playing with boy's toys...

Tonight I had a conversation with a friend about my lack of sports participation as a child.  My parents were old fashioned and didn't believe that girls should play sports.  We did things like Girl Scouts and sewing.  And no I am not making this up.  The only exposure I had to sports in school was thru PE class and-not surprisingly-I wasn't very interested.

Fast forward to adulthood-where I found myself eventually a gym rat, a spin instructor and finally a cyclist.  I didn't like the competitive, balls-out, sexist world of cycling I found at local shops and opened my own Women's only shop.  I love it and feel truly satisfied by my "job".

However-I have also been made aware that there are equally as many men turned off by the balls-out world I hated.  Men who wanted to ride with the girls not for some weird reason, but to be taught, and accepted.   I think its easier for women to admit they need help than for men, but who is it that serves male cyclists in my community this way?  To teach them to shift correctly and sell them clothes in all sizes?  To put them on bikes that suit their needs and goals?  Its a conundrum for me.  I got into this business to serve women whose needs I felt were not being met, but what if its really not a problem of sexism but rather a problem related to cyclist education and customer service overall?  

I just read an interview with Sarai Snyder (of Girl-Bike-Love and Cyclofemme fame) that really got me thinking about it.  You can read the article here .  She discusses the idea of gender parity in cycling.  I think (I hope!) that the things I do at the shop make a difference in women cyclists' lives-but maybe its time to start thinking about how to serve men who want help too?  Maybe this could just be the future of The Unlikely Cyclist?

my *mostly* unbiased review of the Bianchi Infinito Cv

Let's start this review off by saying that I am a Bianchi dealer.  In fact I am a nut for all things celeste and always have been.  As a lover of all things from the 40's and 50's about 60% of the things in my house are celeste.  So it was natural when I was looking for my first carbon bike that I wanted a Bianchi.  Very specifically I wanted a Bianchi Infinito.  This was way back in 2010 when  Bianchi was-shall we say-not the most prominently stocked bike in the states.  I drove all over SoCal looking for my bike in vain and ended up with a cervelo.  Now-I love my cervelo.  But it's red and white and not very pretty.  Functionally great but not very me.

Fast forward to 2012 when it was time to open my bike shop-I wanted Bianchi and they wanted me.  It was a match made in heaven.  The store opens and I am still riding my cervelo. Per Bianchi this simply wouldn't do.  I guess I would *have* to buy a new bike.  They shipped me my dream bike-a celeste infinito-I finally had one.   I love my Bella bianchi.  She fits me like a glove, handles like a dream, and virtually disappears under me when I ride it.

Last year at Interbike, Bianchi introduces the Infinito CV with countervail technology.  Space age substances woven into the carbon that would virtually eliminate road vibration.  Hmmmm....sounds good.   Its not cheap-so it must work, right?  Pros riding over cobblestones love it.  Did I REALLY need it for rides up and down PCH and Orange Country roadways?  Apparently, the answer is YES.

I had the opportunity to finally ride one of these lovelies yesterday.  Frame geometry is the same as my infinito so after a few fit tweaks and a saddle change,  we were off.  I have DI2 on my own bike-but this new Shimano Ultegra 11spd groupset was amazing.  A satisfying clunk as it shifted smoothly and effortlessly.  Almost as easy as my DI2.  This was the first thing I noticed.

The frame was nice and stiff without being harsh.  I felt more secure on this frame.  Not being the lightest or shortest girl rider on the block, sometimes carbon flexes a little *too* much for me.  This felt more secure right away than even my infinito.  But what I really felt was the utter lack of feeling.  My hands weren't 43 year old joints felt, well nothing.  As someone that broke her wrist 8 months ago, the residual pain I feel on every ride was gone.  In fact I didn't even notice the lack of these things until about 15 miles into the ride it was so subtle.

Did the bike make me faster?  No.  Was it just as responsive as my current infinito?  Yes.  In fact it handled almost exactly the same.  But what I realized when I got back after 30 miles was that I didn't FEEL like I had ridden 30 miles.  The bike rides with the comfort of steel but the responsiveness of carbon.  It made me want to ride more miles without the fear of back spasms and wrist pain from old injuries, and when you have been around the block as many times as I have-thats a GREAT thing.   If you want to know about bike weight and grams and all that good stuff-you can find it online.  This bike has won "Bike of the year" many times over.  Feel, fit and function are really all I care about.  And this bike has that in spades.

