LifeCycle Biking

Community Champions- Ayesha McGowan

On a mission to add color and numbers to women's cycling, Ayesha McGowan is pushing and pulling to become the first female African-American professional road cyclist.  From organizing tandem bike rides for differently-abled persons to bike discussions with pre-school aged tots, Ayesha is changing her community and achieving milestones- one pedal rotation at a time. 

LifeCycle Biking had an opportunity to connect with Ayesha and learn more about her biking lifecycle.

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Lash

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Lash

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Ayesha! Let’s get right to it- who or what brought you to the sport of cycling?

Some of my friends were getting into it, so we all started together!

Where are you from? Has your place of origin influenced how much you bike?

I was born in Atlanta, GA, but I grew up in Piscataway, NJ.  I would bike around with my friends as a kid and even commuted to high school my senior year until someone stole my bike.  Luckily, I got my license shortly after.  I think, in a way, I love feeling the same way I did riding around Piscataway when I as 12.

That’s a prime example of our community motto- in every aspect of your life, there can (and should!) be biking!  In your life cycle, what’s been your best moment on the bike so far?

If I had to pick just one, it would be riding with my mom, sister and nephew over the Queensboro Bridge for 2013 Cyclofemme in NYC.  The ability to share my greatest joy with my closest family was incredible.  Neither of them had been on a bike in years and they rode about forty miles that day.  I was so proud of them, and they were beyond proud of themselves! 

Photo Courtesy of Ayesha McGowan

Photo Courtesy of Ayesha McGowan

You are a huge proponent of women in cycling; particularly women of color. What advice would you give to women who are new to riding a bike? What has been the biggest improvement you’ve seen regarding women and cycling?

I would tell them to find a group of women to ride with. I grew leaps and bounds after I started riding with the women of WE BIKE NYC! It helped my confidence level tremendously, and I made several lifetime friends! I think the largest improvement is that people are talking about it more. There are also a number of groups being started all over the country geared specifically towards getting more women on bikes!

We couldn’t agree more!  LifeCycle Biking hosts monthly rides throughout the five boroughs and internationally. We encourage any and everyone to join our inclusive, no-drop rides

What do you do for a living? Has your occupation contributed to your cycling life?

I'm a Pre-school Music Teacher! Working with kids is a constant reminder of all the little things that make life great. It keeps me grounded and still helps me stay open to listening to my imagination. It also makes a great conversation piece when kids come to class wearing helmets! They make me feel really cool when they get excited talking about bikes with me!

What cycling accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my work in helping to develop the InTandem Bike program in NYC. It is a non-profit that provides tandem biking opportunities to people with disabilities. I was the Director of Programs until my recent move to California!

We love the InTandem Bikes mission!!! It’s so awesome you helped to develop that program. InTandem rides are prominently featured on our Community Calendar- check them out to be a ride leader.

While we serve and support others, we must also prioritize self-care. Keeping yourself going both on and off the bike is important, what tips do you have on nutrition?

Prepare ahead of time so you're not hangry trying to find food! Eat things that make you feel good and also make you happy. Last, healthy food doesn't have to be gross, there are lots of great options that also taste great!

Absolutely! Our favorite local, women-run catering company, Harvest & Revel, supplied us with some tasty nutrition tips that are super healthy and flavorful- check them out!

Photo Courtesy of  Kristen Blush

Photo Courtesy of Kristen Blush

Tell us, is there anything you would change in the landscape of today’s cycling scene?

I really wish there were more women of color in the racing scene! I can still count the number of black women I've seen at road races on one hand. It makes me very sad.

Are there any notable cyclists that inspire you? Or any other people that are doing inspiring things in the cycling world that you think we should highlight?

Coryn Rivera is really representing women of color well in the pro peloton. She made her name as a crit racer, but has really shown herself as an amazing all arounder! I've enjoyed following her come up, and I have a feeling she's only just begun!

Last, but not least Ayesha- Can you finish this statement? In my life-cycle, biking has been . . .

The best thing that ever happened to me.

