Cycling is a constant learning experience. Fortunately, my lessons now aren’t as tough as in the beginning (like crashing to the pavement while learning to ride clipless). Here are a few observations from this season.
I heart bibs. Sure they look kind of silly, like a spandex Santa Clause, but at mile 50, I’m grateful that a waistband isn’t digging into my abdomen. Bibs hold the chamois firmly in place and make it easy to breathe deeply. At first I was concerned about having to undress for every pit stop, but I’ve quickly learned that when Port-a-Pottys are involved, the best thing to do is to wear a wicking base layer so I can remove my jersey and drape it over the handlebars. Using a full zip jersey expedites things as well.
Fill up my flask. After years of sticky fingers from collecting empty energy gel wrappers, I’ve finally discovered a $2 solution (how often can you say THAT in cycling!?). A Hammer flask holds five servings of the sticky stuff. One of the best parts is that you can buy Hammer Gel in bulk and mix your own flavors. My favorite flavor of the moment is espresso.
Squeeze out the pain. I reviewed Zoot’s CompressRX recovery tights a few months ago and I’m still in love with the way they make my legs feel after a brutal ride. While sleeping in them definitely is a scorcher in the summer months, I can still comfortably wear them inside after a long ride. After pulling my calf muscle early in the season, I bought a pair of Zensah’s leg sleeves. They are great for when you need to be on your feet for hours and they keep my legs feeling fresh and ready to ride. Of course, they’re also great for recovery.
Hills are awesome. Yes, all you haters read that correctly. True, my love is often unrequited, but damn, I’m beginning to love the art of a good leg busting climb. As they say, it’s all mental. If you can truly believe that and learn to feed yourself spoonfuls of positive psychology, anything is possible. For me that was 90% of it and the rest was about finding a balance between sitting and standing and moving around on the saddle as you invite different muscle groups to the party. Instead of shying away from group rides that ascend, I’ve started showing up, suffering with the others and even passing them at times. I’m not grabbing any KOM points just yet, but I’ve awarded myself big points just for pedaling to the top without stopping.