How Many Pairs of Cycling Shorts Do You Need? How I Plan a Year of Cycling Shorts Without Breaking the Bank.
I have a surprisingly assortment of cycling shorts. Well, technically, bibs. I don’t wear shorts anymore because my 52-year-old abs have a little laundry atop the washboard and bibs tend to make that a little less ugly. They’re also vastly more comfortable because there’s no waistband.
I used to have around four or five pair that I kept in rotation but the quality was all over the spectrum. Cheap bibs, expensive bibs, an outrageously expensive pair… then I started riding DALMACs in 2015. Four days, 372 miles, give or take. Three centuries (plus) and a 72-miler. With a ride like that you need four great pair of shorts, or bibs in my case. We also kill it at home on the weekends. Two long days, usually between 60 & 100 miles each day. This meant trouble with the cheaper bibs. Most newer cyclists think of cycling bibs and shorts linearly, in terms of cost. That’s a massive mistake, though. They’re really dimensional.
The cost of a pair of bibs, or shorts as the case may be, should be looked at in three dimensions, though; initial cost, durational cost, distance comfortably traveled per ride.
For example, a top-end $180 pair of Specialized bibs are a massive front-end expenditure for one pair of shorts but they last forever. That’s second part is durational cost. Then there’s distance; I can comfortably ride a century in a pair of top-end Specialized bibs without ever thinking about my bibs – and I don’t use a chamois cream. A pair of $180 bibs will last up to five seasons if I’m not wearing them every week.
Then there’s the second tier of bibs. Sticking with Specialized, the next line runs $150. These are almost indistinguishable from the top of the line bibs and are just as good in terms of longevity and distance. That means their durational cost is a slightly better.
The next line, the RBX Mirage bibs, run around $100 and are good for anything up to a metric century and can be pushed to a full 100 miles if necessary. You may have a bit of a surprise when you hit the shower, though, in terms of a hot spot. Their durational cost is excellent but the chamois will wear out over the course of a few seasons.
The low-end bibs, the RBX line, is good for your weekday 15 to 50-miler. Push them over 50 and your butt will be talking to you in unfriendly terms. Same with the durational cost. They’re cheap on the front end but they’ll be relegated to a winter trainer pair sooner than the high-end bibs.
Finally, and this is a fantastic tip for the cyclist on a budget, don’t mess with the straight from China brands. Usually the chamois sucks and the outer material is sub-standard to the extent one will be able to discern your religion in the proper light. Instead, go for The Black Bibs. They’re great for anything up to a metric century but I wouldn’t wear them more than two miles beyond that unless you really want to know the meaning of pain when you step foot in the shower afterward. At $40 to $80, I’ve got three pair in my rotation and they’ve got three years on them without signs that I’d need a new pair yet.
So, this is my rotation of bibs:
Two pair of Team Issue Specialized SL bibs with matching Jerseys. Without question, when I have a long day in the saddle, this is where I start. I bought them on sale at the end of the season a few years ago. They’re not brand new anymore but they’re still fantastic.
Four pair of Specialized SL and SL race bibs. These are good enough for DALMAC days and for long days on the tandem with my wife.
Three pair of Black Bibs that I wear during the week so I can save wear and tear on the expensive bibs. None of these are used on the trainer over the winter. I have four pair of older, cheap bibs for the trainer. I’m only going to ride that for 45 minutes, so I don’t have to worry about hot spots.
While I haven’t tried them, personally, I would feel comfortable with virtually anything made by Castelli or Santini and the upper lines of Bontrager for bibs. I’m stuck on Specialized for two reasons: it’s what I know, and my Venge.
I wrote a post a short while ago about a YouTube video in which the fella tried to make the case that the S-Works 1x electronic shifting Crux cyclocross bike is possibly the One bike that will do it all.
Of course, because there’s thankfully no such thing, his talking points were quite simple to dispatch. A 1x bike has no place in a paceline unless it’s a relatively flat course. Even then, it’s quite simple to show that’s not a good idea. There are “cadence holes” at important speeds that will have the rider feeling like they’re always in the wrong gear. For that reason alone, if a bike that will be ridden in a pack, especially a $12,500 bike, doesn’t have a 2x drivetrain, the rest of the group will put the 1x rider in the hurt locker. Unless they’re substantially stronger than everyone else they’re riding with.
