Liv Cycling Ambassadorship

It’s halfway through the year. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!

So much amazing stuff has happened this year and it continues to be a whirlwind. Last fall I applied to be an ambassador for Liv Cycling and was chosen to be one of many women who will be representing the largest women’s cycling brand IN THE WORLD!

It’s an incredible honor and it’s been a wonderful experience up to this point. I look forward to telling you all about it.

For those of you who don’t know, Liv is the sister brand to Giant Bicycles. Liv was created in 2008 and was the brain child of Bonnie TU. TU is a petite and highly stylish woman whose idea for creating a women’s brand stemmed from her own experience while shopping for a bike and clothing for the Tour of Taiwan. The lack of bike sizes for smaller women and comfortable clothing inspired her to get Giant on board with creating products for the women’s market.

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Bonnie TU of Liv Cycling

The very first products were co-branded with Giant’s name on them and were often shrunk down versions of some of the brand’s most popular men’s models. Giant eventually decided to go ALL IN on Liv being its own brand, wiping the slate clean and going back to the drawing board when it came to bike design, accessories, clothing, and more for women.

Liv brought in female engineers for designing the new bike models, they focused on graphics that were fun and bold, but didn’t scream “girly bike”. They dedicated countless hours to developing comfortable touch points on the bikes such as their women’s saddles. What came out of it was one hell of a line up of bikes for women to choose from.

Liv offers a full line up of kids, hybrid, city, road, cyclocross, and mountain bikes. Liv is the first women’s bike brand to launch a long travel, full suspension downhill bike which is the Hail model for 2017. An inspiring feat, as no other brand has dedicated themselves to creating such a magnificent offering to the women’s market.

The brand works closely with athletes such as Leigh Donovan, professional down hill rider and mountain bike coach, to develop their products to be best in class. They also utilize women like myself who are ambassadors of the brand, who work in the field and can give real world feedback from women we ride with to continue to improve the products coming to market.

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Up close and personal with the Liv Hail

Okay, enough of the kool-aid talk. My journey as an ambassador first started in January with our first webinar to discuss the brand history and get familiar with our responsibilities.

Each brand ambassador is provided with gear from Liv including swag for events, clothing,  and other promotional materials. We submit an event calendar for the year and our goal is to simply get more women out riding.

After each event, we report back on how things went and provide feedback on what we hear from women at our events.

Liv also offers ambassadors an opportunity to attend an ambassador camp. This year there were two camps due to the sheer number of women who are a part of the program (somewhere around 125 women).  The first camp was in California near Newbury Park, the home of Giant’s USA headquarters. Attendees had road and mountain bike riding options, as well as workshops, yoga classes, and brand seminars.

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Getting crafty with Jen Audia at the Mulberry Gap barn

The second camp location was a mountain bike specific location at Mulberry Gap, a lovely family owned get-a-way in the Appalachian mountains near Elijay, GA.

I had opted to attend the second camp as I’m getting much more into mountain biking these days, I had never been to Georgia, and I really didn’t want to sit on a plane for 4 hours!

The flight to Atlanta is a little over two hours from Milwaukee, WI. There is really no comparison to having to fly into LAX, even though ATL is the busiest hub in the nation.

My time in Elijay reminded me quite a bit of when I went to bike school for two weeks in Ashland, only much less cramped!

I stayed in a large group cabin with five other women. We had probably 20-25 women total at our camp. We spent our days attending clinics, seminars, riding some of the best mountain bike trails in the country, and bonding over our love of cycling and the Liv brand.

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Post Pinhoti re-group at the bottom of the trail with my Pique 2

I met so many incredible women, who continue to inspire me through my journey as an ambassador. They come up with so many fun and unique ideas for inspiring the women in their communities to ride!

I also have to give a huge shout out to Jen, Dorothy, Stephanie, and Liz from Liv for creating such an awesome experience for us.

