Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ALC My Ride in Outfits

On June 5th I will be embarking on a 7 day, 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. If you follow my blog, you have read all about it. It is the AIDS/Lifecycle or ALC for short. It is the 10th anniversary and completely sold out! It is going to be an amazing experience and I am so very excited. Below are some details of where we will be each day and what I will be sporting!

Day 1 mileage:
82.5 miles

San Francisco to Santa Cruz
The route on Day 1 offers some of the best scenery and cycling roads that San Mateo County has to offer. The stunning coastal views from hilltops to the ocean are truly Northern California at its best! Tailwinds prevail as we pedal along scenic CA Hwy 1 on our way to camp. Highlight of the day: The lunch stop on Day 1 offers a spectacular and breathtaking view of the ocean so be sure to pack your camera.

Day 1 Outfit

2010 Tough Chik Hot Pink Jersey, Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Cycling Shorts and SmartWool Socks

Day 2 mileage:
106.1 miles

Santa Cruz to King City
Rise and shine early on Day 2 to beat the morning rush hour commuters and get an early start on your second day in the saddle! This is a long mileage day with relatively flat terrain that will take us through the Salinas Valley, also known as Steinbeck Country. The lushness of vineyards, strawberry and artichoke fields stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions. Highlights of the day include The Otter Pop guys at the Water Stop (which is at the Soledad Mission; make sure you stop into the mission where you can reflect on The Ride’s purpose and sign their altar cloth for a loved one), fried artichokes, and the Cookie Lady. I can't tell you how excited I am about the Cookie Lady, cookies and cycling are ONLY my 2 favorite things!!

Day 2 Outfit

Sweaty Bettie Jersey, RPM Short by Sugoi, DeFeet Socks

Day 3 mileage:
66.7 miles

King City to Paso Robles
Quadbuster. Don’t let the name scare you. You are sure to make it to the top with your fellow cyclists (and perhaps a special guest) cheering you on and up! But Quadbuster is only a small part of the route on Day 3. Lunch is at the small town of Bradley, which has embraced the ride with open arms. You will pedal on remote roads passing only a few small quaint stores, mostly later in the day. Rolling hills through beautiful countryside will take you into camp.

Day 3 Outfit

2009 Tough Chik Jersey, The first one I ever designed, kicking it old school! Fit Sensor Short by Louis Garneau and SmartWool Socks (pair #2)

Day 4 mileage:
97.7 miles

Paso Robles to Santa Maria
The route on Day 4 has a little bit of everything…a feast for the eyes with stunning vistas and ocean views that give way to sprawling fields of farmland and even some quaint seaside towns. The route will wind along some remote and seldom-traveled roads as well as some congested town streets. Before lunch you will conquer the infamous Evil Twins. The views from the top of that second sister hill are nothing short of spectacular and you may even find yourself forgetting that you are pedaling uphill. From there you will ride back out to the coast and through the city of Pismo Beach (Do I smell Cinnamon Rolls?) and on into camp. Highlight of the day: Half Way to LA!! At the top of the second sister hill you will come upon a vista point turnout where you will have the opportunity to have your picture taken with the Half Way to LA sign! Don’t forget your camera on this day!! (note: but don’t dally too long, you still have a lot of miles to cover!)

Day 4 Outfit

Only day I won't be sporting Tough Chik, I will be wearing my favorite non-TC jersey by Craft, Pearl Izumi Sugar Shorts and SmartWool Socks

Day 5 mileage:
40.2 miles (enjoy!)

Santa Maria to Lompoc
As soon as you roll out of your tent you will realize that this is not just another day in the saddle. Today it is an AIDS/Life tradition to ride in our AIDS awareness red best. You will look like a fabulous red ribbon on wheels as you head out of Camp 4 on our way south towards Rest Stop 1 in Orcutt. We’ll be on a new route through Santa Maria and the ‘All American City’ has worked hard to create some really nice bike lanes. Enjoy them! After Rest Stop 2 as you approach the switchbacks that originally inspired early AIDS riders to don red, be sure to look up at the hills to get your own image of the red ribbon bicycle parade. The route on this day affords beautiful vistas and light traffic. One of our rest stops is on a military base so give a salute to our men and women in uniform if you see them! As you enter Lompoc, keep your eyes peeled after lunch for wildflowers! The mileage may be a little shorter today but there is certainly no shortage of beauty and fun.

