Cycling wardrobe woes

Okay, maybe not this extreme. Not living in the tundra.

This whole cycling thing is sitting pretty well with me. The bike and the riding is awesome. But we all know there’s more to biking than just the bike. There are the clothes. I was pretty intimidated by this whole Lycra thing, but I gotta say that I’m digging it. It makes me feel like a real cyclist. Starting in the colder months was a good idea, too! Having to layer up helps hide the extra…layers…on the body. However. One thing I am not digging is how it takes to get ready for a ride. Between the cycling specific clothes, the colder weather, and my female vanities, I’m lucky if I can get out of the house in 15 minutes. 20 25 is usually the norm, if I’m being honest.

First, I have change every single piece of clothing I’m wearing. Everything. Shirt, bra, socks, bottoms, underwear (or at least take off every piece of clothing, hehe), everything. I have to decide what shirt to sweat in and what type of sock to wear, then wrestle myself into a sports bra, shorts, and tights. Then I have to figure out what to do with my hair! I don’t want it sticking out all weird like from the back and sides of my helmet because I’m vain, but it’s too short to put into a ponytail. And I’m trying to minimize the damage the helmet and sweating does to my hair- I don’t like washing my hair every time I ride. So I’ve figured out this elaborate hair ritual to keep my hair up- it involves barrettes, bobby pins and ponytail holders. And while it looks mighty hot, it does take a chunk of time.

Once I’ve got the hair and the clothes figured out, I have to assemble the accessories necessary to leave the house. I have to find the gloves (and not lose them between finding them and leaving the house), put on the headband, fit the helmet, put on the shoes, make sure my lights are attached and charged, check my water bottle, get the phone, the keys, the headphones, the ID. Then, I have to get the bike out of the house- and I haven’t quite worked out how to maneuverer it around the house and out the door without running into anything or closing any doors on the the wheels. After awkwardly closing the door (checking one last time to make sure I have my keys), getting down the steps, starting my tracking app, and cuing the music, I’m finally on my way. Yeesh. It’s a good thing I like this biking gig so much or else it might be more trouble than it’s worth!

Training notables for the week:

  • Rode from my house in Maryland to my job in Virginia. I was doing a pretest on the potential commuting route. It’s about 12 miles and took me about an hour and 15 minutes. Considering my metro commute is an hour door to door, it’s viable alternative on the time front.
  • Went out TWICE on Sunday- once to Virginia, once with a friend who lives near me- it was too beautiful to say no!
  • Was able to ride 5 days for at least an hour!

Update: Week 1

So, it’s been a week since my bike purchase and I’d thought I’d give y’all an update. My neighborhood is actually a great place to ride/train. It’s got a lot of good back road, residential, light on traffic, with a nice mix of long, sustained climbs and short, spiky climbs. AND a fabulous, fabulous trail system that winds all over Maryland and DC (and probably Virginia, but I don’t go there).

I downloaded an app to help me keep track of where I went, how far, and for how long, as I’m crap at estimating time and distance. So far I’ve ridden 27mi in 3 rides! Most excellent.

Notable rides:

  • Nighttime ride with Shannon around Lake Artemesia: first time I’d rode with another person and I was surprised at how challenging it was. Hopefully we can make this a regular feature of my riding! It was a little sketch, though, as I didn’t have a front light yet and she had forgotten hers! But luckily there was enough light to ride by, the paved trail was in good condition and we basically had the trail to ourselves.
  • A 15mi, hour and a half ride on the NW Branch trail: I broke an hour, and only on my 3rd real ride! I had only meant to go for an hour, but halfway home I realized I had dropped a glove. They were my favorite pair of gloves for riding, so I had to go back and look for them! I had to go all the way back to where I had turned around, with no luck. This made me very sad. And very sore. This was the first time I’d really suffered any consequences from my riding and it made my 10 minute walk to the metro seem like 20.

