This is a follow up to my previous post A Girls Guide To Cycle Touring: Part 1.
After our American adventure last year and many mini tours I have come some new conclusions and have a new batch of tips:
1) Personal fitness
Towards the end of the mammoth American cycle my fitness was finally starting to improve. I was eager not to lose my gains upon return so I set myself a few challenges including half marathon, regularly cycling with Southsea fixed gear and commuting daily 16-20miles. The discovery of Strava (athletes Facebook) helped me keep motivated. The challenge of competing with other users and the satisfaction of receiving QOM’s (Queen of the mountains) was a great help. Check out my Strava stats here…
2) Keeping clean
Though in the reality of bike touring this is highly unlikely. So just by keeping certain areas clean and washing regularly you should be able to get by. I did meet one American that didn’t change his shorts for 6days which I wouldn’t be able to handle. I personally can go one day or two at a max but only if I haven’t cycled hard I.e. sweated much. The ideal would be clean padded shorts (no pants/underwear) on a clean showered bottom smeared in Chami cream. In addition my previous tips recommendation of hygiene still stand.
3) Chami cream
Butt cream also known as ‘shammy cream’ this is a cream applied directly to the bottom and undercarriage to prevent chaffing and saddle sores. So there is plenty of debate over chami cream, is it useful, does it work, is it just for roadies, what to use etc. I have finally come to a conclusion that if you are in the saddle for long periods of time whether road bike, fixed or penny farthing it is very beneficial! When touring you have a combination of friction, sweat and maybe a little dirt which increases the chances of saddle sores (i have been there and its not pretty).
So to prevent you from having this haunting experience you need to formulate a regular hygiene routine that you keep to daily.
There are a lot of products out there including Vaseline, baby napping rash cream and plenty of branded options. I would personally recommend dznuts since they have many natural ingredients including tea tree oil and other anti bacterial agents/essential oils to sooth the skin. This also come in a tube so if you are sharing there is no double dip/cross crotch contamination which is likely in Chami tubs.
4. Cycling shorts
Leading nicely on to more bottom support. I initially was very apprehensive about purchasing padding after all I have suitable amount of cushioning in the buttock area already. It wasn’t until i had experience the shorts of all shorts (Rapha Classic shorts http://www.rapha.cc/rd/en/shop/women%27s-classic-shorts/product/WSS01). They are so amazing they make my bottom feel like its wrapped in silky clouds moving with my every breath. There is no restriction or chaffing they are a top quality product as you would expect from Rapha.
5) Wiz/Porcelain palaces
Whether it is my age or higher consumption of liquids now days, I need to wee every couple of miles. This can pose obvious problems when on a rural bike tour and there are no porcelain pottys in sight. I have now mastered the art of squatting and want to empower my fellow woman to join me and tell them this is allowed!! Its not only the male species that has the right to relive themselves at will. Also this is the most natural way to go to the toilet and in many countries this is still the norm. We westerns also relieved ourselves in this way before Thomas Crapper created his invention. So ladies don’t be shy and risk yourselves a soggy accident wee freely and let all of nature be your wiz palace.
Important do’s and dont’s to remember:
Do Always have tissue
Do support your fellow tourers as a look out if you are fortunate to cycle with a chum
Do ensure you are square on if on a slope
Dont wee into the wind
Don’t wee in a public place, likely to get fined
Dont we on others property could possibly get shot at if in America
6) Moon cup
A female travelers best friend and what I feel all woman should use. The amount of waste and money saved from purchasing this mini mooncup or similar alternatives makes it a essential item!!
7) Food and energy
So keeping energy levels up high enough to keep up with a super athlete like Mr Dickson is a challenge that I am getting closer to mastering. I find personally for my bio mechanics light easy digestible carbs are the way forward. My main rules is bananas and potatoes or sometime other fruits and salads. No heavy, sweet or fatty product until after ride other wise I find I become heavy and lethargic.
I do find it especially difficult eating out as a vegan cyclist. Since, as soon as you mention ‘Vegan’ people instantly think your on a diet or generally don’t eat a lot of food. What most people don’t consider is that you need quantity especially when cycling touring!!! I have a feeling this is why many people attempt veganism and then resort back to veggie due to not getting the right quantity of calories in and they are constantly hungry so turn to fatty foods. I find myself resorting to this when I haven’t had enough carbs I will suddenly find a knife in one hand and peanut butter surrounding my mouth. Keep an eye out for ongoing touring recipes.
One popular questions asked is ‘how do you fit all your clothes in those little bags’. The answer is very smart selection and stuffing. I have acquired a few items that are totally versatile and have now become essential parts of my kit. For example a scarf can be a skirt, dress or a scarf could even be a blanket. My jumper is now a pillow and can be worn on and off the bike. My pj bottoms can be used as trousers and yoga pants. I don’t have shoes for all occasion I have one pair of shoes for all occasions.
This is my BFF, sound board and relationship councillor all rolled into one when touring. As well as having my own personal documentation of my touring memories this helps me keep my sanity.