ASK HURL: The Inauspicious Debut
Greetings to all you good people out there in JoyRide readerville. Today, we’re rolling out our new monthly advice column: Ask Hurl.
We’ll cover all sorts of bicycle-themed topics, ranging from riding etiquette, clothing and gear selection, to route finding and relationships.
This first edition of Ask Hurl features questions from friends, but we now open it up to your sincere queries for next month.
Submit the Qs that are driving you wild at email@example.com
Dear Hurl: I’ve embraced riding in the winter, and love the peacefulness of pedaling the paths along the river. I’ve heard hydration is equally important in the winter. However, my water bottle is constantly freezing and I’m parched before I finish my loop. How can I stop the freeze?
Dear Bottle Rocket,
Congratulations on discovering the truth about winter cycling. The trails are usually less crowded and the alternative (namely, riding a trainer indoors) is enough to drive someone to drink. And speaking of drinking, you are correct, hydration is equally important in the winter. Even though your perceived exertion may be lower when temps plummet, keeping the fluids topped off is paramount.
To keep your bottles from turning to ice, top them off with a shot of whiskey. Vodka works, too, though I think I’d avoid the egg nog. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a little nip while enjoying the great outdoors? I’m not suggesting you pour a whole pint in your bidon; 1–2 oz. should do the trick.
Alcohol not your jam? Not to worry. Invest in an insulated thermos type bottle and brew up some hot tea. Better yet, check out the JoyRide Tour De-Licious, grab some pals, and make a plan to check out some of the amazing restaurants and bars along this route.
Dear Hurl: Is it OK to wear my Lycra kit into a bar to get a beer at the end of a ride? Won’t people look at me funny? What if I get too tipsy to ride home?
This is a three-part question with a one word answer: Yes. Allow me to explain. Yes, it’s OK to wear your kit into the bar, and yes, people will crane their necks like giraffes doing the pogo as you saunter across the dull, chipped linoleum floor, click-clacking in your cleats toward the free popcorn machine, where you will maul the heat lamp–burned old maids into one of those paper tubs with your gloved hand.
You’ll then proceed to order pitchers of whatever watery domestic beer is on special. Skip the shots, though. If the ride has been particularly difficult and you are on the verge of bonking, it’s real easy to become “kit-faced.” This is true even if you’ve stumbled into the CC Club, or especially when taking advantage of 4-packs of Lucifer, a Belgian 8% mistakenly marked down to $3.99 at a local St. Paul bottle shop.
Dear Hurl: I want to get into longer distance riding, but so far all I’ve found is so. much. chafing. Is discomfort just part of the deal? HELP.
Rubbed the Wrong Way
Long days in the saddle can be some of the most rewarding rides, not only due to a sense of physical achievement, but also in that cathartic, “I’ve solved all of (my) life’s problems,” euphoria that hours of solitude can provide. Treat yourself and get a couple pair of good-quality riding shorts or bibs. The light compression these offer will support your muscles, and, most importantly, the padded chamois will provide added comfort as your rides increase in duration.
Sometimes nirvana can be found when you push past your comfort zone, but no one likes to chafe. So short of wearing inverted corduroy britches on your century rides, I’d suggest trying some hypo-allergenic chamois cremes to facilitate the smooth junction of your junk and riding shorts. I personally like Donkey Label Chamois Balm made from organic ingredients (Editor's Note: And it's Minneapolis made, too) and Rapha skincare products, but almost every manufacturer has gone to great, gliding lengths (hey-o) to provide a smooth, comfortable experience.
If you’ve read this far, you’re no doubt asking what qualifies me to pass on these nuggets of velo-wisdom? Beats me, but to paraphrase Nora Ephron: “Sometimes I believe that some people are better at cycling than others, and sometimes I believe that everyone is faking it.”
So don’t worry; while loosely based on factual experiences of this author, these bicycle broadsides and bromides will often be delivered with self-deprecating tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Until next time,