Monday, December 16, 2013

Grindcore the Snow Leopard at Bilenky Junkyard Cross and SSCXWC13Philly

Elisabeth headed to Philadelphia last weekend to compete in Bilenky Junkyard Cross and the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships. Read her full recap here.
A.E.LANDES PHOTOGRAPHY: 131208 SSCXWC &emdash; 1312080317
Making her way up Parachute Hill in the deep snow, Grindcore the Snow Leopard took SSCXWC13 by storm.


Racing through vans at Bilenky Junkyard Cross Photo: Dirt Rag





Coming through the cab of the 'dozer. Photo: Urban Velo

A.E.LANDES PHOTOGRAPHY: 131207 Bilenky Cross &emdash; 1312070199
Grindcore takes 3rd step on the women's podium at Bilenky.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Kit store is OPEN!!

Want to sport the Sheclismo kit on your bike, or flash the look around town in a cozy thermal jacket? Order now!



http://sheclismo.ridesquadra.com/

Short-sleeved jerseys, long-sleeved jerseys, bib shorts, and thermal jackets are all available for purchase, shipped directly to you! The store will be open until Dec. 2nd, so if you're looking for a gift for the cycling woman in your life, the timing couldn't be better. 

PS -- The jacket cut fits men and women, so we welcome our gentlemen supporters to rock it, too.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sheclismo brings style to the Nebraska State Championship weekend

There are so many great photos from this weekend that it will take forever to put them all together. How about a few highlights and a slew of gallery links? We'll try to get a better gallery together soon, but we have to recover first!

Start line of the Women's Open on Saturday in Pioneers Park. Photo: John Peterson

Sheena raced THREE races on Saturday -- the Madison relay, Singlespeed, and Women's Open. Not bad for a first race weekend...Photo: Jan Rice Ferguson

Joy takes the dollar at the top of Hooligan Hill. It was her first bike race, and she was on road slicks. Well done, Joy. Photo: Jan Rice Ferguson

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Jamie rocked two days of racing on the singlespeed (plus doing the Madison race on her fat bike) in her stylin' rainbow Chucks, bringing home 2nd place in Women's Singlespeed. Photo: Jennifer Greer
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Ashley Reinsch wraps up a stellar first season of racing at Day 2 in Omaha, with Susan Cronin and Jamie chasing through the barriers. Photo: Jennifer Greer
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Jamie & Elisabeth share a laugh on the podium for Women's Singlespeed State Champions. Photo: Jennifer Greer
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Elisabeth takes 3rd step of the Women's 1/2/3 State Championship podium with Carly Thomsen and Jolene Holland of Greenstreet taking 1st and 2nd. Photo: Jennifer Greer

http://nebraskacyclingnews.com/2013/11/10/photo-journal-form-the-nebraska-cyclocross-championships-day1/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/98191919@N02/sets/72157637541956233/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/105504022@N02/

https://www.facebook.com/events/457066111075611/?viewer_id=1003636

UPDATE:

More beautiful photos from Pioneers Park from Michael McColgan!

http://www.mccolganphoto.com/Sports/NE-CX-2103-State-championship/i-5WH6ff9


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Look Back at my First Cyclocross Season

I move into position as my name is called and glance at the women around me. We smile at each other and high-five, exchanging words of encouragement. But the nerves kick in as I click my right foot into my pedal. I grip my handlebars, anticipating the start of my first 30-minute cyclocross race.

“Racers take your mark. On three…”

I look down at my feet and then up ahead, reminding myself to breathe.

“…Two…”

Everything falls silent for a brief moment. I grip my handlebars harder and lean forward. Here it is – the high-pitch whistle blow.

And we’re off. Sprinting up the slight incline of the pavement. I hop the curb and enter the course, winding through pine trees. There’s a burn in my chest as I push through the open grass and up a slight hill. I gain speed on the decline and hit a bumpy section before rounding a tree. The course opens up again and I see a set of barriers ahead. My right leg swings over the saddle and I unclip my left foot, completing the dismount. I pick up my bike and leap once, then twice. Upon remounting, I smile to myself. People I’ve never met before yell my name and cheer for me as I continue to complete my first lap.

Racing in the first Star City CX Race at Seacrest Park.
I knew my first big purchase with my post-college career was going to be a cyclocross bike. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and this fall I had the opportunity to give racing a shot. My first season has been surrounded by the theme, “I just want to say I’ve completed a cyclocross race, even if it’s just one.” Well, I’m proud to say that I have completed three local Star City CX races, Sunday of the Omaha CX weekend race and recently traveled to Kansas City to race in the Boulevard Cup.

