Saturday, April 14, 2012

Trappings of the Trade

Well, our ride is cancelled today. We're supposed to be getting awful weather, so that's why - but so far it does seem terribly pleasant, at least here in the city (which means nothing in the suburbs, of course) I am very glad it's canceled because that saved me from having to ditch training. Why? Because my calf, it hurts. Like a really, really, really super sore muscle that hasn't gotten any less sore for 3 days now. So I am icing it, nothing to worry about yet, but I'm glad I didn't miss a training since there is no training to miss. 

Instead, I just hobbled around the apartment for a few minutes taking pictures of things that - well, things that I'd barely/never heard of before but in the last couple of months have come to litter every corner of my living space. Let us take a look at these things that have entered my life, shall we?

First up, my most recent purchase, Tiger Balm:

(Note that I still can't find my good camera and I'm a crap photographer in any case, so you're looking at images from my horrendous-quality cell phone. Fun!) 

My coworkers insisted I'd love some liniment on an extra-sore muscle. The great Sarah Oaks had given me a little packet of Bio-Freeze over a year ago when she was cleaning out her desk, so I rubbed some of that on. It felt icy without the hassle of trying to deal with an ice bag on the back of my calf at work, so that was convenient enough for me to head to the pharmacy and buy Elspeth's favorite: Tiger Balm. And I have to say: meh. The BioFreeze got colder/tinglier, and the whole sensation (from either product) feels nice enough, but it is so obviously not doing a damn thing. The muscle doesn't feel any more relaxed or soothed or less sore or anything. Waste of money, at least for me.

Also tingly, though not a waste of money is this here chafing cream:


It's called Brave Soldier Friction Zone. It works. See, people who cycle face the same unpleasant issue as people who do a lot of running: we chafe. In the case of cycling, there is a whole pelvic-area-in-contact-with-seat issue to be dealt with. I got this because the reviews said it lasts a lonnnnnnnnng time (other brands have to be applied more often) and so far that part is right. I like it, and the way it smells. However, it is very very tingly on my girl bits when it is first applied and that is just not something I want to deal with at 6am before a long ride, you know? Nothing I read about it mentions the tinglies, but it is mostly men who use it. But men have sensitive parts down there too, so what gives? 

Anyway, it works very well but when this tube runs out I think I'll look for something girl-specific.

Moving on!

I broke down and got a CamelBak:

It's nice and small and streamlined. It holds 50 oz and has extra little pockets and my favorite thing about it is that this exact model was on clearance for $33 and I got the last one. Hurray! I have not yet used it on the bike, but I did fill it up and walk around the apartment with it for a while, and I am pleasantly surprised at how barely-noticeable it is. It'snot at all heavy. This is good, because I really have to get on this hydration issue - I've finally realized that I need far more water than I (or anyone else would) ever think I need. Like, I already drink a lot of water throughout a day when not exercising, so I figured I should be drinking like twice as much as normal. But no - I think it's more like twice that. So 4 times what is normal for me - and what's normal for me is already way more than what most people drink. That's a whole hell of a lot of water.

Anyway. Water is the key for me, I think, so here's hoping the backpack o'water fixes things. We are also constantly being told to replace our electrolytes so I got some of this:

Nuun is very popular because it's not very sweet, has few calories, and is insanely portable - this tube is smaller than your average salt shaker and has 12 effervescing tablets. Each tablet turns 16 oz of water into a sports drink. It's brilliant in theory, but in practice it's yuck. So far, anyway. The Strawberry-Lemonade flavor is gross. I suppose I can try to find a flavor I like, but the lack of Nuun sample-packs in the wild make it rather cost-prohibitive.