Day 5 Outfit

RED DRESS DAY - 2010 Heck on Wheels Jersey with my new red sparkle skirt and my fun red and pink stripped leg warmers. Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Shorts and Pearl Izumi Socks

Day 6 mileage:
85.5 miles

Lompoc to Ventura
Day 6 begins on one of the prettiest roads on the entire route. You will pedal through vast expansive ranchlands with wildflower covered hills on both sides! As you ride toward the coast through the gorgeous Gaviota Pass you will be on US101. This is a well travelled freeway and caution should be practiced at all times along this portion of the route. After lunch you will pass through the heart of Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria and on into Ventura where we camp at San Buenaventura State Beach. Highlight of the day: Day 6 is your best bet for dolphin sightings!! Cast an eye to the sea and perhaps you will glimpse those playful creatures jumping in and out of the water as they frolic just off the coast.

Day 6 Outfit

Saints and Sinners Jersey with matching Tough Chik Cycling Shorts and Socks

Day 7 mileage:
61.5 miles

Ventura to Los Angeles
Almost there! Today your trip south will take you through Ventura, Oxnard and Port Hueneme (pronounced Why-Knee-Me) and Malibu. You will see the military planes on display as you ride past the Naval Air Station on your way to Highway 1 also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Once on PCH it’s a straight shot down the coastline for about 20 miles. Enjoy the southern California sights of surfers and beach goers as you pedal through Malibu on your way toward LA. You will complete your journey with a turn away from the coast and nice pedal through Santa Monica on your way to the Closing Ceremonies site. Highlight of the day: The streets are peppered along the route on Day 7 with friends, family and well-wishers. Enjoy your hero’s welcome … you deserve it.

Day 7 Outfit

Bringing it home with the 2011 Tough Chik Signature Jersey, Ohh Yeah...
Pearl Izumi Attack Shorts and Pearl Izumi Socks

I am hoping to blog on the trip but since we are camping each night, I am not sure what kind of service I will have.

This weekend I am driving up to San Francisco with the hubs and our bikes and gear. We will leave it with a friend so we don't have to ship the bikes. While in San Francisco we will be attending a few fundraising events to help us reach our fundraising minimums. If you are feeling generous and have a few dollars to spare, please visit my ALC web page.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Epic Ride - Hills of Ecstasy

My training group ride with Team OC (for AIDS/Lifecycle) was titled Hills of Ecstasy. I got the route via e-mail on Monday. It was described as:

We will be doing the Hills of Ecstasy! This route will be “arguably” the most difficult ride in this training season. We climb the greatest hits of hills that OC has to offer. Some are so difficult that we have made them an option given that their insanity is nowhere matched on the Lifecycle. Depending on what option you choose or do not choose the ride is 73 miles, however if you decide to go balls to the walls and complete it in its entirety you’ll get a pat on the back from our TRL (Training Ride Leader) Ed while you are nursing you burning legs in the parking lot as you ponder how you survived the grueling 81 Mile tour. After you finish, have pride because you are almost done!!! Just two more rides left!!! And they will be easy … um … in comparison, that is!

Optional hills, eh? If you know anything about me by now, you know it I am always up for a crazy cycling challenge. So, of course I was in and so was the hubs. The first optional climb was challenging, but nothing to write home (or blog home) about. In Southern California we have some pretty hilly terrain and I don't shy away from a climb, so I was pretty well prepared and climbed it with little difficulty.

Next climb was a whole 'nother story. I had heard it was steep, that concerned me. I can do long, but steep is hard. I am not a confident "out-of-the-saddle" climber since the accident, so steep grades can be even more challenging while in the saddle. Let me tell you, it was S.T.E.E.P.! There were 4 of us climbing the hill together, of course I was the only chik! (Girl power!) One of the guys had a Garmin that calculated grade. He said as one point it read 16.5% grade, THEN he had to get out of the saddle because it got steeper and couldn't read the Garmin. I had to lean over my handlebars and get real low so my front tire wouldn't pop up. My Mt. Biking skills (although rusty) helped me a lot here. We were reward with an awesome view title, Top of the World.

