Monday, November 16, 2009

Welcome, Anona!

One of TE's newest staff members, Anona Whitley, is a recent transplant to Portland OR. The story of how she moved by bike from Illinois to Portland was written up in the News-Gazette of Illinois. You can read it online HERE.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not Quite 24 Hours

Ride Report - Ring of Fire 24 Hour Time Trial 9/12/2009

There are ~10 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and ~10 billion galaxies in the universe. 3 miles outside of Maupin Oregon, I stood straddling my bike, sucking on a Gu Roctane, and staring up at what seemed like every single one of those 10 billion billion stars.

16 hours earlier, at 6:43am, I rolled up to the start line of my very first 24 hour time trial, the Ring of Fire. I felt surprisingly calm, despite the daunting ride ahead of me. Perhaps it's because my very good friend Richard had volunteered to crew for me. I knew that no matter what happened, I could count on him to be there for me throughout the event.

The 157 mile day loop featured nearly 15,000 feet of elevation gain, starting right out of the parking lot with the climb out of Maupin. All morning I rode northwest getting progressively closer to Mt. Hood. Richard, driving my pickup, leapfrogged me along the way. He kept me fed and logged my fluid intake, making sure I drank a minimum of one bottle per hour. I rode strongly, summiting Bennett Pass on Mt Hood, savoring the descent on the other side as my reward. The subsequent climb up Forest Road 44 was less challenging than I'd expected, and the long descent into Tygh Valley gave me a chance to rest up a bit.

Throughout the day, the temperature rose higher and higher, eventually reaching nearly 100 degrees on the pavement. At 3 pm, after 112 miles and more than 10,000 feet of elevation gain, I made the turn onto Bake Oven Road, a 45 mile out-and-back. I'm sure there's a “real” story attached to the name “Bake Oven”, but amongst ultra racers in Oregon, Bake Oven is notorious for being a long hot climb that challenges even the most fit athletes.

Sure enough, Bake Oven proved to be my biggest test of the day. Not long after starting the climb, I started to feel chilled and to break out in goosebumps. I recognized this as a sign that my body was overheated and that I needed to take a break. As soon as I reached my support vehicle, I called for a time out, my first “non-bio break” all day. For 15 minutes, I sat in the shaded passenger seat of my truck, applying cold water to my face and neck, and drinking cold liquids. Finally, armed with an extra bottle of water for dumping over my head to stay cool, I set out again, feeling renewed.

I knew the key to surviving the climb up Bake Oven Road in that heat would be to ride at an easy pace and to continue to stay hydrated. It took me 3 hours to ascend the 22.5 mile climb, but I reached the summit feeling good. Because Bake Oven is an out-and-back, the climb also afforded me the opportunity to see how many people were ahead of me, and by how much. I was shocked by how few people were descending while I was climbing. I would later find out that the heat had claimed many victims. By 6pm I reached the turn around. The intense heat of the day had passed and I felt rejuvenated. I made the 22.5 mile return trip in an hour.

I pulled into the race HQ at 7pm, having finished the 157 mile day loop in 12 hours & 15 minutes. I took a 1/2 hour break to change into a clean set of cycling clothing, affix headlights and taillights to my bike & helmet and to strap on some reflective bands for safety. During that half hour, the sun had gone down, and I set off on the 27 mile night loop in almost complete darkness.

I've often ridden my bike in the dark, mostly while bike commuting, but that has been “town riding” usually accompanied by street lights and plenty of motor vehicle traffic for light and company. Thus, it was a bit unnerving to head off into the inky blackness of the night loop. The roads on the night loop are VERY lightly traveled, and very lightly populated. Thus, I had nothing to rely on for guidance other than my headlight. I knew the route in daylight, but in the dark of night, everything looked different and I felt as though I was continually cycling into a black hole. Unlike the day loop, rider support vehicles were not permitted on the night loop. So I was well and truly alone out there, with just my thoughts for company.

