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 Avail Advanced Pro 1 Review

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Full disclosure- I am a brand ambassador for Liv Cycling. I get some free product from the company because of my ambassadorship, but I did purchase this particular bike. I was not given the bike for free and my thoughts on the bike are honest and transparent. That being said, you can form your own opinion on what I have to say.

Road bikes have come a long way in a very short amount of time. Gone are the days of worrying about brittle carbon, threaded stems, friction shifters, and ultra skinny tires.

The carbon of today is extremely strong, even stronger than some aluminum tubing. Bikes are now lighter, faster, and much more comfortable. The Liv Avail is no exception.

The Avail model is an endurance road machine. It’s designed for long days in the saddle and will gobble up any pothole riddled roads you throw at it.  It also shines as a road model with less aggressive geometry, creating a comfortable platform for the enthusiast rider.

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My Avail Advanced Pro lovingly named Firefly.

The advanced models of the Liv Avail are made with the brand’s highest quality carbon fiber weave. Liv’s models are designed by and for women, creating carbon layups to offer a balanced ride. The major differences between the brother and sister brands Liv & Giant is the consideration of how men and women carry their weight. The differences in balance points as well as limb length, flexibility, leg length, torso length, and weight are also considered in design.

Liv’s women specific design may not be for every lady, but they are a great option to consider if you’ve struggled to find a comfortable fit on other brands.

The Liv Avail Advanced Pro 1 is a model that was released in 2017. There is currently no exact  updated 2018 model. A similarly spec’d model for 2018 is the Avail Advanced 1 with the biggest differences being an alloy wheel set and Shimano 105 level shifters instead of Ultegra level shifters.

The other option would be to go with the Avail Advanced Pro with Ultegra Di2 shifters and carbon SLR tubeless compatible wheels. The price jump between the models is pretty significant, but I personally think going with carbon wheels to drop significant weight and increase ride quality is worth the investment.

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Maiden Voyage

 

The 2017 Avail Advanced Pro 1 came somewhere in between the 2018 model options at a retail price of $3250. When price comparing against other major manufacturers, the Avail Advanced Pro 1 was the best bang for the buck. Similarly spec’d models came in at anywhere from $4200-5000 MSRP, that’s not even considering the hydraulic disc brakes that the Avail offered. If shopping off of price alone when looking at the spec’s, there’s no contest that the Avail Advanced lineup is a great option.

The thing that I think surprised me most about the Avail Advanced Pro 1 was the out of the box fit. Each previous road bike I have owned needed quite a bit of tweaking of components to get them the bike to fit comfortably. Major changes to the saddles, stems, and handlebars were necessary to enjoy riding long distances.

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From the bike path to gravel to country roads, the Avail Advanced Pro 1 can handle them all!

When building the bike up from out of the box, the only thing I did was flip the step to have a slightly taller rise and swapped the saddle out for one that had a cutout in the center of it. That’s not to say the stock saddle wasn’t comfortable, Liv does a fantastic job. I just know that I have a very particular saddle width I like to ride and know that a center cutout is also something I need in a road saddle. (Off topic, but the Liv contact SL forward saddle that is spec’d on their mountain bikes is one of the most comfortable MTB saddles I have ever ridden!)

I dialed in my seat height, using my old road bike measurements as well as the fore-aft position and I was set! I honestly couldn’t believe I haven’t had to make any changes beyond that to get dialed in.

The ride quality of the bike is easy on the body. The full carbon frame set paired with a carbon seat post and carbon SLR wheels makes for a light, smooth ride. Road noise is very minimal. The wheels are tubeless compatible, which I did initially set them up tubeless as the bike comes with the Giant Gavia tubeless road tires. I did have an unfortunate run in with a piece of glass that ended up creating a pretty large hole in the rear tire and caused the tubeless sealant to spew out onto my seat bag. I have since swapped in a tube for my rear tire, but have maintained the front tire as tubeless with sealant. For reference, I usually run anywhere from 90-100psi in my tires. I prefer the slightly wider 25mm tires with a lower pressure for good ride quality.

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The disc brakes make it easy to service the bike or change out a flat.

I do not participate in road racing, nor is it my goal to always attempt to get a Strava QOM, so ride comfort reigns supreme when dialing in my ride.

The handling of the bike is excellent. It tracks predictably, cornering is smooth as butter. I was a bit concerned with how the bike would would climb, but with the weight of the bike being light with the carbon SLR wheels, it can definitely gear up quickly and is quite responsive. I’d be curious to see how it compares with the new 2018 Liv Langma model, a road machine geared for climbing and performance.

One of my favorite features of the Avail Advanced Pro 1 is the hydraulic disc brakes. I’ve never felt so confident stopping on a road bike. I can ride in rain and cruddy weather without worrying about destroying my rims or  brake pads. The Shimano Ultegra hydraulic levers feel great in hand. My hands get much less fatigued with breaking on steep downhills as the actuation of the braking is absolutely smooth.

