Up The Road

February 15, 2013

Victory is not the same for all people: The story of South Africa’s cycling team

We believe the greatest athletes are not just those who finish first- but those people that motivate, inspire, and challenge us to do greater things. Extraordinary people doing extraordinary things on Trek bikes. We are proud to be a part of their pursuit and to say that Great Athletes Ride Trek.

The pro peloton is a demanding environment. It’s an unforgiving place that demands the most of its inhabitants, allowing for only the strongest to thrive. In a lot of ways, it’s like rural Africa. And in a lot of ways, it’s not at all. The unique intersection of the two existences is where you will find Team MTN-Qhubeka.

MTN Vosloorus Dec '13 L-18
The team preparing to deliver bikes to children and families

On a hot Thursday in Vosloorus, South Africa the members of Team MTN-Qhubeka, the world’s newest Pro Continental race team, are taking a break from their rigorous training schedule to help others who know a little something about rigor. On this day, one hundred rural South Africans will be receiving purpose-built Buffalo Bikes provided by World Bicycle Relief in exchange for growing 100 seedling trees each for a national reforestation program or removing 1,200 kg of refuse from their village. “Qhubeka”, an Nguni word meaning “to progress”, is the charitable program through which the team is able to deliver the bikes to their very deserving neighbors.

MTN Vosloorus Dec '13 L-49
100 new trees = 1 new bike

While the effort to earn a single simple bicycle may seem disproportionate, consider what the bicycle means to a person living in this environment:

A bicycle can increase a human’s carrying capacity by five times. This means medicine, clean water, food, and other goods can be carried over longer distances for either commerce or survival.

A bicycle, compared to walking, decreases transportation time 75%. Children can now spend much of the four hours they spent walking to school working on the studies that will improve their lives.

Qhubeka Kids
A bike in Africa can be the gateway to an education

In rural Africa, a bicycle can drastically alter the course of one's life. Providing this life-changing tool is the larger mission of Team MTN-Qhubeka.

The team, comprised of Africans of various nationalities and ethnicities throughout the continent, is the vision of former pro racer and Team Director, Doug Ryder. Where the result of the work is measured by more than just podiums and trophies, the team must strike a unique balance between competition and philanthropy. “Our dream is to develop a World Cycling Champion from the African Continent and to do this we need heroes and more children riding bicycles,” said Ryder. “The team is creating heroes at the highest levels of cycling while Qhubeka - powered by World Bicycle Relief - is providing the bicycles to children in communities across Africa. The more success the Team has around the world, the more it will open people’s eyes to the cycling potential in Africa and expose African children to a sport they may otherwise not know exists.”

The team training in South Africa for their first Pro Continental season in Europe

In 2013, MTN-Qhubeka will compete in Europe, the epicenter of world cycling, as Africa’s first Pro Continental team. We will be following them throughout the year as they step onto the world stage, representing the aspirations of thousands of Africans working to build a better life for themselves.

  Qhubeka Kid

January 11, 2013

More than a store: DreamBikes

At Trek we believe in the power of the bicycle to change the world. It's why we've made it our mission to get more people on bikes more often by giving more people the inspiration, opportunity, and cause to ride. We Believe in Bikes.

DreamBikes is a 501(c)(3) non-profit bike shop located in Madison and Milwaukee that believes bicycles can change lives and improve communities. The DreamBikes idea is that by providing youth of challenged communities with job opportunities where they can learn professional, as well as life skills, while also provide quality bikes at affordable prices to those that live in the surrounding area, communities can grow.

Originally founded as a partnership between Trek and The Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County and The Greater Milwaukee Area, DreamBikes offers local teens the opportunity to prepare for the professional world. From bicycle maintenance to customer service to business management, DreamBikes offers versatile training to its employees, creating a strong base for a future professional career. But even more importantly, it offers inspiration and builds confidence, empowering the employees to make a difference in their own neighborhood.


                                        Bike maintenance is only part of DreamBikes' mission

The shop overhauls donated bikes and sells them back to the community at a low price ensuring that residents have access to safe, quality, affordable bikes. The team at DreamBikes also knows that bikes are a simple solution to many of the day-to-day challenges faced in their community. Through a micro-finance program, each DreamBikes location helps empower their community, making reliable, two-wheeled transportation accessible to more people, so that it's easier to get to work and school.