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Lash

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Lash

 

Follow Ayesha's progress and personal blog: A Quick Brown Fox and cheer her on at @ayesuppose

For nutritious food recipes and event catering inquiries contact Harvest & Revel

LifeCycle Rides: Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

Isla de Ometepe is an island formed from the lava of two volcanos in Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. In the shape of an hourglass, it is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua and has exquisite views of the two volcanoes that birthed it- Concepción and Maderas. With newly paved roads between the local towns, Ometepe has become an explorers dream for cyclists, both local and transient. 

LifeCycle Biking got an opportunity to explore the island while traveling through Central America.

Off road terrain common in Ometepe

Off road terrain common in Ometepe

In order to get to Ometepe, we took an hour long ferry from San Jorge to the dock at Moyogalpa. From there, we were shuttled to our lodging quarters at the earth-based, intentional, communal living retreat, Inanitah- situated atop a steep incline, about 45 minutes (driving) from Moyogalpa. At Inanitah- we camped on on their grounds, ate 3-4 vegetarian meals daily, explored meditation, yoga, & wellness workshops; and participated in ongoing learning opportunities for growth and expansion. 

Camping at Inanitah

Camping at Inanitah

Inanitah residents guided us along the island biking terrain. With the two volcanoes, dry and wet forests, and stop overs at warm lake shores and petroglyph sites, it is a mountain biking paradise. Limited paved roads make road cycling difficult as the roads tend to be the main connections between cities and have high traffic volumes. However, the trucks make room for riders and we experienced welcoming horns and thumbs up's along the way. 

Bikes were available for daily rental at various locations across the island and some hotel and hostels have bikes that visitors can use.

Our stops along biking routes included small villages and “comedores” where typical Nicaraguan meals of rice, beans, tortillas, fried cheese & eggs with either chicken, beef, or pork were served. Fresh fruit juices and coconut water were easily accessible and enjoyed roadside. 

Los Cocos Comedore

Los Cocos Comedore

With the recent re-pavement of the road between Moyogalpa and Altagracia, it is the route used by most cyclists. The cities are around 15 miles (24 kilometers) apart and it takes about an hour and a half to travel the route. The road to the Maderas Volcano is still unpaved and requires more time and effort to get to that side of the island. Biking around the Concepción Volcano is also possible, but cyclists will hit some dirt roads after Altagracia. 

With the frequent altitude changes and the Nicaraguan temperatures, cycling on Ometepe can be tough- but also amazingly rewarding.

The sunset views were some of the most amazing we had ever seen. 

Breathtaking sunsets next to the Volcano

Breathtaking sunsets next to the Volcano

On Ometepe, the local community is embracing the tourism influx and we felt genuine generosity and hospitality from the residents, both transplant and native. 

The scenery was unlike any other and a ferry ride back to San Jorge left us missing the simplistic pleasures and rough routes of Ometepe. 

Want to learn more of our journey through Nicaragua? Contact us!

Photos courtesy of Sara Elise

 

Community Champions- Brigid Siegel

From Nebraska to Germany, Brigid Siegel has led an active cycling life and has no plans to stop anytime soon. Her experience braving the triathlon scene and leading European tours has afforded her a wealth of knowledge in the sport. Nowadays, Brigid uses her knowledge to raise awareness for social justice matters, such as HIV/AIDS and homelessness.

LifeCycle Biking connected with Brigid recently to get a more in depth look at her biking life cycle.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Brigid!  Let's get right to it.  Who or what has inspired you to start cycling?

In 1977 at the age of fifteen, I spent the summer living with my grandmother in Linz am Rhein, Germany.  I was an early athlete playing team sports like basketball and softball, but I never considered the sport of cycling for myself until that summer.  I spent a lot of time with my cousins, one of whom was already an avid cyclist.  He had a racing bike he would ride in the hills along the Rhein river valley.  I loved everything about this: the racing bike with the drop handlebars, the gear he was wearing, his leather cleats in cages on the peddles, the fact that he shaved his legs- to me the sport was thrilling.

In your life cycle, what’s been your best moment on the bike so far?

