Bike Shorts are a Girl’s Best Friend

A large bug hit me square in the face while I was cycling yesterday. This isn’t what my post is about, but I found myself so utterly taken aback by the experience, I had to write about it. That is all.

So the other day I did that thing that I’m always making fun of Super Fit people for doing: I went grocery shopping in my workout apparel. Even worse, I strutted aroundΒ  the health food aisles in my ‘ever-so-flattering-bike shorts’ and felt self-important. You know, the usual.

After I stopped laughing at myself about this, something occurred to me: I haven’t touched upon the subject of Bike “fashion” yet. (Astute readers will notice that I put fashion in quotation marks, because biking apparel is ridiculous, expensive, and did I mention ridiculous? But, to other cyclists you will seem super kewl!)

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The Bike Itself

Go on to any cycling forum and you’ll find what I refer to as “Bike Porn”. Literally pages and pages of pictures of road bikes. Road bikes leaning against a shed. Road bikes leaning against an apartment wall. Road bikes sending you ‘come-hither’ looks as they lean against a rack.

You know, really titillating stuff.

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The thing is cyclists love drooling over bikes. It’s almost as fun (and pretentious!) as riding your $10,000 roadie down the street. Seriously, sometimes I literally just stare at by bike leaning against the wall for a few minutes. This is a thing that I actually do.

Head-ware

Protecting one’s skull has never been sexier! I never realized how intricate helmets could get until I entered my local bike shop (LBS). Back in the olden days, when I rode my bike as a child, you just sort of grabbed a slab of plastic and crammed it on your head. And, that’s if you even wore a helmet at all.

Now they’ve got super-duper vents! Aerodynamic designs! Plastic cranks to adjust the fit!

Even weirder, is that–unlike in pretty much every other sphere of society–it’s actually COOL to wear a helmet. Mind-blowing, really.

Shirts, Jerseys, and Bibs, oh my!

Perhaps the most hilarious thing about cyclists is that we don’t seem to realize how ridiculous we look. Like at all. While normal homo sapiens people see a cacophony of bright colors, Cat Woman-esque spandex, and probably way more of our derrieres than they’d ever desire, we see pure fashion.

I mean, sure, technically the bright colors prevent us from becoming road kill and bike shorts keep our buttocks from permanently callousing, but let’s be real: It’s kind of fun to be so goofy and self-important at once. Do I really need to wear a professional cycling jersey and biker-gloves on my recovery ride? Probably not. But, then how would every one be able to gawk at me admire my sense of style?

Bottoms

Although I touched a bit on this already, bike shorts really do deserve their own section. First, in our defense, let me reiterate again, how awesomely effective they are. They’re super comfortable and help avoid chaffing in places that you never, ever want to chafe. Further, anyone who’s ridden on those skinny, hard bicycle saddles for more than ten milliseconds would be willing to throw her wallet at them. Trust me.

But….yeah, that’s about as much as I can defend these things.

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I mean, they’re essentially the equivalent of wearing Spanx or super-long boxer briefs out in public. Even more, the padding leaves this really ‘sexy’ diaper-like shape on your backside.

The Gear

(A cyclist’s response to whether he has purchased everything necessary to ride)

Cyclists are essentially scrawnier, tackier versions of Batman. They run around in uber-expensive, skin tight apparel, and yield flashy gadgets. And, sure, Batman saves lives or whatever, but does he get to wear cleats?

Seriously, it is a-mazing the amount of gadgetry you can amass in cycling. Considering that I am both a beginner and a quasi-broke graduate student, my arsenal is a bit thin. But, there is an endless series of gear you can buy. Bike computers, tool kits, overly complex watches and heart-rate monitors, hydration packs…the list goes on.

And, to top it all off, you get wear super-trendy shades. (No, really, wear shades, because bugs can and will hit you in the face).

So, the next time you see a cyclist’s rearend as he’s spinning down the road, remember: We only look ridiculous to 99 percent of the world. The rest of mankind thinks we look pretty snazzy πŸ˜‰

Much love,

Big Girl

No Pain, No Gain

So this isn’t actually a post about how I ran a half-marathon on a broken leg for orphans or something. It’s actually the opposite. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve rediscovered a simple(simplistic?) truth: The less pain I experience exercising, the more likely I am to keep doing it.

