Radical Adventure Riders Madison

Wow. I’m very bad at updating the website! So much has been happening, so I’ll just catch everyone up to speed. A few months ago Radical Adventure Riders announced there was going to be an opportunity for strategic chapters to form under the RAR name to work for equity, inclusion, diversity, and accessibility in the cycling space.

Chapters would focus on creating a safe space for femme-trans-women-non binary as well as BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) to participate in many facets of cycling. All things as a queer woman in the cycling world I have been trying to work for and have been met with the unfortunate patriarchal resistance to change or acceptance.

Fortunately when I saw there was the option of forming a chapter, I had put a call out on social media. At that time an acquaintance (KC Cross- who is doing some amazing work in the Arkansas and now Austin cycling space!) I had made at my old CrossFit gym had seen on RAR’s discord that there were others in Madison looking to get a chapter going. I got connected with a woman named Allison and had also ended up connecting with six other individuals who were looking to create a unique and welcoming space in Madison for the community to become more accessible and to grow.

Myself, Allison, Kristin (of Monday 40 fame), Keely (Shred Shed legend), G (now running Cargo Bike Shop Madison), Cami (a friend I met through selling her a bike!), Cami’s friend Kaylee (super fast lady on a bike), and Natalie (graphic design wiz for Trek) all met and are the leadership team that makes up the Madison RAR chapter.

We were able to put together a good enough proposal for a chapter to be selected as a non-funded entity. Meaning, we don’t get a stipend from sponsors, but still fall under the RAR umbrella. The funding hasn’t been an issue as we are lucky to be in a very bike-centric city with 20+ bike shops, miles of amazing riding through out and close to the city, as well as a heap of awesome new BIPOC lead orgs that we plan on collaborating with to use our connections to get more people on bikes!

Our first few events took place a couple of weeks ago. There was a Madison West & East side ride to the LGBTQIA+ owned Delta Beer Lab where we rode casually to meet and socialize. That same weekend we then did a more challenging 40+ mile ride to Gibralter Rock, a very beautiful natural overlook of the Wisconsin Driftless region. The ride was also tied into a fundraiser for the national RAR organization and their SJ Brooks scholarship that provides gear and a stipend to FTWNB and BIPOC individuals to allow them to travel by bike for a trip.

Our third event was a Madison classic ride, which is the Lake Loop route around Lake Monona. A very great way for anyone to dip their toe into cycling around these parts.

The most recent event happened today at Black Saddle Bike Shop. A newer shop on the North Side of Madison and will likely be one of our closest partner shops outside the Cargo Bike Shop as they are one of the only shops in the city to have taken the RAR Industry Pledge to educate themselves on how to become a safer space in the cycling community. They work to fight against misogyny, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Today’s event was a Bikepacking 101 social event. Some of our core leaders, including myself, brought fully geared up bikes to show how we set up for bike travel as well as discuss options for riding loaded. We also discussed some of our favorite routes, what gear we like, why we chose the bikes we did for bike packing, and held a raffle with some nice swag care of some generous folx.

The event is a way for us to help get others ready for a bike overnight trip that Black Saddle is hosting next weekend to New Glarus Woods State Park. A nice ride on some of our rail trails to make it accessible and safe for folx to try out bike packing in a group environment.

Black Saddle is even offering up a gear lending option to folks who want to try out bikepacking, but aren’t quite ready to invest in all of the gear. RAR Madison’s leadership team also is offering up gear to lend for anyone wanting to participate in the trip.


August 21st, 2021
Rides leaving at 11am or 5pm from Black Saddle

RAR has another upcoming event next week on Wednesday. A rescheduled ride from Parisi Park in Middleton. It’s a 19.4 loop heading West to the Cross Plains area. Meeting time is 5:45pm with roll out at 6pm. Details can be found by heading to @rar.madison on Instagram.

Be on the lookout for more events and content relating to RAR Madison. We have some events in the planning phases that include mountain bike rides, educational mechanical clinics, paved trail rides for beginners to group riding, fall bike packing, and more! We’re also working on building up a gear library for lending as well as a loftier goal of being able to get bikes in the hands of folx who need them for transportation as well as participating in adventure cycling at the local level.

If you’re interested in being a part of RAR Madison or donating funds, gear, or time please reach out to us on Instagram! We’d love to have community involvement.

Liv Avail Advanced Pro 1 Review

Avail-ADV-Pro-1-Carbon

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.

IMAG0400.jpg
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.

15267863_10207194975785056_6082537181789590178_n
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.

IMAG0398.jpg
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.

IMAG0483.jpg
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.

IMAG0403.jpg
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!