Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Young riders need your support!

Like seeing young women (and men) taking the wheels? We've been so happy to see young people taking to cyclocross this fall. So much so, that the funds we raised to make youth racing free are out!

Via Star City CX, the series we're proud promoters of:

Last winter and spring, we were incredibly happy to partner with the No Coast Derby Girls to raise funds for junior cyclocross racing. And while we raised a healthy chunk of change from that endeavor, we’re now faced with one heckuva good problem. Turns out juniors took to the turf in awesome numbers -- exponentially more than ever before in Nebraska! -- and we’re out of dough to cover the cost of insurance and licenses for them to race for free!
So, because nothing beats seeing a 6-year-old valiantly lifting the mountain bike that weighs just as much as she does over the barriers, and nothing beats seeing a race number fill an entire child’s back, and nothing beats seeing a bunch of young men and women challenging themselves and each other, we’re asking for help. Any donation makes a difference.
$20 covers the cost of one youth or junior racer
If you donate $50, we’ll throw in a Star City CX shirt. $10 gets you a sticker. (See below for available sizes)
You can send money directly via PayPal to josh@starcity.cx or click one of these links to speed that process up:
Day-of, corporate and anonymous donations are also gladly accepted! :)
Thanks for your help and support.
Josh & Elisabeth
Because, c'mon. We need more of the awesomeness that was on display at Seacrest Park...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Taking the Lane: Nothing is More Local than Commuting!

I know this blog is supposed to be about apparel and different choices of apparel....well, I hope you all will bear with me a bit on this blog...... it is my chance to talk local with out feeling like I am a commercial for my store!

 We all love commuting and as the title of this blogs states "Nothing is More Local than Commuting" - yep about as local as it gets, folks. That is a lot of why we are drawn to commuting, for the local part of this ...we get to ride by our favorite LOCAL parks, our favorite LOCAL coffee shops, our favorite LOCAL bike shops.....here's where I get on my soap box :)

As far as I can tell commuters are not commuting naked in Lincoln....... yet our LOCAL bike shops are having a rough go with apparel sales. The hard cold truth is that apparel sales across the country are down 20-30% and unfortunately there doesn't seem to be an upswing in sight. But I like to think that Lincoln is not like the rest of the country.....I like to think that we respond to our LOCAL business's with support! I like to think that the Lincoln biking community supports LOCAL bike shops with regular visits to see what is new and different.

That's not what I hear when I talk to the LOCAL shops, I hear they try to bring in apparel for biking/commuting and it's a hard sell. This is from the shops that are at Gravel Worlds at 5 am to set up and help with any needs you have, this is from the shops that put air in your tires free and give you tons of free advice, this is from the shops that are at Seacrest Park in the middle of the afternoon setting up a cyclo-cross course for you (and are there long after you have hit the local burrito shack and are home with your feet up), this is from the shops that have weekly rides that leave from their front door, this is from the shops that the owners sleep in a trailer behind their truck for two weeks following bike tours across our state, this is from the shops that have "Ladies Nights".... offer you great deals..... bring in new clothing for you to order.... feed you and give you wine and beer.......but most of them don't see you come back in for the apparel you are wearing out there on your rides or your commutes. I have a hard time believing that, as social as we all are in this group, it is more fun to sit in front of a computer and order apparel online than it is to go into our LOCAL bike shops and talk to a real person that knows the apparel there inside and out. There is nothing better than feeling like you are well equipped because of the knowledge of a local salesperson. There is nothing better than walking in your LOCAL bike shop and having the salesperson call you by name and point out some new apparel they know you would love! Computers don't /can't/won't do that :)
Next time you commute by your LOCAL bike shop, stop in and see what great apparel they have for your daily commute. I mean we all know "Look good - bike good" and now we know "Bike local - shop local"!

Wool Socks designed by Lincoln local artist

Off my soap box, onto my bike and a quick commute home in some great apparel from my LOCAL bike shop!

Monday, September 22, 2014

London Ultra Duathlon - Because I am Your Kind of Crazy

After 8 and a half months of training my race day had finally come. If you are mostly here to find out about my final results, I will spoil the ending now, since this piece is more about the experience that the end result.

