I want to get real for a minute about being a woman who bikes and also drinks water. Yeah, I'm about to talk about peeing outside.
But let’s start with water.
Apparently the latest research says that there is no recommended amount of water that a person should drink. Once we heard that everyone needed 2 liters a day. Now we’re told that it is different for everybody. You get water from lots of sources, like fruits, juices, coffee, tomato sauce, etc., so that already negates some of the H20 specific drinking you’d need to do. Further more, if you are 200lbs and you do marathons in the desert you’ll need a lot more water than someone who weights 45lbs and is sitting in a classroom for 6 hours a day.
The point is, as a female cyclist who sometimes spends 10 hours riding, I need to drink a lot of water. That also means I need to stop riding sometimes to pee. This can either be a pleasant break from spinning my pedals, or a big hassle. Especially compared to what guys do.
A competitive cyclist explained it to me a few years ago. “It’s not a hassle for dudes.” If you’ve seen the mockumentary film “Tour de Pharmacy” by Andy Sandberg, you’ll know all about technique. If not here you go, guys simply “snake it out” when they need to wizz. None of this dismounting-finding a hiding spot-taking off shirts- pulling down bike shorts business. For men, you don’t even have to stop riding.
What do other women do when they need to go en route? There’s no good equivalent to the “snake it out” technique unless you want to pee yourself. Most women just stop. They stop riding and then they fiddle with their cycling garments of choice until they are undressed enough to squat and pee.
The challenge of peeing outside as a woman comes up a lot. I was an Outward Bound Instructor, a camp counselor, an adventure guide, and I’ve also spent time in NYC, a city famous for not having free public toilets, among other things. So I’ve taken it upon myself to put some information up on the web about peeing outdoors.
#1: There are products to make it easier for women to pee outside. Here’s a complete list.
#2 Turn a bandana into a pee rag, don’t leave toilet paper outside!
There’s a policy among outdoors people called “Leave No Trace.” In simple terms it means you shouldn’t disrupt the environment. Peeing outside and leaving behind a pile of toilet paper or wet wipes is a big no-no. BUT…it sucks to move around in damp shorts, and if you’re back packing or bike touring for days you don’t want any more bacteria accumulating in your bottoms. Get a bandana and make that your pee rag. These are some more great outdoor pee tips.
#3 Choose the right cycling clothing.
I’ve made the mistake of wearing multiple layers of jackets with half zips, followed by a jersey, and then bibs. So I end up nearly nude with a pile of shirts next to me when I’m taking a wee. It’s just silly. Jersies that zip all the way are great. One piece body suits that zip all the way down are great. On cold days, I’ll put on an undershirt and before my bibs and then a warm wind layer that comes off easily.
#4 If you’ve gotta go, you might as well make the most of it.
I’ve considering confronting the perceived challenges of peeing outdoors by making a book of great outdoor pee spots. Let this blog post serve as a precursor to that! Peeing outside should be an adventure. Embrace it and enjoy it.
Stories from the road and bike shops en route.
Author: Sylvie Froncek
I've ridden thousands of miles, led group bike tours, taught maintenance classes and started bike collectives, all in an attempt to share what I love with great people. Read about my adventures and tell me about yours!