Meet Analise Cleopatra, director of Pedal Through, a film on healing through the outdoors. This film follows Analise during the week-long bikepacking adventure through the Oregon backcountry and reminds us of the incredible rewards that come with pushing past our comfort zones. With support from her dear friend Day Toliver, professional mountain biker Brooklyn Bell, and the greatest mentor of them all –– Mother Nature, Analise discovers how the power of pedaling through rainy days and tough terrain can lead to solitude, serenity, and a new level of self-assurance.
Before I rode six days and 132 miles through the Three Sisters, Three Rivers bikepacking route in Oregon, I’d never camped outside, never pooped outside and had never biked all the live long day. I was so insecure about my abilites and not to mention some of the horror stories I’d heard about enduro biking: Saddle sores? Jock itch? Infections? Nah, bro. Second to avoiding bears, my next priority was staying healthy down there.
Saddle sores can develop during extended riding due to pressure points and friction. We were warned not to shave immediately before riding to avoid dreaded ingrown hairs, but how do you prevent pain from chafing, sweating and sitting on the saddle all day? I didn’t even know chamois butter was a thing at this point but I did bring some hydrocortisone cream and a pack of aspirin just in case. Our number one defense was the construction of the Machines for Freedom Endurance Bibs. These are clearly designed for and by women. I’m pretty biased since they’re the only bibs I’ve ever worn, but I’ve never been cradled so lovingly. There’s no adjustment, no slipping and sliding. The pressure of the saddle is so intimidating, I was so sure by the second day that I was going to be waddling, but surprisingly I was fairly comfortable and spry. These bibs saved our butts!
Now sweating in the seat...what can we really do about that? Well, the first thing I suggest is to bring TWO PAIRS so you can alternate. The Endurance Bib fabric is so breathable that you can air them out between wears. They also use a bacteriostatic fabric in the chamois to prevent nasty infections. And now this might be a cycling sin, but I wore underwear with my bibs. I don’t care! Fight me! I went free toward the end but in the beginning, I was way too shook! Once I got used to riding and started to feel more comfortable, I loosened up a bit. But I’m convinced that extra layer gave me some protection, mental or otherwise, from the dangers of days' worth of all day riding.
My last little trick was my magic spray bottle. You may have seen me attack, I mean, bless Brooklyn with a spray during the film. I knew I’d need something for my hair to keep my scalp refreshed under the helmet, and to counter any stinky scents. In my bottle I keep witch hazel, essential oils and rose water. After we took our bibs off at night, I turned my bibs inside out and gave my kit a good clarifying spritz just to keep them feeling fresh in the morning. After I got dressed, I liked to do a little full body spray for good measure. This won’t help your cycling, it’s just a personal ritual that helps me feel grounded. Starting the day with my favorite scents was just a little comforting wave from home.
A proper fitting pair of bibs is really and truly a bikepacker's best friend. Other acquaintances include: a morning dose of Advil, hydrocortizone/vaseline/chamois butter, and a finishing spritz of magic and you’re good to go. Good luck on your next adventure!