Bikepacking Blue Mound

There’s truly nothing I love more than strapping gear on a bike and going camping. It’s something I used to do a lot more when I wasn’t trying to balance a full time job, school, and a growing list of responsibilities.

That’s why I was thrilled to see that my friends at Bell Joy Ride Madison were putting together a women-trans-femme friendly bike overnight to the beloved Blue Mound State Park.

I set aside a weekend off (a nearly impossible feat during the shop’s busy season) and went riding.

The bike I chose to ride was my trusty Surly Krampus. I had invested in some new gear for it including the Blackburn Outpost Elite Universal Seat Pack & Dry Bag, Blackburn Outpost Cargo Cages, Topeak Fuel Tank, and the Giant Scout Handlebar Bag. Reviews to come on each of these in the future!

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                                  Swampy all packed and ready to ride!

My additional gear list is as follows:

SLEEP
Sleeping bag: Marmot Trestle 30 Degree (carried in handlebar harness)
Hammock: ENO Single Nest (carried in seat pack)
Hammock bug net: ENO Guardian SL (carried in seat pack)
Hammock tarp: ENO Profly Raintarp (carried in non-drive side cargo cage)
Hammock straps: ENO Helios Straps (carried in hammock bag)
MSR Mini Groundhog Stakes– 6

KITCHEN
Knife: SOG
Cook pot: Evernew Ti .9l
Stove: Esbit Folding w/cubes
Aluminum foil- for setting stove on
Snow Peak Ti Spork
Stanley Flask (for whiskey of course)
Camp cup for dangling
Handkerchief for clean up (cotton preferred)
Thermos double wall insulated water bottle (heavy AF, but keeps things hot or cold for a LONG time.)
Camelbak Insulated waterbottle (on bike)

FOOD
Chicken Ramen (dinner)
DIY quick oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit (breakfast)
RX Bars (a few in various flavors)
NUUN Hydration

DOPP KIT
Travel tooth brush
Travel tooth paste
Sunscreen (spf 50, always) Mineral based FTW
Picaridin bug spray/lotion
Tweezers (so many handy uses bike and first aid wise)
Face wipes or baby wipes
Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant (I love the paste, I also believe in trying to smell good when entering public establishments when on rides.)
Mini first aid kit with various bandages, travel sized Aquaphor (saddle sore preventative), Ibuprofen, DayQuil, Imodium, and my daily vitamins.

CLOTHING
(worn on bike)
Liv Cycling Jersey
Shebeest Bibs (honestly some of my favorite bibs of all time!)
Running socks (Balega and Feetures are my favorite low cut socks. They are super cushioned and last a really long time. Great for multi-sport use!)
Giro Cylinder MTB Shoes (comfortable, definitely go a size up! Review to come!)
Liv Rev MIPS Helmet
Tifosi Davos Sunglasses
(camp clothes- packed into small dry bag in drive-side cargo cage)
Pearl Izumi Canyon Women’s Short (without the liner)
Surly Raglan Merino Wool Shirt (still one of my favorite pieces of gear- thanks again Surly for letting me product test this for you back in the day!)
Random T-shirt
DeFeet Woolie Boolie Socks
Lems Primal 2 Shoes (great for packing up small and traveling)
Buff (free from an REI women’s cycling event, who doesn’t love free swag?!)
(extras)
socks
Giro Chono Bibs (becoming one of my favorite bibs for the price, also wore on the bike on day 2. I always carry two pairs of shorts because chamois take so long to dry after being washed unless you are in an arid climate.)
Large pack towel (can be used to dry off tent in morning, can be used as sit pad, can be used post shower if you so choose. basically just a handy item to have around.)
Patagonia Swim Suit (never used, pool was closed at the campground due to bad weather)

TOOLS, ELECTRONICS & CAMERA
CAMELBAK LUXE Hydration Pack (sans bladder)
Panasonic G85 camera w/12-60mm lens
Rode Video Mic Go
Mini iPhone Tripod
Various SD Cards
Liv PDQ Tool Kit
Bottle of Stan’s Fluid
Chain Quick Link
Park Chain Tool
Spare tube
Crank Brothers Pump (discontinued model)
Outdoor Tech Buckshot Speaker
Giant NeosTrack GPS Cycling Computer (long-term review to come)
iPhone cable & micro USB cable
NiteRider Micro & Sabre bike light set

