How to (not) ride like a girl

What does it mean to “ride like a girl?” Does this suggest women should embrace girly stereotypes like pink bike baskets, wearing skorts, or riding cruiser/comfort bikes? Or is it just an easy excuse to lag behind our male counterparts on hills? Whether these stereotypes are facilitated by the bike industry or by the women (and their male companions) who ride, some female specific cycling myths need to be busted. Let’s leave the pink cruiser discussion for another day and address a few common assumptions that derail even the most serious riders.

Myth #1 I can’t climb without a granny gear

My first road bike was a triple with a granny gear. When I upgraded to a compact double crankset, I quickly realized that riding uphill with granny is like riding the trainer: It’s all about going nowhere fast. I’m not advocating for standard gearing for everyone, as those with knee problems might do best with a low impact granny. But I’m betting that most women could easily handle a compact double. Here’s why. Continue reading

Speak up for women specific bikes

Do you ride a women specific bike? I never thought much of the idea until I developed some serious knee and IT band pain while training for a century on my first road bike. My knee was treated by a physical therapist as I continued to train. But by the end of the century, I was nearly limping I was in such a world of hurt.

I tried a women specific road bike and was blown away by how much of a difference the shorter top tube made. At that moment I was sold, and my knee pain is gone.

Now is your chance to speak up for bikes designed to fit our own unique bodies. Trek Women is requesting feedback from female mountain bikers. Take this opportunity to tell them what you think of current women specific gear and what you wish to see more of. Plus they’ve got a chance to win some prizes.

Take the survey

On trial: Going gluten free

At nearly 30 years old, I can happily say that I’ve never been on a diet. Sure I’ve watched my portions and ramped up the exercise when my muffin sprouted a top or when the junk suddenly landed in my trunk. But I’ve never turned to Atkins or grapefruit for a quick fix.

Needless to say, I was a little suspicious when the acupuncturist I was seeing for leg pain suggested I try an elimination diet. I had mentioned that I often experienced stomach pain and bloating, something I had chalked up to lactose intolerance. She explained that this wasn’t a diet specific to weight loss, but a way to identify food allergies. The diet was simple: remove all possible food allergens and then slowly reintroduce them. This also gave the stomach time to heal, encouraged good bacteria to regenerate, and provided a break from food that was inflammatory to the immune system. Continue reading

Recipe: Spicy turkey chili

I can still vividly remember my first metric century. Not so much the riding part, as the I’ll-eat-anything-at-arm’s-length call sent from my rumbling stomach at mile 50. It was a desperate plea for calories, and even the fumes from a nearby McDonald’s had me salivating like a dog.

Since that ride, I’ve learned to eat more mid-pedal and to slip some protein into my back pocket. But I still live for the post-ride barbecue or diner stop. Continue reading

Pedal forward, look back

Shortly after Christmas, we had a wonderful surprise— a foot of snow! Wonderful because, sitting next to the front door was a pair of new cross country skis. I removed the giant red bow, then promptly hit the snow.

Then, as if Mother Nature knew exactly how long it took my quads to recover from such a beating, later in the week we enjoyed a few days of 45+ degree weather.

We took advantage and celebrated the end of 2010 by revisiting some of our favorite summer dirt roads. I absolutely love riding in the mud. It calls to the mountain biker in me and to the child who used to ride her bike around the backyard, hitting every puddle. Continue reading