Bicycling Essentials #1 — Bike Shorts

I used to think bike shorts just made you look cool, and weren’t necessary for anything other than enhancing the aerodynamic-ness in competitive cycling.  That is completely wrong!

Bike shorts are mandatory if you are going to be riding a bicycle for any length of time longer about 5 minutes a day.  Why, you might ask?  Well, remember in high school anatomy when you looked at the human skeleton, and mused over the usefulness of a tailbone?  I am still wondering what the use is, and haven’t figured it out; however I have figured out what happens when you put 250+ pounds on your tailbone!  The next week after your first 5 or 10 mile ride, you walk around all day like John Wayne, having to carry around a doughnut pillow to work in shame.  I am serious folks, bike shorts are an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY!

But which bike shorts to pick?  Because they range in price between $20-100+, it is sometimes hard to pick out the exact ones you need without spending too much money.  My first pair of bike shorts two years ago was in the lower range, I think about $30-35.  They were functional, had a thin pad, and were useful on rides up to 5 miles without a great deal of pain.  The first time I used them on a 15 mile ride, I was sore for about 2 days.  If you are truly using a bicycle as a recreational activity, once a week or month for a shorter distance, these should work ok.

For the caliber of training Anna and I are trying to perform, with a daily requirement of at least 10 miles, we had to kick up our bike short choice up a notch.  TJ and the guys at Sun & Ski suggested that we use the Canari Elite Gel Cycling Shorts ($59.99).

When I first put the shorts on, I noticed that the pad was indeed very large and marshmallow-like.  I was a little apprehensive because I thought maybe the pad was TOO large (again, I was used to a thin layer of padding).  When I was driving my car to Memorial Park, I constantly noticed the pad between my legs. Anna and I were commenting to each other beforehand “I just don’t know about these shorts”.

It’s been over 3 months since I’ve touched a bike, and as such, I usually ride about 5-7 miles just to get my pelvis acclimated to the bicycle.  The next day, with my old bike shorts, I used to be sore for at least a day.

This time, it was different.  Anna and I rode 10 miles on an unfamiliar bike, and the super pad worked!  I was not sore immediately afterward, nor am I sore the day after!  While I am not a fan of lounging around in these shorts due to the awkwardness of the large pad, the extra amount of money spent on bike shorts, if used on any ride longer than 5 or 10 minutes at a time, is defintely worth it!  Go Canari!

Bicycling Essentials — Introduction

Yesterday evening, Anna and I rode at Memorial Park for about an hour, testing out our new bikes.  I’ll post the video later today or tomorrow so y’all can see our initial nervousness about getting out of our confort zone to ride the new MS 150 bicycles.

This is a first of a series of blogs entitled “Bicycling Essentials”, which will share tips, advice, and stories on the bicycling sport to amateur and aspiring bicyclists.  For intermediate or advanced cyclists, this will not be rocket science.

While I am fairly new to cycling as a sport, I think it’s important to share the “what you REALLY need to succeed” products.  I remember buying my first bike, the sales person suggested all of these bells and whistles in addition to the investment in the bicycle itself.  As any good consumer tries to do, I went in with the explicit intention to only buy the bike and nothing else.  As an intermediate or advanced cyclist might tell you, this really isn’t the mindset needed for a purchasing a bicycle.  After a few days, one of two things happens: 1) those customers usually burn out on cycling because they don’t have the accessories required to truly enjoy cycling, and their bikes sit in the garage for years to come; or 2) the customers have a bad cycling experience with the bike and come back to buy any and every accessory possible.  I was customer #2.

So, in the coming weeks, I’ll examine the necessities and accessories Anna and I are using in training for the MS 150, giving honest appraisals of usefulness, as well as skill level required to see benefit in any of the products we use.

I think it is extremely important for all Sun and Ski customers to be as educated as possible about the sport of cycling.  Fairly green in the sport myself, I think it will be a fun adventure that we can all embark upon, learning and sharing experiences at the same time.

Please save the dates of January 23-24th to attend Bike U at Sun & Ski, which is a catalog of free topical courses covering everything from beginner safety rules to advanced topics.  But more on Bike U on a later blog….

