Women

Packing your saddlebag

May 2nd, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Written by Jared Dunham

If you’ve never had the privilege to be in the middle of the rain with a flat tire, and your last CO2 canister just leaked out, then you can’t truly appreciate having the proper tools fix a mechanical issue. Accidents on the trail will happen, and the only way to deal with these is to bring the right tools/supplies with you. The best place to store all the tools needed for your bike to survive hours of singletrack is in a saddlebag. The amount of equipment you bring in the bag is determined by the time/distance your covering. Let’s look over a few things that you should be including in your saddlebag before you go out adventuring.

Before we begin, the 3 durations we’re going to be considering for packing tools are:

  • Short Rides (Under 2 hour ride)
  • Medium Rides (2 to 5 hour ride)
  • Long Rides (5 to 10 hour ride)

Master link

  • Why should I bring it? They are generally the part of the chain that snaps when it breaks due to pressure.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1
    • Medium Rides: 2
    • Long Rides: 3+
  • Notes
    • Not all are re-usable, you might be able to take them on and off the bike, but they will not stay strong
    • Can be easily packed

Multi-tool

  • Why should I bring it? The Multi-tool exists to do any basic repairs or calibrations you need done on the trail.
  • Recommended Amount: Any Ride: 1
  • Notes
    • Make sure the multi-tool has a chain breaker, it will be one of the only things you can use to get your chain apart on the trail.

Spare Tube

  • Why should I bring it? In case you get a tire puncture from all sorts of sharp objects.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1
    • Medium Rides: 1
    • Long Rides: 2
  • Notes
    • You can zip-tie a tube to the back of your seat when racing.
    • If you have “deep” rims make sure that the valve stem of the spare tube is long.
    • zip ties, rubber bands, plastic sandwich wrap, or tinfoil to keep the tube wrapped tight.

CO2 Bike Inflator or Mini Pump

  • Why should I bring it? These devices are used to refill a fresh tube or one that has just been patched.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: 1 pump or
    • Medium Rides: 1 pump or 2 CO2 Canisters
    • Long Rides: 1 pump or 3+ CO2 Canisters
  • Notes
    • CO2 Bike inflators have a learning curve.
    • Some mini-pumps come with mounts that allow them to be attached near a water bottle cage.
    • If you mount the mini-pump, cover the nozzle from dirt and mud.
    • Mini-pumps take A LOT longer to fill a tube.

Cash

  • Why should I bring it? If your exhausted at a gas station it might save you from being forced to pawn off your bike for a ham sandwich.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: None
    • Medium Rides: $20
    • Long Rides: $20
  • Notes
    • Can be used to temporarily fill a gash in the sidewall of a tire.

Tire Patch Kit

  • Why should I bring it? In case all your tubes are punctured.
  • Recommended Amount
    • Short Rides: None
    • Medium Rides: 1
    • Long Rides: 1
  • Notes
    • Get tire patches that require glue for use.
    • Make sure the patch kit includes tire levers.

Other Ideas for Trail Bag:

  •  Zip Ties
  • Packaged Rain Poncho
  • Meat Tenderizer
  • Fire Starter Kit
  • Miniature Knife

For the pack itself, I’ve recently been using a Topeak “Aero Wedge Pack w/ Fixer”. The bag is capable of fitting everything you’ll need and more. Something great about it is the “Fixer”, which is a piece that mounts to the bottom of the seat instead of relying on straps to hold the bag. However, no matter what you’re using to carry tools it’s always important to pack enough for the time you’re riding and the pathway conditions you’re faced with. Hopefully this helps a little bit when you’re considering what to bring with you on your trail travels.

 

 


2019 Liv Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc review

October 14th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

By Elaine Sheikh
As I entered my first full year of competitive cycling, one thing was certain: I was due for a bicycle upgrade. This became very evident in April at the Tour of the Gila when there were no neutral wheels available to me as I was the only woman in the peloton with a 10-speed cassette! Since Liv, a sister company of Giant featuring women-specific bicycles, is a sponsor of our team, I knew I wanted to start there with my bicycle search. Fortunately, Liv offers a comprehensive line-up of race bicycles, so I knew I would find a bike that would meet my needs. After much research and vascillation, I chose the 2019 Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc. With an advanced-grade composite frame, Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset, and Giant SLR-1 Disc 30 WheelSystem, I knew I would be getting quite an upgrade from my previous race machine.

