accessibility · cycling · family

Safe cycling is a feminist issue: Sam talks with David Isaac about cycling infrastructure and women riders

I’ve been enjoying my exchanges with David Isaac on Twitter. Like me, he’s got both the word “philosophy” and the word “cyclist” in his bio. We’re also both interested in the issues facing women cyclists. I’m just on the edge of the cycling advocacy community here in Guelph but David is quite involved in bike advocacy in London, Ontario, the city he calls home.

Here’s our recent chat about women and bike safety.

Hey, welcome to Fit is a Feminist Issue! Maybe we can start by you telling us a bit about your background as a cycling infrastructure advocate and also as a cyclist.

David: I have always been a cyclist – I’ve been riding a bike to work and school for over a decade in Kitchener-Waterloo and London. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve started to get more involved as an advocate. I’m a personal injury lawyer, and in my line of work it’s not uncommon to see cyclists who are hurt in collisions with drivers. As I started looking into why these collisions were so frequent, it became clear that infrastructure played a big role. Where proper bike infrastructure is in place, more people ride bikes, but collisions are less frequent. As I came to understand this better, I started advocating for proper infrastructure. A lot of that advocacy is just on Twitter, but I’ve also given a few talks and interviews about cycling. 

What’s the connection, do you think, between good safe cycling infrastructure and the goal of getting more women on bikes?

David: Research shows that where safe cycling infrastructure is built, more women will ride their bikes. “Safe infrastructure” generally means bike lanes that physically separate the cyclist from vehicles – the old joke is that “paint isn’t infrastructure”. It’s important to note that the research does not show that this correlation is due to a sort of evo-psych explanation about women being inherently risk-averse. Each person’s risk tolerance is different, and this of course intersects with race, class, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc. 

Léa Ravensbergen, a PhD student at the University of Toronto, has done some excellent research into the differences between what women and men use bikes for. She uses a great term “vélomobilities of care” to describe the ways people meet their and others’ household needs using bicycles – for instance, by taking kids to school or running errands. She notes that because women take on a disproportionate amount of this work, the types of activities women use cycling for are often different for women than for men. So the location of infrastructure matters. If it only serves commuters, but doesn’t connect to a daycare or a grocery store, it will mostly benefit male cyclists. Protected bike lanes are the go-to example of safe infrastructure, but it isn’t the only thing that matters in getting women on bikes. Bike parking that is well-lit and safe is also important. 

Cycling has a reputation of being a male-dominated activity, and the discourse around cycling infrastructure suffers from this same problem. This can lead to issues in determining where cycling infrastructure is built. If cities only listen to advice about bike lanes from white men, they will end up building bike lanes that are primarily useful to white men. Viewing infrastructure through a feminist lens means building cycling infrastructure in places that benefit women, and making sure cyclists are protected from gendered violence. Again, it goes without saying that other identities play a large role in this. Bike lanes in wealthy neighbourhoods will only increase cycling among wealthy women. 

I’ve heard it said that women are the “indicator species” for safe happy community cycling. Countries with a big number of cyclists also have lots of women out on bikes–commuting, recreationally riding, etc. Why is that, do you think?

David: I think there are probably two main factors at play here. The first is that those countries generally have a large network of bike lanes, which are more likely to connect to places that women are more likely to cycle to. The other is if you are a woman who wants to ride, and there are lots of people riding, it’s easier to find other people to help you get started. Ravensbergen noted that trips that are considered difficult by bike (such as a grocery shop or taking children to school) can be made easier if you have mentorship opportunities to teach you how to make those trips more easily. 

Why is safe cycling a feminist issue?

David: People who cycle regularly have significantly improved health outcomes compared to non-cyclists. This applies to both mental and physical health. Cycling can save you money and is better for the environment. Plus, it’s fun! It’s important that these benefits are available to everyone, not just men.

Safe cycling is also key to creating healthier, more interconnected communities. If people live in disconnected places, they can’t access things they need like social connection, fresh food, healthcare, or child care. Safe cycling infrastructure can make cities more equitable. 