I find I have a lot of “best” moments but I would say some of my favorite moments are when it is one of those perfect cycling weather mornings- cool, clear, sun is shining and I am on my touring bike on easy rolling hills where I can keep the bike in the same gear and travel for miles feeling the bike beneath me, the smooth road I am on and the wind against my face, while I am taking in the nature all around me.  This happens almost every year during the Braking AIDS ride during the morning on day two.

As a tour leader in Europe, your terrain experience has been very diverse. How did you get into leading tours? Do you have a favorite story from your journeys?

I grew up in Nebraska and worked my way through college.  One of the many jobs I had was as a server in an upscale restaurant in downtown Lincoln.  As a college town, the clientele during lunch was mainly professors, government officials and the moneyed folk visiting the capital.  At this point in my life I had already done a number of sprint triathlons with my first Cannondale and fancied myself an avid biker.  During one of my lunch shifts, I overheard a visiting professor from Cambridge University discussing the tours he sponsored through his work with Bythe and Company, a touring company from Toronto Canada.  This professor was looking for tour guides for the following season’s tours.  I simply told him I was interested in applying and shared my qualifications.  I was chosen due to a number of skills and competencies:  Fluent German speaker, cyclist, natural curiosity, leadership and simply I had ten weeks of time to devote to the company. 

Looking back on the two tours I led, there are many stories which I can highlight as a favorite.  The first tour consisted of a total of twenty-five students, two tour leaders and one student leader.  In an age of analog everything- simple logistics, communications and directions were a daily challenge.  We were in France on the Tour de France Sunday and the weather was rainy and cold, we had many flats and spokes were popping from hubs left and right.  At some point, one of the students simply could not ride on his wheel any further as it was shaped like an S.  Finding an open bike shop was not even possible, but through a cycling miracle, we met an older man who happened to have a bike shop in his garage.  This smoking, beret wearing man muttered under his breath his disdain for the throw-away society had become and began to rebuild the entire wheel, spoke by spoke.  Needless to say, this took hours.  We entertained ourselves watching the Tour on his small black and white television and marveled at his handy work. When the wheel was finished, we were able to get back on the road. 

Is there anything you would like to change in today’s cycling scene?

The cycling scene has a variety of realities.  The competitive NY/NJ scene is very male dominated and is looked upon as a group of weekend warriors who break traffic laws, cause congestion on roads, and are a menace.  In many ways, this is not wholly an inaccurate description.  I think we need to ensure that cyclist obey traffic rules in our urban areas, and that vehicular traffic give more respect to the cyclists.  One fatality is one too many. 

 

More recently, appreciation for women cyclists has grown- what has been the biggest improvement you’ve seen regarding women and cycling?

I now see whole lines of bikes and gear specifically made for women.  We can now buy a bike which we do not need to retrofit to female dimensions.  This ensures less injuries and better biking overall.

Totally!  Speaking of biking accessories made for women- one of our most popular items is our Rosie the Riviter short sleeve jersey in our Provisions shop!  What advice do you have to women who are new to riding a bike?

There are a few things a new cyclist should do- determine the kind of riding they want to do and buy a bike which fits that goal.  The bike needs to be fitted well along with a great helmet.  Understand how the bike works and practice in a safe environment which is traffic free.  Find a buddy who has more experience.  Ride a lot.  Learn how to change a tube.  Don’t worry about getting dirty! 

We have our own "LifeCycle Rides" cycling team that focuses on inclusion and community.  You are a part of a cycling team as well- "The Honey Badgers."  What does your team focus on and where did the inspiration for the group/team come from?

Our team captain, Courtney Meier, was looking for a way to increase her ability to contribute more to Housing Works through our participation in Braking AIDS.  She, along with fellow team mate Mason Scherzer, brainstormed the team name as they were inspired by a YouTube video.  The subsequent team was formed on a number of fierce principles from this rough and tough animal:  Honey Badgers don’t give a S#&t, are nastya#$ and are fiercely devoted to eliminating AIDS as an epidemic by 2020, working through Housing Works and the governor’s office.

