hnielson

I am an elite bike racer in Northern California, a USAC cert Coach, I draw pictures, sales rep & spend the rest of my time laughing, sleeping and eating

Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates

During the last year that I’ve been unemployed lucky enough to pursue my dreams, not only have I been able to train and race the way a proper ‘wannabepro’ should, but I’ve also been coaching athletes as a USA Cycling Certified Coach.  I absolutely love working with people to reach their goals whether they’re competitive or not.  As I’ve pursued these passions, I’ve been surprised with other opportunities that have come my way.  I’ve always enjoyed writing (obviously, I’ve been posting here for awhile as well as on my own website) and advocating the bicycle using the written word seems to also fit my bag of tricks.  A few months ago, I started writing regularly for Dean Alleger and the Sacramento Valley Velodrome Campaign. I met a member of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates while at the NAHBS and we talked about the possibility of me writing for them as well as a freelance journalist.  I started yesterday and I’m loving every minute.  It’s flexible and fits with everything else I do as a cyclist, bike racer, coach and advocate of the bike and the sport in general.  One of my most recent findings in doing my research was the Bicycle Parking Guidelines developed by Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals.  I loved that!  I wanna be part of that…

I would ride to work if there was a safe place to lock my bike.

Working on it. Stay tuned!

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NAHBS Pics

I’m going to let the majority of this post be about the pictures.  I am an artist and a cyclist and this show may replace that special place in my heart that Interbike has held for several years now.  What can I say, I’m non-committal.  It was absolute sensory overload (just like Interbike is) but with the added atmosphere that an upscale art gallery has.  I was, to put it simply, in bike art heaven.  I had promised that I would help out Dean Alleger at his booth for the Sacramento Valley Velodrome so I attempted to see as many booths as I could in 20 minutes flat.  I think I was actually gone 30 minutes.  At any rate, please enjoy the following bikeprOn:


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The world needs bicycles

This article was published several weeks ago, but it never hurts to reiterate that a bicycle is more than a sum of its parts.  It’s more than a way to travel, race or find pleasure.  For much of the world, it’s life giving, opportunity providing, gender and class equalizing, and destiny changing.

I’m pretty sure Nitish Kumar is one of my new heroes.  Considering the culture in India, it can’t be easy to take a stand like he is…for women.

[he] set about redressing his state’s endemic gender imbalances in an attempt to boost development in one of India’s most backward states. His vision was to bring a sense of independence and purpose to his state’s young women, and the flagship initiative of this agenda is the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojna, a project that gives schoolgirls 2,000 rupees (about £25) to purchase a bicycle.

Kumar succinctly sums up the initiative’s aim and all it stands for: “Nothing gives me a greater sense of fulfilment of a work well done than seeing a procession of school-bound, bicycle-riding girls. It is a statement for social forward movement, of social equality and of social empowerment.”
How do you measure an ROI on a free bicycle? You don’t; and you don’t need to.

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Bike Art

Last night I finished my first ‘used bike part’ art project.  Of course, I blogged about it here.  Truth be told, I started ‘working’ on that project well over a year ago.  I don’t know why, but I had a hard time getting the guts to finish it; mostly because I’ve never worked with that medium before.  I’ve mostly done portraits and other drawings using colored pencil, charcoal & pastel.  I have all sorts of ideas including art, writing & business related.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) for some of you who follow me on Twitter, the creative nature of my brain can be quite evident in my somewhat reckless random tweeting.  It’s just the way my brain is messed up wired.  A long time ago, I decided to quit fighting it and learn to turn it into a strength.  It’s still difficult to live with as I can’t stay on task on any one thing for very long (unless of course it’s a 5 hour bike ride).  My tasks and to-do lists are constantly being updated and organized using my new favorite toy tool Evernote.

I get inspiration everywhere but amazingly enough, most of my best ideas come while I’m riding my bike; whether it’s an art project or a new business related idea.  It just doesn’t get any better than that does it?  Some amazing artists who are also cyclists also provide me with a lot of inspiration and I’ve met nearly all of them and would love to meet the rest someday.  They include (in no particular order):

Kollective Fusion

David Gerstein

ARTCRANK

Kathleen King

Rik Keller photography

Urban Lace jewelry

Vanessa Wilde

At any rate, it would appear that my project idea is quite popular.  I’m now accepting any old/used bike parts as well as ideas from YOU for bike part related art projects.

