I bet you remember your first time….I’m talking about the first time you BONKED. That’s right, it’s the first time you felt like you were literally about to die on your bike ride due to lack of proper nutrition. It happened to me about 10 years ago. I showed up to my first advanced group ride (I drove there) with loads of bars and gels ready to go for 100K of hammering. Little did I realize that these guys didn’t mess around. The 8am start time was 8am SHARP. A group of men who were already standing over their bikes, began jokingly yelling at me to hurry up as I pulled into the parking lot at 7:55am blaring Kelly Clarkson out of my speakers. I felt so embarrassed about being late that I forgot my food in my car. It wasn’t until mile 10 that I realized my mistake. I decided to just suck it up because A). I ate a big breakfast, B). There was a planned gas station stop and C). I wanted to prove to these guys that I could hang.

The ride was hard. I mean, it was race pace and at the time I wasn’t a racer. Thirty miles in, we stopped. I was HUNGRY. I felt like eating everything in sight, but, after wasting time in line for the bathroom, I barely had time to grab a candy bar and coke. The guys were ready to go before I even finished my coke. We continued and the pace quickened. I felt my body slowing shutting down with every mile. I was able to hang on, but I couldn’t talk or look at anything besides the rear hub in front of me. I was too intimated to ask someone for a gel. As we finished at the parking lot, I fumbled for my keys and coasted to my car. I sat down in the driver’s seat and pigged out on bars. One of the dudes from the ride told me “Good job out there, young lady!”. I looked up at him and just nodded my head as my mouth was full.

On the way home, I picked up more food and totally left my STRAVA running for the entire trip home (QOM of IH35!!!). I ate an entire large pizza later that evening. I lay around the house (this was before I had my boy) lifeless (also before Netflix was a thing) wondering if I was dying. I all could think was “Why didn’t I just ask someone for a gel?”.

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Today, I feel like I have a way better grasp on what works for my body. Sugar became an issue for me in the past 2 years. My body simply became addicted to it–on and off the bike. I was eating doughnuts like they were apples. I never gained a ton of weight because I’d burn the calories, however, my stomach suffered. I cut back on sugar off the bike and cut out the gas station junk-food stops. I was tired for 2 weeks, but slowly regained my power on less sugar. When SWORD approached me to try their mix, I was pretty stoked as their product is all natural and lower in sugars.

I’ve been drinking SWORD for the past two months in the hot conditions of Austin, TX. I am also one of those crazy people who ride and run at three in the afternoon. I don’t like eating solid foods on bike rides in the summer months, so the majority of my calories comes from whats in my bottles. For shorter (2 hour) rides, I only consume SWORD. For longer rides, it’s SWORD, bananas and a Mexican Coke at the gas station.

20170629_211124One scoop of SWORD contains:

  • 140 Calories
  • 470 mg Sodium
  • 37g Carbs

Ingredients:

  • Maltodextrin
  • Crystalline
  • Fructose
  • Citric Acid
  • Salt
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Natural Flavors

The cool thing about this mix is that it’s osmolality is below that of blood. All that really means is that the sugars are lower than those of your blood, thus faster to absorb and easier for your belly to process. Whenever you drink a super sugary sports drink, it draws water out of your bloodstream into your small intestine to digest. That’s why your belly sloshes after chugging the typical Gatorade or Powerade-style drink. Your stomach is using water that’s already in your system to hydrate and the mix isn’t getting into your system at first. Doesn’t make sense, right?

All of SWORD‘s flavors (Orange, Berry and Ginger) are mild, a little salty and tasty, but my favorite is Ginger. The ginger aids in digestion and eases upset stomach. The extra salt is needed in this heat. I’ve yet to cramp this summer and I’ve put in a couple of hard efforts in addition to normal endurance-paced miles every week. I’m 100% happy with the product and will continue using it. I’m resting this week, but will begin building to longer distances thru July/August to train for LoToJa in September! LoToJa starts in Logan, UT and finishes at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, Wyoming. It’s 269 mi +13, 435 ft climbing! SWORD’s formula will be perfect for ultra miles, but I recommend it for any kind of ride, run or activity that makes you sweat.