I may just *have* to buy another new bike....

where has the time gone to?!

Today a friend asked if I write anymore, to which I responded "no...I just haven't had time". With that statement, I made the cardinal mistake I hear from so many people that ride: I made an excuse. "I haven't had time"  "Things are tight at home" "Work is killing me".  But the truth of the matter is that writing (like riding-ha!  get it?!) was always something I loved to do.  A release, an expression, a sense of joy and sometimes hate.  And I needed to get back to it. goes.

The shop has been open over a year now-the most wild roller coaster ride of a year I think I have ever been on.  At times ecstatically proud and happy and on the flip side scared about money and business and if I had made the right decision.   I think that this must be normal in the life of a small business.  Its feast or famine and fear in-between.  But has it been the best year of my life?  YES.   I am constantly proud of the women I have put on bikes and pushed to limits they did not think they could break through.  Telling women that they COULD climb, that they weren't too old, or too fat or all of those other negative things we let stand in their way.  When I opened the shop-THAT was what I set out to do.  To show women that they did have a place in this sport, just like someone had convinced me of once too.  To pay it forward in some way.  We have a team of 43 women that ride (not all of them every week-but they know we are here for them!  They are still part of a team) and my hope is that I have made them all feel as though they belong.  We are the Unlikely Cyclists, the island of misfit toys, but we mesh and when we do great things happen.  

That is the proudest thing for me.  But what about the business?  Yes-tis true!  Without the shop there would be no team and no place to hang out in.  I am happy to say that after a year in business, I am just about where I had hoped to and expected to be.  I have a girl mechanic I love and because of this shop two formerly unemployed people have a job.  I think thats a good thing.  Isn't that what small business is all about?  I have been so fortunate to have sales reps to help and guide me along the way.  Credit departments that helped out when funds were in short supply.  Most importantly I had the love and support of great friends, my family and (without whom the shop wouldn't be possible) my non-cycling husband.  He's been my unpaid employee, my handyman, and our team SAG vehicle.  He doesn't "get the whole cycling thing" but its important to me so it's important to him. 

So it's just a quick update-and I promise I will write more often about things that may or may not interest you (chamois cream preferences?).  Just an extra thank you to the ladies that support the shop.   I know that your LBS is not always the cheapest option out there, but please, PLEASE, support the shop that supports you.  If you go on the group rides, buy your tires there.  If they adjust your derailleur for free, buy a jersey sometime.  We really do love what we do, and want to keep doing it.

(a side note without being too gushy is an extra thank you to my friend Shawn.  I met her before I even opened this shop and from day one she has been out there promoting the shop and giving up her time to lead our group rides.  I never say it enough-and you are a big part of this shop's success- so thank you for all you do)

Make ahead recipe!

So I know this is kind of a weird post, but I have a few staples in my cooking repertoire that I make to stay healthy yet satisfied.  I grew up with a mother that made everything from scratch in the kitchen for a family of five children.  It was all healthy and fresh-but "normal".  No squash blossom soup with a side of acai.  This is real food.

One of the best gifts my mother ever gave me was to teach me to cook.  I don't use recipes, I just know them, I have made them so many times.  I have given them to many people over the years, and they have adapted to my tastes.  They are all healthy and low fat and I use these all the time - so I thought I would share a few.  These all make LARGE batches (remember 5 kids) and can easily be frozen and reheated.

This is my mom's chili...

1 pound of the leanest ground beef (pref no more than 6% fat - you can also use ground turkey)

1 large onion diced

2 bell peppers any color, diced

2 fresh jalapenos de-seeded and veined, diced

 - brown the meat (DONT DRAIN IT), add the onion and peppers and simmer covered until the onions are clear

 -add 3tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp sugar and 2 cloves of crushed garlic.  Stir until coated.

 - add one can of tomato sauce, 1 can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted is good if you can get them), 1 small can of tomato paste. Add hot water to the paste can, swish it around and add the tomato water too.  Simmer on LOW heat covered for 45 mins.

 - add 2 cans of beans of your choice (I like black beans and pinto).  Do not drain the beans.  Add the juice too.  Add one tsp of cumin.  Simmer on low uncovered for 45mins.  Turn off the heat and let it rest for 30 mins.  Taste it and season to taste with tabasco, sugar salt.  Whatever you like.