And I’m addicted. It’s an atmosphere and camaraderie unlike any other. (Where else will you race past a group of spectators shaking cowbells, heckling you and holding out pancake hand-ups)? It’s for the simple reason that cyclocross has made me a better cyclist. I’ve come a long way since that first Star City CX practice at Memorial Park. Prior to that evening, I had my cleats only two weeks and had no idea how to swing my leg over the saddle to dismount. I hadn’t even biked on grass before, let alone around trees. But I was determined to work toward the completion of my first race. (And this is where I must give a shout out to Elisabeth Reinkordt and Josh Rice for their hard work and dedication to teaching and encouraging beginners).

This first season wasn’t about the podium, but you can bet I’ll be riding so much more now and will be looking forward to Fall 2014. Perhaps my theme for next year will have to be, “If you’re smiling, you’re not racing hard enough.”

Jumping barriers at the Omaha CX Race.
Running through a sandpit at the Omaha CX Race.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

New Stars of Cyclocross

After 3 weeks of Star City CX Wednesday night races -- the last of which took place on an incredibly challenging course at Tanker Hill in Arnold Heights -- we have some solid new cyclocross racers in our ranks. More importantly, though, we have a bunch of women HAVING FUN getting out on course with their bikes, challenging themselves and each other, making new friends, and building community.

Crystal and Sheena at the start of the Tanker Hill race. Photo by John Peterson



Ashley climbs through the prairie. Photo by John Peterson

Sheena -- our Derby Girl recruit -- takes on Tanker Hill on her brand-new singlespeed. Photo by Jan Rice Ferguson
Cristina tears it up in her second race. Photo by Brent Baum

Liz really brings the fun to cyclocross in a cow costume -- and her Sheclismo jersey, of course. Photo by Rob Evans

Marcia's made huge progress this month. Love that smile! Photo by Jan Rice Ferguson

Megan races with style and swagger, earning herself a new set of tires from the judges. Photo by Brent Baum

Susan came charging back after a mechanical last week, cranking up Tanker Hill like a boss. Photo by Brent Baum 
Elisabeth in the A Race on her singlespeed. Photo by Brent Baum

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Photos from first Star City CX race

We'll be back at Seacrest Park this Wednesday. Pre-register here: https://www.usacycling.org/register/2013-3379

Here are some photos from last week!!
Starting line-up of the beginner women. Awesome field!

Crystal did her first cyclocross race to celebrate her 40th birthday. And she crushed it.

Heidi in her first cyclocross race, smiling on a singlespeed!
Ashley's been coming to cyclocross school regularly this year, and it paid off. She raced hard and smooth in her first race.

Megan loved racing without all the added weight of a Bob trailer full of Farmer's Market goods.

Elisabeth loving/cursing the course she helped design

Jamie in her first race, diving right in with the 1/2/3 women in her signature rainbow Chucks.
Sara is back in top form this year, kicking off her first full season as a Cat 3.

Beginner women lined up in height order for podium? Nice work, ladies, and congrats to Crystal (right) on the win!

Elisabeth and Janna did a podium hug after the A's race.
 Thanks to Corey Godfrey, Jan Rice Ferguson, and Nathan Swanson for the photos!


Friday, September 27, 2013

Lessons Learned from the Other Side of the Road

This month marks one year since I moved from the United States to the London, England area. Moving to a new country is never as trivial as one would hope. There is a new currency, a different selection of grocery items, new social norms, and of course new ways to cycle. (Difference number one, biking in the United Kingdom means to ride a motorbike.)
Me with Big Ben and the London Eye
(Posts about London require steriotypcial London pictures)
To commemorate a year of cycling, I have decided to write an article about how I am adapting to cycling in a new land.  Hopefully this will serve as a guide for those of you who love to travel with your bikes. If any of you journeys to my part of the world, please do join me for a ride.