(See; see what I did there with the title?)

Accordingly, considering the massive amount of fitness ground I have to re-cover, I’ve decided to take things slowly. Really…really…sl…ow…ly.

Which is more than a little humbling, etc. But, I’ve fallen off of enough exercise program bandwagons to know that pushing myself too hard results in failure.

So today I finished aΒ crawl light jog on the treadmill in between cycling days and felt…well, great πŸ™‚ I was barely sweating, but still had that amazing, post-workout glow. Sure, I won’t burn a gazillion calories a week at this rate, but at least I’ll be able to keep it up.

As a side note, it also helped me appreciate why joggers like jogging. I mean, I guess if I were Super Fit, jogging would just be the this amazing, happy-go-lucky enterprise.

As I currently stand, I still have this view of jogging:

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But, ya know, I’m trying to appreciate it!)

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Confessions Part II: In which I Destroy a Ten Year Old Boy on the Basketball Court

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So a couple of weeks back, I had quite the encounter on the basketball court. I was heading back to the camp I ran this summer to finish cleaning up, when I ran into a little kid. Let’s just call him, Billy Bob.

After I removed the few remaining boxes from our main room, I saw Billy Bob playing ping pong with a friend. Billy Bob waved at me again and then said to his friend, “Timmy Tom”, “Hey, let’s play some ball.” I, being dressed in workout clothes–for that morning workout I never got to–and feeling pretty energetic said, “Hey, mind if I play?”

I’ll just pause for a moment here.

Thirty pounds ago, I would never have had the energy to have done this. But, now that I’m a bit lighter (and apparently crazier), I’m more willing to have fun like this. Plus, not to brag, but I was benched on my high school’s varsity basketball team years back. So, yeah.

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Billy Bob was cool about it, because we hung out a lot over the summer. Yet, when I reached the gym door, he stopped me and said, “I’m not losing to a girl.”

I immediately laughed it off. One, because, well, it was funny. Two, because Billy Bob is the sweetest kid ever, but he’s always trash talking, so I never really took what he said seriously.

Smiling, I said, “Haha, funny.”

But he didn’t budge. “No, I’m serious. I ain’t losing to a girl.”

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Now, I was a little less amused. Not annoyed yet, just unamused.

“You know it’s okay to lose a girl, right?”

“No, it’s not!”

I set my hand on my hips. “Why not?”

“Because….” He paused then, as if some deep, existential question was swirling in his mind, “Because, I ain’t losing to a girl.”

Being the child educator / quasi-feminist that I am, I tried to reason with Billy Bob for the next few minutes. I mentioned that it was 2013, not 1913. I mentioned that some girls were actually pretty athletic and that I actually had played some (really bad) basketball in the past.Β  I also mentioned that I happened to be 27 years old, while he was 10. None of these arguments seemed to get through to him.

All he kept saying was, “I ain’t losing to no girl.”

So, yeah, I wouldn’t say I’m exactly PROUD of what I did next, but:

In my defense, let me go on record by saying that in every other situation, I would have let a little kid and his twelve year old friend beat me at a game of 21. Honestly, I work with children for a living, and have thrown many a game of tic-tac-toe, arm wrestling, etc. BUT, at this point it was a matter of pride for my entire sex. Plus, I was hoping I might be able to teach the kid a life lesson: On the off chance that this kid would never otherwise get beaten by a girl, I wanted him to experience it first hand.

It was actually kind of hilarious. 1) I hate to admit this, but it was a little fun to completely dominate someone on the basketball court like that, because as an adult, you know, it’s usually mean to do that to children. I must have blocked about twenty of his shots, for instance.

2) I was playing out of my mind. Let me remind you, I was never great at basketball, so I’m pretty sure I played the best mediocre game of ball in my life.

To top it all off, I won the game on a three pointer!

I probably could count on my hand the number of three pointers I’ve made in my life; and I’m fairly certain the last one was before the turn of the century.

