The Marin Headlands loop is one of our favorite local rides, so we popped a GoPro on the handlebars to show you around. It’s a place where I find peace, beauty, inspiration and challenge just by being there, slowly, repeatedly clawing my way up hills, and winding down descents. Every time I ride up these hills, I have a “pinch-me-am-I-dreaming” moment–even on the foggiest, soggiest summer days (yes, that is what summer in San Francisco is like). The day I stop having that feeling is the day I need to pack up and move, so that I never forget how lucky we are to have this magical place in our backyard. xo Alexis
If you find yourself like most of the country in a rain-soaked or frozen state, you might have to take your training indoors this month.
Hopefully you’re fortunate enough to live near a great cycling studio where you can train with power. I have been teaching spin classes at theBay Clubin San Francisco for two years. I started taking classes there in 2009 when I was told to stop running. Saddened by being trapped indoors, I fortunately had a couple of great teachers who gave me the fitness and the confidence to make the leap from a stationary bike to a real one. It changed my life. Now that I am leading my own classes, I only hope that I can encourage another person to discover the joys of riding a ‘real’ bike.
A huge part of getting the most out of any ride (indoors or out) is efficiency. Without proper technique, form, and FIT, efficiency is compromised. So we called upon our local expert,Pedro Dungo, bike fitter extraordinaire to walk us through setting up a spin bike. He gave us three great points to remember when setting up your bike:
1. Saddle height: I often see clients sitting too low. Here’s how to determine the correct height: place your pedals at 12 and 6. Back pedal just slightly so that your bottom foot reaches 5:30. Unclip and place your heel on the clip. Your leg should be fully extended (no bend in the knee) and the hips should be balanced.
2. Saddle fore/aft position: Clip in and place your pedals at 3 and 9 o’clock. On your front leg, locate the little notch just beneath your patella (knee cap). It should fall directly over the spindle that attaches the pedal to the crank. Have your neighbor double check this one for you.
3. Handlebar fore/aft position: I often see clients riding with their handlebars too close. This takes the work out of the core (meaning back extensors as well as abdominals), places more pressure in the shoulders and neck, and places them into too much lumbar flexion (the pelvis is sort of tucked under, instead of slightly rotated forward). Here’s the rule of thumb: the distance between the tip of the saddle and the handlebars should be equal to the length of your arm from your elbow to your fingertips. I tell most new clients to start with their handlebars at the same height as their saddle, or slightly higher. I encourage experienced riders to ride with a differential that is similar to their road bike.
As we count down the dwindling days of 2017, a lot of us think about the coming of a new year as a time to set new goals, and find new opportunities to change and transform. We invited Katie Feltman to tell her story about her own transformation. xo Alexis
Transformation. Change. It’s the time of the year when these topics inevitably pop up in our minds and surround us in conversations, on social media – everywhere we turn. My story of transformation didn’t start when one year ended and a new one began. If I’m being truthful, I loathe the concept of a New Year’s Resolution.
What is this magical transformation I speak of?
The before: At age 36 and after a particularly demoralizing trip to the doctor I realized I was dealing with all manner of emotional, mental and physical sickness. That I weighed close to 300 pounds I would come to eventually realize was a symptom not a cause. The gory details? Prediabetes. Thyroid disease totally uncontrolled. Hypertension. Heart arrhythmias. I was living life on mute and in a fog. I can with certainty pinpoint that day as the day when I finally decided to do something.
The after: Some 6 years later, I’m physically lighter by about 130 physical pounds (that’s like a whole person!) and am emotionally lighter by an unquantifiable number of pounds. I’m still me - but a more settled, happier me. A person who lives life with gusto. A better friend, sister, daughter, employee, citizen of the world. I could name hundreds of things that are different for me now. For the readers of this blog, I’ll just note how much I missed biking long distances when I simply couldn’t. Now I spend as much time and as many miles as I can cycling.