Biking on the Left Side
In England, cars drive on the left side of the road. This is something we all know. But what we often do not realize is how instinctual traffic flow expectations become, until they are reversed. How quickly we can map over one traffic coordinate system to a new system depends on the person. For me, it was and is a rather slow process. Here are a few pointers if you find yourself in such a situation and country.
  1. Be intentional before you ride. Remind yourself to stay on the left-hand side all throughout your ride, especially at first. It can be surprising how easily one can start drifting to the right.
  2. Be especially intentional when turning, especially when turning right. You will likely feel like you should be turning into the opposite traffic lane.
  3. If your rear light is attached off to one side on your bike, make sure it is on the right side of your bike.
  4. Check for traffic by looking over your right shoulders not your left.
  5. When looking both ways to make a turn, check right and then left and then right. (This is the opposite of how one looks both ways in the US.)
  6. Find other cyclists and ride with them. This is the best way to get used to a new traffic flow
  7. Realize it may take, weeks or months for your instinct to really switch over, especially if you are biking stressed or tired. Just the other morning I found myself confused as to what lane I should be in. But intentional awareness can make up for a lack of instinct, particularly if you are only going on a short trip in such a country.
  8. I know I have stressed the importance of being careful, but in quick thinking situations this can be urgent. I was nearly hit by a car because I checked for traffic flow in the wrong direction. 
This list is not exhaustive, but hopefully it is enough to get you started. If any of you have experience riding on the left side, please feel free to add other considerations in the comments. Also, it can be really fun to experience the world from a new perspective, so enjoy the learning process.

Roundabouts
Roundabout in Egham near Royal Holloway
One traffic staple that we have come to know and love/hate in the United States are traffic lights. You will find that they are much less common in the United Kingdom. Instead, you will find a plethora of roundabouts. These can be a little daunting at first, since most drivers in the US do not maneuver them correctly, so here is the appropriate way of biking through a British roundabout.
  1. As you approach the roundabout single which direction your turn is. Make sure the vehicles around you see you signaling.
  2. If there is more than one lane for entering, make sure you are in the lane that corresponds to where you are turning on the roundabout.
  3. Yield to oncoming traffic before entering, but prepare to enter the circle with confidence.
  4. Turn left to enter the roundabout and ride towards the center of the circle until you are ready to exit allowing cars and other vehicles to exit at turns preceding yours.
  5. Signal again to let others know you are exiting
  6. Exit to the left
The most important part of going through a round about is to communicate with all the cars/bikes around you. Most drivers will give you extra space on these if you have made your intentions clear. Also if you are leading a ride that is going through a roundabout hold up the appropriate number of fingers to indicate what turn everyone will be taking. One further note, if you are approaching a particularly congested or dangerous roundabout and are biking by yourself and do not feel you have the confidence to go through it, get on to the sidewalk, dismount and walk your bike around using pedestrian crossings. It is better to be safe the sorry and I see people doing this all the time. The best way to get better and more confident at biking roundabouts is to practice and ride with others with more experience.

In the rare instances where you encounter a traffic light instead of a roundabout, be aware that the light will turn orange before and after a red light and the orange light does not last long so be extra careful when you see these. Also, intersections with neither a stoplight nor a roundabout will normally not have stop signs. Some will have a yield sign, but an unmarked area is quite common. To bike this, just make sure you communicate with the cars/bikes around you and pay attention to communications coming your way and yield and move forward accordingly. One of the benefits of biking in Britain is that drivers are more used to watching for signals set to them from cyclists, which sometimes leads to a more harmonious relationship.

Narrow Streets – (I mean really narrow)
To those of you who are reading this from Lincoln, NE, biking in that city will spoil you. There are so many bike paths that take you all around town and to other towns. We have big wide American roads and usually have ample shoulders. Bike lanes are fairly plentiful and somewhat logically placed. Then there are the glorious gravel roads that I truly miss. Not to mention all the men and women who participating in cycling advocacy in Lincoln and who work hard to keep the roads safer for all of us. Such things do not exist everywhere in this world.

We have often heard stories about how narrow European roads are and these stories are true. Most cities and towns are hundreds of years old and were built for the use of carts and horses, not modern day cars. Sharing these roads can be a little bit of an adjustment for someone who is used to having lots of room on the road. However, these narrow roads can take you to places that are breathtaking. You can see old ruins, quaint villages, and beautiful farmland, so riding them is well worth the adjustment.

Cycling to See Windsor Castle from Great Windsor Park
Most roads in England do not have shoulders. There are usually only curbs. Also the sides of the roads are usually littered with debris. So far on my daily commute, I have had to dodge everything from potholes and drains, gravel and broken glass, to knives and banana peals. (I am not making any of this up.) This dodging puts me even deeper into the lane of traffic. What this means is that cyclists in England bike very close to the cars. It is not unusual for cars and trucks to zip by me within an arm’s reach. This took me a while to get used to, but I know not everyone is so shy about cuddling with traffic. However, since one is so close to the cars on such narrow roads, it becomes even more important to bike in a straight line, defensively and with confidence. If you are nervous about being so close to large vehicles, give yourself extra time to bike at your own pace until you adjust.