Hope you enjoy that.  It's a hearty, healthy chili.  I serve one cup of it over brown rice -hawaiian style.  That along with a salad is a perfect meal to me. 

not a resolution but a life change...

2012 was a year of big changes for me...the layoff...the shop opening and my first big failure in riding - my DNF at Levi's gran fondo.   I know that shouldn't really be a big deal.  People dnf all the time.  But what that represented was that I was forgetting to train.  That life got in the way and I let my bike gather dust.  For the first time since making my hobby a career, I let my job get in the way of my joy.  I was joyful helping others get on the bike, but I forgot to find my own joy there.  At least not often enough.  My fitness level went down and levi handed that to me on a plate.

So...this year I am resolved to get back what I once had.  Not some pro-level, want to race kinda gal, but I want to be able to get back to where I was, weight wise, fitness wise, and improve from there.  This may take all year.  It may take longer.  But I know it's possible.  I think the reason most resolutions fail is that people say "this is my last time of doing xx EVER" and then two weeks later you are right back where you started.  I saw this every year as a spin instructor with the "new year newbies".  Stop doing that people.  Commit and do it.  This is advice I give myself too.  I am not being uppity.

A few weeks back I re-joined the gym and started going.  I started riding the road bike again - even if only on the trainer.  This is fitness I know.  I also paid in full for the mountain bike that I had "rented" a while back from a friends shop but not really ridden since the first time when I broke a chain and went endo on it.  This is fitness I don't know.  Yesterday I took the bike out on the trails near my house.  It was intimidating and BIG.  And squishy.  But I loved it.  Today I climbed and climbed with a girlfriend who was sweet enough to lead me out in a canyon and give me tips.  It was hard.  And new.  I am out of that "climbing" shape and I had to walk some, but I LOVED it.  The descent was magical and I felt a sense of freedom in nature I rarely feel on my road bike in the urban jungle of Orange County.  I came home muddy but exhilarated for trying something new.  Finally the fitness feels like a regular part of my life again.

The weight loss comes next.  And this is not something that is easy for me.  Mentally or physically.  My cancer fights me for every pound, but I know I can do it.  I just have to want it badly enough.  I have a good 60 pounds to lose to get to my ideal weight, but that will come too.  Weight watchers contacted me a few weeks back to come and speak at their meeting in a few weeks as a "fitness advocate".  I am honored to be in that position.  I sat in one of their meetings a 100 pounds heavier than I am now in 2003 and they taught me how to eat and deal with my emotional eating, finding a new coping method in exercise.  I will always believe they have the best, most effective weight loss program for the average person.  It works, and if it doesn't work for you, that's cause you weren't in the right place.  When I head to that meeting, I may just join again, if I am in the right place then.

Riding the big wheel!

When I was a kid I had a big wheel that I LOVED (actually I had two - I broke the first one doing wheelies in the street).  I rode that sucker all over like the kid in the Shining.  But my adult biking has been all about skinny tires.  Fast, nimble, looking all european and stuff.  Well - like olga from the old country.  Thats still European!  Don't judge! I rode a mountain bike to work and honestly I don't know what to make of it.  My hands were in the wrong place, it was all bouncy and moved more like a tractor.  My instincts told me to crash thru potholes and over branches which I did.  I normally squeal like a girl when that happens on my road bike, waiting for certain death, but over I went.  It was cool and different, but a little uncomfortable.  Maybe its the bike, or the saddle, or the fact that I rode in shorts and converse cause that's what you do when you commute to work.  I also had a HUGE backpack on my back and the button on my shorts was somewhere lodged in my kidneys from bending over. (it's starting to sound less like the bike and more like rider huh?).

But what it was was a great exercise in seeing what it feels like the first time.  How it feels weird to shift on a different groupset and use disc brakes.   Now the real test is taking it on some bonafide dirt and not just road debris.  This time I will even put on chamois shorts and maybe put on a tutu or a flying squirrel.  I hear that mountain bikers do crazy stuff like that.  Stay tuned!

it's all coming back to me....