The Mobile Repair Program
Knowing that not everybody can get to a DreamBikes or afford to maintain their bike, the team takes their talents to the community through their mobile repair program to provide free onsite maintenance.


In 2012, DreamBikes worked with Madison B-cycle (Madison's community bike share program) and the Boys and Girls Club to customize some special bikes to be placed around the city for public use. For every ride on an ArtBike in 2012, $1 was donated to the Boys and Girls Club by Metcalfe's Market, a local grocer. 


Part bike shop, part jobs program, and part community-building catalyst, DreamBikes is a rare alternative to the negative options its employees are presented with every day. In communities where tough conditions exist, DreamBikes provides a supportive environment that shows its employees they can make their dreams reality.

Dreambikes_1_7_2012_#083                                                       The staff of DreamBikes Madison



January 09, 2013

Veteran. Hero. Rockstar. World Champion.

We believe the greatest athletes are not just those who finish first- but those people that motivate, inspire, and challenge us to do greater things. Extraordinary people doing extraordinary things on Trek bikes. We are proud to be a part of their pursuit and to say that Great Athletes Ride Trek.

This October, Melissa Stockwell represented the United States in Auckland, New Zealand and defended the title she's held for the two previous years in ITU Paratriathlon competition: World Champion. In 2008, she was a member of the US swim team that competed at the Beijing Paralympics. Representing the US as a world-class athlete is just one part of what makes Melissa an inspiration. How she got there, and the limitless positivity she carries with her every day is what makes her a true champion.


A Bald Eagle leads Melissa on the head tube of her Madone

Her unlikely and unexpected journey began eight years ago, nearly ten thousand miles away from Auckland, in Baghdad, when Melissa was a 2nd Lieutennant in the 1st Cavalry division of the United States Army. On April 13, 2004, during a routine patrol, the HUMVEE she was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb that left Melissa an above-the-knee amputee. The event earned her a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star Medal, and a year of surgeries and rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.



The date on which Melissa lost her leg is inscribed on her frame

During her physical therapy, Melissa discovered swimming and quickly learned she was fast in the water. She applied the same dedication and drive to swimming that she had had throughout her recovery, and began to compete in Minnesota where she was studying for a career in prosthetics. After a few short years of training and racing, Melissa moved to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and qualified for the Beijing Paralympics. It was clear that she had the talent and determination to compete with the best in the world, and after transitioning to triathlon, quickly rose to the top of the sport.

This past summer, Melissa, with two Paratriathlon World Championships in tow, stopped in Texas with the Wounded Warrior Project for the Warrior 100 Ride, a 3-day, 100-kilometer mountain bike ride. The Wounded Warrior Project provides unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members, including adaptive cycling resources and events. It is an event that Trek is proud to be part of. It was at the Warrior 100 ride that Trek President John Burke met Melissa, and invited her to visit Trek in Wisconsin (read more about the ride on John's blog). 



Trek President John Burke and Melissa at Trek World in August of 2012

Melissa joined us at our annual Trek World retailer show in Madison this August, sharing the work of the Wounded Warrior Project, her experience as an American paralympian, and her passion for the sport. As her bike sponsor, we wanted Melissa to have a race setup that reflected her story and personality, and she worked closely with our graphic designers and Project One team to come up with one of the most impressive paint schemes we've ever seen.



Melissa and Trek Graphic Designer Stacey discussing the bike's design


Melissa's Madone pays tribute to two of her great loves: America and triathlon


With her new Madone at The Bike Rack in St. Charles, IL - a big supporter of Wounded Warrior Project

Melissa's new Madone was delivered just in time to race at the World Championships this year, where she both defended her title, and set a personal record on the bike split. Despite strong headwinds and stiff competition. She's taken the challenge of a life-changing injury, and used it to inspire people the world over as a dominant professional athlete. At Trek, we believe in great athletes and are proud that Melissa rides our bikes and has allowed us to share her story.


Celebrating a third consecutive World Championship!

You can catch Melissa (if you're fast enough) training along Chicago's lakefront as she prepares for her first Ironman this November in Arizona.

