Doesn’t Your Bum Hurt?

 

‘Well yes it does, thank you for asking!’ One of the most common questions I have gotten about my journey thus far is ‘but how do you keep your bum from hurting?’. In all reality I probably should have thought about this a lot more before I left for the bike tour. I was pretty caught up in the idea that I wanted to buy the least cyclist looking clothing I could so I could look like a cute non-cyclist on the bike. It pains me to say this was a mistake.

My partner convinced me a while back I would need a good warm pair of bib tights, with bottom padding, so I asked for the Castelli warm pair as a present. I definitely don’t regret getting these, I have actually worn them a lot, but they probably heightened my resolve that I didn’t want bike clothes. Bibs, are in my opinion, the opposite of casual Gigi Hadid gym chic. Plus they make going to the bathroom really hard! I know if you read lots of womens blogs on what bike bottoms to get they swear by bibs, but unfortunately all bike bibs did was put me off bike clothing further.

So continuing on my journey into becoming a full time cycle tourist, I was packing for a tour of Europe in the summer without buying any cycling shorts. I am not really sure how I thought I would accomplish this, but I was much more worried about what else I would wear instead of my cycle shorts. My partner, understanding I was being pretty naive, gifted me some Humvee cycle shorts. He thought maybe I would like these because instead of your usual spandex bike look they had a padded insert with loose fitting pocketed shorts that are worn on top. This was definitely not the look I was going for! I am just not a loose fitting, long, pocketed short kind of girl, but I settled for them all the same. I did start wearing them on the trip and the padding was pretty good but as the muscles in my legs got more defined the elastic grip at the bottom of the leg started eating into my skin. Not ok on a 40 mile day in the heat! I tried cutting the seam, which didn’t work, before I came to the realisation that, I am a cyclist and I need shorts!

Unfortunately with this epiphany I didn’t also realise that I needed to spend some time on trying out different shorts and some money on good quality shorts. We stopped at the next Decathlon we came accross. For those of you who don’t know, Decathalon is a discount European outdoors shop. Please don’t take this as me putting Decathalon down in any way, they are a great shop with incredibly reasonably priced sporting goods, however if you are planning on spending thousands of miles in the saddle this is probably not where you want to pick up your clothing. Moving on, I did buy my first pair of of lycra shorts from there, for 15 euros! As you can imagine this wasn’t my best idea, the shorts had very little padding and more importantly it wasn’t stiff enough for my needs. On a positive note, they weren’t bibs which for me were much more comfortable.

After a few days in these shorts I finally realised my bum is really hurting and I needed really good shorts! I stopped in a lot of bike shops to try on shorts and I spent a lot of time researching shorts online. In the end I found a pair of Gore riding shorts that are excellent for me. They have stiffer padding, fabric seams around the thighs and a dropped front seem so that is more comfortable when you are riding. The shorts were pretty expensive for my budget, €87, but you can spend as much as £200 on good shorts. I also reinvested in some long overshorts that are super light from Gore as well. Although as I said before I am not really a long baggy short kind of girl, I did want a pair of these for when we enter countries that not as many women walk around in lycra.

The moral of this story as you might have guessed is that as much as you try to fight It, if your going on epic bike tour, you are a cyclist!, so unfortunately you need to invest some time and money into cyclist clothes. Oh and good bum cream should also be in your shopping list!

You can only take one dress?!!

 

It was really difficult for me to adjust to the decision that I was going travelling around the world on a bike, with only four bags meaning I only had the room to bring one dress. In reality I was going to wear the same clothes every day! I am pretty body conscious and I was also very aware that a lot of this trip would be documented on social media, so I wanted clothes that were simple, relatively stylish and flattering. It should be noted that now after only being on this bike tour for 2 weeks I have realised that your body completely changes, and quickly! My lady lumps that I was concerned about showcasing on social media are disappearing, so I am hoping to change my wardrobe to sexy/social media ready in a few months time :).

It was obvious that I absolutely must bring good biking/workout clothes. Unfortunately there is no way around this, you are on a bike tour!, so the majority of clothing is going to be for this purpose. The main challenge is keeping everything clean. To help with this we try to find accommodation where we can wash all of our clothes every few days. Looking at AirBnB washing facilities is now an obsession of mine.

Here is a list of the biking/workout/necessity clothes that I have brought with me.

