Friday, September 21, 2012

Why We Wear The Chamois

(enhanced to show texture)
Often times I wonder about the purpose of this blog, and then I realize it's to save others from terrible embarrassment.  Yes, I can shoulder the weight of your shame because I am not afraid to take pictures of my sweaty butt crack.

When it comes to cycling, there are things that people buy or do that really don't make any sense.  The spark, whatever it may be, that sends you head over heals in love with the idea that you will abandon your automobile and ride off into the sunset in peak physical condition can soon be smothered by the myriad of tools and technical gear that you supposedly MUST have in order to enjoy riding with your new found love. 

But what if you don't want to wear a skin suit emblazoned with logos and ugly neon graphics?  What if you just want to be you?  You've got shorts, and a T-shirt, you've done your research and bought a fancy Brooks saddle that's not gonna hurt your butt (even if it does your not going to admit it).  Your not going to compete, so why dress like it?  Just say NO to the cycling shorts, right?

Well hold on there a minute pal!  You get mad when people don't tell you you've got something in your teeth?  They don't say anything when you've got a booger in your nose?  That's right, it takes a special friend to point this stuff out.  But the butt sweat thing, it kinda goes above and beyond the usual mouth booger.  So, after you've bought your brand new "custom" fixie, with the fancy deep v rims, and your mismatched tires and top tube pad, and your going to ride down and try and impress that hipster chick at the gold sprints in your jorts, who's going to tell you you've got a sweaty crack?  Well, maybe everyone will laugh at you and you'll play it off valiantly, because you're the life of the party, or maybe no one will say anything.  I don't know.  The important thing is that this kind of situation can be prevented.  So even if your butt doesn't hurt on that fancy saddle, you might want to consider getting something to absorb your secretions. It gets hot out there! Plus, you'll have the added bonus of having a nice soft layer between you and that saddle. 

A couple considerations for you.  If you're not afraid to pay some cash for a very high quality product, Rapha makes a pair of lightly padded boxer briefs that are tremendous.  Now I know that a lot of people are going to look at the price and scoff. They'll set you back $60 bucks.  Fine.  It's not for everyone. But I will say that you usually get what you pay for.  The Rapha undies are made with lots of merino wool, which has become my favorite material to be wearing while riding (more on that later). And although Rapha is known for being more expensive than just about everyone else, I've found that the wool boxers and base layers are competitively priced.  You can find some other merino options out there, but the price point is really not that different.

If you want to go on the cheap, check out something like REI's Novara padded cycling boxer briefs.  You can walk out with a pair of those for less than $30 bucks, and they have an excellent return policy, especially if you're a member.  Now, I will say I've tried the Novara padded briefs (not the boxers) and absolutely hated them.  They were extremely painful to wear, due to the seams digging into your skin. And even though I am a REI member, I couldn't bring myself to return a pair of used underwear.  I'm assuming that the boxer briefs would be better, but you know what they say about what happens when you assume? Long story short, $30 bucks wasted.

Something I haven't tried, but looks promising, are the Gore Bike Wear Base Layer Boxers.  Gore makes some really nice bike stuff, so I'd bet they would be a pretty good solution. 

I'm pretty surprised at the limited amount of options here, I'm sure I've missed some, please feel free to chime in if you have other solutions.  

As far as girls go, well, I've not made it that far yet, but there's a nice little conversation going on over at Velouria's blog "Lovely Bicycle" about just this very thing.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

...and so it begins.

Bike Lanes!  Spotted on Main St. near The Double-Wide
(almost got run over by a water truck taking this pic)

Dallas is finally getting it's bike lanes!  Just last night, on my way home from the studio, I noticed this brand new bike lane thingy (technical term).  I'm not sure exactly when they were put down, but I'm pretty sure it was while I was in the office working.  They're popping up all over the place, and hopefully, one day, you could start and finish your journey in a bike lane.  For now, you must settle for small stretches that pop up out of nowhere and then randomly end almost as soon as the've started. I'd like to suggest that we take a cue from Portland Oregon's street striping crew and get a little creative with the "Bike Guys" as they like to call them. 

But it's a start, and it does feel a little less dangerous to ride your bike when there's a big white shiny bike lane thingy on the road. Now, granted, they are shared lanes, which really just means, "Hey! Look out for bikes!" But what it means for us cyclists is something more than that.  It says we have the right to ride our bikes in the street.  It's been true all along.  It's the law.  In fact, it's illegal to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk.  But for some strange reason, a lot of people in Dallas are completely unaware of this.  Even friends and family will look at me like I'm a total idiot when I tell them I ride my bicycle on the streets. 

It is dangerous, no doubt.  But I'm really not sure that it's more dangerous than hurling down a four lane freeway at 75 mph in a 2000 pound metal can, surrounded by hundreds of other people of varying degrees of competence, doing exactly the same thing.  Even more scary, hurling down a two lane road in the middle of nowhere going any speed, separated by nothing but a 3 inch strip of paint from countless unidentified people doing the same thing, but in the opposite direction!  Seriously!  That's freaking scary! This, however, has proven to be a totally socially acceptable way to take your life into your own hands.  

Enough with the sermonizing!  Go ride your bike already!  It's better than spinning class or bobbing up and down on some bazillion dollar machine watching television.  It's mostly free (once you've got a bike).  It's a hell of a lot cheaper than driving!  And you'll feel better about yourself, and the city you live in.