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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shop Local: Creative Gifts for the Cyclists on Your List


Creative Gifts for the Cyclist on your List

 If you are anything like me, you struggle to figure out what to get your favorite cyclist for Christmas (or Birthday, or any other holiday!). My significant other knows WAY more about bikes that I ever will, so when thinking of a gift, I have to get creative. Bike parts and accessories are fantastic, but you have to know precisely what to get…and I never do :) I’ve put together a list of creative ideas that support local businesses and fellow cyclists. If you have any more ideas to add, send them my way and I’ll update the list!!

-A framed photograph of them racing

We have a bunch of very talented photographers that are nice enough to show up to local races and spend hours taking pictures. I know I love pouring over the photographs after races and really, who doesn’t like a great looking photo of themselves? Especially a bad ass racing photo! The following photographers have websites to order either prints or digital copies (print your own). Stick the photo in a frame and your gift is ready to give!

· Angy Snoop http://angysnoop.smugmug.com/

· Eric Roccacecca http://secca.smugmug.com/

· Dave Mable http://davemable.smugmug.com/Sports

· Jeff Corocan www.corcoransphotos.com

· Justin Torner www.justintornerphotography.com

· Mauro Heck http://www.flickr.com/photos/mauroheck/sets/ or (maurojheck@yahoo.com)

-CJH Recycled Bicycle Part Jewelry

Don’t know what to get your significant other, your mom, aunt, niece, or grandma? Check out Cara Hamann’s great selection of handcrafted jewelry! Cara incorporates various bicycle parts (chain parts, inner tube, spoke nipples, etc.) into her jewelry designs, some so subtle you might not know there are bicycle parts included, and others more obvious. Her pieces are available locally at Geoff’s Bike & Ski or online via her Etsy website.

Website: http://cjhjewelry.com/

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/cjhjewelry

-Chamois Time/Iowa City Cycling Club T-Shirts, Tanks, or Socks

Show your support for the Iowa City Women’s Cycling Club, and purchase socks, Biker Chic tanks, or men’s or women’s t-shirts. Or go ahead and buy one of each! Email (icwomenscycling@gmail.com) or send a message on Facebook to purchase.



-Customized Apparel from Iowa Book & Supply

Stop by Iowa Book & Supply in downtown Iowa City to see Brittany McConnell for all your screen printing needs! With their new AnaJet printer, they are able to print shirts (and many other apparel items- just ask!) by the singles, with as many colors as you want. Bring in your own designs or check out some that have already been created. I have seen many of Brittany's creations first hand and they are all super cute and printed on really nice quality t-shirts.


-Handmade Soap

Bikers like to get dirty (and sometimes smelly!), help them clean up and smell fresh with handmade soap!

Amy's Soap by Amy Thaller



-Q7 Cycling Merchandise

Mens, Womens, & Kids jersey's, t-shirts, cycling socks, and accessories.





-An ICORR Membership

Buy them an annual ICORR membership! Not only will you help support the local trails they love to ride, but through the membership you will also be giving them free entry to all the ICORR Time Trials! Membership also comes with a free water bottle so you have something physical to give the recipient.


-Give the gift of fitness- Spin Class Punch Cards

Kim Eppen teaches a killer Spin Class on Monday’s Nights at Core Fitness (Iowa City). Core Fitness offers punch cards for classes which are great, and much less expensive, than paying a monthly membership. Although a normal membership would also make a great gift!

Carrie Van Orden opened a brand new studio this year, MaxEffect Cycling & Fitness. Her studio offers Spin Classes, Total Body Training, and Core Strengthening. Your first ride is free and she has 5, 10, & 20 ride passes, as well as monthly unlimited spin classes offered. Check out her website for more details! www.maxeffectstudio.com


Craig Carman and Thomas Behne are two very talented artists from the area who also happen to be cyclists. Pieces from either (or both!) would make an excellent addition to anyone's home. 




-Anything from your local bike shop!

So there are endless options here. Need some stocking stuffer ideas? How about some honey stinger waffles, pro bars, shot bloks or gu? Go crazy with several pairs of cycling socks – you can never have too many! Or how about gifting a new pair of gloves, or a sweet new blinkie light? If you have a little one on your list, surprise them with a new bike (and helmet of course)! I got this sweet looking Specialized Hotwalk and matching helmet at Geoff’s Bike & Ski for my littlest nephew (Christmas was too far way!).