Before I get to the three things, a word of caution. Don’t romanticize weight loss. It’s not a panacea to all your emotional, professional, physical, relationship and whatever other woes you have. That kind of thinking is a dangerous - so dump it now. We’ve all been there - imagining if I could only change this I would be so much happier. On the surface when you imagine your life x number of pounds lighter you might think it’s the express line to happiness - the solution to all your problems. It’s not. It’s so not. You’ve first got to do the work on the inside to achieve that level of nirvana
Still with me? If so I am happy to report I am FINALLY getting to the three things
1. So yeah….about those New Year’s Resolutions or that BIG decision to make a HUGE change overnight. Doesn’t work. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know but try and listen this time. Internalize it. Believe it. Accept it. Accept that change won’t happen overnight. Waiting until the beginning of the year after engaging in the party/food/wine/gluttony marathon that starts around Halloween and rages on until we all wake up on January 1st filled with a truck load of self-loathing we can’t unload seems to be the way we all decide to go about conducting ourselves year after year. The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. This time, do something different. The biggest change and realization was grasping I had to make small changes in my daily habits and then doing them. Change is something you have to chip away at every. Single. Day. Know there will be setbacks, and things won’t happen overnight. And that’s why I don’t set New Year’s resolutions. Sure, I set short- and long-term goals (some are totally doable - and some are so aspirational it seems silly to even write it down or say it out load but you need those big goals) but I don’t set one giant resolution on January 1. Think about it like this: Every day is a resolution. The best thing about thinking like this? You get a fresh start every day. It’s manageable this way.
2. Self-care matters. Say it. Think it. PRACTICE IT. Yes I am shouting on that last one. Find ways to engage in self-care. Do it every day. That’s going to look different for everyone so spend some time figuring out what this looks like for you and get on it. Self-care should be viewed like change – it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Find the small things you can to do daily to take care of yourself. 2 easy places to start are move more, and get more sleep.
3. Why does self-care matter so much? Because self-love. Acceptance. No more self-loathing. You won’t take care of yourself if you can’t find a way to love yourself. If you take one thing away from my words today make it this. You won’t love yourself if you don’t make the time to take care of yourself and if you spend time hating yourself and your body, you’ll lack the will and motivation to do the work needed to care for your body and mind. We have one body. Take care of it. This one is critical. Essential. I hated my body. I felt betrayed by it. The self-loathing I felt had a vice grip on me. Once I learned to take care of myself and accept myself daily in where I was on my journey, and let go of my negative feelings about my body that is when the change really started to happen.
Frustrated I’ve not provide some magic list of specifics for how to transform? Is this a bait and switch? No. I’ve already talked too much and the specifics are missing on purpose. Everyone’s journey will look different – it has to. If you want to know more about mine, I’m using Insta to document how I practice self-love and self-care - when I’m not posting photos of my dogs or my cycling adventures Find me on Instagram.com/wanderingbella
As we close out November and get back into the swing of things after Thanksgiving, it seems only fitting that this month’s three things touch upon gratitude.
In recent years, sports have given me a lot for which to be grateful. Here are three:
1. [Ladies’] Locker room talk. I started swimming a year ago after a very long hiatus from any kind of organized swimming (as in like, 30 years). Before swim, the early bird crowd and I pass in the locker room, where we exchange our bleary eyed, tired hellos and brief life updates. These ladies are full of wisdom that only decades of living can endow. Post swim, my group, ranging from a new mom and a newlywed to single 30 and 40-somethings share our own banter and wish each other well as we head off to our respective jobs. It’s in these passing moments when we reveal (no pun intended) little pieces of ourselves, that we realize how much we all have in common as women, how much we can learn from one another, and how much we really need one another.
2. Being an amateur. Not excelling at sports as a kid (and yes, I’m the first one to say my lack of trying is to 100% to blame for that) is not something that I regret. Traditional team sports were never something I felt like I had to do to get in to college, or to please my parents. I didn’t burn out. I didn’t have a coach who made me hate running. I didn’t get hazed by older teammates. As adults I think we’d all agree that if we peaked in high school, that’s a shame. As a non-competitive amateur, I do what I do because Iove to do it, and I am so grateful for that.