I can make a legitimate case that I need at least three of my bikes and I can make a reasonable argument for a fourth. I could probably shave a couple off of that, though, if I limited my trail riding. And we’re off…
The first is going to be either my Venge or my Trek 5200. I like having a rain/trainer bike, but I could arguably live without one. The jury is out on which I’d choose. The Venge is the cat’s pajamas in my stable. At 16 pounds and aero, it’s a beautiful machine. On the other hand, my Trek is completely customized and incredibly old school cool.
To tell you the truth, it’s a tossup. The Venge is faster, but the Trek is mine. Completely custom from the ground up.
We’ll say, if you held a gun to my head, the Trek.
Next up is the tandem. Now, our new tandem, which should be arriving in the next month or two, will be able to pull double duty. We’ve got road and gravel wheels coming for the bike. A speedy set of lightweight Rolf tandem wheels for the road and the wheels that come with the bike for gravel. It’ll take up to a 45mm tire for gravel riding and we’re going to roll with 30s for the road. So that’s two. I wouldn’t want to live without a tandem nowadays.
Next up, we’ve got the gravel bike. I love my gravel bike. It’s awesome… and wonderful to ride after the summer road season. I gotta have a gravel bike. Now, if Specialized hadn’t screwed up and limited our frames to accepting just a 32mm tire, we’d have been able to ride the gravel rigs on trails. So that makes a mountain bike a necessity, though I really don’t ride the trails enough to “need” a mountain bike. That’s something I could currently live without. There are my four. And I’ve got five.
My wife has, counting the tandem as one also, six.
The question is, though, is there one bike that can do it all?
Leaving the obvious glaring point that we must possess at least one tandem in all of this; technically, I could see a gravel bike as a one bike does all solution. With the setup like we’re doing our tandem, two sets of wheels, one road, one gravel, a 2x 50/34 drivetrain with an 11-32 11 or 12-speed cassette, you could make the case that one really could do it all on a bike like that. It’d have to be a fairly high-end rig, though, so you could keep the weight down. Anything over 19-pounds simply won’t get it. We’re looking at the 17 to 18-pound range (7.7 to 8.1 kg range).
And if you’ve seen bike weights lately, let’s just say steel with rim brakes is back in the picture as a frame material again.
Oh, how I hate the fascists…
This is a screenshot of a post I just started working on:
I hate this bullshit. My feelings about meat are this; I’ll always eat meat. Meat is fantastically healthy for human consumption under any honest scientific metric that is used, and as important, or more so to the human diet, than vegetables. Arguing against this is futile, dishonest, and usually just plain stupid.
Worse, what do people with Celiac disease eat if there is no meat? See what I mean about the ignorance? It’s hard enough to go through life with a gluten sensitivity, going through life where gluten really harms you is twice as hard. Almost impossible if all you’ve got left will kill you.
WordPress, it’s none of your business what I feel about eating meat. It’s necessary and I’ll be plunking off squirrels, rabbits and birds in the backyard before I stop eating meat. And there are many more vastly more adamant than I am.
You don’t want to start a discussion about meat. You’re not thinking this all the way through. You envision a world without cows and farm animals. What you’ll get is far worse. Try a world with no wildlife because it’s being eaten by those who won’t sit still for the pampas bullshit of others who, from their gilded cages, pronounce they want to change the world into what they deem “better”. Do us all a favor; jump off a building. A very tall one. Save us the misery of putting up with you. Or better, before you attempt to change the world, worry about cleaning your part of your parents basement, first. At least then, maybe you’ll realized just cleaning yourself up is close enough.
This is what my feelings are about eating meat; you suck.
How To Set Up A Bike For Someone Else; Pitfalls and Problems to Avoid… And The Thing That Made It Easy To Work On My Wife’s Bike.
The hardest thing about setting up a bike for someone else is trying to navigate around what they’re feeling. It’s real easy to look at my own setup and know that I have to drop the nose angle a little, or if I need some upwards tilt on the hoods to keep my hands from going numb. What do you do if you’re trying to fit your wife to a bike? I tried to approach this using what worked for me, only to learn my wife needed something a little different. I threw myself into research and, thank God, there was enough decent information out there from reputable fitters that I could make some good choices and put as much effort into setting my wife up as I did my own bikes.
The first thing we have to do to set someone else up is develop a language that we can both rely on. Assuming you’re the more experienced, this will fall on you. Use your patience here, especially if you’re working with your spouse. If you don’t have any, get some. In a pinch, try Xanax or Valium. I’m kidding. Don’t do drugs.
