Saturday, February 25, 2017

#ThisGirlCan

Later this afternoon I'm going to be inspired by some amazing athletes. As you know, I'm an active volunteer and board member of Dare2tri. Today is their annual MultiSport Clinic. Athletes will rotate through sessions of swim/bike/run as well as yoga. As in past years, I work the bike sessions helping the athletes get set up on equipment (upright or hand crank bikes) and cheer them on through difficult intervals. Kids, adults, novice or elite...I'm inspired by them all.

But these are not the only athletes that inspire me. This blog and my many ambassadorships are all aimed to empower women through sports. It doesn't matter how fast you are, how big/small you are, just challenge yourself and do what brings you joy.

Earlier this week the Venus de Miles team connected me with a women who signed up to do the 25 mile ride in July. She's new to cycling and especially road cycling. I'm thrilled to be able to share my knowledge and help her achieve her goals. She is just one of many female riders who will set challenging goals for themselves with this ride. They inspire me.

This morning I came across one of the #ThisGirlCan ads that is set to the words of a Maya Angelou poem, 'Phenomenal Woman'. The campaign drives home that there's no one definition of what a beautiful woman should look like. There's no age limit to an athlete. Strength and beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, races, ages, abilities...disabled or able bodied.  Watch this video and tell me it doesn't inspire you. Read the full poem here.




I've kept politics out of my blog and articles, but in a political climate that condones "grabbing women by their pussies," and taking away the rights of women, it more important than ever to tell little girls, teenagers...women of all ages, you are stronger than you think, you are beautiful and you can achieve anything you want to. That goes for sports, education, careers, LIFE!!!

In a world of full of princesses, dare to be batman (batwoman). Empower and inspire your daughters, grandchildren, girlfriends, co-workers. Never say "you can't because you are a woman." Dare to push the envelop.


Enjoy the ride,
Sheri

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Become an ambassador for your sport



So many companies are leveraging brand ambassador programs as an effective yet inexpensive way to spread awareness and adoption of their products. Many companies are going after women to be part of their ambassador programs as a way to attract more females to the sport of cycling, running or triathlon.


Companies have found that using a 1-to-1 approach, the word is spread throughout our communities we engage in and is seen as more credible than advertising. Since women seem to communicate differently than men, social media channels are a key to messaging. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and Strava are all ways ambassadors share their experiences and passion.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been in a few ambassador programs. My first experience was with Strava where I was the Midwest Cycling Brand Ambassador for a year and a half. Last year I was on Pearl Izumi’s first Ride Champion team. This year I’m an ambassador for Venus de Miles. Many programs are only for a year, so I’m always on the lookout for a brand that is important to me and embraces empowering women in sports.

I’m often asked how does someone become an ambassador? Usually a call for applications comes out towards the end of the year so the team can be announced right around the first of the new year. Many of the applications are very lengthy with essay responses. All the applications I’ve completed ask about your social media involvement. Companies are definitely looking for people who are heavy users of social media since it is an immediate means to share and reshare stories, pictures and experiences. Many companies also use certain campaign hashtags as a way to get stories/pictures to trend.

Other qualities companies are looking for in an ambassador is how involved you are with a particular sport. Are you competing? Are you a member of a club? How do you encourage others to be part of your sport? If you are someone who trains alone or isn’t active with any groups, this could be seen as a negative. Ambassadors must be social, give back to their sport, engaging, and less about self-promoting. If you fill out an application that shouts “me me me” then forget about being selected.

Another question I get a lot is what types of companies have ambassador programs. I’ve seen companies including apparel, equipment, nutrition, eyewear, accessories and apps like Strava. Every year I see more and more companies add ambassador programs to their marketing mix.

How do you find out about an ambassador program? Follow your favorite brands on Facebook. Many will post their call for applications there. Some have details about their programs on the company’s web site. Also read key eNewsletters for your sport, as they will run ambassador program press releases from different companies.

Most companies provide their ambassadors with clothing or equipment. Both Strava and Pearl Izumi provided me with ambassador cycling kits. You also get swag to give out at events or activities you host. Most will also give you discounts on their product so you will wear their brand and also knowledgably talk about it. But, as an ambassador you get back what you put into it. I really enjoyed educating folks about the different features of Strava or the products of Pearl Izumi. If I was able to get someone to challenge themselves or try something new, then I was doing my job.

Pearl Izumi even had The Pact ambassadors would sign. The words from The Pact really resonated with me. One of my favorite excerpts is:

“I will be inclusive. Even of the exclusive. I will encourage the beginner, the professional and everyone in between. I will place joy above performance, use my fingers for peace, not profanity, and I will focus on the scenery more than the scene.”

