5 Reasons Riding a Bike Is The Most Humiliating Exercise
A lot of people don't find bike riding very impressive as a sport, because how hard can it be? Little kids learn how to ride bikes before they learn how to tie their shoes (which is a little dangerous if you think about it).
Disaster waiting to happen.
Well, I started riding to get in shape recently and learned that there's a big difference between bike riding and serious bike riding. Doing all the things "right" according to the pros seems at times like a terrible initiation prank designed to kill or embarrass new riders. I can only conclude that there are a limited number of slots in the Real Bicyclists Club and they are dedicated to keeping applicants out by making them deal with things like this...
You Can Kill Yourself Just Getting On (if You Do it Right)
Sit on your bike seat. Can you put one foot down on the ground? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. That's what they told me anyway.
Common sense tells you that when you come to a stop on your bike, you want to be able to quickly put a foot down so you don't, you know, fall over.
But apparently that's crazy talk. You're actually supposed to be able to fully extend your leg when the pedal is all the way down, to get full use of your leg muscles, because pedaling with your knees always bent is like duck-walking a footrace -- you're not fully using your muscles, and the other racers will laugh heartily at you.
Unless you are holding a guitar.
Since the pedal is several inches above the ground (or it would scrape it), that puts your foot several inches above the ground when your leg is fully extended -- which means you can't put your foot down. If your seat is at the proper height, and you come to a stop and try to put your foot down, you will fall over, and the other bikers will laugh heartily at you.
The guitar isn't going to help you here.
And if you get on the normal way, swinging your leg over the seat with the bike tilted toward you, and then lean upright to get underway, well, a road bike in particular is liable to turn as you get on, because it's sensitive, and you steer by leaning left and right. So you can find yourself turning into traffic, or maybe the curb, which never turns out well.
So how are you supposed to get off and on? Well, you're supposed to straddle the crossbar, then put one foot on one of the pedals, and push the bike forward, picking up your other foot, like you're on a scooter. You're supposed to go from ground to scooter position to sitting on the seat, to get on, and the opposite to get off, which is easy to do with a bit of practice, but who the hell is going to remember an orderly series of steps 1-2-3 when you're about to ride into an obstacle and you hit the brakes?
Not me! I prefer an unexpected crotch full of crossbar apparently.
Wakes you right up.
Your Feet are Stuck to the Goddamned Bike
What if people are too wily to fall off their bikes just because you raised their seats? Well, the cycling community has just the thing to deal with them -- toe clips. Clips that hold your feet to the pedals, whether you like it or not.
"What if the rider can't get their foot off in time because it's actually fastened to the pedal with something that looks like an S&M torture device?" one of the Real Bicyclist Club members no doubt proposed one day, to resounding applause. And so toe clips were born.
Most serious bicyclists wouldn't dream of using toe clips, however, and have special clipless pedals that lock onto special cleats on special bike shoes.
It all costs special amounts of money too.
They'll talk like toe clips and cleats are completely different things even though it's quite obvious to a terrified clumsy person like me that they both attach your goddamn feet to the goddamn pedals.
"No sweetie, that's twine, not rope. Totally different thing. You'll be fine."
Of course they've come up with an excuse for this, which is efficiency. With a regular bike pedal, you only push down. Strapping your feet in with those deathtraps allows you to also pull the pedals up, giving you extra power, at the cost of immortality. If you're riding in a group and everyone else has them, you're liable to get left behind.
I personally don't care, I'm not attaching my feet to anything. I'll go lift some fucking weights and get 50% stronger than everyone else if that's what I have to do to keep up. A week doesn't go by where I don't hear someone's horror story about being clipped in and falling over their handlebars and breaking their ankle or seeing their shinbone or something equally charming.
Bonus: The bike shoes you have to wear to attach the cleats often have solid pieces of plastic as soles, so if you enjoy ice skating across a dry parking lot, you will enjoy these.
You can be Lance Armstrong AND Michelle Kwan.
Embarrassing Ass Products
Anyone who's ever been on a bike more than five minutes (after puberty) knows that biking makes your ass hurt.
Fortunately they've invented entire lines of products to deal with that. Unfortunately these products are somewhat humiliating. The first thing every bicyclist needs is padded bike shorts, with more and more specialized crotch padding over the years:
I'm not the only one who has the vague feeling I'm looking at something obscene here, right? Oh, and you go commando. That disturbingly shaped pad goes right up against your special parts.