Little cutie! (we are still working on helmet straps...)


-Thank any of the numerous supporters of local bike racing by shopping their businesses. Gift cards to these place would make a nice (and meaningful) gift for your racer!

Geoff’s Bike & Ski                          Carlos O’Kellys                             Active Endeavors

G-Spot Hair Salon                          Bluebird Dinner                             Atlas

New Pi Co-op                                 World of Bikes                              30th CenturyBicycle

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Countdown to Thanksgiving

It’s almost Turkey Time!

And I’m getting excited! I’ve always got food on my mind (what cyclist doesn’t?) and am eager to try out some new recipes. I’ve turned into somewhat of a food snob and insist on using “real” ingredients for my Thanksgiving cooking. No prepackaged items, cream of whatever soup, or fake whipped topping will do. If I could go as far as too get my milk/cream straight from the cow I would. I tried convincing my Grandma to get some dairy cows for her farm and she suggested I put one in my backyard and deal with it myself….they are apparently pretty stubborn. But I digress…

Grandma & me on my wedding Day. She hates getting her picture taken,  so this is the most recent one I have of us of us together. Just don't tell her I posted it online!

My parents are actually hosting, but with around 30-40 relatives, I like to help out as much as I can. And really, it’s just an excuse for me to do a bunch a baking and cooking.

On the agenda are Sweet Potato Brioche Rolls and Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Traditional items with classic fall ingredients added to make them a little more nutrient dense and hopefully, more flavorful and delicious! Although, If you’ve ever been to my family’s Thanksgiving you know my mom also makes some killer crescent rolls, and I’m not trying to upstage her! But her rolls disappear quicker than beer at a ‘cross race, and I want some leftover bread darn-it!

I’ve also volunteered to take on the turkey. I’ve got my eye on a pasture raised, antibiotic and growth hormone free turkey from our local Co-Op, and it’s a steal for less than $2.00 a pound. I plan trying out this recipe that involves brining, for the big day. Wish me luck!

And of course, no Thanksgiving meal is complete with pumpkin pie! I just finished baking three pie pumpkins to make fresh puree with, and am waiting for them to cool as I type.

What are your favorite recipes to whip up for Thanksgiving? Are you trying out anything new this year?!

I'm sure I'll have this guy (nephew) "helping" me in the kitchen Thanksgiving day. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jingle Cross - Day 1

What a weekend! Seeing the course all set up, with team buses, rv’s, and tents everywhere as we arrived at the fairgrounds on Friday was really cool, I was a little mesmerized. Aaron and I had spent a few 6+ hour workdays at the fairgrounds, helping to get things prepped for the race. While many others had spent far more time putting the course together than we did, we still felt a sense of pride as the huge weekend of racing was getting ready to unfold.

I had made sure to sign up for the race within minutes of registration opening and got a spot on the front row (Friday was staged in order of registration for non UCI races). Last year there had been about 25-30 racers in the women’s Cat 2/3 race, making starting position pretty important. This year there were around 40 ladies signed up for the race, making the front row starting position even bigger of an advantage!

Start Line - Friday Night - Photo By Brittany McConnell

At the gun, we took off and I was pretty astonished to find myself in the front 3-4 riders going down the start/finish straightaway. I’m going to go ahead and accept that I’ve gotten pretty darn good at starts! We turned the first corner and headed to the “Yule Logs” a series of several logs to run over. I remounted (without a stutter-step, I might add) and made my way down the south side of the course. There was a really nice flow to a particular section that headed east toward the road before jutting back to the west and to the muddy section. I found that I could make up time on riders in this section throughout the weekend. I think my mountain bike skills kicked in here with my love of all things fast and flowy!

After going over the flyover, we headed toward the big hill climb. During pre-ride, I had made it over the three railroad ties at the beginning of the hill and partially up it, so I decided to give riding it a try in the race. I really do try to avoid running as much as possible! I cleared the railroad ties and made it up, maybe a third of the way to the first plateau and my rear wheel slipped, forcing me to dismount and shoulder the bike the rest of the way. I had already lost a few positions before the run up, and my not so pretty dismount probably cost me more time than if I would have just ran the whole way up – but I had to give it a try! Last year I couldn’t even make it over all the railroad ties, let alone any distance up the hill.

