peeing

The Unclimbing

I may not have summited the mountain, but I did discover the amazing wonders of the pee bottle.

I would not have thought it possible for women. I’ve long heard about men peeing in

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The view from our tent at basecamp (4,300 meters).

bottles while on the road and I was always envious. With years of camping, hiking, and cycling under my belt, I had become accustomed to the quick squat behind a bush and getting my business done. When I set up my tent on a campground, I always made certain it wasn’t too far away from the toilets. I’m the type that gets up at least twice during the night to pee; more during the winter when I’m cold. It’s a bother getting up, getting dressed, unzipping the tent, going to the toilet, coming back, unzipping then rezipping the tent, undressing, then getting into my sleeping bag. But what was I to do? If you have to pee you have to pee.

But on Aconcagua, Latin America’s highest mountain, I learned that it is very possible for a woman to pee in the comfort of her own tent into a wide-mouthed Nalgene water bottle with perfect aim. Of course, this means peeing in the same tiny confined space that your tent mate is sleeping in; that same tent mate that you only met for the first time three days ago. But does that matter? No! Not one single bit. Not when you don’t have to go outside into the freezing cold to pee in a dark, smelly toilet. Not when you can get your business done in seconds and quickly snuggle back into your warm sleeping bag. Besides, who wants to watch someone else pee? No one. So all you really need to worry about is others hearing the sound of a water bottle filling up with liquid. Actually, your real concern is peeing in your actual water bottle instead of your designated pee bottle. That is why the pee bottle gets taped up with duct tape that you can clearly feel in the dark to distinguish it from your other bottles.

The pee bottle is one of my most important takeaways from an extravagantly expensive trip up part of a mountain.

Aconcagua beat the crap out of me. (more…)

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The challenges of the inconvenient pee

I have very predictable pee schedules. I can get through much of the day without having to go to the toilet very often. Then I go to bed and I have to get up at least twice during the night to pee. Then morning comes and I eat my bowl of oatmeal and have a single cup of tea. That leads to peeing in copious quantities every half an hour for the next three hours or thereabouts.

This makes my life generally difficult. It makes travelling and training pure hell.

Who doesn’t leave their hotel first thing in the morning after breakfast to start their sightseeing? Everyone does that. I do that. But it means that I’m stopping the people with me every half hour to find a toilet until I’m past the critical period of multiple pees. It also means that when I was cycling across Europe, in need of very early starts to get my cycling done as early as possible during the day, I was stopping at the side of the road all the time to pee. I don’t even want to think about the number of people who might have seen my exposed rear end. I try to hide myself away but, seriously, how hidden can you ever be on the side of a major road, for example? It also means getting up at least twice in the middle of freezing cold nights to pee while camping.

Yesterday I had to get my run done early in the morning because I had other things that needed to get done the rest of the day. Do you know how irritating it is to feel an exaggerated sense of needing to pee with every single stomp of your feet on the ground? It’s AWFUL. But I persevered. (more…)

Marrakech: A Half Marathon to Remember

It was hot. It had been over a year since I ran in the heat. Am I up for this? What if I get heat stroke or

My pre-half-marathon breakfast.

My pre-half-marathon breakfast.

heat exhaustion? “Just get yourself to the next 5km mark, Nadia. Get yourself there, slow down, drink some water at the water station, and re-evaluate then.”

The past few months I had been running in the cold of northern England. In the past few weeks, the cold had reached a below-freezing stage where I could feel my leg muscles clench from the cold. But as long as it wasn’t snowing or raining, running in temperatures above freezing was not so bad, I eventually realized. I would always warm up five minutes into the run and that was that. All I had to do afterwards was focus on getting through the run without needing to make a stop behind the bushes to pee in public. Running on snowy, icy, muddy ground was when it really got difficult for me. It’s almost impossible to fall into a comfortable stride. I’d look for slippery spots and play a complicated game of avoid-the-invisible-mines to make sure to stay injury-free. I need to stay injury free.

I reached the first water station. (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 46: I’m That Guy We All Despise

I don’t understand people who have personalities like mine.

