Friends, it was only last summer that I took the bold move of heading out on my bicycle sans-unders. For guys this may have been a no-brainer but for girls, it seems to be more of a concern to be out and about without proper undergarments.
Since then I have stuck to the first brand I purchased, which was also the only brand that the local bike shop had in stock that didn’t make me feel more than slightly awkward plunking down in front of the guy at the counter.
When I was preparing for the Elephant Rock Ride in Colorado, the shop had trial sizes of my usual brand … and Hoo Ha Ride Glide. Intrigued, I picked up a few for the long ride. I ended up using the first packet the following day on 10 mile mountain bike ride and immediately noticed the cooling sensation, which told me it was working. I also noticed the exceptionally pleasant smell.
I didn’t bother to ask my companions if they could also smell it because there really isn’t an easy way to ask if your booty cream smells nice.
The first ride was fine, nothing special … but it was enough to prompt me to pick up a full-size bottle. Anymore, it’s my go-to ride cream. It’s not too thick, lasts quite a while, and smells nice. I like that it’s formulated for women and the trial sizes come in environmentally-friendly packaging. Plus it’s quite a conversation piece when the conversation inevitably turns to chamois creams (what, you don’t talk about that stuff on your group rides?).
From their website:
Reflect Sports feminine chafing cream, Hoo Ha Ride Glide® protects your Hoo Ha from saddles sores, chafing, friction burns, irritation and inflammation. Our chafing cream provides healing and prevents saddle sores and chafing from exercise. Focused on the sensitivities of the vaginal area our product is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. In addition to having healing agents, our chafing cream is enriched with barely extract, lavender, eucalyptus leaf, tea tree and peppermint oil. These specialized ingredients provide a lasting cool feeling so you enjoy your ride, run or spin class.
After Elephant Rock and a nice hot shower, my mom was still sad that she wasn’t able to ride the event this year due to health issues stemming from last summer. My mom has been a life-long bicycle rider and uses it to stay fit as she gets older. So I saddled up on my (much taller) baby sister’s mountain bike and told my mom we could go out on the trail by her house.
It wasn’t the longest ride or the fastest ride I’ve ever done – but it was nice to get out with my mom and dad on bikes and see the route they use to gauge their fitness. While it’s sad to see how far my mom’s fitness has fallen, it’s incredibly encouraging to see her on her bike, getting stronger each ride. And my dad has never been a fitness guy but he likes riding his bike with my mom too.
The next morning I loaded up my sister’s mountain bike (with her permission of course) and headed up to Pike National Forest to do some light mountain biking with my friend James and my friend Andrea. We rode a washboard-riddled dirt and gravel road from the trailhead to the paved part of the road and back before we noticed a short stretch of relatively flat singletrack on the other side of the river. So we did what any self-respecting cyclists would do and rode it to explore.
After our ride, we adjourned to Andrea’s house for tall glasses of chocolate milk on her deck overlooking nothing before heading back to the city.
I also tried a new chamois cream – Hoo Ha Ride Glide. The cream was silky smooth and had a distinct cooling sensation that was … interesting. I usually use Chamois Butt’r which doesn’t have a tingle to tell me it’s working – but it wasn’t unpleasant. Unfortunately the cooling sensation was gone by the end of our relatively short ride (less than 10 miles) so I wonder about its effectiveness on long rides. The upside is that it smelled nice. This is huge, as I generally feel that chamois cream smells medicinal and meh. But Hoo Ha smelled amazing. So more to come on this as I go get a tube (instead of the take-it-with-you trial size I purchased).
What else? I spent so much time with my friends and family. It was awesome. When I got home I told my husband I was planning to go back next year and he smirked, asking when he gets a kid-free vacation. I told him when he actually goes somewhere instead of just staying home. 🙂
I’m absolutely beat from spending a day in airports and airplanes but I have to share with you, dear reader, what a wonderful time I had in Colorado this past week.
I flew on Frontier Airlines again because if you do the research, they have the most bike-friendly policies of any airline. I can’t recommend them enough. Be vigilant however – some of the smaller/newer airports may not be fully informed and try to charge you oversize AND overweight (Frontier only charges overweight for bikes). I tweeted @FrontierCare a gentle request to remind the staff of said airport about their policy and they tweeted back that they called the staff immediately. I can independently confirm this because I was at a very small (tiny) airport and the only one checking a bike … and the gate agent called me out on it when I was boarding.
You can bet they will remember the bike policy the next time someone checks a bike for a flight through their airport.
Friends, I can’t tell you how well Pedal treated not only me but my family. My bike has not felt this fluid and effortless since she was brand new. They adjusted my fit, answered my questions about my cleats getting stuck last weekend (and loosening my pedals), and made sure I was happy. Then we talked about a rental for my sister, who is a runner and planned to join me for a day on the bike. They treated her with respect and honesty and she did not feel like she was being talked down to when she said she didn’t know the first thing about bikes and needed flat pedals. They tweaked the fit until she felt amazing on the bike. I highly recommend Pedal if you are in the Belleview/Santa Fe area – they are just off the trail and top-notch.
The morning of Elephant Rock my sister and I were shepherded to the start by my most excellent parents. This is no small feat because we had to get up at 4:30am to get to the start and on the road by 6am. I of course felt incredibly nervous and anxious – and this manifests as nausea. Fortunately I warned my sister a few days before to not take it personally if I didn’t talk to her much.