London Ultra Distance: 20km run (12.4 mi) / 77km cycle (47.8 mi) / 10km run (6.2 mi)

Total Time: 6:55:55

Overall Place (Female Finishers): 7th

Age Category Place (25-29): 1st

When I first heard of the London Duathlon, I knew I wanted to do it. Also, I knew I wanted to run it for charity. Then there the issue of the length. The London Duathlon ran 4 different lengths (run km/ cycle km / run km):
Super Sprint - 5k/11k/5k
Spring - 10k/22k/5k
Classic - 10k/44k/5k
Ultra - 20k/77k/10k
I knew I wanted a challenge. I remember thinking at the time that the bike length for the Ultra was the only bike ride that seemed a reasonable. (I prefer long rides.) For some reason all the extra running was  not exactly registering at the time I was signing up. I was a little disappointed that running for a charity meant that I could not wear my beloved Sheclismo tri top, but I would still ride with the Sheclismo spirit.

The race was pretty incredible. My event started at 8:45 in the morning and I needed to be at Richmond Park at 7:30am. I looked up the train times and I knew there was no way that I could get there on time using public transportation and I was not going to cycle 14 miles will all my gear the morning of such a long event. Thankfully I have a wonderful co-worker, Jochem, who lives near the park who offered to have myself and Piper stay at his place the night before.

Waiting for the race to begin and rocking my Eyeskull socks. (I always try to carry a little Nebraska with me when I race.)
After a breakfast of granola with almond milk, a banana and some Coke, I cycled over to the park Sunday morning with my husband and Jochem. As usual before any big sporting event, I was nervous. I had been quite ill the past weekend and I spent all week resting and drinking water in hopes of being ready for the race. I really hoped my training had been sufficient. I hoped that I would be able to finish before the cut off time. The race event village had few racers wandering around. These were mostly Ultra participants with a few Sprinters. (The race order is as following, 8:45am - Ultra, 9:00am - Sprint, 10:30-11:30 - Classic, and 1:30pm - Super Sprint). I put on my race numbers and then made way to the transition zone. I had never done a multi-sport race before so I was not entirely sure of how to set up transition. I racked my bike, put my helmet on the seat, and laid out some gels, Snikers, sports drink, and a camelpak filled with elite spiked water. I had already installed a water bottle on my bike filled with water and 3 Sis gels. I left the zone and began my usual pre race ritual. This involves deep breathing, nervous conversation, and visiting the port-a-potties multiple times. I was really glad to have Piper and another friend there for support. I watched on the big board as the time counted down to the Ultra.

30 minutes before the race
At a little less than 10 minutes before we were called over to the starting carrels. We would be starting in packs of about 20. I was in second carrel next to another woman who was also doing the Ultra. We chatted about the lack of women in the event compared to the number of men. (There were around 100 individuals doing the Ultra and less than 10 were women.) I told her that this meant we were guaranteed to place in our age category. All we had to do was finish. The feeling in the start zone was electric. Everyone was excited and in a good mood. I was around so many incredible athletes. There was more than one person around me who bore the emblem of being an Ironman. It was surreal to think I would be running a race with people like that. They counted down the first carrel and we watched them take off. Next, those of us in the second start group made our way over. We listed to the count down and then we were off.

I was in a really good mood at the beginning of the race. (Little did I know what the day would hold.)

Like all endurance events, the start is never really that fast. I remember that I could not stop smiling. I was so happy that my day to run was finally here. The 20k run consisted of doing two 10k loops. I am not a particularly fast runner, especially compared to people that normally take on this type of distance. I am happy if I can run between 10:30 and 10:50 mile on long runs. I was well on pace during this race, however it not long before I was trailing at the rear of the Ultra pack. This did not bother me much. I am happy to run my own pace and I was pleased with how well it was going. The only issue I was having was little stomach pain, which is not unusual for me when running. The first loop seemed to fly by. I did see one sad event. The woman I had started next to had collapsed about 8km into the race and had gone into shock. It is always a little heartbreaking to see someone have to pull out so soon into a race.

Getting Ready to high five Jochem (I was really in a good mood on this first lap)
I was still in a good mood when I started the second lap. I was surrounded by a crowd of Sprinters as I reached event village. I watched as they ran towards transition and I kept running and fueled with a Gu. I was running alone for most of this lap. I passed another guy running the Ultra and we ran together for a short while before I pulled ahead. About 7km into the second lap, my bad knees started to act up. I was in pretty fair amount of pain, but I was determined not quit. I feel tears coming to my eyes. I sipped a little water and little sports drink and kept on running.

Entering Transition

I enter the transition zone about 2 hours and 13 minutes into there race, (the fastest I have ever run a 20k in an event.) I was relieved to be done with running for a little while. My bike was one of the few remaining in the Ultra section so it was very easy to find. My transition is an example of everything not to do. I made a frantic grab for my helmet and gloves. I fussed with my camel pack and sunglasses. I pulled off my running shoes, (I love those elastic tri laces), and jammed my feet into my cycling shoes. I took another Gu and thought about eating something else, but my stomach revolted at the idea. I took my bike off the rack, and somehow made it out of there in 2 min 30 sec. I walked my bike to mount line and climbed on top.

