25 February 2011

Self-Care Tips for Winter Cycling

Harsh winter cycling conditions prompting your body to cry out for some much-needed TLC? Beth Griffing and Seven Crow, practitioners at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, have put together a list of useful self-care tips cyclists can employ to help get you through the cold, damp, wet months that define winter (and/or spring) in your hometown riding area.

Photo (left) courtesy of BicyclingHub reader Lauren L.: "Me and the boys trying to keep up with Buddy the dog (hiding on the right) at Otis AFB on Saturday. Exciting riding with patches of snow and ice around every corner!! It was super windy but the bright blue sky and sunshine kept us going :-) Get out there before it snows again!"

Winter Biking Self-Care Tips

Drink warming herbal tea
Ginger tea is excellent for keeping your body warm and increasing circulation so you don't stiffen up too quickly. Make it using fresh ginger, sliced up and boiled or just a dry ginger tea bag steeped in hot water. Any of the warming spices are beneficial in this way: cardamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, star anise, etc... the Chai spices! All fantastic for promoting circulation and keeping out colds/viruses. Honey is also an excellent sweetener to harmonize the stomach and cut the edge of the warmer spices. Keep a chunk of ginger, dried herbs or tea bags on you to drink up after a ride in the cold to keep up your good health!

Foot Bath
Simmer rosemary and lavender (fresh or dried) and dried mugwort in a couple quarts of water for 10-20 minutes, then pour into a little foot tub/bucket. Add epsom salts or sea salts if you have them: this will relax and rejuvenate your whole system. If some part of your body is aching, soak a washcloth in the same water, wring it out and lay it on the aching area to decrease inflammation and pain.

Tiger Balm patches
Excellent for prolonged local pain relief. Just don't put them on too soon before or after a shower. Make sure to wash your hands well afterwards so as not to get any in your eyes. Wowee, that can be spicy.

Use one of these “smokeless moxa rolls” (pictured left) to relax muscles and ease joint pain.

Just use a candle to light it, make sure to keep an ashtray handy so you can scrape off any ash that forms, and pay attention to how hot your skin gets! (This seems obvious, but sometimes you may have decreased sensation in an area, and not notice how much heat the skin can physically absorb.) Be sure to examine the pole for any cracks or splits, a sign that the pole can no longer be used due to danger of a hot portion cracking off during treatment. To help avoid cracking, extinguish the pole in sand or salt instead of water, so it can be used multiple times.

This type pictured right is good as well, since you can just peel off the plastic at bottom and stick it onto your skin, while keeping the cone from ever touching the skin directly (they look like fireworks but are very easy to use).

The idea is to feel a sense of pressure and/or movement within the muscle that is being treated.

You will need:
  • one stick-on moxa tube
  • one lighter
  • an ashtray/heat-proof receptacle
  • tweezers or hemostat

To treat yourself: just stick on the moxa tube (peel off plastic to reveal sticky circle), light the incense-looking portion with a lighter (or crackpipe-torch from the plaid), and let it burn down until it feels hot enough. At that point use the tweezers or hemostat to remove the moxa tube from your skin. It helps to press the skin nearby to get the sticky portion to come off.

Remember this point- leg three miles! This is the place for the stick-on moxa! Also good to just massage or knuckle-tap this area.

Stick-on moxa is good for the back as well, along the thighs at any sore points, and parallel to the shin (the muscle portion, NOT the boney portion).

And remember the low-back/kidney rub... with hands in light fists, rub the thumb/forefinger portion along both sides of your spine in circular motion, covering your whole low back. The more vigorously you rub, the more energizing it is!

Qigong exercise for tight shoulders/back and stress
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Relax arms completely and twist the torso, rotating the shoulders while keeping hips facing forward. Let the arms swing with your rotation, like limp noodles. Do this for a few rounds, settling into your feet and relaxing the whole body, swinging the arms with the torso twisting side to side (lead with your torso and let the arms just swing naturally). Now while you've turned to the left side, swing your right arm up, cup your hand gently and pat your left shoulder firmly using the relaxed downward swing of your right arm. Let the right arm fall to your side as you turn to the right and bring the left arm up with hand cupped, letting it drop down onto your right shoulder (on top of that tense trapezius muscle that clenches when you shrug your shoulders.) And let that arm fall to the side as you swing back the other direction, bringing the right arm up, etc.

