With our 5-day (550km) tandem touring trip looming, M. and I have been getting ourselves prepared. (I wonder why I can’t concentrate on TAFE work…I should just ditch all ideas of study or work, and be a full time family holiday and tour coordinator. )
We’ve decided on a route and I’ve booked, so far, 3 out of the 4 night’s accommodation. My dream bike touring getaway would be to be totally spontaneous, but when you’ve got a time frame to work within, and it’s school holidays, then it’s best to be a bit organised. Also, being mid-winter, (albeit NSW, Australia-style) I don’t fancy trundling around in the late afternoon as the temperature plummets looking for a place to stay.
We also threw our ambit claim of 4 nights babysitting at the grandparents, and, I think, managed to persuade them that the girls were old enough to entertain themselves (by catching a train to go shopping) at least one or two days. Phew.
The biggest preparation has involved getting set up for as-light-as-possible luggage. We haven’t done a multi-day tandem ride carrying all our own gear before. We already had two bike panniers, (aka saddlebags) but M. has bought us new front panniers (and racks).
And then of course, there’s the clothing, because you need to be able to stay dry and warm, but you don’t want to be weighed down excessively. On and off bike wear to be considered, with winter temps and the possibility of precipitation dictating a few new purchases – like shoe covers, waterproof bike pants, long fingered bike gloves (me – I didn’t have any), and other bits and pieces, as well as lightweight travel pants to be worn at night (to be worn with our polypropolene thermal underwear!)
I would say that, between us, we’ve bought more cycling clothing in the past few years than other new clothes – probably gives you an insight into the shabby state of our normal wardrobe. I love new bike gear – it cheers me up in the same way more normal women feel about ‘shopping therapy’- but shopping for it still doesn’t come without angst – for me at any rate.
You know the feeling of dread you get when you try on a new swimming costume/bathing suit? (OK, so not all women will feel it, but many will identify.) Well, that’s how it is with cycling clobber, unless you’re trim, taut and athletically terrific.
I might give off the air of athleticism (and body to match) when I spruik about our bike rides, but sadly I don’t have the figure to match. Something about cycling long distances, and then stuffing my face full of “energy” to replace that which I’ve outlayed. (You do the maths… especially taking into account the warped logic that has me continuing to eat ‘whatever’ for the next few days, without burning up the calories at the same rate.) And a cycling posture doesn’t exactly work the abs…
Imagine ‘jelly belly’ if you must – you’d be on the right track.
Trying to haul on close fitting lycra in a cycling shop fitting room is an ordeal destined to bring on a bout of depression. Trying to avoid that by online shopping doesn’t help, because the size charts mock me from the computer screen as I disbelievingly circumnavigate my waist and hips with a tape measure, and compare. And ask – if I’m an L in unisex, or WL or WXL, then heaven help women who are larger than me who want to get into cycling for fitness and weight loss.
Why put myself through this? – you might ask. Why wear the lycra? It’s not to look like a wanker – as many non-cyclists might think. It’s actually functional, and more comfortable when you’re riding. True story! I just wonder if they downsize women’s cycling clothing, in particular, as a disincentive to fat bottomed girls who might dare to ride bicycles – however beautiful Queen might have them. (No wonder the girl on the record cover is barely dressed! They didn’t make bike nix in her size!)
Even trying on not-so-close fitting lightweight travel pants in a shop last weekend left me down and despondent. I found something comfortable – recommended by the shop assistant (who was wearing a pair at least 3 sizes smaller than fitted me). It was the least unflattering of several that I tried on – but I opted to wait and scour the internet when I got home for a darker colour in the hope that it would have a slightly better slimming effect than the light beige in the shop. (There went one afternoon last week – but at least I found some.)
But throw in a currently trim AND fit husband shopping for the same type of stuff, and it’s just about wrist slitting time. I’m trying not to reach for the chocolate for consolation.
All that said, I love it when we ride. We went out this morning, and did 60-odd km with some other riders, and didn’t do it tough at all. OK, burnie quads on a couple of climbs, but fitness factor was ok. (Could have done with a Nana Nap this arvo, but I’ll put that down to getting up at 6am.) We should fit in a few more rides before we set off (from Sydney) on the 14th July.
And hopefully I’ll solve my remaining clothing/gear issues before then, and maybe even manage to drop a couple of kilos by the end of our ride, if not before. But given the appetite that I get when I do ride (and for hours afterwards), and the comfort eating when I get down about trying on clothes, I’m not sure how I’ll go.