Health & Well-Being

When Riding in the Rain…

When Riding in the Rain…

Vancouver has been having it’s typical wet fall. I’m definitely no stranger to it as I was blinded by torrential downpour and tossed around in the wind the last few days during my commute. I even had to take a cab home halfway home when the winds got a little too dangerous.

If you don’t want to be one of those fair-weather riders, there is one mindset you have to remember when riding in the rain:

Do not even try to stay dry!

What’s the point? Especially if your work place has showers. If the weather is going to be like a monsoon and you are determined to cycle commute like me because you just cannot stand the thought of being stuck in a car, you are going to get wet… NO MATTER WHAT.

Wet & Rainy

rain rain go away

When trying to do the impossible, you are only going to get discouraged.  Plus you are creating extra hassle for yourself by layering on unnecessary gear and extra gear is one of the worse things about cold-weather commuting— it takes forever to get ready for a ride or clean up afterwards!!

In real life a.k.a. off the bike, I am prissy about my hair and appearance so I am paranoid about rain but when I’m cycling or exercising in general and I know I am going to get sweaty anyway, so I go all out and forget about how I look (or feel). If I’m wet, I suck it up. If I’m cold, I suck it up. If I’m tired, I suck it up. This is one thing over six dedicated years of consistently practicing a healthy and fit lifestyle has taught me.

SUCK IT UP. Health, fitness and looking good all comes with a cost and sacrifice.

I’m writing an article on dressing for cycling in different temperatures, but here are some of my favorite gear and tips to stay warm and “somewhat dry” during wet rides:

  • This bright pink Sugoi waterproof jacket keeps me visible and my upper-body 100% dry which is important because you need to keep your core warm. During the winter, I keep my rain jacket in a bottle cage (pictured above) and I always stuff a windbreaker (along with spare lights and batteries) in a small pod, since I don’t need water for short commutes.
  • When it’s raining during the colder months, you will never get warm when riding “leisurely” so keeping your head and ears warm with a cap is important.
  • And you will most likely be riding “leisurely” because visibility is very limited in heavy rain and you don’t want to be riding fast on wet pavement. I’ve had a few close calls and traumatic rides the last few weeks which has been making me think twice about commuting when I get up in the mornings… but I force myself to forget and just do it. Of course, I’m always grateful that I talked myself into it and I never regret a ride!
  • These shoe covers keep my feet warm and dry … but only for about 10km! My work is 12km away and my feet always starts to get wet when I’m 2km away (when it’s absolutely pouring cats and dogs). SIGH. It’s a losing battle and I’m sure you can duct-tape the bottom of your shoes to keep the water out… but again, I can’t be bothered.
  • I’m SUPER lazy and don’t even bother bringing extra gear and will just wear my wet clothes back home… but I always bring extra socks! I can handle a lot of discomfort… but I can’t even imagine the thought of having to put on wet socks!
  • Rain + fog + glasses = lethal combination!! Make sure you always have contact lenses or take a cab home.

    Peace in Meditation

    Peace in Meditation

    Just as Mark publishes a post on Alternatives to Sitting Meditation, I finally finished writing this entry that I started last month. I really need to watch my ISTP habits from taking over— I have a habit of starting a billion things and not finishing the majority of them. I tend to live very much in the moment and lose interest in things quickly.

    Last month I started practicing Bikram’s Yoga for the first time in almost 2 years. During my first class I found myself in the deepest meditative state than I have ever been. When I first started practicing Bikram’s a few years ago, my mind used to race with endless thoughts of what happened during the day, what I’m going to do later, day dreams… it was inner chaos that I could never seem to silence. I was consistent with the practice but never achieved a true meditative state. I practiced purely for the fitness aspect, but not the spiritual.

    This time as I was lying in Savasana, I realized how calm and clear my mind was. It was truly a moment of magic. I was focused on my breathing, the sensations of my body… spell-bounded by the present and completely at peace.

    I’ve recently been aware that I have been immersed in meditation many times because this is what happens on my bike rides, but it was an eye-opener to be able to compare this experience with a previous Bikram’s experience.

    On the other hand, I’ve never done Bikram’s with such a well rested body! A couple years ago I was working out 5x more: endless bike rides, crazy intense circuit training, Grouse Grinds… I was intensely active every single day. I felt great and my energy levels were good but my legs were constantly tired, muscles tight and all the poses were always a struggle. But back then, I also loved and craved for that pain of holding a Standing Bow Pose or a Triangle Pose just a little longer, to see how much I can take. The harder it was, the more satisfied I was.

    This time, I was also not too satisfied with the classes (fitness-wise) because it felt so easy even though I pushed harder than I ever did! But that was fine because I was there for another reason. I just had to keep on reminding myself that it was because my body was well rested. One of my goals this year was to slow down all aspects of my life, including fitness and in doing so, I found peace. And guess what? I am still happy with my health and how my body look like.

    Meditation is when you become the observer who is fully present in the moment.

    Meditation isn’t solely about the “quieting of the mind” or focusing on a single object, but it is when you are suddenly aware of everything around you due to the infinite nature of mind. This, then automatically “quiets your mind” from internal chatter because your focus is on the beauty of life around you; the sweat dripping off your nose, the rhythm of your breath, the feeling of the wind, the chatter of the birds, the feeling in your hands… When you completely immerse yourself in this state, you will feel an incredible sense of peace and awe.

    You can meditate anywhere: a yoga class, taking a walk, brushing your teeth to riding your bicycle. It’s too inconvenient for me to practice Bikram’s consistently right now but luckily, I can still find my peace daily… on my bike.

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      Little Moments on the Bike

      Little Moments on the Bike

      Yesterday, I got on my bike for the first time in over a month. The first few cranks of the pedal was euphoria… an indescribable mash of feelings: happiness, comfort, familiarity, freedom and peace. I felt like a child who suddenly rode on two wheels for the first time by herself— so wild and free. That evening, I rode home as the last bit of sun was disappearing into the night. As I got to the top of a hill, I looked down into the distance and saw an exquisite sea of bright white blinking lights. CYCLISTS! All riding towards me… wherever they maybe going. The bike route sure was busy. I was elated, seeing all those souls braving the frigid and dark skies with me as the season inches closer and closer to a below freezing winter. Then, this morning as I stepped outside with my bike, the crisp cold air instantly enveloped my body, chilling me to the bones yet like a breath of fresh air into my soul. I was suddenly alert. Reawakened. And I simply thought, “oh wow, this feels nice!

      It’s hard to be unhappy when the littlest things can put a smile on your face. When you practice gratitude, you will always notice all the small, albeit wonderful things happening around you.

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