The first loop was mostly uneventful, though the effort of the day was really starting to weigh on me. My legs, while not cramping, were very tight, and my right Achilles tendon started to ache. I began to think ahead to October 18th, and the half marathon I'd been training for for almost a year. Would continuing to ride jeopardize my ability to run that race? As I pulled into the race HQ at the end of the loop, I began to consider calling it a night at that moment. 184 miles was respectable, I thought.

But of course, peer pressure is a strong and powerful force. Race staff and fellow competitors encouraged me to take a break, have a snack, then get out there again for another lap.

So, I did just that. And three miles up the climb, my headlight died.

There are ~10 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and ~10 billion galaxies in the universe. 3 miles outside of Maupin Oregon, I stood straddling my bike, sucking on a Gu Roctane, and staring up at what seemed like every single one of those 10 billion billion stars.

My ride was over. I had covered 187 miles and climbed ~17,000 feet in 16 hours. As I stood staring up at all those stars, I realized that I was OK with that. While I didn't ride 24 hours, I knew I had accomplished much of what I'd set out to do that day. I'd had a great time, I'd maintained a positive attitude and I'd cheered loudly for each and every racer who passed me that day.

And so, with that, I plucked a red taillight off my helmet and used it to light my way as I slooooowly descended back down into Maupin, while in my head I was already plotting my training plan for *next* year's race.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

24 Hours

"Don't even consider stopping. Know when you take off that you're going to ride all night."

Sunrise in Maupin, Oregon this coming Saturday morning will be at 6:39am. At precisely 6:43am, I will mount my trusty Felt. If all goes well, I will not get off (save for the occasional "bio break") until precisely 6:43am on Sunday morning, 2 minutes past the 6:41am sunrise.

"Comfort = speed. Don't wear your lightest shoes if they're tight."

In it's 5th year, the Ring of Fire Time Trial has attracted riders from all over the Pacific Northwest. Only one woman, Sandy Earl, has ever entered the 24 hour event. She covered 282 miles. This year, SIX women, myself included, have bellied up to the bar.

"Eat. Food. Warm food helps you stay awake. I like chicken noodle soup."

The course is, to put it mildly, challenging. The "day loop" is 157 miles and gains nearly 15,000 feet of elevation. After completing that, riders will ride laps around the "night loop", a 27 mile circuit that gains approximately 2200 feet of elevation. Sandy's 282 mile course record includes more than 25,000 feet of climbing.

"There are a lot of vault toilets on the night loop from the bridge on. Use them, don't waste time going into your room."

I've never ridden a 24 hour race before. Can I stay on my bike for 24 hours straight? I don't know. Will my stomach rebel after so many hours? I don't know. Will my Terry Damselfly saddle, which I love on a century ride, love me back after 18, 20, 22, 24 hours? I don't know.

"The temperature can vary about 15 degrees over the course at night - very cold on the approach to Tygh Valley... your support people should dress you for that temperature and just let you whine about the cold spot."

So, how will I judge my success? Well, I'll be delighted if I'm still conscious and riding come 6:43am Sunday morning! Beyond that, I'm trying not to set any expectations for myself, other than to try to have a good time, maintain a positive attitude and cheer LOUDLY for any and all racers who ride past me.

Wish me luck!

Want to follow the action? "Live" race updates will be posted throughout the event here: Details about the event can be found here:

Many thanks to Sandy Earl for her many words of wisdom and advice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ride Report: Pie Champ Ride

Team Estrogen IT wizard & pie lover Jeff Mendenhall tells the tale of Tuesday's Pie Champ Ride, one of hundreds of creative rides happening over a 2-week period all around the Portland Metro area as part of Portland's annual Pedalpalooza event. For more details on Pedalpalooza, please visit

In many ways it was inevitable that Jeff would enter last night's pie eating contest. He comes from a long line of pie eaters who have escalated the traditional Thanksgiving pie into a requirement that the pie-to-people ratio at that blessed event be maintained at a minimum of 1:1. One of Mr. Mendenhall's most treasured posessions is his "Pie for Strength" T-shirt. He is frequently asked by friends and neighbors to bake a pie for dessert. Given this rich history, and the fact that he is an avid cyclist, it is completely understandable that he would find the advertisement for a Pie Ride irresistable.