 

BTW I don’t listen to Kelly Clarkson as much anymore, but I still show up to rides at the last-minute (I’ll ride to the start with 2Chainz or Run the Jewels playing on my phone). I hope you feel strong, ride hard and have fun all summer! 😉

With Love,

WC

@wattage_cottage

 

Color Me iSSi–Flash Pedals

Confession: I leaned how to clip in in Spin class. I remember buying my first pair of cycling shoes with SPD cleats and showing up to class like thinking I was so cool. The dude working at the bike shop offered to install them, but I was intimidated by that place at the time, so I was like “No thanks. I’m good. This is just for Spin class. BYE!“. Little did I realize the bolts actually needed to be tightened with a proper torque key. As a result, my cleats became loose over the course of the class and by the end I couldn’t unclip! I had to remove my feet from the shoes to get free. It was mortifying as the gym manager was called to pry the cleats out of the pedals with a flathead screwdriver. Ugh. Lesson learned. 😦

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iSSi Flash III in Especially Red

As I progressed into riding outside, I continued using the same clipless pedals and shoes. I didn’t have any cycling friends at the time so one was around to show me how to unclip at stoplights. I fell over a lot at first, but eventually got the hang of starting and stopping. I’d ride ~20 miles a day solo and I was okay with that. I realized I loved riding my bike–it was the only time I felt like everything was right in the world. I even rode with SPD’s for a few solid years after.

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Matchy Matchy 🙂

Since that time, I’ve graduated to road-specific pedals, however, I also MTB and race CX. SPD’s are still in my life, just not everyday. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to try iSSi Flash pedals. These guys are compatible with SPD cleats and two-bolt shoes and come in a twelve different color options. Also, each pair comes with a set of black chrome cleats. I’m currently riding the Flash III: Triple Bearing, however, there are three spindle options at different price points:

  • Flash I: Double Bushing MSRP $60
  • Flash II: Bushing and Bearing MSRP $80
  • Flash III: Triple Bearing MSRP $100

Specs:

  • Chromoly spindle
  • ED-coated 8mm hex broach
  • 52.5mm spindle length (+6mm and +12mm options)
  • Adjustable spring tension
  • 4º cleat float

 

The iSSi Flash III replaced a set of Shimano XTR race pedals on my MTB and were only recently installed on my new gravel bike. So far, they are just as durable and functional as the Shimano pedals. The spring tension is easy to adjust and installation is exactly the same, although I had to rely on my LBS mechanic to get hang of it. Admittedly the real draw for me was all the color options. I’m all about adding style to my bike in as many ways as possible. The paint has held up pretty well considering how clumsy I am off-road (with the exception of some scratches on the edges).

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I’d recommend these pedals to anyone from a beginner road cyclists to a MTB/CX racer. If you are a beginner on the road, I encourage you to buy a solid pair of shoes with good grip and maybe practice clipping in and out on a stationary trainer or in a Spin class–just make sure your cleats are bolted down tight enough! Once you venture outside, try stopping and starting on grass, then graduate to the road. Even if you fall over at a stoplight at least you’re falling with style if you have iSSi Pedals. IMO style is just as important as skill so you are basically halfway there, right? 😉

With Love,

WC

@wattage_cottage

Bike Drama: PowerTap P1 Pedals

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with what I like to call BIKE DRAMA (BD). BD is when something on your bike breaks or doesn’t work correctly when you least expect it. The more you ride, the more drama you have and my friends will tell you that I am kind of a drama magnet. When faced with BD, it’s best to stay cool, but when you need to get a specific workout done/uploaded for your coach, or you are 30 mins out from your TT start…let’s just say on the inside I’ve wanted to cry out of frustration.

When a friend of mine got their set of PowerTap P1 Pedals, I was envious because I was experiencing some power-related BD at that time. My crank-based power meter just stopped working after a long stretch of travel. I was procrastinating on sending it back to for repairs because I did’t have another crankset handy with the same crank length. The idea of asking around for one seemed weird plus I was in the middle of a big week of volume so I was not feeling the positive vibes (full of excuses lol). My buddy told me good things about the P1 Pedals so I decided to make the switch. I really liked the idea of being able to swap out the pedals form my road to TT bike. Installation seemed easier and I was already using Look pedals so my cleats/shoes were GTG.

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Post-hammerfesting! Photo Cred: Justin Stanley. Training ride with Bat City Cycling in Cedar Park, TX. http://www.batcitycycling.com

I took my TT bike (Cannondale Slice, Di2 Shimano Dura Ace, Garmin Edge 520) in to my local bike shop for installation which went smoothly. My mechanic used a 8mm hex wrench and they went on like any other pedal. There was no charging nessesary as they are powered by AAA lithium batteries (included). My Garmin picked up the signal (pedals are ANT and Bluetooth smart) and calibration was simple. I opted to have my Garmin calibrate, or manual zero, before every ride just to account for different temps (trainer vs. outside). Also, The PowerTap assumes a 172.5 mm crank length unless otherwise indicated by you on the head unit. Everything worked great and I got an accurate read on my power. Easy peasy, totally plug and play (60 hours of play to be exact before it’s time to change batteries).

