In July, the temperature soared past ‘nice’ and went straight to OMGWTFBBQ. A blind mistakenly left open in the morning would have the south-facing apartment sweltering by the time I got back from work in the afternoon. I spent a lot of time wandering the flat shirtless, avoiding the landlord’s favoured dark leather furniture (so hot at this point that I was tanning more from the sofa than the sun), swigging from a cold can of Red Racer IPA and keeping half an eye on Versus’ dreadful infomercial/coverage of the Tour de France on the TV. The heat had turned me into bourgois white trash.

One afternoon I walked along to the beach at English Bay, taking a book to read but mostly just watching the people go by. To the uniformly tanned, strapping Vancouverites out for a day’s seaside promenade I must have looked like a malnourished heroin addict*: aside from me and a few homeless guys sunbathing fully clothed (I couldn’t help but imagine them soaking up the day’s warmth to carry them through the night like iguanas on a rock), almost everyone out for the day’s seaside promenade was baring their beach-ready bodies and playing frisbee or volleyball or skateboarding in the parking lot. I floundered around sweating a lot and collapsed against a log on the beach. It took me a while to acclimatise.

Eventually, though, I started to get into into the generally outdoors nature of the place. Although the bike wasn’t quite finished (more on that in a future post!), one Saturday I tagged along with a Vancouver Bicycle Club ride down to New Westminster, an apparently leisurely 45-kilometre route following the newly opened Central Valley Greenway along the Skytrain’s Millennium Line. It went surprisingly well: me and another home-brew single speeder kept up fairly well with the hardened touring types, even laying down the law on a hilariously steep hill by deploying the usual single-speed tactic of charging full pelt at the approach to build up momentum and finally panting to the top of the incline barely able to crank the pedals over. When you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

New Westminster happened to be hosting its annual ‘2009 Show & Shine’, a sort of concours-type vintage car show taking place on the main drag. I gawked at the Chevelles, ‘Cudas and Ramblers, and was generally a happy car nerd for an hour or so. We ate lunch down on the boardwalk and headed back in the afternoon as the skies turned grey.

Up to this point, I’d been sceptical of the need for ‘proper’ cycling clothing other than a decent jacket to help brave the Scottish winter. However, the ride back convinced me of the absolute necessity for proper cycling shorts with a chamois sewn into them. The internet is curiously silent on the definition of a ‘chamois’ in this context, so here, then, is my contribution to the sum total of human knowledge:

chamois n.
a piece of extra padding often present in cycling shorts, which causes the wearer to assume both the physical appearance and waddling gait of one wearing a nappy

It is, to put it bluntly, a combined ass-, balls- and perineum-protection device which stops the crotchal zone from becoming a raw, angry mess after a few hours spent in the saddle. I promptly bought a pair of lycra shorts thusly equipped and then another pair of more baggy shorts with which to cover up the shame of wearing the first pair. That, my friends, is how I roll.

* Ironically enough, I spent a year or so of my youth sporting a proto-buzz cut and a bomber jacket in emulation of Ewan McGregor’s portayal of Trainspotting‘s Renton, a fictional heroin addict. Unfortunately, having aimed at ‘faux heroin chic’, I hit ‘effete neo-Nazi’ instead.