As part of being a Venus de Miles ambassador I received a discount code to use for registration. This year’s event is July 22 in Lake Forest, IL. There both the 5k run and a ride (25 or 60 miles). So if you plan to attend, use this discount code for $10 off registration. The code is only good from February 10-14th so don’t delay.

Discount code: HAPPY10   (valid Feb 10-14)
Be sure to join our team: Echelon Goddesses 

Challenge yourself to ride 25 or 60 miles. The Venus de Miles is a well-supported ride and there are over 400 encouraging women out on the road with you.

Enjoy the ride.
Sheri

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Goals vs Resolutions

I am not the type of person that makes New Year's resolutions. However, I do make goals. What's the difference?

Here are the definitions I found: 

Resolution - a firm decision to do or not to do something:
Goal - the result or achievement toward which effort is directed

I like goals because you must put some effort towards achieving them, thus more satisfaction when you do. Goals also provide you...direction, energy, challenge and an opportunity to think outside the box.


Most of my goals are athletic in nature...improve my hill climbing, increase my core strength, or master bike handling skills on single track. These are my "minor" goals this year. But my big goal (drum roll please) is to do an half Ironman distance triathlon...AGAIN. My last "half" was back in 2008 and it's time to tackle it again.

Of the three disciplines of triathlon, running is my 3rd strength. I've never really enjoyed running like I do open water swimming or cycling. Primarily because of pain and injury. I have totally flat feet and even with custom orthotics I just end up with injuries. But this year I'm hoping it will be different. I'm three weeks into a "Couch to half marathon" training program. It incorporates run/walk training to get you to a 13.1 mile run. I'm hoping that this easing into running does the trick and I remain injury free. 

I'm headed back to Grand Rapids, MI for my third time. 2014 I finished an Ironman aquabike, last year a half Ironman aquabike and now a instead of Swim, Bike, Done...it will be Swim, Bike, Run. I'm excited that three of my friends will be racing too and hoping for a few more will join us. My goal is to first, finish the race. Second, to improve my time over 2008. MI Titanium is a lot hillier than Spirit of Racine, but I'm up for the challenge. Let's hope there's less chip and seal on the bike course and no flats. Oh, yeah, maybe no tornadoes or horizontal rain, either. 


This will be an adventure and definitely a challenge. I'm older, but wiser, so I'm confident to achieve my goal. 

I invite you to share with me your goals for 2017 in the comments section and join me in my adventure this year. 

It's going to be an enjoyable ride,
Sheri

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

When everything used is new again



Over the summer many of you who ride with me might have gotten tired of seeing me sport an OORR kit. Well, I was product testing not only for a RoadBikeRider.com review, but also for Tim Christian the founder of OORR (Out of the Rat Race). Tim is based in Australia and has created a company to produce high quality apparel with attention to detail using recycled materials.

OORR uses recycled plastic bottles and used coffee grounds in the construction of their fabric. Yep, sounds crazy, but I can attest to how soft the material is against your skin, how well it wicks, and that it provides great odor control.

I cover all the details on OORR’s women’s kit including fabric and construction here in a recent product review in RBR. Brandon reviewed the men’s version here.


At the end of October OORRlaunched their Kickstarter campaign and just recently hit their goals. There’s still time for you to support this campaign and have one of these unique cycling or running kits for yourself.   

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, we all have a lot to be thankful for. The environment is not something we can take for granted, so as cyclists we need to continue our quest to reduce our carbon footprint. I can’t help but worry what the next administration will do as they deny global warming and pledge to change policies that endanger our world.

There are a few things we can do in the next week. #OptOutside on black Friday. #SmallBusinessSaturday and #ShopLocal for the holidays. And most of all remember those less fortunate on #GivingTuesday.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy the ride,

Sheri

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

No longer an InterBike virgin



In my August 16th post “Getting my Geek on”, I mentioned going to InterBike in Vegas. Well the show was last week and I can honestly say it was fantastic!!! A bit overwhelming, but fantastic.

The trip there made me think I should just sit at the black jack table and bet it all. Everything was going my way. It started when American Taxi ran out of cabs so they sent me a beautiful big town car. Once at the airport, I was able to secure an exit row seat at no charge, only catch it was a middle seat. When booking online they wanted $64!! Heck no to that.

Security was a breeze and I was pretty early, so I got my Garrett popcorn fix. Now why can’t that have an ultra-small size? Even the small is too much of a good thing. Off to the gate I went where two women in their 70s decided I’d be their new BFF. Have to say they were a hoot and kept me entertained until boarding time. I had a feeling they’d be getting into a lot more trouble than I would in Vegas.

As I boarded the plane and reached my row, the man in the exit isle seat smiled and asked if I wouldn’t mind switching with him. Are you kidding me? Give up a middle seat, heck yeah!! For some reason this guy wanted to sit next to his wife, which was fine by me. So now I have an exit row, isle seat to Vegas baby!!! Would wishing for a bump to 1st class be too much to ask?