Top of the World - Laguna Beach
The ocean is out there, but we had some fog.

Pinky and I - yes, I am a huge dork, but check out that awesome jersey...

Of course the decent was awesome. One of my fellow cyclist said that another team member rode the decent last year and he rode his breaks the whole way down and busted a tube due to the heat created from the breaks rubbing against the metal rim. The whole time down I was like "don't ride the breaks", "Oh I need to break but don't ride the breaks"... I ended up clocking over 43 MPH, a new record for me! But that was nearly a challenging as what would be next...3rd Street. I grabbed this photo off the internet because I was thinking of pictures when I rode upon it. This was my view.

I really don't feel like the photo gives it justice. I actually un-clipped and said (this is very embarrassing) "Marc, I am scared". I was so close to walking my bike down the hill. I knew there was no way i could walk down the hill in my cycling shoes, so riding was my only option. Marc told me to just hold on to my breaks and I would be okay. I got behind my saddle (so I would have more weight on the back tire) and held on for dear life. Once again, mt. biking skills to the rescue. I really thought I might go over the front end it was that steep. But I made it. I would do that steep climb 3 times before I would ride down 3rd street again.

The last five miles were BRUTAL! I was spent and a head wind didn't help. I actually had to take a nap after the ride. It has been a very long time since a ride has wiped me out like that.

Pinky and I will only have 2 short rides this week before the big ride. I am driving up my bike to San Francisco on Thursday and won't see her until the big ride on June 5th. Absence make the heart grow fonder...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Funny & More

Here is a sign I saw on my road trip through Utah. It was, ummm...startling, especially considering the conservative nature of Utah. I thought I would share.

Here is "the More" section.
Today I weighed myself. I hate to weigh myself and don't do it often. In the past I have become very obsessed with the number and to be honest, it kind of makes me nutty. But today I did it and found that I am 1.6lbs away from my goal weight for ALC. ALC is 2 weeks away, so it is very possible that I can get to my goal. But this is the point where I always seem to sabotage myself. I eat bigger portions, because I am so close I can "afford" to, and tend to snack a little more. My goal for the next few weeks is to not do anything different. Stay on the same path that got me here.

Am I crazy? Does anyone else do this?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ride of Silence

Yesterday the Ride of Silence a ride honoring those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways.

Even though the ride was yesterday, I think it is important to mentioning and something we should think about it year round.

The Ride of Silence...

Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
But tonight we ride and no one attacks
The dark sunglasses cover our tears
Remembering those we held so dear
Tonight's ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride

To view a list of who we ride in honor of, visit

Please be careful out there and ALWAYS wear a helmet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

93 Mile Training Ride Recap

As some of you may know, on June 5th I (along with 3000 of my closest friends) will be embarking on an 545 mile cycling adventure. AIDS/Lifecycle is a charity ride starting in San Francisco and 7 days later arriving in Los Angeles. We will average 86 miles a day with our longest day being 106.1 mile and the shortest (our rest day) 40.2 miles. Every night we will camp at a new location as we travel down the state of California. It is a pretty remarkable fully supported ride, some call it a moving city. Each night we have camp with hot meals, showers and bike storage. We are allowed one bag that they will transport for us and of course each day is on the road is supported with sag vehicles, pit stops, medics and mechanics.

I am sharing this experience with my hubs, Marc, and my bestie, Molly. We are Team William Grant, named after Marc's employer who is helping us with fundraising. If you read my blog, you know that the hubs and I have been riding together for several years. We have completed a few MS150s (150 miles in 2 days) and centuries together. Molly is a newbie and decided to jump in with both feet!