The first thing I did was upgrade the crankset from a compact to a mid-compact with a Pioneer powermeter. I knew that with the 11×30 cassette, I would have no trouble with the larger chain-rings. Otherwise, the only other change to the original product was the saddle. The wheelset comes tubeless ready, which is how I ran it.
First impressions: The bike is gorgeous, with a sleek black finish and small dark purple and gold accents. I expected the bike to be light, but I was still surprised with the lightness of the bike when I picked it up. Riding over chip seal, I found that my wrists, arms and shoulders felt remarkably less fatigue than n my previous bike. The shock absorption of the composite frame lends itself to a smooth, comfortable ride. The bike accelerates quickly, with enough stiffness to be responsive. Additionally, it is also stiff enough in the lateral planes to corner confidently. Overall, I have loved my first week with the new bicycle and can’t wait to represent Team Athletic Mentors and Liv bicyles for the rest of the road season!

 


Stepping out of my comfort zone… the Lexus Velodrome

April 22nd, 2018 by Marie Dershem

In January 2018, the Lexus Velodrome opened its doors right in downtown Detroit. This is great news for the Michigan cycling scene. At a time where USAC memberships are declining, road race and criterium participation continues to decrease, and cyclists are gravitating towards gravel road events, where there are in slightly less danger from vehicular traffic, the future of amateur bicycle racing is unknown. Participation by women is especially low, leaving advocates searching for ways to entice more women to ride competitively.

Personally, I’m a roadie. I’ve never had any interest in track cycling. At 5’1” and under 110 lbs, I fly up hills, but lack the raw power that track cyclists are known for. I’m also a little bit afraid of going fast, as anyone who has waited for me at the bottom of a mountain (while I ride the brakes all the way down) knows. If you have spent any time on youtube watching the “track cycling fails” videos,  walking into the center of the velodrome and staring up at the 50 degree banked turns that rise up like a wooden wall before you, will make you shake a little bit. But, I’m a firm believer in stepping outside your comfort zone and doing things that scare you. So in March, I signed up for a Track 101 course on a Saturday morning.

The velodrome provides fixed gear bicycle rentals for only $10, and has multiple bicycles in every size. The bicycles were in excellent condition. They are fitted with Shimano clip-less pedals, but if you don’t have compatible cleats, the velodrome provides shoes as well for no additional cost. The morning started with about 20 participants sitting in the infield while Dale Hughes, the velodrome designer, gave initial instructions on the track itself and riding a fixed gear. As he talked, I looked around. There was only one other female participant besides myself. The majority of the male participants were over the age of 40. Welcome to cycling.

Soon, we were up on the track! I was petrified going into the first turn, convinced I was going to slide down the track and end up with a side full of splinters. When I finally realized that I’m not special and I was going to keep my tires down on the track just like everyone else, I relaxed and began to actually enjoy the speed I could maintain. All in all, we each got to be up on the track at least three times for 5-10 minutes during the 2 hour class. There were three sit-down instructional segments, and then 1 solo attempt on the track and 2 group exercises. Afterwards, there was open track so teammate, Bobby Munro, and I were able to work on additional skills.

Overall, it was an excellent experience. Dale did a great job with instructing, and the bikes and shoes were of good quality and excellent condition. I’m not planning on switching to track cycling any time soon, but I would highly recommend that other cyclists give this a try if given a chance! It’s definitely a “bucket list” experience!
My tips: don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a fixed gear bicycle. As long as you are comfortable riding with clipless pedals, you will be fine. Make sure you bring CLEAR glasses. The air can dry out your eyes when you are traveling at high speeds, but you will be indoors so sunglasses are not ideal. It’s also a little chilly in the velodrome so bring a jacket to wear while sitting around the infield.