What do you see as your biggest influence in the cycling community?

At fifty-four, I show my cycling friends that age is just a number and that by staying fit, participating in Braking AIDS and contributing to our cycling community and the community at large, cycling is something which can continue to be part of your life for many years to come.  Most people around me do not have the same length of experience as I do and many seek my advice on a variety of things cycling related.  I experience a real sense of contribution to my community through cycling. 

Are there any notable cyclists that inspire you?  Or any other people that are doing inspiring things in the cycling world that you think we should highlight? 

I met a woman on the Braking AIDS ride last year- Sharon Kliegman- in her mid sixties who recently road her bike across the United States.  This has been a dream of mine for a long time and I was inspired to keep the dream alive! 

Here in New Jersey, of particular note is a bike shop, Breille Cyclery, which has been owned since 1970 by Katherine Penna with locations in Asbury Park and Brielle.  This full service shop really supports women, their needs and cycling goals.  I highly recommend stopping by, saying hi to Kathy and checking out all of their great bikes and gear- a cyclist can never have enough!

On that note, I'm going to have to throw in a shameless plug for our LifeCycleBiking Provisions Shop that just launched!  We are definitely in agreement that a cyclist can never have enough gear that is right for them and will enhance their ride.

But thanks, Brigid! Can you finish this sentence?  "In my life cycle, biking has been . . ."

Biking has been part of my DNA.  I really never see a day which I will retire from it. 

 

Want to learn more about Brigid or pick her brain for cycling tips?  Contact her on Instagram: @sciencechic29 and Twitter: @sciencechic.

Know anyone who you would love to see featured as a Community Champion? Contact us with your recommendation!

Happy Holidays!!!

     
  
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Happy Holidays from everyone at LifeCycle Biking!

As our inaugural year comes to a close, we would like to thank each and everyone one of you for your support.  We are SO excited for 2016 and look forward to your continued support and assistance.  In 2016 we are planning:

- Our official site launch!!! Date and location TBD

- The first LifeCycle Biking endowment ride supporting a local non-profit organization. With riding options of 30, 60 and 100 miles - we look forward to seeing everyone come out and give their best!

- The development of the LifeCycle Biking cycling team- know anyone interested in joining an all-inclusive team? Have them contact us!

- Continued community development rides

And more!

Thank you again for your support and we will see you next year- Cycle on!!

Black Friday Cycling Sales

Hailed as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, Black Friday deals are now among us. It is believed that the term represents the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit for the year, thus going from being "in the red" to being "in the black".

What began as a yearly tradition in brick and mortar retail arenas, with stores opening as early as 4am to waiting patrons, has spread across the World Wide Web with many retailers offering deals starting the week of Thanksgiving or even throughout the whole month. 

Here are a few of our favorite retailers offering great Black Friday/Cyber Monday cycling deals.  So excited for the Provisions section of our website to be up as well- stay tuned!  And in the meantime, click through for the savings!!!

Know of other Black Friday / Cyber Monday cycling deals we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Cycle On!

 

LifeCycle Rides: Madrid, Spain- La Bicicleta Cafe'

There's nothing more exciting than having the opportunity to experience the cycling culture, in any form, in other parts of the world. Recent European travels did not afford the LCB team the opportunity to connect with the most recent Tour de France route, but it did lead us to an amazing cafe in Madrid, Spain- fittingly named, La Bicicleta Cafe'.

La Bicicleta Cafe' is a cycling cafe and work space in the Malasana area of Madrid, Spain. The space was created based on the owner's passion for bikes, art, and coffee equality. The space is inviting and cozy- decorated with bike themed art, comfy coaches, long communal tables as work stations, and smaller tables and chairs for eating and socializing. The downstairs area serves as the work station, where people can come in to tune their bikes using the tools available in the DIY bike counter. 

Rumored to be a "hipster haven," we expected the space to be overcrowded and overpriced. Arriving at 2pm on a Saturday, we were presently surprised to to find a table seamlessly and be greeted by a waiter almost immediately. The brunch menu featured breakfast a la carte and combo items- with names such as "The Yellow Jersey" and consisted of an array of handmade pastry items and healthy food options.