Why ON EARTH would anyone choose to cycle 115km in pouring rain for some eight hours?

Today the rain almost didn’t stop at all. It was cold rain. There was a headwind that made it colder. It also made the cycling harder. I’ll admit the more difficult cycling meant more body warmth for me in that cold weather. Cars and trucks splashed dirty, wet road spray on me all day. Visibility was poor because of the clouds and rain, made poorer by the multitude of water droplets on my glasses all day long.

When I reached 30km, I said out loud to myself, “How am I ever going to get to Wroclaw today?”

Yet, I kept cycling. At one point I roared (I’m not kidding) to push myself onwards.

At another point, I had this conversation in my head:

“Why did I have to turn out to be this sort of woman? Why couldn’t I be one of those women who turns her nose up at people who camp and do activities that involve energy and getting dirty? Why couldn’t I turn out to be the kind of woman who just wants to spend most of her day in the kitchen cooking good food for her family? Why couldn’t I be one of those women who walks around in fur coats?” That one stopped me in my tracks. “Wait a minute! I DO want to be the woman who has a fur coat! Why is it I don’t have one already??” And then I got all upset about a conversation I had about fur coats with my husband. He’s against them. All of them. Unless they are fake. We’ll have to have that discussion again.

Don’t get me wrong. I love cooking for my family. I also love luxury holidays when I’m fortunate enough to have one. I can be the laziest person on earth for weeks if I don’t feel like being a productive human being. I aspire to have a comfortable lifestyle. I don’t walk or cycle to the gym unless I absolutely must because I don’t have the car.

But then I go off and do crazy stuff like this. Why??

(more…)

Cycling Europe Day 37: A Loose Sphincter and Nice People

Today started badly. I peed in my pants. But then it got better.

I was relieved to see this sign today.

I was relieved to see this sign today.

I vividly recall the last time I peed on myself. I was 11 and we were at my friend Dietra’s house celebrating her birthday. We were playing hide-and-go-seek and Dietra and I were hiding in the downstair’s closet. For some reason I thought it was hilarious and I laughed so hard until I peed on myself. I asked Dietra to swear not to tell anyone. So what did she do? She told EVERYONE. (Love you, Dietra!) I had to wait somewhere until my mom came to pick me up. The whole thing was very embarrassing.

I wasn’t laughing today. In fact, I was very stressed. Yesterday’s multiple episodes of unkindly motorists had me very concerned for my safety on the roads of Slovenia. I had one hour to cycle before I reached the border of Austria and it couldn’t come to soon. I wanted out.

I always have to pee within an hour of having breakfast. It’s never enough to try to squeeze my bladder dry before I start my ride. This morning I needed to pee about 45 minutes into my ride. Remember how I said Slovenia was a safe haven for FPFCs (Frequently Peeing Female Cyclists)? Well it isn’t. It was just that one road from Gorizia to Ljubljana. So I’m looking for a place to pee. I’m quite modest in my requirements. But I’m having great difficulty finding any place that fulfills even my modest requirements. Then I finally spot a side road that leads up to a house far up the road. The road had a big tree on one side and high grass. If I crouched in just the right spot, most people on the main road would not be able to see me. I get off my bike, lay it on the grass, and search for that perfect spot. The second I find it, and just as I begin to reach to pull down my pants, my sphincter thinks my pants are already down and, in a reflex reaction, relaxes a second too soon. I feel warmth spread through my cycling shorts and a trickle go down my leg. I quickly pull down my pants and let the main bulk of it go where it was supposed to go. But now what?? I tried to pat my cycling shorts dry with some toilet paper. “My, that inner padding these pants have is absorbent,” I quickly observe. But I still have wet pants. Nothing that is noticeable to an outsider though, thankfully. I pull my pants up and feel very uncomfortable. “Nothing about this is to be mentioned to ANYONE!” I warn all the people in my head. “We’ll see about that!” cackled Blogger Nadia, one of my more dominant personalities in the past few years. (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 30: One’s Country vs One’s Basic Human Needs

Egypt is currently in the throes of a pre-presidential-elections circus. Although I’ve

Mantova

Mantova

been made generally aware of what’s going on these days, mainly from my friends’ discussions and posts on Facebook, I’ve been able to blissfully protect myself from the details. I have suffered more than my fair share of post-revolution and post-counterrevolution trauma to want to go through more of the same.

