Sam has a good day and a bad day commuting to work wearing dresses

As you all know by now I commute these days in dresses, with spd sandals, and bike shorts underneath. I arrive at work, dressed for work, which I like. I can run errands in street clothes. I also like looking like a not-scary cyclist on the multi-use pathway.

I don’t quite look like this.

Or this,

More like this,

Or this,

There’s a speed limit of 20 km/hr and I work, most of the time, to stay beneath that. There’s also geese, and senior citizens, and moms with strollers doing baby and me fitness classes, not to mention long boards, kids learning to ride bikes, and off leash dogs.

So the dresses suit the mood of my commute. I’m low key, I’m enjoying the scenery, and I’m smiling. I have friends, fast cyclists, who don’t use the multi-use pathway because it’s too dangerous.

I’m happy to go slow and wish people a good morning. In the morning, wearing a dress, I’m that kind of rider. See My new cycling dress and Riding bikes in skirts and dresses.

And here’s what my ride to work looks like.

Note that when the multi use path ends, there’s a stretch of road through a neighborhood next to campus, across the university bridge and up the big hill to the center of campus. Having gone slow all the way to that point I’m usually rested and ready to climb that hill quickly.

So my good day of bike commuting involved shaking one rider’s perceptions of what women on commuter bikes, wearing dresses, are capable of doing. Here’s my Facebook status: “Nothing like a young thin guy on a road bike giving you the “yeah I’m faster than you look” and going ahead of you at the light to get your second best time up university hill. The first best time wasn’t my commuting bike and I wasn’t wearing a dress. Sorry for passing you. It isn’t a race I know. I just hate that look and the judgement.”

Whee!

What surprised me was that I came within a second of my personal best on that hill, achieved on a road bike, in cycling kit. That day in a dress on my commuting bike, with stuffed panniers, it took me 45 seconds. My best time ever up the hill is 44 seconds. That’s my PR on that segment. I won’t ever beat Kim who holds the QOM at 29 seconds but that’s okay. It’s a hill.

That was a good day on my commuter bike, riding in a dress.

Here’s my commuter bike, at rest, after a bike ride home. I often enjoy a coffee on the front porch, in the quiet, watching the world go by.

Sam's at home, bike commute done!

A post shared by Fit is a Feminist Issue (@fitisafeministissue) on

Now my bad day bike commuting in a dress happened when I was running errands after work. I had to go to the bank, to the glasses shop, and of course, the bike shop. Hi To Wheels!

While riding downtown this guy started yelling at me. “Hey, lady. Put on some pants!” Keep in mind I’m wearing bike shorts under my dress.

“You can’t ride a bike in a dress. Nobody wants to see that.”

See what? My bike shorts? I was confused. But not really. As a larger woman, an older woman, in cycling clothing there are always angry men ready to make it clear how much they hate seeing my body in cycling clothes. I’ve blogged about it here. My theory is that fat hate plus misogyny plus hatred of cyclists makes me a target for abuse. I push too many buttons.

But really, really, I don’t care. I love riding my bike to work and about town. And I especially love doing it in summer dresses. Screw them.

Here’s another picture of my very pretty and super sensible commuting bike.

Sam runs all the errands on bike!

A post shared by Fit is a Feminist Issue (@fitisafeministissue) on

Cycling dreams and cycling hopes

4 cyclists riding along a flat country road on a sunny day, with trees overhanging in the foreground.

This week we’ve all been lucky enough to hitch a ride with Cate as she bikes through Latvia and Estonia.  If you’ve missed any of her posts about her magical (and windy, and tiring, and heart-filling) trip, you can find them here and here and here and here and here.

Like Sam, I’ve been reading Cate’s posts avidly.  These travel tales send me into a semi-dream state, strolling in my mind across those sunny brisk coastal towns, pedaling along quiet tree-lined lanes, munching on a purloined cheese sandwich during a break.  Being in a place at a moment in time, far away from the distractions of everyday life, riding a bike from here to there each day, enjoying one’s own company– that sounds like the perfect vacation.