For saddle height, get it close, say within a couple of millimeters, first. Then work on fore and aft positioning. Start out with the old “heels on the saddle and pedal backwards without rocking the hips” trick to get close.
Next, for saddle position fore and aft, think backwards. Use a level or plumb bob to get the knee over the spindle if possible, or a little forward of the spindle if necessary because of the bike’s geometry. If
your victim pin cushion guinea pig the person you’re working with feels like they want to skootch their butt back as they’re riding, you move the saddle forward. If they feel like they want to skootch up, you move the saddle back. Basically, move the saddle to where their butt wants to be, not vice-versa.
Next we’ll work on saddle tilt. I didn’t know this nine months ago. A female’s saddle will typically tilt a little more that what we learn in bike setup school (YouTube) because of the shape of their pelvis in relation to a male’s pelvis and saddle. This video helped my understanding what I was working with in setting up my wife’s bikes a lot. It was a game changer in setting up my wife’s bike:
In the end, we want the saddle to cradle us whether we’re on the hoods or in the drops. We don’t want to slide forward which will require bracing ourselves with our arms and lead to neck and shoulder issues, and we don’t want the saddle nose pressing into sensitive areas when we’re in the drops. Look for the middle ground. It is there.
From there, we can start looking at setting the saddle height perfectly. When I was setting up my wife on our tandem and her road bike, this exposed a neat difference in switching from road to mountain pedals. My bikes are almost identical in height going from road to mountain shoes. My wife is different by about a quarter of an inch. Also, as we narrowed in on her “perfect” saddle height on the tandem, she began having hip pain on one side. One leg was longer than the other, and this became clearer as we were professionally measured for a new tandem we’d ordered. My wife hated lowering the saddle so her hip pain could subside. When the saddle is too low, we tend to push our butt into the saddle and this leads to a hot spot wherever your butt hits the saddle. Raising the saddle clears this issue but meant my wife had to ever-so-slightly tilt her hip to get down to the bottom of the pedal stroke. We put an extra insole insert in her right shoe to bring her right foot into level with her left. No more hip pain and her saddle was high enough she didn’t grind her butt into it.
There’s one final trick to setting up a bike for someone else… I like to go for a slow ride with my wife after we’ve set up a bike for her. I bring a 4 & 5 mm Allen key with me so I can make adjustments on the road to suit how she actually feels riding the bicycle outdoors. Ten miles should take an hour with six or seven minor adjustments along the way. This has proven to be the final key to getting her bikes as close to perfect as I can get them.
Once I got the first bike right, I simply repeated the process and already established the feel and vocabulary needed to repeat the process, quickly.
I’d written this post over two days and it never really felt complete. It struck me this morning why. I’d missed one important point that makes working on someone else’s setup… erm… work. For my wife’s bikes I committed myself to putting as much enthusiasm into setting her bike up as I had for mine. That’s really what made it click in my mind.
When Cyclists Discriminate Against Cyclists (and When It’s Okay to Act Like a Jerk… And When It’s Not)
Certain cyclists will read that Title and immediately think I’m referring to the Lycra-line… fast cyclists dolled up in their Lycra, cruising down the road at ridiculous speeds in pace-lines, all exclusive like. You think they hate everyone who isn’t like them.
Oh, there are a few who fancy themselves as above other cyclists. There are @$$holes who reside in the Lycra-lines. They don’t hold an exclusive line on being douchebags, though.
How about the clown show cyclist? That knucklehead who shows up on the steel bike with the Campagnolo downtube groupset? It’s like 90 degrees out (38 C) and they’re in the sunblock arm and leg covers (different colors, of course – white arm covers, hi-viz leg covers) with the hi-viz everything else, including their neck gaiter… in fact they’re so hi-viz it’s hard to look at them in the sunshine… with so much sunblock on, they’re even whiter than their arm covers. And, with four taillights (all cheap and barely visible during the day) and a front blinkie that can double as a steel cutter in a pinch.
That’s the one who has no problem telling anyone who will listen the real problem with cycling is that the fast Lycra-clad crowd won’t slow down to ride with the slower crowd – especially a new rider…
They’re so angry and sure of themselves, they don’t even know they’re discriminating against those who are different, just the same. Better, they’re discriminating against the faster cyclists solely based on the assumption the fast crowd won’t bother to lower themselves to do what the clown refuses to do themselves.
Dudes and dudettes, here’s the deal; if you ever start a conversation with “there oughta be a law limiting how fast people can ride a bicycle”, you’re likely that which you claim to disdain so much. If you read this and think, “that’s bullshit, those motherf***ers need to slow down!” Do me a favor and walk over to the mirror and take a good, hard look.
