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New Bike Day

23 May, 2017

New Bike Day
I am a petite woman, 5'1'' to be exact. When I began cycling, I started out on a women's 1986 Schwinn World Sport road bike. It was perfect for me in height except my reach was too far, causing me shoulder and neck pain. I wanted to be more in an upright position for comfortable commuting so I did my research on how to convert my road bike to an upright commuter bike. At the time, women's specific designed comfort bikes were on the rise but personally I wanted the sports element with the comfort so I began the journey to converting my road bike to a more sporty upright commuter.

By changing stems, handle bars, and saddles over the years I found I could manage riding that bike comfortably with a few adjustments. Once it was stolen, gone were those days of long commutes and bike adventures. The last time I bought a bike was exactly for comfortable distances for commuting, with the occasional bike adventures on gravel, dirt, and uneven terrain with my trusty Trek FX S. This worked out fine till I joined my local cycling club and found myself struggling to keep up at a comfortable pace. In addition, cycling the local terrain of country roads had new challenges, hills, lots of hills. Wanting to spend more time outdoors, I thought the hybrid road bike would be fine but going long distances up hills was difficult, so I started looking to the road bike.

When I was in California over winter, I used Spinlister to test out a few different types of women's road bikes, from a Trek Lexa 3, Cannondale Synapse, Liv Avail, and Specialized Dolce. Not only was I looking for comfort but also an affordable price point. As much as I would love to drop a couple of thousands of dollars on a bike, I'm not at that stage where I am comfortable enough to drop that kind of money, especially with a mortgage, car/insurance payments, and a wedding to fund. It's also important to note that the average woman cycling (like myself) probably isn't racing or doing any century rides so an investment return matched with lifestyle convenience was also something I took on board.
With all these factors to consider, I drew out my list of pros and cons. Some bikes were better at shifting on climbs, some had more gears, some bikes were lighter than others, some bikes absorbed all the shocks, and some had better reach. Each rider is different and every bike is too but what worked for me was the reachable shifting/braking, comfort, and shock absorption. When I returned home to NY I visited a few bike shops that carried each brand so I tested some of their women's specific designs but was more disappointed by the color ranges than anything else. I have to admit, as function was my main focus for a bike I couldn't fancy the thought of buying a bike with a speck of pink on it or bad taste in decorative design. So, my options dwindled down to two bikes but what I ultimately chose was the Specialized Dolce 2017.

Over the weekend, I took the bike out for our first official rides together. On Saturday, out on the scenic Putnam Rail Trail, we managed to cover a steady 40 miles without feeling fatigued. In fact, I was wishing to ride longer but time and weather weren't on my side. On Sunday, I packed in another 20 miles on hilly terrain, still feeling pretty good and ready to ride more. What surprised me most was how fast I was and how easy climbing became. I wouldn't call myself a climber but how I quickly got up the hills sure surprised me! On the downside, I did begin to feel some aching in my neck so I will definitely be making adjustments before the next ride.

What I've concluded, without going into great detail, is that the Specialized Dolce is more of a beginners road bike at a friendly price point packed with a lot of purpose. With leisure endurance design in mind, the Dolce allows me to cycle longer distances faster and it sends me climbing uphill easier while flying me downhill. While these things are great to a novice road cyclist, an experienced road cyclist may wish for higher quality components, more shifting options, shock absorption, and a lighter frame. What I found to work for me on the Dolce was it's simple design, beginner friendly control, smoothness, comfort, and riding enjoyment. Personally, I don't think I'll be upgrading till I've improved my road cycling skills and have a bit more cash to trade in. At least for now, I'm having a blast and am extremely pleased as a petite woman smashing hills and distances on this bike.

Riding With CycloFemme

19 May, 2017

Riding With CycloFemme
On Sunday, CycloFemme hosted 270 rides, in 28 countries, raising 218 bikes for schoolgirls in Kenya with partnered efforts with World Bicycle ReliefBy going the distance together, we put more bicycles into the hands of girls and women fighting for their education and independence. To me that is astounding but this is just the beginning as there is always the goal of putting more women on bikes. As we build communities together, on and off the bike, we set a motion forward for the next generation of female cyclists and to be honest, I'm already excited for next years goal for putting more girls on a bike.