My knees practically sang with the relief of being stretched out with pedaling motion. I growled as I took off. I am more of cyclist than a runner. The bike route is 7 laps around the Richmond park, an 11km circuit. This terrain is mostly undulating and there is one climb, a 1km hill with 40 meters of climb and a 12% gradient at the steepest point. (That's right, I am going to do that 7 times.) I reached the hill about 3km into the first loop. In my training, I practiced doing standing climbs to give my legs a break. I took the hill standing up. I felt so thirsty and light headed and worse, my stomach was in full revolt and I felt like I was going to be sick. I pulled over at the top of the hill to settle my tummy. I knew I would have difficulty recovering psychologically if I vomited during the race. I got back on my bike and did another couple of kilometers, the more issues. My calfs began to cramp. I could barely pedal. I pulled over at the Ultra water station and tried to stretch them out. One of the volunteers came over and had me lay down so I could be stretched out. I told it was only my first lap and I had never cramped like that in training. It turns out my electrolytes were low and I had not properly hydrated during the run to be prepared for the bike ride. I started off again furiously sipping the electrolyte water in my camelpak.

Going around the park (I really was not that tired when this was taken)
I took the rest of the first lap to find my groove again. I told myself I had too far to go to let a little hiccup pull me down. My spirits started to lift and by the time I rounded the corner, of the first lap, I was really having fun. The next 5 laps were an awesome blur. I rode my bike with nearly every participate in the race. I saw Ultras and Sprinters in the beginning and then the Classics arrived. I think every biking ability was represented. There is nothing quite like cycling next to someone on bike that costs more than what you pay in a year for rent. I was pretty happy with pacing, especially considering the slow start. Also, it worked really well for me to fuel from a water bottle.

Climbing that stupid hill (This was climb number 6)
That hill, got worse every time I climbed. I hate that bloody hill. By the time I was approaching the 6th time to climb, I was starting to feel tired. Then I made the mistake of thinking about the 10k run. The last lap was difficult. The last climb was brutal. I also wanted charge the person cheering at the top of the hill who kept telling me the worst was over. (I never want to hear that in a race, especially when I have literally miles to go.) The fleet of cyclists was pretty thin of my last lap. The overall mood had also changed as people had started to get tired. I did see Thyla who was finishing her first running loop on the Super Sprint. I finished my bike with a few Super Sprinters on my tail.

The last run really hurt
I approached the dismount line and I practical threw myself off the bike. My legs were aching and I had to walk the full distance of the transition field to get to the Ultra station. I racked my bike and looked around at the Ultras who had already finished and were packing up. Maybe one day that could be me, but certainly not today. I put on my running shoes and took another Gu. This tradition took me over 4 minutes. It was worse than the first. I stumbled out of the zone and willed my legs to work. I started on a slow jog, but my old friend, knee pain, had returned with a vengeance. I began something akin to a run/walk/limp. I was running on pure determination. I was going to do this last 10k if it killed me. I waved to Thyla as she passed me on the bike. At about 2km in, I was able to run more than walk. My pace was slow and painful, but determined. All I could think about was finishing. I was alone on the track. I needed another walk break between the the 5k and 6k mark. After I passed the 6k mark, I decided I was going to run the rest, no matter what. As the remain km passed I entered mind set of pure crazy. I do not think there is another way to describe it. Everything in my body told me to quit, but I kept putting one foot in front of another. I passed a Classic runner who was walking and encouraged her to run with me and finish faster. She ran 1 km with me before she had to drop back to running. I reached the 9km mark and then there was only 1000 meters before I would be an Ultra Duathlete. About 500 meters from the finish line, I could hear footsteps behind me. There were two Ultra runners behind me. I had been ahead of them the entire last lap, (who knew?), and I was not going to let these guys beat me now. Somewhere out of the depths of my soul I pulled out what felt like a sprint and ran the last bit as fast as I could. I could hear my name being called as I passed the finish line. I promptly broke into tears.

Finishing was very emotional. This is not a pain expression.
Finishing was very emotional for me. I had put months into training. I had taken myself further than I had ever imagined. I once saw a video of people finishing their first Ironman. I could relate to the expressions I saw on that video in that moment. I would say that this was my Ironman, but I hope to do an actual Ironman someday. I have completed my first ultra sporting event. I am no longer an ordinary athlete and I love it. Piper was there at the finish line to tell me how proud he was of me. It was an unforgettable moment.