Wayne’s Bio – Sun & Ski Sports Cycling Slim Down

I graduated from Cypress Creek High School in 1996 with the explicit intention to wear a suit and tie every day of my life and make millions of dollars (like my idol at the time, Bill Gates) complete with a Hiram of Playboy Bunnies, by the time I was 30. I set off to earn a Bachelor of Business degree in Management Information Systems at the University of Texas in Austin. I had the time of my life! I was a Resident Assistant at a dormitory (of course I was the “Cool” RA), and a member of the top ranked UT Speech and Debate Team. I know that sounds nerdy, but it taught me to think on my feet and make stuff up to future bosses to make myself look good.

I am from a close-knit Catholic family, which has always been very important to me. I have two loving parents, who have been married for over 38 years! My two older brothers combined were my all-power nemesis growing up, but now they are some of my best friends. My mom, regardless of where she worked, always made sure she was home by 6 to cook dinner. I used to remember when eating out was a treat, and eating in was boring. Now, I wish things were reversed in my life, as a home-cooked meal is hard to come by. Dad taught me good old fashioned values, both personal and financial. “Gas”, he said “will never be above one dollar. If it is, I’ll just walk!” As of now, dad drives a truck.

My hobbies include going to Best Buy every 3 months to figure out what new useless gadgets are on the market, surfing the internet, and card and board games. I am usually unable to find anyone who would prefer games over a movie or bar-hopping, but when I do, I have a blast playing. I tried amateur stand-up comedy a few times, and even got booed the first time I ever attempted it. That didn’t stop me, though. I continue to write new material for performances about once a year. I have friends all over the country, and enjoy meeting up whenever possible. It’s funny, because the closest friends I have are the ones I see 3 times a year, but are the ones I can most easily start a conversation with.

I currently work for Waste Management in Downtown Houston in the IT Department as a Systems Deployment Coordinator.., but don’t ask me about exactly what my job title means… I think its random words put together to form a glorified title to make me feel better about myself to justify paying me less. No, I’m kidding. Unlike most people my age, I have been at the same company for almost 7 years, and every day is a new challenge and adventure. Almost everyone I work with is my friend, inside and outside of work. It’s a great work environment fit for me.

I met Anna 6 years ago through a mutual friend. We became close about 2 years ago, when she said we needed to be more active. I purchased a Haro bike from Sun and Ski Sports and began riding immediately. My first time out at Memorial Park, we rode 10 miles. And I felt that 10 miles in my groin for the next week. I always thought the bikers wore bike shorts because it made them look cool, not because they were padded. Boy was I wrong! I went back to Sun and Ski, purchased bike shorts and a Camel Pack, and I was good to go. Anna and I rode in about 5 bicycle rallies that Spring, and continued to do so the year after. Unfortunately, we never exercised outside of the Saturdays for those rallies, and never rode in enough rallies to lose a significant amount of weight.

This year, when I turned 30, I took stock of my life, decided it was good, and wanted to continue living life. I don’t want potential health ailments relating to obesity to take my life away from me. With Anna as my work out partner, I look forward to conquering my weight demons and living a healthy, active lifestyle. We have decided that we will do whatever it takes to ride in the MS 150. It’s a remarkable cause for charity. Every mile pedaled equals not only a healthier heartbeat, but valuable dollars to research the cure for Multiple Sclerosis.

I became aware of the disease from a friend’s daughter, who was diagnosed with MS 4 years ago at the age of 19. Steph lives a healthy lifestyle, is a good person, and still she has the random disease of MS. She began riding in the MS 150 3 years ago, and is a true champion for the cause. Steph does everything she can with medication, exercise, and diet to fight the effects on a daily basis. Her resilience is, and will always be, an inspiration to me. I hope that, with the help of Sun and Ski, I can both lose weight as well as raise money for a great organization to help the hundreds of thousands of Americans living with MS.

As you can tell from my biography, I have always wanted big things in life, just not a big waist. I didn’t get that million dollars, nor am I followed around by “hot chicks”, but I would not change a minute of my life. I am, after all, funny and fat. But I really want to be fit!