Sunday, December 8, 2013

I Moved!

I hope you'll come visit at my new address,

If you follow this blog, please update your links and bookmarks. 

And thanks for reading!

Race Report: Racers and Chasers Winter XC Series #1

Balboa Park is home to Ninja Mountain Bike Skills clinics and the famous Tuesday Night Workouts led by USAC Coach Richard La China, so it's no wonder the newly minted TEAM NINJA was out in such good force.

Richard La China Photo
And check out our home base pop-up tent! Thanks to all the Ninjas who came to cheer each other on and show off those black and pink jerseys. It was really exciting to see all those great results. Special congrats to Aaron Hauck who won his category AND the overall fastest time.

And speaking of results, I didn't have a bad day out there considering this event is a bit of an anomaly in the training schedule. Nothing like throwing in a race at the last minute to shake up base miles. As you can see from the photo, the weather was a bit unpredictable today so maybe that kept the ladies away but overall, I was a little disappointed in the female turn out, weather or not. Bea Dormoy and I had the expert category all to ourselves, and we were lonely.

Bea leads it out. Gerhard Gross photo.
The start was kind of funny -- I didn't realize we were starting with the men but in hindsight that probably should have been obvious. So I was off the back from the beginning, but quickly made up some ground and hopped into a pretty blue train of dudes in the expert category.

The lesson today: If you find yourself in a moving train, stay in the train. Don't try to do your part to push the pace, like I did, and then get blown out the back, like I did. Oh well, c'est la vie. They dropped me on a climb and as I watched my HR soar into zone "6" I was happy to them go.

I spent the rest of the race mostly alone, except for fellow Ninjas hollering from the sidelines. Had every kind of weather, including a good soaking for my final lap. Also finally discovered what everyone down here is talking about when they say "Pershings" -- the name of a lovely long climb out of each of the five laps on the menu today.

Gerhard and my teammates were waiting at the end in great spirits despite being cold and wet -- such a nice way to end the race. And I got to stand on the box with Bea so that was also a plus. Thanks Racers and Chasers for a fun event to benefit high school mountain bikers. Thanks Gerhard and all the Ninjas for making racing that much more fun.

The entire women's field in Expert class! Bea Dormoy and Me.  RLC Photo. 
Team Ninja's Ryan Brown and Aaron Hauck. Noel Tabor Photo. 

(And thanks in advance to whoever finds my Road ID Bracelet, which I think I dropped at the start area, or maybe by the podium.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


An Interview With Head Coach Steve Stuart
Cow Pie Classic, 2013 - Photo by Phil Beckman, PB Creative

By Kristen Gross

“High school athletics, in my opinion, is probably the most fun a kid’s ever going to have in sports,” said Steve Stuart, who has taught at El Camino High School in Oceanside the past 25 years, and now coaches its newest team: mountain biking.

A former physics teacher, Steve is now an educator in the physical education department. Knowing his history of coaching in the water swimming and water polo I asked Steve what drew him to the “dirt side.” He answered passionately on the benefits of mountain biking both for the athletes and their coaches.

“I wanted to do something with the kids that gets them outside, and keeps them active for a lifetime. This is still a relatively new sport, it’s a lot of fun, and one that I can participate in when I’m coaching,” he said with the hint of a smile. “Someone has to go out and ride with the kids.”

Steve’s own mountain biking experience goes back to the80s, almost to the sport’s birth. In college, he worked at a trade show where one of the first off-road bikes was on display: the “Mountain Goat.” “In 1981, I was a part-time event attendant at Long Beach Convention Center while going to Cal State Long Beach. One evening I was on the cleanup crew at the Long Beach Bike show. I walked into the exhibit hall and for the first time at my job there, I didn't get a lot of work done. I remember staring at the Mountain Goat bicycle and thinking ‘Wow! What can you do with that? Would that be fun or what?’ Of course it was 11 p.m. at night and nobody was there to answer my questions except the security guard.”

Today’s bikes have come a long way, but for many kids they are still just shiny objects of desire, rather than attainment. The cost of even a used mountain bike is a barrier to access for students. That’s why Steve’s primary focus for the growing team is to track down support in the form of loaner bikes. “We want to introduce the sport to as many kids as we can,” said Steve. “If they come out for a season, and they love it, they’ll find a way to save up for a bike of their own – but until then, we could use a little help.”