The “Professional” Athlete

April 13th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

One definition offered by the Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word professional as “characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession”. Further, it defines a profession as “a principal calling, vocation, or employment”, another way of saying a profession is a job. Seriousness of conduct is at a higher level then what one would approach with a hobby. Though we don’t race for a living, everyone on a team benefits from professionalism. Here are a few ways to be “professional” and how it positively impacts yourself and the team?

 

 

Sharp Dressed (Wo)man

Nothing says “conforming to the technical” like a group that looks the same. More than matching jerseys and bibs, a truly professional look includes socks, helmets, accessory equipment (glasses, gloves, shoe covers, bikes, etc.) and even cool weather wear. It’s imperative riders maintain a clean bike and kit. Team Athletic Mentors’ management puts a lot of attention and effort towards projecting a brand and we all have a role in that.

Take Pride in Your Team

A professionally run team establishes a vision and follows it. TAM has looked to develop riders. Some have gone on to higher ranks, like the ProTour, and even become nationa

l champions. As a member of the team, you are part of that legacy. When other riders see you, they see a team with high standards and a history of success. You have been chosen to continue an image, so take pride. This pride is not just racing or riding in your kit, but wearing the team casual wear during cycling and promotional events.

Team Mates and Sponsors First

Being professional means holding up your end of a bargain. Part of this is supporting the sponsors that provide resources to the team. Take every opportunity to promote sponsors’ products, keeping negative assessments within the team. Following through on your contractual agreements maintains the team’s ability to keep and hold sponsors. Think of your actions as reflecting those on your jersey and in your jersey.

Be an Ambassador

True professionals take responsibility to foster their livelihood. At our level, that means promoting the sport we love. Be approachable by strangers. Look to help more novice racers. Get in front of the camera. Most of us aren’t genetic freaks destine for greatness in cycling, but, rather, people passionate about a sport. Project that passion by supporting it any positive way so people see it means something to someone. People appreciate passion.

Make a Good First Impression

A professional conducts themselves at a high character level consistently. Sharp looking, organized teams get noticed, which makes the need to act your best even more important. Maintain an even keel during the heat of racing. Communicate with others through social media, in person, or other means, as if the spotlight was always on. This includes when giving our opinion with race officials and promoters. Don’t forget having your attire leave no doubt who you race for while on the podium.

Add Value to Your Team

A well run team has a lot of moving pieces. Those pieces working in concert are what make an organization better than the sum of its parts. Try to look for ways to help, even if it’s just to offer your assistance. Most athletes have an expertise in some area(s), even if it’s just time, that can benefit everyone. Few good things happen by chance, but through effort by someone that cared.

Support Your Team Mates

One quality of a good team is people want to be a part of it. This usually isn’t the clothes they get, bikes they ride or deals offered. It comes down to feeling part of something where they are supported. Giving assistance, passing on knowledge, watching a fellow team mate and cheering them on are part of this support. It’s always best to feel we can share our triumphs and tragedies.

It’s a privilege to be on any well run team, but especially ours. Show that appreciation by projecting a professional image and sportsmanship. Represent yourself, your team, and the sport of cycling well.


Why I Raced an Impromptu Half Marathon

March 25th, 2018 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Kaitlyn Patterson

I love empowered, passionate people. And when such people have a mission that especially resonates with me, I will likely be a long-time admirer (albeit possibly a quiet admirer).

Emily Schaller is one of the people who has won me over. Emily came to our first year medical school class last year as one of our “patient presentations.”  One of the more impactful parts of the first year of medical school, patient presentations involve volunteers dealing with chronic diseases come talk to us about the textbooks don’t tell us, namely what life is really like.  I was highly impressed with all the people who volunteer to be honest and vulnerable with 170 future-physicians, often year after year. 

Emily has cystic fibrosis, a condition that causes mucus to be thick and sticky, causing chronic lung problems as well as difficulty absorbing nutrients. It can be devastating and even with current treatments, the median life span is 41.  Emily is an exceptionally charismatic person and captivated all of us as she told her story of essentially taking back her lung function and life through running and improved nutrition. Her story is also captured in a series of short videos by BreadTruck films.