I ended up rolling out a little later in the day as there were two groups making their way to Blue Mound State Park. The route from the area of Madison I reside in is roughly 25 miles. The majority of the route is on the state-run Military Ridge State Trail. One of my favorite things about living in Wisconsin is the fact that we have trail systems that allow you to go almost all the way across the state from East to West without having to ride on roads. The Hank Aaron trail in Milwaukee meets up to Oak Leaf and the Glacial Drumlin Trail, which then gets you to Cottage Grove to where you have to ride a few short miles before you hop onto the Capital City Trail, which will then intersect with either the Southwest Commuter path (goes through downtown Madison), the Badger State Trail (runs south all the way into Illinois), or the Military Ridge Trail (runs all the way to Dodgeville, WI).

Scenic Military ridge via my iPhone. The quality kind of sucks because of the compression that happens upon upload on here.

One thing I forgot to mention is that the morning we rolled out was one of the hottest of the summer. It was 90 something degrees and humid as HELL. Three miles into the ride I had strongly considered turning around as I was riding at a snail’s pace, sweating the most I’ve ever sweat on a ride, and felt dehydrated.

I stopped in Verona, a suburb outside of Madison that has a nice rest area off the trail with restrooms and picnic tables under a shelter. I drank one bottle of water with a full Nuun electrolyte tablet. These things are probably one of my favorite bits of nutrition as they have saved my ass over and over again.

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100% Sweat on my face after just about 5 miles in!

Nasty? Yes, I know. After downing another full bottle of water after the Nuun bottle, I refilled and headed out. Once you get past Epic Systems, the behemoth medical software company, the trail is quite lovely. The sneaky thing is about going Westbound is that the trail has a 2% ish grade the entire way, so you tend to feel like you should be going much faster than you are. 

My second destination was Mount Horeb. Once you’ve reached Mount Horeb, you know you’re not only close to delicious food, but also the last stretch before you reach Blue Mound. There’s a nice little rest area just outside of Mount Horeb in a park and it’s right off the trail. There are restrooms, a covered area with picnic tables, and water fountains for refilling. It was a much needed respite from the day’s heat. I used the facilities and filled up once again before rolling into town.

Mount Horeb is one of my favorite small towns in SW Wisconsin. There’s a bunch of great, locally owned placed to eat and it’s all accessible right off of Military Ridge. The town has grown pretty significantly as the cost of living in Madison continues to increase and is the home base of the famous Duluth Trading Company. Their new corporate office building is literally next to the trail, along with a new cider brewery called Brix. They also have a bike shop called Trail This right off the path as well!

I always make it a point to stop at Sjölinds, the original Main Street location. They have amazing coffee and homemade quiche. Even if I go to another restaurant to eat on a ride, I almost always stop in after for a sweet treat! This trip was no exception. I grabbed two pieces of quiche and a sparkling juice for fueling up.

At one point I ran into the first group of ladies who were making their way to Blue Mound. I opted to stay and eat on my own in town while they rolled out to the campsite. On my way out of town is when things got interesting. The weather started to turn and there was a large storm on the radar. I had the option of sitting and seeing if I could wait it out in town or could forge ahead and deal with getting rained on.

Sorry for the F-bomb. This is what I ended up riding into outside of Mount Horeb and not quite to Cave of the Mounds. The sky opened up and I got completely soaked while riding. It was actually quite refreshing as it had been so ungodly hot out earlier in the day.

Luckily I made it to a tunnel just a mile or so outside of the turn off to get into Blue Mound State park. I hung out there for a good 15-20 minutes waiting for the storm to pass. The rain subsided and luckily the rest of my ride into the park was manageable.

Blue Mound has a couple of small covered shelters at the bike in portion of the park. This gave our group a nice home base to layout gear, lean our bike, and socialize while we waited for the sun’s return.

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Our home base for the evening.

Roughly 30min-an hour after my arrival to camp brought in the last group. Bell Joy Ride Madison’s fearless leader Meagan had rolled up in true camp mom fashion with her bike packed to the gills with everything from wine to an insulated french press for our breakfast coffee. Oh how forever grateful I will be for that french press as I left my Aeropress at home for this trip.

Others also brought their share of spiked seltzers, water jugs, portable lights, and other creature comforts that we all benefited from. I have to say, these folx knew how to camp!