Thyla and I - Medals in hand

The Ultra Duathlon is by far my favorite race I have done. I feel like I have finally found an event that is perfect for me. It is so sufficiently challenging. I am planning on doing it next year and I am hoping to take 20-30 minutes off my time. I have already planned my training schedule and have included a few other events to compete in over the next year to help me prepare, including a sprint triathlon. I will be able to save a lot of time, but not needing to pull over from a cramp and I know my running is only going to get better. I need to thank everyone who encouraged me along the way.

Post Race Beer Never Tasted so Good
All pictures in this post are by the one and only Piper Williams.

This post is an abbreviated version of a post originally published on http://justmeandphysicshere.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/the-london-ultra-duathlon-race-recap.html by the same author.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Taking the lane: Wearing What Works

Commuting rules my wardrobe. There are several ways to deal with the “what to wear on the ride to work” dilemma. You may be one who likes to leave clothes at work to change into. Others take clothes with them. (you had best not forget your shoes or bra) In these cases you can commute in kit or whatever you're comfortable riding in. There are even special suit panniers for keeping your clothes looking fresh and wrinkle-free. Some of us, however, can't or don't want to change when we get to work. Telephone booths are no longer available (what would Clark Kent do?) and restrooms are not always an option. I don't like having to slink past receptionists looking for a place to change for maybe only a one hour job after which I have to change back, repeated several times a day. In the face of these options, commuting in my work clothes is the best choice. So what to do to arrive in a presentable state? This varies depending on the time of year, but there are some some things that are constant.
zip-open pleat
The first being sweat. Pack a tiny towel. Summer, winter, it doesn't matter. If you are putting on some speed or have hills, or any kind of distance, you're going to get a little, or a lot, sweaty. Wicking fabrics are a big help, especially in winter, as you don't want damp fabrics next to your body to chill you. It's actually a big deal in Summer too, with air conditioning turned down so low you always need a long sleeved shirt or even a light sweater or jacket to put on over your first layer, after you've cooled down. Also, prints show sweat less than solids. I wear light weight fabrics that dry quickly in summer, and try to avoid very light pant colors too. There's just too much bike grease and dirt out there to stay looking clean. Of course you want to wear something that gives you good freedom of movement. Avoid anything that constricts movement, or gets caught in your chain or spokes. If wearing wider pant legs, you'll want to roll up your right leg, or use a pedal strap. If very wide, use on both legs. I've never had much luck with skirts, as they always work their way up my thighs unless I clip a weight on, or get damaged in my spokes if very full. Some people do manage to do this well, but I haven't figured it out to my liking. 
reflective side seam
Be aware that if you commute a lot, you may wear out the seat of your pants. I've worn the fuzz off of the back side of at least one pair of corduroys that I live in in the winter. I wear them a lot as they are warmer and I don't like to wear long underwear (too hot indoors). If it's very cold I wear windpants over the top. As far as wear and tear, you may  have to launder those sweaty clothes more. Don't think that you won't be sweating in cooler weather. One of the the biggest mistakes people make in cool and cold weather commuting is over dressing. (Exception: hands) Remember the mantra- dress for 10-15 minutes into your ride. Wear breathable layers and a lighter weight jacket. Few things feel so awful on the bike as being overheated and sweaty in the winter. It's nothing like how you might dress to go on a walk. You might feel a little cool to start out, but it won't last long if you're working up a sweat. Finally, there is more bicycle specific clothing being developed all the time. Pants with reflective seams to seen be rolled up, skirts with zip open pleats, more stretch. I've even worn chamois liners under my pants when I've known I was going to have an especially long day on the bike.
                                                                                                 reflective plaid
So whether you take a change of clothes, keep them at work, or wear them, find a solution that works for you. Don't let clothes keep you from commuting in all weather. There's always a way to make them work for you if you work at it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pre-flight check

For a few of our Sheclismas, tonight marks their first ever race. For others, it's the first of the season -- which means a refresher on what you need to do to get ready for the whistle is in order.

1. Eat right

Race day is not the day to experiment with new and wild foods. Eat a regular, not complicated to digest meal about 3-4 hours before the race. Anywhere less than two hours before, eating is not recommended. You'll probably taste it while you're racing...ewwww.

2. Sip that liquid

Drink water or juice or hydration mix in those two hours. It doesn't need to be much, otherwise you'll just have to pee a lot.

3. Pack your bags

Run through a quick checklist of what you need. In addition to your annual license, one-day receipt, or cash to pay day-of registration, you'll need to bring some stuff with you.

Must haves:
Cycling clothes (aka kit), and don't forget a sports bra!