Team William Grant

On Saturday we had a really fun ride organized by Team OC, our training group out of Orange County. We met at the Irvine train station and drop off a bag with a change of clothes and grabbed a route sheet. We rode 93 miles to Pizza Port in Solana Beach where our change of clothes was waiting along with U-haul trucks to take our bikes back to Irvine. The Pizza Port is across from the train station, so after some well deserved pizza and beer, we jump on the train and ride home. When we get back to Irvine, volunteers have unloaded our bikes (which are cover with blankets and lovingly cared for). The ride is supported with 2 SAG vehicles and 4 pit stops with yummy treats and water.

Started the ride at the Irvine Metro Link station and headed west through the flatlands of Irvine.

Turned north and headed uphill through Tustin and up Jamboree into Orange before turning into Santiago Canyon.

At the southeast end of Santiago, the group turned north and up, up, up to the top of Live Oak Canyon Road before descending into Live Oak Canyon. After a ridiculously steep climb out of the canyon, we wound up on the suburban streets of Rancho Santa Margarita.

After the 30 mile warm-up through two, tough canyon sections, we turned up the pace and barreled down Antonio Parkway on through Mission Viejo and onto Ortega Highway on our way to San Juan Capistrano.

After hitting the coast, the group turned south down the Pacific Coast and headed toward Dana Point and San Clemente. After a brief pit stop to fix a flat, we took a break at a coffee shop in Dana Point and headed into the hills of San Clemente.
As we left San Clemente behind, we headed into San Onofre State Beach and onto the military base, Camp Pendleton.

At the gates of the base, we were met with an ID check and a nasty headwind. The relatively quiet roads of the military base gave way to the busy streets of Oceanside and Carlsbad at the south end of the base.

After the last pit stop (and the most amazing PB and banana sandwich) on the south end of Carlsbad, about a dozen of our fellow riders left as a group and made our way towards Encinitas and finally onto Solana Beach. This is where I saw my life flash before my eyes (a little dramatic) as I was almost decapitated by some balloons attached to a real estate sign. As I turn the corner a gust of wind blew the balloons into my path and the ribbons intersected my neck. I dragged the sign several feet. Luckily I have pretty good bike handling skills and was able to loose the balloons without loosing my bike! Whew!

After a brief stop at the pizza check-in, we hit the outskirts of Solana Beach and the last, moderate climb before our goal, Pizza Port, came into view.

After enjoying a few slices of pizza and a few beers with friends, we ambled across the street and onto our train that would take us right back to the place we started the 93 mile ride 7 1/2 hours earlier.

This Saturday is our last long training ride, 73 miles and then we will taper. I know that I can do any one day of the route, but stringing them all together causes a little concern. What I have to watch for is starting to fast out of the gate. I am SOOOO competitive that I know it is going to kill me to let other pass me in order to pace myself. I didn't have this issue with running, because I know that I am not the strongest runner. I accept that others work harder at running than I do. This is NOT the case with cycling. I will KILL myself in order to keep with a cyclist (especially another woman) that I feel I should be able to ride with.

Have you ever wasted yourself at the beginning of a race due to ego?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Minnie Rae Winner!

Congrats to ltlindian, the winner of the Timbuk2 Minnie Rae! She is luck number 11, selected by

Thank you to all of you who entered! We had lovely 29 comments.

ltlindian - please email me at shannon (at) toughchik (dot) com with your shipping address and I will send you your bag!

Thank you again and have a wonderful week!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Run Safe in Honor of Chelsea

As some of you may know, we (Tough Chik) has a cute tee with the saying “Run Like You Are Being Chased”. It was one of the initial designs when we launched the site in September 2009. It was an orange shirt with blue writing, some women loved the color, others hated it. I learned early on, that you can’t please everyone and to trust my gut. Unfortunately / fortunately (depending on what side of the fence you were on) the t-shirt manufacturer discontinued the color. I currently re-released the shirt in a new color, Turquoise.

When I promoted the new shirt on facebook, I received a sobering message from a loyal and dear Tough Chik. Here is her response:

“For some reason the logo doesn't resonate great still -- at least I wouldn't think many would want to buy it out of San Diego where we had a young girl runner killed in the trails by a sexual predator (see Chelsea's Run a very famous story commemorated by a yearly run (to finish what she started) in South California). Just my thoughts anyhow, makes me a bit uncomfortable as a message... -- even though I am a big fan of Tough Chik.”