Do this exercise for a few minutes, letting the shoulders release a little more with each pat. Imagine that the hand patting the shoulder is bringing a handful of fresh, relaxing energy into your shoulders while dispersing the pent-up, tired energy, and don't be afraid to make a good slap (but never use a flat palm). Now pause, still standing with feet shoulder width apart and relaxed knees. Shake your whole body, moving any portion that feels stuck or tense, and just wiggle and bounce around until you feel stress leave your body in embarrassment. Invite a nice deep breath of fresh air into your body through your nose, and feel it drawing energy up through your feet and into your belly (or from the top of your head into your belly). Exhale fully through your mouth, letting the rest of any remaining tension dissipate to the far corners of the universe/into the earth. Remember that our carbon dioxide out-breath is beneficial for plants (in small amounts of course); our waste and stress can be recycled into the food chain as well :)

See your acupuncturist about this therapy, since it's a little more complex. It works great on thighs and calves, although for the hamstrings and back it requires a helper!

This article was based off a recent presentation to the Portland Society. For more information on Chinese Medicine and Do-It-Yourself healthcare for active people, consult catalystforbreakfast.wordpress.com or email bethgriffing@gmail.com or 7crow.medicine@gmail.com .

24 February 2011

Never let a little snow keep you from riding

Congratulations to Mario Bartel, aka Jay Suburb, for his winning photo entry of our Facebook photo contest on wintertime riding conditions. Bartel states, "It was shot with the self-timer on my camera while on a ride out to the University of British Columbia last Friday [February 18, 2011]. We'd had some pretty bizarre weather role through here on Thursday, with rain, hail, sleet, snow and even thunder and lightning in the space of a few hours.

"I've learned to pack my camera along on rides as I keep a cycling blog chronicling my training for last year's Whistler Gran Fondo and, this year, Levi Leipheimer's Gran Fondo, as well as other random musings, at: http://thebigring.wordpress.com "

As Jay says, "Never let a little snow keep you from riding!" Amen to that, Jay, and congratulations on earning yourself a $50 gift certificate to BicyclingHub.com for some great new winter riding gear.

21 February 2011

Yoga and Cycling: In Search of Zen

By Jennifer Clunie, Registered Yoga Teacher and certified cycling addict

The Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA defines yoga as “any practice that brings you more life force, whether it is on a physical, cognitive, emotional, or spiritual level—or, ideally, on all levels at once. Yoga is essentially a state of integration that emerges from a path of personal inquiry.

Photo, left: Seasoned cyclists like Karl recognize the importance to stretching tight hamstring muscles before an arduous ride. Photo courtesy of Dave Kraus.

This quest for integrated living—in which we feel fully alive, fully expressed, and fully connected to the Earth (and our fellow human beings that reside upon it)—shares the same lexicon of emotions we experience during a ride, whether it be an epic journey on a never-before-seen trail or a simple joyride around town.

Many athletes, including cyclists, recognize the benefits of cross-training and incorporate yoga poses and stretching into their training and workout routines. Cycling places the body in forward flexion for long periods of time, often leading to pain in the neck and lower back. The repetitive motion of our chosen sport places a high demand on some muscle groups (including the hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps) while de-emphasizing others, resulting in an imbalance of muscle flexibility, endurance and strength—particularly to the opposing muscle groups of the leg and torso. These imbalances are biomechanically inefficient and can lead to repetitive overuse injuries, one of the most common forms of injury among cyclists. Photo, right: National Mountain Bike Champion Georgia Gould in an aggressive forward facing position as she races to victory . Photo courtesy of Jennifer Harvey.

The practice of yoga can improve your flexibility, make you less injury-prone, promote a speedier recovery, reduce stress, and lengthen muscles to give you a longer, more powerful stride. You will also benefit from improved strength, posture, and core stability, as well as increased balance, alignment and proprioception. In addition, each asana (physical pose) is accompanied by controlled, deep breathing techniques, which not only aid in relaxation but also help re-train the body to use the lungs fully. As you are probably already aware, in both yoga and cycling, breathing is key.

A vital lesson yoga offers is the importance of listening to our bodies. Riders often ignore early warning signs of injury or fatigue and instead yield to their own egos or compete with fellow riders in “King of the Mountain” contests or hammerfests, even on so-called recreational rides. If you are able to check in and assess what your body truly needs at any given moment and respond accordingly, the results will benefit both body and soul.