Good to haves:
Water bottle
Bike tools like a small multi-tool, extra tube, pump
Recovery beverage, snack

4. Get to the race as early as you can, check in, and pre-ride

Once you get to the race site, check in at the registration table, find or make some buddies, and pre-ride the course. (Make sure there's not a race going on first!) Depending on how much time you have before your race, you can do this in street clothes. Scope out each turn and obstacle, and go back and do any sections that give you trouble a second time.

5. Pin up and prepare

When you check in, the race organizers will give you a number to pin on, and will tell you which side of your body it needs to go on. Make sure the bottom edge of the number runs along your side, with the top edge of the number along your spine. Think of it like this: if you're stretched out over the handlebars, could someone standing next to you read the number? The officials and announcers don't want to do headstands to figure out who you are. Pinning on numbers is where having a buddy is helpful!

6. Warm up

Between an hour and half an hour before your race, find a spot where you can sprint a couple times to warm up your legs. (This can be part of your pre-riding the course, too.) Try to get one short effort where you get that "oh goodness, my legs feel heavy" feeling in your legs. Spin around a little bit, sip a little water.

7. Mental zone

In the last half hour before your race, get in the mental zone. If possible, find a spot where you can be kind of alone (this can be hard, so don't stress about it -- some people find putting on music to be helpful). Take some deep breaths, and visualize times you've felt really strong on the bike. Remember you're awesome. You're going to have fun. It's going to be hard. But you're doing this, and showing up to the start line is more than most people can say they've done. Own it.

8. Line up

Fifteen minutes before your race, you should make your way to the starting area. Ditch any unwanted items you don't want to carry with you. High five your friends and be welcoming and introduce yourself to the other women that might not know anyone there. When the race official calls you to the line, pick your spot. Breathe deep. You got this.


10. You did it. YAY!

You raced! Congratulations! Stay around the finish line and congratulate your fellow racers. Hugs and high fives and words of praise are encouraged. If you went head-to-head on the course, leave that energy out there and revel in how fun that was, even if it got frustrating.

Once the racers are in, spin out your legs with an easy pedal around the parking lot. Grab a recovery beverage or snack. Go spectate, and especially if there's a more advanced category racing, watch them go through spots you thought were difficult.

I hope it went well, and that you found a little list of things that were awesome and others that you want to work on. Get a good night's sleep, and start to get psyched for the next race!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cyclocross racing starts Wednesday

The Nebraska 2014 cyclocross season starts this Wednesday at Seacrest Park in Lincoln!

Get registered now for the first in a series of four Wednesday evening races at parks across the city.

Youth and Juniors race for FREE, thanks to some excellent fundraising in partnership with the No Coast Derby Girls -- and we're over the moon that there are already FOUR junior women registered for the 9-12-year-old category for tomorrow!

Discounted registration closes at 9 PM tonight: http://register.starcity.cx/events/view/1

Monday, September 15, 2014

Stepping Up, Getting Disappointed, and Reassessing the Situation

Elisabeth is in the process of moving from Lincoln to Philadelphia. Two days after arriving, she lined up for her first East Coast cyclocross race.

On Wednesday, I packed up my dear friend Corey's Honda Element with a cornucopia of important things, snagged my bestie and fellow Sheclisma Berly, and hit the road for two days of cross-country travel to Philadelphia. After spending a good chunk of the summer in Philly, I decided to make the move for real, and after completing the editing of a feature length documentary on Tuesday, it was time to make the move. One last night of Star City CX cross practice on Wednesday evening -- where my awesome 9-year-old buddy Adrienne wished me well in PA and told me to "go show those ladies who's boss," and we hit the road early Thursday morning.

Last night of CX practice at Piedmont Park in Lincoln. Feeling good chasing the fast dudes.
We headed to Granogue on Sunday morning. This is a race with a storied past. It takes place on a private estate owned by the DuPont family in northern Delaware. It's been a UCI race. It was gone for a couple years. This year, it was back, and after pre-riding the course with some local friends, it was back in a reportedly far more challenging design.

Number style. 
View up the hill to the watchtower.

The technical features of the course were amazing. Off-camber stretches, some turns I could really rail, a little run-up, and fun sections through the woods. But then there was the climbing. A couple long, punchy climbs, however, had me immediately certain I had a very overgeared singlespeed. Thank goodness I'd at least switched to the 42x19 from the 42x18 I'd been training on...

Decidedly overgeared
We watched the 3/4 women race, and I definitely had a bit of regretsies registering for the elite race instead. It was awesome, though, to watch my friends crush it. After they were done, I changed up my tire pressure and took another couple laps of the course. I'm still running clinchers, and there were a few rocky sections of the course that had me nervous about running low tire pressure, but the grip was so good everywhere else that I felt like I should risk it.