To see more images of Melissa's bike, check out the Facebook gallery.

Follow Melissa's racing on her blog and on Twitter.

December 19, 2012

10 last-minute gift ideas for the cyclist on your list

We feel ya – shopping for the cyclist in your life can be tricky. What color do they like? Do they already have this thing? Is that gizmo even useful? We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 gift ideas that are sure to be a hit, no matter who’s receiving them.


1.Bontrager Glo/Ember USB Recharge lights

Everyone is safer with lights on their bike. The convenience of a recharging USB cable alleviates the stresses of changing batteries, and fewer batteries in landfills is good for us all. 



2. Bontrager SSR Multisport Shoe

It’s great to clip in, but slipping around the market on your cleats is no fun. These kicks recess the cleat into the sole and look more like a normal shoe.  


3. Bontrager Flat Pack

Flats happen. We’ve all been there. Why not be prepared? This kit includes tire levers, a pump, multi-tool, and a bag to store it all, as well as a coupon for whatever tube size your cyclist needs.


4. Bontrager Convertible Windshell jacket

This is not just a jacket. The sleeves can be removed for in-between temperatures and changing weather. It’s a cornerstone of any cyclist’s wardrobe. Available in black or high visibility yellow.


5. Bontrager Commuter Rain Pant

Lightweight, durable, and designed to keep you dry no matter what is thrown at you. Also available in a women’s fit.


6. Bontrager B3 long sleeve baselayer

Layering is key in cold weather, as is sweat management. The B3 keeps heat in, while pushing moisture out, for longer rides in greater comfort.


7. Interchange Nebula fenders

Clever covers for any bike, the Interchange Nebula fenders can be popped on and off in a jiffy thanks to their innovative design. All you need to know if your recipient’s wheel size.



8. Bontrager Speed Bottle

An aerodynamic water bottle? Yup, it’s the perfect gift for the triathlete on your list.


9. Bontrager Race Wool sock

If superheroes wore socks, they’d wear these wool wonders of all-weather warmth for year-round riding.


10. Bontrager Race Windshell glove

Help your favorite cyclist ride longer throughout the year with gloves that balance warmth, ergonomics, and durability. They’re insulated, without being too bulky to have a solid grip on the handlebars.

November 15, 2012

A Fitting Ending

By Dimity McDowell

As I contemplated getting a triathlon bike, I had two dominant thoughts:

1. I will never be comfortable on it.
2. I will never be comfortable on it.

But as I, a middle-of-the-pack triathlete, starting climbing up in age groups as my injury-prone body started complaining more, I wanted the free speed that comes with spending the majority of a race in an aerodynamic position. And I certainly didn’t mind the other benefits that come with the Trek Speed Concept 7.8: a carbon-fiber OCLV monocoque—that’s geek-speak for “one-piece”—frame and plus wind-slicing Bontrager Aura 5 aerodynamic wheels.


And honestly, I was willing to trade comfort for some increased mph. I just wasn’t sure how much of the former I’d have to give up to make the latter worth it.

I bit on the Speed Concept and knew I needed a thorough fitting, not just a raise-the-seat, take-a-test-pedal, and off-you-go fitting. An in-depth fitting, which can take around two hours, looks at every aspect of your unique body—and the bike you’re riding—and tries to melt the two together as seamlessly as possible.


I scheduled my fitting with Adam De La Pena, a fitter with seven years experience, at Wheat Ridge Cyclery, a bike shop that does up to forty fittings a week. I’ll admit, I was nervous. And when I’m nervous, I talk. So I spewed out a novel about how I haven’t done a triathlon in three years and I was hoping to do a half-Ironman but am not sure how my body would hold up on a tri bike and I’m not really sure who I’m kidding thinking I can ride a tri bike. Adam listened, and just smiled. “Don’t worry,” he said.

I was worried, though. The regal Speed Concept was already up on the fit pedestal, looking like it was ready to fly down the Queen K Highway in Kona, not grind out 8-mile laps around my local reservoir. I did my best to ignore it as we started with an interview: how often do I ride—or plan to ride—this bike, both in terms of length of rides and number of rides a week; what are my training goals; what are my complaints about my fit on my current bike; what injuries I’m currently nursing. I talked and talked, and Adam took notes, and asked relevant questions (none of which were: “Why do you think you can ride a tri bike?”).

