Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wearing underwear in public . . .

I know, it's been a while since I posted, but I've been busy with life and such.  Okay, not really busy so much as distracted.  I've been cycling my tush off.  Or trying to.  Plus getting adjusted to changes to my view of life and some deeply held notions.  Like not wearing underwear out in public.

Did she say "not wearing underwear out in public?"

Yes, she did.

So as you all know, I'm back in the saddle.  Mainly because I wanted the feelings and freedom associated with cycling again.  So I bought the new bike, and that has lead to other purchases.  Like gloves, a helmet, and even bike shorts.  The gloves were "Pro Gell" fingerless gloves, the gell in the palms there to cut down on pressure while riding.  Specifically the Ulnar nerve in the palms that causes, at least in my case, my hands and arm to go numb.  So the gloves were a great investment.  It's taken a little time to get used to how the bike feels in my hands, but it's a welcome change from having my hands go numb in the first couple of miles.  So the fifteen dollars I spent on the gloves, WELL worth it!  Now I go miles and miles without my hands going numb.  I love it.

A helmet, didn't want to get one.  I've never been much on hats or head cover of anykind.  Either they'd make my head hotter, mess up my hair (yeah, I know, lame right?) or both.  I also didn't want to look stupid, and well I thought having this bulky thing on my head making me hotter, messing up my hair AND making me look stupid?  Well it was a bad idea all the way around no?  Or is it?

"What do you call someone who rides without a helmet?  Organ Donor!"  -- David Perry

So I did the research and found a helmet that was well reviewed.  I'd found a bunch of online reivews, including some on youtube, and it is a Consumer Product Safety Comisson approved helmet.  When everything else is said and done you can spend big bucks on some facy multi-hundred dollar helmet, or you can get one for under thirty bucks. I chose that route, because I couldn't see spending all the money on something hopefully I'd never have to use.  Mind you, riding without one wasn't really a choice, at least not a smart one.  Some would argue the chances of hitting your head after coming up off a bike were very slim.  In fact my downstair neighbor after seeing me come flying in the driveway came out and said he thought a Teenage Ninja Turtle was lurking around.  So yeah, stupid looking?  Maybe.  But the chances of landing on one's head?  Well I've been there, done that once.  Really.  Got hit by a truck, on my bike, over twenty years ago.  So I'd already been there, done that once.  I was amazingly lucky then, a head full of stiches from where I'd landed on my head, without a helmet.  I KNOW from personal experience that lightening CAN in fact strike twice in the same place, so I wasn't willing to tempt fate again.

Plus I just didn't feel confident riding on the streets without head cover.  The way some people drive?  I mean come on, really.  So I bought a helmet from Giro, one of THE names in cycling helmets.  Basic black to go with my bike.  Nothing fancy, but nice and adjustable, well reviewed and CSPC approved.  It was designed to keep one's head cool and safe.  Okay, so it's a good helmet and under 30 dollars.  Now it was just a matter of getting used to it.  Everything I'd read said you wouldn't really notice it, and the ventilation would keep your head cool enough that you would not feel it.

After I got it adjusted for my head, out to the streets on my first test of the new Giro Indicator helmet I bought I went.  Oddly enough, my head felt cooler than riding without proper head cover, but since it was designed to channel the air and move it off your head while you ride, it made some sense.  So it was just a matter of getting used to it.  True to the reviews, after a few moments of riding with it, I didn't really notice it there anymore, and the absorbant pads in the helmet do in fact keep sweat out of your eyes.  So that was a real, practical, using it now advantage.  So, I'm now wearing my helmet when I'm riding.  Despite my neighbor joking about me looking like a teenage mutant ninja turtle, I'm not really bothered by the head cover anymore.