David and his cargo bike
Winter riding

David Isaac is a personal injury lawyer and cycling advocate in London, Ontario. He specializes in helping pedestrians and cyclists who are injured. He tweets about cycling, law and philosophy at @DIsaac8.

blog · blogging · fitness

Most read posts in August, #ICYMI

Welcome to ICYMI, your monthly Imgur digest! Issue #001 - GIFs - Imgur

Our most read post of August was about Women with jobs wearing bathing suits! Yes, we do. Thanks Catherine for documenting. LOL.

Cate is still menstruating is the number two spot this month.

The third most read post was Catherine asking about plans to socialize outside in the winter. Brrr!

The new COVID tracking app and its inability work with older phones was the topic of our fourth most read post this month by Cate and Susan.

Fifth was my post about giving into pandemic fashion trends and buying a nap dress.

Marjorie Rose wrote about Getting it done with myo reps and that post was our sixth most read post.

Our seventh most read post was Tracy writing about her feeling that she still doesn’t want to be a Precision Nutrition VIP.

Our eighth most read post was Catherine’s Body weight is not a lifestyle choice.

My first post about nap dresses, Aren’t all dresses nap dresses?, was our ninth most read post.

And our tenth post read most was another fitness related fashion post in which I weigh in on the latest men’s bathing suit trend, the Brokini.

2020 Fashion Trend: The Brokini
The Brokini

weight lifting · fitness · strength training

How Much Weight Should I Lift?

I have a confession to make–I had a crush on Susan Powter in the early 2000’s. Do you remember her and Stop the Insanity!? I was a little late to the party, I admit, but I became a real believer for a while there. If you missed out on the fun, Powter was big in the low fat craze during the nineties, but don’t worry, that’s not what I’m here to write about today. She also made a whole series of exercise videos in classic nineties style–including yards of Spandex, step aerobics, interval training, simple weightlifting routines, and the like, and refreshingly, with people of all sorts of body types. And the real magic was that in all of her videos she offered modifications for movements, constantly encouraging people to “work within their fitness level.” “Only by working within your fitness level will you be able to advance to the next one.” And she was right.

A friend recently asked if it was ok she was doing her weightlifting with “just 8 pound dumbbells,” because that’s all she could do. My answer? Yes of course it was ok, and in fact, it’s necessary in order for her to build strength. I could hear Susan Powter in my head, telling us that my friend needs to work at her current strength level in order to build to the next one.

What Powter was pushing against, and what I’m going to push back on today, is this myth in fitness that we have to “go hard” for it to count. Or maybe more accurately, it’s to acknowledge that “hard” is a relative term. It just needs to be hard enough FOR YOU.

Here’s an analogy. My therapy sessions frequently focus on managing my trauma. Trauma can narrow your “emotional window of tolerance.” In other words, the range of emotional experiences you can handle before you are either hyperaroused (go into fight/flight/freeze) or hypoaroused (numb, emotionally disconnected) narrows. The goal of trauma therapy is to slowly increase the range of emotional experiences I can tolerate without going into either a heightened or collapsed state. My therapist and I work just inside my window of tolerance, we attempt to get close but not go over what I can handle. Becoming triggered is counter-productive; no one can learn when their nervous system is trying to flee. And by working within this window over time, the range of experiences I can tolerate gets broader.

That’s what I’m doing when I lift weights successfully, too. I need to find the level of strength that is challenging enough to push myself, without “traumatizing” my muscles. And just like emotional experiences, muscles will have a range of experiences that will promote growth–it’s not a single, set weight or number of reps but a moving target. It will vary depending on how much sleep I’ve had, how well fed I am, what exercises I did yesterday, how strong I currently am, and so much more. Therefore, each of us has to learn to feel our way into the right weights each day. And the right weight is almost never a weight we can’t control. It’s not a cop-out to reduce the weight to the level at which you can control it; it’s actually necessary in order to keep getting stronger.

