Cycling Gear: What Do I Need?

This post was sponsored by The Clymb, an awesome place to get discounted outdoor gear for all of your adventures. 

So you’re a runner thinking of getting into triathlon?  Awesome!   You’ve searched online and found all sorts of great training plans.  But if you’re anything like me, you also want to know what sorts of gear you will need.

Well, to start, you’ll need a bike.  Any old bike will do to begin your training.  And you’ll need a swimming suit.  Preferably one designed for swimming and not one designed for sunbathing.

But the cycling gear.  Oh, the cycling gear.  I love it almost as much as I love running gear.

First and most importantly, you need a helmet.  This is not optional.  I don’t care what the laws are in your city.  You need to wear a helmet.  You can get a good one for under $100, and considering what it protects, it’s worth every penny.

While you can bike in any old t-shirt, I recommend wearing a tech t-shirt, but if you want to go all out, look into a cycling jersey.  The best thing about cycling jerseys is the pockets.  Oh, the pockets.  Three big pockets in the back to hold all sorts of things: snacks, your phone, a good luck charm, whatever you want to carry with you.

Next, you’ll want a good pair of cycling shorts.  Cycling shorts have what is called a chamois inside.  It’s pronounced “shammy.”  You wear cycling shorts without underwear.  That’s right.  No underwear with the cycling shorts.  Why?  You want to do everything in your power to reduce chafing.  The chamois is designed not only to provide you with extra padding and support but it also wicks away moisture and shifts with you so that nothing is rubbing as you pedal.  I know Pearl Izumi isn’t beloved by runners thanks to a poorly designed ad campaign from half a decade ago, but I must say, I love their cycling shorts and they come in a wide variety of sizes.

Now we’re getting into the part some people don’t like to talk about.  Chamois cream.  In the olden days of cycling (the early 80’s and before), chamois pads were made out of leather, so riders needed something to condition that leather.  Now, they’re made out of synthetic materials, but you still want something to prevent chafing, both between the seams and you and between… you and you.  So look into an anti-chafing cream or chamois cream.  And then rub it all up there in your nooks and crannies.  Yeah, I said it.  Also good for running.

If you’re just starting out on a bike you already own, you can just wear your running shoes while you ride.  But you’ll start to hear cyclists talk about clipless pedals.  Here’s where the lingo gets confusing.  So a standard pedal is what’s known as a platform pedal.  This is what you probably learned to ride on.  Pretty basic.  You push down, the pedal turns, the bike moves.  But what if you could get power on more than just the downward part of the revolution?  This is where attaching your shoe to the pedal helps.

One way to attach your shoe to the pedal is with toe clips or cages.  You’ll still see some riders with these, and they’re great if you’re not quite ready to go clipless.  It’s how I started out.  They’re little rubberized (formerly metal) straps on the front of your pedal that you slip the front of your foot into.  You get a little more power from your legs, but not a lot.

Then we come to clipless pedals.  And the lingo gets weird.  Since cages are also known as toe clips, pedals where you attach without toe clips are clipless.  Except that riders talk about clipping in and clipping out.  These work by way of a cleat that’s attached to the bottom of your cycling shoe.  You get on the bike and then clip in, attaching your shoes to the bike.  Yes, it’s terrifying at first, but honestly, it’s not so bad.  The added power going up hills is awesome.

But clipless pedals definitely aren’t necessary.  It’s just an easy upgrade to a bike you already have if you’re ready to take your cycling to the next step.

Cycling gloves are another thing that aren’t necessary, but are awesome to have.  They pad your palms just a bit more, reducing the numbing that can come from the vibrations of the ride, plus they help you keep your grip if you’re nervous and your palms are a bit sweaty.

A saddle bag, which goes on the back of your bike under the seat, is a great way to store a spare tube (what goes in your tire) and a tube change kit.  Learn how to change a tube.  It’s an awesome skill to have.  You can also get a bento box, which is a little pack that goes on the front of your bike to carry things.  And of course, water bottles or a hydration pack are necessary if you’re going on long rides.

So that’s a lot of stuff.  Do you need it all?  No.  To start, you need a bike and a helmet.  Cycling shorts are an upgrade you will want soon after.  But there’s no need to buy it all right away, and you can always look for deals online.  The Clymb has great sales every day.  I just recently received an order from them where I got a box of Clif Bars, a box of Luna Bars and a new pair of cycling gloves that I love, all at an awesome discount.  So check them out!