Jeff and his partner Susan rode their tandem bike from Hillsboro to the start of the ride in NE Portland. At 10PM sharp, a motley collection of 30 or so cyclists riding everything from BMX bikes to hand-crafted Tall bikes, left a non-descript parking lot and coasted downhill about 1 mile to the "Whiffie Cart" where the contest was to be held.

The field of challengers was small. Only 6 brave individuals stepped up to the plate to participate in the "no hands 3-pie speed eating" division. 3 foolish but gutsy men opted to compete for the title of "Pie Champ" and try to break the current record of 7 pies.

As he engaged in pre-race banter with the other competitors, Jeff felt he had a good chance of winning the 25 free pies that were being offered to the winner of the speed eating contest. "After all," he said, "this is just like eating 3 medium size pieces of pie, and I routinely eat that many pieces of pie AFTER a large Thanksgiving meal. How hard can it be?"

At the start of the clock Jeff dived face-first into one of the golden fried piles of gooey, coconut creme goodness and gobbled up the first pie in mere seconds. But then he had to come up for air and actually swallow all the pie that was stuffed in his cheeks. By the time he was halfway-through the second pie (a chocolate pudding concoction), the crowd was chanting something about only 1 bite left. Unfortunately, Jeff still had an entire pie to go!

The winner slurped up three pies in 2 minutes and 14 seconds. She employed a winning strategy of using her face to smush all 3 pies into a slimey mass and then hoovered it all up with amazing speed. She then thoroughly demoralized the competition by proceeding to eat a 4th pie, all in less than 4 minutes.

Mr. Mendenhall says he'll be back next year, but only as part of the chanting crowd.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hearts, Flowers & Butterflies

It’s a common customer refrain: “Why do apparel companies always make women’s product in nothing but hearts, flowers and butterflies?? And pink – yuck! Why do manufacturers think all women want to wear pink??”

Oh my, where to begin?

First, you should know that it drives me bonkers when bike industry vendors “shrink it and pink it” as a means to attract female customers. I can recall an especially egregious case of a vendor trying to sell to Team Estrogen a “women’s floor pump”. What, I asked, made these pumps women-specific? Why, they were pink, of course! Not surprisingly, we declined to purchase them.

When it comes to women’s apparel, I have several priorities when making buying decisions for the website.

1) Has this item been designed to fit women well?
2) Does this item provide a good value at its price point?
3) Will the color/print photograph well enough to look good on the website?
4) Will the color/print appeal to our customers?

I am confronted with the hearts/flowers/butterflies/pink issue every time I try to answer questions 3 & 4. After eleven years of selling apparel online, here’s what I’ve learned.

A) Brighter/bolder colors photograph well and sell best. Saturated hues of red, blue and pink are always strong performers. Orange, yellow, green and purple tend to be hit or miss, either because the color is difficult to capture accurately, or because the color is “out of style” in a particular season. “Easter egg” colors, ie. pastel hues of blues/greens/lilacs, etc often sell poorly because they can look grayish or washed out online, even if they are quite pretty shades in person.

B) PINK is a perennial best seller. Time and again, if we carry a style in several colors, pink almost *always* outsells the other color options. I recently did an analysis of search terms people type on the website. Searches for “pink” outnumbered every other color search by more than 14 to 1! Consider this search data for a recent time period:

504 pink
36 green
36 red
36 orange
33 purple
30 blue
28 yellow

So, it would seem that the people who dislike pink items are far outnumbered by the people who specifically want to buy pink items. An interesting historical aside is that pink was traditionally a *man’s* color. Pink did not become associated with women until sometime around WWII.

