Adventures in Cycling IV: What to Wear for Longer Distances

So, last weekend I covered what to wear when you’re riding your bike around town, which is how I started. But as I fell in love with cycling, I started biking for longer distances and times, just for the fun of it or to reach further and further places. With the longer distances, my regular clothes were no longer quite so comfortable.

To begin with, I can’t say how much I love my padded bike shorts. Yes, they’re skin-tight. Yes, they make me feel like I’m wearing a diaper. And yes, they certainly make me look like I’m wearing said diaper. But they are so comfortable and my rear says “thank you” every time I wear them. I found a nice pair on the half off rack at the fancy bike shop for $25. I found a second pair at the discount sports store for the same price, and while they’re not quite as squishy, they’re more than adequate for rides of an hour or so.

I know some cyclists wear the fancy tops with pockets on the back for gu-packs or whatever else they want to carry, but I’m not that hard core and more than a little poor. Whatever I need usually gets thrown in a bag that rides in my basket and I wear my more all purpose technical athletic shirts. Under that, I go with a relatively supportive sports bra. Generally cycling is low impact, but I’m well endowed and bumpy stretches of road can get a little uncomfortable.

Since I don’t have clip-in pedals, I just wear lightweight athletic shoes. I found that wearing my running shoes actually is uncomfortable and can make my feet go numb on a long enough ride. But, my usual cycling buddy has never had that problem, so that’s probably just me. Most times I wear my Vibrams, which make me look like a dork, but they’re comfy, I don’t mind.

Less important on the what to wear check less, but something I always use, is sunglasses. Squinting is not fun, and leaves a girl (or guy) with wrinkles. Plus, they keep your eyes from watering from the self-generated breeze. And, what I consider most important, they protect you from the oh so comfortable bugs flying into your eyes. Ick. Mine were $20 from the clearance rack at the cycling store, but any athletic-y pair will do you.

I also invested in a $20 pair of fingerless cycling gloves. The weather only has to be a little cool for my hands to be freezing, but full gloves are too much while riding. Plus they’re padded at the pressure points, which keeps my wrists from hurting, and wick away the sweat so my hands don’t get too gross from the handlebars. Now I wear them for any ride over 30 minutes.

Finally, and I know I’ve said it before, a helmet. Anytime I’m deliberately riding fast, or along busy roads, or out on country highways, a helmet is a must. I think mine was $50, but it’s a few years old, so don’t quote me on that. The key part is to replacing it after any crash or fall.

Next week, basic bike tools: because if I can maintain a bike, anybody can.


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