Two further notes: There are a fewer streetlights in England so being visible on these narrow roads is even more important. Make sure you have good bike lights and reflective clothing on especially at night. Most bike paths outside of London proper are on sidewalks and can end very abruptly.  I have found it is generally better to stay on the roads, unless traffic is particularly bad.

The United Kingdom is making positive cycling progress every year. They even have the bike to work program. The bike paths will continue to get better and drivers are becoming increasingly more aware as more people turn to cycling as a form of transportation. There is still a need for greater advocacy before the UK reaches the cycling progressiveness of other European countries and certain US cities. Then again, think about how far the US has come in the past ten years.

London Public Transportation and Bikes
London Waterloo Station
Before you travel to any major city with your bike, make sure you read up on their policies for public transit and bikes. I have cycled in both Manhattan and London and both had very different rules, some of which I had to learn the hard way. (Being stranded at a train station in Newark is not a great way to spend your birthday.) If you are traveling to London with your bike and plan on taking it on public transportation, here are a few things to keep in mind: Regular non-folding bikes are not allowed on busses, the underground, or the trolleys at anytime. At the operator’s discretion, you can bring a collapsed folding bike onto one of these vehicles. All bikes are allowed on trains, at the conductor’s discretion, except during rush hours.  Most cities anywhere in the world will have restrictions on bikes during rush hour for the safety of other passengers. If you bring your bike onto a train, be polite to the other passengers and stand with your bike instead of propping it up against a door. One of the benefits of living in the United Kingdom is how easy the rail system is to use to get anywhere in the country. I took full advantage of this to travel to my races. These rules are specific to London and will likely be different depending on where you travel, but can be vital to planning a journey.

London Racing
Lastly, no matter where you travel, bike culture is everywhere. A big part of bike culture is participating in racing. No matter where you travel to or move to, I hope you participate in a few races. This past year, I did the London Summer CX series, and after a rough start, I had a blast. (You can ready about those races here, here, and here.) Racing with people from all over the world is really an amazing experience. Joining a race series is often as easy as contacting the race directors, showing up and paying the entrance fee. Some races do require a license, but this information will normally be posted on the website. Most countries also have a webpage devoted to the national sport of cycling that will list events and license requirements.

Racing Cross in East Croyden
I hope you have found this article to be helpful if you plan on doing any bike travel to London. While this is a long piece, it is not exhaustive, feel free to add other considerations in the comments. Better yet, if you are member of Sheclismo, write a post about what you learned from traveling/moving with your bike. Biking in different parts of the world can really give you a greater connectivity to the international cycling community and I hope all of you have the opportunity to do so. I have said this already, but take advantage of every opportunity you have to race all over the world and wear your Sheclismo blue with pride. In the last race I competed in, one of the racers complemented one of my Sheclismo blog posts as they passed me. I felt a flush of pride through my sweat that I was truly a member of an international racing community. Enjoy being part of a team that will support you and encourage you no matter where life takes you.


Happy Riding and Racing.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Great Coverage in the Journal-Star about Star City CX

After a great launch for the first night of the cyclocross series we're co-sponsoring with Cycle Works, we were treated to great photos and a nice story about our practice in the park on Sunday. We'll see you at the races next week -- Seacrest Park at 5 PM!




Full article here

Friday, September 20, 2013

Keeping us rolling

Cutting straight to the chase. SHECLISMO is an all-volunteer, independent organization committed to helping more women take the wheels. Our objective is to provide as many free or low-cost cycling education opportunities and events as we can, so that women in our community can participate regardless of income level. As such, any donations to help our cause are much appreciated. Click the donate button on the top right of this blog if you're so inclined. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Star City CX Starts September 25th



 
STAR CITY CX INTRODUCES CYCLOCROSS AT THREE NEW VENUES IN 2013
Grassroots Race Series to Focus on Cultivating New Racers

The 2013 cyclocross race season kicks off in Nebraska on September 25th, with the first installment of Star City CX, a new grassroots race series featuring three new venues that stretch across the city of Lincoln. The races are a joint effort of SHECLISMO and Cycle Works, with Josh Rice and Elisabeth Reinkordt taking on primary organizing responsibilities and Craig Schmidt taking the lead in course design. The emphasis is encouraging beginners to get into cyclocross while providing a great series of new venues for veteran local racers to get in a mid-week race.