Of course it’s not all mindfulness and cheese sandwiches.  Cate is honest about the boredom, the fatigue, the lack of good directions out of town, and the urge to 1) take the train; 2) set up shop in one of these small towns for the foreseeable future; 3) focus on life miles down the road rather than what’s here and now.  But she keeps pedaling.

The first multi-day bike trip I ever took was 12 years ago, in Florida during spring break.  I had just gotten back to cycling, and I rented a Lemond road bike for 5 days.  We (the Lemond and me) took to the rail trails in central and western Florida, including the Pinellas trail near St. Petersburg and the Withlacoochie trail near Inverness.  All in all, I rode almost 200 miles in 4 days, and then did 22 more miles the last day to make my goal of 200 and then some.  Although less scenic and exotic than the Baltics, I felt that same here-I-am-this-is-what-I’m-doing satisfaction.  It was me and the bike, all day each day, with whatever side trips and meals that came up in the course of our ramblings.

During those ramblings I dealt with heat, saddle soreness, boredom, snakes (saw nine dead ones, one mostly dead one, and one live one on my routes), some loneliness, and the knowledge that very soon it would all be over and I’d have to go back to work.  Such is the way of these experiences.

These days, my cycling has been suffused less with dreaminess and more with reality.

I’ve been working to get back in cycling shape and in the cycling state of mind after having far too long a hiatus.  It’s been tough, fun, scary, sweaty, and worth it.  Sunday July 30 I’m doing the PWA Friends for Life Bike Rally charity ride.  My sincere and fervent hope is that I’ll be able to make it all the way through the 110-km route.  We shall see.  I will do my best, and I will have friends with me.

Regardless of current my state of cycling reality, I am filled with hope:

  • I hope to ride strongly and safely and well on July 30.
  • I hope to have fun on the ride, making new friends with my riding group and others.
  • I hope to finish the 110km course.

I also have hopes for my cycling future.

  • I hope to ride (partly or all the way) around Lake Champlain with friends.
  • I hope to ride from my house in Boston to my mom’s house in South Carolina (985 miles).
  • During my next sabbatical (2022– never too early to plan!), I hope to do a long-distance ride with my friend Pata (destination and duration TBA), with other friends maybe joining in for part of the trip.
  • I hope to ride in southern Ontario again with Canadian friends (Sam and others– we will talk).
  • I hope to get into the habit of traveling with a bike when I fly places for work (now that I have my Brompton and its own special suitcase).
  • I hope I’m lucky enough to be able to ride for the rest of my life.

Readers, what are some of your midsummer hopes and dreams– for now, for the future?  I’d love to hear from you.

A cyclist riding on a gravel road in Africa, with two giraffes crossing the road (one in front of him!)

 

Reblogged: Paldiski~ Tallinn — 526 km in total

Cate’s last day of riding

fieldpoppy


So remember my post the other day about how I try not to engage with my fears too much while I’m traveling?

Well, last night in my Soviet-style guesthouse? The one above the butcher shop? The one where I had my own apartment, but one of the doors was mysteriously locked, and there was a kitchen with an unplugged fridge, and the shower room felt like it had echoes of being used for a felony? And I had the little room with the twin beds that didn’t have a lock of its own? The one with the big steel door downstairs I had to lock with a key I then had to keep near me while sleeping in case of fire? Along with my headlamp so I wouldn’t perish while trying to find the keyhole? That guesthouse?

Yeah, I will confess here that I pulled the other twin bed against…

View original post 1,065 more words

I scored on my own goal (Guest post)

So, the other night I scored on my own soccer goal. Then we lost the game.

But more on that in a moment. First, I would like to point readers to a recent online article, Google Spent 2 Years Studying 180 Successful Teams. The Most Successful Ones Shared These 5 Traits.

A summary of a summary of a study conducted by the ubiquitous Google, this article looks like prime click bait. But after the game, when I was feeling pretty down on myself for contributing to our team’s loss, I clicked.

The article explains the most successful work team traits are dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, impact, and…the fifth (you first have to scroll past an advertisement on the page for added drama) is psychological safety. Apparently it’s superfun to work at Google, which strives to cultivate environments where workers feel safe enough to take risks and ask questions so they will be “less likely to leave, more likely to harness the power of diversity, and ultimately…more successful.”