C) Prints always outsell solid/color-blocked jerseys. We’re told by our vendors that the opposite is true for traditional brink-and-mortar retailers. We’ve come up with 2 theories as to why that might be the case. First, prints tend to “pop” off the webpage and catch a shopper’s attention. We have many, many prints that aren’t typically found elsewhere (some of which we request vendors to make specifically for us) and customers seem to gravitate towards them. Secondly, bike shops often have limited floor space and the shop’s buyer (oftentimes a male) may be inclined to purchase mostly solid colors as they are more of a “sure thing” than a print that the buyer is unsure will appeal to his market’s female customers.

D) OK, so if prints sell well, why do the prints always seem to be hearts, flowers and butterflies? Ah, this is harder to answer. Some of our vendors are creative with geometric prints and alternate designs (see Sheila Moon or Shebeest for a few good examples) but in other cases it’s because the designers lack imagination. We’re always thrilled when we find designers who are thinking outside the heart-flower-butterfly box, but some seasons it is slim pickings. To address this, we recently sponsored a jersey design contest on the team estrogen forums to put the design process into the hands of our customers. We received dozens of entries. Nonetheless, many submissions, as well as the winners by vote of the forum members, included styles that had flowery themes.

We will always try to offer to you apparel in all colors of the rainbow, and in every conceivable print. At the end of the day we will be most successful, and our customers will be most happy, if we give you what you ask for. And for some of you that continues to be… hearts, flowers, butterflies and pink.

We welcome your comments!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bra Fitting 101

Sports bra manufacturer Moving Comfort estimates that 75-80% of women wear the wrong size bra. Wearing the wrong size bra can have dramatically negative consequences. An ill-fitting bra is uncomfortable, can easily cause chafing, restricts or inhibits range of motion and can result in long term damage to or sagging of a woman's breast tissue.

If you surf the internet looking for bra fitting methods, you'll rapidly discover there are multiple ways to address the question. To help you better understand bra terminology and get you on your way to a better fit, we've put together a Sizing Guide on our website.

You can find that guide at:

If you're unhappy with your current bras, and have been looking for an excuse to pick up some new ones, now is a great time to check the selection at We are running a promotion on all sports bras from now through May 31st. Find all the details here:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why I Participate in Triathlon

by Katie Jordan, TE Staff Member

When Susan asked me to write a blog entry about triathlon I wasn't sure what to write. It was hard to write about just one aspect, because it touches my life in so many ways. I tend to be a tech-y, data oriented, analytical athlete, so my first thought was to break down and explain each discipline. But really, what fun is that? As I sat and thought about it for awhile, all my training and racing memories flowed by and made me excited and giddy. So, I decided to share with you what triathlon means to me and how it touches and inspires my life every day.

I remember the first time I watched a triathlon. I was a young kid, maybe 7 or 8, flipping through the TV channels. I stopped on NBC's broadcast of the Triathlon World Championship in Kona. Immediately, I became glued to the TV, amazed by what I saw. As I reflect back, this was the spark to what became a burning inferno. As I grew older the flame grew as I dabbled in and out of swimming, biking and running. I am not a natural athlete (some might say clumsy :)) and never found myself to be great at any of the three disciplines. It wasn't until a few years ago that I pieced them all together and did my first triathlon, and what do you know? I found something I was good at.

Like most triathletes, I was quickly addicted to the sport. It is so much more to me than swim, bike, and run. It's a test of my limits, strength and courage. It's the positive race atmosphere and the community coming together to put on the events. It's another competitor smiling at me on the bike or giving me a thumbs up on the run. It’s the crowd cheering “Rock on, lookin' good” when I'm bloated, tired and possibly feeling at my worst. It's eating a half gallon of ice cream guilt free! (I'm not advising anyone do this; I'm just sayin' :).

Triathlon gives back what I put in. It has taught me time management and planning. Have you ever gone to the pool and forgotten your swimsuit, thereby missing a workout? Or maybe discovered two left running shoes in your bag? Do this a few times and planning will become second nature.

I have a new found appreciation for nature and am thankful to live and train in such a beautiful city. There is no better way to start the day than running toward the sun when it's rising, or racing the daylight on my bicycle when the sun sets. Somehow the sky always wins. I never seem to learn that!