Rice, chief promoter for the series, began racing in 2010, and cited Lincoln’s Wednesday night races that year as key. “It’s so important to have an affordable way to get into racing,” Rice said. “I want people to come check out a race with a friend and know that they can participate for less than it costs to go out to dinner.”

Reinkordt, co-founder of Nebraska’s all-women’s bike club SHECLISMO (www.sheclismo.blogspot.com), stressed the importance of accessibility -- and fun -- in growing the sport. “I started bike racing on a dare at a cyclocross race in 2009, and the fun a supportive community has kept me coming back for more,” she said. “We have had a couple informal cyclocross practices this fall, and I’ve been so impressed with the turnout -- especially by women -- who are interested in learning about the sport.”

Schmidt, a long-time veteran of cyclocross racing, has been extremely excited to have the support of Lincoln Parks & Recreation in exploring new parks for courses. “We’re using new locations, and we think racers are going to love the new features we’re going to be able to incorporate,” he said. “Each course brings unique features that are going to bring smiles to peoples’ faces -- racers and spectators both!”

Cycle Works (www.cycleworksusa.com) will be providing shop support for the races, including having a mechanic on site. Shop manager Nathan Swanson said that a grassroots series fits right in with the shop’s motto. “We encourage people to ‘Get out. Have fun,’” Swanson said. “We’ve been strong supporters of the finding ways for the Lincoln community to enjoy bikes and parks, and this is a natural fit for us.”

The Wednesday races will follow a B Race/A Race format, and the series will culminate in a more traditional Saturday of racing -- including a few fun surprise categories to be announced in coming weeks. Online registration is available at http://www.usacycling.org.


SCHEDULE

Wed, 9/25, 5:00 PM, Seacrest Park
Wed, 10/2, 5:00 PM, Wilderness Park Fitness Loop
Wed, 10/9, 5:00 PM Tanker Hill @ Arnold Heights
Sat 11/9, 10:30 AM Tanker Hill @ Arnold Heights



CONTACT INFO

Josh Rice - info@starcitycx.com
Elisabeth Reinkordt - elisabeth@bicyclincoln.org

For more information about the races and to find people to train with visit: http://starcitycx.com

Monday, September 2, 2013

Gravel Worlds 2013 -- Elisabeth's report

We had several women take the start at Gravel Worlds this year. Here's a report from Women's Singlespeed Champion Elisabeth "Grindcore" Reinkordt!

I hate heat. I try to resign to it, to embrace it, to love it, but it just doesn't happen for me. After a fairly cool and mild summer, I was not going to be granted a nice cool day to attempt Gravel Worlds on a singlespeed. Nope. At 5 AM, there was already a strong south wind. Right. In Nebraska, that means it's going to be a hot day.


Having the start/finish at my family farm proved to be far more emotional than I'd anticipated. We had a nice mellow dinner the night before; I slept in my grandparents' bedroom, and my mom made coffee and breakfast in the morning. I peeked out the kitchen window a few times, but when I went down to the barn at 5:30 or so and the whole drive was full of people, it hit me. I was already welling up a bit. My dear parents love their crazy daughter well enough to allow 200 friends and strangers to roll up early in the morning to start a bike race, and there was my dad with the big Swiss cowbell from my mom's host family in Veraltorf. Wow. I just kind of drank it in.
 
Read the full story here...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pigman 70.3

Race Day Write Up-IM 70.3 Pigman Long Course

I’d signed up for this race at the tail end of last year’s race season-I figured it would give me something to train for all winter and I’d be ready by August 18 to kick butt and take names. Then I got engaged. The winter wasn’t spent in the pool or at spin class, but on the couch and in the kitchen. I’d been waffling as to whether I should just put this off until next year, since the race was 20 days before my wedding, but a friend convinced me we’d do it together and signed up on the spot. I was committed. And terrified.

We loaded up our bikes Saturday morning and headed to Cedar Rapids. That is one long, boring drive. Not a lot else I can say about that! Got to packet pick up, looked around, and boy did I feel outclassed. I run triathlons not because I have any designs on being the fastest girl at the race, but because I simply need to do it. I have a desire to participate, to keep moving forward, and if I’m at the back of the pack? More motivation to get better. Every triathlon I get to, I feel honored to compete with such clearly seasoned athletes. Their bikes look shinier, their helmets more aero, their gear so clearly designed to shave seconds off each movement they make. In the parking lot, we were getting ready to go in and the couple next to us looked over at our bikes hanging on the back of the car. “Who’s riding the cyclocross?” they asked. I proudly told them I was, but they laughed and wished me good luck. That took a little air out of my sails. After a nice pasta dinner, we headed back to the hotel to soak in the hot tub and head to bed for the big day. As is customary, sleep was terrible that night. Tossing, turning, flat pillows, noisy hallways. We got up before the alarm and went through the motions, and then headed out on the road.