After another race was through, my amazing sweet friend Rachel and I kitted up and did a little spin around. Rachel and I got to know each other this summer, and she is just a wonderful human. Both of us are new to racing this level, so we tried to relax each other on the ride'n'chat. Try not to get stressed, just have fun.

We lined up and the whistle blew so fast I was barely prepared and did not have a fast start. With one steep climb right away, though, I knew I'd fall back, even with the surge of adrenaline in my legs. It was just too steep for my gearing. I made it all the way up -- what I would give to know what sort of wattage I was putting out to make it up that beast -- and had lost contact with the group by a couple seconds. But I was not going to be satisfied with that. Coming through a few turns more cleanly, I made my way back into the mix and rode really cleanly through the off-camber downhill, only to be caught while spinning out on the long, slow downhill straightaway. I stayed right on her wheel, though, and passed a couple women on the run-up and through the pavement section, where I really put on the gas. The barriers -- which we skipped on the first lap -- were on an uphill, and coming back onto the bike went right into the top half of that punchy climb at the start. I was so deep in the red that I just couldn't stay on top of the gear and had to dismount. Emily came around me at this point and gave a nice word of encouragement in my misery, and I hopped back on and chased her.

I knew where to push, with my technical skills being allowed to shine in certain sections, and with good cheering sections scattered around the course, I was feeling pretty good about hanging in there and racing hard, not caring that I was nowhere near the front of the field. I wasn't in last, and even if I had been, I was racing as hard as I could and I belonged in this race.

Then, after coming through a muddy set of turns, I hit the rocky dip into the run-up at full gas. PFFFFTTTTT. I came to a quick stop as I heard my rim clanging against the rocks, just before getting to a run-up where I knew I could cut time into Emily's lead on me. Damnit. DAMN. I WAS HAVING SO MUCH FUN.

I had nothing in the mechanical pit. My race was over. I walked, defeated, out of the woods to the run-up. Spectators looked on as I lifted my bike, resigned, and crossed the tape. "Pinch flat." I went off to the side, where Willem found me. And I'm not going to lie, I tossed my bike down and cried a little. I didn't want it to end so soon. I was so, so frustrated to be done racing, no matter how overgeared I was or how much 3 more laps would've hurt. No matter how far back I was, I did not want to quit. I don't do that.

Best remedy for a pinch flat? Maybe. 
I've been so lucky as to never have a mechanical take me out of a race before. I've watched it so many times with friends, and now I have a much greater degree of empathy for how frustrating it is. (Rob Livermore, looking at you, buddy.) The rest of the day, through watching the elite men and on the drive home, was spent with lots of thoughts and talk both about setting up tubeless and debating on going back to gears. I love racing singlespeed. But where would I have been with gears? Was this course an anomaly? Would swapping for a 39t up front do the trick? If I had a geared bike with discs, I could use Willem's pit wheels...and and and and. The amount of factors and decisions and money I could spend...Sigh.

Corn Hecklers: Better than Cornhuskers. 
This morning, I woke up remembering moments in the race that I was really proud of. Pushing so hard up that climb and reconnecting with the field like that. Sighting turns down the hill and seeing I was doing it better than others. Not giving up when I easily could. And really, being so deeply frustrated by a flat taking me out of the race when I was nowhere near in contention for even a top ten placing. I could've shrugged it off. But that I cared about staying in there means something to me.

This weekend, I'll head down to Baltimore to race at Charm City, where a UCI field means I'll drop into the B's field for the women. I have a flat to fix, and some decisions to make about other changes in the stable. Stay tuned...

Public Input Session on Bike Share in Lincoln

Attend in person or fill out the survey below! 

The public is invited to share their thoughts about a potential city bike share system in two ways:

                     Attend a meeting from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, September 18 in the City Council Chambers, 555 S. 10th Street.  K√§ren Haley, Executive Director at Indianapolis Cultural Trail, will present background information on bike share programs and answer questions.
                     Take a survey and view an interactive map at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: bike share survey).  

A bike share system allows individuals to borrow shared bicycles on a short-term basis.  The program could  allow people to borrow bikes from one point and return them to another.  Over the past six months, City officials, UNL students and administration, bike enthusiasts and other community leaders have discussed how a bike share system could benefit Lincoln.

“It’s exciting to see bikeshare expand around the country as a healthy and affordable transportation option,” said Haley.  “In my experience with Pacers Bikeshare program, the people using the bikes are both experienced and novice riders and use the system for transportation, exercise and recreation.”

