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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Friends Don’t Let Friends Wear Sheer Bibs And Other Adventures in Lycra

Sometimes we become overly attached to our garments. Perhaps an old t-shirt from that trail race back in Aught Seven with the sweet multicolor silkscreen logo…  a pair of comfortable shoes that walked with us all over this earth… or our first pair of cycling bibs! We just can’t seem to throw them out and don’t really even want to stop wearing them despite their faded, ripped, stained, holey condition. 

It took me a long time to come to cycling bibs. Lycra shorts, sure. They’re comfortable for long spirited rides. Those have been with me for decades. (I like that I can pretty much throw the word decades into any conversation these days…) But as I don’t wear suspenders with my pants—let alone my shorts!—it never quite made sense to use them for my cycling, which is kinda sorta what bibs are, although to a much sexier level—you can tell already I’ve been turned… But one day a trusted riding friend was adamant about their advantages and so I thought I’d give them a try… And they are great. And sexy! But that’s not what this post is about…

We become attached to our things. We like to keep wearing them. They’re cool or comfortable or maybe we don’t want to throw down a hundred bucks to replace them… 

Have you ever been riding behind someone, though, and they seem to be wearing one of their old favorite shorts or bibs that have developed a certain amount of thinning of the fabric so that you are more or less just looking at their butt? Mostly just the top half of the buttocks as the chamois pad will always block vision into the lower depths. But there is clearly a cleavage thing happening that in certain angles of light may be more pronounced. I see it pretty frequently. I’ve grown more or less immune to it. I mean, it’s just a butt. And really, a cyclist’s butt at that and so often times a pretty nice butt! If you don’t want to look at it just ride faster…

But. Then there’s also the coffee stops and such. Again, not a big problem if you’re encircled by your riding crew. But if you’re alone or still waiting on the crew’s arrival or at the edge of Le Peloton de Cafe (not really a phrase) and seated next to a non-cyclist, a non-understander of the culture of a crew of old men that find it okay to ride around looking at each other’s butts… well, then, sometimes a certain insecurity arrises. A wondering. Have I worn these bibs too far? Am I offending that family breakfast over there? 

So my suggestion to the cycling crew is to be in communication with each other. It’s okay to tell your friend that maybe it’s time to throw down that hundred bucks… 

And anyway, a nice fresh pair of bibs feels really great!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

PermaGrin

As with most things in life our dedication to riding can ebb and flood. (Why isn't that the saying?) Numerous contributing factors account for this - season, sleep, injury, stress, busy-busy-busy, training, et cetera. But for those of us that actually like riding, love it even, it's sometimes harder to tell the difference between excitement and monotony. Joy&Suffering. War&Peace. Grin&Grimace.

Anyone who's watched a little of the pro cycling season is familiar with announcers commonly commenting about a stone-faced rider, not giving up any indication to their competitors about whether they are about to shoot out for a breakaway or are just hanging on by a thread and hoping not to get dropped.

And if you think about it, this all sort of makes sense for anyone that does a lot of riding. Regularly riding to the tops of mountains, for instance, requires some determination, some grit, some amount of pain even if it is chosen and enjoyable - dancing on that line between Suffering&Struggle. Is it a grimace on the way up and a grin at the top? At what point do they slowly fade from one to the other? Done enough times and even the rider will stop noticing the difference - think of them the same way. Start grinning at suffering.

On good days there's that moment. A moment we sometimes have to wait for for some time. Like waiting for spring, for our injuries to heal, for our rides to get longer, for the sun to finally shine through the gloom... for that solo ride where your legs just want to spin forever and your lungs seem only to be continuously breathing in... and all of a sudden you feel it... you're smiling! You're having fun! Enjoying! Joy&Peace&Grin!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Forward Ho!

I don't want to open up a whole other conversation about the use of turn signals, and lack thereof, and how incredibly relevant they are to proper road flow, but there is one somewhat unusual element of it that keeps popping up for me. 

There's a road that circles the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena. It's a loop with a few feeder roads coming in and out of it. The loop encloses a fairly large area, as in addition to the stadium and relatively limited-seeming car parking area, there is also a golf course where during stadium events the extra/overflow (perhaps the majority of) cars are parked. The loop road is 3.1 miles around. Which makes it perfect for several 5K run/walk events to be held there every year. The road planners couldn't possibly have intended that but it works out quite nicely. 

The loop is used daily by many people. Walkers, runners, bikers, primarily. And rollerblading seems to be making a meager comeback. I guess the attraction for all these people is that it's a somewhat social, safe place to go and get some nice views of the San Gabriel Mountains and people watch and maybe a central enough place to meet one's friends. And while it's not exactly car traffic free there is somewhat of an easing of the mental effort required to navigate along normal city streets. 

Three miles is a pretty long walk. I imagine most people walk one lap. It's a great distance for a run and, depending on what you're into, one or two laps can be great. Three miles on a bike is pretty easy. So multiple laps are required if you're going to get much out of it. I've done my fair share of mind numbing multiple laps there before. Turn off brain - spin. Endless clockwise loops. You'll never be able to remember how many laps you've made. 

And so many cyclists do this loop around and around and around that every single car drivers knows exactly where every cyclist is going to go... Or they think they know. 

(Even the cops! I've been stopped on my bike by a cop there as they were preparing to close the loop down to "recreational use" in order to clear the area for a Rose Bowl event. He said, "You have to turn around and go back to your car." LOL. Car?!) 