Yoga and cycling are such symbiotic activities because they perfectly compliment and built upon each other to create a more unified whole. Reporting on the new trend of yoga and spinning classes (or cy-yo) for Yoga Journal, Dimity McDowell reflects, “Perhaps that's the draw of both disciplines: The inner experience is always unique and revelatory. ‘In yoga the asanas don't change, yet each time you practice, you have a different experience with them…It's the same thing in spinning: A flat ride is always a flat ride, but you never have the same ride twice.’” Photo, right: Runner, cyclist, and enthusiastic mountain-bike racer Andy Reed pedals and breathes his way up Yokun Ridge in Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Harvey.

Whether on the bike or on the mat, sometimes the true destination is the journey within.

16 February 2011

Staying Motivated Thru Winter

Top 10 ways to make riding on an indoor trainer more enjoyable

Winter in upstate New York: not the most bike-friendly place to ride.

Whether Punxsutawney Phil spied his shadow or not earlier this month in your neck of the woods, or the global warming phenomenon has barraged your hometown with torrential rain, massive flooding, 10 ft. snowdrifts, or bitter cold, by mid-February cyclists in many parts of North America are experiencing a serious case of cabin fever. How do we stay motivated to ride, train, remain healthy and get in shape when our feet are itching to clip in to the pedals but the roads and/or trail conditions forbid it?

Move over, Frosty; in times like these, an indoor trainer might become your most reliable winter companion.

Sure, we became cyclists to go out and explore the great outdoors, not fix our back wheels to a stationary object and ride in place. But if weather, circumstances or time constraints dictate your workout schedule, then it might be time to crank up the tunes and indulge in some interval sessions. Keeping them challenging, fast, and relatively short (1 hour 3 times a week suffices for many, especially when paired with weightlifting or other cross-training winter activities), you can keep your legs "tuned up" for spring while avoiding the mind-numbing boredom staring at four walls typically brings.

We polled fellow cyclists our Facebook fan page to find out, What keeps you motivated and spinning your wheels thru winter? Based on the variety of responses and suggestions offered, BicyclingHub.com presents the top 10 ways to make riding on an indoor trainer more enjoyable.

10. Watch a Paris-Roubaix video while listening to iPod LOUD. ~Roger M.

9. Good music, good friends, cool video, do it naked! ~Colleen T.

8. We try to mix up the places we actually ride (buddy's houses, basements, etc.) this helps with the same ol same ol. Follow the lead of the host trainer to get a good mix of workouts. ~Todd P.

7. I'll go with good tunes or a movie, but I also like Spinervals and Carmichael training videos. ~Jim M.

6. Thesufferfest.com has nice video workouts! Nicely produced. (they don't pay me to say this!) ~Mark N.

5. I live in SE Florida, why bother training inside? ~RJ H.

4. Not sure but I am going to find out. Setting up my rollers in the garage tonight. Gonna try the mountain biking DVD's first, then maybe some interval training DVD's and then Netflix. Beer will probably be involved with all three at some point. ~John R.

3. Watching TV and having a training plan that isn't boring - changes up every day. ~Sue S.

2. Take up a spin class ..great training for the winter. ~Beatrice I. D.

1. Ride outside, dress appropriately. ~Chad M.

You know the old Norwegian saying, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing?" BicyclingHub.com couldn't agree more.

With the appropriate gear and a good attitude, you can make even the Worst Day of the Year your best ride yet.

14 February 2011

With the appropriate gear and a good attitude, you can make even the Worst Day of the Year your best ride yet

"I am really tired of people whining about how hard it is to bike in the rain...It's not like you melt or anything...What do you think rain gear is for? So, listen, I want you to pick the worst day of the year and organize a biking event. We'll invite local bike shops to show off their rain gear and sow people that it's really not that bad biking in the rain. It'll be fun."--Earl Blumenauer quoted in Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet by Mia Birk.

Photo, left: Ayleen Crotty, aka "The Penguin," from Good Sport Promotions warms up the crowd.