So far, the team’s roster includes a young woman ready to race, and a Chinese exchange student looking to experience all he can while he’s here. There are some BMX racers interested and even some members of the wrestling team are thinking about committing later in the season, once their bouts are wrapped up.

Though the team has already started training together, the official race season starts in February and goes through the end of April, or the second week of May if a racer qualifies for the State Championships to be held in NorCal.

The El Camino High School team is part of the SoCal High School Mountain Bike League. Every school competing is set up as a “club” but the league has hopes to become as ubiquitous as traditional sports like football, baseball and basketball have been.

The League, governed by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), is working to encourage participation, especially for female riders. Points are awarded to every rider who finishes the race so no matter where an athlete places, they’re contributing to their team’s point total. The girls’ points are weighted even more heavily. “Basically the point system is set up to encourage lots of riders, not just the best riders. And it’s also set up to encourage girls. It’s very difficult for a team to be a top contender unless you have girls racing,” said Steve.

Most teams do two to four workouts together a week. Parents are also tremendously involved, helping to make sure bikes and riders get to school for practices, home again, then of course weekend rides.

But races are the biggest commitment for parents and volunteers. They help out with set up, tear down and course marking. They volunteer in the pit, to direct traffic or supervise the athletes. Events run five or six weekends, sometimes in the middle of nowhere, sometimes in a county park.

One could interpret it as pretty challenging stuff, but Steve easily lays out the benefits: it’s a chance to help out, give some kids a meaningful experience, ride some new terrain with the athletes, make new friends and spend the weekend camping, enjoying the outdoors.

“High school mountain biking is truly family oriented which is something I really like,” explains Steve. “My son played volleyball so as parents, we’d go up to Anaheim and hang out in a gym I-don’t-know-how many times a year. We got to know the other parents pretty well, and we got along really well but with mountain biking it’s even more. They’ll have a blow up screen to show movies, bonfires and a festive, fun atmosphere the stuff memories are made of. We’re outside, camping, having a really fun time.”

The team is supported by eight volunteer coaches some are teachers at the school, some are experienced mountain bike coaches and all are excited to give back to the sport they love by helping to introduce it to the next generation of riders. Mountain biking teaches friendship, leadership, believing in yourself and surprising yourself. It comes with obvious health benefits, respect for the outdoors and a deeper sense of connection to it and of course, a lot of fun.

“I coached swimming and I was very competitive,” said Steve. “At the same time, as I get older, I realize, you know what? There’s one winner. And there are a whole lot of people who work just as hard, who don’t win. So you’d better enjoy the sport you’re in.”

The team is looking for help and is always open to donations of used bicycles, or the time of volunteers. The priority is to lower the barriers of access and to spread the word that El Camino High School has got a new mountain bike team with room for lots of members to get involved. For the kids, the mountain bike can be a tool for independence and discovery. And when they’re adults, it will be there to remind them of how it feels to be a kid. 

“Being out there, cruising through the trees and the bushes is very therapeutic,” said Steve. Before we finished our chat, I asked him what mountain biking has taught him for life:  “Learn to roll with it,” he laughed. “Any kid that comes out, who’s willing to put in the time, we’re going to find a way to get them on the team,” he continues. “We don’t want to deny any kid the experience, and lifelong enjoyment of mountain biking.”

Monday, November 4, 2013

RACE TRACKS: Maybe You're Right

If you've known me awhile, you may have been a reader of an old blog I kept from my days as a 20-something ex-pat living in Maastricht, NL. There I met three ladies who made the time away fly by. They called us "the team" wherever we went and we were inseparable. Still in touch thanks to the wonders of Facebook and Twitter it's been amazing to watch where we've all ended up since those last summer days in Europe.

In particular, for this post, I want to shout out to Cam who I remember always had her guitar nearby, a tune on her tongue and wistfully talked about forgetting about all this psychology major stuff and chasing her dream to be a singer-songwriter. We of course supported this idea (you would too if you'd been there, sipping Moroccan mint tea with us, listening to her learn the guitar in exponential leaps and bounds while crooning away with her choir-girl talents).

