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index~~element111Imagine this: You’re on a multi-day tour, or maybe just a long ride with 7,000 or more feet of climbing and it’s hot outside.

Ok, forget all that ambition.  What if you’re not doing those things.

Your ride isn’t even half over, and suddenly your feet are BURNING HOT. You need to take off your shoes for a:


Luckily you packed ’em. A pair of flip flops (aka thongs) that fold in half and slip into a handy sac that fits in the back pocket of your cycling jersey.

So simple I wish I’d thought of it. Perfect for lunch at an outdoor cafe.

Available online at (see site for store locations) price: $30.00

SMP4Bike Women’s Special Wear Cycling Bib


 I always thought women had smaller bladders than men.  Not so, says Dr. Oz. The walls of a woman’s bladder are only slightly thinner.  However the placement of the bladder in a woman’s body cavity is significantly different from men– especially after childbirth, straining and menopause.

I don’t know about you, but  I drink a lot of fluid before a ride and can’t tell you the number of times I have to use the can before I leave the house.   My constant need to pee has made me shy away from any desire to own a pair of bib shorts.

By their very nature, bib shorts confuse me.  I don’t know why men swear by them.  I can’t seem to figure out how to wear one (like wearing tights and a leotard–which goes first?).  Do I wear a bra underneath the bib when I don’t usually wear a bra at all?  If I have to strip down to take a piss on the side of the road (even if it’s behind a tree), then I’d better show a little modesty, or risk getting arrested, right?

And, what if I’m using a porta-potty? I don’t want to have to take off my jersey and hold it in my hand while I’m taking care of business in such cramped quarters.  Better to take the cycling jersey off, while outside the can, and and put it back on afterward.  A bra can help in this case as well.

But with all these bib-related problems, why even bother?

If your body is not young, buff and perfect, and you don’t want your soft sides hanging over the edge of your shorts or the waistband digging into your waist, then a pair of  bib shorts offers a terrific option for both comfort as well as slim looking lines.

I wouldn’t be even be writing about bib shorts if it weren’t for a particularly ingenious design by the folks who invented the remarkably comfortable Avant saddle.  The two go hand in hand.  If you really want to buy one of these great bibs I’m about to tell you about, then you must also commit to one of their saddles.

What is SMP’s marvelous solution?

A zipper.

Yes, a zipper hidden in the thick chamois.  It’s a zipper an inch and a half shorter on each end than the length of the chamois from front to rear.

A zipper you ask?  Isn’t that uncomfortable?

Not if you have an SMP saddle.  That’s the point.  In my saddle review,  I said the model for the saddle  must have been  a well-endowed man.  Here’s how Selle SMP describes their innovation:

You can finally satisfy your physiological needs without the stress caused by undressing.  The central channel of the Smp4bike saddle range allowed us to develop an innovative pair of shorts with a zip in the lower part.  The zip neither rubs on the saddle nor constricts your private parts: you only realize it’s there in the moment of need.


That’s right.  You can unzip, take a step sideways, squat, and pee behind a tree just like the guys.  No shivering.  No over exposure to the elements.  No wishing you were wearing a bra.  You simply squat and go.

Are there any drawbacks to the design?  Mostly no.   But if your breasts are sensitive and the straps don’t lay flat against your anatomy in just the right place, you might find them a little annoying and prefer the additional protection a bra offers.  Or, if you try and wear these bib shorts on a bike without an SMP saddle, you will be very uncomfortable and probably very sore.

I will warn you, if you need to do more than pee,  I would suggest pulling down the bib just like any other pair of shorts.  There is no easy way.  Without going into details, my experience suggests that the zipper on these shorts was designed to make it easy to take a leak.  So, drink up and enjoy this incredible design.  The fear of not being able to find a bathroom should no longer worry you.

But I do have one other question for you, Dr. Oz. Why does the urge to pee sometimes seem just as strong for two teaspoons as it does for two cups?