This list of successful work team traits list was good for me to read that night. Everyone fights their own inner battles, and fear of letting the team down has always been mine.

It’s not a unique problem, I know. Nor might it seem like a big deal. A more confident player would say, “Who cares? It’s only a game. It’s only rec sports. Everyone makes mistakes. Just think positively for next time, and get over it.”

“Getting over it” may be a matter of perception, but when one has fear her perception can be all that matters. I don’t have another Google study to back up my thinking, but I believe that fitness gurus who promote a healthy lifestyle through physical activity insufficiently address the psychological component: there may be a large number of folks (like me) who avoid or leave exercise for fear of failure, inadequacy, and judgment. Easier not to show up than to risk letting others down.

Until recently, this fear of mine, irrational and silly as it may seem, had been strong enough to keep me from joining sports teams (which is already out of my comfort zone) well into my adult life.

So, when my very greatest sports-related fear had come to pass, I turned the corner when I realized that I did have “psychological safety.” I DO (or should) feel safe to fail around this group of amazing women, whom I blogged about previously when it came to “finding one’s tribe.”

And, later in the evening, when one team member checked in with me, and another texted to make yoga plans, my clearer thinking was reaffirmed. A non-soccer friend (with whom I was commiserating) suggested that being self-aware about our fears and inadequacies can help us to re-examine with greater clarity how we perceive the judgments of others.

Now here I am, showing no lack of awareness of my private fears as I blog about them publicly on a fitness site that has recently reached 10,000 Facebook likes.

So, to the anxious late-to-the-gamer like me: find a team that will make you feel safe, and stay aware of your feelings so that you can push through them to get yourself out to the next game.

And, to the other Confident Connies playing group sports: By making failure safe for others on your team, you also enable fearful folks to play at all. For me, that win is better than any scored goal (on one’s own net or otherwise).

More feminist than fit, Elan Paulson works at Western University and plays rec soccer in London, Ontario.

Reblogged: Haapsalu ~ Paldiski (78 km)

Cate has the end in her sights and feels sad about it. (Me too. I want her back in Canada, miss you Cate, but I’ve been enjoying all the photos and the travel posts.)

fieldpoppy


Fieldpoppies, by the side of the road. Pure joy.

Today started out sublime. Haapsalu was one of the favoured resorts of the Russian Tsars for decades, and the promenade and many fin de siècle buildings are still standing. It’s one of those towns that wears its tourism standing well, like Hoi An in Vietnam and Luang Prabang in Laos. Not overrun, not overdeveloped, just graceful, accessible, good food and pleasant surroundings. (“Boring in the winter,” though, complained the woman behind the desk at my hotel this morning).

Because it was such a lovely morning and the promenade was right there, I took myself for a walk along the sea before I left. I hadn’t done that before — most mornings I’m hopping to get on the road, after breakfast (where I squirrel away a cheese sandwich), 15 minutes doing the NYT crossword while listening to the BBC world news morning…

View original post 1,115 more words

Why I’m glad I stopped worrying about sugar and other weird food obsessions

I had a funny exchange the other day on Facebook. There was a link about the dangers of the cheese powder in boxed mac and cheese. I commented on my friend’s post that when we can, we should rely on whole foods to make mac and cheese. Being an American, my friend thought I meant the food chain Whole Foods, which is not so cheekily known as Whole PayCheque for the high cost of it items.

Image: White bowl with pasta noodles, red tomatoes, and green basil.

Not macaroni and cheese, but my favourite feta, basil and tomato pasta supper.

Nonetheless we had a good chat about how expensive it can be to eat whole, unprocessed foods, and that led us to a whole other thread about clean eating, healthy eating, good foods, bad foods, cheat meals, etc. We weren’t actually talking about our approach to nutrition but the way the words we use to talk about food get co-opted by all kinds of agendas. It’s quite easy to have all sorts of “isms” and attitudes creep in, altering our meaning and twisting our understanding of food as fuel in our lives and how we relate to it in different contexts.

That same day SamB brought my attention to this article about Anthony Warner, described by the Guardian as “(the Angry Chef) who is on a mission to confront the ‘alternative facts’ surrounding nutritional fads and myths.”  Warner writes a blog on food fads, and he doesn’t hold back. He’s now written a book called The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth About Healthy Eating, and I ‘m adding it to my reading list.

