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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Fitchburg Cycles Partners with Spoke Haven Cycling Club

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We are super excited to announce Fitchburg Cycles as a new club supporter. The shop is providing us with a start/end location for rides twice a month as well as in store discounts for club members. Fitchburg Cycles is also lending the club space for future workshops and clinics.

Owner Edwin Benet has spent his life in the cycling industry and works to create a welcoming space for all who want to ride. He, along with his wife and kids, opened the shop nearly three years ago and aimed to make the space warm and inviting. With its bright green walls, handmade wooden displays, and large bike themed  paintings (all created by his wife Mary Benet Treleven) the space is unlike any other shop in the area. Customers are offered free coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while they browse or wait for service repairs. Not to mention there’s always free treats for humans and pets alike at the front counter.

Fitchburg Cycles carries bikes from brands Giant, Liv, Momentum, Linus, Cannondale, and Borealis. The Liv brand is a dedicated women’s line of bicycles from the parent company, Giant bicycles. One of the largest and most revered women’s bike brands in the world.

Accessory lines from Pearl Izumi, Bell, Giro, Cat Eye, Topeak, Continental, Yakima, Thule, Saris, Brooks, Light & Motion, Knog, Blackburn, kryptonite, GU, Tifosi, Feedback Sports, Park Tool, Fizik, and Selle Royale offer a range of products that are well known by customers and trusted by Edwin and his staff alike. Benet stresses the importance of carrying products that are made well, have a good reputation, and he refuses to carry brands or products that he himself wouldn’t use.

We look forward to calling Fitchburg Cycles our home shop for the 2016 season! A huge thanks goes out to everyone at Fitchburg Cycles for opening their doors to us and supporting women’s cycling.

For more information on rides, please check our ride info page.

*full disclosure: club manager Cassandra works for the shop. She does not, however have any financial gain by promoting the shop or its products and services.

Trail Building with the Capital Off Road Pathfinders

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I’ll admit it, I’m not all that involved with mountain biking or off road cycling in general. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it or have interest in it. The fact is I’m fairly new to the world of off road cycling and I (sadly) don’t have a mountain bike in my stable.

Not owning a mountain bike has been an excuse for me to not be involved with our local trail systems or the groups who maintain them. It took attending this year’s Bike Summit to have a light bulb go off in my head..if I’m making excuses to not learn more about our trail systems and I’m a pretty involved cycling advocate, then what are other people using as their excuse?

I decided, there would be no excuses for me. I promised myself that I’d start getting more involved with our local off road cycling clubs and help spread their gospel.

Luck for me, the Capital Off Road Pathfinders (CORP) had posted that their last big trail work day of the season was coming up at the end of October. Great! I now had a time, date, and commitment to look forward to.

The trail work was set to start at 11am. Staying true to myself, I of course showed up at 11:30. I was glad to see three other ladies from our Spoke Haven/ Women & Bicycles Meetup were already hard at work. They of course gave me flack for showing up late and said they thought I wouldn’t show up. I showed them! 😉

Without skipping a beat, the work leader Nick gave directed me to help rake some of the fresh dirt laid on the trail. The city donated a huge load of it to help smooth out some of the rough patches on the trail.

We were working on the outside loop of the new Seminole Trail System to create smooth and fast riding sections. Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt was poured along the section of trail. We continued to rake, tamp, and repeat. The one particular section we were working on had a lot of old plate glass and MDF chunks, so we spent a good portion of our time trying to remove as much debris from the area as possible. Most of it was buried off the trail, but we made sure to get a nice coverage of dirt and installed signage for riders to stay on the trail, so as to not run into the glass graveyard.

While we were working, there was a lot of shop talk going on between the volunteers. Discussions about various trail projects, what the goals for the new trails were, the history of CORP, and how to get more women involved in the group. Everyone was super friendly and  the CORP crew was glad to have a good group of volunteers. There were probably about ten of us total working on various aspects of the trail.

The day’s projects included pouring and raking the dirt. A couple of the guys built a berm (a term for part of the trail where a sharp turn is placed and a wall of dirt is built up to ride on to gain speed). We dug some sharp rocks out as well as smoothed out some rocky sections. Branches and trees were removed to help maintain a wide path. We did some weeding as well as work on evening out spots that would have drainage issues in the spring. At the end of the day we even worked on building a small feature riders could use to do a mini jump or just opt to roll over.