Going of the Flyover - Photo by Mauro Heck

Once at the top, I was able to remount and was rewarded with a spectacularly fun and ripping fast downhill section, then on to the barriers, sandpit/barn and the remainder of the course.

On the third lap, I made it to the steep climb by the bleachers right behind a group of 5-6 girls. I was hoping to maybe pass a few, since I knew I could ride it, while many couldn’t quite make it to the top. I ended up getting stuck right behind a couple riders who had to dismount, forcing me to dismount as well. I didn’t end up making a big pass like I hoped for. I’m kicking myself for not picking a better line, since I had already anticipated at least a couple wouldn’t make it up.

On the fourth and final lap I decided to dismount before the railroad ties for the long run up and my fourth lap ended up being my fastest. Imagine that! As I was nearing the last section of course before the straighaway to the finish, I heard my parents cheering for me. I was excited they had made it, since I hadn’t seen them before the start. When I crossed the finish line I really had no idea how I did. There were so many ladies, plus a ton of guys on the course at the same time. Once results were posted, I saw my name 14th on the list! That is several places better than I did last year, and with more riders! Doing well made me eager for Saturday’s race!

Full Results

Video of Jeremy Powers & Ben Berden bunny hopping the barrier Friday night, which the chase group following behind, so cool to see in person!

Jean & I with Ben Berden & Nicole Duke at Thursday's Meet the Pro's Event

Jeremey Powers, Ben Jacques-Maynes, John Meehan (race promoter), Amanda Miller, Nicole Duke,  Ben Berden. These pro's were nice enough to partcipate in the Meet the Pro's event, signing autographs and posing for photos.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Devil's Cross - Bettendorf

I loved these gorgeous yellow trees!
It felt great to be back racing after a 2 week hiatus. The weather was better than expected for November and the trees at Devils Glen Park were absolutely gorgeous. Three deer even decided to join in on the fun during the men’s race. Luckily the men were on the other side of the course at the time!

At the start line for the Women’s Open, all seven of us were Iowa City women (one was actually from Cedar Rapids, but she races for an Iowa City team), not a single lady from the Quad Cities. It reminded me of how lucky I am to live in Iowa City and have such a wonderful cycling community filled with both genders!

The start of our race was fairly fast and we all took off chasing Britt, trying to stay with her as long as possible. I had another good start and was in 2nd place going into the first set of barriers. I managed to stay in 2nd place for the first twisty and technical lap, with Lisa D. and Cara right behind.

Lisa took over 2nd place as we were coming through the start/finish going into the the second lap, but she, Cara, and I remained within about 15-30 seconds of each other. The lap cards showed us four laps to go. It was a long course and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hold 3rd place that long. It was a really fun course though with all the twisty sections mixed in with plenty of rocket fast straightaways, semi-scary off camber sections, and a few steep climbs. Oh and some of sections had fallen acorns on them, making the off camber areas and turns extra exciting.

Throughout the next four laps I focused on not sliding out! And all three of us remained close, still fluctuating around 15-30 seconds ahead or behind one another. It was really fun to have someone so close ahead and so close behind to really push me. Too often things get spread out a lot farther and it’s harder to keep racing all out the whole time.
Photo By John Stonebarger

I tried to bridge the small gap up to Lisa and wish I would have carried a little more sped in certain sections, but there was also plenty of course tape down, making me think that maybe it was good I didn’t. I did have some trouble on an uphill remount, with two laps to go, but at the other barriers I was able to do some remounts without a stutter step which was pretty exciting. I never managed to catch up to Lisa and finished in 3rd place. Overall I’m really happy with how I raced and am now looking forward to Jingle Cross this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!

Monday, November 4, 2013

How the Women's Division of the Iowa City Cycling Club Got it's Start

Cara H. & Cassandra K. & the start of the Iowa City Women’s Cycling Club

Let me just start by saying these two ladies played a very key role in my start in cycling. It was through the beginner friendly Gal Rides they organized, that I really got into cycling. As soon as I had a road bike, my husband encouraged me to give the ladies group ride a try. This was a lot less intimidating than trying to keep up with my husband and his guy friends!