Selle SMP Avant Saddle Revisited

When I first published this review back in 2009, My first impression of the Selle SMP Avant was, “Wow, the model for this saddle must have been one well-endowed man.”   I was skeptical. The red, green and white stitching gave no indication that this bicycle seat was actually designed for a woman. How could I possibly be comfortable on a saddle with such an enormous cut-out? I was surprised that a statement addressing my concerns was included in the accompanying pamphlet –albeit in a less-than-perfect English translation:

“The central channel of the saddle, 3-5 cm wide, prevents the anus, the prostate, the peudenda veins, the deep dorsal vein and artery of the penis, scrotum and testicles, and the labia majora and minora, and clitoris, not to be squashed at all, allowing a continuous and completely natural blood.”

It’s now over three years later and I’ve got a second Avant saddle.  This time I opted for a white one, and for all you women in Los Angeles who want to test ride a Rodriguez, now you can also test ride the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever owned.

While the overall shape and size of the Selle SMP Avant closely approximates the Terry Butterfly (a saddle I’m intimately familiar with, after many miles of riding), the similarities end abruptly. The Selle SMP Avant has considerably less cushioning than the Butterfly– but the main difference is its cut-out.   While the Butterfly cut-out begins approximately 7.5 cm from the nose of the saddle, the SMP Avant cutout begins a mere 2 cm from SMP’s signature “eagle’s beak” nose and extends approximately 17.5 cm to the rear.

According to my measurements, the cutout is 2cm wide in front and 4cm wide at the rear.  It’s enormous—you can almost put your hand through it.

I couldn’t help but wonder what part of this saddle I was actually going to sit on.  But, after my first hour-long spin, the boggy, numb feeling I normally experience in my pelvis after a ride was noticeably absent.   SMP’s innovative design cradles the ischium and leaves room for the coccyx while actually framing the soft tissue of the perineum, rather than compressing it. Here’s what SMP says about its design:  “Surveys conducted by various universities in the United States in Norway and in Austria have shown that the squashing of pelvic organs and pudenda arteries may have serious consequences on the genital apparatus of athletes and amateurs.

The patent SMP arises from the study of the different positions assumed by the racer in the various phases of the course and by the consequent interaction between the saddle, pelvic organs and genitals-male and female-with an aim to preventing their getting squashed and rubbed, and the same time increase the blood flow to the leg muscles.“ Technical specs: The saddle has a nap leather cover, the padding is made from a foamed elastomer, the casing is made from nylon 12 charged with carbon fibre and the frame is AISI 304 tubular steel.  The dimensions are 269 x 154mm and the Avant weighs in at 335 grams.  It’s made in Italy and the construction is superb. Initially, the red, green and white stitching on the surface of the saddle was a problem after rides of more than 50 miles, causing itching and even a little pain.  I was starting to feel like a Princess with a pea problem.  However, with a sufficient break-in period, the stitching has been worn down and softened.

I have been riding exclusively with an Avant  saddle for almost four years and in addition to many miles of training, I rode this saddle day after day for three different years on Cycle Oregon.  I’m a slow rider and was on my bike over six hours a day.  I have no reason to change this most important point of contact on my bike.  In fact, SMP has come up with an ingenious complement to their phenomenal saddle.  It’s Their SMP4BIKE Special Wear cycling bib for women.

The price of this saddle is nearly double that of the Terry Butterfly.  However, if you have trouble being comfortable on your bike seat, the Selle SMP line of saddles is worth investigating.  They offer a variety of widths and different levels of padding.   SMP now also offers an entire “Lady Line” with your choice of black or white leather with pink stitching.  In addition, Selle offers a test ride program through some of its dealers (including a few online).  Overall, this saddle, with its distinctive cut-out, makes the competition seem like labial lip-service.

Oakley Introduces Cycling Specific Progressive Lenses!

Protecting your eyes is the number one reason you wear glasses when you ride.

Whether you’re nearsighted, farsighted, neither or both, you need to see the road ahead as well as any obstacles in your peripheral vision.  You also need to check your mirror and (if you have one), read your bicycle computer.

You’ll want a design that fits your face, doesn’t create a vortex of wind between you and your glasses, and protects your eyes from the sun and blinding glare. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had great vision and could do all these things without the need for prescription lenses?