The moral(s) of the story?

A) I’m not above handing a pre-teen a smack down in the name of feminism.

B) Thank god I was actually in relative shape, because I would have felt pretty horrible if I let those boys–children or not–beat me after all that “Girl’s suck” nonsense.

C) I have questionable ethics πŸ˜‰

Well, I’m off to destroy more children’s dreams.

Much love,

Big Girl

“These are my CONFESSIONS!”

(If I’m gonna tell it, then I gotta tell it all

Damn near cried when I saw that scale tot-AL)

So, it’s time to come clean! After weighing myself after a 10 day vacation in the Virgin Islands (!!), I was confronted by some cold hard facts:

1) Island men are pretty, but I digress…

2) Not only have I not lost a single pound since taking on my summer job, but–after a week filled with red meat and mojitos–I managed to gain about 3 pounds.

3) I’m getting kind of out of shape. Not the same crying-desperate-tears-of-shame-at-the-top-of-the-second-flight-of-stairs out of shape I used to be, but still; I could be doing a lot better.

For instance, before I went on vacation, I went for two bike rides. And, man, it almost felt like I was riding for the first time again. Granted, my new path is much hillier and unpredictable than my old one, but there’s no excusing-away the serious huffing I was doing.

When it comes down to it, as proud of myself as I am for not going into a complete food-spiral, it’s time to put up or shut up. Ever since I met my birthday goal of 28 pounds on June 13th, I’ve pretty much been coasting.

And, while I’m really proud of myself for my new body, I know I have a LOT of work to do before I’m in good shape.

So, that being said, I have new goals (look forward to the new side-bar count down clocks!)

Goals

1) 29 by 29: (Creative, right! πŸ˜‰ ). So, I need to lose about 30 pounds to be at my overall goal weight. While, it will take work, I think that if I stick to cycling, other work outs, and my healthy eating goals, it should be doable. If I achieve this weight, I’ll be lighter than I’ve been since probably high school.

2) Size 10 by ’14: I’ve been sitting on the edge of a size twelve now for about a month. I’d like to be able to park my ‘junk in the trunk’ in them without popping off a button (true story!) by January.

3) Sign Up for a Race and actually do it!: So, I’ve been procrastinating about this cycling race thing for far too long. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about a real race, just one of those fun rides or charity races, etc.

So, yeah, there it is. I actually feel very optimistic about them, because I love setting goals. Now…actually reaching them….? We’ll see.

Much love,

Big Girl

P.S. I promise that blog about beating two pre-teens on the basketball court will come out soon πŸ˜‰ Prepare to be “impressed”.

“We’ve Come to the ENNND of the Road (Ride)”

(*Actual depiction of me crying to my bike after my first flat on Friday).

(**For those of you wondering if the endless onslaught of racing puns will ever end, I’ll answer with this:

“Why didn’t the bike cross the road? It was two-tired”

So, yeah, NO.)

The shop finally finished my bike the other day and, needless to say, I was thrilled!

I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to get something. And, I would have felt a little embarrassed about my raging, uncontainable euphoria enthusiasm if weren’t for the fact that I was out of my mind with happiness. To give myself some credit, I did calm down long enough to pretend to play hardball with shop. I was adamant that I would not pay for the bike until I test-rode it (I’d already ridden an older version previously). ‘Cause, you know, I’m so knowledgeable about bikes I would really be able to know if something were wrong.

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So after acting like I had any real bike sense, I took it for a ride, wet myself a little with joy felt satisfied with the final product and took that baby home.

This is where things began to go downhill. But I’ll postpone the bike drama in favor of basking in the glory of my purchase.

First, as promised in my last post, I wanted to take some time to compare the “tiny” differences between my new bike (Trek Lexa SL) and my old bike (won’t embarrass the company by sharing the name).

Here’s a simple chart to sum up the main differences:

But, in case, that’s still not straightforward enough, I’ll explain them in more detail πŸ˜‰

Frameset

Frame

  • Trek (Yet to be Named): 100 Series Alpaha Aluminum
  • Buffy: Amalgamation of old Pepsi cans and concrete.