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Somewhere in Georgia. TT Natz 2017. Photo Cred: Weldon Weaver

The downside to these pedals are that they are a tad heavy (398 grams per pair of pedals without batteries). I’d expect any power pedals to be bulky. I did a little research on the Look Keo Power Dual Mode Regular pedals and found that they where a little lighter (398 grams per the pair with sensors). The stack height of the P1’s is 14mm compared to the Keo which is 17.5 mm. Maybe this matters a bit for fast cornering, but I personally am not a criterium specailist (endurance girl 4 life haha) so the bulk was NBD to me.

 

 

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GIRL POWAH 😉 looking at my Garmin at The Driveway Series Austin, TX

I’ve had my pedals now since May and so far so good–NO DRAMA. I since moved them over to my road bike (with Sram Red Etap) and there was no issue–I had to get help from my LBS to swap ’em and create another bike profile on my Garmin but that was it. Oh yeah, the batteries died on me, but that was an easy fix. For someone like me that trains, races and travels a lot with multiple bikes, the PowerTap  P1 pedals are perfect. I can do it all (solo training, group rides, races, TT’s) with the same power meter. Over the years I’ve really come to appreicate products that are versatile, durable and easy to use. Here’s to less drama and more GURL POWAH 😉

 

With love,

WC @wattage_cottage

 

Basic Bag Lady–North St. Bags

Like any basic woman in America, I am obsessed with bags! Add in the fact that I race bikes, have a 8 y/o son and own way too many clothes/shoes, and you have the perfect storm of bag needs.

Travel is a big part of my life, but admittedly, I am not the most organized gal. One of the biggest things I’ve learned from racing my bike is that organization will make or break you. This sport reqiures so much equipment. Even when I’m driving to a local criterium, it’s like I’m packing for a cross country trip. From kits to socks, helmets, glasses, sport mixes, recovery drinks, bottles and shoes…the list goes on for race day packing. It’s critical to know exactly where your stuff is when you show up day of or unpack at a motel/host house. After all, showing up well-prepared is half the battle!

I recently did a few road trips using North St. Bags (www.northstbags.com).  They are a rad company based out of Portland, OR and all their products are handmade in the US. All bags are made with durable 1000 denier CORDURA® nylon for outer shell and, although most products are made to order, they ship within 1-4 days. Here’s my bag arsenal:

Davis Day Pack ($99 USD)

This medium-sized 20L volume backpack is ideal for casual commuting. It has a waterproof  X-Pac sailcloth liner. With a roll-top and one small outer pouch with a taped zipper, it’s durable in all-weather, yet light-weight (only weighs 1lb. 4oz.). The inner lining is white which I loved because it made it easier to see my stuff (in the past I’ve used solid black commuter bags which was like digging through a black hole for a pair of socks). The packs are made to order, so there are a few customizations you can make with velcro-in bag pockets and different waist belt sizes (Sm 30″-38″ Lg 40″-48″).

The longest I rode with the Davis was a ~60 mile commute to a local bike race. It was extra hot that day with temps close to 100 degrees and I packed a ton of stuff for a product giveaway.

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Davis Day Pack

Local Austin people will know the Dam Loop, which was what my buddy and I rode to get to the race–lots of sweating with ~3,000 feet of climbing. The bag held up well, my stuff stayed sweat-free and I felt like it was secure on my back even when I stood up out of the saddle to climb. Because it is so lightweight, however, the straps have minimal material so they dug into my shoulders–definitely felt some fatigue through my neck/shoulders towards the end of the ride, but to be fair, I was riding a long, difficult route.

I’d say this guy is better for a casual work commute. It’ll keep your clothes dry. There is also a side sleeve pocket for your lock.

Pittock Travel Pouches ($40 USD for set of 3)

These are all great for small stuff that I tend to lose.

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Pittock Travel Pouche

Small: 4.5″ x 6″ – I use this as a wallet on bike long rides. It holds my cards, lipstick, spare tube, tire lever and Co2 cartridges. It fits well in my jersey pocket.

Medium: 9″ x 6″ – I’m using this one as a makeup bag.

Large: 9″ x 11″ – My son’s iPad goes in here.

Scout Duffle Bag

Comes with X-pacTM VX21 Waterproof Line, adjustable shoulder strap, interior zipper pocket and lanyard. There is an optional bicycle kit for mounting on handlebars for $10-$40.

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Scout 14 Duffle Bag

11 ($69 USD) – This bag is small (11” length, 6.5” diameter and 6.9 L capacity) but perfect for walking around town. This basically became my purse.

14 ($79 USD) – This bag is medium (14” length, 8” diameter and 15 L capacity) and great for day trips, however I was attempting to use it as my bag for clothes for long race weekends–it was too small. There is a larger 21″ length bag that I would suggest if you are needing a few days worth of clothes/kits.

Pioneer 9 Hip Pack ($57)

Dimensions: 9” x 6” x 3”, capacity: 2.65 liters, weight: 5.7oz.