10 years ago, then-City Councilman Earl Blumenauer and Portland Bicycle Coordinator Mia Birk organized a bike ride designed to encourage Portland residents to seize their bikes in the dead of Portland winter and not let persistently gray skies and drizzle get them down. From 250 riders in 1991 to over 4,000 participants in 2011, the Worst Day of the Year Ride has grown to an annual event Portland residents look forward to each year--and for 10 consecutive years, it has yet to more than sprinkle on this festive occasion.

Photo, left: Most unusual bikes encountered on the route (and in Portland, that says a lot!) Glide Cycles, LLC was developed with rowers in mind.

Photo, right: Portland is famous for both its love of bikes and love of dogs...it's always nice when you can meld the two in one perfectly-themed costume!

Always up for a good ride (aka "team building session"), BicyclingHub.com was thrilled to don all our rain and cold-weather gear from Showers Pass, Castelli, and Pearl Izumi...and even more thrilled when the weather gods cooperated and didn't rain on our bike parade.

Doug and Kriss at the start line on their first tandem ride. 45 miles, one broken chain and a number of hills later, they're still happily engaged. A tandem success story!

09 February 2011

Sue Butler Takes on the World

Back in the U.S. with stitches in her side and a hunger in her belly, Butler talks candidly about riding, racing, and pursuing your dreams

“It was like a punch in the gut. The funny thing was, while sobbing in the ambulance, my first thought was about everyone else. Everyone who supported me to get there and how I let them down. It really wasn't about me. It was somewhat unbelievable. I think I was in shock for a while. I have never crashed so hard that it took me out of a race. So, I was bummed. Pissed…I hate being hurt, but I am also thankful that it wasn't worse. I could have broken my hip or bones and then I would have had a nice extended stay in Sankt Wendel [Germany]. That would have been bad.” ~Sue Butler on the course-altering crash that ended her bid for a 2011 World Cyclocross Champion title

Of course, if Butler were a practical soul, she never would have been there in the first place. Reflecting back on her decision to quit her full-time job as a guidance counselor with the Portland Public Schools in 2005 at age 33 and strike out to become a professional mountain-bike racer, Butler candidly admits, “I was crazy to think I could do it. I had no history of racing. I don’t know what I was thinking…all of a sudden I was going to quit my job and pretend to be a racer? “

There aren’t many instances in life when our significant other reminds us of our advancing years that the conversation ends well. However, in Butler’s case, it proved to be just the push she needed. “My husband [Tim] said, ‘You know what? You’re not getting any younger. You’re fast and you’re good. You won’t know unless you try. You won’t know unless you give it your 100% and see if you can do it. The worst thing is going to happen: you’re going to try it, you’re going to suck, and you’re going back to your job. BIG DEAL.’ At least you know, and you’re not going to sit in that office ten years from now and think, God, I had an opportunity, I could’ve been a professional mountain-bike racer…I didn’t want to have to say WHAT IF. I had this opportunity and I didn’t take it and now I’m miserable. Man, I should’ve done it when I could.

With that spirit of determined ferocity and ambitious optimism, Butler set out on her chosen path. Temporarily waylaid by a skiing-related knee surgery the following February, a short 5 months later she won the 2006 National Mountain Bike Championships, 35-39 Expert division, in Sonoma, CA. What had seemed like a setback at the time turned out to be a blessing in disguise: “If I had turned pro [that year] I never would have been able to win a national championship at that level. It was such a huge accomplishment after going through all that rehab.” From there, she went on to win the 2006 TransRockies Challenge with Barenaked Cannondale team member Anna Vacca, and began “dabbling” in other endurance-challenging events such as the Salt Lake City U100 (100 mile MTB race), the Canadian Masters World Championships and, of course, cyclocross.


When asked to pinpoint her favorite discipline, Butler and fellow racer Wendy Sims agree: “I like riding my MTB the best but I LOVE racing cross. It’s finite; you know how long it’s going to be: 40 minutes of pain. You can suffer for 40 minutes. You can put your body in that discomfort for that long.

There is some strategy in it; it’s technically challenging enough, but you know it’s going to be over soon. [The course is] a proscribed thing; you go over and over again so you can improve your lines each time you ride it. And you can pre-ride, so you can kind of know what you’re getting yourself into. You’re racing twice in a weekend most of the time, so if you really have a bad race on Saturday, you can do something different and improve it on Sunday. ‘What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?’ Most of the time [with mountain-bike racing] it’s ‘one and done.’ And if I really screw up a cross a race on Saturday I can try and do something different on Sunday and say, okay, that worked."