Cam and I had a little reunion when she was in L.A. not too long ago. I went up to see her and the band she's playing with. She's based in Nashville now and there's an album in the works. This entry in the "Race Track" category has Miley Cyrus's voice and name all over it, but look again at the liner notes and guess whose name you'll see with a big beautiful writers' credit: Camaron Ochs.

I think that's a name you should learn!

Connect with Cam and check out her bandcamp below:

(PS - I bought the Miley Cyrus album -- something I wouldn't normally think to do -- to support Cam and now I can't stop listening to it. Love the whole thing. Not even sorry.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Model for a Day

Took a trip to the future with Canari Cyclewear this week, helping them showcase the Fall 2014 collection for their catalog. So keep your eyes peeled for my mug wearing a variety of very nice tights, knickers, jackets and long-sleeved jerseys.

Thanks to Erik and Corbett at Canari for the call, and for being so nice about it when I fell off my bike in your photo-worthy threads not once, but twice. 

Hopefully that's the only hitch and everything else about the shoot was as productive as planned. Looking forward to the results! Here are some shots from behind the scenes: 

Think Pink! Jersey and Knickers available Fall 2014. Helmet courtesy of Rudy Project.
Got the party shoes on my girl for her big day (courtesy of Reynolds Cycling). And of course, thanks to Focus Bikes for my red and black beauty.
"What's that in metres?"

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Does Your Bike Fit?

Lasers and Focus with Aaron Hauck of Inner Strength Fitt Lab 

I mean really fit.

Because let me tell you, there's a lot more to it than a couple measurements and turns of the allen keys.

I haven't had a fit in a few years, and with a nagging pain in my left knee I thought it would be best to call in the pros. After listening to Aaron passionately discuss saddle heights and pedal mechanics at the weekly Fiesta Island workouts, I picked up the phone.

We set up an appointment and down the rabbit hole I went. Here's what you need to know if a fit is in your future:

  • Aaron suggested wearing a good cycling kit. Do this. Here's why: 
    • Before you even get on the bike, Aaron spends about an hour with you testing your strength, flexibility and skeletal structure -- best to be comfortable while you're doing one-legged squats and hip bridges
    • Your seat height is about to get dialled -- even a couple millimetres difference from your favorite chamois to the one you wore out and should have thrown away ten rides ago can make a difference. 
    • You're going to be riding. I don't mean spinning, I mean he'll say, let's see you at "RPE 6."
    • This is pretty much the worst time to forget your cycling shoes. 
  • If you have two bikes, bring both. 
    • Although I'm a mtb racer and lover, I do spend a lot of time on my road bike -- having them both set up at the same time just makes sense. 
    • But if you can only bring one, make it your road bike. We sit in one position a lot more frequently on our road bikes so better make it a good one. 
    • If you bring two bikes, bring both sets of shoes! 
  • LASERS!! 
    • In case you're worried about how *exact* Aaron is, you should know he uses lasers and he's not satisfied until your knee is tracking with laser-accuracy. 
  • New Stuff
    • If you have new pedals, or a new bar or stem, get it on the bike before you come to the fit -- you won't want to be messing with things afterwards 
    • Similarly, be prepared to take down a list in case you need to pick up a new stem or pedals or handlebar. E.g. did you know that pedals have a widely varying range of spindle lengths?! It's the number-one suspect for my knee problem! 
  • There's more to fit than fit ....
    • I had no idea but this whole time, I was pedalling in a way that wasted a bunch of power
    • Aaron showed me how to maximize my strengths and get 100% out of every pedal stroke
    • We practiced on the trainer, and we practiced on the road too .... which brings me to:
  • Bring your helmet! 
    • I didn't bring one since I naively thought I'd be sitting on a trainer all afternoon. Hopefully this post will help you not make the same mistake. 
So in sum, going to an appointment for your bike fit is a fun-filled afternoon of medium sweating, moving around, riding indoors and out. Be prepared. For example, I was all of a sudden wishing I'd waited to do my intervals AFTER the appointment because even the small amount of soreness I was carrying was distracting when Aaron asked me how things were feeling. I wanted to be able to better isolate what was a problem, and what just needed a little stretching. 

