Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bicycling Accoutrements....

Don't you just love the word "accoutrements"? It sounds a lot like the word Katydid uses to refer to the body part that hurts the most after a long-distance bicycle ride.

Disclaimer: I am a novice. I am not a professional, nor am I an expert. I am only reporting my own personal experiences with cycling.

Going for a bicycle ride involves much more than just jumping on one's bicycle and taking off, like it did when we were kids. How could we have BEEN so stupid?

Even for a short ride, there are many items to assemble, check, carry, and ultimately keep track of. Some of these are absolute necessities; others are extras.

First of all, obviously, you need a bicycle.

When I bought my bike in 2004, it was a reward to myself for having finished my doctorate. My only requirement was that it be yellow. It cost almost as much as my first car. And it wasn't even a used car.


Next is a helmet.

All of the organized rides require that riders wear helmets, and I never get on my bike without one. It isn't required that it match your bike, but it's a nice touch. Mine also shows support for the Lance Armstrong Foundaation.

Some kind of air pump is a necessity.


Mine is a mini-pump that (sort of) converts to a floor pump. It has a gauge on it so I can tell how much air I've put into my tires. Our road tires typically run about 100-120 psi. Last week when Katydid and I rode the tandem and I THOUGHT we had enough air (and I couldn't find the pump anyway), we actually had less than 40 psi. No wonder it was difficult.

Water bottles are another must.

I carry two on my bike. These are insulated, and theoretically they keep water cold longer. But it's always lukewarm before we get to the next rest stop anyway. It isn't required that they match either, but that's just the way we do things.


Sometimes on a really long ride, or when we might not have as many rest stops as we are used to, we use a Camelbak.

My friend Rozmo calls it a humpback, which is sort of what we look like when we're wearing them. They come in many sizes, and they also have small zippered compartments for carrying smaller things like cell phones, keys, money, etc. We usually have rest stops about every 10-12 miles, but today the stops were at 17 and 40 miles, so the humpback was a good idea. Plus it felt good in the heat, keeping my back cool.

It has a valve on the end, and all I have to do is bite on it to get the water to flow. It is not only more convenient, but it's safer, since I don't have to reach down for a water bottle while I'm riding.


Gloves are always a good idea. They keep my sweaty hands from slipping on the handlebars, and they are padded to relieve pressure on the nerves.


Theoretically, they also prevent blisters.

Like this one. I don't know what is up with this. It's the first time in 18 years of cycling that I've had a blister on my palm, particularly while wearing padded gloves. Expensive ones at that.

A rear view mirror is another safety item.


This one straps to my handlebars. Some people have the kind that clip onto their helmets or eyeglasses. Whenever I hear a car behind me, I verify it by looking in my mirror, and then I get as far over to the right as I can. I should ride there all the time, but there is a lot of debris on the edges of the road. Plus, if the shoulder hasn't been mowed recently, those weeds HURT when they slap my legs.

Sunscreen is an absolute must.

I find that I am more apt to use it if it's hanging on my seat where I can get to it easily at rest stops.

I can carry some things in my jersey pocket, but I don't like for things like my cell phone to get all sweaty. So I put them in my Bento box.

My route map is there too, folded up next to my phone. It's not optimal in rainy situations, since it has a mesh cover, but it is very handy for those smaller items. That dog tag looking thing you see is my Road ID. It has information on it about whom to call if someone finds me splattered on the side of the road. Cheery thought, isn't it?

I also have a seat bag that hangs down under my seat.


Here I carry a spare tube, because other riders sort of frown upon me if I ask them to stop and help me fix a flat AND I expect them to produce the tube. I also stash extra snacks here, and sometimes my camera.

A bike computer might seem like a luxury to some people, but it's an absolute necessity.


Because if you can't tell your exact milage (down to the hundredth), your average, your maximum speed, and your overall time, it's like the ride never happened.

The GPS on my bike probably belongs in the luxury category.


It gives me some of the same information as my bike computer, but I can download the information to a website (and my computer) and get graphs, maps, etc. of the route I took.

And of course no bike ride would be complete without those oh-so-attractive bicycling clothes.

Spandex shorts (padded).


A colorful jersey, often identifying another bike ride I've done. Bright colors are best. This one is one of my favorites, because it matches my bike. And helmet. And water bottles.

A sports bra. Please forgive me for the ugly bedspread I put this on to take a picture of it.

A bandana is very handy. When I get to a rest stop, I usually tie mine around my head to keep the sweat from dripping in my eyes. And to keep my hair from frightening any small children who may be nearby. On really, really hot days, I wet the bandana in cold water and tie it around my neck. The air movement when I start riding again creates a very nice cooling sensation. Then I tie it on my handlebars, and the blazing speed at which I ride helps it dry out for the next time. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Some sort of cycling shoes are required.


I prefer sandals, not only because it eliminates the stress of having to find cute socks that match every cycling outfit, but they allow my pedicure and my toe ring to show. Oh, and they keep my feet much cooler and don't smush my toes.

Special cycling shoes are necessary because of the pedals that many of us have on our bikes. You can't just wear everyday sneakers, because the pedals aren't big enough.


They have cleats on the bottoms that snap into the pedals, keeping our feet attached to the pedals. It comes in handy on really long rides, because then I can pull up with a pedal in addition to pushing down.

Sometimes we call them suicide shoes. They require that I unclip my feet from the pedals before stopping. They aren't as dangerous as they sound, although every one of us has some story about not getting unclipped in time and falling over like that dude on Laugh In used to do on the tricycle.


And lastly, maybe the most important thing a cyclist needs for long-distance rides is sleep, which I'm not getting enough of this weekend.

I hope you're feeling more informed about the requirements of cycling. Now is it any wonder that I don't do any more riding than I do?

1 comment:

Lynn Rambo said...

You know - you're worse than my brother with his facebook photo album of "bike porn" ;-D