Looking in hindsight, I wasn't sure I was going to attend this ride. Mainly because it was a very wet week and forecasting to be a very wet weekend. At some point, I had to just suck it up and set my focus on the positive, I was riding for a good cause and I was going to meet women who loved cycling too. So I packed up my weekend bag and bike in the car and headed down to NYC in the heavy rains to be welcomed and hosted by my new friend and new cyclists Shannon. To kick off the bicycle filled weekend, we celebrated our new friendship over fish tacos, cider, and conversations of the bike life.
Saturday night we prepare for an early Sunday morning rise, setting aside our kit, prepping our bikes, morning breakfast, and snacks for the ride ahead. Waking up for an early 7:30am meet up for a ride almost sounded crazy to me for a Sunday but when I rolled into SOHO in the morning sunlight, I understood why: the streets were glistened in solitude and silence. 

Bicycle Habitat, along with Women's Cycling NYC, were our hosts organizers for the ride. When I entered the shop, the vibe was a morning chill yet everybody's eyes were glistened with tiredness and excitement. We knew our purpose for this ride which was enough to get us up so early on a Sunday. 

As our organizers began the event, they opened with a warm welcome and brief reminder of why we were doing this ride. A sleep inducing yoga session was had and then we set our way into our ride groups. The ride was sorted into three groups, all suitable for those who were having their first group ride and for those who were experienced in group riding with a choice in distance. As we each meet our groups, smiles were exchanged, new bonds were made, and away we set pedaling.
When riding with a group of just women, something stirred in me. I thought about my weekend rides with my cycling club and recognized how different it was in comparison. In this group of women, I felt acceptance, a desire to bond, an openness to feedback, and overall care for one another's safety. There was a point where I forgot my city cycling etiquette and a gentle reminder that a cop may look for an opportunity to ticket me was enough to remind me of everything I knew of city commuting.

At our destination, friendly exchanges were made, snacks were eaten, and a bit of city knowledge was shared. Heading back to Bicycle Habitat, the ride back became a bit more challenging. There were runners, other cyclists, and families along the way. Safety was definitely on the radar. For some new to group riding, I could see the unsure tension in their pedal, and for those experienced, I could see the sense of control in their directions. What I saw in these exchanges was interesting to me. It certainly reminded me of my early days of cycling, not knowing how to behave on the road and not knowing if I was adequate in my skills. I think there is a lot to say for those leading our group ride, the confidence and care for riding safely together was certainly infectious and comforting.

When we made it back to Bicycle Habitat, we all sighed with a wow. It felt empowering, riding with a group of women who were confident on the city roads made me feel invincible, as if we were parading down the open avenues. That feeling is what I always hope to bring with me on a ride now. It's what I hope all women new and old in cycling will feel on a ride. It's what I hope the girls and women in Kenya will feel. And I think that feeling is what will drive me to ride with more women and get more on bikes at home too.

photo courtesy: womenscyclingnyc

Women's Cycling Podcasts

17 May, 2017

Women's Cycling Podcasts
In the wee hours of the morning there are two things I love the most: coffee and a good podcast. If it's not the dooming daily U.S. news I'm listening to, it's probably a podcast on cycling. When listening to cycling podcasts there are specific things I look for. First, I enjoy learning about the inspiring women making a change in women's cycling whether it's industry or sports. Second, I enjoy lessons and stories of adventure, struggle, growth, and conquer. Third, if it's honest and relatable content to women's cycling, even as a hobby. And fourth, the races, boy do I love them. Just to note, because I'm passionate about women's cycling I'm only sharing podcasts that features women's cycling voices, so sorry dudes, you can pass this on to your lady cycling friends unless you enjoy learning about the badass work these women do.

So whether you're waking up with your morning coffee for that early ride, commuting to work, fixing your bike, or cooking your recovery meal, here are some of my favorite podcasts that feature the grit, gear, and tears (of laughter) of women's cycling.
Voxwomen Insider
Hosts Abby Mickey and Loren Rowney aim to bring you an “insider” look into the women’s professional peloton. The weekly podcast, released every Monday, will deliver you the rundown on what’s been happening at the UCI Women’s World Tour races. As well as analysis of the races and the who’s who of the peloton. Hosts interview a guest on the show every week. From professional riders, to the women behind the scenes in the sport, the Voxwomen Insider powered by Canyon will deliver all your need to know about what’s going on in women’s cycling.

Cycling Podcast Feminin
Cycling Podcast Feminin is a monthly show dedicated to women's cycling. Presenters Orla Chennaoui, Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe – and a few special guests along the way take us into the world of women's professional cycling. With a mix of harsh realities, insights, and analysis, journalists cover not just the big talking points but take you behind the scenes. If you love enjoy looking into the minds of the racers, this is a good one.
The Joy Ride
The Joy Ride is a podcast hosted by Cat Caparello celebrating women on bikes - featuring bike love conversations with all kinds of women who ride covering topics from advocacy, bike touring, pro-racing, mechanics, to cycling books. This is another one you can appreciate for the everyday female cyclist making a difference in her community. It truly celebrates women cyclists.