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Since we’re being honest here

Sooooo I got pulled over the other day. Yes by a real cop. I was also *hangs head in shame* on my bicycle.  Now why would I rather be pulled over in my car than on my bicycle you ask? Well honestly I’d rather not be pulled over at all but my reasons for my detesting it more on my bike than in a car are should probably be left to another post entirely.  So back to my story…

The scene played out as follows: I was riding in a residential neighborhood, in the bike lane, down a slightly down-sloped road and I quit pedaling, coasted, took one hand off the handlebars & held my finger to one nostril, turned my head & blew my nose.  I noticed, at the very moment of ‘snot ejecting’ that I was flying right through a stop sign.  Oops!  Good thing there wasn’t anyone around (or so I thought).  I came to the next stop sign, slowed up, stood up on the pedals, came to a near track stand (the cyclist’s ‘stop’ at a stop sign) and seeing that there wasn’t anyone around, I let go of the breaks to continue on.  However, the second I let go of the breaks to roll through, I heard the oh-so familiar ‘woop woop’ of a police officer’s car siren.  Ah MAAAAAN.

The conversation went about as much as expected.  I did admit that I blew through the previous stop sign because I was blowing my nose (not an excuse, just a reason) but that I did come to a ‘stop’ at the next one! I was honest and I smiled but alas in the end, I did receive a ticket (which apparently doesn’t affect your car insurance or go on your record because you are in fact, not driving a car) but I will have to pay some kind of fine.  Fine.

Not long after that, I was at a restaurant bar for a quick dinner & to try their house-beer.  There was a couple there who were ‘bikers’. I feel I should now explain the that there is in fact a definitive difference between a ‘cyclist’ and a ‘biker’.  A cyclist is someone who rides a pedal bike wearing lycra.  A biker is someone who rides a motorized bike wearing leather.  At this point in the conversation they asked me what it is that I ‘do’.  I paused and then said ‘Well, I race a bike and I coach cyclists’.  ‘Really?!’ They proclaimed that they would never ride a bicycle but rather a motorcycle.  In order to keep myself on good terms, I exclaimed that I do in fact have my motorcycle license but that I don’t own a motorcycle.  Whew!  I was saved.  Oh but wait……

The couple and the bar tender proceeded to complain about cyclists.  Their general disgust for us ‘taking up’ the road, making them wait, causing them to have to drive around us etc was quite apparent.  Okay fine. But then….

They talked about how they heard someone drove up next to a whole group of cyclists (peloton) who were taking up the whole lane, opened their car door and took one of the cyclists out.  They then started laughing.

What?!?!

Okay this is where I couldn’t just sit there and listen anymore.  I looked quite seriously as them as said ‘You realize that’s assault with a deadly weapon don’t you?!’

The laughing and conversation quickly stopped.  However, it wasn’t 15 seconds later when one of them waved their hand dismissing the gravity of my accusation and practically yelled ‘Well cyclists don’t obey any of the laws! They don’t stop at stop signs and they don’t signal!’

They were right. There are way too many of us who do that. It only takes one of us to completely blow through a stop sign or change lanes in traffic without politely signalling to turn the general public against us and further our difficulty in gaining a voice in legislature or sponsorship dollars for the sport in general.  That doesn’t excuse their complete lack of humanity regarding an obviously life-threatening act. I still think I win. While I’ve always signaled my intent to turn or change lanes while riding my bike, I’ve also started ‘bike stopping’ at every stop sign.

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Interbike 2011 Day 3

Making plans to be at Interbike & then actually getting there & affording it are very different things.  One does not simply show up to Interbike and walk in.  You have to get a pass, either as a vendor, exhibitor or attendee and they are not gotten very easily either.  I had developed some pretty good relationships with some local bike shops as a coach & was able to get a pass.  Getting there required some creativity also.  I blogged about that story over here on my website.  Additionally, there was no way I could afford a hotel stay for the whole week there.  I connected with another USAC coach who was an exhibitor there & in return for helping him at his booth & advertising for him he would pay my hotel.  It turned out to be a great mutually beneficial arrangement.

After losing my job, getting my coaching license & pursuing other cycling-industry related jobs I knew that going to Interbike this time (I’ve gone twice before) would have a far more focused effort as I would be going not only to secure sponsorships for my team & myself next year but I would also be going to hopefully drum up some more employment possibilities as well as network.  As I stated in my Day 2 post, this year’s Interbike was already showing the fruits of that labor.  I was amazed however, by how exhausted I was after only two days.  I woke up that morning wondering if this is how New Yorker’s felt after all the walking around I’d done.  I had even earned myself a few ‘battle wounds’ of blisters on my feet.

I spent the majority of the day at Andres’ booth for Athlete Forward .  He offers a very unique alternative to the traditional on-line platform for bringing athletes and coaches together in a web-based communication tool.  The main differences between his website and others that are in wide use now are a more user-friendly dashboard, more versatile, better/more control by the coach as far as how/what work-outs are given, much more affordable & also offers some features that give visible snap-shots/graphs for week-at-a-glance training goals versus actual progress.

As an aside, we found it odd that they had a large section of Interbike in the downstairs section of the Sands convention center & so many people didn’t even know there was a downstairs section.  Although it was mostly filled with general fitness & triathlete related vendors, it still didn’t get anywhere near the amount of traffic it probably deserved.