Kellee Van Bruggen, Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department, said bike share programs are growing in popularity, with systems opening in most of the nation’s medium and large cities, including Omaha.  She said many cities view bike share systems as urban amenities that play a role in attracting young professionals and improving tourist access to attractions.  She said they also can strengthen a city’s public transportation system and encourage healthy lifestyles through active commuting.

For more information, contact Van Bruggen at 402-441-6363 or kvanbruggen@lincoln.ne.gov.

555 South 10th Street, Suite 213, Lincoln, NE 68508, 402-441-7491

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Kellee Van Bruggen, Planning Department, 402-441-6363

Friday, September 12, 2014

Taking the Lane: I wear Spandex sometimes

What do you wear to ride your bike to work? This may be one of the most common questions I get asked by someone new to the joy of riding a bike for transportation. There are also countless articles on the internet and each one seems to have a slightly different answer on what the best commuting wear is. Sometimes the difference of opinions can be quite intense. We at Taking the Lane believe that the best thing to wear on your bike is what ever you walk out the door in, however there are a few aspects to keep in mind as far as comfort and coolness are concerned. (Let's face it, if you do not feel cool in what you have on, you will enjoy the experience less.) Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to be really analyzing several aspects of commuting clothing to you make the best choice for you, your bike, and your commute length.

When one thinks of competitive cyclists, one things of spandex. Those bright, skin tight ensembles with a wedge of padding around the tush, otherwise known as a cycling kit. They seem a little silly, until you don your first kit and go for a ride. It feel like you are wearing your comfiest pajamas if they were made of aerodynamic sports fabric instead of flannel. It really is the most comfortable way to ride, especially on long trips. So for some, it becomes a natural choice to wear while commuting.
Commuting through the ice. Just kidding.
Photo by Piper Williams
There are many benefits to riding in kit. It is more comfortable for cycling. This is especially useful if you have a long commute. (I work with individuals who commute 20 miles or more each way and they all wear kit.) There is no danger of having a pant leg get stuck in your chain. The fabric is sweat, wicking and quick drying. And, kit can look really cool, especially if you are using more a performance bike to commute. Of course "coolness" can be location depended. In my area casual commuting is viewed as cooler in London, the actual city, but kit reigns supreme in the London suburbs.

All of us rocking the Sheclismo Kit
photo by Piper Williams
There are downsides of wearing kit. One being that it requires a change of clothing when you arrive your destination. This can mean more to carry. Cycling kits can be on the pricey side. (Nice ones start at $100 and go up from there.) Also, kits, more specifically, cycling shorts, really shouldn't be worn too many times between washing, necessitating purchasing multiple.  Spandex clad cyclists sometimes have a reputation of being snobbish, although I have not seen research data that can confirm any validity to this stereotype.

Is wearing a kit right for you? Well that depends on several different factors,  the most important being, do you want to commute in kit?

And a few other questions to ask yourself: Does it make your ride more comfortable? Do you find it more compatible with your bike? (If you a have nice cruiser bike, it may not be the most idea option.) Does the length of your commute justify the added hassle of changing? A 2 mile commute might be a little short, but that is personal preference. Do you feel cool?

Also, if you want to rock the Sheclismo kit, be sure to get your order in by the 21st this month.

As for me, I sometimes commute in kit or spandex, especially if my ride is longer or weather conditions are adverse and I sometimes ride more casually. Stay tune of the next couple weeks to learn about a few other styles, a bike fashion tips from the experts on our writing team. Don't worry casual commuters, we will write something for you too. And if you need shopping tips for any bike style, we got you covered there too.

But remember, what is most important is that you rock whatever you wear, or don't wear on the bike.

Naked Portland Bike Ride

Friday, September 5, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Taking the Lane: Riding Your Bliss

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “The theory of relativity- I thought of that while riding my bike.” I can no more speak for all cyclists than a yogi can for all that practice yoga, or a runner for all runners. What I find is that the stress and annoyances of work or life unspool with my thoughts, left by the side of the road, and my mind is clearer, when I'm completely immersed in an activity that unites mind, body, and environment. That is, riding my bike. There is something about keeping the rest of your body and awareness occupied that allows the mind to empty and relax. Time seems to disappear or can't be accounted for. There is only the crunch of gravel, the quiet velvet of dirt, the light hum of pavement. I can hear the call of the meadowlark. I hear the crickets trying to tell me the temperature, the frogs, (or cicadas in their turn) trying to outdo each other in decibel levels. There's the bark of the watchful dog. Is it friendly?