Arriving at the site, my mind was blown. I easily had the bulkiest bike there, again. I thought once I got rid of the mountain bike I did my first few tri’s on, it was smooth sailing from there. But it took me right back to that first sprint triathlon I did at Holmes Lake. These people weren’t messing around-and why should they be? We had 70.3 miles of sunny road ahead of us. Shiny spandex, alien looking aero helmets, quads of steel. I did meet some super nice ladies at the porta pottie line who had also asked the race director how long they’d leave the finish line up (9.5 hours is the answer we both got). Guessing ages would be impolite, but I peeked at the post race stats and they were around 50, and were doing the race for a friend with cancer.

Got our transition areas all set up, nutrition attached to the bike and laid out for the run, and went down to wait on the beach. Newbies can always seem to find other newbies at a triathlon and we got to talk to a few more nervous souls completing their first half IM. I was pretty zen at this point, and just ready to get this thing started. I know I’m not fast at any of the segments-my normal speed at the run isn’t a given after 57.2 miles of bike and swim, so I mentally budgeted myself an 8  hour “work” day to get this thing done. The swim start was a time trial entry, instead of the normal mass release we’re used to. I think I actually prefer this method-it’s a little less flaily, and I didn’t get kicked in the face as is customary at a triathlon. The main things I remember from the swim were really wanting to pee and not being able to, and constantly realizing how off course I was. Orienting yourself during the swim portion of a triathlon is a constant concern, and periodically I’d have to check buoy position and right my course. The swim ended up taking me about 53 minutes, and yes I did pee in the lake. I should also mention that I’m one of a handful of people not in wetsuits for the swim. It’s my understanding that they help with buoyancy in the water, because it’s certainly not to keep warm. But the down side of that is that I could probably have gotten done 5-10 minutes earlier if I was to suit up. It’s a trade-off I’m willing to make because a) watching people get into those wetsuits looks like a new level of humiliation, b) Peeling said wetsuit off after a race seems terrible, and c) spending the money on a wetsuit I’ll end up wearing a handful of times a year is just not an expense I need or can afford. Only other thing of note from the swim is about halfway through, I started feeling something pull on my neck, but there’s not a lot you can do for adjustments to your swim cap in the middle of a seaweedy lake.

Ran up the beach to transition, and was really bummed to see how few bikes were still left waiting to be ridden. Our classification (group 8, women under 40) was 8 out of 10 in transition, meaning I had a long run to get to my bike, but a short walk out of transition to mount up and start riding. Got my helmet secured, feet wiped down enough to get my socks and cycling shoes on, and was on my way. I want to point out that as you increase the distance of your triathlon, it becomes more important to make absolutely sure you get all the sand off your feet before you put your socks and shoes on. That tiny grain of sand stuck to your big toe is livable for a sprint distance, but during the half marathon portion of the half IM, it’s going to wear a formidable blister into whatever surface it’s attached to. I bring a squirty water bottle and rinse off before drying them and getting my shoes on-you know, for safety.

Hopped on the bike and pedaled as fast as I could onto the course. The 56 mile course took us through 2 towns, a couple of railroad tracks, and a boatload of rolling hills. I was prepared for this, but my partner for the race Kristina was really not happy about all the hills. Again, I’m riding a Jake with my knobby tires still on, so I was pretty happy to check my computer and realize I was maintaining about a 15 mph pace. The reason I left my bumpy tires on was twofold: I did the majority of my training and long rides on a crushed limestone path, so that is what I was used to, and I figured sturdier tires decreased the chances I’d pop a tire on the course. One mantra you’ll always hear a triathlete preach is not to make any equipment changes on race day. You always want to make sure you’ve trained in your tri suit, nothing you’ve never ate before, no new shoes, etc. Nothing like getting 30 miles out and finding your suit gives you a killer wedgie.