In the days since, I've been working on that proper pedalling and body position Aaron taught me. Things are settling in, I'm starting to feel pretty darn good, and Aaron has already texted me twice to check in with how things are going. You see, I also learned a proper fit is not a one time thing. It takes a little tweaking and refining to get truly dialled in. I have really appreciated Aaron's attentiveness, dedication and his clearly-demonstrated love of what he does and how he helps his clients. 

You can find out more about Aaron and Inner Strength Fitt Lab Training Systems here. I highly recommend it!

Friday, October 25, 2013

RACE REPORT: Inaugural Ninja Night Race

Post-race portraits by Matthew Hulet 

October 24, 2013 will go down in history as the night of the very first USAC Sanctioned Night Race. Kudos to the organizers and thanks to the sponsors, it was an awesome time.

I was doing my best to contribute to the set up in some way all afternoon (though apparently my pop-up tent skills need work ...) so I didn't really get a chance to pre-ride the course. With 40 minutes til "go" I hopped on my trusty steed and quickly went over to the second half of the loop where I heard there would be baby heads and water crossings. 

I quickly found myself alone on the trail, in the dark, with a pack of coyotes for company. Oh yeah, important to remember: I'm Scared Of The Dark. And the toothy things in it. 

I pedalled back to the start/finish area at a rate a little higher than "warm up," which by now had a very festive vibe about it. The Tamale guys had arrived and Zumwalt's was providing an awesome neutral support service. They pumped up my tires and threw in a derailleur adjust while they were at it! Thanks guys! 

Chatting on the start line
It's been awhile since I felt in any way racy, but with a pile of base miles under my belt I'm finally starting to feel at least fit again so I was stoked to be on a line. Coach Richard, Ninja Boss, said "Go" and I WENT. 
... disappearing into the night off the start
Had a really fun start, and took the hole shot too. My first time through the single track wasn't pretty but it seemed to be effective as I held the lead until the second half of the first lap. That's when Lisa Hauck went by me. I hopped on her wheel, happy to hide behind her on the open section of the course. She started pulling away and I thought, that's okay, I'll get her ...

Which is a great reminder. In racing, NEVER wait. 

So, Lisa had a great race. She just kept pulling away ... away .... away ... and she was gone. Just a tiny red blinky, teasing me in the distance. (At least I think that was her ....)

For the second lap I just aimed to keep it steady and clean and even managed to stay on the course. By now, the categories were mixing up so I was riding in a constant state of readiness in case the light coming up behind me belonged to another female. With only a few minutes of racing left to go, I was feeling pretty comfortable in second. That's when Amy Comalli got around me. 

Awesome ride for her, but I sure felt that. 

I couldn't let her just have it, so I pushed with whatever I had left after an hour of dust clogging my lungs and my heart setting new records. Turns out it really was hers, but I was delighted to watch her headlight make more than one pass over her shoulder on the lookout for me. 

So I rolled through as the third fastest female of the evening feeling pretty pumped. At the awards, I got a surprise --  I actually WON my category so I got to stand on the top box anyway. Hurray for age groups! Which by the way, if you noticed the podium at the event, each box had the Japanese character for 1, 2 and 3 lit up with lime green cellophane. Pretty jazzy. Results are here.
Surprise! I win, kinda

I won a cool Ninja cup for my efforts, and enjoyed a delicious tamale which was included with each riders' entry fee. I even won a raffle prize --  a giant bag of HEED which I can't have thanks to wheat allergies, so I got the added joy of giving it away to someone else. 

All in all a super fun night. Can't wait for the next one! 

Some Ninjas, standing around. Check out more event photography by Pink Shorts

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bike Touring with Synaptic Cycles and some friendly Electricians

Nice guys on nice bikes. Rest stop in Rancho Santa Fe. Ryan Brown photo.  

Monday, I had the pleasure to meet some of my first Texans, and their friends from Ohio and Kansas. All eight were in town for a conference to do with wiring/electrical work at the local luxury resort, La Costa. Every year the conference goes someplace new, and so every year, this merry peleton rents bikes, hires a guide and tours the local roads and thoroughfares. (It sure beats golf, am I right?!)