3. Endurance. Despite having zero desire to compete, sometimes my schedule would resemble that of someone who is training for something. Why bother waking up at 5 am every weekday to workout? As one of my favorite cycling instructors and personal trainers says, “Life is the ultimate endurance sport” (Follow her on Instagram--she’s a total badass @fitnesslizbradley). When you are climbing a mountain, or swimming thousands of yards, one thing is essential: learning how to use your breath to keep your brain from losing its *%#@ while you stress your body out. Endurance isn’t just about getting from point A to point B, but it’s about the small victories and the many challenging moments which stand in your way and spoon feed you humility. It’s about being comfortable in the midst of discomfort, because you don’t have a choice. It’s about breaking the journey up into small, manageable milestones. Learn to do this while doing something you enjoy, and the skill set will serve you well for enduring the less pleasant aspects of life.
This month’s three things, courtesy of Dena Smith, author ofLeo with Cancer
As a breast cancer survivor and beauty blogger, I often get asked a lot of questions about how I knew that I was sick. The answer to that is complicated, but not intimidating. There are really three key things that I think everyone should do - regardless of gender, risk for cancer or age - to feel in control of their own bodies and well being.
1) Know your own body well enough to know when something changes.
Most people see a doctor maybe once every two years. You see and inhabit your body everyday. Whether it’s a twinge in your back, or a mole changing shape, or a lump in your breast, you can’t rely on anybody else to notice these things. You are in control of QA.
It starts with paying attention to your body when it's feelinggood.That may be the hardest part. Often times we only notice when the car isn't running right, not how the car feels when it's operating at peak performance. Yes, you are the car.
It can be really hard to diagnose an issue, and figure out the best way to treat it, if you don't know what it's supposed to feel like in the first place. All it takes is a little inward attention.
2) If you find something, say something.
Trust me, I know going to the doctor sucks. It’s scary. What if it’s so much worse? But also, what if it’s better? What if it’s easily fixable? What if by addressing the issue now you make it so that it’s about a million times easier to fix than if you keep trucking along acting like everything is fine?
9 times out of 10 it will be the latter. And if it's that first scary one you'restillbetter off going sooner than later.
If you dread going to the doctor that much, find another doctor. Find someone you trust. Find someone who will listen to you, because you are the expert.
3) Be nice to yourself.
If you have a cold, rest. If your (fill in the blank) hurts skip that workout. If you’re tired, sleep. Nothing good ever comes from being unkind to your body. It does a lot of work for you, it deserves to be treated well.
There is something wistful and significant about October that makes it feel like the time of year for new beginnings. Maybe it’s because it’s my birthday month. Perhaps it’s because October is our summer here in San Francisco: that time of the year when the oppressive marine layer goes away only to be seen after a winter and spring have passed. We emerge back into sunny days and rejoice with rooftop parties, less windy bike rides, and savor the slowly dwindling daylight hours.
There is also meaning to the number 3 for me. I’m the youngest of three girls. It’s not too much, not too little. It’s a prime number. It’s an odd number, odd in a good way.
So it seems fitting that this October, we begin a new tradition. Introducing a monthly blog post of 3 things: 3 things that relate to cycling, or not cycling. Some months we’ll talk about nutrition or fitness or fashion or skincare...all of the things that matter to us on and off the bike. Sometimes it will be from yours truly, and other times it will be from guest posters. Hey, you want to chime in? We’re all ears. firstname.lastname@example.org
As I write this, my Monday morning has been completely derailed: I woke up late, spilled a cup of coffee all over the counter and its items (fruit, wine bottles, my breakfast), and then I discovered a large puddle under the kitchen sink. The plumber is here now to fix the leaky drainpipe, thank goodness.
This is especially relevant because Lexi Miller, this little idea of mine came about when my life got derailed. In the beginning of 2009, I was working at my dream job at a residential interior design firm in San Francisco. I had just run my first half marathon in a pretty decent time and was preparing to train for the San Francisco Marathon. A few days after that finish, I couldn’t even run a block. Even worse, sitting was nearly impossible without excruciating pain, which made workdays very trying. I would go from physical therapy to work in tears. A disc injury was the culprit, and I was advised not to run anymore. Begrudgingly, I started swimming again and even more begrudgingly took up spinning--UGH.
Quite soon after that, San Francisco was feeling the effects of the recession, and new clients suddenly stopped coming in. I was laid off. Then, my dog suddenly died. He was my buddy, my weekend adventurer, and he was only 4. And then I had to give up gluten, which meant no more après-ski beers, and no more bagels and pizza; less tragic than the aforementioned events but still a tragedy for a Jersey-born girl!