Cara, Sandy, and the other ladies would wait up for me when I was struggling and motivate me to keep pushing myself. While the rides where difficult for me in the beginning, they became so much more than a hard workout; they brought about a sense of camaraderie with the girls, and gave me a sense of accomplishment at being able to finish the ride. It kept me coming back every week!

Enough about me though, let’s hear how Cara & Sandy came together, how Sandy started the Women’s division of the Iowa City Cycling Club, how they implemented the ladies only group rides, and have been making efforts ever since to get more women involved in cycling.

How did the two of you meet? What where your roles in cycling community before you met?

Cara Hamann: I actually knew Sandy’s sister Paula first—we became friends during undergrad. After undergrad I moved away from Iowa for 5 years and when I came back Paula and my mutual friend, Beth, put me in touch with Sandy. The first time I met her, I think, was at cross practice which was basically a bunch of Team Skin (Jean, Darcy, Todd…) people getting together to ride around in the grass and practice mounting and dismounting.

I had only been back in IC for a few weeks when we met, so my role in the community was just a newbie biker who wanted to get to know more people, especially other ladies to ride with.

Sandy Kessler: I first heard Cara yell my name at the 2008 Scramble when I thought I was probably going to collapse, but instead managed to live through the 3rd hour of the race.

Sandy @ the 2008 Sugar Bottom Scramble
Our first date was cross practice at the UI Field Hockey field a few weeks later. I fell in love with her when she raced the Old Cap crit the next spring 2009… I had yet to work up the guts to do it. She was my hero and got out there and rocked it in the rain while I sat on my towny on a street corner and watched in amazement. I vowed to be out there with her the following year and I did it. We continually found ourselves on the start line and working together throughout road races, each with different kits on throughout 2009. I knew early on that I wanted to wear the same outfit as her, no matter what color or team. It took until the fall of 2009 for the plan/idea to materialize. Prior to this I don’t believe I had much of a role in the community.

2009 Snake Alley Crit - L-R -Cara, Lisa, Darcy, & Sandy

Of all the cycling clubs in Iowa City, what made you decide to approach the Iowa City Cycling Club when you looking for a club to join?

CH: I joined ICCC primarily because I had started dating Brian and he was already a member, so he encouraged me to join.

SK: We were wooed! The boys at the bike shop had heard that Cara & I were shopping for a team to join together, a place where we could also invite other women too. Rick Hopson heard the rumor and got excited, passed us a note in the hallway (via Brian, at the bike shop), inviting us over for wine at his palace in University Heights to discuss. The first thing I did was break a glass. The stem broke and the bulb of the wineglass tumbled right to the floor and shattered all over his living room. There was no going back. I was going to have to pay for the wine glass and join the team. Lucky for me Cara was already there and we were given the freedom to encourage other women to also wear blue.

Sandy - How did you go from joining the club, to becoming the head of the women’s division?

SK: Naiveté! I asked so many questions about kits that first year- why isn’t there any women specific stuff, I don’t like bibs, can’t I have a pair of short cut shorts- that the guy who was previously in charge of ordering packed up and left town. Rick again invited me over for wine, opened bottle after bottle and it was settled: I would take over the team’s kit ordering. I think becoming the women’s team captain (directeur sportif/DS) went hand in hand. I had the time and organizational skills and was willing to ask the right questions to try to make things happen. Cara & I were getting more and more interest from women and it was clear that we were going to have no problem meeting the minimums on women’s specific clothing. Meanwhile, I upgraded to a 3 on the road and started racing with Anne in some of the bigger races and Robin at the more local races. I was the local girl (Anne’s from WI) without the super demanding jobs in healthcare (Robin was in Med School at the time). But most importantly I have Cara! She’s the true brains and organization that brings the women’s team together. Case in point is the Race Calendar that she sends out to all of the women every year advertising most of the races in the tri-state area while also giving everyone a chance to see what everyone else is racing/doing.

Why was it so important for you both to reach out to other women and try to grow the number of women interested in cycling & racing?