Each of us must continually work to find the right level of challenge for where we’re at today. There is both freedom and responsibility in acknowledging this. You don’t have to lift what someone else is lifting; you’re free to find your own way. However, you also have to stay present enough to listen to your body, both to make sure you’re continuing to challenge yourself but also to ensure that you’re being responsive to your limits. Susan Powter was right. You’ve got to work within your fitness level to get to the next one. It isn’t a race; there’s no finish line. Give yourself permission to work at the right level for yourself, and you’ll be rewarded with increased strength over time, Spandex optional.

Image description: Three White women in form-fitting workout clothes, doing some kind of leg lift that might be donkey kicks on pink mats.

Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher. She can be found working within her fitness level, picking up heavy things and putting them down again, in Portland, Oregon.

birthday · charity · cycling

Some days even I’m a completist…

Three years ago I wrote about not being a completist and about blogger Cate and accountant/duathlete Cathy who are. See Are you a completist? If so, you’ll wonder why Sam didn’t go for a short Sunday night bike ride!

Yes, this Sunday night, just home from the farm and a long drive from Prince Edward County, here I am just getting off my bike having ridden an oddball number of kilometres on the trainer. Why, you ask? It’s a reasonable question.

Again, weekly distance goals on Zwift that were almost, but not quite, met. My goal is to ride 100 km a week on Zwift. This week, I had done almost that (94 km or so) plus 50 km in Prince Edward County, the last of my summer charity rides, Pedal for Parkinson’s. But those were outdoor kms and they don’t count on Zwift.

You can sponsor me here by the way. I’m still a few hundred dollars away from my goal.

But likely the weekly Zwift distance goal wouldn’t have gotten me back on the bike.

However, tomorrow is also my birthday and I have a tradition of riding my age in kilometres on the weekend nearest my birthday. I’d ridden 50 but I am turning 56.

Back on the bike!

I chose to ride in virtual France. I kept going after 6 km had passed, just because. It’s very pretty virtual scenery.

Now I can call it a week. I’ve ridden more than 100 km on Zwift and my age in kilometres.

Night night!

Person standing by a bike at sunset. Photo by Robert V. Ruggiero on Unsplash.
birthday · blog · fitness

Happy 8th birthday to the blog!

The end of August is birthday season around here. Tomorrow, August 31, I’m turning 56 and today, August 30, the blog turns 8.

It’s no surprise, of course, that the blog and I have our birthdays so close together. I started the blog with Tracy as part of our fittest by fifty challenge, two years in advance of our 50th birthday. You can read the whole story here.

Have a magical birthday!

Eight years ago to the day I posted A bit about Samantha and Tracy posted A bit about Tracy. Our first real posts were a few days later but that was the day the blog was born.

Since then we’ve grown and changed. 4285 posts under the bridge. This is my 2180th post! Tracy has left the group of blog regulars and others have joined. We’re now a group of a dozen bloggers sharing our voices as they connect to themes of feminism and fitness.

We’ve also hosted more than 200 guests and if you’ve ever thought about joining us and guest posting you can read about how that works here.

Occasionally I start to wonder if we’re needed. And then I see things like this!

You can follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and we’re “FeministFitness” on Facebook.

fitness · weight stigma

Once more, for the cheap seats: body weight is NOT a lifestyle

CW: discussion and critique of an article claiming complex associations between body weight (and other factors) and chronic illness. I use the phrase “body weight” or BMI instead of this term. I’ve written here about why I don’t use that term.

When you’re a teacher, you know that some lessons are harder to learn than others. When I was a student, the subjunctive tense in Italian never quite sunk in (mi dispiace!) I teach a lot of logic, and I know through long experience where the pitfalls lie (e.g. necessary vs. sufficient conditions; a not-very-clear explanation is here, and a really super-long explanation is here). We teachers do what we can, and usually the confusion clears by exam time.

I really wish the same were true with medical researchers and body weight.

Even smiley faces are sighing over this.
Even smiley faces are sighing over this.