I've been given lessons on patience and am often humbled by the sport. We're given one body and have to work with what we have. We can test our limits but must also know our limits so as not to abuse ourselves. Abuse is only for race day. (Kidding!) As someone who is still rather new to the sport, I've made many mistakes. Live and learn, right? A recent injury sparked creativity and made me realize that I can make lemonade out of sour lemons. A fracture to my fibula prevented me from running on land, so instead I took it to the water and kept up my run endurance via aqua jogging. When the glass becomes half empty tip it over (with lid on!) and now the glass is half full. I've learned we must always think outside the box, and be ready to execute alternate plans. Always race with a smile as it is contagious and does a body and soul good.

I'm often inspired by watching friends or complete strangers achieve personal records or defy boundaries. Triathlon is accepting of all - young and old, fit and curvy, those with amazing genetics and those that may be disabled. We all race together yet I think the majority of us race against ourselves – searching and reaching for that next PR. The start of the race begins in the water and will end at the glorious finisher’s line. Everything in the middle is what we call triathlon.
This year I've set my goals/dreams high, as I've signed up for Ironman Canada, hoping this will be the first of many Ironman races in my future. My friends and family tease me (in a positive way of course!). They think I'm a little “crazy”. I reply “I'm crazy in love with multi sport.”

Editors note: Katie was the 2nd place female finisher at the 2009 Canby Gator Grinder Triathlon on May 9th, 2009. She is pictured above along with TE staff members Renata, Jeff, Susan and Edna, Renata's son Erik, and TE friend Laura.

For race day, Katie chose to wear a Louis Garneau Shark Power Trisuit.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sneak Peek: She Loves Hills Jersey

This spring we held a cycling jersey design contest over on the Team Estrogen Forums. Our intent was to choose one, possibly two, jerseys to produce for sale on the website. Easier said than done...we were so delighted with the design submissions that we chose FOUR designs to produce.

Here's a Sneak Peek of the 1st production sample of the She Loves Hills design submitted by TE Forum member Urlea.

The petals on the daisy read:
"She Loves Hills
She Loves Them Not
She Loves Hills
She Loves Them Not"

The back of the jersey has a single petal inscribed with "She Loves Hills".

The jersey is being produced in sizes XS-XXL and will feature a 3/4 length hidden zipper, 3 back pockets and no elastic at the waist or arm openings. Delivery is expected in about 8 weeks!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Business Casual

Recently I was invited to attend a luncheon benefiting the re-election of Earl Blumenauer, a Congressman from Oregon who is a key member of the Congressional Bike Caucus. The dress code was “business casual”. Being in the bike biz, my definition of business casual *might* be a wee bit different than, say, your average banker. Nonetheless, I knew I could pull together a stylish outfit that would be as functional for the event as it would be for the bike ride to get myself there.

Here is the result:

The Skirt Sports SexyBack Dress has a built-in shelf bra, T-back construction, and plenty of stretch to move with me as I pedaled to the event. It was a beautiful spring day here in Portland - clear and a little cool. So, I paired the dress with a Sheila Moon Bolero, a pair of Shebeest Pedal Pushers and my Sidi Dominators.

What do you think? Did I achieve my “business casual” goals?

Friday, April 24, 2009

We have a great new feature on our website: outfits! You can even embed the outfits you create on other web pages. See below:

Women's sportswear at Team Estrogen

We'll have a more detailed post about our outfits feature and how to use it, coming up on Monday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

UMCA Hall of Fame

TE's very own Sandy Earl has been nominated for inclusion in the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame "honors cyclists whose careers best exemplify the spirit of the sport". If elected, Sandy would be only the third woman to achieve the distinction, joining 6-time RAAM finisher Seana Hogan as well as Susan Notorangelo, who has both won RAAM and set a transcontinental tandem record with husband Lon Haldeman.

Sandy is no stranger to ultra cycling. As a veteran of numerous 24 hour events, Furnace Creek 508, Race Across Oregon, etc., Sandy loves to take on a challenge. For 2009, she is looking forward to her third finish in the women's solo division of the 530 mile Race Across Oregon, with the aim of qualifying for RAAM 2010.

