SOUTH MAIN MUSE: Wear a helmet and don’t forget pepper spray
BY: Jamie Miles
Next weekend finds the BRAG Spring Tune-Up riding through Morgan. Most cyclists pride themselves in highly maintained bikes.
I’m just a high-maintenance cyclist.
I only ride on sunny days with temperatures above 70 degrees (factoring in wind chill) along vacant roads never rising above sea level.
But one thing takes away the pain of biking up sheer cliffs into hurricane force headwinds in sub-arctic conditions; or even unthinkably riding on cloudy days at 64 degrees: a buddy.
Maybe I could have avoided thousands of dollars in therapy trying to overcome exploding bike tire phobia by not riding headlong, lone ranger into a midlife triathlon crisis. Don’t make my mistake, reach out to a wildly colored bike enthusiast a bit farther along the midlife cycling ooping-out spectrum.
Take biking shorts. A mentor will counsel the benefits of wearing bike shorts until your body tolerates riding 50 miles perched on a football cleat. As for padding, shorts come in light flow day varieties all the way to Depends Overnight. Like a black, wicking pair of Spanx, bike pants often result in a smoother appearance for cellulite-riddled backsides. Now at times, a naughty roll of flabby skin breaks free. No worries, simply slap it back under till you get on bike.
Riding in groups helps with safety. Drivers see you and group rides lower the probability a roving band of dogs will devour you. However, don’t be the weakest link. Remember “National Geographic” and baby elephant playfully, lollygagging behind the pack.
Tired of a renegade group of dogs' bared teeth and bad breath, lone rider me decided to carry pepper spray. One day 5 miles into a 25-mile loop, ferocious canine friends barreled towards me. I aimed and fired. Cyclist Joe Cardwell said, “Uh oh. You ‘teetered’ into the wind.” As a female, his comment wouldn’t have made sense to me until I experienced hydrogen chloride blowing onto all exposed skin surface at 15 miles per hour. IDIOT. Reaching Madison 20 miles later, my skin felt as if I had fallen asleep on the beach for…283 hours.
Align with a cycling tribe. Join up with BRAG this weekend. On Monday nights, a group ride gathers in Bostwick at the Busenitz’s at 6 p.m. (soon to change to 6:30) now through the summer.
Biking with friends allows laughter, drafting when weak and aid fixing a blow-out (or at least negates waiting hours alone circled by hulking, crazed beasts on desolate country roads).
Community prevails over solitude. Bike shorts triumph flab. Pepper spray rules over…well, pepper spray just rules.
PRINTED IN THE APRIL 16, 2009 EDITION