Some of you may not be aware of the incident referenced above and I briefly explain this tragedy. Chelsea was an avid runner and lost her life in a horrific crime during a run in San Diego. She was only 17 years old. In March there is a run in honor of Chelsea, please go to, to learn more about the run. I was house sitting in San Diego when Chelsea disappeared and watched the tragedy unravel on the news. It was big news in Southern California and set a lot of runners on high alert, rightfully so. Never once did I associate my shirt with something so terrible. Those of you who know me, know that I am sarcastic and pride myself on a great sense of humor (even if I am the only one who thinks I'm funny). I was shaken when I read the above response and MORTIFIED that my t-shirt was associated with such a terrible, awful event. The shirt was meant to refer to competition and chasing a leader or that chik (or dude) just down the road that you are wanting to pass. It also reminded me of a Friends episode where Phoebe was running like a kid, her arms flailing. Rachael was embarrassed to run with her, but that was the way Phoebe made running fun. Anyone remember that episode?

I wanted to take this opportunity/forum to discuss how we need to be safe out there and to recognize Chelsea.

Here are some tips I found on RRCA website. We could all use a little refresher course on running safety.

• Don’t wear headphones. Use your ears to be aware of your surroundings. Your ears may help you avoid dangers your eyes may miss during evening or early morning runs.
• Run against traffic so you can observe approaching automobiles. By facing on-coming traffic, you may be able to react quicker than if it is behind you.
• Look both ways before crossing. Be sure the driver of a car acknowledges your right-of-way before crossing in front of a vehicle. Obey traffic signals.
• Carry identification or write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside sole of your running shoe. Include any medical information.
• Always stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
• Carry a cell phone or change for a phone call. Know the locations of public phones along your regular route.
• Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React on your intuition and avoid a person or situation if you’re unsure. If something tells you a situation is not “right”, it isn’t.
• Alter or vary your running route pattern; run in familiar areas if possible. In unfamiliar areas, such as while traveling, contact a local RRCA club or running store. Know where open businesses or stores are located in case of emergency.
• Run with a partner. Run with a dog.
• Write down or leave word of the direction of your run. Tell friends and family of your favorite running routes.
• Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Avoid unlit areas, especially at night. Run clear of parked cars or bushes.
• Ignore verbal harassment and do not verbally harass others. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
• Wear reflective material if you must run before dawn or after dark. Avoid running on the street when it is dark.
• Practice memorizing license tags or identifying characteristics of strangers.
• Carry a noisemaker. Get training in self-defense.
• When using multi-use trails, follow the rules of the road. If you alter your direction, look over your should before crossing the trail to avoid a potential collision with an oncoming cyclist or passing runner.
• Call police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is important to report incidents immediately

I want to conclude by apologizing to any one who felt uncomfortable by the shirt and please know that was not in the spirit in which the shirt was designed. I am sad and sorry that we live in world where tragedies like this happen and that something as innocent as running in a park can end so horribly wrong. Please be safe out there.

Much love,
Shannon (Tough Chik)

Monday, May 9, 2011

186 miles!! a new PR!

Last week I logged 186 miles (183 on the bike) and I am very proud of myself. It was great fun and legs felt strong. I think the combo of more food on the bike, foam rolling and skipping boot camp has help tremendously.

I think a lot of you can relate when I say that cycling has given me some terrible tan lines. I have the typical "farmer" tan and the nice short line across my thighs. But something new happened over the weekend. I could explain it, but photos do a better job.


As TMB would say, AWESOMESAUCE! Now I look like a complete idiot! This happened on my ride Saturday, I thought it would fade...but no. This picture was taken last night and I still look like Rocky Raccoon! Yeah me! I will be wearing a ball cap for the rest of the week!