ToolsoftradeTools of the fitting trade

Next up: a scan of my body and my flexibility. With special tools, I measured my inseam and, um, the width of my sit bones. (I tried not to think of it as a how-wide-is-my-ass assessment.) Then I walked back and forth a few times so he could check for any significant imbalances. After that, I took to a massage table on my back so Adam could assess the range of motion of my hamstrings and hips. He compared my leg lengths, measured the width of my shoulders, looked at the structure of my feet, and otherwise dissected the way my body moves and has polished its quirky imbalances over my 40 years of life. I am pleasantly surprised when he deems most of me balanced, minus some super tight quads and an inflexible lower back.


He can work with that—and my attitude, which is to be as comfortable as possible on the bike. “Most people come in with an picture of how they want to look on the bike: aerodynamic, back flat, super aggressive position,” he says, “Not many people can actually ride for hours like that.” I assure him, I want to be as non-aggressive as possible on this Great White of a tri bike.

I finally get on. During my first few minutes of pedaling on the yet-unfitted bike, I am can’t believe it: this aerobar set up is way more comfortable than I expected. But there’s much more comfort to be found.


We spend the next 90 minutes or so doing a series of small adjustments, starting from the back of the bike to the front. First up is the seat alignment: fore and aft as well as height; the position of the seat obviously relates directly to the pedal stroke. I get on, pedal for a few minutes while he videotapes me to see how things are lining up—I have small white dots stickers on my knees, hips, and bike shoes that help him measure angles as I pedal—then I get off and he makes some minor change, I get back on and I let him know how it feels. If it’s good, we leave it. If it’s not, we go back to the drawing board. He shows me occasionally how the changes look on the screen, but the most important thing isn’t looks. It’s how my body feels as I pedal.


By the end of the fitting, I can’t wait to take on my eight-mile loop again and again. More importantly, my right knee isn’t swinging out anymore thanks to a shim in my right shoe; my troublesome back has lost its curve thanks to risers under the stem; and my elbows are almost directly under my shoulders in the aerobars so that my bones—not my muscles—can do the heavy lifting and support my upper body. I truly feel like the Speed Concept was built for me. But the real proof, of course, is on the road, when I have to make tiny adjustments to stay balanced, and the wind, hills and other elements conspire against me feeling comfortable.


Not quite ready to hit the road—or endure the chilly spring temps—I spend two weeks on the trainer in my basement getting more familiar with the bike, my new position, and the gear positions. After an hour of tough, fluid pedaling, my back, my Achilles heel, barely peeps up. It’s not a recliner, but the Speed Concept is far from the comfort compromise I imagined it to be.

My first real outing is on a local bike path, where I tell myself I’ll turn around after 30 minutes; better safe—and comfy—than sorry. But it’s a gorgeous day, and I feel so fast and strong, I could be on the Queen K, not the Cherry Creek Bike Path. I think to myself, I can make a loop out of this route and turn it into a 30-mile ride. I can’t resist. I happily take the long way home—and as I do, I have two thoughts:

1. This bike and my body have become one.
2. This bike and my body have become one.

Dimity McDowell is co-author of Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother. Find more of her triathlon adventures at Another Mother Runner. She—and her bike, which she has since named Lyle—have committed to the Harvest Moon half-Ironman in September. 

May 23, 2012

9 ideas to get your kids to ride

“When my oldest daughter, Phoebe, entered elementary school, I was astounded by the number of 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th graders who couldn’t ride a bike. I think of the joy they are missing out on…” Read the rest of Sarah’s blog for tips on how to get your kids happily riding. Sarah Bowen Shea is co-author of Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother. She is the proud mother of 3 and riding bikes is one of her family’s favorite pastimes.

Daphne SBS and John resized

While I think my three children are beautiful, brilliant, and loving, I don’t have any lofty notions of their athletic prowess. All three of them play on soccer and basketball teams. They score goals or make baskets on occasion, but they are by no means in the limelight. Yet, I am proud of how relatively early they learned to ride bikes; My boy-girl twins were 4 ½ years old, and their big sis had just turned 5 when they figured out how to balance and pedal on a two-wheeler. I thought that was the norm until my older daughter, Phoebe, entered elementary school: I was astounded by the number of 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th graders who couldn’t ride a bike. I think of the joy they are missing out on—riding bikes is one of our family’s favorite pastimes.