So as I built out this store the main thing that suffered was my *mostly* healthy lifestyle.  For 13 years - after recovering from cancer the first time - I made a deal with myself that I would get healthy.  I had a ton of weight to lose and I was living basically a sedentary life.  I totally turned that around, changing my eating habits and exercising six days a week.  I kept that up, pretty much faithfully until August 15th of this year, when I started building out the store.  In an effort to keep costs down, I did all of the store construction with my own two hands.  Bike riding turned to tile removal and painting.  Clean eating was replaced with Al's pizza and 7-eleven late night slurpees, the only food in the center for dinner.  I actually LOST five pounds but felt unhealthy.  Like I was dragging.  I tried to put myself back on a training schedule but I couldn't do it and open the store on time.  There simply weren't enough hours in the day.

Now that the store is open, there are no more excuses.  Plus I have group rides to lead and that pesky 40 pounds to lose (y'all feel better about the 15 you are carrying now don't you?!).  Yesterday I hit up a spin class, today I went and bought food to keep at work so I could eat healthily once again, and I started tracking on weight watchers.  I also hit the trainer for an hour and have my bike ready to go for a spin in the morning.

My point is that we all fall down when it comes to fitness or weight loss.  It's part of the game and it's never "easy" or "done".  Once you commit to a healthy lifestyle it will always be work.  But its a pretty rewarding job to have.

We are open for business!

Hello all! Just a quick note to let you know that The Unlikely Cyclist - the store is open for business!!!

Sorry I didn't quite get the website up and running for today, but I am working on it and it should be live in a few days.

In the meantime - the store is located at 1673 Irvine Ave Space L - Costa Mesa, 92626.  At 17th and Irvine across the street from Kean in the 7 Eleven Mini Mall.  I am tucked down at the end, but easy to find.

All our product is in - Bianchi bikes, volagi bikes.  Clothing from Giordana, Hincapie, Terry, Sugoi, Sheila Moon, Canari, Road Holland and GORE.  Shoes from Giro and Fizi:k and helmets from Giro, Uvex and Lazer.  In house service provided by Fresh Bikes for all your service needs!

We offer an extensive test saddle program......a "ride it before you buy it" program where you can bring your bike in to test out shorts in the saddle....and a "shrink to fit" program. If you buy a jersey from us and lose weight/inches and need a smaller size, bring in the jersey and we will give you 50% off a jersey of equal or lesser value.

We will have events every other Thursday at 630pm....coming up:

- November 1st is a trunk show with Active Angelz.  A fantastic line we will be carrying in the spring.

- November 15th will be a hands-on flat clinic

- November 29th is Bike Fits with Fresh Bikes.  Bike fits just $29 that night!  First come first served with reservations.  Please visit my Facebook page----events  to rsvp for a spot.  Or call the store at (949) 566-5202.

Lots of great things in store for you!  Hope you will come along for the ride!

sneak peek at what's ahead!!!

I have returned from my foray to nor cal and my annual pilgrimage to do the Levi Leiphimer Gran Fondo.  Let's just say it was not as successful as I hoped, but I am still very proud of not taking the easy road out and doing a shorter route than I signed up for. I registered for the gran with 108 miles and almost 10K of climbing.  But my training wasn't there and though I made the first timed cut off, and up two big ascents on King Ridge Road, I ran out of time and water stations were closing.  I turned back and was picked up by a sag vehicle.  The sad thing is that I wasnt tired or sore at all after 42 miles and I know that if I had just had more time I could have made it.  Even though King Ridge was like GMR and Vista Ridge had some evil baby.  Steeeep and long and it was 95 up on the mountain.  Enough said.  I still had a celebratory beer after.  No fear. Back to the task at hand....THE SHOP!  It's in the final stages and we will be opening on Friday October 12th with a grand opening celebration all weekend long.  Prizes, goodies, that sort of thing.  I am partnering with the Beach Cities Women's Cyclists and we will be holding a beginner's ride starting at the shop at 830am.  Just an easy 13mile loop around the back bay and then back to the shop for Kean coffee and a light breakfast.  This is a no drop - no pressure ride. Even if you are a more advanced rider, but want to help some new cyclists out, please, come along for the ride!   This is just the first of many shop rides and we will have intermediate and advanced rides.  Stay tuned.

A couple programs you might want to check out at the store:

- "Try it before you buy it": we all know that how cycling clothes LOOK and how they feel whilst riding are two different things.  I am setting up a trainer and encourage you to bring your bike (or use one of mine) to take your shorts/bibs/jerseys out for a little test spin.  A couple of pedal strokes will tell you whether those shorts are gonna ride up to where the sun don't shine.  Everybody is different, so take advantage.  Just don't break a sweat!