You’re the problem, too.
There are @$$holes on both sides of this, and I don’t mean to excuse the Lycra-lines, either. At least the Lycra-lines know they’re jerks, though. Imagine someone in the fast crowd saying there should be a law that establishes a minimum speed limit of 15-mph! The funny thing is, the Lycra-lines may look down their noses at others, but not so far that they believe the behaviors of others should be regulated to match theirs. Looked at that way, that’s a level of pampas even the snobbiest of Lycra-clad semi-pro roadie wouldn’t stoop to.
We all need to be better people. Be good and decent to others first. And remember, the biggest jerks are always the regulators who believe the answer to everything is regulating our bad behavior… almost exclusively the bad behavior of others, though.
Regulations for thee, not for me, as they say.
My wife’s new road bike, a steel Assenmacher circa 2004-ish (Jess is doing the research with Matt to figure out what year, exactly), is done. New short reach handlebar, new bar tape, carbon bottle cages (which match the carbon on the rest of the bike), carbon bar-end plugs… and all cleaned up, ready for duty. The completed bike, with pedals, weighs in at a mere 18 pounds. Astonishingly light for a steel bike (that carbon fork and carbon crank make a huge difference).
The bike is stunningly beautiful and my wife couldn’t be happier to own and ride a bike hand built by a friend – and I couldn’t be happier for her that things worked out the way they did.
Good times, noodle salad.
I had the same Garmin 510 for years. I can’t even remember when I bought it. I was careful with the battery. Rarely discharged it fully, maybe five times in the years I had it, so it lasted quite well. I can still make a century with the old computer using the route navigation. I can’t, however, make it a century using the route navigation and my Varia blinking light/radar. That’s just a touch too much. If I turn the navigation off after 80 miles or so, I’ll make it home with only a few percentage points of battery life left. If I include a heart rate monitor, fuhgeddaboudit.
And that’s why I finally upgraded to the 530.
The 530 has several bells and whistles the 510 doesn’t have, including closer monitoring of the battery life of both the head unit and my radar/blinkie and the ability to control the operation of the functions of the blinkie. The 530 appears to double, approximately, the battery life of the 510.
The 530 operates much the same as the 510, but cleaner, prettier, longer and better. In my own personal opinion, the 530 looks like Garmin’s way of saying, “Look, Bob messed the 510 up in the design phase so we fired him. The 530 is what we should have done with the 510.”
Anyway, with all of the bells and whistle add-ons for the Garmin computers these days, you really need the battery life of the 530. All of the cool gadgets made the 510 obsolete… or excellent for shorter rides. If you’re into the long stuff, 50 to 150 miles in a day, the Edge 530. You can pick one up for $300 US, or less if you search the webz for about .000162 of a second.
Don’t forget, if you get one, to set it up properly. The indoor setting doesn’t use GPS, so don’t change that activity profile to something outdoors where you’ll need the GPS enabled. Also, I duplicated the road profile for a gravel road option rather than change the mountain biking profile. Don’t forget the auto-pause feature. You’ll want to set that for all of your activity profiles. Then, it’d probably be wise to consult the operators manual to set up your Varia. You have to get the sequencing just right so you can choose the mode you like the light to stay in (I always use daytime flash because it saves on the battery).
I’d liken the 530 to the road sport cyclist, the gravel cyclist or the mountain biker. You’ll need some battery life, but you won’t need that 400km brivet battery life with a computer smart enough to choose the best route to get you to the finish on the fly. That’s the 1030 and we can leave that one to the adventure cyclists who typically have no idea what “too much of a good thing” means.
My wife and I have a bit of a large saddle bag on our tandem. It carries all our normal spare tire tools, plus food and it even has room for vests, arm warmers, and a few other items if we need to shed some layers once it warms up.
Unfortunately, mounting that saddle bag, when we have our fenders in place, takes up a lot of seatpost. I’ve kicked around a smaller saddlebag, but we really like the extra storage, so a smaller bag wasn’t an option. At least not on our current tandem. We’ll see on the new sportier tandem we have coming in a couple of months.
Now, my wife and I have wanted to mount our Varia radar/taillight on our tandem for quite a while because they’re the single best light on the market and that’s not even taking into account the radar capability. We’ve had police officers stop us and compliment us on our lights, saying they were visible more than a mile away. My wife and I both feel safer when we use the Varia – and it appears to us that motorists treat us more respectably when we use one (and that goes for single bikes and on the tandem). I talked about sewing one to the saddle bag for a while, then finally gave it a try.