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How We Liv @ Mulberry Gap Ambassador Camp 2017

Kate and her family at Mulberry Gap are also some amazing people. I can’t wait to return there for more adventuring in the future. Their hospitality is unmatched and the riding is challenging, but incredibly fun!

Liv ambassadors are offered some great purchasing opportunities for bikes. We are encouraged to get the latest and greatest, so we can speak to the quality of the bikes.

I personally decided to purchase not one, but TWO new Liv bikes. Fitchburg Cycles is the shop I work through as an ambassador, as they are a Liv dealer. Through the shop I landed on the Liv Avail Advanced Pro 1. A full carbon road bike with tubeless setup carbon wheels and Shimano Ultegra components.

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My beloved Avail Advanced Pro 1

When I discovered that Mulberry Gap would be an option for attending Liv’s annual ambassador camp, I also jumped at the chance to order the Liv Pique 2 full suspension mountain bike.

It may be the kool-aid talking, but they are two of the best riding bikes I have ever owned and I’ve owned A LOT of bikes.

Out of the box they were both extremely comfortable. The only change I made to the Avail was swapping out the saddle, as I’m very particular about my saddle choice. The bike feels fast and stable at the same time. It’s an endurance road bike, so it’s great for spending all day in the saddle or for someone who may not want quite as an aggressive position on a road bike.

The Pique 2 took some dialing in as I had never owned a full suspension bike before. It comes with a dropper seat post, which is a welcomed addition to my bike. It makes clearing obstacles a lot more comfortable! I eventually found that I needed to set the rear shock at the stiffest setting and then dial in the pressure and rebound to suite my needs.

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A trail with a view! Getting ready to descend the Pinhoti with the Pique 2

I’m used to riding a plus sided bike with no suspension, so I like a little more stiffness in the rear end, but like the forgiving nature of full suspension. It climbs incredibly well and I haven’t changed much parts wise on it with the exception of the rear tire, which I opted for a slightly wider 2.4″ tire as opposed to the 2.25″ tire that came on the bike. I like wider tires for the extra grip on some of the loose stuff. I also opted to put my favorite ESI silicone grips on as I don’t really like plastic/rubbery lock on grips.

The saddle is incredibly comfortable on the Pique and I tend to forget it’s even there. The SLX drivetrain performs flawlessly and I’ve never come to wish I had more gears on the 1×11 setup.

When women ask me how/why I am a Liv ambassador I often reply that I wouldn’t represent a brand I didn’t believe in and if the products sucked, I wouldn’t want to be a part of what they are doing. Good news, the products kick ass and I’m proud to be riding their stuff!

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Liv Cycling Social @ Fitchburg Cycles

My ambassadorship is no where near over yet for the year. I have some really wonderful plans for events coming down the pipeline.

Sunday June 25th is a brunch ride to Paoli with a coffee stop at True Coffee roasters leaving from Fitchburg Cycles at 10am.

Sunday July 9th is a my Functional Fitness for Cyclists clinic at Cross Fit Big Dane- currently full, but e-mail info@spokehaven.com if you are interested in attending!

August will most likely be a fun Tour de Breweries ride featuring some awesome local breweries!

September will be an in shop maintenance clinic at Fitchburg Cycles

October will most likely be the last event which is kind of a toss up, but a costume ride or bike camping outing isn’t out of the question. I’ll have to see what options folks would be interested in.

All upcoming events will be posted at fitchburgcycles.com and facebook.com/fitchburgcycleswi not to mention the Spoke Haven Facebook page!

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Wisconsin Indoor Cycling Hosts a B.A.S.I.C Class for New Riders

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Fall is officially here! Mornings are crisp with frost covered grass and you can see your breath in the air. It’s one of my favorite times of year as a cyclist. There’s nothing more refreshing than waking up in the morning and going for a ride. The only downside is that after work rides are either cut insanely short or they don’t happen at all.

That’s where places like Wisconsin Indoor Cycling come in. They help serve a large population of cyclists who want to continue riding, but can’t because of our lack of daylight. Their studio is lined up with indoor trainers, trainer mats, fans, towels, water, and anything else a rider could ever need.