She started the Rock CF Foundation in 2007, an organization devoted to CF awareness, fundraising and advocacy in the greater Detroit area. This involves raising money to donate running shoes and race entries to people with CF through “Kicks Back” and advocating CF research, including integrating exercise as as a treatment tool.  One of the big Rock CF events is the Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon held around Grosse Ile in March.

She gave a quick plug for the race during her talk last year and it has stuck on my radar since then. I have been fortunate enough to remain injury free while running this winter and when my clinical schedule was free this weekend, I decided to go for it.  I hadn’t been specifically preparing for it but felt that my running was consistent enough that it wasn’t a stupid idea either.

Yes, it was cold enough to justify the ski suit!

This was the eighth year of the race and it has grown to thousands-strong, a testament to Emily’s efforts and the strong sense of community and purpose surrounding the foundation and the race. The event was extremely well run and it was awesome to see so many people out and excited to race on a windy, chilly day in March.

 

Although I’ve identified as a cyclist for years, it is always fun and a bit nostalgic for me to jump back into an open running race. With minimal fitness tests and irregular training over the winter, I had no idea what to expect. I managed to pace it pretty well and ended up 3rd in 1:25 in a strong women’s field. 

Kudos to the Rock CF Foundation and Emily for an impressive mission and great day!

Full results


One of the best days of the year…

March 15th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

As a cyclist in Michigan, there are some monumental days on the calendar:

  1. Yankee Springs Time Trial – the opening of the MTB race season
  2. Barry-Roubaix – the largest and one of the most popular gravel road races in MI
  3. Race for the wishes – the road race that often serves as our state championship
  4. Alma GP of CX – the kick-off for cyclocrossers
  5. Iceman Cometh – the point-to-point MTB race that draws thousands of participants and a stacked pro field to Traverse City

Then there’s the day that every cyclist on a team looks forward to as much (or more) than these monuments of the Michigan cycling calendar . . . new kit arrival day! That’s right – the day that our new lycra arrives is one of the highlights of the year. This is especially true when your new kit is from Giordana.

I am anything but a professional racer, but as someone who logs between 7,000 – 8,000 miles on his bike each year, I most definitely have an appreciation for the equipment that makes my riding more comfortable and enjoyable.

Since joining Athletic Mentors cycling team, I have had the opportunity to wear Giordana gear. I anticipated the change from another brand to be difficult, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality, comfort, durability and aesthetic of our Giordana kit. When we head outside in the chilly morning in the Spring, the lined Roubaix line of bibs, jerseys and arm warmers are just right to keep me focused on my miles and not the air temperature. When the long rides of a hot summer afternoon hit, I have come to appreciate the breathability of the Scatto jerseys that allow enough ventilation to keep me feeling cool. Regardless of the weather, I most appreciate the comfort and quality of the chamois. I know, no one likes to talk about those parts, but if you are going to log serious miles, this becomes a critical contact point between cyclist and bike. I have been amazed not just at the comfort of the chamois, but the durability. With other brands, this critical component of the kit had a definite shelf life. I have yet to experience that with my Giordana chamois.

Finally, the aesthetic of the kit looks great. Whether I find myself logging some solo miles, riding in the peloton or on the those rare occasions I get to stand on a podium, I look forward to wearing my team colors in my Giordana kit. And I always look forward to new kit arrival day each spring . . .


Steps to Getting Better Sleep

February 1st, 2018 by Marie Dershem

In today’s culture, poor sleep is worn almost like a badge of honor. If you are a high achiever, whether in your job, with your family, or just trying to live a full life, sleep often takes a back seat to our attention. It’s the place often sacrificed to find more time in the day. However, science is showing time and again that better sleep is imperative to good health. Many don’t know that simple changes to the daily task of getting to sleep can help them feel more rested and ready to take on their day, and aid their long term health. Here are some steps to take for more effective rest.

Establish a Sleep Schedule

Many daily biological patterns are based off the body’s circadian rhythm. This system is cued into light and other waking stimuli, and best responds to a pattern of regularity. Set aside 7.5-8.5 hours to sleep each night. Try to retire at the same time, rising around the same time each morning. Weekends should replicate the weekly waking and sleeping times as well, where possible. Avoid long naps (greater than 30 mins) in the day as these impact the ability to fall asleep at a normal time.