I felt like I was losing everything that I loved. I had no choice but to find new passions, rebuild my life, and get the train back on track, but a new track. I got a new dog, and I started a new business planning and designing events. I took on interior design projects. Things were looking up, but I was itching to get outdoors. However, I was conflicted. The presence of road biking in the city was huge, and it was alienating. Guys in their electric blue, green, yellow, fuschia, logo-d out “kits” made me feel like it was not the sport for me. The few women I saw on the road sported hideous versions of pink-flowered, ill-fitting spandex.
But at the urging one of one non-pink-and-flowers girlfriend who rode, I went shopping for a bike, which was my first awkward experience with the cycling industry. Shop after shop was manned (no pun intended) by some hipster know-it-all who was all too happy to spout off a bunch of technical information and try to up sell me for reasons I did not understand, because my last bike was a purple 10 speed, circa 1987. When did riding a bike get so serious, so technical and so expensive? At one particular neighborhood bike shop, the sales guy sent me out on a test ride but he had the saddle set a bit high. So when I coasted to a stop, my foot was so far off the ground that I fell over and took the $3,000 bike with me. Condescending folks later told me that $3,000 was not a lot to pay for a bike…whaaaat??
Eventually I encountered a female sales associate, took the plunge, and bought a bike, clipless pedals and all. She warned me that I would have one “OH SH*T” moment where I would be unable to clip out fast enough and I would fall over. Just one, she promised. I did have my very public, very real “OH SH*T” fall right on the busy San Francisco Marina. I promptly scooped my body and my pride off the sidewalk, found some coordination and some confidence and I was off. I loved the freedom, the climbing, the descending, and the fact that a bike could take me for a 50+ mile journey on a Saturday. Within 5 months, I had ridden through Patagonia, completed numerous century rides, climbed tens of thousands of feet, and I was hooked.
Meanwhile, I was constantly searching for decent women's cycling clothes, not great women's cycling clothes, because there was no such thing. I sought out the best of the worst, meaning the plainest jerseys and shorts I could find among the flowery, fuchsia mess that saturates the marketplace. I was so disappointed. I just wanted to not be embarrassed to be seen by someone I knew. Was that too much to ask for?!
Out of frustration, I started casually talking about the idea of creating my own line of women’s cycling apparel. To my surprise, so many people knew someone who knew someone who had started a clothing line without any prior experience in the industry. The common thread among these women was that they started a business because the marketplace did not offer what they wanted. These women were solving problems and they were motivated by their passions. I had a chat with Jen Hinton ofCarve Designs, who so generously gave me enough information to be dangerous. Funny enough, she also started out as an interior designer. A google search for led me to my first textile vendor. A craigslist ad led me to my patternmaker. Slowly but surely, I was making progress.
One vendor gave me “the talk”: a cautionary tale of a now-defunct label’s demise. He told me that a particular women’s brand failed because women need to see a garment in 8 color ways, and that company could not keep up with the cost of producing so many color ways. I wholeheartedly disagreed (while feigning agreement, of course). Said company made ugly garments in 8 color ways, and had a horrible name. That is why they did not sell. I believe that women want to see something well made, technically sound, and beautifully styled in a few on-trend color ways.
So that covers the "how". Back to the "why". Lexi Miller has deeper meaning, beyond spandex and beyond cycling. I’m not sure if I ever would have gotten into road biking had my life not been derailed, but I do believe in silver linings, and making lemonade when life gives you lemons. Those beliefs in transformation, potential and resilience reside in the depths of Lexi Miller. I want other women to fall in love with road biking like I did, and feel like they have a place in the sport, even if they don’t race or belong to a team or a club. I want other women to realize their potential, to discover a new passion, and to get outdoors. I want them to feel like themselves, not a watered down version of men, not like 12 year old girls, but like the smart, sophisticated, multi-faceted badass, beautiful women that they are.
I’ve never felt so much like a girl, as when I ride a bike. And I do meangirl, notwoman, which is strange since I am no longer living in my parents’ house, and I have a longer inseam than many men.
