“Power Moves”: A series for women in the sport, from a woman in the sport

Hello MAC! I’m baaack! But this time, not on a saddle.

Nope, this time around I’m coming to you from the seat of my computer. A few months ago, your trusted leader and MAC overlord, Kevin, asked me to contribute to this brand new blog, and with little to nearly no hesitation I said “absolutely!” Though a few of you may know me more-so by bike, another passion of mine is writing, editing, and all-around content creation. So when the opportunity came up to bring those two together it really was a no-brainer.

Though the decision to contribute was easy, making the choice to what the heck I was going to write about surprisingly wasn’t. Being an athlete my entire life (first a runner, working my way up to running collegiality at Appalachian State University), to elite cycling, and now bringing in a healthy dose of gym work, I’ve collected A LOT of knowledge, experiences, and lessons learned over the course of a decade (and some).

When I really boiled it down and considered what I was most passionate about, it always came back to women in the sport (whether that be cycling, running, or otherwise). A woman in the sport myself, I always looked for resources growing up, but never really could find one. Thankfully, that has changed. Now you can find pro and elite athletes from around the world sharing their knowledge and experiences in a variety of ways, and, honestly, it’s invigorating.

So with that, I bring to you “Power Moves” a series of blog posts about women in the sport, from a woman in the sport. Before I get into what content to expect in this series, let’s talk about the name. Why Power Moves?

“Power Moves” has a few definitions to it depending how you look at it.

Urban Dictionary defines it a few ways saying, “asserting your dominance via an action you take” and “making a bold decision and plans in order to further yourself” as well as “a powerful movement that a person or group makes to change the course of history.”

In the cycling world, a power move could be deciding to lay down the watts in a final sprint. It can be as big as finally deciding to send that crazy decent, or as small as hopping off a curb just for the sake of having fun only to leave you saying, “I actually did it!”

No matter how you slice it, power moves are leaps of faith, backed up by courage, and executed with resolve. In the world of women’s cycling (from local to the professional ranks) I’ve seen countless examples of power moves– women taking chances, doing so boldly, and paving the way for future athletes.

With enough power, faith, and courage, you can move anything. Especially the lines that segregate what is deemed “impossible” into the “possible”. Movement, in its simplest form, is extremely powerful. Movement can leave us crying (perhaps when you’ve witnessed a profound ballet performance), it can help us on our hardest days (think about that workout you did when you were angry), and it can show others how much we love them (spend some time watching families, friends, and lovers reunite at the arrival gate at the airport hugging and kissing one another). Power and it’s companion movement is….well….powerful and moving.

Thus, “Power Moves” was born.

So what content should you expect? Look forward to stories from local athletes, Q&A’s, tech and gear reviews, news on events, and general ramblings about the sport we all love. If you have a topic you’d like me to cover, an athlete you’d love to see featured in this series, or just my take on a particular topic, shoot it my way: ninamastandreafreelance@gmail.com

Until the next time, MAC!

Happy Power Moves,

Nina Mastandrea

An elite cyclocross racer (and all around pedal pusher) living in Boone, North Carolina, Nina is a writer, editor, and freelance content creator working in higher education and together with cycling, adventure, and health-focused companies across North Carolina. The North Carolina Race Team Director for all-women’s, off-road cycling team GRITS (Girls Racing in the South) Nina’s passion is helping more women to experience cycling and the empowering qualities it brings.

Taking Up Cycling?

Remember riding your bike when you were a kid? It was so freeing. The wind in your face and the feeling of getting somewhere so much faster. I spent a lot of time on my bike as a child. Once I got my driver’s license I never touched my bike again though. I was doing “grown up things” then.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 40s that I got on another bike on a regular basis. My son got a job at a local bike shop and that was the spark that got me back on a bike. My first bike was a mountain bike and I was lighting up the local trails. Yes, “lighting up” is a relative term. After a year or so on the trails I started getting interested in some group road riding with that bike shop. I would take my big heavy mountain bike out on the road and did pretty good keeping up with the roadies. Sure, it was a D group but I didn’t know what that meant at the time.

I had no idea what I was doing on those first road rides. I was also not comfortable wearing the funny outfits. I stuck to my MTB shorts and loose fitting jersey’s. Well I quickly learned why people wear the cycling kits and it wasn’t too long before I was part of that club. Try riding 30 miles with a regular pair of shorts. I’m not even referring to the chamois but more just the legs of the shorts rubbing your legs every time you pedal. I would be so chaffed I could barely walk.

I was fortunate to have a lot of friends that I worked with at the time that were avid cyclists and they would ride at lunch several days a week. They encouraged me to join them and to this day I laugh at how long these guys would have to wait on me to catch back up. Never once in all the times it happened did they complain about me. They always encouraged me and made sure I knew it didn’t matter. Over the years I’ve learned this was more than just having great friends, this is pretty much the status quo for cyclists. Most cyclists I know are happy to hang back and/or wait for a slower beginner rider if it means they’ll ride. Not all cyclists are like that but most are. I always worried that I was holding them up and it bothered me even though they continuously told me it was fine. It wasn’t until I became a faster rider that I realized it really doesn’t bother cyclists to ride with slower riders. It’s a new year and if you’ve been thinking about getting out to ride, try a group ride with some friends or a local cycling club and don’t worry about your speed. Keep in mind, the more you ride, the faster you get too.

How prepared are you for your ride?

We all do it– the internal monologue cuing us through our pre-ride cycling checklist.
Helmet? Check.
Tire pressure? Good.
Food? Of course.
Water? In this heat, you know it.
And the list goes on.

So you may think you’re ready to go, right? Well not so fast.

When we all buy our first bike, we do a little research as to the basic needs of cycling–chamois, helmet and perhaps some gloves and sleek sunglasses.
That is until you see someone with a really cool looking kit. So you buy a really cool looking kit.
Then we see people “clipping in”, so we head back to the shop and buy shoes, cleats and pedals to match.
Then we go on our first group ride and notice all the fancy lights, computers and other gadgets. Add those to your wish list.
Now that we have all of this great gear we realize it doesn’t look so good on this starter bike, so now we go shopping for a carbon bike. At this point, we are extreme cyclists.
Amidst all these cool gadgets, what tiny thing have we forgotten? The basics to fix a flat.
I rode this weekend with a couple of experienced cyclists in the middle of nowhere Georgia. We were in a terrific area for cyclists–no cars, no homes, nothing to bother us until someone got a flat. “No problem” you may think, an experienced cyclist knows how to quickly flip the bike over, remove the wheel, take the flat tube out, check inside the tire for something that may have caused the flat, put the new tube in and simply add air. Very simple, right?  Simple if you have air.
Unfortunately, this experienced cyclist didn’t have air. Not a huge problem as another rider pulled out their cartridge of air, unfortunately most of the air was gone. Now what?
Fortunately, I had three canisters of air. We filled the tire and finished our terrific ride.
So the takeaway?
Even some of the most experienced riders who have all of the latest gadgets sometimes forget to have the basic essentials. Even for our new riders who may have those essentials, will they know how to fix a flat?
For our experienced riders, make sure before you head out to have a couple spare tubes (perhaps one or two more for longer rides or those that cross into rough terrain), a few cartridges (16g cartridges typically have just enough air to fill most 700c tires with enough air), a valve so you can puncture the cartridge and fill your tube OR a frame pump (for those who don’t want to carry around cartridges all the time).
Want to learn how to fix a flat in no time? Check out this great step-by-step video here