Representing Hudz-Subaru for the 2010-2011 cross season, Butler set--and reached--some pretty ambitious goals for herself this year, including podium finishes at the USGP in Portland, Cyclocross Nationals in Bend, and qualifying for 2011 World Championships. Done, done, and done. Plagued with asthma and health issues and unable to compete at Worlds the year prior, she was determined to come back this season more competitive than ever. Despite the unfortunately-timed crash in St. Wendel, Butler is able to take a more macroscopic view of her overall accomplishments. “I knew I was on the right track in Vegas when I made that front group, even though I didn't quite have the fitness to stay there. Then in Madison on the second day, I found myself on the podium at the USGP. As the schedule went, I was unable to be in Louisville and then got sick for the next round in Colorado, but then in Portland on the first day, I accomplished my goal.

“It was good to be back. So, although the season didn't really go 'as planned,' with a sinus infection taking me out for a few weeks, it was good. Something to build on and improve for next year. As for my proudest moment, I have to say that making that podium in Wisconsin with my family all there was pretty cool. My mom is pretty cute about all this. And my 15 year old niece was impressed. That is hard to do. But podium in Portland in front of the home crowd was almost as sweet.”


Winning races as diverse as the High Cascade 100 MTB Race, short track and cross country OBRA Championships, and 40 minute ‘cross suffer-fests, you’d think Butler must have been born the uber-fast and furious pro with a VO2 Max that rivals Lance Armstrong’s. Not so, says Butler. “It’s taken years on some of those trails to be able to clear; it didn’t start overnight. I remember walking thing that I don’t even think about now. [Being teased] ‘I remember when you couldn’t hop a log’; in Forest Park I could not get over a little 6” bridge—I didn’t know how to get my bike over it. “

What were the tools that unlocked it for her?

Determination. I want to be able to do it. And I know it’s possible. You see other people do it. And I think that’s important: knowing it’s possible. All those sections that I can ride now: After the first time I did them, I’ve never NOT done them again. Because you know what? Now I can. But it took riding someone behind that did it fine and then you know it’s possible and you can do it yourself. So I always ride with people that are better than me. That’s how I got faster; that’s how I got better technically.

"Doing the BC Bike Race improved my skills amazingly technically-wise because the trails up there were difficult and it was scary and there were things I would not have ridden on a joyride; but racing, you don’t have a choice. And I think racing has made me a better rider and a better athlete because it puts you in a position where you don’t have a choice.”

When asked whether not having a choice might put a rider in a potentially dangerous position with un-alterable consequences, Butler pauses for a moment before responding: “Adrenaline is an amazing thing; yes and no. But I think it allows us to accomplish things we don’t think we’re capable of…You know, you’ve got to ride within your skill abilities …I have the fear of riding over skinnies and little bridges—I’m freaked out by it. Well, singletrack’s only that wide. Well, I can ride that, why can’t I ride [this]? I mean, it’s stupid. I should be able to ride it. And guess what? If I was racing, and you want to beat the people behind you, and you have a partner in front of you riding it, then are you going to walk it? NO! You’re going to ride it. It’s amazing the things you can ride when you’re following someone that’s good and skilled. It’s pretty inspiring.”

On overcoming fear:

“Even for me I have to get past that [fear of crashing] because 99% of the time you’re going to be fine. So you really can’t focus on that slight, slight, slight chance that something bad is going to happen. You don’t want to live your life out of that fear; fear is one of those emotions that will paralyze you forever and it will not let you continue to let you do what you love. “ Showing off the well-earned battle scars along her elbow after opening up her arm three times in one season, she continues. “Yeah, it’s ugly and it reminds me of those crashes…and makes you laugh too. I don’t even think about it now. I LOVE going downhill on my MTB; I LOVE rocks and just rooty stuff.”

Her best advice: Practice makes perfect; hone those skills, so you can be confident in going down something. If you’re going to be scared you’re going to be walking a lot. I HATE walking my bike. My objective is to get better and get over those things b/c I really don’t want to walk my bike…I love riding it, and I love the challenge of it! I think that’s why I keep doing it.” Another skill set that’s served Butler well in both the cross-country mountain bike and cyclocross arenas? Her ability to re-set and go. “You’ve got to be able to do that [re-set] and not let things like that stay in your head and totally plague you. Because you won’t do well [otherwise].