Thanks again to The Clymb for sponsoring!

Wednesday Workout Recap

It’s that time again!  Another workout recap.  I know a lot of bloggers do What I Ate Wednesday, and let me tell you, that would be the most boring post series if I participated.  Though yesterday, I did have a fluffernutter made with honey and flax almond butter.  And it was delicious.

Last week’s workouts:

Monday – Skipped.  My whole body hurt from Pedal and Paddle.  Would possibly have felt good to go, but not moving felt so much better.

Tuesday – 6 miles scheduled, but only ran 5 when the power started blinking.  I decided that the constant on/off was bad for the treadmill and quit.

Wednesday – Bike Trainer workouts.  I love these more and more.

Thursday – Team Fight swim.  I was once again one of the slower swimmers, but I finally feel like I’m making progress and figuring out the proper body positioning to really swim well.  Now to manage that in open water with sighting.

Friday – Rest Day

Saturday – 8 mile run.  I was absolutely dripping sweat, and probably sweating off all of my sunscreen.  Thankfully, a breeze picked up when I hit the turnaround point, so the second half wasn’t as bad.

Sunday – Iron Girl Course Ride.  I’m getting better and better at this course.  I love the practice on hills.  I’m still working on getting my cadence up, as my natural comfortable cadence is at about 72 and it should be at about 90.  But I’ll get there.

So there you have it and there you are.  This current week is my last week without a race of some sort for a while and I have to admit, my August scares me a bit.

Early Morning Workouts

I do not understand how people can get up at crazy hours of the morning to fit in a workout.  Of course, those same people probably don’t understand how I convince myself to run or bike after a full day of work.

Once a week, I get up at 5:00 to go to the pool.  On a normal day, I get up at 5:15, so this is not that much earlier.  No, I don’t swim for only 15 minutes – since the pool doesn’t open til 6, I go to work about an hour late.  My boss is cool about it. But I don’t want to push her generosity.

So, for example, tonight I have a 6 mile run scheduled.  I’m slow, so that will take somewhere around 75 minutes.  The idea of getting up at 4 am or earlier makes me want to cry.  And honestly, I know myself.  I would just reset my alarm and plan to hit the treadmill after work.  If I had something to do after work, it would be a different story, but on any given day, sleep would win in the morning.

So hats off to you, early morning fitness types.  You are crazy, but I’m still impressed.

Swimming is 50% Mental

Monday morning swims are one of the hardest workouts to motivate myself for.  Not because of the swimming – I like swimming.  But 1) it’s Monday and 2) it’s early.  But it’s a good start to the week so I make a point to get there.  Plus I don’t want to drown or get eaten by sharks come race day.

Today’s workout started great.  I actually ended up with my own lane for the first 15 minutes, which never happens.  Someone joined me eventually, and that was fine.  We just split the lane.  He was swimming butterfly for some of his laps, but was conscious of where I was and would pull his arms in when we passed so I didn’t get punched.  All good.

Then a third guy asked to join the lane and we had to circle swim. Not a big deal except that I was a good deal slower than these guys.  I can’t tell you how many times I got lapped.  It was fine, really.  The guys were more than polite about it.  But it was really tough on my motivation.  I really just wanted to quit.  It was so demoralizing.  I’m well aware that I’m not fast and I generally don’t care, but to have these guys swimming around me constantly was just tough.

But I stuck it out.  Conveniently, the third guy joined just as I was starting a tempo set, so the added speed was a good push.  I was definitely feeling it by the end.  And by the time I was ready for cool down, I was once again in the lane alone.  So all in all, a good workout that I was feeling afterwards, but it was a mental struggle for sure.

I just have to remember that it’s not about everyone else – it’s just about me.  I’m doing this because I love to race and I want to improve myself.  It’s not about anyone else but me.

What It Means to Fight Cancer

Take 15 minutes out of your day and watch this.  If you’re just interested in his speech, skip to around 7:00.

“When you die, that doesn’t mean you lose to cancer.  You beat cancer by why you live, how you live, and the manner in which you live.  So live.  Live.  Fight like hell.  And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”