The new 11-speed Ultegra road gruppo also performs quickly and reliably. Even in the age of electronic shifters, I still prefer the functionality and performance of a mechanical group set. The shifts are snappy and reliable every time, even when shifting chain rings. I can go from shifting into an easy gear combo for ripping up a hill, to a heavy mashing gear for when I want to pick up speed on a downhill to gain momentum for the next climb.

I’ve really appreciated Liv’s attention to detail with spec-ing out the bike. It gives me no hesitation of recommending the model to anyone from the novice road rider to someone who has been a long time road enthusiast. The bike is worth every penny of its cost. The Avail Advanced Pro is a model option that anyone could enjoy and a new rider purchasing it would not feel the buyer’s remorse of not investing in a model with higher end components. The Advanced models are set up to be bikes that can grow with you as a rider and offer a quality of ride that is comfortable and reliable.

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Enjoying a rainy ride on Firefly through the Arboretum.

I would highly recommend trying an Avail model whether it be Advanced or otherwise. I’ve personally ridden and owned several similar endurance road models from competitors and have thoroughly enjoyed the Avail as one of the best bikes I have owned.

There’s a lot of hype and efforts to insert unnecessary dampening into endurance road models that make them feel dead or even sluggish to ride. The Avail uses nothing but great frame design and quality components to offer a great road model.

For more information about Liv as a brand or the Avail model line up, please visit the Liv Cycling website!

The Power of the Bicycle

 

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Riding with a plethora of ladies at Cyclofemme Madison

Freedom- it’s the first that that comes to mind when I think about cycling. Buying my first road bike was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. After high school I moved to Madison, WI. A college town that in the 13 years I’ve lived here, will forever have issues with parking and cramming traffic riddled streets with cars. Cars trying to navigate the tiny isthmus between our two massive lakes.

I found riding a bike to be one of the most efficient and inexpensive ways to get to where I needed to go. I started riding out of necessity more than anything, but it opened the door to some pretty amazing experiences.

My love for two wheels really started to grow when I decided to purchase an 80’s Raleigh Sportif. It was an old 12 speed bike with a step through frame and friction shifters. Having little experience with maintaining a bike with actual gears, I decided to ask a friend to help convert it to a single speed, in order to simplify the riding experience.

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The Raleigh Sportif decked out in hipster glory.

That bike took me between my two jobs, on bike camping trips, to commutes to the grocery store, and everywhere in between. I loved it. One of the  two jobs I rode it to was at a local bike shop. A friend helped me get a job on the sales floor and it inspired me to sign up for my first ever charity bike ride. Working at the shop afforded me access to inexpensive or even free gear from fellow employees. I was able to purchase my first “road”, technically it was a cyclocross bike, for the ride. I had chosen to purchase a Surly Cross Check.

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The Surly CrossCheck that fueled my passion.

I picked it due to it’s versatility. I could put smooth road tires on it, I could outfit it with a rack or fenders, and use it for commuting. It fit the bill for everything I needed out of a bike.

My training rides consisted of rides around our beautiful lakes, commutes to my job across town, rides on the Capital City Trail, rail trail excursions, and even let me to do my first really long overnight ride. My partner and I rode to Governor Dodge on Military Ridge and back to Madison.

It became my obsession. All I could think about were bikes and cycling gear. I obsessed over components, what clothing to buy, commuter gear, and getting as many miles in as I could on that bike. I had worked hard all summer to save up for the bike between my two jobs. I wasn’t in school at the time and had been staying practically rent free with my partner in our tiny one bedroom in downtown Madison. It was a wonderful time to start a new, expensive hobby!

That summer we had also completed our first Wisconsin Aids Ride, known as the ACT ride. It was 300 miles in four days across Wisconsin’s famous Driftless region. Each day we cycled a different portion of the state and we camped at local schools at night. It was hot, the hills were hard, but it was incredibly satisfying to get to the finish at the Capitol Square, in the heart of downtown Madison.

Many hours of training, fundraising, and agonizing over gear to bring all paid off for that experience.

It truly changed my life and it’s led me to a passion that still burns within me. I enjoy telling people my story about how I got so involved with the world of cycling, because I started out to it being completely new and absolutely clueless. Yes, it can be intimidating coming into a new activity where you know absolutely nothing, but it’s worth trying it out. You never know where it may take you.

We have all been there and you are never completely on your own when starting something new. Just a reminder as you may be looking to hop into something that is new or scary.

Cycling led me to where I am today and it’s opened my eyes to so many wonderful things. It helped give me the confidence I needed to know that I can make it through something that is extremely challenging. It provided me mental and physical strength I never knew I had and I want to take a moment to reflect upon that and thank cycling for what it has provided me.

It’s a wonderful stepping stone into wellness and I would encourage everyone to give it a go!

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A recent photo of myself. I took up mountain biking within the last couple of years.

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/