Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bike Drag

'Kayso...Picture This:

A store full of racks of silky, shimmery, slimming and eye catching, airy tops, padded slinky form fitting bottoms that hug and streamline every nook and cranny...matching shoes and accessories, head wear and designer sunglasses from every corner of Europe.

A guaranteed credit card workout shopping trip every time you step foot in the place and where is this place you ask?

Perhaps an upscale boutique patronized by Paris and the Olsen twins or an expensive playground for the likes of RuPaul or Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?

No, not quite - actually couldn't be further from that kind of wonderland, so wipe the drool off your lips and put your quivering AMEX Blue or Platinum whatever card away is just a typical cycling store full of cycling drag.  Yes - pure and simple - it is cycling drag, thousands of square feet of everything under one roof to look as authentic as Lance Armstrong at the start of Le Tour de France even if you have not a clue about how to ride a bike.

The Tour de France, incidentally, kicks off tomorrow at 4:00 PM Rotterdam time in case you are interested in seeing a professional drag race (^_^).

Anyhoo - I have been in this store about three times to date and I am still dazed and amazed at how much stuff there is to buy in this store - and I haven't a single clue what most of it is or what it does! 
Luckily, there is a lot of sales help stationed throughout the store.
Like I said, there are SO MANY accessories and such in cycling so I will just cover the basics that I felt were necessary for me to do this ride.  To be honest, the basic necessities for cycling are just you, a bike and a helmet to protect your noggin. You don't need fancy-schmancy biking gear to ride a bike. Of course, the gear is nice to have, but that can come later. Just get on a bike and go – unless you’re me.  I want a couple of the other bits too, so here is what I picked up prior to my first actual ride:

1.      Helmet.  Very important and I am not crazy about them, but it is the law so I got a Giro Indicator Sport in black.  A highly rated, decently priced all-around nice helmet.

2.      Bike shorts, padded.  Also very important from what the nice bike geek tells me – is a padded bike short.  It seems that without a good padded bike short to wick away moisture and pad ones nether bones and area cycling may not be a very pleasant pastime.  From the nicer, more helpful bike geek:  " seems that how well a bike short fits is determined by a person’s anatomy, their riding style and the type and set up of the bike saddle used. Just as there are no two individuals the same, neither are there two butts that perfectly fit the same chamois. Chamois is what they call the padded panel in the bike short.  What is comfortable for one person may not be for another and that said, bike geek suggested that I consider these key elements to determine whether a short will be comfortable or not...":
·  Number of panels. Cheaper "touring" shorts tend to have 2-4 panels whilst more expensive "sports" shorts will generally have between 4 and 8 panels. A greater number of panels are supposed to offer a better fit but with modern stretchy fabrics, the need for extra flexibility through additional panels is supposedly largely negated.
·  Fabric weight. Most biking shorts are made of a spandex material weighing between 6 and 8 ounces. The heavier the fabric, the greater the cost but lighter fabrics may be more comfortable.
·  Chamois design. A good chamois insert should be micro-bacterially treated and provide enough padding for comfort without feeling like the rider is wearing a diaper. Some inserts are an integral part of the short whilst others have seams of their own which may themselves cause chafing.
I tried on three different pairs of shorts in different styles and price range and settled upon the Pearl Izumi  Select, another medium range item.
A  padded gel bike seat is also recommended, but more on that topic in another post.

3.      Bike gloves – fingerless with gel and synthetic over real leather.  Simply, bike gloves absorb vibration, keep your fingers warm and a host of other benefits can be found here:

5.       I also wanted a bike jersey.  It supposedly helps keep you dry and regulate body temperature while riding and make you a bit more visible.  I think it makes you look great – so my main reason was for the look of it as opposed to other concerns.  Indeed, Ed suggested that I get the bright yellow jersey but it just was not a good color on me.  Being Japanese, the clash between the different shaded of yellow jersey and yellow Asian skin make for a sickly looking cyclist.  I settled for a much more attractive red, white and black trimmed jersey from Gore.  I liked it AND black and red were my high school colors - Go Lincoln High Links!!

6.        Finally, I needed to get some eye protection and shade so I picked up the best fitting (and best looking) sunglasses I could find.  The Oakley Flak Jacket in black with black iridium lenses.  They fit great and I didn’t even need the special Oakley ‘Asian Fit’ made for the flat planes of the Asian face…
So now with all my latest bike drag – I am FINALLY READY TO RIDE!!!  

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