Don't forget about my Timbuk2 Minnie Rae give away!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Timbuk2 Giveaway

At the Sea Otter Classic, I had the pleasure of meeting Ann from Timbuk2. Their tent was next to ours, so we were neighbors for 4 days. Ann is a Tough Chik and she feel in love with the Zip Up Hoodie.
Ann and Myself

Ann asked for my business card and said she was going to put a bag in the mail for me. I was floored. I have received free bars and bath salts over the year, but never a bag! A few days later, a box came with not 1 bag, but 2! Imagine my surprise. Ann sent me the Harriet Shoulder Bag and the Minnie Rae Shoulder Bag!

A little back story, I am designer bag girl. I live for a nice Michael Kors bag. I am in love with my Furla bag I bought in Italy, so I wasn't sure how I would feel about a nylon bag. I decided that my trip to UT, NV and AZ would be a good test and let me tell you, I LOVE THE HARRIET BAG! It was perfect! I carry a little too much stuff for the Minnie Rae (I would love to be that girl, but I am not) but Harriet and I became BFFs!


Front pocket with key hook

Back Pocket


Since I have taken over the Harriet, I thought I would share the Minnie Rae with one you you lucky Chiks!

Win the Minnie Rae!

The Minnie Rae features

* Compact profile, just right for all the bare essentials.
* Refined weave ballistic nylon exterior with a stylish printed graphic liner.
* Internal organizer pockets for your smart phone and daily essentials
* Key tether to keep you locked in.
* Velcro closure keeps your essentials secure.

Here are a few photos I took, but there are better ones at the Timbuk2 website.
Perfect for vacation, farmers market, post run expos shopping and the Tough Chik tent


Back pocket

To enter the give away
• MANDATORY – follow the Tough Chik blog
• MANDATORY – “like” tough chik of facebook
• Visit and sign up for the mailing list
• Tweet this: win a @timbuk2 minnie rae @tough_chik
• Like Timbuk2 on Facebook and tell them Tough Chik sent you
• If you make a donation to AIDS Lifecycle, you will receive 1 point for every $2 you donate!


A winner will be selected on May 16th!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Vegas and Whiskey

Vegas and Whiskey, Iron Girl Lake Las Vegas and Whiskey Off Road to be exact!

On Thursday and Friday I had the honor of meeting some amazing women at the Iron Girl Lake Las Vegas Triathlon. This is a great tri for beginners! It is very accommodating with transition talks and bike storage at the hotel. The Lowes property, where the race is held, is very scenic and the swim is in a lake! I found that a lot of the women use this race as a girls weekend, so I met women from all over. A lot of women showed up from Canada and other cold regions to get in their first race of the season. I went for a run on Friday morning and it was VERY windy, I hope it calmed down for the participants. I briefly lost my camera, so I don't have any photos from the expo or of the grounds. I didn't stick around for the race because we packed up Friday evening and headed to Prescott, AZ.

I arrived in Prescott well after midnight and was up at 5 AM setting up for the Whiskey Off Road Expo in Prescott, AZ! Lets just say the free coffee coupons and great friends made this expo a BLAST. My bestie, Molly, is from Prescott and I have become friends with a lot of her family and friends over the years. So when the folks at Epic Rides asked I participate in the expo, it was a no-brainer and worth 4 hours of sleep!

Molly, Me and Janelle
You may recognize Molly and Janelle as they were on the TC home page for about a year!

The Whiskey Off Road is a mountain bike race for a 25 and 50 mile option for amateurs and a pro race. If you follow my blog, you know I am not the best mt. biker but I love to ride and seeing some of these women ride 50 miles on a mt. bike was VERY inspiring. We met a woman who started riding at 40 and was competing in the race at 65! I still have time! HA HA! This race is pretty technical and at elevation, so if you ride at sea level like us So Calers, it can be even more difficult. My girl, Tonya Bray with raced it for the first time and did an amazing ride. Pua Mata, one of our local gals, won the women's pro race and we are super proud of her! She crushed the previous record! We also got a chance to hang out with Sarai from Girl Bike Love, she is awesome and has a great site, CHECK.IT.OUT!!

I was sold out of a lot of sizes, so I apologize, but we are stocking up as we speak!

Here are some photos from the race.
Pua's win