“I remember the first year I went to Worlds, at the USGP Portland 2007. The race was horrible; bad; not a good day. I was plagued with mechanicals, it was muddy…shaking and freezing cold. I was so determined to do well. Bad bad bad…I was sitting in the Tahoe shaking crying sobbing –okay it’s a race why am I crying”? -- It was so emotional because I was ready to kill it and I didn’t. I was like, 'There goes my chance to go to Worlds and I really screwed it up.’ It wasn’t my fault; I couldn’t have done anything differently. But I reset, went to Kansas got 6th at nationals and ended up going to Worlds. You have to always be determined; you should never give up you shouldn’t write off your chances.”

A “Late Bloomer”

With a race career and backstory this impressive, and elite-level results no one can argue with, it’s dismaying to learn Butler’s biggest barrier isn’t a 2 foot log in the middle of the trail or a brutal run-up so muddy cyclists are losing their cleats in the brine, but her age. A self-described “late bloomer” to the pro circuit, the chase for sponsorships and professional opportunities has been a difficult quest. Racing first for local bike shop River City Bicycles, Barenaked Cannondale and then Monave Cannondale, Hudz-Subaru picked her up for the 2010-2011 cross season but the future remains unwritten and unknown. “Since I didn’t start racing until so late I still feel I have several good years left in me. There’s something about young development, new and up-and-coming, blah blah blah…But even when I had my first good season, it was impossible. It’s been really hard as someone who’s started late in life to get sponsors. So it’s frustrating.”

Pair that with another national trend: the lack of junior and U23 development programs, sponsorships, equal prize dollars and race opportunities for women—and it’s an uphill battle. Having raced throughout the U.S., Butler comments on the lack of equal participation she sees in the sport: “I don’t think a lot of women are encouraged, and I think a lot of women don’t know that the opportunity exists to race your mountain bike. There’s probably a lot of mountain-bikers out there that have no idea there’s mountain-bike races. I didn’t know that; I had no idea. I think woman are really competitive and I think they can handle pain better, too….[But] women are more practical. They’re not going justify spending money on themselves to race, whereas men are like, ‘whatever; I’m going to go do that race.’ Women are more sensible that way."

Another good reason? Women in their late 20s and mid 30s are starting families, and a different set of priorities come into play. While men can choose to still race, women who are pregnant, nursing or performing childcare duties unfortunately takes some women out of field—at least for a time period.

It’s Never Too Late to Start

At age 38, Butler is competing—and winning—against elite women 10+ years her junior, and can honestly tell you she’s in the best shape of her life. Ironically, in part due to the aforementioned encouragement, funding and priority discrepancies when it comes to the junior development and U23 teams for women, she “I couldn’t have raced as a U23; I couldn’t have afforded it. Unless you have racing in your family; or you have somebody in your life that’s willing to do that for you, how are you going to do it? There’s probably a lot of talent in this country we’re never going to know about because guess what? We’re never going to tap into it. And it IS expensive. We have to be honest about that.”

Despite prior health setbacks, bad crashes and sponsorship issues, Butler remains an optimistic ball of positive energy, radiating her passion for bicycling to everyone she comes into contact with. More than anything, she wants cyclists to eradicate “I can’t” from their vocabularies. “It IS something they can do. They do have the fitness and the ability. We have a tendency to say, 'Oh, I’m not good enough to do that.' Oh no, you are, you definitely are—you just have to want to do it and you have to do it.

"I started really late in life compared to most people but it doesn’t mean you can’t be competitive. It’s hard work, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen…You don’t know it unless you try. I think people have this concept that they’re not good enough. NO, YOU ARE. And unless you go do it, you’re not going to know how you stack up against the rest of the country.”

Hunger in Her Belly

What’s going to keep Butler hungry for more in the upcoming season? “I haven't gotten to where I want to be. Racing in Europe this past year was like a step back. I need to master the starts and have better races over there. And although I did podium at nationals, it wasn't a clean race. Wasn't my best race. I want to have more races next year that I walk away from and say, YES! I gave it my all and got the best result I could have. I didn't have as many of those as I would like to have. I have to fix the little mistakes and there is still lots of room for improvement. I am already looking forward to it.”