Some people like to listen to music while riding, and if you do, be careful, as using both earbuds can be dangerous. I like music as much as the next person, but I don't listen to it while riding. I don't need to, though the occasional earworm gets stuck going around in my head. Still, I am never bored. I visit deep roads carved through far-flung corners of countryside there would be no other reason to discover except by bicycle. I see rosy golden sunsets sending violet stripes of shadow across the road. Mulberries may color my path purple. Soon, I will be dodging black walnuts. The Sumac will turn scarlet, the leaves will fall. I'll see where the frost is burned away, leaving behind strange shapes in shadow. I see soaring hawks, curious foxes, herds of deer, huge animal dens in creek banks and unidentifiable carcasses as well as forgotten junkyards. I smell fields of freshly cut alfalfa, wild plum in bloom, hog farms and that unidentifiable carcass again. I am completely in my environment

You are also much more aware of the weather when you are dependent on it. I try to always carry rain gear, because you just never know. Is that mass of dark clouds coming my way? Is the wind shifting direction and getting stronger? I will need to leave earlier for my commute into a headwind. I'll get to that appointment in record time with that 35 mph tailwind. Cool currents of air are alternating with warm currents, like a river. The storm clouds went by, the sun came out.

Walking is nice, but covers a very limited area in the time available, and lacks the same intensity. Car travel largely separates you from your environment; a flash and it's gone. When riding my bike I'm moving under my own power. I breath in and out. My legs go around. My muscles work. My mind is free.

A ride can be pure fun and relaxation. It can be your commute through town, thermos of coffee in your bottle cage. Or you may have the irresistible urge to dig deep and bring up undiscovered reserves of strength and endurance you didn't know you had in an adrenaline fueled full-out race to the finish. I was unaware that I had a competitive bone in my body until participating in the National Bike Challenge last year. I had enjoyed commuting by bike for years and enjoyed the occasional trail ride, but never knew of a bicycle community until then, or what it offered. Being part of a larger community of people riding bicycles has shown me yet again that when people band together greater awareness is created and a community's well being can change for the better. Recently I was talking to a student transplant to Lincoln from Georgia. She was amazed at the trail system we have here in Lincoln. Sometimes we don't realize the riches we have right at our shifter levers aren't available everywhere until it's pointed out to us. I relish being able to bicycle commute and ride for fun on our wonderful trail system and surrounding gravel roads.

I also am happy to put my thumb in the eye of Big Oil, as I hardly need to drive, as well as Big Pharma and the health care industry in general, as I barely need their services.

I think one of the biggest obstacles to people riding more is that they don't realize that they can often use a bicycle as part of their daily routine, as well as a source of recreation, and that they'd like it. It may not even take much longer. In parts of Holland and Denmark bicycles outnumber cars as people go about their daily business. We can dream of that here, can't we?

You breath in and out. Your legs go around. Your muscles work. Your mind is freer.

As they say, the revolution will not be motorized.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Missouri Valley CX Schedule

Within a few hours, you can race just about every weekend this fall. Note that this calendar doesn't include the Wednesday night Star City CX races (which Sheclismo is proud to host) or several other events in the region. It is, however, a pretty solid list of places to race. Mark your calendars and start planning your carpooling, because cyclocross is almost here!

Via Mark Savery:

Last year there were plenty complaints about conflicting events. To try and eliminate as many conflicts as possible I rounded up all the promoters in the LNK/OMA-DSM-Sioux City/Sioux Falls region and got everyone talking the same game. We managed an almost conflict free calendar with the one exception being the Norfolk/Oakley Night Cap weekend. The gents in DSM had no choice but to move the race weekend from it's traditional date because of a conflict with the Des Moines Marathon and Norfolk was in a similar pickle. I'm excited about this schedule as it provides awesome opportunities to race within an easy 3 hour travel window. Thanks everyone for making it happen.

2014 Missouri Valley CX Schedule

Sept 20-21 UCI Trek CXC Cup, Waterloo, WI
Sept 27-28 Skyview Classic CX, Norfolk, NE
Sept 27-28 Oakley Night Cap CX, Des Moines, IA
Oct 4-5
Oct 11-12 Omaha CX Weekend, Bellevue, NE
Oct 18-19
Oct 25-26 Elmwood Forest CX, Sioux Falls, SD
Nov 1-2 Spooky Cross, Des Moines, IA
Nov 8-9 SD State Championship, Sioux Falls, SD
Nov 14-16 UCI Jingle Cross, Iowa City, IA
Nov 22-23 NE State Championship Weekend Lincoln/Omaha, NE
Nov 29-30 Frosty Cross, Le Mars, IA
Dec 6 IA State Championship, Des Moines, IA
Jan 7-11 USAC National Championships, Austin, TX