- "Shrink to fit": I cater to women of all sizes in the shop (xs-3X), but sometimes we use cycling for fitness and weight loss.  And lets be honest...we didn't pick the cheapest sport! Good clothing costs good money.  So what to do when you lose weight and need a smaller jersey?  If you buy a jersey from us, and drop down a size, you give me back that jersey and I will give 50% off a jersey of equal or lesser value in that smaller size.  Maybe we can have a "wall of fame" or donate those jerseys to new riders.

- I will be providing full service at the shop and two lines of bikes in women's sizes (44-55) in the store:  Bianchi Dama Bianca line as well as Volagi bikes.  They are GORGEOUS, fantastic bikes.  There will be a full price range of bikes, aluminum and carbon, and even a hybrid thrown in there.  I would not sell what I would not ride, and I love these bikes.

 I can't say enough good things about this Volagi Dura-Ace we will be stocking.  I rode it over the weekend.  Amazing.  It will be in the shop.  I purposefully DIDN'T order it in my size.

As far as clothing goes...xs-3X with brands such as GORE, Giordana, Sheila Moon, Terry, Road Holland, Sugoi, Canari, Hincapie. For the spring: shebeest (Heck ya!  Its coming back!), Maloja, Active Angelz.  Socks from swiftwick, shoes and helmets from Giro, Shimano and Uvex.  Nutrition from skratch labs, first endurance, Honey stinger, and clif.  The list goes on an on.

Last but not least...I am excited to share our first "special event" with you!

On November 1st at 630pm Andi Neugarten will be in the store to introduce her new line of beautiful women's specific active wear.  Cycling and tri clothing.  I saw the line at inter bike and it is beautifully made and designed clothing that is very flattering and different.  I will be stocking the line when it drops in the spring but this is your chance to take a sneak peek at it, try it on, and talk with Andi about her vision.  I am happy to support this  woman-owned business and know you will love the product.  You can see their designs here.  Adult beverages and refreshments will be provided.  Please RSVP for the event on The Unlikely Cyclist facebook page here

I want to be the source for women cyclists in this area.  No more women in men's clothing.  No more intimidation or feeling of shame to get on a bike.  All women can ride.  Are you up for the challenge?

The Unlikely Cyclist opens Friday 10/12 at 11am at 1763 Irvine Ave, Space L.  Across the street from Kean coffee in the 7 eleven mini mall.  Yes, you can ride and get your slurpee on too.

The webstore will open (hopefully) the same day as the shop.  Store hours: Tues-Friday 11-630, Saturday 10-5, Sunday 11-4.  Closed on Mondays.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter here


Interbike 2012!

So in case I haven't mentioned it a 1000 times - this week was Interbike - the cycling industries yearly convention.  This was my first time here and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually know a little about a lot.  The past two months have been meeting after meeting with sales reps figuring out what I want to carry in the shop.  Its a constantly evolving lineup.  Initially it was on-line only...then a brick and mortar...first a clothing boutique...then a true bike shop in all senses of the word.  I feel confident in the direction I am headed and hope that y'all like what I have picked out. Interbike afforded me the opportunity to actually see, touch and use many of the products I had been considering.  This was so invaluable as things are just NOT the same online or in a catalog.  This really drove home to me the reason that distributors basically required me to be a "brick and mortar" store.  You just can not fully appreciate these products without seeing them in your hands and trying them out.

Being here surrounded by the things (and people) that I love and admire was amazing.  And the ability to come in and support a smaller manufacturer or supplier is something that is near and dear to my heart. In many ways the biking industry still has a sense of artistry about it.

Some of my high points.....

Artcrank - just amazing to see this gallery of art.  I have followed and admired Artcrank from afar for a long time and was privileged to not only meet Charles, the man behind it, but also to purchase a piece of art for the shop.  I look forward to the upcoming show in LA.

surly - great steel bikes and eccentric employees that love them.  No pretentiousness about having to qualify to sell their stuff. You like it and want to sell it?  We have the confidence that you can and will.  Plus there was some weird fox taxidermy and a sales rep that happened to be carrying a hunting knife.  Minneapolis company of course.  I need to move there.  I wish the weather just wasn't so shitty for 5 months of the year.

twin six - I love this line of clothing - another favorite thing out of minneapolis.

shebeest - the return of one of my favorite lines of women's cycling apparel happens this spring.  The styles are much the same, the patterns and colors are great.  The clothing is classic, at great price points and accessible to all women.  This is one of the few lines that always had plus size offerings in their lines, and that is so important to me.