  • Castelli thermal bib tights
  • 2 x nike dry fit tops – I really couldn’t live without these, they wash well and they dry super quickly, plus they aren’t super ugly.
  • 2 x nike pro hyperwarm tops – I love these! they are actually cute enough to wear out and they double up as a warm layer when biking. I will probably get rid of one of these soon as the weather warms up.
  • Bike shorts
  • 5 pairs of cycling socks
  • 1 pair of waterproof socks
  • 5 pairs of work out panties
  • bikini
  • North Face Shinpuru gore-tex jacket – I spent a lot of time looking at best rain jackets and then picking the one that I thought was the cutest. This is a really amazing coat, but I would say it is pretty warm so may not work for all seasons and it does rip pretty easy. But I was right, it is cute!
  • Waterproof trousers – Thus far I have only used these when camping, so I think I might ditch these when I have the chance.
  • North Face waterproof trail runner shoes
  • Nike sandals – You really need a pair of shoes that you can change into to let your feet breath in the evenings, also sandals or flip-flops double up as shower shoes when you are camping.

We are camping regularly on this trip so I also needed to pack base layer clothes that could be worn in the tent – again hopefully I can shed some of this stuff when the weather gets warmer and replace it with clothing I actually want to wear.

  • Uniqlo light puffer coat – Pretty simple and can be worn out as well as a layer.
  • silk turtle neck – only to sleep in if needed
  • gloves and winter hat

My everyday clothes that work as staples for the trip are as follows. I wanted to feel good when I went out so I tried to pick clothes that worked as casual and smart items.

  • Nike loose fitting black tank – I love this and will probably get another one. It is super light can double as a work-out top but still looks good as an every day item.
  • H&M white loose fitting white tank – I will probably replace this with the above. You  don’t have many opportunities to iron while you are bike touring so I have mostly just been wearing this to bed and it is much better to have tops that can be used for multiple uses.
  • Free People Te Amo Mini Dress – This would be considered a luxury item for most bike tourers, but I am so happy I brought this. Having a dress that you can wear out to dinner as well as around a city while you site seeing is a must.
  • Sweaty Betty black leggings – Again I don’t think I could live without these now. I know that Sweaty Betty is an expensive brand, but let’s face it the leggings look great on! I literally wear these every day and they are my staple with pretty much every non-bike outfit.
  • Longchamp back pack – It was important to me that when we were site seeing and relaxing with a drink after our ride that I didn’t look like a bike tourer at all times. I wasn’t going to bring an expensive bag with me mainly because it wouldn’t be practical and they usually weigh quite a bit. Longchamp is made for travel and the backpack is nice to wear out. This again has become a can’t live without item for me.
  • Ballet flats – These are extra and probably not needed, but it is nice to have access to a pair of nice shoes.

In conclusion, the clothes that I invested a bit more money into to and the items that can be used for more than one purpose (i.e. workout and around the city) have been my ‘can’t live without’ pieces. You can go without some of the extras that I brought with me such as the bag and the flats but if they make you feel like your old feminine self while bike touring then I would say take on the extra weight because it is well worth it!

Make-up and Hair

One of the goals of this trip for me was to let go of some of my attachments to material things and to become less self conscious and dependent on make-up and hair styling. I was willing to make some sacrifices in this regard but I still wanted to the opportunity to feel like I look I good when I wanted.

I read quite a few blogs on the best make-up to take take travelling as well as what the best and smallest hair straighteners were. I didn’t take a blow dryer with me, because of the weight, and I figured I would probably only want to work on my hair when blow dryers were available where we were staying because I then I would feel comfortable enough to get glammed up.

Here is the list of the make-up that I have brought. It should be noted I have been wearing sun screen every day as well, which would make it difficult to keep on a good foundation.

  • Clinique moisture surge mini moisturiser – Perfect small pot for travelling.
  • Benefit they’re real mini mascara – I personally can’t live without this mascara and their travel size is perfect for this kind of trip.
  • Clinique chubby peach blush stick
  • Smashbox brow tint
  • Smashbox always on liner
  • Mac pro longwear paint pot eye shadow – This has to be my favourite new make up item. I wanted a gel eye shadow because I read that powder just breaks up. The great thing about this gel is that it goes on like a powder and the colour doesn’t smudge.
  • Clinique longwear eye shadow – I bought this for the same reason I bought the Mac above, but I have found it to have the opposite effect. It is definitely worth spending a bit more money on the Mac product.
  • Eye liner pencil sharpener

For hair I bought a really good straightening brush that is also lightweight and even though it is heavy I always carry a large bottle of conditioner (unfortunately when your hair is covered by a helmet all day, you must, must must! moisturise).

For straightening I brought the Cloud 9 mini straighteners. These are amazing straighteners, but they are very mini and are probably only useful for short hair or fly aways. If you want to go full out on styling you may need to bring normal size straighteners with you.

You can keep make up and hair items to a minimum, all in all these items take up about two handfuls of space in our panniers. I am happy that I brought these items but I have come to the conclusion it doesn’t matter how much make-up and hair items you bring with you, on a bike tour you are probably going to use them a minimal amount and you are quickly going to get used to your not so glam, more looking like you just came our of the gym self.