I am now a badass. This is entirely because of my new shades, which are prescription and change how dark they are depending on the ambient light. I got them to use while cycling (everyone else on my Team in Training team seems to wear shades), but I’ve found that I sometimes wear them when I’m just walking around. And, you know, I feel kind of different. Not quite don’t-mess-with-me, but a little bit of a comfortable distance from some of life’s harshest rays.
Others in my (as yet unnamed) TNT speed group have taken to calling me Badásse, a Frenchified moniker that reminds me of early Godard, only without the cigarette. Yes, they’re joking, but I must say: since I got these shades, I’ve felt stronger — cooler — on the bike. This may simply be random variance, or it may have something to do with the hot (!) yoga (!) I’ve been trying out during the week — but until convinced otherwise, I’m going to say it’s the sunglasses.
Last week we did the ride that I dread every season (well, one of many): starting at Stafford Lake in Novato, then about 55 miles that include the infamous climb (after climb after climb) at the Marshall Wall. Oh, and there’s also much wind. Map and (if you click on it) details below:
The previous Saturday, on what was (I believe) my first ride with the new cool shades, we went over many bridges (well, at least two) — and as we spun through Vallejo, a scary-looking man seemed to glare at me as I rode by, but I just Trusted in the the Power of the Shades (and also smiled and said “Hi!”) and the moment passed. I was wearing all the pretentious-looking bike stuff that people find so off-putting when cyclists clank into the local Peet’s in their weird, clippy shoes. But amazingly, every weird thing you wear makes a practical difference on the bike: the stretchy pants prevent (well, reduce) chafing and cushion your butt, the jersey wicks out your sweat, the gloves minimize injury if you fall off your bike and cushion your palms, the clippy shoes conserve energy as you pedal, the sunglasses make you seem really cool, and the helmet– well, I forget what the helmet does, but our head coach, K.Sue, makes us wear one.
Of course, despite all these neat accoutrements, I spend pretty much every moment of each ride in terror that I won’t finish it — that it will be too hard, and I will let down my teammates, my donors, my ancestors, et al. But being dressed properly at least means that, amid that terror, I will be as comfortable and safe as possible.
Below is a map of that two-weeks-ago, bridge-to-bridge ride (click on it for juicy details):
If you’d like to donate towards my big ride this season — 188 badass miles from Seattle, Wash., to Vancouver, B.C., on Aug. 15 & 16 — just click here.