At some point we decided to collectively ride down the hill just outside of the park to stop at Blue Mounds Citgo & Grocery. It’s a small store that has just about everything you could need for a night of camping. We loaded up on our snacks of choice, hangout on the porch for a bit while we ate, then rode back to the campsites to make dinner on our little camp stoves.

There’s nothing like hearing the gentle whirring of a circle of stoves boiling water for everyone’s meals. I unfolded my little Esbit stove and used about a cube and half boiling water for my ramen. Most others had some sort of camping specific meals in a bag. I was happy with my little pot of ramen as the sodium was a good replacement for all the sweating I had done on the ride in.

After dinner we sat around and socialized some more. Those of us who imbibe had a seltzer or two while I also passed around my whiskey flask to anyone who cared to take a pull.

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Meagan and the group chatting about Bell Joy Ride and all things cycling!



The sun was slowly setting upon us and fireflies starting dotting the surrounding meadows and woods. For those who brought camp lights, they hung them from the ceiling of the shelter as we continued to converse. We talked about what nomenclature we used for fireflies or lightening bugs.

We talked about bikes and other activities we do outside of cycling. Each of us knew a few others in the group, but we made friends with some new women we hadn’t previously had the joys of riding with.

After awhile we all started getting ready for bed. Putting on our extra layers, brushing our teeth and doing our night-time routines. We had all made it a point to make camp when we first arrived at the sites to ensure everyone had a good spot and to make sure no one was setting up in the dark.

I got a site to myself that was on a slight downhill. I found two nicely spaced trees and had set up my hammock between them. You can see the photo of my camp as the featured image. I also used my ridgeline to hang up my wet clothes to dry overnight. I was so happy to have an extra pair of socks and bibs for the following day. My jersey had dried, but based off of the experiences of a few of the other riders, their gear hadn’t completely dried. Had we decided to start a fire, they probably could have tried to dry their gear out more, but it seemed more of a hassle to start one than to not.

The next morning we all started moving fairly early. I ended up eating an RX bar and had some coffee that Meagan offered up as she had some extra. It was what I needed to get some energy to finish packing up and rolling out.

A few riders decided to ride straight on through to Madison. Myself, Melissa (a good riding friend of mine), Patty (a riding/crossfitter friend of mine), and Brittany (a friend I met via Bell Joy Ride who later joined my cycling club) also decided to grab food at Schubert’s Restaurant, a true greasy spoon that I grew up going to. I have some relatives who live in Mount Horeb and I have always had fond memories of Schubert’s and am glad to see it still thriving.

We rolled into Mount Horeb and it was PACKED. They had their annual art fair going on and we sure got some funny looks rolling into town with fully loaded bikes and our lycra on, but we didn’t care. We sat down at the Schubert’s counter and ordered up. I made sure to get a chocolate eclair because when you ride bikes, calories don’t count *wink wink* thankfully Patty was willing to take some of that eclair off my hands so I didn’t eat the whole thing. They are huge and amazingly delicious.

After getting sufficiently stuffed, we rolled out and made our way back to Verona. We were cranking pretty hard on the way in because the 2% grade was now downhill. Eventually we parted ways as the group I was with had left from the Verona Park & Ride and I was riding back into Madison to my house.

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Melissa, Patty, Brittany, and Myself getting ready to part ways.


Overall it was a great trip, rainstorm and all. It made me miss the times that I could just decided to pack up my bike and go camping on a whim. These days it’s a little more challenging with co-managing a bike shop, having a dog, and having a partner who has a somewhat higher ranking position at the University.

It did remind me though to make more of an effort to spend time doing things outside and things I enjoy. It’s also a great way to build community and meet so many awesome people who are in the cycling community here, who I don’t normally get to interact with.

My goal for 2020 is to do a trip to Devil’s Lake either solo or with a group. It’s fairly easy to get there by bike and is much easier to get a site to camp if you bike in as State Parks don’t have any real restrictions on hike in or bike in sites as they do the other camp grounds.

If you’d like to see a video summary of this trip, I’m currently finishing editing one up and will be posting it to my YouTube channel which can be found at YouTube.com/spokehaven.

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Starting Over, AGAIN!

If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that you came here looking for Spoke Haven, the cycling club. I’m sorry to say that Spoke Haven in that iteration is no more.

After 6 years of of planning rides, designing kits, hosting events, teaching clinics, creating routes, wrangling ride leaders, sitting on boards, being a brand ambassador, working in the cycling industry, not working in the cycling industry, returning to the cycling industry, and all of life’s events in between…I’ve decided to end the club under the Spoke Haven name.