Here are some tips to get your children riding and keep them happy, so they’ll become lifelong cyclists. 

Set a good example. We all know children are sponges, absorbing more than any of us realize. Talk about your own love of cycling around your children, tell them details of your weekend ride or biking adventures you remember from your childhood. Let them see you head out the door with a smile on your face as you bike-commute or train for a triathlon. 

Start them early. All three of our children used balance-style bikes (no pedals) to push themselves around playgrounds. From there they progressed to riding on very small bicycles. With a properly fitted helmet strapped on their heads, children can take some slow-moving tumbles. Watching my children learn to ride bikes, especially my cautious older daughter, I was reminded at how resilient (and determined) a child can be. 

Offer encouragement, but don’t pressure them. If your child seems reticent or scared, put the bike back in the garage for a while. You don’t want to force biking on your child as it might backfire into a dislike of this wonderful life-long activity. 

Let them tag along. Consider getting a pedal trailer for younger children, letting them ride along without the pressure of learning to balance, brake, or navigate traffic.

Head to parks, playgrounds, and open fields. These venues allow new riders not to worry as much about braking, navigating curbs, watching out for cars, or scraping their knees (in the case of the field). My kids love to do endless loops around a nearby schoolyard, where there are often other children to ride with. One of friends taught her children how to ride in a grassy field because it offered a softer landing for eventual falls. 

Teach them the rules of the road. Make sure your children know to ride on the sidewalk or with traffic. Teach them to stay close to the curb, and to obey all traffic signals. Tell them that, when in doubt, let the car “win.” Many communities offer free or low-cost bike safety courses, which are a great opportunity to educate burgeoning cyclists. 

Start slow and short. Once your child is riding, take family rides together. We live in Portland, Oregon, near several schools; we love to ride to various school playgrounds. The rides are short—a third- to a half-mile—and the destination holds special allure (swings, slides, and monkey bars!). By keeping the distance short, it minimizes the chance of meltdowns and complaints that, if my children are any measure, are fairly common among young riders. 

Stick to quiet roads at less-than-peak times. I won’t lie: It can be nerve-wracking to keep a close eye on school-age riders. Any blood pressure lowering benefits of exercise are negated by the stress I feel when I ride with our 6-year-old twins; but, I’ve found great joy in riding one-on-one with them. Whether with one or two (or three), we ride on less-busy roads. 

Add on accessories. A bell lets your children announce their approach (and, come on, kids love them!), and a tall flag on a bike or riding-trailer helps driver see children on bikes. 

Have fun!

May 20, 2012

From the follow car: Joe Dombrowski's Bakersfield TT

Bontrager-LIVESTRONG's Joe Dombrowski is 21 years old, and riding in the biggest stage race of his life. After covering 478.9 miles (770.7km) over four days in this year's Amgen Tour of California, it was time for him to tackle the Bakersfield time trial. An individual event against the clock, the time trial is often called The Race of Truth, as there's no drafting, no tactics, and no faking it while alone on the 18.4 mile course. We followed Joe through his day, including in the team car to bring you an inside perspective.


Joe's day begins in a parking lot one block from the start house, under a tent loaded with bikes, trainers, coolers of water, and eight exhausted, sunburned young riders. Their team liaison from Trek, Matt Shriver, has done a recon lap of the course, and briefs them on what he's learned. Course profiles can be misleading, and can't account for wind conditions, or temperatures. Start times are posted in multiple locations around the team warm-up area. Joe leaves at 2:05pm.


The team trailer carries a Madone 6.9SSL and Speed Concept 9.9 for each rider, with a few spares, and dozens of wheels for varying stages, wind conditions, and rider preference. For the time trial, Joe ran a Bontrager Aeolus 7 D3 wheel up front, and a full disc in back, with Botnrager Race XXX Lite Tubular 700x23 tires. He runs no handlebar tape on the wings of his base bar. With no power meter on his TT bike, Joe uses heart rate and feel. 

