All it took was a tiny piece of fabric to bring America to its knees. The land of bluster reduced to a faint whimper as people took to the streets to profess their anger at having their “civil rights infringed upon.” Yep, all it took was one tablespoon of QAnon, one teaspoon of social media, one pint of political radicalization and a fifty gallon drum of stupidity and America blew itself apart over the COVID face mask. Not only was I not surprised by this, I actually expected it. I grew up here people, dancing from country to city and back again, and I’m an observer, so I had a pretty decent bead on my fellow Americans before COVID came calling. We didn’t disappoint when it came to putting our anti-science, anti-data, anti-history stupidity on display.
But there is another piece of fabric that is also causing issues in America, mostly with men, but from time to time women also chime in with a barb or two. What piece of fabric you ask? The dreaded, dangerous, all-dividing cycling bib. Yes, if you think the COVID mask struck fear into the heart of the toxic male then brace yourself for what a cycling bib will do.
Before I explain the reality of wearing a cycling bib let me explain WHY someone would choose to wear a cycling bib. It’s really about two things, wind and grinding your taint into a small piece of foam for hours on end. So, in essence, comfort. In my twenty-seven years of coming to Maine I’ve never had a wind day, so in places like this you will hear overweight, out-of-shape males scoff at the idea of wind. In New Mexico, however, I have “wind days” once or twice a week on average, and in spring that number might hit three or four. Can I still ride? Sure, but it does suck anytime sustained winds hit 25mph or higher. Sustained 30mph or 40mph are not unheard of in spring, and I’ve been woken up plenty of times by debris hitting the house. Wind is real. Birds are not, silly.
Sometimes I talk to my taint, just to check in. “Hey buddy, how you doing?” But my taint has been suffering of late. The day before I departed on my four-month trip, I managed to break the rail on my MTB saddle, the same saddle I had been using for a decade. This was the first and only time I broke a rail. The only saddle I had was a one that was sent to me by someone who follows my YouTube channel. I can’t call the saddle a novelty, but it does have peppers on it, and because I live in New Mexico, this kind person thought it was appropriate. My original plan was to hang the saddle on the wall in my office, which I plan to do once I return home, but I found myself forced into using this saddle on my trusty Salsa. Big mistake.
You don’t know pain until you’ve experienced taint pain. My morning loop here in Maine is exactly thirty four miles. It takes two hours on my single speed. By mile fifteen, using this new saddle, I knew I was in trouble. I found myself looking for ANY reason to stand, but on flat roads with a single there was little reason or opportunity. This meant my taint took the brunt of the pressure. The seat was too narrow for my sit bones to keep my taint safely off the deck. Oh no, it was wind and grind for fifteen miles. At first I thought, “I’ll just keep using it and my body will adapt.” I went to public school so this theory seemed entirely plausible. I was wrong.
A few days ago, I made the drive to REI in Portland where I acquired a new saddle. Based on my history and satisfaction with the brand, I stuck with MTB. Choosing a new saddle is more difficult than you might imagine. You have to test them as best as possible, and that is no easy task. Basically, you have to take the saddle, place it on a chair then sit on it as if it was on your bike. It kinda looks like you are dry humping a chair in the middle of a store which can be quite fun but the key is finding the best saddle for your undercarriage. I had a choice, wide or medium. For those of you who know me, you also know how skinny my ass is. Don’t lie. I know you know. So, against my better judgement, I went wide.
I had no idea a seat could be this comfortable. I can’t tell you how much of an impact this makes. I just did the loop again and not only felt no discomfort it also made the ride so much easier. Live and learn baby. There is no reason to suffer. This isn’t the world’s lightest saddle but it’s pretty darn light. And who am I kidding? I’m no racer.
But let me get back to the bib. Men who suffer from toxic masculinity are most often incredibly insecure. Even seeing someone in a bib can set them off, which believe it or not, is part of the reason that so many cyclists have issues with male drivers. Sure, cyclists do all kinds of stupid shit to make things worse, but HOW MANY non-cyclist friends have made comments about “wussies in their spandex.” (Their words not mine.) But don’t go thinking you are off the hook there ladies. The single most dangerous driver on the road is the young female. Yes, the young female. They are ruthless, dangerous, aggressive and angry. I had an issue with a young driver today, one yesterday as my in-law in law was trying to park and I’ve had numerous run ins with young female drivers in the past. Texting has only made things exponentially worse.
I believe the single most significant reason the cycling bib sets people off is the habit of men in spandex riding to the coffeeshop to hang out. Nobody wants to see your junk over an eight dollar latte. I have no issues with riding to the coffeeshop, just don’t wear your bib. Wear shorts with a chamois inside. And just so you know, the chamois inside my Voler bib is light years better than any chamois/short combo I’ve ever had, which is why I go bib over shorts for any ride of length. And I never ride to a coffeeshop.
One more thing before I wind down this mess of a post. I’ve added something else to my kit. Apparently, three lights are not enough for today’s driver so I’ve added this little subtle unit to my overall look. Last weekend we lost one of the best young stars in American cycling. Dead at seventeen at the hands of a young driver. Being dead sucks but so does living with the reality you killed someone with your car. And if you think justice is the norm for people killed while cycling, think again. There is no other situation where one human kills another where these is less accountability.
Many of the vehicles in this area travel at double the speed limit, and in my twenty seven years of coming here I can count the number of people I’ve seen pulled over on one hand. (I saw one today but it could have been expired tags or a myriad of other things.) Work trucks are given freedom to drive as fast as possible because of the short summer season when a huge percentage of repairs are being made. Fisherman blasting to the dock a sunrise routinely hit fifty or sixty on a street with posted 30mph. Cyclists are seen as irritants more than anything else, and if you are killed, it’s your own fault.
This leads me back to my initial point, and an idea I’ve explored quite a lot in my podcast and YouTube channel. Americans are biased, undereducated, overweight, spoiled and selfish. Not all but many. Cycling and the cycling bib, let alone the COVID mask, are all easy, low hanging examples of this very concept. I’ve seen friends tremble with rage at even seeing a cyclist on the road. I’ve watched as they pulled up next to an eighty-year-old woman, rolled the window down and screamed “Get off the fucking road.” There is no logic or rationale but yet here we are, mired in a world trying to live the life of a car commercial.
My advice, light up, wear your orange or yellow jacket, stay to the smallest road possible and get a bib. Your taint will thank you. And avoid the coffeeshop in general. They are mostly overpriced playgrounds of hipsters and soccer moms. Instead, make bulletproof coffee at home. Heck, eat a doughnut. The calories will come in handy.