, she didn't seem all that enthusiastic about racing.  Perhaps her lack of enthusiasm isn't due to her fear of racing as much as it is her fear of the crazy lady who chased her down the trail so excited about the prospect of meeting a fellow racer that I forgot to introduce myself!  I sure hope she comes tonight and gives it a try with me.   Racing is something that is intimidating for lots of women... including me!  But tonight... I take the next step and conquer a fear.
 

I am so glad that there are women out there like me: Really into biking, but nervous to take the next step.  I am nervous to take the plunge into the racing world, but you may be nervous to just get back on a bike again, or to try clipless pedals, or whatever it is. We all have our doubts and concerns, but I know it is usually the scary things in life that come with the most satisfying rewards.  No matter where you are on the course, it will be rewarding to take that next step.  If you don't like it at least you can say you tried. 

My race is only a few hours away, and right now my hands are shaking as I type this blog.  It's okay to be nervous.  Just don't talk yourself out of taking that next step.  I am going to show up to that race today and try to have as much fun as possible.

Wish me luck!