“I love riding my bike, “she says simply. “That’s basically what it boils down to. What ever I’m doing, I’m going to make sure I do it 100%

07 February 2011

Help BicyclingHub get ranked as a Bicycle-Friendly Business!

Exciting news: BicyclingHub.com recently submitted an application to the League of American Bicyclists for its Bicycle-Friendly Business recognition program, and we need your help! As part of the application process, the League is asking employees, business and community partners, and customers take a short (5-10 minute) anonymous survey about the company's bike-friendly practices and initiatives to help rank businesses accordingly.

Take the survey online NOW. Deadline is this Friday, February 11th, so please don't delay!

When responding, be sure to consult a copy of the League's Scoring Guidelines.

As an international retailer in the bicycling industry, our staff lives, eats, sleeps and breathes bicycling. In the workplace, BicyclingHub.com aims to create an environment that encourages and fosters cycling as both a mode of transportation and a way of life. Be it encouraging a 100% staff bicycle commuter rate year-round, installing bike racks at our new office space for adequate bike parking, hosting group staff rides during the summer as "team-building exercises," participating in charity fundraisers such as Portland Tour de Cure and Park-to-Park Montana, or sponsoring community-building events such as Pedal Nation films, these investments have yielded excellent returns.

Remaining as passionate about cycling as our customers fuels our business and enables BicyclingHub.com to enjoy one of the best customer satisfaction rates for online merchants in the nation. With your help, we look forward to becoming even more bicycle-friendly in the months and years to come.

Remember, the deadline is this Friday, February 11th, so time is of the essence! Thanks in advance for filling out the short survey and lending your support.

What Makes BicyclingHub.com a Bicycle-Friendly Business?

BicyclingHub.com's entire staff is extremely passionate about cycling, as is the owner of the company. As part of our goal to put more people on bikes more often, we aim to make customers' riding experiences as enjoyable as possible. We work hard every day to keep cyclists rolling in comfort, safety and style.

It is no accident our business is based in a Platinum-Level Bicycle Friendly Community, with an active and extremely diverse bike culture. Portland, Oregon might well be considered the ultimate testing ground for cycling apparel in a wide range of weather conditions. The Portland Development Commission, Business Oregon and Oregon Business Council cite Portland is force to be reckoned with in the Activewear and Outdoor Gear world for the last thirty years, in the recently-released Portland Economic Development Strategy. Appreciative to be headquartered in the same city as manufacturers like Castelli, Retro Image Apparel and Showers Pass, and it's a rare day that goes by that we don't spy a cyclist wearing one of the products we sell.

Plans BicyclingHub.com has for the coming year to improve the company's bicycle friendliness.

1. Launch a mini-grant program open to non-profit, community-based programs with the specific goals of getting more people on bikes, more often. Organizations across the U.S. will be invited to apply in this competitive grant process; top contenders will be featured on our Blog, Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as our website and newsletter distribution list and our customers will have the opportunity to vote on which organizations should receive the funds.

2. Send our first staff member to 2011 National Bike Summit to support advocacy efforts for improved cycling conditions in both our home state of Oregon and nationally. Following up on the success of our on-the-ground reporting of Interbike 2010, we intend to cover the event via our Blog, Facebook and Twitter to share the latest developments in transportation advocacy, education and legislation with our readers and followers, encouraging them to become more directly involved with the League's work.

3. Host organized group rides from our new retail space in Southeast Portland during Summer 2011. Rides will be lead by a League Certified Instructor and other experienced cyclists with the intent of encouraging more customers to ride and showcasing the most bike-friendly streets and bicycle-boulevards in the metro Portland area.

4. Sponsorship of a BicyclingHub.com cyclocross team for the Cross Crusade Series, a popular race series in Oregon and Washington popular with beginners, enthusiasts and serious racers alike.

Briefly describe the most positive outcome of your company's support for bicycling. (i.e. improved employee health, increased productivity, morale boost, reduced parking/maintenance cost, etc.)

Positive outcomes include all of the above: improved employee health, increased productivity, morale boost amongst employees, and a ZERO parking/maintenance cost. Another positive benefit has been the marked increase in positive interaction rates and brand loyalty from our customers who trust and rely upon the advice from cycling clothing experts to ensure their needs are met.