There was a glitch right as they were about to close the cabin doors. Seems a woman took tranquilizers prior to boarding and passed out. The nice Jewish doctor behind me (can’t script this), put on his rubber gloves and escorted her off the plane. Doors closed, wheels up and off to Vegas.

When we landed, there was a comment on my Facebook post that my friend Kai from Milwaukee would be in Vegas at another conference. Bonus, we’d get to see each other!!

Since I was on my own dime, I decided to take a Super Shuttle to the hotel. To my delight my 2 elderly BFFs where on the “party bus”. A couple of men boarded and I quickly struck up a conversation with one of them who looked like a cyclist. He indeed was going to InterBike and when asked which company he worked for, I almost hit the floor. I was trying to get a meeting with his company’s VP but our schedules were too busy. But sure enough his VP was sitting next to him and we conducted our meeting on the bus. It was Kismet.

At the hotel waiting in a long line to check in, I get a text from John Marsh the publisher/editor of RoadBikeRider.com. We had never met and the text was “where are you?” Ends up he’s in line right next to me. He assumed there weren’t too many 6’ tall curly red heads checking into a Vegas hotel but thought it was safer to check first.

I was at InterBike on a press pass, so the first evening was spent at the Press Preview event. There John and I got our first bit of schwag, a nice Thule backpack. I would need it as well as my half empty suitcase to bring home all the stuff we got. We wandered from booth to booth seeing what was new and what products would be good to review in the coming issues of RBR.

The next morning we attended the industry breakfast at 730am before heading to the show. I had meetings lined up most of the day so I knew it would be an exhausting 9 hours on my feet. The show was so huge that I felt like I was continuously lost and walking in circles. Even with the InterBike Mobile App, it was hard to find the booth you were looking for. I needed a turn by turn cue sheet. Maybe marked up in pink and blue highlighter by Cindy K. (inside joke)

Some of the key vendors I met with the first day included Pearl Izumi, Polar, Topeak, COBI, Garmin, Muc-Off, PrimalWear, Polar Bottles, Smith, Lazer (who was just bought by Shimano), Zevlin, Catrike, 2xu, Coeur Sports, SockGuy, Shebeast, Giordana, SealSkinz, Bolle and countless others.

By the end of the first day, the show was winding down and I was pretty tired and still overwhelmed. Then I get a text from John, “Happy hour at the BMC booth.” Somehow I was able to find it pretty quick and we enjoyed a beer as we debriefed about our day. But my day wasn’t over. Had to go catch a bus to see Cross Vegas, the UCI Cyclocross World Cup season opener. I’m not a big fan of bike racing but cyclocross is so much fun. Plus they had the Clif Bar umbrella boys. It’s cyclocross’ version of Thunder Down Under. Really buff guys in just cycling bibs. Eye candy for the women. 

Clif Bar Umbrella Boys - Some nice eye candy
I did get to catch up with Kai and her husband Andrew at the race. Seems Andrew knew all the pros and kept pointing out top riders. I admit, I was clueless since I don’t follow cross racing. But when he spotted Katie Compton, Kai wanted a picture with her. I thought I was taking the picture of Kai and Katie for her Facebook page “For the Love of Her Bike.” But then all of a sudden Kai is telling Katie who I am and that I write this blog for women, yadda yadda yadda. Like Katie could care less. I just wanted to climb in a hole. But Katie was extremely kind, pretended to be interested, and posed with us.
Kai, Katie Compton and Me
We were then treated to one of the most exciting women’s pro (or men’s) races ever. So worth being up for almost 21 hours!!!

These three played cat and mouse up until the finish line
The final day at InterBike for me was only a half day. I waited forever for the umbrella boys to come to my room and sit on my suitcase so I could close it. So much product and literature to take home. Can’t wait to start reviewing many of the items we saw. Breakfast was at a vendor’s suite, Showers Pass, so we could learn about their new line. I had never heard of them but they make some high end windproof, waterproof and breathable jackets among other items. I now have one of their jackets to product test. After breakfast on to Garneau, Kask, Zoic, 7Mesh, Tifosi, Stages, and VisiJax to name a few.

The trip home was a bit rocky. Vegas had 30mph winds so a very bumpy flight. But I can’t complain, it was a great trip, met with a lot of companies and saw a lot of cool new products. Now I have my work cut out for me testing and reviewing scores of items from helmets to jackets to eyewear. It will be like Christmas the next few months as samples start being delivered.

Sad to say I never had time to gamble but my luck was through the roof. Maybe next time.

My InterBike article for RBR just posted today. Check it out and see what was new.