We went for our first long bike ride over the weekend, and I wore what I usually wear for 10+ mile rides, but I thought I’d share with the group in case anybody else is interested in getting into long rides. The annoying thing about bike gear is it can be kind of pricey, but the great thing about it is that you don’t have to buy much of it – one pair of bike shorts and one jersey will generally suit you, unless you bike long distances daily.
First up, bike shorts. Mine are by Bellwether, but I think if I was getting a new pair, I would go with these from Lululemon, since I love a wide waistband. I think that bike shorts are a must for long rides, but then again, I’ve never done one without them. I have done them in tri shorts and that’s generally okay too. As long as they are spandex and have the rubber bits that keep them from riding up, you’ll be okay. Don’t wear regular shorts or pants for a long ride – you will probably chafe at some point. If you have large thighs, suck it up and buy bike shorts. They prevent chafing and keep your inner thighs from hitting the seats. If you are going to go with regular pants, at least go with a yoga or workout pant that has a gusset at the crotch instead of a seam.
Secondly, to deal with the fact that otherwise you are wearing bike shorts in public, I like to sport a dress that covers the bike shorts. I have one that is similar to this one from Athleta. The only problem is that bike shorts tend to be tight, and therefore there is a bit of lumpy-squishiness going on in the dress, but it’s not too bad – just keep it in mind when ordering and get a dark color, not the white.
The only thing I will say is that in my dress, I sunburned quite badly since I was more exposed (mine has spaghetti straps). I’ve also had success wearing a running skirt over my bike shorts, which worked really well, and I could wear a t-shirt that covered my shoulders. I might eventually (get a job and) invest in a CYA skirt from Athleta – since it could go over my compression shorts for races or my bike shorts for long rides. Then I would just wear a regular short-sleeved performance wear top, to protect against sunburn.
Shoes were tricky for me, because my sneakers hurt my toes when I did a long ride in them, and I haven’t upgraded my pedals to clip-in pedals (plus, we won’t be renting bikes with clip-in pedals in Wales. Since my birthday is coming up, my Dad offered to buy me a pair of Keens for trekking around this summer, and taking to Wales. I ordered a pair of the Venice H2 Keens in Black so I can sneakily wear them to work before changing. They are really comfortable (although have required some breaking in) and look cute with capris and skirts (I was surprised, but they did).
Also vitally important are sunglasses. Sure, they help keep you from developing macular degeneration and other scary eye diseases, but most importantly, they keep bugs out of your eyes. Don’t worry about looking cool – get a flexible pair that goes as close to your eyes as possible, and preferably wraps a little way around.
Oh, and sunscreen. Seriously. Sunscreen is important. Athletes have a higher rate of skin cancer, skin cancer is bad news, and nobody wants an awkward racerback/farmer’s tan anyway. Oh yeah, and sunburn is painful. I’m going to go spray myself down with solarcaine again.
Last things last: a helmet. I’m not even going to lecture you on this, because I shouldn’t need to. Ya’ll are smart enough to read, therefore put a f*cking helmet on. I don’t care about your hair, I really don’t. I don’t care if your head gets sweaty. I biked 35 miles in a heat advisory, wearing a helmet, and for of all of my complaining about how sweaty and uncomfortable I felt, absolutely none of that was because I was wearing a helmet. Suck it up, put it on, stay safe.