All the padding in the world doesn't do anything about the fact that some of your parts just need space. Nothing can be done for your balls, if you have them, but there are apparently many veins and tubes and nerves both men and women have down there that are very bad to squish.
So to fix that, you can ride on a stupid looking seat with a hole in the middle:
If that's still not enough (and it won't be), you'll need chamois butter (which is a delicate term for "ass cream.")
Although, to be perfectly accurate, it also goes on your nads.
They come with oddly appropriate brand names like "Chamois Butt'r," "Assos" (a general cycling supplier whose name happens to fit this one product surprisingly well), "Udderly SMOOth" and "Bag Balm" -- brands of ass cream that anyone would be proud to ring up at the counter.
So yeah, if the certainty of falling off your bike doesn't scare you, junior, why don't you just lube up your ass, put on some disturbing-looking shorts, and hop up on that donut seat. You see what I mean? They are totally just waiting to see when you will catch on.
If you're a man, it gets worse. Not only does the seat feel like it's destroying your balls, it might actually be destroying your balls. Heavy-duty riding over a long period of time compresses your perineum -- also known as the "taint" or "gooch" for people who like to giggle while talking about serious medical problems.
Image courtesy of pandataint.tumblr.com, your number one Internet source for panda taint images. (Really.)
That compresses a vital channel inside your chode, a channel which is actually known to actual doctors as Alcock's canal. That canal houses a nerve and an artery that allows you to both get boners and put them to use. If you constantly pinch it by riding the Tour de France or something, then you will pitch no more tents.
Researchers estimate this affects 5% of male cyclists who will admit it, plus a larger percentage of male cyclists who are too embarrassed to admit they've neutered themselves.
Bike seats exist that are easier on your grundle, and suppliers are constantly inventing more taint-friendly seats, but very few seats are completely innocent of attempting to gradually castrate their riders.
Pro cyclist Mark Cavendish celebrates a win by asking the crowd what happened to his sperm count.
And what about something that both genders are interested in, for different reasons - lady parts? Well, just like with men, biking too much can lead to numbness in a lady's special area which is certainly not a good thing, but doesn't seem to cause actual sexual dysfunction. So there's that.
The Clothes Are Designed to Make You Look Stupid
Biking clothes on anybody are like shaved heads on women. If you are really good looking to begin with (Natalie Portman) then you still look good, but not as good as you did before.
If you are not super hot to begin with, you will look like a douche.
I do not think that girl can ever look ugly.
If you look at any rack of biking jerseys, it looks like a clown wardrobe. There are a couple of reasons for the bright colors -- cars almost never look for bicyclists on purpose, so you have to stand out like a sore thumb to be safe.
I'm not sure what the pros' excuse is, they close the roads off for them.
The other reason for the colors is that due to practical design, all the clothes look pretty much the same -- they need to be tight to minimize wind resistance and not get caught in things -- so the only way to stand out as an individual is with offensive color combinations.
As terrified as I am about safety, I still wear a black jersey. If I die, at least I'll die fashionable and dignified.
Tacky tops aside, bike shorts are terrible in their own way. If you invented a piece of clothing to humiliate people, you could hardly do better. Normal-looking women suddenly look like they have giant T-rex hips, and men get to show everyone their package (before wrecking it on their seat).
There's a whole blog about it ...
Anyway, sorry about that. Here's a picture of Natalie Portman with hair.
Well now that I've gone to all the trouble to show that this is clearly some kind of terrible hazing ritual, why on earth am I still biking? After all, I'm a lifelong couch potato and I'm afraid of everything. I'm afraid of fire, knives, heights, going fast, jellyfish, Taiwanese home cooking, you name it.
It's pig uterus!
I'm still going to avoid most of those things but you can't spend your life avoiding everything you're afraid of. I like going outside, getting in shape, seeing beautiful scenery, and if I'm going to let the thought of falling off the bike and being dragged down an asphalt road at 40 miles per hour stop me from enjoying the things I- oh man. I feel kind of faint, I think I need to go lie down.
Actually, one of the reasons I'm riding is to raise money to fight cancer. I've already raised quite a bit thanks to amazingly generous Cracked readers. Click here to find out more or donate.
Be sure to pick up what Lance Armstrong is (probably) reading while he rides his bike, the Cracked.com book!
For more from Christina, check out 5 Weight Loss Tips for Cynical Bastards and 'Plus Sized' Clothes: Translating the Baffling Euphemisms.