This year, those lucky roads were in SoCal, and the lucky guide was me. I was ably assisted by fellow mountain biker Ryan Brown, but we donned our roadie disguises and headed off to meet my old friend Joe (you may remember him from such blog posts as this one) of Synaptic Cycles. He was providing the fleet, which included high-end rides by Volagi, Focus and Calfee.

We headed out towards San Elijo Hills where my electrically-minded crew were quick to point out the lovely copper we have strewn about the hills in the area. My understanding from San Elijo Hills resident, Nick, is that the area was originally based on the mining of copper -- however that quickly ran its course. From there, we continued inland via Elfin Forest Road before stopping for water at famed Swami's rest stop, "The Church of God" -- featuring a potable water faucet in its parking lot.

We rolled into Rancho Santa Fe via the breathtaking Del Dios Hwy, taking in the views of Lake Hodges and marvelling at the increasingly green and lush gardens as we got closer to RSF. One of the most wealthy zip codes in America, they can afford to have water pumped in for such pursuits as golfing, gardening and pretend-orchards (I say pretend because I think most of them exist to bring down the property taxes, rather than out of enthusiasm for lemons and oranges ... they're farmers, dontchaknow).

We rolled out of RSF with Pizza Port in our sights at its original Solana Beach location. It's known for its delicious pizza pies and even better known for its delicious contributions to the hopping (see what I did there?) craft beer scene in San Diego.

Luckily, by this time, the climbs were all finished and we enjoyed a nice little tailwind along the coast, all the way back through Cardiff, downtown Encinitas, Leucadia and then back up alongside the Batiquitos Lagoon to the La Costa resort.

This loop is one of my favourites, so I was really happy to share it with such a fun group of visitors. Word has it that later that night, they became award winners with their conference, so I trust that all in all, it was a good day for Encore Wire and friends.

If you're from out of town and would like to head out on a road ride without the irritation of packing up your bike, give Synaptic Cycles a call and Joe will get you set up. Tell him I sent you :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Arizona: A to Z

The cacti in Arizona made me feel like I was living in a cartoon. I *loved* it. Roadrunners ripping around, and yup, wiley coyotes singing us to sleep every night. I flew to Phoenix on Friday to catch up with Coach Richard et al. We slipped through the darkness outside the city limits to a quiet little campsite at McDowell Mountain Park, home to San Diego Mountain Bike Skills for the weekend.

With bikes all prepped and ready to go, it was off to bed and up with the sunrise to meet our first batch of new Ninjas. My cell phone had spotty reception at best, so rather than lie in bed playing Angry Birds, I poked my head out the camper door to get a look at what the darkness kept secret the night before. The sun was just starting to peek out from behind the mountains and the flatland between me and it was in full magic-hour glory. Cactus sentries stood guard over the neighbouring campsites. Looking west, another range of rocky mountains were lit with that same amazing light. I took a seat quietly at the picnic table and just breathed deeply with nothing in my hands except the cool concrete of the table top, while it seemed like nothing and no one was stirring for miles.

Home sweet home for Crank Cycling and SDMBS in AZ

Once the sun crept out from behind the hills, it was go time. We made breakfast, had a good dose of coffee, got kitted up and then it was off to meet our first group -- an awesome gaggle of girls ready to take their skills to the next level, or convert their roadie leanings to "the dirt side."After a lickety-split lunch break, we had a slightly more basics class and got them all turning and burning in the afternoon sun. I *love* watching how much our riders progress in only a few hours. For a couple of the ladies, I saw an improvement with every try. Once everyone went home for the evening, Coach Burke and I headed over to the "Competitive Track" to check on things before our intermediate, full-day clinic the following day. I tell ya, if you live anywhere near this park, you are a lucky duck. So many great skill-building features packed into a wicked-fun three-mile loop.

Head Coach Sean Burke of Crank Cycling spinning a sunset lap  

Making use of this resource on this particular weekend was the Arizona High School League. 150 racers ready to rip, representing 40 teams from across the state. They had a great set-up and from all the eavesdropping I did, it sounded like they had a great time. Once they'd finished with the course on Sunday afternoon, we brought some more Ninjas over to get their shred on, too. We covered skills like ratcheting, switchbacks, pumping, technical climbs, gnarly drops and finding our flow before sending them smiling out into the world while we broke camp and made for the drive back to San Diego.