Unfortunately, age may have made these simple tasks nearly impossible without the aid of bifocals or progressive lenses.  Cyclists rely on their peripheral vision to scan for traffic and other potential road hazards. Most progressive lenses provide only a small cone of clear vision directly in front, which requires significant head turning to assess peripheral obstacles.

Two years ago, I wrote a review about Oakley’s Minute 2.0 prescription sports sunglasses.  They were my first pair of Oakley’s and the finest pair of glasses I’d ever worn.  The lens quality was exceptional with more peripheral vision than I’d ever before experienced with a progressive lens. I hated taking them off  because it only reminded me that I actually do require glasses to see.

Oakley, always on the forefront of technology, has moved away from the traditional manufacturing process responsible for creating those glasses, to “True Digital lenses.”

Oakley can now create a prescription lens with an accuracy of one hundredth of a diopter instead of the traditional ¼ diopter available for most prescription lenses.

Not only that, but here’s the real surprise.  They’ve engineered Sport Specific Designs and have created special lenses for  Road Cycling!

How are Sport Specific Progressive Lenses different from Oakley’s “True Digital” progressive lenses?

Both lenses are digital and are created with precision accuracy. But as a cyclist, your head position is chin down with eyes rotated slightly upward. The cycling specific lenses give you more distance vision on the top half of your lens with less intermediate and reading zone in the bottom half.

The cropped reading area is a blessing for cycling and walking, since you can actually see more of the ground peripherally, while still giving you enough near vision to read a menu when you stop for lunch.
Oakley recommends the following lens tints for their Cycling Specific Designs:

00 Red Iridium® Polarized
VR28 Black Iridium® Polarized
Black Iridium® Polarized

I’ve been riding with the Racing Jacket and Flak Jacket.  Both frames are perfect for cycling as their lenses are easily interchangeable for a variety of riding conditions.  The rosy hint of color in the VR28 Black Iridium and the 00 Red Iridium lenses enhances the contrast and improves depth perception by filtering out blues.  The polarization cuts through glare and prevents squinting.

My son is quick to point out that, “the Racing Jacket frame is a little intimidating and that’s a good thing.”  Considering their large lenses, they still conform nicely to a small face, and are extremely comfortable for long rides.  The glasses come with interchangeable nose pieces and the stems have a punched hole at the ends to accommodate a leash which is extremely  helpful if your glasses tend to slip down your nose.

The Flak Jackets have two different lens shapes available to better tailor the glasses to your face.

Oakley continues to break all boundaries, produce products of unparalleled quality, and caters to their super elite almost cult-like following. Their products are rigorously tested and  ANSI Z87.1 compliant for both impact and high impact protection.  Their lenses are are coated with “Oakley Stealth” which reduces backside reflections, which repels water, body oils, sweat and dust.

Oakley high wrap frames are perfect for sports enthusiasts and athletes.  However they require curved lenses, free of distortion, and can only be made into prescription strengths that fall within strict parameters for only a few styles of frames.  The good news is that these new digital lenses can accomodate a slightly stronger prescription.


Once you wear a pair, you’ll probably want to get a set of interchangeable clear lenses for night riding.   Don’t forget to explore Oakley’s everyday eyewear since there are fewer choice restrictions because the lenses are not curved.  The quality of vision is so much better than any other pair of glasses I’ve owned, I’ve become loyal to the brand.  If you have any questions, I recommend you call Oakley or find an Oakley dealer that fills prescription glasses. They come in a fabric bag (and a hard case), and definitely qualify for Road Snob status.


Oakley Sports Glasses
Styles Progressive Lenses Progressive Rx Single Vision Lenses Single Vision Rx
Half Jacket Yes +2 to -3 Yes +2 to -3
Flak Jacket Yes +2 to -3 Yes +2 to -3
Commit (w) Yes +2 to -3 Yes +2 to -3
Half Jacket 2.0 Yes +2 to -3 Yes +2 to -3
Radar Edge (shield) (w) No n/a Yes +2 to -5
Racing Jacket Yes  +2 to -3 Yes +2 to -4
Warm Up  (w) Yes  +1 to -3 Yes +2 to -3
Urgency Yes  +1 to -3 Yes +1 to -3

Some Hanky Panky has forced Me to Ask again

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