IMG_1187If I could sum up RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) in one picture, this would be it…for me. Is RAGBRAI a race? A Party? A slow ride? Fast ride?  It’s all of those things. It’s whatever you make of the seven day ride across NOT FLAT Iowa. One thing for sure, it’s a blast. You meet new people, see old friends, elevate yourself and conquer new challenges, eat food; lots of food, drink beer, see new towns and most importantly, ride your bike!!

RAGBRAI is not easy, it’s rolling hills, sometimes very steep hills, heat, rain, lot’s of people (up to 20,000 during the popular days!), and not short; about 500 miles total with the longer days being around 80-85. You have to make sure to keep hydrated and fed. Bonking is no fun. No fun at all.

 

There’s something liberating about a self supported ride. You can play by your own rules and make time to do whatever you want. John and I split up day one and didn’t see each-other until day four and it was great for both of us. I learned that RAGBRAI is personal for me. It’s time to be exactly who I want to and take my time or hurry up or stop for two hours – which I did very often – or talk to people or be alone. I think John felt the same way. I know this year was one of his favorites.

But riding bagged doesn’t come without it’s challenges. By day four, my gear was water logged and I just wasn’t having much fun. I decided to unload my front and rear bags and ride only with the frame bag. It was again, liberating. A good choice. A choice that increased my fun and kept me rolling with a smile on my face.

So what’s on the bike?

John brought the kitchen sink. Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and pillow, clothes for everyday, tools, food (for every day?) gadgets and gizmos… I don’t know what else but if you think of it, he probably had it. His bike was quite impressive to look at, that’s for sure.

Up front I had all my camping gear: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and pillow. I also had two water bottles, sun block, toothpaste and brush and handy nutrition. Finding the tiny item isle wherever you choose to shop is key. In my opinion, the smaller the better.  On the center of the bike I had food, tools, first aid, coffee, money and fireworks. At the rear-end I had clothes, camp stove, boiling pot, baseball hat and slippers. Coffee mug too.

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Camping is part of the RAGBRAI experience. You begin to love and hate your tent. By the end of it you’re a pro at setting up and breaking down. Trust me, you get to know your tent well. Things also get progressively more wet. As each day goes on clothes get more sopped and sultry as they fester in their bags. By night six my entire wardrobe was suspended in trees, draped over my tent and hanging from my bike. It’s all part of the deal. It’s something I’d love to figure out…keeping everything dry!

Here are the before and after pictures of us; just as happy at the finish as we were at the start . Just a bit more greasy and gross. RAGBRAI will make you a bit goofy, it allows you to lower you guard and let loose. I loved (not) doing RAGBRAI with John, I hope we do many more and we hope you do too!

Mitch

Bell Joy Ride – Madison kicked off the spring riding season last weekend! Since the week before brought some typical Wisconsin weather the trails were drying out and even the gravel was unrideable. So we took to the extensive paved bike paths around the city and road a scenic 20 mile loop around Madison’s west-side. The ride was a NO DROP, casual paced social ride, starting and ending on the capital square. About 30 women made up our diverse group of rider levels and skill sets. We had some experienced road riders looking to venture into off-road cycling, there were ladies just getting back on the saddle after having kids or relocating, and we even had quite a few ladies that regularly get rad on the trails together. There were younger women and some with more life experience. They road cross bikes and fully rigid mountain bikes and even a few full-suspension bikes were in the mix, and we all rode together! We stopped toward the end of the ride at the Farm Tavern for some cold beers and to raffle off awesome products from Bell Bike Helmets and CamelBak.

All-in-all, Saturday’s event left me inspired and appreciative by all the wonderful women that make up the cycling community here in Madison! I was amazing to get such overwhelming support this early into the program. Saturday’s event was more than I could have hoped for since I was uncertain how many women would show because it was a pretty simple plan this time, meet-up and ride bikes. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t stop women from coming out and joining in. I learned the most important aspect of Bell’s Joy Ride program is just giving women the opportunity to ride and learn from other women, all the other things are just nice additions. I know when I was starting out it was intimidating to ride with the boys, a program like this would have given me the space and time to learn without the added stress of holing the anyone up. Now that I’m getting older it’s hard to make friends with similar interests. I think we all need the camaraderie that you get when you ride with other women and are pushing them to push their limits a little bit farther. I encourage every women who is looking for some support and guidance and a bit of a challenge to join us on a ride this year. I am really excited to get to know you all more and to grow as cyclists together as this year goes on!

