Here a bicycle trip in Argentina, the whole face was covered by the wind and the dry cold of the Puna. But this “fantasy” helped me to have peace in places where I was annoyed by men’s comments. Maybe an earplug would solve my problem, but then I would not be able to pay attention to traffic. Today I know that harassment may be commonplace but we should not get used to it, although it is very difficult to fight against.
Some countries the manifestations of machismo are bigger than in others. Of the five countries we pedaled, I felt more uncomfortable with this in Peru. There, in addition to being very physically exhausting, the route we chose for the mountain range, some people expressed aversion to strangers, and in addition, some men felt entitled to let go of the infamous macho “jokes”, it is very tiring. I was very worn out at that time of the trip, I knew I would not change the local culture and I did not have the energy to rebut the comments, so I decided on the easiest and when I saw a group of men I would pull the bandana over my face and go without greeting anyone.
Bicycle trip and tricks
In the first trips, I went with clothes and a bicycle trip that normally pedaled in the city, lycra shorts, top, and regatta, and I noticed two disadvantages. The first is that the sun burns too much when you spend all day cycling; there is sunscreen every two hours, especially shoulders and knee burn a lot. And the second is the annoyance of male harassment, screaming from the windows of vehicles, whistling or honking, this is too horrible to endure and should not exist.
In the later trips, I decided to go with long sleeve clothes and long trousers to avoid so much sunscreen and burns. But the discomfort with the attitude of certain guys along the way continued to annoy me a lot for wearing just clothes, imagine that with André pedaling beside me in just clothes (cycling shorts) no woman or man acted with harassment towards him.
I started to pedal with those shorts pants and finally, I got more peace. But with that, I discovered something good and a very bad thing. The bad and very serious thing is that women are not allowed to wear the clothes they want, because harassment is a form of coercion, and I was not yet aware of it at the time. But the good thing is that wider pants (and if possible light colored) because they have a thinner tissue and stay farther away from the skin provide greater ventilation, even better for hot climates and also avoid sunburn and wear and tear of sunscreen. (But indignation at the attitude of coercion by the clothing we choose to wear is not close to being rescued!)
In places where you learn a bicycle trip can camp wild and do not want to be seen by people on the road or those who live in the vicinity, both the tent and the colorful clothes that blend into the landscape help not to be spotted, but even safer would be talking to someone from the neighborhood and ascertain whether the location is safe and allowed to camp, when possible. Yellow, red, blue, pink, orange and lime green are colors that look great from when you’re riding on the road because the cars see you from afar, but maybe not so good when you’re setting up a hidden camp in the woods.
The fucking saddle!
Well, be his friend, it is necessary to a bicycle trip are establish a long and lasting friendship with his saddle. I had a GTS of foam that I loved and it was my friend for two years until it began to give in to support and give me pain in the neck. I broke the friendship! I did the math and then if I needed to change my saddle every two years, in 4 years I could have paid for a durable Brooks’ saddle, made of leather, like those that came on bikes from yesteryear. In research on cycling tourism, I have always found this saddle as a reference for long distances, with reports from users for more than 4 decades.
If in 4 years for me already compensated financially, imagine in 40 years, already more than paid. At the time we had not changed our diet for vegetarianism, but it had an economic justification and from some ecological point of view, at least the leather is biodegradable and this saddle will last 40 years, whereas my old GTS I doubt much that was recycled and it was only possible to use it for two years.
In 40 years, there’s a bicycle trip and a saddle to recycle! Nowadays, Brooks has already developed a vegan saddle model, made with cotton wefts and a latex blanket that follows the same style as the leather one.
At first, the Brooks was like a cross that I had to carry because I like to pedal and be hard. The bastard did not soften after the “first” 2,000 miles, as promised. I made an entire audax 200 after having already pedaled it over 1500km and showed no signs of flexibility. This resulted in some cysts problems where the ischium supported the saddle, and the ointment the doctor prescribed did not heal the wounds.
What he decided to buy was a padded pair of shorts that I had never worn before. The blessed shorts cost almost as much as what I spent on the saddle at the time but solved my problem. I chose one whose foam is thin, used for a triathlon. I thought of the wash-and-dry factor, so important in bike riding. I used it in the first year of cycling, and gradually the mesh deteriorated, but the lining remains great, so I’ll sew the lining in other shorts and keep wearing.
I really enjoyed the combination of this shorts and the leather saddle, it is very breathable, comfortable and at the end of the day, I can wash the shorts with the certainty that it will dry until the next morning if the weather is not too wet. But the truth is that after some time calluses form in the region of the hunch and the shorts do not make much help after a good old and consolidated callus. The bad news is that if you stop for more than a week without pedaling, the calluses begin to peel and the original and sensitive skin will bother you again in the early days of the next cycle of post-rest.
Another factor related to discomfort in the saddle may not be just the saddle model you have chosen. It can be position, tilt and even frame size and canister. The importance of a bicycle trip thing is that the support of the bones, the ischium, is well distributed and that their body weight is divided between these points of support: ischium, wrist, and foot so that it does not overload any of them too much.
Today, after 23,000km wheeled alone on this trip, my saddle still looks like new, very little softened despite the intense daily use. I am also accustomed to it, and I have already dispensed the use of foam cycling shorts after the callus formation.
However, care must be taken not to let the leather saddle take rain, nor to become very dry in the desert or dry climate areas. For this, there is a specific wax used to moisturize and maintain the leather. They say the bad language that any product of these used for footwear already solves, but I never tested.
I avoid pedaling these days; I feel that my body reacts better if I rest in the first days of the cycle. But this is not always possible, especially when we are in a place where there is no place to buy food for the next few days.
Sometimes you have to continue even a bicycle trip if you do not have the slightest desire to ride on that day (s). What helps knows exactly the date you will arrive at your cycle, there you can program with more precision where you will be and if you can book a few days of pause. I use a mobile application that tells me a few days before the menstrual period approaches, so let’s start preparing the rest for the first few days.
Some people have recommended the use of drugs to block menstruation, but putting a substance inside my body that no one guarantees will have a long-term effect, does not convince me at all.