Until recently, many of indoor cycling and training facilities have been perceived as elitist or for “hardcore” cyclists training for races or Ironman events. Wisconsin Indoor Cycling wanted to change that. They saw a need for everyday riders or beginner cyclists who just wanted a way to stay fit in the winter. This is where their new B.A.S.I.C classes came into play.

The B.A.S.I.C class is a fabulous introduction to indoor riding and cycling in general. The class runs for four consecutive weeks and incorporates a 30-40 minute ride and about 20 minutes of a post ride presentation. The presenters are various folks within the local cycling industry.

In the B.A.S.I.C class, riders learn how to mount their bike to a trainer. This includes learning how to swap in a trainer skewer as well as getting positioned correctly and comfortably on the bike. Other topics that are covered during the rides is correct pedaling stroke, clipping in and out of pedals, what RPM’s mean, and how to keep proper relaxed riding form.

Presenters also cover topics such as fixing a flat tire, why getting a bike fit is good for all types of cyclists, cycling advocacy, information about cycling clubs, and how to transition from the basic class into a regular indoor training routine.

I was lucky enough to be asked to come in and present at last night’s class. The best part of it was being able to ride with the group and experience the class first hand. With all of the projects and work I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been neglecting my workout routine and the class was a good reminder that I need to keep with it if I plan on being a strong rider next spring.

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My bike in the trainer as well as the fun pink towels WIC provides for riders to keep the sweat off.

The riding started with a good warm up and a lot of great 3×3 tempo intervals. Ramping up to 90 RPMs first in the small chain ring for a faster, easier spin and then up to the big chain ring to work the larger muscle groups. Recovery was going down to 70 RPM’s with a mid level of resistance. There were also some one legged intervals to work on pedal stroke and leg strength. That too was a good reminder that I needed to get back into a training regimen!

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A projector is used to show what the intervals are as well as helpful tips to keep in mind while riding.

Overall, I was really pleased with the training aspect of the class. The feedback that ride leader, Zeus, gave to riders regarding bike fit and pedal stroke was really helpful as well. It opened up the opportunity to discuss what changes can be made to maintain comfort on the bike. Also…HEELS DOWN.

When it came time for my presentation, I casually talked about what we at Spoke Haven do as well as the Women & Bicycles program. I felt a little bad only preaching to the ladies in the class, but the guys didn’t mind too much and actually had some ladies they knew that would love to know about what we’re doing.

The B.A.S.I.C riders including mentor Krista in the WIC Jersey and myself in the Spoke Haven jersey.
The B.A.S.I.C riders including mentor Krista in the WIC Jersey and myself in the Spoke Haven jersey.

I had asked the group if they had ever done a class like this and what their cycling level was.  A lot of them were fairly new riders and this was their first real indoor riding experience. I was glad to hear that and glad to see they were getting something out of the class. Zeus, Aaron, and Krista did a great job with putting the B.A.S.I.C program together and hope they continue with it.

If you are reading this and interested in the program, there are tentative plans for it picking up again in January! I would suggest contacting Wisconsin Indoor Cycling on their website or Facebook page to let them know that you’d like to be a part of the program.

Wisonsin Indoor Cycling B.A.S.I.C. Class

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Are you new to the sport of cycling or have you been riding recreationally and looking to improve your performance and knowledge? Maybe, you are intimidated to come to a cycling class at our studio because you think that you don’t have enough experience or a nice enough bike? Well, this class is for you! We will start you out learning all the terminology and skills of cycling, teach you about cadence, pedal stroke, heart rate and more. There will be mentor athletes to help you learn the skills and build confidence in the sport. We will have experts in maintenance, fit and more to teach you about exactly how to maintain your bike. You are also guaranteed a great workout from each of the WIC coaches over the course of the class. This is a great opportunity to find the coach that fits your style. Our goal is to help you feel confident in the sport and transition up to the scheduled indoor winter rides offered by Wisconsin Indoor Cycling.