The shimano tech guys - I am planning on upgrading my road bike to DI2.  Now - I know how to wrench in a very basic fashion, and can follow directions well, but a tech guy basically walked me through the steps of Di2 installation on a very busy sales floor.  He gave me his time and skills and I was so appreciative.

Seeing - if not meeting - some of the people I most admire in the business and bike blogging world.  Charles from artcrank, Robin from Pedal Chic, Sarai from girlbikelove.  I never got to see bike shop girl, but hopefully next year.

This list could go on and on (George Hincapie - in person!) but I feel so much more a part of this business now.  Of course there was the usual "boy's club" from some vendors, but I will do as I always did and vote with my dollars.  If you don't have time to respect women's cycling - I have no money for you.  Even if you are one of the biggest brands in the industry.

So - after two days and a slight case of the Vegas flu, tomorrow I head home.  I have a shop to open.

to sharrow or not to sharrow

Yesterday a young female cyclist was killed here in Newport Beach.  She was on a corner I am frequently on when she was knocked off her bike and run over by a truck.  She was killed instantly.  I didn't know her, but even still my heart aches for losing yet another member of our cycling community.  This has been far too common of late. What's the cause?  More cyclists on the road?  Distracted drivers texting?  All of those things and more.  We like to think of our community as "bike friendly" but in reality, this is far from the truth.  Our roads are too narrow with too many cars.  Full of tourists looking at the sights and residents impatiently trying to get around them.  I know, for I am guilty of this myself.

One of the solution cyclists want is the painting of "sharrows" on our busiest roadways.  I am torn on this.  As a roadie I know I have the right to ride on any road.  But that doesn't mean I do it.  Truth be told, if there is a back way on a less traveled road or a bike path to take me there, I typically am on it.  Sometimes this isn't the most challenging route, and I have to deal with dogs and runners and HORSES (in Newport!).  But I still feel safest there.  When I do venture out to PCH, the fact that I am riding my bike on a freeway is not lost on me, no matter how perfect the view.

Sharrows may work, and may help to prevent some of the tragic accidents seen lately, but is it a vicious cycle?  Is frustrating impatient drivers the solution to to problem? And will this help or hurt the position of cyclists in our community?  That remains to be seen.



custom kit frustrations...

Well the store construction is almost done and I am deep in the heart of ordering opening inventory.  In case you didn't know, I am committed to serving all segments of women roadies - and that means the plus market (Athena pride!) as well.  I have sought out those lines that carry plus sizes and even convinced one company to make them for me. Now I am moving on to getting the shop kits made.  I have found three great companies that custom kits in "plus" sizes, but I keep running into the same problems: Jerseys go up in size but shorts don't and the sizing in these kits are definitively "euro".  This means that even though they size up to 5XL in women's - in reality this is somewhere between a 1X and 2X.  What 1X women wants to wear a jersey that says 5X on it, even if it fits perfectly?  This is so frustrating.  While I am delighted I can find some that size in the range I am looking for, this leaves my 3X Athenas out in the cold.

I haven't given up!  I am still looking but the choices are getting slim.

On a personal note - my training has gone to s***t in the wake of opening this store - aside from my first and very successful trip up GMR with the clydes/athena forum group.  Never has a group ride been so much pleasure for me.  Encouraging and supportive with "my kind" of people, I never felt more accepted and comfortable on the bike as I did that day.  And it showed in my riding.  I felt like I floated up that mountain.  SO -  I have re-committed to 6 days a week riding and rode 30 miles on Sunday, took Monday off (well, it was recovery day after all lol) and will ride tomorrow.  I got into this game because I ADORE the sport.  I can't forget how to do it!  I figure if I get 4 of those 6 in, that's better than nothing.  Now if I could only figure out how to get STRAVA to record all the painting I have been doing.

did you know there is a National Women's Bicycling Summit?!