Wheel Suckers
Wheel Suckers is a "tandem" cycling industry comedy podcast hosted by Alex from Look Mum No Hands! and Jenni from the London Bike Kitchen. Wheel Suckers are my favorite Monday morning listen as it's usually packed with lots of laughs and talk about the cycling scene, cycling culture, and bike stuff. They also have interviews with some of the greatest in the industry and sport and are pretty candid in their conversations. While there is lots of laughing involved, there are some serious moments too.
Pro-Women's Cycling
An offshoot of the Unofficial, Unsanctioned Women's UCI Cycling blog, this podcast features interviews with pro women and people involved in women’s cycling. Host Sarah Connolly is one of the best-known voices in women’s cycling and happy to share her “unashamedly enthusiastic and unapologetically sweary” thoughts on the often-neglected women’s side of the sport.

Hope you will give each a listen and perhaps a nice review of their work. Every time we listen and share the work of those promoting women's cycling, we open the door and light the way for the next generation of great female cyclists. Happy listening!

CycloFemme 2017 + Ride Day Tips

11 May, 2017

CycloFemme 2017 + Ride Day Tips
This Sunday, 15 countries with 152 cities worldwide will join in an all women's global group ride to set a movement in motion, CycloFemme. Celebrating on Mothers Day, rides will be carrying the ongoing theme of COME AS YOU ARE. CycloFemme celebrates women by honoring the past and celebrating the present to empower the future of women's cycling everywhere. This year CycloFemme will be partnering with World Bicycle Relief with a new call to action: Empower the Girl, Ignite the Woman.

By joining forces with CycloFemme, donated funds will be raised for World Bicycle Relief to deliver bicycles to female students in Kenya. The goal of this partnerships is to get a bicycle in the hands of a girl to provide options, independence, and access to education. 

If you would like to join a ride in your area, please visit CycloFemme's Ride List.


To help empower girls and women with bicycles, please visit World Bicycle Relief and CycloFemme's  community page. Participation in Cyclofemme is open and free to all while participation in fundraising is optional. I hope you'll consider contributing to World Bicycle Relief or raise awareness of this effort on the day of your CycloFemme ride.
While group rides can be a lot of fun you may not be sure what to do, bring, or wear. Here are just a few tips to guide you on prepping for a ride with CycloFemme.

Prep your bike - to make sure you're bike is ride ready give it a little TLC. Check your brakes, tire pressure, chain, gears, and for any loose parts like your hub, headset, and brackets. You may also want to put on your lights and pack any other fix it items in your saddle bag. Don't wait till the last minute to take your bike in for repairs.


Ride Etiquette - riding with a group can be fun but it can also be dangerous. Knowing the rules of the road and group will keep you and others safe. Hand signals, pace riding, passing, and communication is all part of knowing how to ride safely in a group. Here are videos by Global Cycling Network with a few tips on road etiquette and how to ride in a group. If this is out of your comfort, do know that most rides on CycloFemme will be more social and laid back on trails.

Ride Day Essentials - snacks, water, helmet, saddle bag (tool kit, patches, pump, tire levers, spare tubes), phone, ID, cash, credit cards, insurance card, sunscreen, arm/leg warmers, jersey, gloves, sunglasses, cycling cap, cycling shorts/tights, shoes, plastic bags (water protection for money and phone), socks, wind/rain jacket. Did I miss anything?
Nutrition and Hydration - hydrate well the day before, drink plenty during and after your ride. Eating a solid carb meal hours before a ride will give your body the proper energy it needs. I personally love a good oatmeal with nuts and fruit before a ride and will definitely be packing fruit bars and peanut butter jelly sandwiches. If your ride starts early, best to prepare these the night before so they properly fit in your jersey pockets.

Safety - be visible and stay visible. Watch, listen, obey traffic rules, and communicate. Always keep pedaling. If you fear being dropped ask another rider to stay with you, it's always nice having others looking out for each other.

Make Friends - this is a ride to empower each other, not a competition on who can get the QOM at the top. I think the best things about cycling with other women is that rides are more social, fun, and there is a sense of looking after each other with great care, cheering eachother on the climb and making sure you don't bonk, snacks anyone?


