D ecked out in my new, fancy (read: expensive) cycling shorts, I was back to feeling pretty good about my appearance on the bike.
Until those pricey shorts crept up my legs and a pooch of thigh popped out.
A few weeks ago, I tore through my drawer of bike clothes and deemed most of them unwearable due to either cheapness or, um, personal growth. I decided to buck up and spend some dough on a good pair of shorts that not only felt like butter but eliminated muffin top (perhaps partly caused by a buttery shortbread recipe I like).
This might sound like an endeavor rooted in vanity. But in sports, your mind is a factor in your performance. It can be a powerful driving force or a crippling liability… and for me, feeling like a pastry stuffed into a pair of lycra shorts is a liability. (I hope the rest of you are mentally tougher than I am.)
So I threw out three pair of old shorts and bought a pair of sleek, non-muffiny Capo bib shorts at the Sports Garage for, gulp, $170.
I was poor but psyched. Muffin-top elimination! I donned the shorts for a chilly early-morning ride and tucked a pair of leg warmers underneath the legs of my fancy new shorts.
A mile in, I felt svelte and fast, yeah! Then I felt a sudden chill on my thighs. Glancing down, I saw that my pricey shorts were creeping up my legs, above the tops of my leg warmers.
I went from sleek to gumby in under two miles and spent the rest of the ride yanking at my shorts to cover the unsightly thigh peek.
Frustrated that my spending and shopping (I visited three local bike shops to buy that one pair of shorts) didn’t win me shorts perfection, I turned to Twitter to vent my angst and asked Sarai Snyder, the blogger behind girlbikelove.com for advice.
Sarai told me to come over to try on a bunch of shorts all at once — we’re the same size, and she gets shorts to review — and get some tips.
Sarai’s first rule is, if you’re going to put money into something, spend on the shorts. “I’d rather buy one nice pair than three bad pair,” she said.
In the past, I’d violated this rule by hitting the sale rack for cheap duds, but now Sarai was preaching to the converted. Then again, that logic that led me to spend on those bib shorts, which are good but flawed.
Second, she said, “women tend to buy bike shorts too big sometimes. You want them to really fit, otherwise they move around too much.”
Was this the root of my thigh peek problem? I couldn’t imagine squeezing into smaller ones…
Finally, she said, don’t buy shorts online. “It’s important to try them on.”
I tried on at least seven pairs of shorts that day at Sarai’s and felt comforted that I’m not alone — others have trouble finding the right shorts, too, and are likewise troubled the by search itself. But then she brought out some jerseys to try.
Suddenly, my jerseys that survived the purge a few weeks ago were no longer good enough.
A few days later, I dropped some cash on a beautiful wool-blend cycling jersey.
I thought my quest for perfect cycling shorts could end once I obtained that one elusive pair. But it turns out that like many things in life, the search for shorts — and jerseys, and total muffin-top elimination — is a journey.