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Interbike 2011 Day 2

Let the games begin, or so I tell myself each time I’ve gone to Interbike.  I try to prepare myself as much as possible as past history would predict an exhausting week of too much walking, talking, eating & probably……drinking.  I knew I would work really hard and play hard.  I had, within my arsenal of tools: my laptap, sales rep flyers, coaching brochures, business cards, to-do lists, cute outfits & boots to assure a ‘dressed for success’ appearance.  I also had a list of twitter-folk that I was looking forward to meeting.  I had already met several the day/night before & I remember thinking when I went to bed after the 7-11 party ‘This is only day ONE!’  I got up early, grabbed some classic-buffet-style-vegas-breaky grabbed some starbucks coffee (because that was the only coffee available on the strip walking toward the Sands convention center) and hit the floor of Interbike right as the doors opened.

Wowzerz……not only was their a multitude of eye-googling bike porn (see below for pics) but I also got to hang out with one of my best guy friends who came down from Southern Utah.  I met more tweeps and cycling industry folk, and made sure I had lucrative conversations with all of my/our team’s current & potential sponsors.  By the time ‘happy hour’ rolled around, I was definitely ready for it.  Interbike is more than just eye-candy, networking, sponsorship securing & job scouting; it’s one.giant.party.  It’s loud & fantastically obnoxious with live DJ’s, espresso machines & kegs of beer every afternoon starting at least 3:00.  It’s a work hard, play hard bicyclist’s party.  The first day was by far my most successful and by the time that night finished I was dreading day 3 & I had blisters on my feet from all the walking around.

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Interbike 2011 Day 1

I’ve been to interbike twice before.  The first time, was all about the person I was with and pure eye-candy; though it provided me with an ‘appetizer’ of what power interbike held for the ‘in-the-know’ individual.  This year, I came fully prepared to attack interbike like a move in the last lap of a criterium. Business cards, brochures, reserved meetings, seminars, flyers, possible face-to-face interview for potential sales rep jobs, sponsorship responsibilities as a teammate for 2012; and of course, friends from Utah and tweeps I’d never met but had been friends with…..FOREVER (virtually speaking of course.)  I had a blast driving from Reno to Vegas with Rick Tillery (@ricktillery) getting to know each other, telling stories, waiting for construction to take place, watching the scenery, stopping at the odd desert town for gas and food and then………….the exclusive 30 year anniversary Interbike Party at the Lavo night club to meet the original 7-11 team and a chance to get a book signed by them.  We succeeded of course and thus began adventure of Interbike 2011!


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2XU Compression Tights Product Review

Somehow I managed to procure a personal sponsorship while at Interbike in Las Vegas last September (2010).  I seem to forget sometimes how easy it is for me to start a conversation with a complete stranger and I’ve been known to make friends in 2.5 seconds flat.  Networking comes easy to me, always has.  I feel lucky then as an elite athlete to receive a Brand Ambassador sponsorship for my 2011 racing season from the relatively new company 2XU.    When I say that I mean, relatively new to the United States markets.  I’ve used other compression products for recovery in the past from brands like Skins and Zoot and have already been sold on the value of the effects on recovery as a result of wearing those types of products.  Traveling to and from races is almost, if not just as difficult on an athlete as the actual race itself.  Combine that with traveling anywhere from 1-3 hours one way to every race I go to here in Northern California nearly every weekend from February to September; and it doesn’t take long for the monetary investment to pay off for an elite athlete looking for every edge they can get to perform at their best every time they compete.

The first thing I noticed about 2XU’s compression tights was the brilliant eye-catching artwork that makes me feel like I’ve jumped ‘warp-speed’ into the 25th century and I suddenly have an urge to die my hair orange and walk around saying ‘Autttooooo wassshhhh’ all day long.  Speaking of which, I think suspenders should come back in style……but I digress.  It’s not uncommon to show up to a bike race and see 1/2 your competitors walking around in some kind of compression type clothing.  I’ll tell you what though, you walk around with these tights on and…….BOOM…you’ve already mentally-whipped your competitors into submission because you already look fast walking around.

While I’m not in the habit of bad-mouthing other companies’ products, I will say this about 2XU’s compression tights, are not too tight, which makes them easy to get on, but they’re tight enough to help prevent loading and definitely make a significant difference in being able to train for days in a row and feel fresh.  As elite athletes, we know the next best thing to a quality pair of compression tights is laying against a wall with your legs up in the air, but we also have other lives and lots of things that just need to get done.  Investing in a quality pair of compression tight is well worth the investment and in my personal experience, no other product has performed better than my pair of 2XU compression tights.

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To ride your bicycle. Everyday. For 30 days.

Three reasons:

1-I can’t resist competition.  I just can’t.

2-Along with the rest of my team #LTB, I just LOVE these guys: @steviedexter @lovingthebike @pedalmanTO @twittyboyd @Livestrongtexas @kweenkmatt

3-I’m really interested in how this is going to affect my training and who knows, I may end up making it a goal to ride my bike.  Everyday.  For the rest of my life.

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