The creative atmosphere includes book shelves littered with bicycle-related literature and urban bike-themed art adornment. In the evenings, the cafe' doubles as a bar and venue space where patrons can attend various events, workshops and lectures related to the world of cycling.

As a bike lover, do yourself a favor and swing by this establishment, even if just for the affordable coffee and comical sugar packets. All bikes are welcome!

I think La Bicicleta has it right, life is too short to ride shit bikes- go visit them for a tune up, a delicious pastry and coffee, and sit in on a cycling lecture. You won't be disappointed.

 

Check out La Bicicleta Cafe' at http://www.labicicletacafe.com/index.html.

Photos courtesy of Sara Elise and La Bicicleta Cafe' social media

Rapha's Pro Team Winter Onesie Awesomeness

For those of us who are the most fond of riding light and carefree in the summer months, Rapha has introduced a game changer in the sport of winter riding. They have recently released their Pro Team Thermal Aerosuit, "an innovative and aerodynamic one-piece suit for fast winter riding, without bulk." Basically, get ready to look bad-ass in this Rapha onesie.

Hailed as "the ultimate garment for high-intensity winter riding", the Aerosuit combines the best elements from Rapha's Pro Team apparel and provides versatility for both racing and fast riding.

The upper half of the Aerosuit has a windproof and weather resistant shell covering the arms and front, while the back is composed of breathable jersey fabric. Based on the Pro Team Jacket, the suit offers protection from the elements and awesome temperature regulation. No more stops for removing copious layering!

The lower half borrows from the Pro Team Winter Tights and are lined with a "waffle print" fabric that is said to trap heat and wick away moisture. This way the legs stay warm without the dreaded clamminess. To add onto the awesomeness, the chamois is the same one featured in Rapha's award winning Bib and Pro team Bib Shorts. 

The Aerosuit has rear pockets that lay flat across the back (ideal for racing) but provide enough space for all of your riding essentials, a thick tabbed zipper for ease use while wearing gloves, a tailored fit meant for comfort during a wide range of motion, and a front flap for bathroom breaks. It is unknown how useful the front flap is for female riders (Rapha's site offers sizing for the suit in both men and women's sizes), but either way, the ultimate onesie struggle comes when trying to keep the top off the bathroom floor when those protein bars want out. 

Only offered in black so far, the Aerosuit has reflective detailing to improve visibility and is listed at a cost of $440 USD. Castello previously released their Wintersuit, the SanRemo Thermosuit

If you've had the pleasure of trying either of these suits, please let us know your opinions at info@lifecyclebiking.com

Happy Cycling!

Tour de Quisqueya

We at LifeCycle Biking are always looking for new opportunities to flex our cycling muscles and help out the community.

Recently,  we learned of a ride- The Tour de Quisqueya- an inaugural week long road bike tour of Haiti, in partnership with the Leogane Cycling Club. The ride will be held from January 9th to 18th, 2016 and starts in Port Salut near Les Cayes in the South-West of the country, ending in Cap Haitiën, the country's second largest city located in the North-East.

Enjoy six days of supported cycle-touring covering 266 miles through the raw beauty of Haiti's diverse landscapes, as well as optional excursions, volunteer opportunities, and beach get-away's. 

The ride was created to promote cycling and tourism in Haiti, and to create money to help rebuild the local economy. Tour de Quisqueya also incorporates social mission initiatives during the ride- stopping to help plant trees and working with local orpanages along the way.

There is no profit motif-  all funds go toward the expenses of participants and subsidizing the participation of local riders. 

This is a great opportunity to escape the winter, do something new and exciting, and be part of a good cause.  They are seeking 20 international cyclists for this adventure to allow them to financially subsidize 10 local cyclists. The registration deadline in November 1, 2015.

For more information on the Tour history, itinerary, and registration, please visit their site http://www.cyclequisqueya.org.

Happy Cycling!

-Life Cycle Family