Doesn't that sound amazing?  And better yet - it's true!  It's happening right up the road from me in Long Beach on September 13th. While researching things for the store I came across this and figured it was right up my alley.  Focusing on putting more women on bikes, addressing things women care about like family biking, getting more women involved in the sport, social/political awareness for women's cycling just to name a few.  The speakers at the event are leaders in our community (including - but not limited to pro-cyclist and olympic medalist Dotsie Bausch - one of my heroes.  I often see Dotsie riding in my hood.  She blows by me like I am standing still lol).

So - I will be there - and if you are a woman cyclist, and care about our community, I highly recommend you attending as well.  Here is the link to their page

A little update on the shop....carpet is being installed today and construction continues.  It's finally starting to look like a place I would like to go to.  I am working on some exciting lines for you ladies but some that are on board already....Terry....Sheila Moon...Giordana...Twin Six...Gore...SheBeest (for the spring!)...Canari...Road Holland and many more!  I am carrying all sizes xs-3X as available and want to make all women cyclists of all sizes and abilities excel in the sport.

The Unlikely Cyclist is set to open the first weekend in October in Costa Mesa, CA.

nothin's gonna knock this girl down

Ugh - I just realized that it's been almost a month since my last post.  Shameful.  But I don't know where the time has gone.  It's been quite the few weeks.  In one week my cat was killed by a coyote, I had to go to the mayo clinic for my annual "Do you have cancer again" check up and....I was laid off.  From a job I have had for 17 years.  Not that I didn't know it was coming sometime soon, the company has been in decline for a couple years but still. So...this is supposed to be about cycling right?  Not a Lisa pity party?  Well my is.  Not in the riding sense because I have been so busy I haven't been doing much of that.  But..THE UNLIKELY CYCLIST is coming to life as a women's cycling boutique!

Getting laid off forced me to make some life changes and I decided to go for what had been a dream for me for a long time.  I have often wondered how I could be part of the process of getting more women on bikes.  To make them comfortable in the sport - and I have decided to take a pro-active stance.

I am not a big believer in that whole "God's plan" thing, but I have to say that all the elements fell into place for me.  I found a great little store for rent in Costa Mesa, only 10 minutes from my house, negotiated a killer lease and got to work.  Pulling up tile, painting, making it pretty.  Work that will take me until the beginning of October.  Writing business plans, contacting distributors and reps and making my way into this industry.

Its a work in progress - but I hope you come along for the ride.

The Unlikely Cyclist will open the first weekend in October at 17th and Irvine across the street from Kean coffee in Costa Mesa, CA.

here come the ladies!

As I sit here watching the olympic mens road race, it is acutally tomorrow morning that I am most excited about....WOMEN'S CYCLING!!!  ON NBC!!!  Praise athena-I can't believe it.  I have never actually seen a women's profesional race on television!  Yes - technically this isn't a "professional" race, but it's good enough for me. I adore women's cycling.  I eat up the footage I can find on the web.  I follow the riders on STRAVA (yes - I am stalking you Clara and Ina).  And now I am just so excited to see them ride through the English countryside.  They inspire me.  They make me want to be a better rider.  And that's saying a lot.

My favorite story on the American side is Evelyn Stevens.  An investment banker in NYC - she took to cycling after riding an old beater bike in central park.  Fellow riders started noticing how fast this girl was and encouraged her to pursue her God-given talents.  She eventually quit her "real" job in order to become a professional cyclist.  And that was only 4 years ago.  No cycling background, no professional coaching and BAM she was on HTC highroad.  I can't wait to cheer her on.

So please - watch the women's road race tomorrow and then encourage your daughters to get on their bikes.  Help the junior programs at their local bike shop.  Give your old bike to a young lady you think has talent.  You never know - you might just get a thank you from an olympic podium one day.

I think I can....I think I can...

Well my friends, the time has come for me to commit and get my self in gear for the two races I signed up for - the Amtrak Century and the Levi Leipheimer Gran Fondo.  Not that I haven't been riding.  I have.  But I like to think of myself as a "tootler".  I tootle around the back bay and snap a few pics.  I tootle up Newport Coast and stop for a cup of coffee at the top.  I mean - this is what I am supposed to do right?  Enjoy the ride?  The problem is that with a 100 mile ride less than two months away, I haven't ridden more than 45 miles at one time in a year.  That's not good.  Truthfully I have been climbing.  Trying to not stop halfway up those hills and not use the granny gear ALL the time. And what I really want to know is - am I the only person that really doesn't get going on their bike for almost an hour?!  Like literally, it can be painful for that first hour.  Sometimes I wave the white flag at 15 miles.   Are age and infirmity setting in?!  I mean - I am 42 this year.  The age at which you start to hear people dropping dead of heart attacks.   I first met my in-laws when they were in their early forties and I thought they were so OLD.  Ha!  This is God punishing me for that obviously.