In case you missed it, I’m referring to an article published this spring in JAMA Internal Medicine called “Association of Healthy Lifestyle with Years Lived Without Major Chronic Diseases”. The researchers were looking for a correlation between some combo of what they considered to be lifestyle factors and onset of major chronic illness in a database of 116K people, followed for 15+ years. Here are the factors they used:

Four baseline lifestyle factors (smoking, body mass index, physical activity, and alcohol consumption) were each allocated a score based on risk status: optimal (2 points), intermediate (1 point), or poor (0 points) resulting in an aggregated lifestyle score ranging from 0 (worst) to 8 (best). Sixteen lifestyle profiles were constructed from combinations of these risk factors.

Okay, so smoking and alcohol intake are standardly considered to be health-related behaviors– things we do that affect our health outcomes (e.g. what diseases we get and when). Physical activity also has been well-documented to affect health outcomes; however, calling it a lifestyle oversimplifies it, for instance ignoring the many physical and economic and other barriers to activity that are beyond people’s control.

But then we get to body mass index (BMI). BMI is listed as a lifestyle factor? Huh?

One of these things is not like the others…

Why don’t I think that BMI is a lifestyle factor? Let me turn this over to one of the several responses to the article, published just this week. Authors Kyle, Nadglowski and Stanford write the following:

Treating BMI as a lifestyle behavior obscures the complex etiologies that contribute to BMI… Perhaps more importantly, it promotes a mistaken notion that is the foundation for weight bias and stigma—that [one’s BMI] is [something] that patients choose for themselves through behaviors they elect. The resulting weight bias is well-documented to harm both health and quality of life of patients [with BMI >30].

Body mass index itself is neither a behavior nor a lifestyle, even though health behaviors and lifestyle factors can influence BMI. Many other factors are contributors. 

Yeah, what they said. There are, oh, about three zillion studies showing that body weight is largely genetic and/or heritable (55–70% in many research papers). That means it’s not a health behavior in the way that smoking, alcohol consumption, or physical activity are. Health behaviors affect body weight (just like they affect our cholesterol levels), but that doesn’t make them lifestyle factors, rather they are biological measures used for many purposes.

The original authors (Nyberg, Singh-Manoux and Kivimaki) respond, saying (I’m excerpting but it’s not out of context, I promise):

Maintenance of healthy weight [BMI <25] is indeed part of a healthy lifestyle…

No. Clearly we need to back up and start again.

Spock is in shock. He doesn’t see how they don’t get this, either.

In this commentary on the article, we get another good try at explaining the situation (this is edited to insert BMI as a term):

Such is the nature of implicit bias about [BMIs >30]. … in their hearts, even some very smart people remain certain that body size must be a matter of choice.

Yes, yes, yes. Very many very smart people (including both the study authors and the editors at JAMA Internal Medicine) still believe that body size is a matter of choice. But it’s not. The replies to this article all cite loads of articles in showing that body size is largely heritable, and if you want some refs, ask me in the comments, and I’ll reply with some standard ones.

So, one last time: body weight is not a lifestyle. But I found this website with 50 lifestyle choices to browse among, if you’re feeling like a change. I claim no responsibility for anything having to do with decisions made on the basis of looking, by the way.

I hope this clears things up.

fitness

A Little Help Getting Started

As I have mentioned umpteen times, I am on a continuous quest to make it easier to begin every exercise session.

ADHD can make task initiation (a.k.a ‘just start!’) a real challenge so I’m always seeking ways to reduce the friction involved in deciding to exercise.

A light-haired medium-sized dog sits upright on a patterned mat on a wooden patio.
A somewhat gratuitous photo of Khalee but she fits the theme of this post. Her need to go for a walk often makes it easier for me to ‘just start’ walking.

Lately, I have had two triumphs so I thought I would share them with you in case you find it hard to ‘just start’ too

I found a cool-down video.

After I have finished the intense part of my workout, I usually go to one of two extremes with my cool-down/stretching.

Either I drag it out, stretching every muscle I can. Or, I stretch my neck and lower back and call it a day.

Both of these extremes actually make it harder for me to talk myself into exercising because I know I will either be there half the day or I will be uncomfortable and sore later.

Recently though, it occurred to me to look for a cool-down video* so I could have a fixed routine that didn’t involve a lot of decision-making or time tracking on my part.