Big thank you to Sean and Elaine for sharing their tremendous road-trip set-up with us. I am totally sold on campers these days -- those things are like magic. Thank you also to Sean and Crank Cycling for the amazing coaching support, and to Elaine for keeping us on track, taking photos and saving the day more than once. Big thank you to Coach Richard for having me aboard with San Diego Mountain Bike Skills, for his tireless efforts to spread the joy of mountain biking and for teaching me how to teach others.

I also want to thank all the Ninjas that came out to ride with us!! I loved meeting you, hearing your stories and watching you nail it. Keep practicing, and if you're riding in Arizona, holy smokes, keep hydrated.

Deep breaths at dawn in AZ
Finally, I want to thank my husband Gerhard and my in-laws for holding down the fort while I was away. Thanks for your patience and support this weekend, and always.

It was Canadian Thanksgiving yesterday, so those are just a few of the things I was thankful for this weekend. Could write a whole book to cover my gratitude lately. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Have you heard about prAna?

prAna ambassador Chris Sharma, solo psicobloc (climbing over deep water) in Spain

I hadn't. At least not until I arrived at their back door, here in Carlsbad, California. But the more I learned about prAna, the more they impressed me. Knowing what I know now about how our clothes are made (and who makes them), it's hard for me to reach for anything other than the few pieces I've collected since arriving from this socially minded, environmentally sustainable brand.

They use organic cotton and recycled materials.  They keep track of things like waste water and the health and safety of their workers around the world. Don't take my word for it -- prAna was actually ranked in the top 5 by Free2Work. Free2Work is a group raising awareness about how today’s top brands relate to labor issues. They evaluated 325 apparel brands and awarded prAna an A ranking. 

Not to mention everything looks and feels great. If I'm not in the cyclists' uniform of spandex, I'm in prAna. Here's a little something I wrote about the brand for the YogiTimes

PrAna is North America’s first apparel company to be Fair Trade Certified thanks to its dedication to sustainable business with conscience. An oasis in the active lifestyle marketplace, prAna takes away the guesswork for its customers allowing them to confidently choose yoga, climbing and athletic styles that look great and go easy on the earth. 
Started in 1993 by Beaver Theodosakis and his wife Pam, prAna began as a response by its founders to the excess of the ’80s — a time of fast cars, big hair, and taking it all for granted. Then came the ‘90s, which brought economic recession and a pack of lessons. After a time of personal reflection that included his first yoga experience, Theodosakis set to work to build a company that gave serious thought to the size of its footprint. He was concerned about how much waste it might produce, and made the decision to use organic cotton, natural fibers as well as recycled materials to deliver high-quality, technical, stylish apparel. 
Theodosakis and his wife began sewing pieces in their garage. They labeled them with tags they made from recycled newspapers, showed them on old racks they found rusting and forgotten, and shipped them in leftover orange boxes they collected from the grocery store.
Today, still based in Carlsbad, California prAna has grown to 110 employees. They have built the company on the original reuse-and-recycle ethos, though on a much larger scale. Now instead of recycling neighbors’ newspapers, they are recycling fibers. For example, the popular Quinn dress is made from recycled polyester, and stands up to tough, low-chemical, sustainability standards recognized across the textile industry. Men’s Sutra pants are made with recycled materials as well, along with the natural, environmentally friendly fiber, hemp. Once turned on to organic cotton ten years ago, they never looked back, and most recently prAna is working on further reducing its impact by using non-toxic chemicals in its dyes. 
Team members at prAna are youthful and full of passion and that’s reflected in each season’s lines through imaginative prints and attention to the tiniest of details After business hours, they’re living prAna’s mantra, “Born from Experience,” while they’re out there climbing, surfing, running, hiking and doing yoga. They also take part in their community, helping at local events, and volunteering with prAna’s many non-profit partners. Theodosakis himself is on the board of two groups — the Access Fund, which helps keep climbing areas open, and the Outdoor Foundation which helps get more kids active in the outdoors. PrAna is involved with other non-profit groups as well, including the Conservation Alliance, Keep a Breast Foundation, and Outdoor Outreach. 
Mindfulness is at the core of everything prAna does. That’s why every day, something special happens at 3:30 p.m. A gong sounds, beginning a 60 second “pattern interrupt.” The idea is to break the chain of running to a phone call, from an email to a meeting. For one minute, prAna team members take a step back, and look inside. Some choose to meditate, some think about connecting to something bigger than what’s happening in the office, and some just take a moment to daydream. 
Since prAna was started to give form and function to the connections its founders felt in their lives — to the outdoors, to themselves, and to each other — staying connected is part of how the team stays grounded. Everyone in the company owns a piece of the process — every decision, every product. As the product line evolves and its impact grows, those connections continue to guide them. 
PrAna doesn’t have all the answers, but its team will always be asking questions. Along with other brands that have made sustainability a priority, they’re working to address the issues they have in common. By sharing supply-chain sources, information and facing challenges together, they’re helping to raise the tide for all boats. Their commitment to ideals about community, sustainability and clothing with conscience continues to inspire others to think in the same way. For prAna, that’s what it’s all about.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