I’ve used this more than any other bag and I’m convinced I cannot live without it. This pack is perfect for a casual ride or hike when you want to carry a few things, but don’t want to wear a jersey or carry a backpack. The weight is in your hips, so neck and shoulders are free. It’s great for bike races because you can keep your phone, gels, pins, numbers etc organized and within reach while you warm up or ride back and forth to the port-a-potties. It comes in a few belt sizes: Small 28″-37″ and Large 36″-52″and there is a bike handlebar kit upgrade option. The exterior is also water/sweat resistant. I really want to try out the 12″ pack because I’m convinced I could use it as an everyday purse.

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Pioneer 9 Hip Pack

Pack your bags!

All in all, these are durable, high-quality bags. I love the different color options and versatility that comes with their customization options. They are a bit expensive, but they are handmade in the US so they will likely last forever. It’s cool when a company seems to understand your needs. The folks at North St. are about that hiking/biking/travel life and it shows in the love and time they put into each bag. Time to start planning my next trip! Where will you go?

 

With Love,

W.C. @wattage_cottage

 

 

 

 

 

Wheel Love

Are you searching for a wheel (real) love? It takes time. I believe you should fall in love with all the equipment you ride, especially if you ride a lot, but how do you know if it’s WHEEL (REAL)? You must endure pain, overcome challenges and learn to trust your equipment. Ya’ll, I’ve logged over 15,000 miles in 3 continents, 5 states, in countless races, into deafening headwinds, through powerful cross winds, over chip seal, gravel, cobbles, potholes, up hot, relentless climbs and down wet, sketchy descents since Spring 2016—all on the same set of wheels. I’ve grown to love them because they have never let me down despite the times I’ve abused them, blamed them and even doubted them. My bet is, if they are consistent enough, fast enough and durable enough for this Texas girl, you will love them too.

Here’s a look into why I love them. Please note that these wheels are a custom build and cannot be purchased anywhere online. Only through your local bike shop are wheels like this made possible:

RIMS: Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers

  • I train and race in these because they are practically bomb proof and not so deep that I get pushed around in a crosswind (I just swap out the tires for race-day)
  • 45mm rim-depth
  • 50mm width
  • Dimpled surface
  • Special heat-resistant resin on braking surfaces
  • Unique combination of woven and unidirectional carbon fibers to optimize durability, stiffness and weight

 

HUBS: Purple Road Onyx hubs – Sprag Clutch System

*Made in USA

  • Ceramic hybrid bearings
  • 7075 Aluminum alloy hub shell
  • Titanium bolts
  • (Rear hub) Instant engagement when pedaling and instant disengagement and silent operation when coasting
  • (Rear hub) Heat-treated stainless steel driver
  • (Rear Hub) adjustable side load
  • (Rear Hub) 11 speed

 

SPOKES: DT Swiss DT AERO SPEED

 

TIRES: Michelin Power Competition Tires

and…Michelin Power Endurance Tires

  • I use these when I train in all conditions because they are a little heavier and even more durable. I like the tread because it makes me feel more stable when I turn. They are not as fast as the competition tires, however they aint slow! I’ll run 80 psi in the rain, 90 psi for rough country roads and 100 psi for dry, smooth roads. They still feel like a fancy, supple tire and I’m pretty sure I’ve accidentally raced on these and did just fine.
  • 700X25C
  • 230 g
  • X-Miles Compound for performance
  • Aramid Protek+ technology for extra durability
  • GRIP DESIGN tread for cornering

 

SKEWERS: Green Salsa Ti Flip-Off Skewers

  • 40 g (front) 44g (rear)

 

I realize that this custom build is not attainable for every one, however, if you are looking for an upgrade, you should visit your local bike shop and check out the Zipp 303’s because they are (IMO) the best everyday wheel set for racers or serious riders. I own a set of Zipp 30 Course wheels and Zipp 808’s, but my 303’s are almost always on my bike. I can roll around downtown Austin, ride all day in the country, race at the Circuit of the Americas and crush a 100 mi. grand fondo with the same wheels (maybe not all in the same day). As long as you take really good care of your equipment and swap out the tires, you’re GTG.

Still too much? Just upgrade the tires. It’s the most bang for your buck when you’re on a budget. Rad tires always elevate any set of wheels. Also, I hold regular tire giveaways on my IG page so be sure to participate in them for your chance to win some Michelin swag.

My wheels look badass and they feel amazing. When I actually stop and think about all the love that went into them, it’s a bit overwhelming. These wheels tell a story about people, passion and power! NOW I gotta head out to the bike shop to pick them up—just had the hubs overhauled. Remember to love what you ride! FIND WHEEL LOVE.

 

With Love,

WC @wattage_cottage

 

 

 

 

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