While on the bike, I consumed a Smuckers Uncrustable PB&Honey, some shot blocker chews, and not nearly enough water. They let us know there were bottle exchanges about every 10 miles, and made an effort to keep us hydrated on the course. I brought one bottle of my own water, and one of the bottles they’d given us at check in. When I traded out my Pigman bottle around mile 28, I realized they were filling them with HEED, the electrolyte replacement fluid they’d talked about on their website. It tasted, quite frankly, like warm pee. Salty, faintly lemony, and due to my slower performance was completely warm. I couldn’t drink it, so I lost out on that hydration which would end up being a bit of a downfall during the run. They had some disposable squeeze topped water bottles out on the course as well, but those didn’t fit in your bike cage so I’d have to take a big gulp and throw it away (and they tasted like warm plastic anyway, which didn’t help my burgeoning headache). My legs still felt pretty strong throughout the ride, but I did notice that the chip timer seemed to be wearing a nice hole in my shin. And it turned out that the feeling I’d had on my neck earlier was my swim cap or goggles burning some nice holes in my skin on either side. We’d talked about how stinky the caps were the night before, but that they were thicker than the race caps we’re used to. As a result, I decided to forego my normal double cap approach to keep my “regular” cap on and put the race one atop it. See, kids: nothing new on race day.

Pulled in to the recreational area after the bike, and saw a bunch of people finishing their run. Those seasoned IM athletes are animals! I came in at 3:45 for the bike, threw it on the rack, changed into my running shoes, and headed out for the last part of my day. I made it about 3 miles before my first walk at a water station. From there on out, I had to stop at each station, walk a bit and double fist the water cups. My lips had a fine crust on them, the water was so cold, and I knew I was in real hydration trouble. So I just ran/walked as best as I could, and just kept moving forward. The run would have gone a lot better if I’d taken in some more water on the bike, and if the route contained as much as a tree’s worth of shade-there was not a single respite from the 90 degree day, and starting my run at around 1:00 PM didn’t ease the sun beating down on me at all. When I got to around the 9 mile mark, my feet started letting me know that they were pretty displeased with all the abuse they’d taken. Around mile 10, I knew it was almost over and picked up the pace as much as possible. Came in to the park with about 2 miles to go, and passed a girl. Stopped and walked a bit up a particularly steep hill and she passed me back. One thing about triathlon racing that you may not know is that they mark you on your calf with your age. I saw she was exactly my age, and my competitive streak kicked in. I’d beat at least one person in my age group, gosh darn it! Kicked it into gear and realized I still had something left to give. Ran it into the chute, and even gave a little sprint at the end. Looked up and realized I’d come in about 35 minutes ahead of “schedule”-7:24:55. Kristina had done amazing and came in right around 6 hours.

We had been going back and forth about whether or not we wanted to stay in Cedar Rapids and relax that night before driving back Monday morning, or if we just wanted to go back home that night. Well, around hour 2 on the bike all I could think about was how much I wanted to sleep in my own bed. Kristina agreed, and we decided to head back that night. Took some much needed showers, fished the seaweed out of our sports bras, and headed over for some Jimmy Johns for the road. Sandwiches seem to be my go-to after a big calorie burn-not too tough on the stomach, which was just what I needed.


 I saw the race results, and I know I was in the last 25% of finishers. I’ll say that all things considered, I’m happy with how I did. I realized during this race that I’ve probably hit here the pinnacle of what I’m going to be able to do. And a lot of that has to do with the monetary investment I’m willing to make. I enjoy doing triathlons because I like to challenge myself, but the amount of money you would need to invest to really be successful is more than I’m willing to spend. Time trial bikes, wetsuits, trainers, aero bars and helmets, I mean there’s even fancy water bottles that just have straws so you don’t have to change your focus for a second; I on the other hand don’t even have a Garmin or a Heart Rate Monitor. I now know what I’m capable of, and it’s more than I ever thought possible, and I don’t even need fancy equipment to tell me that. Would I do it again? Probably. Would I train differently? Probably. But considering I did this race and all my training while simultaneously building a giant patio at my house and planning a wedding that is 3 weeks after the race, I think I did the best I could expect. Race photos still haven’t been posted, so I have nothing pretty to pepper this report with, but I thank you for coming on the journey with me! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gravel Worlds 2013

Gravel Worlds launches this Saturday at 6 AM. Sheclismo's Elisabeth "Grindcore" Reinkordt put together this video to get everyone excited. The women's field this year is bigger than ever, and we're proud to have several of our own in the ranks.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Moxie Cycling Jersey: Another Review


I gave the Vixen jersey a go and I found it to be very comfortable. It was definitely one of the more comfortable jerseys I've ever worn. The fabric is durable and cooling and the fit is nearly perfect for my shape. I really appreciated the cut around the under arms and front of the shoulders. Didn't pinch at all. I thought the length was spot on.  Though Elisabeth didn't particularly like how loose it was at the bottom (we have very different body shapes), I like it because it doesn't stick to my belly which is an area of insecurity for me.