#TKMBD - Bike Skills Rodeo!

Gerhard Gross photo

When I first saw IMBA's posts about the October 5 Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day I knew right away I wanted to do something about it. Kids on bikes are just the best, so I recruited Coach Richard from San Diego Mountain Bike Skills and voila! We had a rodeo.

Our event had about six different skills for the kids to practice, including "Feedzone Simulation," "Granny Gear Racing," "Skinnies Riding," "Paper Boy Toss," and a couple stations to test their handling around cones and hula hoops. With a great sunny afternoon in Balboa park our excitement was only rivalled by the kids'.

We had tremendous support from the San Diego chapter (SDMBA) of the International Mountain Biking Association with number plates and Clif Z-Bars to hand out to our little riders. They also helped us get the word out, not to mention all the amazing trail/rider advocacy they do every day. Big thank you to them! Proud to be a member.

Best of all, we had a super crop of young riders -- 15!! -- and some really enthusiastic parents who helped make the event run smoothly. My favourite part of the afternoon was watching little Abby, who started the event on her strider bike, graduate to her "big girl bike" WITHOUT training wheels. What a big day!

Thanks to all our sponsors, and most importantly thanks to the kids, moms and dads for coming out to the event. We had a TON of fun, and we can't wait for Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, 2014.

Read more about our event here and check out some great photos, shot by my wonderful husband Gerhard, here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Race Tracks" :: Winter Beats

Gerhard has been the sharer of many great tracks in the past thanks to his connection to an industry that needs good musics for all kinds of videos and web edits.

To honour BASE MILES season, I'm posting this one, his latest contribution to my iPod, called "Winter Beats" as a nod to the change in periodization I know many of us two-wheelers are now experiencing. Or are about to experience once you get all the CX out of your systems.

You can catch it in the new TransWorld Snowboard movie "Nation" available on iTunes (tremendous trainer viewing!) or keep an eye on for full parts as they trot them out this fall.

In the mean time, check out I Break Horses' "Winter Beats" in its official music video form, OR ... scroll down for the most ridiculously overdone hipster surf edit I have ever seen (featuring 10 Russian models, a man-made wave in Dubai and apropos of nothing, a Lambourghini (because of course)).


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Interbike Postmortem

We rolled into Vegas and I couldn't believe my eyes. So much insanity crammed into a completely inhospitable part of the desert. We took a stroll on the strip at 10pm and I felt like I was in a hot yoga studio. Air conditioning mixed with whatever oxygen+ gases they pump into the casinos to camoflauge the cigarette smoke. No discernible dress code. No rules. No curfew.

I rode a rollercoaster, had a taco in a pyramid, saw the fountains, the pirates, the brides and bachelorette parties, the show girls, the costumes, the homeless, the volcano, the cigarette girls; rode in a limo, walked my legs off and took the tram. Shopping malls full of dreams where the Prada salespeople first offer you a glass of champagne. I had a short drink and a very, very tall drink. On the street. A fine meal, and salads made of sad brown lettuce. In Vegas, there's something for everyone.