Adjust Your Surroundings

The place one sleeps should be inviting. For many, this means some place cool, dark, and calm. Others benefit from a fan or other device to give a consistent, gentle background sound. Minimizing stimulating your senses through blocking out sounds, light, or other things that will prevent relaxation. This includes not using television, phones, computers, or radio when trying to fall asleep.

Prepare the Body

It is common to try to work or be active right up till it’s time to go to bed. However, this keeps the body on alert. Hormones are released to tell us when to rise, prepare us for proper function, and give appropriate arousal to best perform in our day.

These aspects of the “biological clock” are influenced by outside cues, like light, sound and other stimuli. It’s best to allow the body time to adjust away from this alert state. As the evening hours begin, dim or shut off lights within the house. If spending time on the computer shortly before bed, consider installing a program that removes blue light to lower stimulation. Do some relaxing activity before sleeping, like reading a book or taking a bath. Not only should work be avoided as you’re approaching bedtime, but also exercise or other activities that keep the body charged up.

Though going to bed hungry doesn’t promote quality sleep, neither does stuffing oneself. Be careful how much you consume leading up to the hours before bed.Also note that excessive fluids will likely cause the need to hit the bathroom at some point in your slumber. Caffeine, alcohol, some herbs, and nicotine can be stimulants that hinder a quick fall into a useful sleep cycle. These can take hours to get out of the system, so pay attention to when to stop ingesting them. Alcohol especially can make the sleep one gets poorer then it should as well.


A Thousand Invisible Mornings

January 13th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

This time of year, I often need a little inspiration to keep up (or start up) my training.

In the fall, the weather and beauty draws me outside to ride the lovely Michigan countryside.

In the spring, I am so eager to get back on my bike outside, I can hardly wait for clear roads and warmer temps.

In the summer, the sun and warmth, group rides and racing provide daily motivation to ride hard and long.

But, this time of year… especially those windy, gray days when there isn’t enough snow to get out and enjoy, the trainer becomes the best option.

Morning after morning after morning on the trainer can suck the motivation right out of you. With ever-improving technology making trainer rides more enjoyable, even the hardcore Zwifters have to long for a breath of fresh air.

A few days ago, my college roommate and rowing teammate sent me a photo that spoke to that deep motivation… that drive to use these cold months of indoor training to become the best athlete I can be. It is perfect. I hope it helps you get through until Michigan welcomes us back outside!


Confidence and Humility- An Elusive Pairing

December 21st, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Kaitlyn Patterson

The sport of cycling has enough quirks and intricacies to occupy athletes, coaches and fans for a lifetime.  It is an easy sport to obsess about numbers, both physiologic: power, weight, heart rate; and mechanical: rolling resistance, tire pressure, gear ratios, wheel size, and so on. However, I find it interesting that all of this can be totally overshadowed by what is between a rider’s ears. A VO2 of 70 and a decked-out bike doesn’t guarantee podiums, and instead can easily overshadowed by a sub-par mentality.

Confidence is a huge part of riding and racing that can present a challenge to everyone across the experience curve.  Coming from a running background with an aerobic engine but no bike handling skills, developing and maintaining confidence has been work in progress for years.  It quickly became apparent that being confident on the bike is the product of both experience and mindset.  Even after logging hours on the trails, some days I can regress to a newbie rider if my mind isn’t in the right place. More experience on the bike has made these fluctuations somewhat less dramatic but it has become obvious that confidence is something that needs to be deliberately prepared, just like bodies or bikes.  This can be an exceptionally difficult thing to do, especially in a sport in which brakes and doubt have the potential to relegate you over the handlebars. However, training myself to recognize and tame thoughts that interfere with the task at hand has been an exceptionally useful and transferable skill.

As importance as confidence is, the confidence trap can also be dangerous on the other end of the spectrum. Confidence to the extreme can take the form of arrogance or recklessness.  Even with optimal preparation, anything can happen in bike racing.  Reminders of the fickle nature of the sport often surface during moments of over-confidence- pulling up before the finish line, riding outside your abilities and making mistakes, or underestimating others’ abilities before races.  It never hurts to bring a dose of humility with every race and ride regardless of race resume.

