Saturday, June 27, 2015

Inside out

Our biggest weakness is our greatest strength waiting to be told well.
                                                                             - A high school art teacher I never had

One theme of this blog is reuse. The old roads are more interesting and you still get there. The brain is plastic, so a person can reinvent themselves. With much help and encouragement, it's been possible to quilt things back together after a brain injury. It's not quite the same life I had before. In many ways it's better.

But right now, we turn away from stories of the road and toward a more practical topic: double-shorting. Because no matter what the journey, you need survival skills.

Anyone who has spent hours that turn into days on a saddle knows the padding in a bike short is a mixed blessing. The chamois that feels soft and plush at first against your skin, and that you paid big money for because face it, the rest of the short is less than a yard of black Lycra, can turn on you. 

With repetition (much), with moisture and maybe some salt, this best friend on a bike can become a fearsome enemy, an unsolvable problem, a source of constant pain. 

There's nothing complicated or secret or proprietary about double-shorting. Yet for some reason, it is rarely practiced among people who spend hours on end in the saddle. One reason might be that it's hard to explain. Every time I've tried to use words to describe it, the listener walks away confused. They give me the benefit of the doubt. But they don't understand how this simple technique works. And my enthusiasm might come off as slightly eccentric...

So today we will not only speak of double-shorting; we will show double-shorting. With photos!

There's no law of the universe saying a cyclist must wear one, and only one, pair of bike shorts at a time...

For two pairs of shorts to play well together, I find it helps if they're different brands, with different seam patterns and chamois designs. If one of them can be a little shorter in the leg than the other, you might avoid double elastic competing for space on your quad muscle. Which can feel like a tourniquet....

So, you've rummaged around in your shorts drawer and found 2 pair that are not the same. Now, slip on that first pair with the shorter leg, but inside out.

That's correct, inside out! Look, you can see the chammy!

Have you ever dreamed about going to school or work naked or in your pajamas and wandering around like that? Yes it looks funny but trust me, it will be OK. When we're done here no one will know.

This is an old pair of Bellwether shorts with a cheap chammy from back when "shorty" shorts were a thing. When Spinning and girl cyclists, for that matter, were new. The black material is tough but thin; that's another bonus.

These are Spinning shorts, commute shorts, second-string shorts. Great as part of a double outfit.

Now, are you ready? Time to become socially acceptable...

Over the first pair, pull on a Second Pair. Yes! This is the pair on the right in the big photo: righteous, high-quality, long-distance, gender-specific.

A short you would not hesitate to wear on a brevet or a tour. In fact, you have not hesitated...you own 6 pairs of these shorts, you love them so much. And you're afraid the manufacturer might stop making them. At which point you'd have to stop riding a bike.

For the curious, this is the Shebeest SSS short. The acronym stands for Shebeest Shorter Short. Despite the name, it has a slightly longer inseam than the first pair. The Lycra is thick and plush.

It also has the incredible Shebeest SheLastic chammy. Feeling oh-so-luxurious to start with and at some point after ~12 hours, turning to sandpaper scraping against your sensitive skin and parts.

Now you look totally normal! No one can tell you're wearing two pairs of shorts. And there's a whole compression thing going on for added goodness. It's like Spanx for Cyclists. No need to suck in the tummy - all done for you!

When you realize there's no chammy against your skin, none at all, just smooth Lycra you say to yourself:

This feels so good! Why didn't I think of this before?

So you can get on the bike and ride 600K or 1000K or 1200K, with only the normal intense weariness and sleep deprivation and some Lantiseptic applied at regular intervals. No chafed, raw, painful skin where you and the saddle meet. 

Really!

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