I found this Fitness Blender cool-down and I LOVE it. It’s not flashy but it is effective – I get a full body stretch with what feels like very little effort. And, since it often gets you to stretch two muscles at once, it feels efficient, too. My brain loves feeling efficient (it’s a rare feeling for me.)

The above video features a white woman in colourful exercise clothes performing a variety of cool-down exercises and stretches while a narrator provides verbal instruction.

I made an Exercise Dashboard in Google Docs.

Since the videos are so helpful, and my current workout is in an online article, I was finding myself digging out links over and over. The (admittedly minimal but still) hassle of finding and following those links was creating a little friction for me so I decided to put all of my current exercise/wellness links in a document so I would have easy access to them.

This has been incredibly helpful. Having all the links in one spot makes it easier to start my workout because I know that I won’t get on my own nerves trying to find them. I don’t have to think about the links, they are all right there in front of me.

I’m sure there are other ways to achieve the same thing but this solution is working for me. If you’d like to see a public version of my dashboard, it’s here: Exercise Dashboard

What kinds of things do you do to make it easier to start your workout?

*I’ve been using this warm-up video for ages, I don’t know why it took me so long to look for a cool-down video. Brains are weird like that, I guess.

fitness

The completist takes a holiday

It’s the end of my last day on Salt Spring Island, as I write this. I’m sad to leave — it’s been such a tonic to let myself be enfolded by unstructured time, a slower pace, the space to just fall into staring at the ocean. To eat a super healthy vegan wrap for lunch and fish and chips for dinner.

I’m a well known “completist.” I’m that person who rides around the block to hit a certain mileage on my bike (or literally leaves everyone else already eating chips and drinking cold beverages while I add another 14 km for an even 100). I like to add things up, like the 220 in 2020 group (I’m at 283; pandemics require deliberate movement). But even more, I like little rituals to mark meaningful transitions.

I was texting with a friend this morning lamenting that I have to go home this weekend, that my idyllic time is done. I couldn’t settle in the One Thing to do today that would make it special. As though the past three weeks haven’t been special! I’ve done some great writing, I’ve paddleboarded, I’ve eaten good food while people sing at my favourite little cafe, I’ve hiked, I’ve ridden my little bike up and down a million hills, I’ve run those same hills, I’ve had an astonishing conversation with a super unhappy 79 year old on her birthday that reminded me to enjoy my damn life, I’ve seen my cousin, I’ve eaten crab right out of the ocean and apples right off the tree, I’ve Yoga’ed and read novels and listened to audiobooks on my darling little terrace. All the things are so good — what to do to somehow make today even MORE memorable?? Quick, said my friend, what’s your favourite thing you’ve done — do that.

Hiking, I said. Hiking.

Last week, I rode my little bike up and down some hills to climb up the portentous Mt Maxwell, the highest point on the island. I had noted some nice little twisty trails around the base of the mountain, out to the edge of the sea. They seemed appealing.

I got on the little bike — again — and went to a coffee shop to pick up a wrap for lunch. I rode up some hills — again — for about 12 km. I found the trailhead at the edge of a field that probably has sheep in it sometimes.

I puzzled over the map and set off toward the delightfully named Daffodil Point.

It was an easy flattish trail — first fields in a valley between two tall looming hills, then an easy path through the woods. Small boats in the bay glimpsed through the trees, off leash dogs despite the frequent signs banning it, because of rare and fragile plants. People walking across the fields in long skirts looking like an album cover. Occasional beautifully carved signs with an image from nature with the Quw’utsun word on top and the English translation below.

Apparently these are brand new — just dedicated last week. The anglo name of the park — Burgoyne Bay — is now accompanied by the traditional name of the area — Xwaaqw’um village. These words and images are a powerful way to remind us that Canadians still share this land with Indigenous peoples, that this basin has fed people for 4000 years. I was glad to receive this gift.

I wandered for a while, enjoyed the wide and well trod trail, so different from the steep hills I’ve been climbing up, the wooded paths full of rocks and roots. I found the perfect lunch spot to eat my vegan wrap, interrupted only by the sight of two passing kayakers and a relaxed seal who came close.