That’s because when you start a fitness program, there’s all manner of advice on how to eat, what to eat, and why the one true way (insert your favourite fad — howsoever you define it —  diet here) will be all that you need. Even if your goal is not weight loss, there’s all kinds of recommendations (cough, cough, rules!) on how to eat to train.

Heck, you don’t even have to be training to get food advice. I’m convinced all you have to be is female and not meet someone’s pre-conceived notion of how female should look, for the advice to come pouring in, accompanied by a generous helping of side eye finished with a soupcon of shade, if the advisor deems your food choices not to meet their definition of “healthy” eating.

What appealed to me about Warner is his evidence-based approach. In the article he says: “A lot of the clean-eating people, I just think they have a broken relationship with the truth. (…) They’re selling something that is impossible to justify in the context of evidence-based medicine.” I like science and research and critical thinking. Sadly, there’s too little of it when it comes to talking about food and part of it goes back to the agendas behind the particular terms used.

Warner says our fascination with fads or trends in food and eating is connected with our innate need for certainty. He explains it this way: “We really want to be able to say: ‘Is coffee good or bad for us?’ Well, it’s not good or bad for you, it just is. And we have to accept that; that’s what science says. So your brain goes, ‘I don’t like that level of uncertainty.’ Certainty is really appealing for a lot of people and that’s what a lot of these people are selling – certainly at the darker end.”

And he’s right. The people who have preached to me about gluten free diets when they aren’t celiac are utterly convinced of the rightness of their belief that going gluten-free cured their ills. Equally certain are the people who now look upon sugar with the same fear and revulsion we bring to edible oil masquerading as coffee creamer.

As I survey the speciality food shelves in my local shops, I’m enchanted by all of the interesting food stuffs and yet, truthfully, I am also challenged by how these same items are elevated in social media, on Instagram, and by celebrities to miracle food status. Warner, who lives in the UK and works for a food manufacturer is clear about the limitations food makers face when it comes to making claims about food: “If I made a food product and I wanted to say ‘it detoxes you’, I absolutely couldn’t. There are really clear laws: I can’t say it in the advertising, I can’t say it on the pack, I can’t make any sort of claim that isn’t hugely backed in evidence. But if I wrote a recipe book, I can say what I want.”

If you have been wondering how Gwyneth Paltrow can make pots of money selling her fans coconut oil as a mouthwash and wasp’s nests as a vaginal cleanser, there’s your answer. The trick is to stop engaging in magical thinking when it comes to food and applying some common sense. Warner’s advice: “eat a sensible and varied diet, not too much nor too little. If you have junk food every so often, don’t feel guilty; if you’re going full Morgan Spurlock, you’re probably overdoing it. Eat fish, especially oily ones such as salmon and mackerel, when you can. Don’t consume too much sugar, but equally don’t believe people who tell you it’s “toxic” and has “no nutritional value.”

Or you can go the Reader’s Digest version and follow Michael Pollan’s advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Excuse me now, as I forage in the fridge for the leftover maple syrup glazed salmon.

— Martha is a writer and powerlifter in training exploring a whole new world of food as fuel.

 

 

 

Reblogged: Varbla ~ Haapsalu (97.6 km)

On women, and fear, and just riding…..

fieldpoppy

Today was the longest day — just under 100 km — and the day I finally found my “just be here” presence. Yes, I’m headed for Haapsalu. Yes, it’s far, and it’s still windy. But I was just riding. That sensation where “I’m going from A to B” transmutes into “this is what I do — ride this slightly unwieldy, mostly obedient, sturdy bike, with all my things on it. I have nothing else to do and nowhere else to be.”

And at the end, my favourite town yet, Haapsalu, where I ate an enormous piece of rhubarb cake and drank a pot of tea at the foot of a castle. Where today’s random Estonian soundtrack included a Josh Ritter album that was one of my dissertation-writing playlists. (Lunch was ABBA)

Haapsalu is little fingers of land clustered around a bay, a resort town for the last century…

View original post 990 more words