Along the same lines, this week has been my self-declared Nutrition Experimentation week. Hence this pile of stuff:
This is what's left of my original, somewhat larger stash. All of these things are specifically for consuming while exercising for hours and hours, and here are my brief impressions of everything I've tried this week:
Clif Bar, crunchy peanut butter flavor: Pretty tasty, actually
Gu Energy Gel, peanut butter flavor: Haven't tried it yet
Honey Stinger Energy Gel, "Gold"Flavored (not pictured): Had this before spin class Wednesday night. I figured that since I'd just spent 45 minutes commuting by bike and was just about to get on the spin bike for an hour, it all counted as close-enough to intense prolonged exercise, for experimentation purposes. It is very very sweet, like thick honey-water, but doesn't taste bad, flavor-wise. It's just sickly-sweet, which I don't like. I also don't know that it did much of anything for me.
Gatorade "G Series" Prime chew-thing: I had one of these months ago and it was dry and bland but absurdly filling, like it expanded in my stomach to insane proportions. I think that it would come in handy if I skimp on breakfast - I could just make myself eat one of these, if I had no other option.
PowerBar Energy Chews, raspberry (not pictured): Delicious! But basically just candy. Gummy candy filled with jelly-like gel, and actually kinda made my teeth ache. But tasty as all get-out.
Honey Stinger Energy Chews, pomegranate passion and orange blossom flavors: HOLY CRAP SO YUMMY DELICIOUS. They are like Dots, but with about 100 times the flavor. And such a gooooood flavor. They are a joy to eat. But - and here it comes - they are basically just candy.
Honey Stinger Waffle, vanilla and honey flavors (not pictured): Also just DEEEEEEEELICIOUS, especially the vanilla. But also, basically, just candy. Or candy-cookie, anyway, as they are based on the brilliant stroopwafel.
My honest-to-goodness problem with all of this sports-specific nutrition stuff is: why can't I just eat real food? (Answer: I CAN, DAMMIT, AND I WILL.) Take the Honey Stinger Chews, for example - and I'm only picking on them because they're right here in front of me. They have very little potassium (40mg per 10-piece serving) or sodium (80mg), so why wouldn't I just eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich? I don't like sweet stuff when I'm really exercising hard, so I think some salty nuts and a handful of dried apricots and some of my oatmeal-and-dark-raisinette cookies will take care of the need for carbs, calories, and electrolytes. And they'll do it more enjoyably and far more cheaply than $2 for a pack of 10 gummy candies, for godsakes.

And last but far from least are my new shoes:

They are Chromes, and they are bad-ass mamajammas. They are totally hipster,  I know, but I don't care. (I hope hipsters on fixies see my fat middle-aged behind on a cheap hybrid wearing their beloved cool shoes and their heads explode. MWHAHAHA.) They're designed to wear on a bike - the canvas is indestructibly tough, the rubber is thick and grippy, and the soles are stiff like a brick wall. They even have this little elastic loop to hold the laces so they don't get tangled in the chain/crank, and the insoles are removable so I can wear my orthotics and I just love the red soles.

Anyway, yes - this means that I've kind of officially given up on clipless pedals. Even when I manage to clip in and go, being attached to the bike freaks me out. The coaches always tell me that cycling is 90% mental, so here is the psychological truth of it: being clipped in makes me go slower because it makes me insanely nervous. I cannot get out of my head when I am attached to the bike, so I give the hell up. I will wear stiff-soled shoes on normal flat pedals and I will work on the proper pedal stroke. (Which means you're supposed to move your feet as though you're scraping mud off your soles every time you pedal, see.) This is so much less stressful for me. And I like the shoes, so it's a win-win.

Also, so long as I'm busily appalling Serious Cyclists(tm), I'll show you my latest project:

These will be my legwarmers! They are a purple-wine-like color and thick ribbed wool. I'm making them up as I go, but a legwarmer is basically just a tube that gets larger as it goes up, so I can't mess up TOO badly. See, legwarmers work better than pants because what if I'm in Tahoe and it's cold in the morning but then I want to strip off a layer in the warm afternoon? What would I do with pants? But legwarmers are small enough to roll up and put in a pocket. Plus, I just want some good legwarmers. Like, for life. In the winter.

Note that Serious Cyclists(tm) wear legwarmers that look more like this:
So that's what makes my retro Flashdance-looking homemade legwarmers so appalling and so TOTALLY AWESOME. I can't tell you how I constantly feel, over and over again, every day, how I am Not One Of These People. Not that there's anything wrong with them, at all, and they love their hobby and just like how I can get totally geeky and picky when discussing, like, knitting needles (only Addi is allowed in metal, and wood are generally better but bamboo can sometimes be shoddy though bendy and I want to try those ones made of casein and blah blah BORING TECHNICAL TALK). It's just that I am here and doing it for charity and for fun and because I want to. Not because it's My Thing.

So one of these is not like the other ones. That one is me. And I have decided to embrace it. I shall proudly eat real food! I shall proudly wear normal shoes! And I shall proudly model my homemade legwarmers!

I'm good with that.

So there's an overview of Products I Have Explored. I also think I need a new helmet - I dropped mine. Not dropped hard, but still - combine the drop along with the fact that it's already 2-3 years old and it should go. (I will still get a non-aerodynamic Bern, though, because I like it, so there.)

Oh and just as a PS, here are another pair of bike-ish shoes I got. Skate shoes also have the sole stiffness for mucho pedaling. These are not quite stiff enough, but I kept them because they have the removable insoles and they are so cute and comfy and summer-casual and they're on sale. So I thought I'd pass it along in case you're in the market for a cute pair of shoes.


Anonymous said...

what? No Anti-Monkey Butt in your blog? This is the BEST thing for chaffing!

I use it all the time when hiking and on camp-outs!

Anonymous said...

Anti-Monkey Butt comes courtesy of your brother Dan, by the way...

Luv ya!

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