I know, it’s a bummer. The good thing is that there is still a Madison based women’s cycling club that can be found HERE.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, I’ve never been one to hold back on my thoughts or experiences. I’m sure there will be flack and I know that I’ve severed ties with women whom I used to consider friends, but when you work so hard on something for so long and see it turning into something that doesn’t represent the spirit of how the thing started, it’s time to end it.

The first cycling event I hosted officially was CycloFemme in Madison. You can probably see photos of it in the archives on here. It was an amazing event and I had many women who attended telling me they wish there was a cycling club for women in Madison that didn’t center around racing.

At the time there was the Capitol Velo Club which was a women’s club focused around training for competitive cycling. The club was dying and the leaders didn’t want to take on the responsibility any longer. At the time I didn’t understand why, but I now know thanks to my experience.

Spoke Haven was born shortly after this time. It was a way for me to offer social rides to women in the area and to build up a potential customer base for a bike shop I was hoping to open. I had written a business plan to open a more women’s focused bike shop. One that was approachable, offered more women’s options in bikes and clothing. One that made those who didn’t fit the affluent white male archetype that the cycling industry had catered to since the dawn of cycling, feel welcome!

Unfortunately the shop didn’t pan out. Adequate retail space was difficult to find and expensive. We also had two brand new shops opening in our area that would add to the already very saturated market in Madison. So I opted to work in shops and continue on with Spoke Haven as a means to continue to foster a community of local women to ride with.

The first few years were a grind. I poured countless hours into building the branding, building a website, and building up a social media following. I started a Meetup.com group to charge members to help cover the cost of marketing, insurance, kit design, printing route maps, printing stickers and business cards, fees for route planning apps, costs of having a business e-mail, etc. I never actually made any money off of the venture, in fact I lost a lot of my own personal money, but it was a labor of love and I enjoyed offering something to the community.

I was lucky enough to continue to have support of our community and had a handful of wonderful women who really stepped up and helped with leading and planning rides. They would also help out at events and represented the club when I wasn’t able to.

They spread the gospel of Spoke Haven and we had grown basically every year we existed.

This is where things started to go downhill, not for the club necessarily, but for my own personal involvement. Two years ago I had experienced incredible burnout. I had been working in a bike shop, was running Spoke Haven (still doing the majority of the back end work of it all), took on a brand ambassadorship for Liv (an experience I am ever grateful for), had been doing events for the shop, sat on the board for the WI Bike Fed, and had almost zero time to actually enjoy my life outside of the world of cycling and the commitments that came with it.

I had met with the core group of Spoke Haven ride leaders to let them know I wanted to take a step back from my duties. I let them know things in my life were changing and that I needed some time away from running the club. This was never going to be a permanent move, just something to give me a bit of a break.

I had started a new job, I wanted to focus on getting into better shape mentally and physically. I wanted to spend more time with my partner and family and not have to dedicate my time off to planning and organizing and meeting.

It was decided that those who had been ride leaders wanted to continue to run the club and I had advised that I no longer wanted Meetup to be a part of the equation because it was too time consuming to manage and wanted to simplify the club. The idea was to make it a little less official and more accessible. Meetup was costing me money that wasn’t being covered by dues and it was frankly a pain for when people wanted to renew because it wasn’t on a set annual schedule from the start of the year, instead it started whenever a new member would join.

With that, the club was being run solely off of Facebook with some info on the Spoke Haven website directing people accordingly. That format seemed to simplify some things and yet also complicate it in other ways. Ride leaders were given permissions on the page to create events, add people, share events, and post. A special secret ride leaders page was created for those of us who had the permissions to communicate with one another.

At some point I had advised our club that they had an exclusive discount at my shop for being a part of Spoke Haven. In my mind that meant that you then show loyalty to the shop who is extending that discount and don’t promote other shops or events in conflict with that support.

I hadn’t been working at the shop for a year or so (left for a couple of years to go work in insurance) and had only heard third-hand that the discount wasn’t being extended and that some people had poor experiences shopping there. It was never brought up to me directly to communicate nor negotiate with the shop to address these problems. Instead I was met with ride leaders telling people to shop elsewhere or posting events promoting rival shops over our partner shop.

My general ask of the leaders was that we as a club not promote such events or other shops and that if there are issues, to keep me in the loop.