Sandy is also an experienced crew chief for ultra-cycling events. Even solo attempts are "team" events in that a rider relies on a strong crew for race support. Sandy's riders always finish, a testament not only to their fitness, but also to her superior organizational skills, positive attitude and team-building skills. And some really strong coffee for the crew.

Sandy said "I was initially ambivalent about accepting the nomination - looking at past inductees, I'm nowhere in that league! I'm also hoping that I'm nowhere near finished with my ultracycling career so writing a retrospective on it felt a little weird. As a nominee, I'll have a bit of a writeup in an upcoming UMCA magazine. Several individuals have been nominated, and the choice is put to the membership. Inducted or not, it's a hell of an honor. "

To read more about Sandy and her ultracycling career, click on over to Triathlete Diva's blog post about Sandy.
To learn more about Race Across Oregon, visit the RAO website.
To read more about participating in an event as part of a rider's crew, you can read my tale of serving as crew chief for a 2005 RAO team here.

Adventure Cycling Contest Winner

Congratulations to Tarin H of Warwick, NY! Tarin's name was drawn from the thousands of entries we received for our 2009 Adventure Cycling trip giveaway.

For more information on Adventure Cycling, visit their website at

If you'd like to hear about *your* next chance to win a getaway, or simply want to keep up with the happenings at Team Estrogen, please sign up for our newsletter here:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bike Talk Podcast

If you missed the broadcast of Bike Talk's Women on Bikes show, you can download the podcast here:

The show was jam-packed with interesting guests; I was honored to be a part of the show. Here's a rundown of who participated:

LIZ & SHAY from CICLE talking about adult bicycle education
NATALIE from SWEETPEA BICYCLES, a custom bike manufacturer

You can learn more about Bike Talk at

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sneak Peek: Sheila Moon for Fall 2009

Here at TE HQ, we're in the midst of making our purchasing decisions for Fall 2009. Today we met with Sheila of Sheila Moon Athletic Apparel to preview her Fall Line. Her apparel for fall revolves around functional and fashionable looks for the urban cyclist.

As always, I couldn't resist taking a few minutes to try on some items. One of her signature fabrics for fall is an amazingly snuggly ribbed fleece in 3 colors, including the black fleece full-zip hoodie I'm wearing above. I loved the long, over-the-hip length, as well as the loooong sleeves with thumb holes. Totally functional on or off the bike! Her other signature fabric is a wool-blend houndstooth (67% wool/25% poly/8% nylon), worn above in Sheila's Wool Riding Britches and Wool Cycling Cap.

Sheila pays attention to the details that make these pieces ideal for cycling. Note the reinforced seat panel for durability and the articulated knees on the Britches. Hidden under the hoodie (though visible while riding) are the Britches' two back pocket zippers, which are reflective for safety while riding in low light conditions. The hoodie has plenty of length in the back, and 2 back pockets for storing essentials. There's even a pocket on the hoodie's sleeve, ideal for stashing your cell phone for quick access.

We expect to take delivery of Sheila's Fall 2009 apparel collection at the beginning of September. Stay tuned!

On the radio tomorrow!

I've been invited to be on a bicycling-focused radio program tomorrow! Every Saturday from 10am to noon (PST), Bike Talk is broadcast live from a community radio station in Los Angeles. You can stream the live broadcast at or subscribe to the show's podcast.

The second Saturday of each month focuses on women's cycling. This week's guests also include cycling coach Lorri Lee Lown from Velo Girls.

Have questions? The show features a call-in segment, so get ready to dial. It would be great to hear from you!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Thanks for visiting the new TE blog. We are planning to use this space to:

  • deliver "micro tutorials" of interest to our customers,
  • answer frequently asked questions from our customers,
  • show in-depth product reviews by TE staff,
  • and post news about exciting new products as they are introduced.

We are open to suggestions - what would *you* like to see us do with this blog?