-Amber

 

Maybe it’s the Midwest in me, but when I’m out in public I make an effort to smile and nod at people.  Especially when riding my bike, I wave to fellow cyclists, dog walkers, and even joggers or runners.  I guess, inately I want to acknowledge that we are all humans sharing this world.

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So many times in our lives, we take possession of things that are not really ours.  That biker is in ‘MY’ lane, that driver took ‘MY’ parking spot, that person took ‘MY’ last jelly filled donut at the grocery store.

In the end, we’re all in this together.  When I ride around and see people out, it just makes me happy that people are enjoying the world; utilizing the same parks, trails, sidewalks, and roads that I’m using.   These things aren’t ‘mine,’ they are ‘ours.’ So I wave, nod, or smile.  We all need to get to work, get to appointments, and pick up groceries, we might as well just try to enjoy it instead of being grumpy.  I will tell you, one leads to a more fulfilling life.

 

–Earl

Fat Bikes?  Trails?  Surly?  DONUTS?!  These are all such great things!  Mark your calendars ladies (repeat, ladies only), come out for some fun and shred some fat bikes!  Amber, She Shreds’ fearless leader, has got some great things lined up for you all!

DETAILS HERE!!

(Gentlemen, you are welcome to come and show your support, just the bikes are not for you!)

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A lot of shop conversations with new Madisonians say that a big allure to moving here is our cycling infrastructure. Everyday we appreciate the plethora of paths and the fact they’re maintained regularly. After reading a new article from New Republic, it got me thinking what if we did some big changes to get more people to ride/walk/bus places? Would you take to alternative tranportations if driving was more expensive? Would it change what part of the city you live in? Being in an area that is very family oriented, it’s inspiring to see so many families that only own one car with one or both parents that cycle daily. Some even bike their kids to school! Seeing this day in and day out we know that it can work for a lot of people. What would it take for you to use other modes of transportation?

 

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I am really excited to announce that I will be representing Bell Helmets as a Joy Ride Ambassador for 2016! The program was founded to inspire AND enable female mountain bikers, of all levels, to ride and to ride more often.
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First thing first, why do we need women’s only events and rides?  As someone who has been working in a male-dominant industry, who had very few female friends up until the last couple of years, rides regularly with “the boys”, and is pretty content with it. Really, what is missing? Women have a lot of shared experiences because we are all women and we face similar challenges negotiating life. We have similar experiences from childhood and our relatively gendered upbringing. Our friendships are a kinship that is different than of those with the guys. When it is just women we make the rules. Society likes to be kind of judgmental towards women and occasionally it is nice to be judged a little less, especially when trying something that can seem kinda scary.
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My hope is to ENCOURAGE women to give mountain biking a shot. I want to provide resources and support to make every ride a positive experience. There is one too many stories of the dreaded first time mountain biking that ends in tears..one being mine. For me riding has become empowering. I am the first to admit I don’t have all the skills, I still jump off and walk my bike when I’m not feelin’ it, but riding your bike up rocks and over roots is undoubtedly an awesome feat that I would love to share!
Seriously tho, I just want to ride my bike and get rad, maybe there is some girl talk in the woods, then drink wine!
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We post ride and event information on the Revolution Cycles Facebook page  and the She Shreds Facebook page.
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Any questions feel free to email Amber at sheshredsmadison@gmail.com

-Amber

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It’s happening this Saturday!  Group ride leaves from Camrock Cafe at 2pm. There will be beer from Surly Brewing available for all you thirsty folks with prizes and games available to everyone!  We’ll be there with some fun activities for all to partake in.  Members of CORP  can also enjoy their annual party beginning at 5pm at the cafe.  Come, be jolly, and let’s ride some fat tired bikes!  More info here!

**Closing at 2:30pm on Sat 12/5**

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