But not every cyclist is riding laps. Sometimes a cyclist is just passing through the area to get to somewhere else. Which brings me to my point. Imagining the loop as a clock face in which riders are moving clockwise, at about the 10 o'clock there is a right turn to stay on the loop. Every ridder takes it - almost! But one can also go straight ahead there and leave the loop to go elsewhere in the world - anything to avoid riding around in circles... At this same intersection there is a stop sign for vehicles coming from the 11 o'clock - counter clockwise. But no stop sign for vehicles turning right or going straight forward. 

So, a car stops at the stop sign. No turn is indicated. The car can only go left or right. Which is it? The driver looks left. Sees an approaching vehicle. The operator of the vehicle (a bicycle it may be but a vehicle it still is!) has not indicated a turn. Therefore, is continuing straight forward. However, the driver of the car at the stop sign knows that every bicycle turns right to continue on the Rose Bowl Loop. Assumes the approaching bicycle/vehicle is turning right. Pulls directly in front of said vehicle. 

So, I, as the operator of the approaching vehicle, signal straight ahead. I am leaving the Rose Bowl loop on my bicycle - going off the clock, so to speak. But there is no official hand signal for that. I point straight ahead - forward. Sometimes I point slightly upward and ahead as there is a short steep hill that rises out and away from the loop. 

Actually I've taken to doing a lot of pointing anyway when I use hand turn signals. Hopefully it helps people understand. I don't know. I only know that I generally feel ridiculous sitting up tall on my saddle and pointing straight ahead as if an alien spaceship is landing I want everyone to see or as if reenacting the crossing of the Delaware... 

Monday, March 18, 2019

t-shirt communications

It’s early on a bright, sunny Monday morning and I’m out for my regular easy run up and down the street. I’m stopped, waiting to cross the intersection by the new coffee shop. I’ve pressed the pedestrian button to trip the traffic signal so I can cross the street but I’m looking around, checking out the new shop and the woman walking toward me on the sidewalk with her little fluffy dog. Maybe I’m holding my glance at her a little too long. I’m trying to figure her out. She’s wearing a green t-shirt. It’s got the logo from the Irish pub across the street. Is she somehow affiliated with the pub? I’ve never seen her in there before but she looks vaguely familiar. Wait. It’s the day after St. Patrick’s Day. Has she been out all night? She doesn’t seem the type… but what do I know. I turn to face the street. My light will be turning soon… 

“That must be a tough race! Did you win?” she quips. 

It takes me a second to realize she’s talking to me. Why is she talking to me? Oh, she’s commenting on my shirt. I take a quick glance down to the logo on the front of my shirt because out of the dozen or so race t-shirts I have crammed into my drawer at home I really have no idea which one I’m wearing. I really never do. I don’t care. It’s not a statement. It’s a free shirt (just pay the exorbitant race fee!). They’re wicking and light and other than the fact that they smell like hell before you even put them on I still wear them. They function well enough - sort of. There’s a blue mule printed on my chest. I do a quick scan of my remaining brain matter. Ah. Mt. Wilson Trail Race. Don’t remember which year. Doesn’t matter. 

“Oh. No. I did not win… very steep up there!” I respond, trying to be somewhat cheery for this St. Patty, while at the same time hoping that the conversation will end, because, although I’ve turned now and am no longer facing the street but my new companion, I’m sure my light has changed and I’d like to cross and continue my run - my heart rate is dropping like a brick! And what was it that I was just thinking about before I got to this intersection… another lost blog post! 

I think she kind of gets it. But as she’s waking away, now crossing the train tracks with her puppy-doodle, she actually offers out some surprisingly genuine trail knowledge. “I’ll bet! I used to take the Girl Scouts up there…” 

“Ah! Okay! Thanks!” I say. Or some such words. She keeps going her way. I turn to check the light. It has changed for me. I can still make it across.  


A few blocks further along I recall the lost blog post - not a very good one - not even a title - just a topic, a sensation… Why are my calves sore? I read something about trying to engage one’s glutes to help alleviate stress on the calves… how exactly does one do that, again? But that’s already lost its interest for me. So my calves are sore. Probably from the big weekend. All I want to know now is how did she get that t-shirt… and how can I get one?!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Underwear and How to Wear It (Part II)

And now for an epiphany twenty-five years in the making. In part one of this thread, if I recall, I haven't bothered to reread it, LOL, I essentially relayed the pro (read: amateur) tip about wearing ones underwear inside-out. A great tip. It does help. But something still wasn't quite complete. Something has been nagging at me. I kept thinking about underwear. And running shorts. And why do they have that liner? An extra layer to trap heat that no runner needs except maybe in the depths of a SoCal winter. So I thought about cutting it out. I'm a fan of altering ones clothing to fit ones needs. I do it with my running shirts all the time, or, I should say, to almost all of them. I cut off all the hems around the neck and sleeves and waistline. It's in a post. "It's down there somewhere." But not without careful thought. Always with careful thought, the cutting. But I just couldn't get myself to cut out the liner in my shorts. Why is it there? Why is it always there? I kept asking myself while staring at the ceiling as I lay awake through the middle of the night wishing I could just get out and go for a run like a lunatic a two-thirty in the morning. (Hashtag: Way of the future?) Finally it came to me. I'm not sure why this took me so long to approach. I mean, I've been running my entire adult life. And I'm getting pretty old! I'm totally half way through. Is this my midlife crisis? Well, I hope so. Because it's going to be a whole lot cheaper than a red Porsche convertible and the complications that would arise from its Barbie-esc accompaniment. And it will save You money too! All will benefit and stay cooler through this revving up summer season. So here it is. Underwear and How to Wear It. Don't. Just don't. What do you think that liner is for?! I mean, two pairs of underwear? Isn't that a little extravagant? So now you'll save money because you can stop buying thirty dollar running underwear. And be less stinky! And run cooler! You might feel a little like a pervert for the first few runs. But you'll get used to it...