How Machines for Freedom was born from frustration…


I wish I had the woman-power of CyclingTips and Total Women’s Cycling to bring you stories like this one first-hand but alas, I’m a one-woman show over here. So thanks to sites like these for being excellent resources.

This story developed because CyclingTips is now selling Machines for Freedom in their Emporium. A Southern California brand built by women for women.

Read the full story here.


Giro Introduces First Boa Enabled Lace-Up Shoe

http___coresites-cdn_factorymedia_com_twc_wp-content_uploads_2016_08_J6A4701OMG THIS. It address all the concerns of my Giro Empire W ACC review and it’s white. Thanks for the first review Total Womens Cycling!

First Ride: Giro Introduce First Boa Enabled Lace Up Shoe

Sockturday: The Wonderful Socks


The Wonderful Socks. What a great name, don’t you think?

Every single Wonderful Sock tells a story inspired by the achievements of great sportspeople, whether a race or a single extraordinary sporting event. ‘Bubba’ is a tribute to Forrest Gump’s epic run across the USA. ‘Arenberg’ is a celebration of the Paris-Roubaix race, also known as the Enfer du Nord. ‘Seoul 1988’, an homage to Gelindo Bordin’s Olympic Marathon Gold Medal. ‘The Climb’, a poem to all cyclists who love to climb mountains.

Each pair is made in Italy and designed by world-class creative talents, so when you put on a pair of Wonderful socks you feel inspired to be as great as those they are named after.

What is your favorite TWS sock/shoe combo?
Giro Empire Slx, we love shoes with laces, and all the collection of TWS, it depend on what day we go for training.
Do you adhere to the height rules or answer demand instead?
Yes we do. We love 6” long cycling socks. We love 6” long socks also for running. They are a show off accessories and there is much more space where you can design the patterns!

Do you make your own socks or do you use another company to manufacture your designs?
We concept and design the socks. Another company produce them with a know how in manufacturing technical socks. All in Italy.
14064095_1777546249194972_8913730516064578477_n Why do you think cycling socks are so much fun to wear/design?
Because the socks is an accessories that give you personality, style. You can easily show off. And unveil your nature.
14053948_1775325952750335_3043799629565918295_n Why do you not offer a women’s sock different from a men’s? Oftentimes, especially for smaller footed women the design is off when worn and there may be rubbing inside a shoe from seams that are not quite right.
Our socks are for men and women. We have three sizes, S M and L, this is to avoid rubbing inside a shoe from seams, blisters, bad length and give the best wearability. Quality and design are priorities.
13912765_1770765816539682_2712252182894953441_n Do you consider mixed materials in your socks for specific purposes – warmer weather, cooler weather, wet weather, road versus CX, etc? Do materials make a beneficial difference to athletes?
Yes we do. We use only Polypropylene and Resistex Carbon. Innovative tecnological fibres. Breatheble, resistant, isolating, lightweight, soft, antibacterial and confortable. They are much more thermo insulating them virgin wool. Thanks to this characteristic function, the feet can be dry and warm in winter and dry and fresh in summer. Moreover Lycra is spread out on all the sock to give a light compression.
13920688_1773060529643544_3145139967462843080_n What is your design inspiration? The meaning behind your designs and patterns? All men’s racing and sports?

Each sock is inspired by a story chosen from the sport world. Mostly from cycling and running. This is to motivate those one who approach and those one who are keen on sport.  We love also tell stories unknown. 

Any releases to look out for this year?

A small collection is upcoming on the next month, stay tuned.


The Domestique Critique: Rapha Core Collection Jersey

WOR01-base-detail-03_MEDIUMHonestly, I don’t even understand why Rapha introduced the Core Collection. In a 2015 interview with founder Simon Mottram, he was quoted as saying:

“Some people love us, and some people don’t like us, and that is fine,” says Mr Mottram, the 49-year-old chief executive.

“But our stuff is really good, and if someone is going to spend, say, eight hours on a bike… then their clothing should be really good.

