Ouch My A*$!
I've been teaching cycling for over 10 years and as a lover of the sport I am overcome by the new indoor cycling renaissance. I wrote this tongue-and-cheek list out of necessity to those of you who are new to the cycling evolution. It is always refreshing to meet wide- eyed, fresh-faced pedal-happy enthusiasts ready to embark on their first adventure. In the old days (yes, I said it; in the old days) indoor cyclist came to class extremely prepared to ride. We were instructed by our first coaches to "kit up" which translates to get your correct gear, get your S#!T together, and be ready to rock when class starts. It seems that very little direction is given to those of you who come to get your crazy, cardio high. I watch many of you leave your first, second, and even third class chaffed in the naughty-naughty areas and sore in all the wrong places. The right gear and a proper bike set-up can make or break any cycling experience. Below are a few tips for those who want to fly on the pedals, jam out to great music, and keep the ouchies away.
Top eight fixable ouchies and complaints I hear everyday:
8. "I'm thirsty" - Bring a water bottle! Ah-hum... especially if you were drinking the night before. Staying hydrated is super important.
7. "It's hot " - Wear appropriate clothing! Since you are working hard at high intensity levels just know it's going to get hot. Layers are a great option, but less is more. Cycling is one of the sweatiest classes you will ever take. Besides sweat is super sexy anyway, right?
6. "Ouch, my ears!" - Bring earplugs or strategically pick your seat. Some well intended instructors have been known to get a little hyphy (translation: a little over the top) with sound levels. If you know your ears are sensitive, be mindful of where you park your booty making sure not to sit right in front or in back of a speaker.
5. "Ouch, something about my setup feels weird/off" - Get to class early! Please try your best to get to class at least 5 minutes before start time to speak with your instructor about proper bike set up. Once class is rolling, unless we see something super unsafe, we will generally leave you alone. If you are new to indoor cycling, your first class may be uncomfortable enough, I suggest arriving at least 15 minutes ahead of schedule to really get settled in on your very first day. Please read items 6-3 for more specifics, but a solid instructor should be able easily to solve most complaints with a couple of quick adjustments.
4. "Ouch, my feet" - Proper foot wear is essential to an awesome ride. I suggest hard-soled tennis shoes or cycling clips. DO NOT wear your Nike Frees, Vibruums, or sandals. Most bike's pedals are usually made of a hard plastic and some type of metal; you're going to want to have something a little thicker underneath those delicate pads. I know this sounds silly, but make sure that the clips are actually on the shoe before you head to class. I can't tell you how many times I have seen students excitedly waltz into class with their snazzy new digs only to leave embarrassed and bummed that they cannot ride. As I newbie, I made the exact same mistake myself.
Remember there are three types of pedals: Cages, SPD, and LOOK
3. "Ouch, my back is cranky" - Adjust your handle bars. The correct handle bar height for most beginner riders is ALL THE WAY UP! The forward fold position on a bike can cause irritation to those of you desk jockeys who are already prone to being hunched over a desk all day. However, some of you may already come with some serious cranky preexisting parts and have chosen cycling to get your sweat on, because it is non-impact. That's great. Taking a break, sitting up once in awhile, along with a well adjusted handle bar and saddle should keep you pretty comfy for a short 45-60 minute ride.
2. "Ouch, My knee is bugging me" - Make sure that your seat height is appropriate. Too low and your grinding your knees. Too high and you hyperextending. The top of the saddle should be approximately hip height and more specifically right below your iliac crest (hip bone).
THE NUMBER ONE COMPLAINT ~ TOTALLY FIXABLE AND AVOIDABLE
1. "Ouch, My A*$ hurts" - Also known as ouch my taint or eek my ranchocucamonga.
A. Buy padded cycling shorts! I know, I know there are a million reasons not to wear padded short. The camel toe and/or moose knuckle being the most obvious. But let's start a new trend and bring them back in style! Specialized finally just came out with some fashionable cycling knickers and I am seeing some less embarrassing styles emerge. Guys, I personally love seeing you in all your glory with a nice tightly packaged and well padded short; so slap those tights on and keep the family jewels and me happy.
B. Buy a gel seat or invest in some lubricant for your naughty bits. Purchasing some Chamois Butter or hoo ha ride will change your life. The Butters are more appropriate for long outdoor rides, but helps with the chaff if you'll never be caught dead in cycling gear.
C. Finally, I will tell you what I tell all my classes. Suck it up and just think of your first cycling class as initiation day or as sort-of a new rider hazing. Besides, a little chaffing builds strong character. You'll get used to it.
Vanessa A.K.A Vdog