After reviewing the size chart I would say the fit is true to size for a curvy gal.  I tried a Large.  My bust is a 36 C, waist is 29" and hips are 39"  It fit snug at the bust and I was happy with the support it offered. I like having the option of extra padding but I think I prefer to leave the pads out.  Around the waist and belly it was a touch looser, yet still followed the curve of my body closely.  The cut is flattering and the design of the Vixen is particularly flattering. As Elisabeth mentioned, I too appreciate a pattern that strays from the pink and purple floweriness I usually see for women specific clothing. I also LOVE stripes!

I had one complaint about the fit.  I wanted more clearance between the base of the back of the neck where the straps meet. It pulls on the shoulders and neck a bit, though It's not enough of an issue to prevent me from wearing it.



I would wear this for a variety of riding.  I initially tried it for a ride out to Eagle and was really satisfied with it. Since then I've mostly worn it on my commutes to yoga and then the grocery store. I like long distance, all day rides and I will be using it for those rides, especially on warmer days.  It's plenty comfortable and offers enough space in the pockets to keep your stuff. However, it's flattering and casual enough where I don't feel out of place or uncomfortable wearing it to the grocery store, coffee shop, restaurant or bar after a ride. It dries quickly and doesn't show or hold sweat. I really just want to wear it everywhere.


I  have recommended it to friends and teammates based on comfort and style and I will continue to. Can't wait to try another fit!


Monday, August 12, 2013

Product test: Moxie Cycling jersey

Occasionally, we'll get contacted by folks looking for women like us to test out things we might like to buy. Recently, we were contacted by Moxie Cycling, a company based in Minneapolis that's designing women's cycling apparel. Always on the lookout for women's cycling gear that doesn't go by the rule of "pinkify and cover in flowers," I gave their Retropolitan jersey a go.





I really liked the look of this jersey -- the design and color combo is great -- but while the bottom half fit a little loose, the top half, and particularly the cut right under the armpits, was too snug. This was not as bad when I was riding (arms forward) as when I was just walking in the jersey. It did seem to stretch a little bit after an hour or so, or I just got used to it. I wore this on a relatively warm day, and appreciated the sleeveless cut. The fabric was not particularly breathable, so I don't see wearing this in the very hot and humid part of our Nebraska summers! Also, and this may be just because I'm used to wearing team kit, too, but I felt like with the snugness of the top part, the bottom seemed loose -- I had the urge to pull it down, as it didn't seem to stay in place.

Based on the size chart, I should be a small, but as mentioned above, this was too tight around my armpits. I have quite narrow shoulders and a small chest, so I was kind of surprised at this. I exchanged it for a medium, which is still snug, but fits much more comfortably. I'd advise ordering a size up. I see this jersey as wonderful for casual group rides, and those days when you have a lot of places to go by bike but don't want to be fully lycra-clad. On the day I took these photos, I rode about 15 miles around town, then went to a coffee shop and worked in an office for a couple hours. Though I packed an extra t-shirt to change into, I didn't feel the need -- I didn't feel like I was wearing kit. Also, because it's sleeveless, it would serve as a nice addition to the female cyclist's wardrobe for evening out the farmer tan lines from sleeved jerseys! 


I would recommend this jersey to friends and teammates, with the caveat that trying it on (rather than trusting the size chart) is a good idea. There are several designs that are truly great looking and stylish, not falling into the typical "throw some flowers on it, make it pink or purple" trap. I'd love to see a fleet of women wearing these.


As mentioned above, this jersey is all about look. I didn't think I'd like the padding, but wow, that made me look good! I think women get used to the uni-boob look that sports bras give, and this padding just made me look like my normal self, not bigger, but not squished.




I suggested to Moxie that I think making the lower half of the jersey a little more form-fitting to correspond with the snug top part would be good. Not skin-tight, but not quite so loose. The fabric is thick enough that this isn't billowy, so it just doesn't quite fall right. That said, now that I have the medium, I'll wear it again, especially in situations where I want to get in a good ride but want to look somewhat normal at the bar for my recovery drink!