SK: Selfishness! I don’t get excited to go out and ride by myself. We also felt that new people coming to town needed a place to start. As we upgraded we also felt the need to replace ourselves. Emily, you are the perfect example of the most rewarding part. Seeing someone go from townying around town only to struggling to hang during a beginner ride to rocking mountain bike races to upgrading on the road! It’s so totally awesome and indescribable.

CH: It was important to me, honestly, kind of for selfish reasons. The only group rides in town were too intimidating to me and were primarily men. I didn’t feel ready to attend those, but wanted some ladies to ride with that would be friendly and maybe more my pace.

Even though it was kind of a selfish start, it has been super rewarding because I have gotten to see women go from not being able to hang on a Monday ride (the beginner-friendly ladies ride) to now being able to kick my butt (Emily, you are definitely in that category)! It’s really exciting to see people get ‘hooked’ on the sport and become great riders.

What have been your biggest challenges with all your efforts to get more women involved?

SK: Getting past that hurdle of women thinking they are not ready yet, don’t think they can keep up. Some days it doesn’t matter how nice or fun we are, those ICCC kits look intimidating. I can’t help but be proud when 6 or 9 girls in blue set foot on the start line, but I can see why it looks a little scary. Small things like wearing a different color on Mondays during the Beginner Ride probably helps, but we just need to keep doing what we are doing, having a presence and advertising it. The rest will fall into place.

CH: Convincing women to show up. When we have new women come to a Monday or Wed ride I always like to ask about how they heard about the ride and a little about their background in cycling—a survey, of sorts. In doing that, I have heard a lot of women say they have been wanting to come for a long time, but it took them a while to get the courage to show up or they didn’t think they could keep up, etc. We really try to make the rides friendly and encouraging, which I think comes across once a new rider gives it a try, but convincing them to come in the first place is a hard one.

Where did the idea for the Chamois Time race series come from? How difficult was that for you to start?

CH: Hmm…

I think the idea of having a series came from Hopson. The name came from Kim/Brian Eppen. The concept came from a bunch of us. I think several of us got together and just talked about what we wanted from the series—beginner friendly, a taste of all the disciplines (road, gravel, mountain bike), local, etc.

It definitely has had its challenges. In the beginning it was just all the little things you have to figure out because it is the first time. We definitely leaned on more experienced people, like Mark Guthart and Rick Hopson. Just figuring out the ins and out of how to get it permitted via USAC, getting permission from land owners, choosing venues/courses, naming the series, etc. I remember the first year especially, I thought ‘what did I get myself into?’ But somehow it came together and people had fun and it was all worth it. Each year it seems to get a little easier.

SK: Oh man! I don’t know why I look back on that as such a stressful time, but I do. We started out as Women on Wheels and then almost got sued by some motorcyclists. We wanted to have a race series that would attract both women and men so the name couldn’t be too girly. Lots of emails flew around. Kim Eppen ultimately threw out the name Chamois Time and a lightbulb went on. Kimber Damhorst hooked us up with a graphic designer named Jake that came up with the fabulous logo we still have. Going into debt paying for USAC permits for FIVE races, buying those first baby blue Ts, and business cards. It’s such a blur and it wasn’t simple. But it also wasn’t that hard and has paid off tenfold.
May 2010 - First Chamois Time Race Ever!

You both have done so much – what are some small things that others can do help grow the sport for women?

SK: Tell your friends! Everybody knows a female that has a bike and wants to ride it more or wants to buy a bike and start riding. Small things that meant a lot to us was encouragement along the way. And even money sometimes is the easiest thing for people. I remember being in debt and Jean Gilpin and Jim Yoon both wanted to donate to the cause. Their generosity combined with the popularity of those first Ts and the explosion of racers we had at our first races put us into unfamiliar territory: profit and what to do with it. We probably should create a manual at some point. None of this stuff is rocket science, but it does require some research and planning to figure out how to put on a race series. Managing other people’s opinions is another thing entirely, but I won’t get into that J

CH: Oh, lots of things. Ride your bikes. Help out when you can—volunteer to lead a Monday ride or help out with Chamois Time or other races. If you already ride and race, encourage other women to come on a ride with you. If you don’t ride or are intimidated riding in a group, come to a Monday ride. We promise we will be nice and won’t leave you stranded somewhere! I guess overall, just be a good ambassador. Lead by example.

Thanks Sandy & Cara for all you have done and continue to do!