The same went for addressing questions, comments, or concerns about the club. I requested some general updates for anything the group was planning or marketing as my name had been so closely tied with Spoke Haven not only as the club’s founder, but as a brand.

The leaders and myself had met a couple of times to help address issues. The leaders (generalizing, some- not all) thought I was putting too many restrictions on them without being more involved in the club’s week to week rides and I expressed lack of communication from them with me to keep me up to date on what was going on with the club. Literally everything for me boils down to communication.

For awhile it seemed to be alright. I had offered to lead rides as I could on days the club didn’t have a ride already scheduled. This meant the occasional brunch ride, social event, or demo event through the shop. None of my events were being attended by the leaders of Spoke Haven with the exception of one or two people. This was a pretty clear sign to me that things were not going well, there was still some feelings of hostility or something for whatever reason.

I also found that when I returned to work at my shop, a few loyal women still came in the patronize the shop, but others went and shopped elsewhere. Purchasing new bikes and accessories from other shops, ones that offered no incentives as I would have to them for being a part of the club. That is also a pretty large red flag- a blow that I realize meant it was probably time to start letting go of the club and moving on.

At first I had every intention to give Spoke Haven to them. It was a strong identifying factor for so many of the women who were part of the club, but at some point there were women who were riding with the club that had no idea what the origin even was of the club. They didn’t know who I was or how many countless events and rides we had done prior to them joining a random Tuesday night jaunt around the Olbrich area.

That didn’t bother me. What did bother me was hearing from people that the club was becoming something that didn’t reflect the spirit of creating a space for any person who identified as a woman or feminine being to come and ride. Beginner, new riders I had spoken to were put off by a couple leaders of the group telling them that if they wanted a certain type of ride that, good luck…you can plan that yourself and get people to ride or if a Tuesday didn’t work for them that they would have to start up a ride on another night because Spoke Haven doesn’t have time for that.

What had also started happening in co-rides with other groups in the area who were co-ed and having riders from those groups essentially man-splain and take over the ride, negating the whole reason why Spoke Haven existed. I also felt general resistance to opening ourselves up to promoting ourselves to being more trans and queer friendly.

The club itself does have a fair share of queer women, but the average rider could be profiled as a cis, middle-aged white woman. I was actually on the younger end of the spectrum for the club. Again, didn’t bother me much as we had a fairly good representation of age diversity. I’ve also always befriended people who are older than I, even when I was a kid.

I had one woman who I spoke to who asked me if our club was only queer people, because if so, she didn’t want to then ride with us. WHAT?! Not the type of image I wanted. Meaning, don’t come ride with us if you aren’t open to queer folks on bikes!

The straw that really broke the camel’s back was when I had planned a ride on an open date on the calendar. I had known it fell on the week of a holiday and there hadn’t been a ride event created for that date. I messaged the ride leaders and let them know I had a limited timeline to plan a ride for that day, but it was going to be cool event with a nice route. The other leaders acknowledged that usually there would have been a ride that night, a Taco Tuesday ride (which, btw I coined that term for our monthly ride and eat tacos event and they still use that ride name for themselves with the new iteration. You’re welcome, you can keep it. Yeah, I’m a little salty.) It was confirmed though that they would not be planning a ride for that evening because of the holiday.

Awesome! I was going to host a Tuesday night ride. It had been forever and I was excited to see my cycling friends again. So what ends up happening? The other ride leaders decided to plan another competing ride on top of my ride after I had exclusively worked it out with them to plan something special, something cool for the club to do.

It was this occurrence that led me to my decision. I was going to end the club as Spoke Haven. I didn’t like this weird, power play, catty, non-sense. I decided to pull all permissions from the ride leaders and close the ride leader page. I had posted, basically stating that it was a crappy thing for them to plan another ride on top of mine, even after we all had agreed that there wasn’t going to be one that night. It’s just something you don’t generally do. That’s like me knowing that a competing shop is trying to host a women’s night and then planning something to directly compete with it, you just don’t do it. It’s poor taste.

It’s like hooking up someone at my shop and then having them refer all their friends to the direct competitor, oh wait…that actually kept happening. No tact. I guess I went the eye for an eye route, guilty as charged.