Fork

  • Trek: Trek carbon road
  • Buffy: Spork molded out of solid lead

Drivetrain

Shifters

  • Trek: Shimano Tiagra STI, 10 speed
  • Buffy: -15 speed, with stem shifters.

Misc. Components

Saddle

  • Trek: Bontrager Affinity 1 WSD, steel rails
  • Buffy: Wooden seat covered with glass shards

Appearance

This section deserves it’s own mini-paragraph. Any woman who’s ever taken an interest in cycling can bemoan the dreadful–and, indeed, often, insulting–styles of women-specific bikes. I’m talking pink flowers and rainbows and unicorns. Or, perhaps even worse, if the company’s especially lazy, they’ll just take the super-cool looking male version of the bike and then strip it of all color/creativity and make a grey version. It drives me INSANE.

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For instance, here was the standard version of the bike I got (no offense to those who like these types of bikes):

Observe all the pretty, pretty flowers! Oh, yeah, and the wonderful white seat and handlebars, because, OF COURSE, those are the perfect parts of a bike to be white.

So, needless to say, I was jazzed to move up from Buffy, which basically looked like a pink and white toddler’s bicycle with drop-style handlebars, to my new bike. (The darn handlebar tape is still white though!)

Now on to the not-so-great news: Literally within five blocks of gliding blissfully on my new bike, I got a flat!

It actually took me about ten seconds to register this–I think I was in denial.

Surely, surely, I’m just cycling over a rough patch. Because, god knows this brand new bike I just spent all my money on doesn’t ALREADY have a flat!

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So, yes, after having ridden my old, crappy bike countless times with no flats or any problems, I only made it about two seconds into my new bike before the tire blew out. This totally makes sense. Totally.

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Sigh. Anyway, after overcoming my frustrations, I went back to the shop to get it repaired. On the plus side, everyone was super friendly and the mechanic even let me watch over him so I could get a tutorial on fixing a flat (something I should have probably known to do before anyway!)

This is post is already gigantic, so I’ll end here and give you all an update my more successful rides later πŸ™‚

Much love,

Big Girl

Next Up:

More Biking Misadventures

How Fitness Has Changed My Life AKA Beating Tween Boys on the Basketball Court and other Victories

Heeeeeeereeeeee’s Big Girl

(Gif may or may not accurately represent me after being rudely awakened in the morning!)

So, yeah….its been a while. I probably should have called. Or you know, at least texted.

The truth is, the last two months of my life have been hellacious. I took on this summer job which I thought would be the best thing ever. Yet, instead, I found myself saying…

The only bright spots I can take away from this stress-inducing summer are:

1) I survived:

In the words of Antwone Fisher in that Denzel movie, “I’m still here; I’m still standing!” ::cries emotionally whilst huddled in a corner::

2) I maintained my weight loss (-30 pounds). Of course, by now I was hoping to look like this:

But, I’m actually proud of myself for not letting this deeply draining and stressful period send me into a food spiral. (That’s been the pattern in the past). While, of course, I wish I’d spent more time on the bike–and blogging–it’s still progress.

3) And, most freakin’ importantly. I’m getting a new bike! So apparently WORKING does have it’s benefits, even if your job is a moderately decorated hell-hole! I saved up enough pennies money to buy an actual, legitimate road bike. (Well, legitimate for ME, not for those who are used to riding gold-encrusted, carbon helicopters πŸ˜‰ )). Those who read my blog back when, you know, I was actually still updating, are familiar with my not-so-subtle jabs at my bike’s suckiness. But, hey “Buffy” did the trick. It introduced me to cycling and got me into relative shape. Now, I’m excited toΒ waste my hard-earned cash buy this pretty thing:

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(Trek Lexa SL)

Sure, I may starve from poverty, but at least that should increase my race time!

I’ll post more later about the bike specs compared to Buffy (prepare the lols) as well as my first official ride on this beaut once it’s finished being built.

Much love to you all and sorry for the long hiatus!

Big Girl

P.S. Any name suggestions for the bike? I’m trying to avoid Buffy 2.0, but will go there if necessary!