Monthly Archives: May 2018

saddle woes and the revelation that I have a big butt

My comfort while riding the bike has improved since I started thanks to Chamois Buttr and high-end bib shorts.  Still, at the end of a typical ride, my butt hurts more than my legs, and this just seems wrong to me.  Shouldn’t my legs be the limiting factor?  I decided to try upgrading my seat might help me, and without getting too explicit, I thought a seat with a channel down the middle could be the ticket.  I ended up getting this seat:

This is a Selle Italia SLR Lady Flow saddle.  I found it massively on discount from the list price of $200 from some sketchy internet site, 60% off or so, and ordered it.  (Coincidentally, or not, I had $6000 in charges on my credit card rung out a few days later and had to cancel it.)  It came in two sizes, small and large, and I decided to go for small.  I mean, I don’t have a bit butt, right?  I decided to test drive it on my planned 44 mile cycle this weekend.  What could possibly go wrong, I ask you?

About 10 miles in, I noticed the soft tissue discomfort I have been dealing with for the last year or so was completely absent.  No discomfort, pain, nothing.  Perfection!  Unfortunately, this had been replaced by increasing levels of discomfort on my sit bones.  At 18 miles, I texted H and told him he might have to come and pick me up.  At 28 miles, I told him I was still surviving but only just.  Basically, it was torture, and it was just got more and more painful.  After a certain point, I just couldn’t handle the pressure on my sit bones anymore, and was sliding forward and back on the saddle, bearing pressure on other places just not really meant to bear pressure, and I got some nasty chafing.  I’m still in a significant amount of discomfort today.  I guess I am stubborn, because I refused to stop, and finished out the whole ride, with only a small “short cut” that cut a couple miles off at the end.  Said shortcut is a route that I normally avoid like the plague because it features a massive hill.  I’d in fact never ridden up it before, but I was in so much pain, i said screw it, and 40 miles in, up I went: only 0.4 miles, but 8% average grade, peak grade 17%.  At one point, I was going back and forth like it was a ski slope, trying to reduce the effective grade.  It was BRUTAL.  But worth it.

Anyway, I’m not really sure where to go with the bike seat thing at this point.  I measured the location of my sit bones.  (I really could have lived my entire life without measuring this.)  Turns out, I have an above average size rear for a female (and women are wider-arsed than men.  Who knew?  I always thought I had a small butt, but I guess not.  In some ways it makes sense.  My labors probably wouldn’t have been as “easy” if I were truly narrow-hipped.  Anyway, I’ve re-ordered the saddle from the sketchy website in the large size, and I’m waiting to see if this new credit card will be ripped as well.   I also ordered a couple of other saddles.  I’ll sell or return all but one, and hopefully I can find one that will work for me.

This weekend’s ride:

42 miles, 2100 feet of elevation gain.  It’s definitely my hardest ride since last summer.  I went slower thanks to the saddle issue, but I still think I got a good workout.  Now let’s hope I can get this sorted and be back on the bike next weekend.   I had been hoping to do 45+ next weekend, but now I’m thinking I’ll repeat this ride.  I still have to spend a lot of time consulting directions on this route.


et tu, morgan?

Morgan Freeman, too, really?  Are there any men in Hollywood over the age of 35 who aren’t misogynists and/or harrassers?

What I find fascinating in all this is how all these men, or at least the ones you hear about in the news, have a pattern.  Consider this from WaPo:

In the report, published by CNN, several women — including production assistants, office workers and journalists — said that Mr. Freeman had engaged in inappropriate behavior, ranging from unwanted touching to suggestive comments that made them feel uncomfortable.

The thing is, unwanted touching and suggestive comments are bad, but if a man were to make on inappropriate suggestive comment in his career, is that forgivable?  I would say almost certainly yes.  People are allowed a mistake.  But in terms of the men you hear about, it’s never an isolated incident.  It just goes on and on and typically impacts MANY women they work with.  It’s like they’re either unable or unwilling to control themselves.  I’m sure they justify it in their heads, somehow.

Of course, unpleasant as it must have been for the women impacted by Freeman’s actions, it sounds like what he’s done is very mild in comparison to men who routinely engaged in sexual assault.  But the pattern is the same.  Some men feel entitled to behave in a certain way towards women, and oblivious to societal standards and rules, they just happily continue.  Freeman is 80, so it’s possible he grew up in a time when society not only permitted him to behave in this way, but also didn’t even consider it wrong.  But messed up as our society may be, sexual assault and rape have never been considered “OK” by the vast majority of men and women, so I’m not sure how to explain the Harvey Weinsteins of the world.