The sad thing is that I really didn’t want things to get to the point that it did. I really loved meeting so many wonderful women and loved knowing that there was this entity that offered support, encouragement, and a safe space for them to ride and make friends. Many of the women hangout socially outside of just riding bikes and it’s awesome to know that my little event of CycloFemme snowballed into something that made that exist

I’m not blaming all of the ride leaders for what happened. I know part of it was my own fault. Ideally I would have made the decision two years ago to part ways and recommend they start over with something of their own. I know my actions weren’t the most noble. I was hurt though. I felt like I was being bullied by my own club. I felt like I had let in people who took advantage of my hard work and what I had built, to only shut me out when I wanted to come back and add to what the club was offering.

A couple of the leaders had asked to continue to use the Facebook page as that’s how they were communicating the last few rides of the season. I declined. I pulled all authorizations and also changed passwords of shared accounts for anything the ride leaders were using (mapping apps). I was still paying for that out of my own pocket, not massive expense, but still an expense.

I identify so strongly with Spoke Haven and it has been my baby for so long. Therefore, I want to breathe new life into it. I want to create and build and expand on what it was before. Not in the fact that I want a club, but to create content, engage with the online community, and use it as my outlet to talk about things I enjoy and have a passion for.

This will likely lead to a rebranding, meaning a new logo, a new Facebook presence, and wiping the slate clean. I’m keeping all of the old blog content on here as I know folks have reached out and found it helpful for my reviews and such.

Just know there will be a lot more new content to come and it will expand beyond just the realm of cycling.

I’m sorry to anyone that I have disappointed with my actions, but I had to do what felt right in my heart. For those of you who reached out to me or stopped into the shop after the fallout, thank you. Thank you for understanding the situation and still supporting my endeavors.

I hope to move past this and hopefully someday I’ll be on good terms with the few people who I’m sure to have upset, but if not and they never speak to me again, I guess we just weren’t meant to be.

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!

CycloFemme Madison 2017

 

image-6ace2acd09a09d9311152fb98727c511-defaultJoin Liv Cycling, Spoke Haven, Fitchburg Cycles and other area cycling groups for a special ride on Mother’s Day Weekend.

We’re offering up two route options this year. A long and a short. The long will include a ride around Lake Monona, then off to the Cap City Trail for roughly 30 beautiful miles of Madison scenery.

The short route will be around Lake Monona. Both rides will start and end at Olin Park.

The short ride will be casually paced and great for beginners and families.(10-12 mph)

The long ride option will be a little faster paced and great for more intermediate to advanced riders. (15-17 mph)

We’ll have some pre-ride nutrition and hydration available. For the long ride, we’ll have an opportunity have a restroom/water stop if it is needed at Fitchburg Cycles.

Long route riders should be ready to leave Olin Park at 10am.
Short route riders should be ready to leave Olin Park at 11am.

We’ll do a post ride stretching/yoga session after the ride, so please bring a mat, towel, or blanket if you’d like to participate.

RSVP online: https://www.facebook.com/events/1271042409669774/

Madison & Milwaukee Area Women Cyclists Join Forces for CycloFemme 2016

I am proud to announce that Spoke Haven has joined forces with Ladies’ Revolution of Milwaukee and the Bell Joy Ride- Madison to offer up a unique, women-trans-femme friendly riding experience for CycloFemme 2016.Participants will have the opportunity to try an overnight bike camping ride with the support of experienced ride leaders from the local cycling community.

Bike camping, sub 24 hour (S24O) outings, and bicycle touring have become more prominent in the past few years with the development and marketing of adventure geared bikes. There’s an increasing demand by women and men alike to find ways to use their bicycles as a vehicle to explore natural areas and enjoy the great outdoors.

The Madison and Milwaukee CycloFemme rides will take place on the packed gravel, Glacial Drumlin state trail. Milwaukee riders will have long distance, 65 mile (one way) route option or can opt to start at another location along the route for a shorter ride option. Madison area riders will have a roughly 30 mile ride option leaving from Revolution Cycles Madison or a shorter 17 mile route option starting from the Glacial Drumlin Trail head in Cottage Grove, WI. Madison area riders will also have the option to forego camping for an out and back ride to and from the trail head.

Ladies’ Revolution, Spoke Haven, and Bell Joy Ride- Madison riders will arrive at a group camp site at Sandhill Station in Lake Mills, WI. The ride itself is FREE to participants, but there is a $5 daily or $25 annual trail use fee for Glacial Drumlin. There is also a $10 fee for anyone opting to camp to help cover expenses of the site.

More information on the Madison area CycloFemme ride can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/586568414839869/

More information on the Milwaukee area CycloFemme ride can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/965124386911696/