List three reasons BicyclingHub.com should be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Business.

Reason 1.
BicyclingHub.com celebrates and fosters our customers' passion for cycling and the multitude of ways to demonstrate our shared love for all things bike-related. Our customers may ride for different reasons, be it transportation, recreation, fitness or racing; for family bonding time, a shared sense of community with fellow riders, or solo explorations; for scenic views, rural landscapes, brutal climbs, or the adrenaline-pumping downhills that make it all worthwhile.

The common link: our fervor and devotion to this beautiful and challenging sport. Whether they identify themselves as a dedicated urban commuter, a multi-day bike tour enthusiast, or preparing for their next big race, BicyclingHub.com constantly applies itself to making certain we deliver the same outstanding customer service and prompt delivery that ensures we stand apart from our competitors. Our mission? "We want your ride to be as enjoyable as possible, and we work hard every day to keep you rolling in style."

Reason 2.
Through strong company and individual staff support for bicycling, BicyclingHub.com has been able to develop a strong community of individuals as addicted to the sport as the staff who answer the phones, respond to customer emails, and lovingly ship care packages across the globe. We ride in the same brands we sell; our bike commutes into the office and adventure rides on the weekends are called "field testing."

Reason 3.

Our aggressive goals for 2011 (see above) including continued community development, mini-grants program, and sponsored rides/events ensures our goals to EDUCATE, EMPOWER and ENTHUSE cyclists will be in perpetual motion.

02 February 2011

Trivia Contest: In Honor of BIG GEORGE

George Hincapie exits the US Postal Service Team Van at the 2000 Amstel Gold Race smiling and ready to ride.

This month's Trivia Contest is in honor of George Hincapie, one of America's favorite professional cyclists who's maintained incredible staying power over the last decade. With his enduring cycling prowess and charisma, he's considered a fixture in both major stateside stage races such as the Tour of California, the European Classics (notably to Paris-Roubaix), and the exalted Tour de France.

Many of you recognized his legs last month on our Facebook contest (congratulations to Don W. for correctly identifying those gams and winning a $25 BicyclingHub.com gift certificate!). When he turned Pro in 1994, George Hincapie (who was primarily a sprinter at that point) committed in his mind to ten years as a professional. With that goal long since surpassed, he is embarking on his SEVENTEENTH Professional season and possibly his 16th (and record-tying for most starts) Tour de France.

How well do you know "Big George"?

Q1. How many Olympic Games has George participated in?

Photo, left: George Hincapie and Dave Towel discuss the stage ahead on May 23rd, 2010 in Thousand Oaks, California Tour of California Stage 8.

Q2. Hincapie has won in all of the following major stage races EXCEPT WHICH ONE?
A. The Tour de France
B. The Dauphine Libere
C. The Tour of California
D. Three Days of De Panne
E. Eneco Tour of Benelux
F. Tour of Missouri
G. Setmana Catalana

Photo, right: George Hincapie, Roy Knickman and Andreas Knickman in conversation. Roy Knickman is partially hidden from the camera.

Q3. How many times has George Hincapie been the US Professional Road Champion?

Was I Correct? Answers below.

A1. Incredibly, Hincapie has participated in FIVE STRAIGHT Olympic Games, dating back to the Team Time Trial in Barcelona where the US squad was a disappointing 16th. Since then, he has represented the US in the Olympic Road Race. Not planning to retire until 2012 and still one of the top US one day road riders, he could conceivably make one more! His five, incidentally, set a National Record for ALL SPORTS.

A2. Wow, what a line up! De Panne (a Belgian-cobbled classic prep stage race) is the only one, remarkably, where George didn’t take a stage. He did, however, win the overall there in 2004!!!

Photo, right: Ever the professionals, Christian Vande Velde (left) and George Hincapie (center), during their US Postal Service years, pausing to sign autographs.

A3. THREE, which many believe should have been four! In 1997, he won US Pro Corestates in Philadelphia, climbed the podium and donned the jersey only to be disqualified 45 min later for drafting in the caravan to chase back after a late puncture. He then won the title outright and joyously in 1998 with the help of a resurgent Lance Armstrong. Since then, he has triumphed again, this time in his hometown of Greenville, SC in 2006 and 2009.

Photo, left: When you're cool you're cool. George before the start of the 2010 Tour of California.

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