If there's one thing I know about preparing for major athletic events, it is this: Don't make big changes before the big day.
So literally a week before I begin RAGBRAI (I'm jumping in at the middle, remember), I went out and bought bike shorts and a sweat-absorbing headband.
I didn't become so much of a n00b that I failed to test these items out before the kickoff, though. That counts for something, right?
Thoughts from a 25-mile ride that began when it was 88 degrees (heat index in the 90s):
* My favorite part of the bike shorts may be how high-waisted they are, at least on this child-sized adult. I like my odds of preventing further tramp-stamp burns.
* My least favorite part of the bike shorts is wearing them when I'm not on a bike. I don't recall what wearing a diaper felt like, but I'm willing to bet that this is a very similar feeling.
* The shorts are an appropriate length, but wow, there is a LOT of incredibly pale skin seeing some direct sunlight. Will there be a vat of sunscreen into which I can be lowered before putting on my clothes?
* The Halo sweatband purchase will probably pay more dividends for me than the padded shorts. What sold me on it in the first place was the little ridge that diverts sweat toward your jawline instead of directly into your eyeballs; this is just about as good as advertised. (The corners of my eyes did catch a few sunscreeny sweat droplets.)
It's also a good thing I've resigned myself to tan lines instead of exposing maximum skin in hopes of an even skin tone, because with the Halo band and my sunglasses shielding the upper third of my face, I'm going to be a walking gradient for a while after RAGBRAI.
But put all this together, combine it with my hand-pump-bearing road bike and throw on some bike gloves, and I look like I belong on RAGBRAI. How far I've come from old college T-shirts and a hybrid!