I love this bike. I love riding this bike. I love how it makes me feel, I love how it makes me sweat. It doesn’t feel like exercise or training- it feels like freedom! I haven’t done any sort of regular exercise since I moved out to DC 3 years ago and only not having a car has saved me from becoming a blimp. Feeling my muscles burn and my lungs ache is not a punishment, but a sign of a healthier me! In this honeymoon period, when I’m not on the bike, I’m thinking about when my next ride is, and I turn down last minute offers to play if I have a ride planned. It’s an obsession I’m happy to have take over my life.

A new day, a new bike

Isn't she pretty?! Specialized Dolce

Well, it’s happened. I finally bought my first bike. And not just any bike, but wonderful, beautiful road bike. Now, let me impress upon you the magnitude of this event. This is a decision I’ve been waffling about casually for the past two years and more seriously for the past 6 months. The fact that I actually went to the bike store, looked at the bikes, and made a decision to buy is huge. Just ask my dear friend Shannon, who’s been listening me talk about it for that long.

My motivation? Besides being slightly embarrassed by the fact that I’m obsessed with cycling but didn’t even have a bike? RAGBRAI. The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. The Register being the Des Moines Register. Apparently it’s a pretty big deal. A week long party across Iowa on bikes. My dad suggested it, and I thought it sounded like a good motivator. So I said yes, and he was like, well I guess I better get a bike, and I said me too. And when the route was announced this weekend, I started to get scared- a 454mi ride and I’ve yet to train a mile. Also let me impress upon you my lack of fitness. I have not regularly rode a bike since high school (and that was only until I got a car at 16, mind), nor do I even have a fitness base to build on. I’m starting at zero. So I knew I’d need every day, every mile, every minute I could get on a bike. And when I confessed to Shannon that I was having a hard time working up the nerve to go to the bike shop, she offered to go with me, and with her holding me accountable, I finally went.

Why was I having a hard time getting myself to the bike shop? I was intimated by it all. I don’t like not knowing what I’m doing. I don’t like looking like I don’t know what I’m doing. And there is so much about cycling, specifically bikes, that I don’t know anything about. Sure, I’ve read a lot about bikes. But we all know that’s not the same as actually looking at real bikes. And I’m kinda ashamed about my lack of fitness. So mainly I was just worried about being embarrassed. Which I know is silly. But unavoidable for me.

I looked at a few bikes at the local shop, Arrow Bicycles, and REI. While I might have liked the bike at REI a little better and I would’ve gotten a bit more bike for my money, I decided to go with the bike at Arrow for a few reasons. It’s local and I like supporting local business, even if it’s a bit more expensive and the choices not so vast. It’s much closer and I can walk/bike there. They’re big into the community. They said they’d do a free bike fit. Etcetera.

So now I’ve got the bike. And let me say, starting out from zero buying a bike is not only expensive, but riddled with choices. If you don’t like making choices, are indecisive, become easily overwhelmed by options should not get into biking. The shorts! The helmet! The gloves! The pedals! Not to mention, the bike! And that’s if you just get the basics. Yeesh. I’ve spent more time combing the internet for reviews of equipment and trying to decide what I can get pay the least for but get the most from than I’ve spent at my real job. To minimize the impact my wallet would feel, I tried to spread my purchases out, so I didn’t have to lay out all the dough at once. And I’ve left the fancy clipless pedals and shoes for a later paycheck. I think just surviving the bike will be enough at first, without trying not to die while I figure out clipless pedals.

Armed with all my fun new equipment, I now embark on a training adventure. To start, my goal is to ride my bike everyday, for at least 20 minutes (Weather permitting. Even fear of total fitness humiliation will not entice me to ride in the rain). This way I can get my butt used to being in the saddle and hopefully figure out how not to asphyxiate going up the “hills” in my neighborhood. That’s it. Once I can get on the bike two days in a row without a sore butt, I’ll figure out what to do next.

Through the quiet urging, prodding, and support of Shannon, the looming challenge of RAGBRAI, and the love I see expressed everyday by my Tweeps for cycling and their bikes, I finally took the plunge and can’t wait to see what happens.

Until next time…

This blog will continue to chronicle my obsession with pro cycling, never fear. Follow me on Twitter here and check out my Tumblr.