It 's a hot one in Bakersfield, and soigneur Reid had his work cut out for him keeping the riders from overheating during their warm-up. Stockings of ice, knotted and cut into packs, sit easily between shoulder blades while in the aero position. The team went through dozens during the stage in Bakersfield.



Continue reading "From the follow car: Joe Dombrowski's Bakersfield TT" »

May 16, 2012

How to #PROVEIT at the Amgen Tour of California


The boys of Bontrager-LIVESTRONG came to the Amgen Tour of California for the experience, the education of riding North America’s biggest bike race. Most wouldn’t consider them contenders for the GC. A good day might land one of them on the podium for a stage. As their team liaison from Trek, Matt Shriver, put it, “Every day is its own opportunity.”

The axes are awarded by team director Axel Merckx for impressive race moves.

After throwing haymakers the month before at the Tour of the Gila, and coming out of it with the team overall, a rider in third on GC, and an impressive 1-2 stage win on the Gila Monster, the Tour of California is a different arena altogether for the young team. Instead of being the big dogs in the pack, they’re the smallest (in stature, palmarés, and support staff), and instead of being the most recognized, they’re easily overshadowed by European titans of the peloton.


But we’re almost at the halfway point of the race and Josh Atkins has been wearing the best young rider jersey since day one (in 2nd place, as GC leader Peter Sagan technically owns it, but can’t wear both jerseys), and is in 8th place on the GC, with Lawson Craddock in 10th. Bontrager-LIVESTRONG riders consistently finish in the top 20 with coordinated final-kilometer organization for sprinter and former junior world champ Jasper Stuyven, even in the blazing-fast sprints that make up the first four stages.


Josh Atkins in the Best Young Rider jersey, guarded by his teammates.

If they’re here to learn, they’re learning quickly, and, as one race announcer put it, “these kids are punching well above their weight.” From here, the race hits some serious climbing, and will only get exponentially harder for the talented young crew. As their website states, loud and clear “Riding with us isn’t about your talent. It’s about what you decide to do with it.” And what the Bontrager-LIVESTRONG team is doing is some impressive racing that you don’t want to miss.

Get the inside scoop with our exclusive access to Trek teams at the Amgen Tour of California. Follow us on twitter at @TrekBikes. We'll be live-Tweeting from the Bontrager-LIVESTRONG follow-car all day during Thursday's time trial in Bakersfield. Post what you want to see in the comments, or tweet us up!

May 12, 2012

Great Athletes Ride Trek at the 2012 Amgen Tour of California

Win a Madone, get the inside scoop on Trek teams, and see Jens Voigt's custom Madone

We’re headed to the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, and to say we’re stoked would be an understatement. Trek athletes tend to win here (2007, 2008, 2009, & 2011), and this year we’re proud to support two very exciting, and very different teams, who will be lighting up the roads of California in search of yellow jersey glory.

The seasoned professionals of RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK, led by Chris Horner, know exactly what they need to do to repeat last year’s win here. Their stacked roster is clearly built for one goal: the overall win. When the road points up, they’ll be ready to throw down.

The young guns of Axel Merckx’s Bontrager-LIVESTRONG team are here to prove themselves at their first world-class stage race. After tearing it up at the Tour of the Gila, there’s no doubt they’re on form. Watch out for these guys: they’re massively talented, they've work very hard to get here, and there''s no doubt they'll come come out guns blazing to (as they like to tweet) #PROVEIT.



Go behind the scenes

Our social media team is on the ground and in the team cars, bringing you exclusive coverage of the race. Get the latest by following us on Twitter:

@TrekBikes – Your one-stop resource for our all things Trek. Got a question? Hit us up!

@TrekTeamMatt – Trek’s Bontrager-LIVESTRONG team liaison

@TrekJordan – Trek’s RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK team liaison

@BontragerLS - Axel Merckx’s hand-picked team of tomorrow’s tour winners, tweeting when they’re not busy winning.

@RSNT – Official Twitter account of RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK, 

As always, www.facebook.com/trekbikes is your source for joining the conversation and sharing your own rides, whether it’s to the summit of Mt. Baldy, or to the corner coffee shop.


Going to the race?