Then came the bike shorts.  Bought them a little before the gloves or the helmet, but hadn't brought myself to use them either.  Why?  Because it felt to me like going out of the house in my underwear.  You see actual riding shorts are specially designed with extra padding and moisture wicking to keep one from getting wet, chaffed, and rubbed raw by seams on long rides.  They are designed to help take pressure of sensitive parts of one's anatomy, and make contact with the saddle easier on one's body.  Waering underwaer with them however is counter productive.  Underwear will just absorb moisture and keep it close to your skin, the seams and elastic will rub and chaffe the skin, and basically totally defeat the purposes of the riding shorts.

But my Mom always raised me to leave the house clean, and wearing clean underwear.  And she also taught me not to run around in public in just my underwear.  So if I'm wearing bike shorts and nothing else, then I'm in essence running around in my undies as far as my screwed up mind worked out the logic.  I even went so far as to buy regular casual wear "bike shorts" to wear over the actual bike shorts so that I wouldn't feel like I'm running around in my undies.

Yesterday I broke down, decided I was going to get over my stupid internal foolishness, and set out for a ride wearing ONLY my bike shorts.  Well I was the sight.  Black and grey riding gloves, black helmet, and black and grey bike shorts with Velo printed on them on a black bike withpurple trim and a purple blouse.  I was quite the sight, all tricked out in riding gear, turning laps around the neighborhood.  Got all hot and sweaty and by the end of the five miles I must have looked quite the sight.  I was soaked.

Which once upon a time would have bothered me greatly.  I mean being soaking wet, all hot sweaty and gross in public?  Oh no, so not going to to do that!  Or at least once upon a time I wouldn't, let alone in public in skin tight clothes.  Well that was then I guess, because after five miles in 88 degree temps with 50% humidity, I looked like I'd just stepped out of a shower.  And you know what, it didn't bother me.  Hair soaking wet in a pony tail, clothes soaked, wearing my "undies" and a helmet.  Oh but I felt so good!

And you know, that's what it's about.  Feeling good, like I'd just accomplished something important.  And of course the rush of natural, perfectly legal drugs flowing through my body?  Well damn!  All these years and I finally am addicted to something.  Cycling!  And in my underwear no less.  Though I've fit it into my view of the 'verse like a bathing suit. When one goes swimming, one doesn't wear underwear, just a bathing suit.  So I'm looking at bike shorts in the same general context.  I'm out cycling.


Véronique said...

That title certainly got my attention. :)

I've never been a serious cyclist, so although I have a helmet, I've never had real bike shorts. I had no idea that you're not supposed to wear underwear with them! The things you learn.

Samantha said...

I don't know that I did it so much to get attention as to express my, I don't know, astonishment?

To be honest Véronique I'm not sure I'm a serious cyclist either, but I do know that comfort, especially on longer rides, is important to me. When I think of serious and cyclist, I think of my friend Laura. That girl has some serious chops, and bikes that I can't even imagine owning right now. She's got both road and mountain bikes and really kicks it so to speak.

Me, I've just got the one, and while it's designed specifically to be a mountain bike, I've yet to use it that way. Right now I'm using it as a road bike, which means I'm working harder because the tires have more rolling resistance, and the gearing is designed to take on hills and rough terrain, which means I'm not getting maximum efficiency for the work I'm doing.

BUT, I'm loving it and laying down some serious miles, and knocking back some serious calories. Like 858 calories in 10.2 miles Tuesday. Plus there is the sheer pleasure I'm getting from it.

I was quite honestly stunned to find out you're not supposed to wear underwear with the shorts, but to be completely honest, the comfort factor has quickly gotten me over my issues. All the reasons for NOT wearing undies actually work in application, and I am much more comfortable. The fact that I was able to get 60 dollar bike shorts for 10 bucks each? Serious shopfu! They've proven to be so comfortable and such a great value I order a couple more pairs at that price. The more I have, the longer they'll last me. Why so cheap? 2007 closeouts. Hell yeah baby!

Yeah the things you learn exactly. It can boggle the mind at times. I'm just glad I'm still learning...