Where: Wisconsin Indoor Cycling – New Location (4520 Verona Road, Madison)

When: Start on Wednesday, October 1st – 4 Consecutive Wednesdays

Time: 6-7pm

Cost: $50.00

Capacity: 10-15 riders

“Contact Aaron Pratt to Register for B.A.S.I.C. Today! – aaron@wisconsinindoorcycling.com

Women & Bicycles makes Progress- Repost

Women & Bicycles

Women & Bicycles is a new  program coordinated through the Wisconsin Bike Fed and supported by Mayo Clinic Health System, in an effort to bring more women to bicycling as riders, leaders, and advocates.

We’ve reached out to our network of women and ask for volunteers to serve as Roll Models to encourage women to try riding who may not be riding for one reason or another. Women across Wisconsin are volunteering as Roll Models, offering gatherings in the formats of meetups, workshops, and group rides.

In La Crosse, rides, social conversations, and workshops have been successful. We have focused on new riders, creating events that will encourage everyone  to feel welcome. Women enjoy learning from each other. The Fix a Flat Clinics have been very fruitful.  We look forward to offering a basic maintenance clinic soon.

Cassandra Habel shares her enthusiasm in Madison and talks about her adventures.

The Women & Bicycles program has been off to a wonderful start in Madison! When approached to be a representative, I wanted to develop a cohesive way to bring together all of these fabulous resources we have in our city for women to get involved with cycling. Team Luna Chix have been around for roughly 6 years hosting no drop bike rides, clinics, and special events for women in Madison. I of course wanted to enlist their help and as well as the help of the existing Bike Fed staffers in the Madison office. My website/company, Spoke Haven, has also been a big part of promoting the program.

Together we have put together a monthly, hands on fix a flat clinic that is hosted at the Bike Fed’s office here in town. We’ve also promoted a monthly Taco Tuesday ride that happens the first Tuesday of the month. It’s a wonderful social ride for all levels of riders and allows us to not only get to know each other, but we also discuss ways for us to branch out, reach new riders, and talk about issues such as infrastructure projects that affect us as local cyclists.

We’ve recently launched a Facebook page dedicated to the Madison division of Women & Bicycles that allows us to share upcoming events, photos, and allows for women to openly discuss all aspects of cycling.

For our rides and events, we utilize the website Meetup.com. This allows us to keep track of event attendance, announce upcoming events that get automatically e-mail blasted to members, and allows us to have more control over who is attending rides. Our job is to great a safe, healthy, and positive riding experience for women. Having the ability to control who gains ride info for our events is key in making sure we can maintain that environment. Not that we don’t love the special men in our lives, we just want to make sure all women identified individuals know they can be a part of this unique group and just be themselves.

Another added benefit to the Women & Bicycles program is offering ride buddies for ladies who have interest in events such as charity rides or special ride events. So far this year we’ve had a group at the Bike for Boys & Girls Club ride, Ride 2 Recovery, Bike MS, the ACT Ride, Ride the Drive, and we’ll also have some ladies at the upcoming Chocolate Chase as well as the famed Tyranena Oktoberfest bike ride. So many women have said they would participate in these events more if they actually had a friend to ride with!

So far my work with the program has been really fun and fulfilling. I can’t wait to offer more workshops, training clinics, and special events for the ladies this winter. We’re also looking to continue to grow next year reaching more riders and offering up more ride options and opportunities for women to get on bikes!

In Oceola,The St. Croix Valley Region, Wendi Lindenmuth has enjoyed the network of women she has created. She has inspired women to ride together on mountain bikes, road bikes, share social conversations, join workshops, and inspired women to work on advocacy efforts.  Wendi  is overwhelmed by the number of women who appreciate been connected to other women who ride bicycles.

If you are looking for a group to join, check and see if there is a group close to you.  Stay tuned, we will be expanding our program next year.

Women & Bicycles is a statewide program from the Wisconsin Bike Fed, empowering women across the state to ride.
Read more about the program »