Even in the absence of frank arrogance, there are a couple lessons in humility that we can all take from cycling. First is the acceptance that there are only a limited number of variables we can control.  Optimal preparation and race execution can still be derailed by mechanicals and other racer’s mistakes. Second, even though the regulars on the podium may get a disproportional amount of attention, there are countless “races within the race” and untold stories that are even more impressive than clocking the fastest time.  It can be easy to attribute podiums talent and hard work but it also takes an undeniable contribution of luck and privilege.

This delicate balance of confidence and humility is played out nearly exactly in medical training. Especially early in training, confidence is a difficult thing to cultivate with an experience base much smaller than the other members of the team. But we soon realize that the learning curve never actually ends and the best physicians continue to balance leadership with awareness of the limitations of their abilities and knowledge. Professional confidence will come with growing experience and knowledge base, but also needs to be deliberately developed, just like on the bike. Similarly, humility should be a constant companion with every encounter with patients and other members of the healthcare team. The consequences of neglecting this might not be as dramatic as an endo, but the impact can be much more significant.

Extrapolating life lessons from a sport seems a bit trivial but I’ve been reminded of these themes often in both cycling and medicine. Navigating the balance of humility and confidence in either sphere is exceptionally difficult and probably can never really be mastered. But I think this elusive task that is part of the intrigue of both cycling and medicine.


Winning at a different game… women and aging

October 27th, 2017 by Marie Dershem

By JoAnn Cranson

At almost 57 years old, I am happy to report that I am in the best shape of my life! Yes, I have hot flashes, wrinkles and don’t always sleep well, but I’ve never been a faster cyclist! I have the joy of visiting my doctor and seeing their surprise that my pulse is 56 and I take no medication… a rarity to be sure.

No, this doesn’t come without some hard work, but the benefits are worth the effort. Here, I’ve outlined 5 steps for you to work your way into shape no matter what your age.

  1. Lift weights! I know you say “Do I have to?” YES, it is so good for us in so many aspects that you need to do it. We lose up to 30% of our muscle mass between ages 50 and 70. Muscle loss affects so much. Most importantly it helps us to remain independent as we age. By keeping our “core” strong, we maintain our overall balance which means less falls and broken bones. But to build muscle mass, you do need to lift with 60-85% intensity… you need to sweat. Get a training buddy and lift 3 or 4 times a week. Oh yeah, another benefit—Lifting increases your metabolism, which means weight loss!
  2. Get off the couch and do something that makes your heart work. My cardio is biking. Find something you like to do and make it a habit. Once again, you need to understand your own body and increase your heart-rate to the correct “zone” to get the best benefit.
  3. Keep trying new ways to stay active overall. Step out of your comfort zone, Don’t worry what others think, My comment is “I’m old, who cares!” I took my first swim lessons last winter to learn how to swim. I was definitely one of the oldest in the class. I had no clue how to do the proper breathing in the freestyle swim, but I learned. You can teach an old dog new tricks!! I had to practice a lot more than the younger class members, but I now have the basics to build on.
  4. Watch and monitor your food content on a daily basis, try MyFitnessPal app. By recording your food, it helps you to understand how much and what types of food you are eating. As you form healthy eating habits you will be amazed by your increased energy and overall body function.
  5. Positive attitude – if you don’t feel like you are positive – fake it until you make it! If you do steps 1-4, you will see a huge change in your hormones which will naturally help you feel good!

The bottom line is that menopause will come to all women whether we like it or not. Don’t succumb to it, embrace it and overcome it! Some people say I’m crazy for racing, that may be but it takes me to my happy place. I would have never imagined I’d be sponsored on a race team at this time in my life. Take the first step and see where your passion takes you. Yes, it’s a sacrifice to make time for exercise and healthy habits, but YOU are worth it!!

Don’t know where to start in a program, contact Athletic Mentors. They offer all kinds of programs at their location or remotely. www.athleticmentors.com



SPONSORSView All


 
Team Athletic Mentors
© 2019 - Team Athletic Mentors