Freeman said:

“I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women — and men — feel appreciated and at ease around me,” he said. “As a part of that, I would often try to joke with and compliment women, in what I thought was a light-hearted and humorous way. Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended.”

The thing is that I kind of believe him.  There are men who do try to make women feel at ease by flirting with them.  I think there are men who flirt with women they’re not attracted to in order make those women feel good and accepted.  I can see how a film set would be different from an office environment and lead to more of that type of behavior.  However, men need to understand that this type of thing is just not acceptable at work.  There is almost no reason to ever touch your co-worker except a handshake.  (People hug at work after launches, so there are exceptions.)  There is no reason to ever call your co-worker a pet name.  It’s possible to be friends with women without flirting with them.  It really is.

My only negative experience of THIS nature at work was with a particular co-worker who called me “hon.”  I asked him, in writing, to stop, and he persisted on rare occasion.  I actually doubt it was intentional.  I suspect he called ALL women, or all younger women, hon, and found it hard to remember to specifically avoid that with me.  The guy in question held a lot of power in the company, and so while I could have escalated it to one or two of the people with more power still, it seemed absurd to pursue something so trivial.

I’m glad to see Harvey get his comeuppance, and I’m glad to see that Freeman’s milder but still inappropriate behavior is being called out as unacceptable.  (But is that because, at 80, his marketability and financial value to the industry has declined to the point that he’s no longer protected?)

Saturday cycle

Another Saturday, another cycle.  I took my bike into the bike shop for a tune-up after my issues last weekend, and everything was much better today.  I feel a little guilty shelling out $200 for things I could definitely do myself, but I am earning more thanks to working more, and I have less time, and I don’t really want to take up bike maintenance as a hobby.  (I could have brought it in and just had the specific issue addressed, but I had a full tune-up.)  Today’s cycle was almost identical to last weekend’s in terms of distance and elevation gain.  I went a little slower, which I mostly attribute to the fact that I’ve never ridden this route before and had to stop and check directions and ride slower in places trying to figure out which way I was going.  However, I felt MUCH better at the end.  I rode the last road prior to the big hill back to my house faster than I ever have, per Strava, and I ride that road a lot, so that’s significant.  Equally important, the last hill up to my neighborhood wasn’t so bad.  I was partially fueled by road-rage, though, as a car honked at me, in my opinion 100% completely without justification, just before I cycled up the hill.  I feel like there is a subset of drivers – a small subset – that really have it in for cyclists.

I crossed the new 520 bridge for the first time, and it has a wonderful cycling lane.  On the other cross-lake highway, you practically feel like you’re on the highway with the cars, but the new bridge has a wide cycling and walking lane, and once I’d figured out how to get on it, I really enjoyed cycling across it.

Many major tours are doing away with podium girls, including the Tour de France.  Female models used to present the winners with their awards and pose for photos with them.  To me, this is a great example of a meaningless symbolic gesture that makes people feel warm and fuzzy about being feminist without doing something real.  What would be real, you might ask?  How about having a Tour de France for women?  How about televising women’s performances in any tour, including their most significant race – the Tour de Rosa?  (Currently, the only television coverage for women is in the world championships.  If any women’s tours are televised, the major provider for cycling in the US, NBC, does not cover them.)  It doesn’t really bother me at all if attractive women give stage winners a teddy bear.  The absence of anything remotely resembling equal opportunity in cycling for women, on the other hand, bothers me a great deal.  This, on the other hand, is encouraging.

cyling – 2018

I’m back on the bike.  My cycling enthusiasm seriously waned over the winter.  It’s just hard to get excited about cycling when it’s cold and rainy outside.  With the sun, though, the enthusiasm is definitely back.  I’ve cycled 170 miles in 2108, and a significant percentage of those miles have been over the last couple of weekends.

Week 1:

Cycle 1 was a 30 mile ride around the bottom of Lake Washington.  One thing that is super nice is that I have finally memorized some routes.  When I first started cycling, I was constantly getting lost.  While that still happens, it’s getting a lot less frequent, and I have this route totally memorized.  Or nearly.  30 miles, 1500 feet elevation gain – and it  I was pretty much cooked for the rest of the day.

Isn’t Seattle beautiful?