After lunch was the point where I could have — should have? thought about heading back. And I realized I’m not so great at being Loose and Unstructured if I don’t know how I’m done being loose and unstructured, lol. I’m great at suuure I can be chill about a slower pace — as long as I have a destination. And on this hike with the seal and the sea and the wrap? I didn’t have a destination.

I hadn’t quite processed that yet, and feeling sluggish and full of beetroot hummus, I headed back along the inside part of the looping trail, instantly a much harder, uphill inland hike. I kept toggling between awe at the old growth trees and looking at the All Trails app to try to match up the not-obvious little paths I was seeing and the trails. I had some sort of inner Completist urging me to Do the Full Loop, do All the Little Trails. This inner voice had me back track twice, trying to match the blue GPS locator on my phone with the giant boulders, the overgrowth around me. Get a tiny bit miffed when I couldn’t find the trail that took me… nowhere, but on a loop into the woods.

I finished the Daffodil Point loop and found myself at the same point I’d started my arduous hike up Mt Maxwell. “You have to do more,” said the inner voice. Ignoring the obvious fact that I’d actually had the perfect hike — I’d walked for almost two hours! I‘d communed with a seal! I’d seen huge boulders and the glorious sea! — and I was actually sleepy after the lunch, tired from a march up the Assault Trail of Mt Erskine the day before. And I still had Leas hill to ride home.

Look at all those trails! Look at the contour lines!

But I hadn’t done all the trails!

And this is where my Inner Completist and my Sane Self had an actual tussle. Like, the kind of tussle that would make someone watching me from above say “what the heck is she doing?”

If you look at that map, my bike was at the point on the road where the park first starts. I’d hiked the middle part of this map, and all the parts on the top right. I was at the little nook in the bay, and instead of heading back to my bike, I thought I would do a little out to the west. And as I reached the logical looping point, I convinced myself that I could do that whoooole bit up in the top left part of the map.

Now, it was 3 pm, and I’d been hiking since 12:30, and I was feeling very satisfied and super happy and calm and centred and all those things. But for some reason, my inner completist was agitated that there were Unhiked Trails on this map..

Why not just do this big ol’ loop, Completist reasoned, it’s not that far. Look at the contour lines, my Sane voice said — there’s a lot of up and down. That’s not “3 km on the ground.” Oh, it’s nothing, said The Completist. Look how pretty? Just do the little loop! You still have to ride home! That’s a big hill you whizzed down! Loop! Stop! Loop! Go back!

Reader, the Completist won, and I headed off up the big loop. The trail was dark and overgrown, rarely walked on. I was heading straight away from the beautiful harbour in the sun, away from my bike. Just … into the woods. And straight up.

For no. reason.

I had a feeling of trepidation, a persistent voice telling me I was being silly. But I kept going. About 7 minutes into the trail, after a lot of arduous up, I looked at the trail app. The blue ball had barely moved. “This will be at least an hour,” Sane voice said. “But…. the loop!” And I headed back downhill, to circle around the tiny loop down at the bottom.

See, doesn’t that feel nice, said Sane voice? The perfect hike! Just do this extra wee loop and then back to the bike, scoot — it’s still a good 30 mins away.

And then I got to the point where the wee loop connected with the big loop, from the other side? AND I STARTED TO HEAD OFF TOWARD IT AGAIN.

It’s like my inner self is controlled by my little cat, the one Not Known for her Wisdom, as a friend put it.

Oh for pete’s sake, I said out loud. (I literally said that). YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO FURTHER INTO THE WOODS FOR NO REASON.

And reader? I listened. I completed the wee loop. I trundled back down the trail. I paused for a bit of a rest by the indigenous carvings. I read a little bit about the Coast Salish people whose land this is. I listened harder to my body and realized, yup, I am kind of tired, and my thigh itches and chafes where I was stung by a wasp the other night, and I am ready to be done. And I don’t need to do All the Loops. And that is definitely something I need to remember when I return to my non-magical life.

