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’s 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.


Our loaded bikes

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.

Trying to keep stuff dry


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!


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!



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!


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



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?



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**

Happy Thanksgiving!

Depending on who you talk to the idea of Thanksgiving can either posses a positive or negative connotation, and sometimes, it can even get political.  Now, I’m not here to really dissect one or the other, but most people here in the US of A have a couple of days off this time of year.  What I ask of you is to think how are you going to approach the next couple of days?

Are you going to choose to be stressed out about family or that you will have a mountain of things at work to go back to?  Are you going to be concerned that all the food is going to destroy your current diet plans or dread the foreseeable travel either by car or plane or train?

I recently found this video about stress, take a peek if you have a couple of minutes…

Basically, the video explains that we as humans have the unique ability to change the way we feel. I would really like to believe that you CAN CHOOSE to feel great!

You might start to feel excited about the rare chance you get to see all your family members OR that work doesn’t have to control your life.  Maybe you can start to appreciate the bounty of homemade food that you and your loved ones prepared or that maybe a 4 hour drive or 6 hour flight is all worth it to see the ones you love.

Some of you might find this fluff or nonsense, and, maybe it is.  However, I would like to believe that we have much more control over our mood than we tend to think.  I chose to NOT hate on the 5 people in front of me that ordered the most complicated and time-consuming coffee-like beverage at my local cafe this morning (it gave me time to read the paper before heading to work!) just like I choose to NOT stress out when it starts pouring on me while biking home.  Someone once told me that time is the one thing that you can never get back.  So, are you going to spend time being upset and frustrated OR appreciative and happy?

So this is part of the reason we close the shop on ‘Black Friday.’  If you care for your friends and family, then spend the time with them instead of rushing off to buy things you probably don’t even need in the first place, and be mindful when you are together.  Listen, laugh, cry, and really be present. Be there for them (and yes, put your phone down!).

In the end, I hope you all have a great time with whatever you all do, with whomever you choose to spend the next couple of days with.  Happy Thanksgiving everybody from me and everyone at Rev!



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