But during Interbike, "everyone" is a bunch of cyclists, all sorts. You can tell who they are and what discipline they prefer just by looking at them mingling with the rest of 'Merica.

The Show
I did not expect to be so hyped on the show. I was like a kid in a candy store. I can't even fathom how many millions of dollars were on display on the conference floor of the Mandalay. Bikes, accessories, apparel, trips, fitting, helmets, shoes ... and then the booths themselves. Just amazing. This is the first year that Interbike was opened to consumers (Friday only) and I think it would be worth tracking down one of those invitations.

Elite CX Women (My fav Cdn mtb-er, Catharine Pendrel
in blue a couple back!)
I have never been to a cyclocross race. I have never really seen the appeal -- I mean, in Ontario, it's all about racing in the mud, snow and cold. It's a 40 minute all-out effort where you actually are expected to get OFF your bike. Does not compute.

But since everyone was off to CrossVegas, I was swept up in it as well and *now* I kind of get it. Even though we didn't have rain/snow/mud/cold to contend with. To my dismay, I found myself wishing I was out there ripping around so I guess I'm eating crow.

The Chris vs Kris Highroller Championship of the World
National Crit Finals HighRoller Crit! 
The night after CrossVegas we had more pro-level racing right outside the conference centre. But I was distracted by fun on Highrollers (BigWheels for adults!) and almost made the finals on these three wheelers. Congratulations to Coach Richard who did go on to the finals and came second to a BMX Olympian, no big deal. I have no idea what happened in the actual crit.

Last Friday Night/Waking Up In Vegas 

After all was said and done, and I'd managed to *not* show up to the Focus Bikes booth hungover on any of the show days, I was sucked into the ashtray/sewer/hole that is Las Vegas. But you know what they say about that ...

Here's some photos I snapped from the trip. Big thanks to Tim and everyone at Focus Bikes for having me along.

Interbike coming together, one day before it all gets started. Taken from atop a union ladder in the Focus booth. 

Starbucks, comfy shoes, name tag -- ready to hit it! 

Team car for Jelly Belly

Ryder Hesjedal stopped by the Cervelo booth (Focus and Cervelo are sister companies) so I got a photo with my favourite Canadian hero -- he won the Giro the same weekend Gerhard proposed so it was pretty much the best weekend ever. 
Ryder's Giro d'Italia trophy. Every winner gets their own. I touched it. 

*THIS* guy and his 36 INCH mountain bike ... when does it stop?! 

Team Jelly Belly/Rapha Focus stopped by our booth and told everyone we had free beer. But really we just had jelly beans. Awesome to meet (from left) Jeremy Powers, Freddie Rodriguez, Nic Hamilton and Brad Huff.

Focus Izalco Max awarded "Best In Show" by Bike Radar .... droooool

My "Best in Show" - A gorgeous offering from Electra I got to see when it was still in production. 

In which I meet Nelson Vails and am informed he's kind of a big deal. That's another story ... 

So many jelly beans ... Stop the madness. 

Always cracks me up when people take photos with iPads. Nothing more to see here. 

The welcome wagon at the Bellagio

Paris in the desert. 


Waiting for the fountains at the Bellagio, trying to remember the plot of Ocean's 11

A picture of a million picture takers. oh, and a volcano. 

The aftermath. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

On the Eve of Interbike

It's a lovely day when you're packing up your suitcase for your first trip to Vegas! I'm super excited to be helping out the gentlemen at the Focus Bikes booth (number 6010 if you want to stop by) until Saturday at Interbike.

I've been impressed so far with how connected I feel already to the whole spectacle thanks to the numerous apps, emails, "show planner" and "connections" resources the show provides. It's also pretty amazing how many of my new friends here in SoCal are going to be there (or are there already for "Outerbike.")

For those that don't know, Interbike is North America's largest trade show for bike industry folks. Held every year in Las Vegas, it also features a big outdoor demo at Bootleg Canyon and of course Cross Vegas, the famous cyclocross race (if you're into that sort of thing).

Stay tuned for my first impressions of Las Vegas through social media and I'll be sure to post a summary of the whole crazy time. Til then, I'm off to roll the dice. If you're in town, be sure to look me up.