It was a perfect idea.
Rather than simply sew the stem mount onto our saddlebag, I glued and caulked it with a high quality silicone caulk as well, just to make sure it was good and sealed and the mount wouldn’t fall off while we were riding. I took the photos with the light off because the light hides all of the handiwork…
It took about a half-hour to sew the mount on (I’d use a thimble if you’ve got one) and it has worked perfectly for months. If you’ve run out of seatpost, you know you’ve thought about sewing a mount to the saddlebag. If you’ve balked because you didn’t know if it would work, hesitate no longer. It works. Perfectly.
You’re going to need a little background for this post… and this next bit is especially for Brent who will undoubtedly wonder why we needed another road bike. Stay with me here, this is a very cool story. If that bike had been a 56, I’d have snapped it up long before my wife even gave it a glance.
My wife had expressed enthusiasm about doing triathlons years ago. Her first bike was an alloy road bike and, at the beginning of 2014, Specialized announced the Alias; a road bike with triathlon-specific geometry and aero bars so the bike could be legitimately dual purpose. I wanted for my wife to have a nice ride like I had, so I bought her one for Christmas that year. I bought that bike from our local bike shop. My wife and I are very good friends with the owner. We ride with him regularly, volunteer with him and for him. His brother was my grade school gym teacher. He and his wife are a blessing in our lives.
He’s also a fantastic frame builder. He’s built world-record frames (and has one hanging in his shop). He apprenticed in England building Matthews frames and came back to the states, eventually settling in Flint, then Swartz Creek, Michigan where he owned bike and frame shops. I’ve wanted an original Assenmacher for years but there hasn’t been a 58 that’s come up for sale and Matt only made classic frames and tandems. So, when an astonishingly light Assenmacher with Campagnolo components and Eurus wheels showed up on the display, Matt offered for my wife to take it home and give it a ride to see what it was like to ride a steel bike.
She didn’t like it at first. The handlebar was all wrong – too much reach. The stem was too long, and the saddle was less than fantastic. I put one of my stems on the bike and a Power Mimic saddle that we borrowed from a friend, and set her saddle height, fore/aft position and tilted the handlebars up so that brought the reach a little closer. After the modifications, she took it for a spin while I was at work and loved it. I’d gotten the saddle perfect and the reach was closer to livable. Best, she said the bike was more comfortable than the triathlon geometry of her Alias – and that it was livelier in the handling and when putting power to the pedals. This is what we were looking for.
And so my wife will forever have a frame built by a friend.
I wrote the check the other day and she went in to pick it up.
I’ll have a full write-up with photos once we get all of the new parts on it. A new short reach handlebar that we bought with the bike, and we have carbon fiber bar-end plugs, carbon fiber cages (all matching the carbon fiber weave of the derailleur, crank and shifters), and some slick Cinelli bar tape that’s got gold flecks in it to tie in the gold trim on the beautiful blue frame. It’s going to be exceptional when done.
I’ll get the thing on a scale after the modifications but if it tops 18 pounds, I’d be shocked. It’s currently showing 17.5 without bar tape on the big scale. My wife’s carbon fiber Alias is a pound heavier (though it has aero bars and the Assenmacher doesn’t). I’m stoked for her.
Recovery from addiction, and I mean following a process that allows one to become recovered over time, with effort and an actual plan is a commitment. Now, any addict knows why they should choose recovery. This part isn’t rocket science. Life using is often quite awesome at the start. Life addicted, sucks.
Every addict knows this, and every person who has one of those tornados tear through their life will attest.
Fear is what makes the addict balk.
Fear of what’s out there without drugs, alcohol, or both. Fear that there is nothing good out there without getting high. Fear of failing recovery. Look, any reason to stay in addiction is based on fear.
That fear is misplaced.
Anyone can choose recovery and win. Big. If that’s what is worked for.
As we come to the holiday season, if you’re out there in the cold, know there is hope. There is peace. There is contentment beyond your wildest dreams. There is joy.
It all starts with a choice. It won’t always be easy, of course. Given time and effort, it will be good.
Don’t fear recovery. Be afraid of one more day without it.
If you give recovery everything you’ve got, you’re promised that you’ll be amazed before you’re halfway through. And, if by some miracle you’re recovery doesn’t live up to the hype, you’re welcome to having your misery back any time you like. Just pick up again.