If you’re new to cycling, especially road cycling, there comes a point to which every new cyclist has to confront the dreaded “S” word – you know what I’m talking about.
Yes – “Spandex”.
Or in my case, “Expandex”.
Those skin tight shorts that you see these incredibly fit people wearing as they race down the highway doing mach 3 actually look pretty good – on them.
For the average joe blow though, especially those of us who might be a little “larger” around the middle, wearing spandex cycling shorts for the first time can be a fairly “revealing” experience. Now, fortunately, for me, I am no stranger to wearing this type of athletic garb. When I first started cycling 20 years ago, I owned several pairs of cycling shorts and became quite comfortable showing off my girth as I sped down the highway.
However, as time went by, the shorts that I owned when I was 24, became noticeably smaller and tighter as my cycling days began to wane due to other commitments. Eventually, they didn’t fit at all. So, when I became inspired last year to take on my fondo challenge, I realized I would have to confront the “S” word again.
Why do we, as cyclists, wear these silly looking things anyway? A couple of reasons – one is they cling to your skin so they don’t ride up and chafe your legs like normal shorts do . As well, they come with some pretty serious padding on the inside. That was the biggest change that I noticed when I purchased my shorts last year. In 1994, you were lucky to get any kind of padding at all in cycling shorts – usually it was just a thin layer of chamois. Now, as you see below, it’s all gel filled pockets in specific areas to help protect the you know what.
Kind of gives you the willies, doesn’t it? Actually, they make a significant difference, especially for long distances. The right, or wrong, pair of shorts, combined with a decent saddle, can make or break you. So it’s important to get it right.
There is another part to this story, however.
After I bought my first pair of shorts last year, which are great, it occurred to me that in order to start training in March (hopefully, if the bike arrives on time), I would need something more than cycling shorts. After all, it doesn’t usually get to be prime cycling weather around here until about the middle of April. So, thanks to the gods of Ebay, I discovered these –
They arrived via Hong Kong last week – $40 U.S. for the set. And they are actually of decent quality. Ok- I admit – I had to get the XXL. And, yes, trying them on for the first time was quite daunting. Fortunately, the bib pants fit pretty well – that was my biggest concern. Surprisingly, the zip up jersey was a little tight (ok- very tight)- I guess XXL in Hong Kong ain’t quite what XXL in North America is (imagine that). So, one of my new goals is to be able to make the jersey fit comfortably. Soon.
So, things seem to be falling into place – got the bike ordered, got the spandex, new cycling computer – just need shoes and pedals (details, details …) but that will happen when I get the bike.
On a positive note, I rode my indoor trainer for 30 min. today and feel pretty good. The countdown is now on – only 164 days to go until the Penticton Gran Fondo .