Many of my revolutionary friends have already left the country. Some of my friends are so disenchanted that they have asked relevant questions such as, “When do we call a country our home?” “Why do we feel a need to be patriotic to a country that gave us so little and destroyed so much?” Muslims believe that we can roam in and feel attached to all of God’s Earth. Why this attachment, then, to a particular piece of land whose boundaries were drawn as such not by God but by the actions of conquerors and as the result of wars?

Presidential candidates have started their campaigns and have made television appearances. Most of us believe we know what the result will be: another military man will take charge of our country with the blessing of a large number of Egyptians. Sometimes I think we deserve what’s coming to us if that’s what Egyptians want after everything we’ve been through. The revolutionaries failed miserably in forming a post-revolution united front, the Muslim Brotherhood fucked up in the biggest way possible whilst they were in government, and now it’s time for us all to pay the price.

I’m waiting for the counter-counterrevolution. That’s when I’ll start taking interest in the state of affairs in Egypt again. In the meantime, I have much greater concerns of my own.

Like finding suitable spots to pee on Italian roadsides. (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 13: Everyday Stuff

Getting terribly lost a few days back evidently had its advantages. Today was the day I

Tapas!

Tapas!

was most apprehensive about before the trip. It was going to be the longest in terms of distance. But in the first few days I got lost once in the mountains and ended up cycling 156km and another time I got lost and ended up cycling 186km. Today’s 143km next to those seemed like peanuts. It’s strange how the mind works that way.

It’s all relative, though. I was thinking today that as I got on my bike this morning my friends were just starting to sit at their desks at work. And when I finished, my friends were just finishing their work and getting ready to head home. Now imagine sitting at your desk that whole time while cycling with different speeds and gradients. You do get toilet and snack breaks, but they need to be quick because every minute lost not working is added on to the end of the day. You also need to make sure your desk is within sight during your toilet and snack breaks lest someone thinks of stealing your valuable work.

I’ve been getting up just before 5am everyday. I try to sleep more but I never can. I get anxious in the mornings. I wake up, wash, start gathering all my stuff together in the panniers, and have breakfast as soon as the nearest restaurant opens. I haven’t been very happy with the breakfast portions here. Usually I’m given a croissant, some tea, and orange juice. When possible I’ll add bread or cereal or whatever I can find available. I then gear up my bike and try to be on the road around 8am. By then it’s light enough outside for me to feel safe.

(more…)

Cycling Europe Day 4: THIS Is Why

Part of the Camino de Santiago

Part of the Camino de Santiago

Let me tell you what it’s like. Maybe you’ll understand:

The Semana Santa in Caceres, Spain.

The Semana Santa in Caceres, Spain.Let me tell you what it’s like and maybe you’ll understand:

You’re cycling along, pedaling slowly uphill in the sweltering Spanish heat. A group of five cool dude Spanish cyclists come up from behind and easily pass you. Each and every one of them gives you a wave, a smile, and a buenos dias. You forget the heat and the hill you’re ascending for just a little bit and you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (not because of the sweltering heat).

A bit later a single cyclist, in his 60s, quickly passes you, looks back at you and says, “Bon camino.” You don’t realize what he said at first and reply, “Buenos dias.” Then it clicks. “What did he say? He didn’t say buenos dias. It sounded like bon camino. I wonder what that means.” Shortly after which you start seeing signs that tell you that you are cycling right next to the famous pilgrimage route called Camino de Santiago and you get all excited, especially when you see an old bridge on the trail and a resting place for pilgrims. It is then that you realize the cyclist was saying something like have a good journey or have a good road and you feel all warm and fuzzy inside again. (more…)