Week 2:

I decided to add some miles the second week and did a very similar ride, except that I added 8 miles or so and biked around the bottom of Mercer Island.  This also added a little bit of elevation gain.  Anyway, this ride turned out to be more eventful.  My chain came off the chain ring a few miles in, and then it happened again, and I had trouble getting on the lower front chain ring, and yeah.  Not good.  However, it mostly worked, and I tried not to switch chain rings at the front very often and just rely on the gears at the back.  Then, when I was halfway across the bridge between Mercer Island and Bellevue, probably 3 miles from the nearest place I could get picked up by car and with traffic zooming by at 70 mph (separated by a barrier thankfully), the chain came off for at least the third time, but this time it was jammed between the derailleur and the gears.  I turned my hands solid black trying to get it back on and after a lot of cursing and a little bit of panic finally succeeded.  This is the second time I’ve had a problem on that bridge, and it really is just not a good place to have an issue.  I got going again and was really nervous about my bike and in probably the most remote section of the whole ride with nowhere to go ran into this homeless man semi-blocking the path.  I was quite nervous to try and go by / around him, but fortunately, he left me alone.  Then, a few miles from home on a VERY quiet street, I rolled through a stop sign in front of a guy who apparently thought he should have gone first, and he yelled at me and called me a dumb bitch.  I probably shouldn’t roll through stop signs, but I really feel that level of nastiness is unnecessary.

Note elevation for both my rides: downhill, flat, then uphill. I really wish I could reverse that.  The uphill at the end is just killer.

After my ride, I was once again totally wrecked.  My question now is whether I can actually build cycling fitness by cycling just once a week, or whether I need to cycle at least twice a week.  I don’t want to subject myself to a weekly torture-fest, and I really do want to go farther and faster, but cycling midweek is no picnic.  Commuting by bike is just difficult and arguably dangerous.  I have a hilly 10-mile loop I do that takes about an hour, but I have mostly 8 am meetings these days, so doing that loop would require a 6 am start.  Definitely doable.  Is the motivation there?  I’m not sure.  I’m toying with the idea of attempting a century this summer, but for now, I’m thinking of a goal of a 50 mile cycle by the end of June.



running or cycling?

Why running is better:

1.) While uphills are tough on foot, they are BRUTAL on the bike.

2.) A light to moderate rain is irritating when running but can be dressed for, but a ride in a cold rain is miserable AND hazardous.

3.) Speaking of hazardous, I’ve been running most of my life, and I’ve never really hurt myself.  It’s quite safe.  Bike riding, however, is quite hazardous.  Death is a realistic possibility, and road rash is downright probable.

4.) Ye Gods, the equipment.  I feel like I’m getting ready to scale Everest when I prepare for a bike ride – bike, helmet, bum bag, spare tub and flat kit, special pedals and matching shoes, padded shorts, gloves, helmet, sunglasses, shoe covers if it’s cold, and on and on.  It’s nuts.  To run, I need shoes, a sports bra, shorts, and a T-shirt.  Add rain jacket or long-sleeve shirt if it’s cold.  NBD.

5.) You can really lose yourself if your thoughts when you’re running.  I zone out to the point that I sometimes get lost.  Just one foot in front of the other.  Easy.

6.) Since you cover much shorter distances, getting lost is much less of a problem.  I’m constantly getting lost on the bike.

7.) No mechanical knowledge necessary.  No need to pump up tires, learn how to change a flat, or deal with chain problems.  No maintenance.

8.) Less chafing when running.  Enough said.

9.) Running is cheaper.

10.) Running is more social.  I admit this one is debatable, but I just do not enjoy trying to converse with someone when cycling.  I’m trying not to crash, and riding side by side just feels hazardous on the roads, and it’s hard to hear someone talking in front of you.  Running, on the other hand, is a great time to chat.

11.) Running is way more efficient.  There is pretty much no reason to train for more than 3 hours at a stretch, ever, unless you’re training for an ultramarathon.  (And why would anyone want to do that?)  Cyclists, on the other hand, habitually head out for 6 hour rides.

Why cycling is better:

1.) You can cover much longer distances and see the world around you.  I’ve cycled all over Seattle and the Eastside and seen so many parts of the city I’d never wandered through before.

2.) Coasting.

3.) Downhills on a bike are thrilling and require zero effort.  Running down a hill is easier than running up, but you’re still pounding.

4.) Running is harder on your body, in my opinion.  That pounding is tough.  There are a lot of overuse injuries in running.

5.) There’s really no such thing as an “easy run.”  An easy running pace is . . . walking.  In cycling, though, you can go slowly and still be cycling.  Cycling on flats is relatively easy and painless if you take your time.  The same cannot necessarily be said for running.

The “why running is better” list far eclipses the cycling list, but still, I’m excited to get back into cycling this summer.  It’s just fun, and all the drawbacks don’t seem to matter.  If I had to give up one or the other, I’d give up cycling in a second, but fortunately, I don’t, and cycling is great cross-training.