We spent about 4-5 hours working on various parts of the trail. Overall the group felt really good about the progress and after it was all said and done we were encouraged to ride the trail to help pack down the new dirt! Sadly I left my cross bike at home, otherwise I would have put a couple laps in. The outer loop is very beginner and was designed that way so new riders can get a taste of riding dirt. It’s also a family friendly loop for the little ones to take their push bikes or trail a bikes on.

Various cycling clubs have also expressed interest in hosting cyclocross events on the trails, so it will now be the premiere spot for new and intermediate riders to get a taste of dirt without having to leave the city!

I have to say, I’m really glad I decided to lend a hand with the trail building efforts. I learned a lot about the hard work and dedication it takes to create our trail systems. Hopefully we can continue to get a group of ladies out on the weekends or weeknights to continue to build and improve trails. Even if you don’t own a mountain bike, you can help build an opportunity for others in our community to ride.

Now I’m off to pick out more parts for my fat bike build to go enjoy the fruits of my labor 🙂

Wisconsin Bike Fed Launches Strength in Numbers Campaign

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Bicycle Advocacy groups are popping up all across the United States. It seems to be the new trend in alternative transport initiatives. Most of you should know that the Wisconsin Bike Fed is one advocacy group that has been around the longest. For almost 26 years, the Wisconsin Bike Fed has worked to lobby for cyclists rights, help create the Safe Routes to School program here in Wisconsin, and have hosted a plethora of outreach events to communities throughout Wisconsin. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We could spend hours talking about all the work that the Fed has done for this state, but we’ll spare you.

The Wisconsin Bike Fed wants to continue to grow. They want to offer more to their members and they want to continue to improve upon all their years of hard work and dedication to the state of Wisconsin. That’s where the Strength in Numbers Campaign comes in. The campaign is a way for current Bike Fed members to take to the streets and encourage other cyclists and non-cyclists alike to join the organization.

The incentive based program allows members to share sign up information online. In the applications there is a referral area where new members can give credit to the member who encouraged them to sign up. For each member you sign up, you get an entry to win either a brand new Trek FX 7.1 flat bar road bike or a Trek X Caliber mountain bike. Get 5 new members and you not only get 5 chances at winning that sweet new bike, but you also get a limited edition pint glass!

The person who signs up the most new members wins an awesome Door County getaway package including dinner at the famous goat topped restaurant, Al Johnson’s! Not to mention a one night’s stay at the Scandinavian Lodge and TWO entries to the Door County Century.

If all of that isn’t incentive enough to join the Bike Fed, we don’t know what is!
Head on over to the following link and let them know Cassandra at Spoke Haven sent you 🙂
http://wisconsinbikefed.org/join/individual-members/

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CORP & Machinery Row Fundraiser

corplogoHelp CORP and Machinery Row raise money for a new off road trail in Madison
Capitol Off Road Pathfinders has teamed up with IMBA to develop a 4.5 mile section of trail at Seminole Park. Located at the intersection of PD and Seminole highway, and just off the Capitol City Path, the trail will be easily accessible by bicycle. The trail will double as a fantastic opportunity for cyclocross and beginner mountain bikers alike. Machinery Row is hosting a party to fund equipment rental for trail building: providing free beer, snacks, and schwag to all who attend.

Where do you come in? In order to enjoy the awesomeness, please bring $20 to partake in a raffle, get snacks, and locally brewed beer. The entry fee will get you a bracelet for edibles and one raffle ticket to win sweet prizes from our sponsors below. Additional raffle tickets will be available for $5. Fill your pockets! All money will go to CORP for the new trail.

Fundraising Party at Machinery Row Bicycles
When:
Saturday, March 29th, 6-9pm
Where:
601 Williamson St
Madison, WI
RSVP @ https://www.smore.com/sweg

WITH PRODUCT SPONSORSHIP FROM:
Ale Asylum
Bianchi
Boynton Coaching
Cannondale
Club Ride
Continental Bicycle Tires
Drunk Cyclist
Felt Bicycles
Fi’zi:k
Giant Bicycles
Giro
Industry9
Light & Motion
Niner Bikes
Pearl Izumi
Ray’s MTB Indoor Park
Saris Cycling Group
Shimano
Trek Bicycles
Yakima
9Round