The Trek events crew will be on-site at each stage with tee-shirts, hats, and jerseys, to help you show your support of your favorite Trek riders. Stop on by to get kitted out, check out a replica of Jen Voigt’s “Shut up Legs”-edition Madone or get a limited-edition Jens tee-shirt: Jens Tee

We only had 100 of these printed, so get 'em while they're hot!

And one more thing, you can sign up on-site to win one of 10 3-Series Madones We're giving away!

April 19, 2012

Cycling, the perfect cross-training program?

Dimity McDowell Davis is one of the two authors of Run Like a Mother and the recent Train Like a Mother books. She’s been a runner for years, and started cycling a few years ago to help with some knee issues.

Trek Women asked her to share her top reasons to try cycling for cross-training!

From Two Feet to Two Wheels

Dimity and her Trek Speed Concept 7.8

Please don’t tell my faithful companion running that I’m having an affair. With a bike. And I’m in love with her—and how fast and far she lets me go, how easy she is on my joints, how capable my quads look and feel as they poke out of my bike shorts. I’m not ready to commit to her forever, but I regularly take her on long, out-of-town jaunts and I plan on doing that for the rest of my life.

Truth be told, I’ve never been a monogamous athlete. Although running has been my focus in words and action for the past twenty or so years, I’ve always kept cycling tucked in my back pocket and pulled out her pedals when I need her. Which is often. I—like most runners—benefit every time I swap out a run for a ride. 

Here are the top six reasons why runners should regularly trade their two feet for two wheels:

1. Pure and simple: Speed. I am not a fast or efficient runner. Unless I am facing a (dreaded) headwind, I will never feel the wind through my hair when I run. But on a bike? That wind whips so good. Sometimes, it feels like my bike can’t gobble up the pavement quickly enough. More than that, my legs feel so fluid and smooth, and seem to have a bottomless tank. 

2. A break for the joints. After any run longer than an hour, my knees talk back to me. And not in a nice way. But I can ride for a couple of hours, and my ankles, knees, and hips are as happy as I am at the end. (The only part that can hurt are my most delicate parts from sitting on the seat. But a seat designed for women, like the Bontrager InForm RL WSD seat, and Bontrager Solstice WSD cycling shorts with a female-specific chamois and chamois cream help things considerably.)

3. Riding is a great equalizer. I have a friend named Katherine with whom I really struggle to run with; her easy pace doesn’t even compare to my fast one. But we can ride together for hours. On bike paths or car-free parks, we ride side-by-side, chat and laugh. I can also ride with my swift husband and my kids, who, sadly, are also becoming too fast for me to run with. If one rider is much stronger than the other, Wonder Woman takes the lead and her sidekick tucks in behind her, and both get a great workout.

4. Cycling=the best cross-training going. Not only it is easy on your joints, but focused riding can improve your cardiovascular capacity and make you a stronger runner. Because of a stress fracture in my heel, I trained for eight weeks on a bike for a marathon. I did endless intervals, quad-busting hill climbs, and long, steady rides. When my heel was healed, my legs and lungs were fresh and ready to go.  (We’ve got a super effective eight-week plan, adopted from my training schedule, for training for a half-marathon on a bike in Train Like a Mother.)

5. A sense of adventure. I am a same-route, one-pace wonder when I run; adding an extra mile or two because I made a wrong turn means quite a bit more work. But put two wheels under me, and suddenly, I’m wanting to get lost. A few extra miles on a bike is nothing—and the feeling of figuring out a backway to the park or realizing that Road A connects to Road B is surprisingly empowering.  Full disclosure: I used to not be adventurous because I was worried about flats, but I took a class (and then another refresher class) at a bike shop about how to change them, tried it a couple times at home to get my skills down, and went on my way. That’s really empowering too.

6. A cycling high. At the end of it all, the high is the reason that brings me back to my bike again and again. Every two-wheeled voyage is a delicious combination of velocity, power, energy, distance and rhythm. When I park my bike in the garage when I’m done, I feel mentally energized and physically solid; every ride reconnects my body, mind and spirit in a way only pedaling can. 

Interested in getting a new bike? Trek makes Women’s Specific Design models, full details on their Women’s Collection.