“I don’t want to make bad shorts or jerseys just to hit a [lower] price point.”
If he meant that, and he has no interest in chasing pounds and dollars, then why aim for a new price point with this collection? This step plus the off-putting designs of the womens’ collections of late make me really question Rapha’s “prestige” and worth.
Onto the jersey itself, I purchased the navy Core jersey. I wear a size Small in the Rapha Classic jersey but Medium in Souplesse so since this jersey was said to be cut for comfort and less for aerodynamics I opted for a Small. My bust size is 36 inches, waist is 30 inches, hips 38 inches and I’m 5’3″ on a good day. The jersey retails online for $115 USD.
I’ve worn it for two months now. It’s been hot weather with little shade on most of my weekend rides, but I also do a lot of weeknight riding, when the temps dip and you almost don’t need arm warmers. This jersey does best in the latter weather situation. It’s made from 100% polyester, making it a heavier weight than the Souplesse but a step lighter than the merino-mixed Brevet jersey. It’s great when summer turns cool or fall and spring are approaching.
I had some trouble with the fit in various places. Rapha is proud of the addition of a “deep, laser-cut rear gripper lined with soft silicone” but it held nothing. In 10-20 minutes of riding the entire jersey was above my belly button.
 DSC00786I went fishing for that deep rear gripper several times an hour. I was more than a bit annoyed after the first ride.
The jersey wicked sweat well and didn’t smell bad after a long, hot ride. It didn’t show any sweat marks either, something you end up being embarrassed about in the light-colored Souplesse jerseys. They attribute the odor control to the fact that the materials has been treated with an antibacterial process.
I realize after I purchased the jersey that many Rapha customers also noted in the comments section about the bunching and pulling of the material. I tugged and shimmied often trying to smooth it out. It had a lot to do with the jersey riding up, too, I think. Perhaps the jersey just wanted to come right up over my head and off?
DSC00793 copy
I also had trouble with the zipper lip. I appreciate having one there, I’ll be the first to cheer that addition on a lower-priced jersey, but I couldn’t smoothly zip all the way up without the lip interfering. This meant that I needed to remember to fix the zip before a descent or live with the gap while zipping during the downhill.
Finally, the pocket space was much appreciated for a core collection jersey. Two full-sized pockets, one narrow middle pocket, and one side packet with zipper closer gave me ample room for all the necessities even on my longest of rides. But, I have always complained about the height of Rapha’s pockets on all the jerseys I own and this one was also tough to reach back and high enough to access my things.
 The Core collection jersey could be a good introduction to Rapha if you are afraid to spend all your paycheck in one go. But you are honestly better off buying a more quality comfortable piece from their Classic collection that will bring you all the same comfort and style but is constructed better. The simplistic but rich color options are excellent and many washings didn’t change that at all. But overall, skip ahead to a tried-and-true jersey.
 [1] Only shorts are offered for women in the Core Collection. Rapha is quoted as saying this is because “feedback that the design team got for this segment was that regular shorts would be the most appealing to the widest range of current and new customers.” Bicycling Magazine apparently thinks that if enough women raise their hand in class like good little girls we’ll get bib shorts. I say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Rapha, you claim to be for the discerning cyclist, right? Every discerning female wants a pair of bib shorts so respond accordingly. Equal is equal. Comment below to share.
[2] Rapha has such a reputation for being elitist for the sake of being elitist that a spoof website floated around. Cracking good time reading it too.





The Domestique Critique: Giro Amare II Helmet

Giro_H_Amare-II_BlackGalaxy_34It happens. Myself, the pavement and my helmet all meet at the same time with brute force and unfortunate circumstance. Enter Giro Amare II. I needed a new helmet and was intrigued to try something from the new Giro Chrono line at my LBS.

I was initially attracted to the helmet because it matches the rad new lace-up Empire W ACC shoes for women that Giro recently released. Look for my review of those shoes here. The Amare II comes in 5 color combinations and I chose Black Galaxy. It was the closest to solid black I could get and it closely matches the holographic colors of the shoe. giro_h_amare-ii_blackgalaxy_back

The Amare II is a mid-range helmet at $140 USD. With $270 the highest range of Giro helmets and $40 the lowest, you expect to be getting more style but less technology with this helmet. But I was very surprised to see several lower-priced models offering Giro’s brand new MIPS technology for a difference of $30 or more. Online you can see that Giro offers almost a replica helmet style for $30 less in the Sonnet, but with MIPS, so you may be better off getting that.


The Amare II is well-ventilated. You can’t really feel the difference between 23 vents and 27 vents and I’m not riding in a wind tunnel. I am, however, riding in sun and cool breezes and this makes for a great summer helmet. But I will note that some may not like the high number of large vents because it actually exposes more head and hair to the sun. I doubt I was taking full aero advantage of the ventilation and instead ended up just baking in the sun with a slight scalp burn. If you didn’t wear a cap before, you may want to try one now.

DSC00794As for the fit of the Amare II, the helmet’s headform is a bit more round than ovoid so the main points of contact on your head are really the front and the back upon tightening. This became one of the big drawbacks of this helmet in my view. Once I tightened the helmet, I felt intense pressure at the forehead yet didn’t feel that it was secure all around my head. This pressure became a piercing pain over the course of my rides and I frequently wanted to stop and remove the helmet to relieve the pressure and give my poor head a break. For this reason I was always aware of the feel the helmet on my head, which is the exact opposite of an ideal helmet.


The tighter I tried to make the helmet, the more the pressure on my forehead increased, yet I could slip it off with a hard shake of my head, even when tightening the system to its max. I tried on several sizes of the helmet and chose the one that matched the measurements of my skull so I doubt I have too big or too small of a size for me. It felt like the sides of the internal reinforcement skeleton did not even tighten around my head. I feel more safe and secure in the Lazer or Mavic helmet skeletons. I wore a cap for the remainder of my miles with the helmet and felt that worked better, both to relieve the forehead pressure and to secure the helmet on my head.


The other big drawback was the stiff tightening system. To lighten the helmet weight, Giro developed their patented Roc Loc5 system at the base of the helmet. I found the turn knob to be stiff and small, even for my smaller hands. I couldn’t do it with gloves at all. The design of the system also caused my cycling cap to bunch up. It does accommodate any kind of ponytail, though.



The Giro Amare II helmet has a great look for a mid-range price. But the tightening system is stiff and the pain and pressure the shape caused my head is frustrating for the money I paid. A cap makes its flaws less noticeable but overall I would not recommend this helmet.