This is a great way to celebrate Mothers Day, make new riding buddies, and bring along any curious or new riders interested in cycling. Hope you'll join CycloFemme and please if you're in NYC, come say hi to me. I'll be attending CycloFemme in NYC with Bicycle Habitats Women's Cycling ride on Sunday. I'm hoping to meet new people and followers I've known over social media for some time, it's always nice to do so. Happy CycloFemme!


Supporting Women's Pro-Cycling + Resources

03 May, 2017

Supporting Women's Pro-Cycling + Resources

It all started in university when my love for the pro-cycling races began. Long nights in the books along with spring and summer breaks where filled with cycling entertainment as a welcomed distraction from information overload. Eventually, my obsession with French literature and the most exciting race of the year lead me to Paris to watch the final stage of the Tour de France in 2011. I had never experienced anything like it, the celebration, decor, and crowds enthusiasm. This was a big deal. Gradually, my love for the race grew into love for the riders and when La Course, a TDF final stage women's race, was announced in 2014 I had focused much of my attention on who was who in women's pro-cycling. Since, I have never looked back.

Without that announcement, I would have never known there was women's peloton cycling. There is no denying that women's cycling is underrepresented in the grand scheme of professional cycling. While women's representation in professional cycling is beginning to gradually change and become more pronounced by the rising support of women's cycling in the industry, there is also the rise of women joining in competitive cycling. While more women are out on the road and trails riding their bikes, not many follow the pros and watch their races. Generally there is a correlation between professional sports and growth of amateur participation in a sport, yet, paving the way for media coverage, pay, and industry support of women's cycling still has a long way to go.
I'm sure there are many opinions of why professional women's cycling doesn't get the support they need but I guarantee that with the rapid increase in women's cycling participation we will see the media all over it when cycling fans demand it. Why point at the media? The media plays a large part of not covering the women's races, assuming the interest, views, and crowds will not show up. Just as the Spring classics have come to a close, we have seen races such Tour de Yorkshire have large crowd turnouts and millions watching on live tv. This is massive! However, there still remains the disparity of live coverage between the women's and men's peloton coverage.

I don't want to go down the rabbit hole of why, this is another post for later, but I do want to raise attention and provide resources on how you can get the latest news and info on women's pro-cycling. While there are sites like Podium Cafe and Cycling Tips that report on the biggest races, there are smaller races that don't get all the coverage you need. That's where I come in to guide you to the resources to find out what's going on as Tour season begins. Giro d'Italia anyone?

Below are websites to guide you through where to get news and reports on the current happenings of the women's peloton races. These outlets also update their twitter feed with current news and racing events so please follow them too!

Pro Women's Cycling
Cycling Podcast Feminin
Ella Cycling Tips Race
Women's UCI Cycling Show Podcast
Podium Cafe - Women's Cycling
Total Women's Cycling- Events
Cycling News - Women
Women Cycling Fever

How to watch women's peloton races? Some media outlets require subscriptions or a VPN. Some of these links don't require such. If you're aware of other means of live streaming women's races, please share!

Steephill.tv
ITV 4 - vpn required
Cycling TV - subscription required
ProCyclingLive
Cycling Fans
So, how can you as a fan help support women's pro-cycling? There are many ways to help support women's cycling which Sarah Connolly of Pro Women's Cycling advises in a lengthier and more resourceful post on how to "Take 5 min to help Women's Cycling in 2017 ... to engage with riders and races, their sponsors and team media and thank them for what they do, and to share media that covers women’s cycling." Here are 10 ways we can help:

1. Click through to sponsors
2. Thank the sponsors for supporting the sport
3. Always include the women’s cycling account, and use the official hashtags
4. Consider buying products from companies that support women’s cycling – and then tell the company that you did
5. Include links in your social media
6. Click on women’s cycling media – and share that too!
7. Watch and share official videos
8. Thank media companies for showing women’s races
9. Just sharing or liking other people’s social media helps
10. Take 5 minutes and plan to go to a race in real life or volunteer!

Please do share if you have any other resources or information on how to promote women's cycling. We are in a great time of progress for women's cycling and can do a little more to help make a difference in the smallest ways. 

I hope this will inspire you to take a few minutes to learn more about the women in cycling. These are great resources that include stories of pain and victory by the most elite cycling athletes and teams in the sport. 

You can always follow me on Twitter @citygirlrides to get a bit of commentary and some resources of races that I will be watching. Sarah Connolly of @pwcycling is great on keeping up on these races and a great resource to look to if you want to learn more about professional women's cycling. She's also infectious with her passion and enthusiasm so just be ready to dive deep.

image courtesy @wmscycling