It’s no secret that I love bibs. So when I dug out my old Giordana tights for the first chilly morning ride, they didn’t feel the same as the bibs I’m used to. They grabbed at my stomach and every time I stood to climb, the chamois sagged. No good. Later that day I crossed my fingers and ordered a pair of Women’s Hincapie Arenberg Bib Tights from Realcyclist.com. Continue reading
I’m envious of the guys who can down a water bottle and then quickly pull off behind a tree without missing a beat. But for women it’s not so easy, especially with bib shorts. When I bought my first bibs, a pair of sleek (and expensive) Giordana Silverlines, I knew I’d either have to carefully ration my water bottles or memorize every rural gas station in the county.
If you’ve never tried bibs, I’ll warn you right now: They will change your life. If regular lycra shorts are a Trek 1000, then bibs are a SuperSix Evo, baby. There’s no fabric slipping, bunching or gaping and no elastic band to put a stranglehold on your stomach. The only problem is that bib straps severely interfere with bathroom breaks, forcing women to shed their jerseys and bottoms first. Continue reading
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.
Confession: I despise pantyhose and actively avoid situations requiring them. So it’s no surprise that when I picked up a tube of compression tights, all of my pantyhose anxiety came rushing back. The unstoppable runs and ever present fear of poking a finger nail through the nylon is just too much to bear. This is why pants were invented.
But looking snazzy for a job interview has never improved my leg soreness or made me faster on the bike. Zoot claims that just by wearing their recovery tights, you can decrease lactic acid by 29% and perceived effort by 25%. Now I’m pay attention. Pass the plastic egg.
While I may not be first in line at the mall on Black Friday, I do love to get my shopping on—at the local bike shop, that is. Here are a few of my favorite finds, which are sure to please any cyclist on your holiday list.
GARMIN EDGE 500
After going through two Edge 305 cycling computers in three years, I was thrilled when Garmin released this model at the beginning of 2010. The Garmin’s new twist-lock-mount is a major improvement, as are the simplified side buttons. The 500 generates the perfect training log, tracking things like distance, total ascent, percent grade, cadence, and heart-rate, while producing a detailed map of the route. It even displays the temperature. While this model doesn’t have live mapping, users are still able to plot routes online, upload them, and then program the unit to give turn-by-turn directions. Not bad for such a tiny gadget. Continue reading