I also failed to check the weather report outside of high temp for the day. Our 6am start brought us 48*F, sunshine, and 20 mph winds. So our shorts, jersey, and light sleeves were significantly subpar.
and the WIND! Oh my goodness – we could barely push above 10-13mph and we were spinning like crazy. Crosswinds – headwinds – everything but a tailwind. We would spin up a hill and not even have the benefit of a descent because we’d have to pedal through the headwind going downhill. This gave a whole new meaning to “windswept plains.”
We stopped at the 15mi rest stop – me for real food (since I hadn’t eaten anything yet for fear of losing it), my sister for a way to close the hole in the front seam of her bike shorts (she got a safety-pin). A gentleman commented that “you don’t have views like this in Philadelphia” referring to the amazing view of Pikes Peak in the background. I swear I said a inflection-neutral “nope” but my sister will tell you I growled at him and was generally hostile. All I remember is nibbling on a banana and sour green grapes and pacing around, trying not to puke. And the wind again.
The 25 mi mark is the route divergence for the full century and the metric century. Given the wind, I suggested to my sister that we pull over and rethink our desire to do the full century route. We were barely averaging 10mph at this point and the winds were showing no sign of letting up. By this point the banana has kicked in and I feel normal again – but my sister is sagging because the wind is literally sucking our energy (and she’s not a cyclist) and her butt was hurting.
Clearly we were not the only ones who decided to pull over and think – there was a quarter of a mile worth of cyclists debating the routes. We learned later that most people opted to curtail their miles because of the wind.
And really, when you are out to have fun – there’s no point in slogging through 20mph winds that are gusting to 30mph. It’s just not fun.
So we aborted our quest for the full century after much deliberation and headed west to the next rest stop at mile 33. Several big inclines lead to delicious descents that became tricky in the gusty wind. These are the times I curse my carbon fiber bike and it’s light weight – I hate spending more energy staying upright on the downhill than I did on the uphill.
We did however get to ride on an aptly named Roller Coaster Road – a swooping set of several rollers that ended up being a highlight of the route.
After a quick pee-and-refill-water-bottles break in Palmer Lake, we set out for the best part of the ride – ten pure miles of downhill protected by pine forest. So there was no wind. And we could pick up the pace. And by “pick up the pace” I mean I shouted “gidd’up,” threw my rig into the big ring, and watched my cyclometer ratchet up to over 40mph.
Yeah, that happened. And it was worth every moment.
Then came the payback – over 2 miles of 4% grade with less than 20 miles to go in the metric. My poor sister was experiencing what we all face in the early season, Sore Butt. She was also running out of gas so we rode side by side up Tomah Road. An older guy struck up a conversation with us part way up the hill and that took her mind off the grind (and her sore booty) for a bit.
By now it’s also almost 80*F. It feels amazing to be in the sun with very little wind. We zoom to the finish, taking a few breaks here and there for my sister to get off her saddle and stretch a bit. We cheer as we roll into the finish line, grab our post-ride lunch and nosh in the shade celebrating our victory. My parents had watched us on my Garmin LiveTrack and were already on their way to pick us up.
I need to get this out of the way: I love Colorado. I lived here for 25 years. It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth and has one of the best climates to live in. There’s no humidity to speak of, the rains pass quickly, and the sun shines more days than not. There are mountains and plains and everything in between.
I miss this state more than any other I’ve ever lived in and get all misty-eyed thinking about how awesome the past few days have been. How careless I was in not valuing the absolute beauty that surrounded me every day.
Let’s also talk briefly about Altitude Sickness. Even though I have only been away from this great state for a few short months, my body has mutinied. Day 1 was fine, just a little “disconnected” feeling. The past two days I’ve been battling mild nausea and intense headaches despite basically mainlining non-caffeinated fluids. I’ve been ingesting as much solid food as I can without actually losing my cookies, which hasn’t been much.
Interestingly enough though, I feel fine when I ride my bike. It’s like all the bad parts of being at altitude again disappear and I have some respite. Then I stop and it all comes back to me. Suffice to say, this has been a significant hamper on any non-cycling fun activities. But I did manage to get two great rides in.
I met up with my ride partner John for an easy 34 mile bike path ride on Saturday morning after a week and a half off the bike. It was awesome. The first half was really low-key but as I realized I felt better riding than not, we kicked the second half up to par. I’m pleased to report we averaged over 14mph on a relatively flat ride with many stretches of consistent 16-18mph. Very nice ride to acclimate to the altitude.
This is the reason I’m back in this great state – a 30+ mile ride with my mom and one of my my sisters, who is an accomplished hiker (she bags fourteeners like they are candy). The three big hills on the elevation map diverted attention from the fact that there were a number of hills in general, just not MapMyRide category climbs – over 1400′ gain over the ride.
I ran into my best friends, James and Rachel, at the first rest station – which was awesome. We chatted about the first big hill and then continued our journeys separately. This was a family ride for me this time around.
My mom is in her 60s and rides regularly but not road rides. She has a monster of a mountain bike that she rides around town to keep up her cardiovascular strength, generally on 15-20 mile rides. She picked up an inexpensive Fuji hybrid for this ride to lighten her load and did an amazing job on this ride. I am so proud to have been part of her “ride team” on this route.
THINGS I HAVE LEARNED TODAY:
* How to fix a dropped chain
* How to fix a pedal that is un-threading itself from the crank shaft
* How to adjust my bike fit
* How to disassemble and re-assemble portions of my bike (thanks multi-tool!)
* How amazing it is to careen down a hill at 45mph
My mom and I are probably heading out again tomorrow morning for another gentle ride before I drop my bike off at Criterium Bicycles to get re-boxed up for transport.