So - if you see a fat, old lady spinning her little granny gear up Ridgeline, muttering to herself, give her a thumbs up.  Maybe even a little push.  And remind her that she still needs to ride another 40 miles.

vive le reve!!

Like many roadies (or "cycling enthusiast"s if you want to get technical) I live for the Tour de France every year.  I avoid anywhere I may see spoiler results and I never miss a stage.  But like many things in this sport - why are there no girls in the Tour? Proving that girls can, in fact, ride the very same routes that the boys can - I have been following the Reve.  The dream.  Six amateur women cyclists who are riding the stages the days before the boys.

They are on STRAVA if you want to see the details, and they have a great blog.  Please help support these lovely ladies on their journey with kudos and well wishes.

You can find their blog here


Now - I have never been a competitive girl when it comes to sports.  I was always the "GREAT JOB passing me on that hill!  WOO HOO!" girl.  Really.  No cynicism.  My skills on the bike are fair to middling at best and I know it. But then...I found STRAVA.  I started uploading my rides (see my past blog post to note that I once went 6 months before I checked my Garmin) and all of a sudden started getting little medals.  And a little trophy for 7th place.  I blogged about that.  And I was SO proud.  What you didn't know dear readers is that I also achieved one QOM status.  University to PCH.  Which is basically my house to Bike Religion.  Probably late for a group ride hauling ass.  When awarded this QOM I wasn't acutally sure I had earned it.  Maybe I had DRIVEN my bike to the shop and forgot to turn off my garmin?  But no...there I was.  I was 1st and 3rd no less.

I kept it a secret.  Besides, no one follows me on STRAVA so it was my own private joy.  Until tonight:  Uh oh! Rachel Kerber just stole your QOM!

Hey Lisa,

You just lost your QOM on University to PCH to Rachel Kerber by 2 minutes 19 seconds.

Now get out there, have fun and be safe.

-Your friends at Strava

She beat me.  By about 10%.  That B**** is going down.  Stay tuned.

what will you gain when you lose?

Sitting here watching the olympic trials I was flabbergasted to see a commercial for a certain unnamed breakfast cereal whose advertising campaign consisted of women (women ONLY - at least in this one) standing on a scale in times square to weigh themselves and seeing the word “CONFIDENCE!” “PIZAZZ!” appear on the scale. I am sure this is supposed to be encouraging, but what the hell is going on here? This commercial basically says that the only way you will achieve personal emotional satisfaction is through eating their cereal and losing weight (in a very unhealthy manner I must say). Why is there such self hatred among people about their size? And why do they need a cereal commercial to perpetuate that? Now - before you get all uppity about how I am always on a diet - which I am - I would hope that if you ask the people that know me, I have never had a lack of self confidence because of my size. My desire to lose weight purely has to do with wanting to be a better athlete and to be a healthier person. Never because I hated the way that I looked. I don’t. I want to be able to climb and ride fast and win little trophies on strava. To get off my bike and not hurt in every joint. I know that my weight holds me back, but I also know what got me here was me. Yes, I have genetics and health issues to deal with, but I also like cupcakes more than I should. I have given up many things for my bike - time, money, vodka - to name a few. But if I didn’t ride, would I record my weight every morning? Probably not. The hubby was reading this to me the other day Scroll down to charts 7&8. What you will find is that the sex drive and confidence levels of “curvy” women is is higher than that of women that called themselves “skinny”. (Curvy is a word that cracks me up - women not being able to say Fat is a whole other blog post). All of the women in that commercial were far from “curvy”. Average to thin in reality. But what that commercial really tells us is that we can’t be happy until we lose weight. And THAT is where we go wrong. I am not advocating obesity. At all. I know how differently your body feels when you are overweight. How your weight can physically hold you back. Never settle for not feeling good, but please don’t hate yourself. It’s a vicious cycle. Lose weight because you want to feel better, but not because you believe it will make you a better person, find a job, a husband or the dream life you imagine. That’s just what the media tells us.