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who will be back in Ontario in a few days, and who’s hoping to bring some of her west coast sanity with her.

fitness · swimming

Water water everywhere: what wetsuit to pick?

Swimming is fun. Swimming in summer is double-fun: hot days, blue skies, refreshing (or maybe bracing) water, and the feelings of exertion and weightlessness, all in one glorious package.

But after summer comes fall. And fall means cooler days and colder water. But, intrepid swimmers have options, and technology has provided us with a good one: the wetsuit.

Women in triathlon wetsuits, waiting for the start of a race.

My friend Norah swims at Walden Pond as often as she can in the summer, and it’s one of her favorite things. This year, we’ve been speculating about what life will be like come fall, when our access to outdoor activity starts to drop off. I suggested she think about buying a wetsuit to extend her swimming well into October, maybe longer. There’s a lot of variation in temperature, but who knows.

Temperature ranges for Walden Pond, in Concord, MA, USA.
Water temperature ranges in the fall for Walden Pond, in Concord, MA, USA.

Seems like an obvious thing to do. I offered to do some online research and also ask around to get advice. Turns out, buying a wetsuit is complicated in a bunch of ways:

  • wetsuits vary by sport (swimming, diving, surfing, kayaking)
  • wetsuits vary by thickness
  • wetsuits vary a lot by price (fair enough, so do bikes…)
  • wetsuits come in different styles– shortie, full length, sleeveless, etc.
  • and then there’s the sizing
  • Who is in charge of this? I want to speak to them

Here is a sample size chart for women’s wetsuits:

Wetsuit lady sizes. None of these sizes are coming close to fitting me.

Just in case you think, oh, that’s just some wacky off-brand wetsuit site, here, Orca’s wetsuit size chart for women (Orca is a major brand of wetsuits):

Oh, Orca-- no sizes for me here, either. What up with that?
Oh, Orca– no sizes for me here, either. What up with that?

I’m actually not looking for a wetsuit for myself (at the moment). But I am looking to help Norah (who would fit in an Orca wetsuit) navigate the treacherous waters of wetsuit shopping. So:

Can you help?

Readers, do you have tips on how to buy a swimming wetsuit? In particular:

  • Do you tend to order multiple sizes online and then return them?
  • Do you go to a local store to try some one, and order from there or online?
  • How did you get help in getting the right fit for swimming?

I’m posting on some triathlon groups and getting some info. Any tips you have would be most welcome. Thanks!

cycling · stereotypes

Gender, bots, and speed: Sam is happily surprised that the fastest bot is female

Occasionally I think, when it comes to gender and athletic stereotypes, things are definitely improving.

First, there were the resistance bands I bought as part of our pandemic, home workout prep. . I actually bought some that were too strong– because they had a woman on the box, I was charmed and surprised–and blogged about it: Pleasant surprise!

And now, Zwift is introducing virtual riding buddies, Bots. They’re pacing partners who ride at a certain pace and you ride with them as motivation to keep riding at that pace. See “PACE PARTNERS” PACER BOTS NOW RIDING IN WATOPIA.

Here’s what one looks like:

“Pace Partners” Pacer Bots Now Riding in Watopia
Pacing bot in Zwift

But you know what I was worried about. I thought they all might be men. Or, there would be a mix of men and women and all the fast bots would be men.

Instead, another pleasant surprise. Zwift came through on both counts. There are equal number of male and female bots and the fastest one is a woman.

According to an article in Zwift Insider here’s the pace partner line-up!

  • “Diesel Dan” (1-2.4 w/kg)”: Casual-paced group ride with a few gentle hills
  • “CoCo Cadence” (2.5-3.1 w/kg): Moderately-paced group ride with occasional hills
  • “Bowie Brevet” (3.2-3.9 w/kg): Expert-paced group ride with frequent climbs.
  • “Amelia Anquetil” (4+ w/kg): Elite-paced ride on a challenging route. Many tough climbs!

Amelia is the fastest!

Also, although everyone is describing CoCo and Bowie as female and male, respectively, those are pretty gender neutral names. Maybe they’re non binary bots? I’d like that. Thanks Zwift.

Thanks Zwift.