What I mean is, I’ve often felt squeezed out of the mainstream cycling culture, and boxed in to my little magenta “GIRL” compartment where everything is a smaller, less robust, pinker version of the men’s products. “Pink it and shrink it” is the prevailing design philosophy when it comes to women’s cycling apparel, so we are left with a marketplace full of infantile flowery prints and even worse,amorphous swirly objects.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the color pink. I also love sparkly objects and painfully high-heeled shoes. And I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been thankful a time or two when my ponytail has elicited some help to change a flat. But please don’t mistake me for completely helpless or weak. I know…women are an enigmatic, picky lot.
So how is Lexi Miller tackling the challenge of creating women’s cycling clothes that arefemininebut notgirly? How do we strike that balance, allowing ourselves to be different from men but not in a weak or pejorative way?
Our clothes embody femininity through good tailoring. Fit is so important to aesthetics, but it is also central to functionality. And a 2-12 size range allows for more fine tuned fits, just like your “real” clothes.
We punctuate a timeless black and white palette with a few visible, but not garish colors.
We take cues from our closets and the fashion runways, which add an essential dose of refinement and sophistication.
All that, and our clothes can take a beating, wick your sweat away, and protect your skin from the sun!
Over the years we searched high and low to find the perfect cycling short but our shopping expeditions were fruitless, as we ended up with an overflowing bin of "almost okay" shorts.
When shopping for cycling shorts, have you ever been annoyed by all of the superfluous “features” like silly labels that say “Pro” or “Elite” or huge logos that use your behind as a billboard for corporate promotion, or the worst: amorphous swirly objects? All of these little efforts to trick you into buying them actually do nothing to boost their quality or performance. And did you ever get annoyed by elastic waistbands that carve into your skin, or leg bands that squeeze your thighs? Ever notice that the widest part of the chamois (that’s affectionately known as the “butt pad” to my non-cyclist friends), which is intended to lie beneath your sits bones is sometimes fore or aft of where you’d like it to be thus defeating the purpose? Ever been annoyed that a size Medium is too small, but a Large is too big? Did you ever get weirded out by bib shorts? Like, what’s with the wrestler’s singlet—is there tackling involved in riding a bike?? So did we.
That’s why we set out to design the perfect cycling short that is simple in its design but positively functional and technical in its tailoring. No mind games or over-engineering needed.
We were inspired by the Little Black Dress, or the LBD, attributed to Coco Chanel's designs of the 1920's. It is an item so ubiquitous to fashion that it is considered to be an essential staple to every woman's wardrobe. Sometimes its appeal lies in its simplicity and other times it is a perfectly placed detail, but the LBD is timeless and it possesses the perfect degree of adaptability to carry you from work to a cocktail party. It has just enough class and a dash of sass, and its demeanor can be changed with a swift swap of a kitten heel to a stiletto.
The anatomy of the perfect cycling short is also timeless, flattering, and suitable for its function. The Little Black Shortis distilled down to these essential details:
Plain black design to complement whatever you want to wear on top? Check.
A supportive performance fabric that hugs your legs? Check.
A softer fabric sans elastic on your thighs and tummy but stays in place? Check.
A V-shaped waistband that sits high on the hips, and provides overlap with your jersey so you won’t be flashing the crowd when you take your helmet off? Check.
A range of sizes 2-12 for a more accurate fit? Check.
A top of the line anatomically designed, women specific chamois from the industry leader, Elastic Interface? Check.
And we didn’t stop there. We made painstakingly diligent efforts to make sure that our factory got chamois placement right.
All of the above help to protect you against the need for awkward suspenders so the girls can be free.
Don’t be fooled by theLittle Black Short’ssubtle design aesthetics. Its technical strengths and comfort lie in what you can’t see, but what you can definitely feel the second you put them on.
2: proceeding from or characterized by wisdom, prudence, and good judgment <sageadvice>
Every design idea begins with an influence from the "outside" world. From there, we deduce how to make those essential creative details into something functional. After all, form does follow function, but that does not mean that the form has to be ugly! For us, it is not good enough to make just another cycling jersey with five panels, three pockets, short sleeves and a zipper. We strive to be truly different, and that process begins with a sage approach to design.