When I was a kid, teeth cleaning technique meant putting toothpaste on your brush and then vigorously brushing in an ‘up and down’ direction. Doing this correctly meant ‘no fillings and other work’ to be done at the dentist, which was never somewhere I ever wanted to visit in case unpleasant things happened to me there, like being put to sleep with gas to ensure easy access for the dentist and no pain for the patient. However, I do remember sitting in the waiting room for my turn and hearing people being sick post-gas. I have never had gas as an anaesthetic, and only had teeth removed when I was well into adulthood. This was because I always cleaned my teeth just as the adverts and dentist told me too. Up and down, up and down.

It’s funny how things change over time, because many years on, I find myself having to go to the dentist to fix my years of brushing up and down. I now find that my gums have receded a bit at the front of my mouth, therefore exposing my teeth near the roots. Not good apparently. The fix is a skin graft. Skin is taken from the inside of my mouth and stitched over the exposed teeth. Apparently, it takes some time to heal and I’ll be on soup and ice cream for several weeks. This means that the fabulous local Swiss bread and cakes are off my menu. Alcohol is fine, so that’s a good thing.

The dentist is concerned about the care I need to take recuperating because he believes that I have ‘muscular lips’ and even asked me if I play the trumpet. I certainly haven’t being muscle building by design in this area of my face, I don’t play the trumpet, and I do have very narrow lips, so I was a bit surprised at the dentist’s observation. Having strong lip or mouth muscles means that it can be a problem with this type of skin graft. The dentist will stitch on the skin, but if I exercise my apparent ‘strong lip muscles’ even slightly, I will rip out the skin graft from the stitches. Not good.

Whilst I can deal with a limited diet for a period of time, I do obviously need to be very careful when cycling. I’ve never seen myself climbing a hill on a bike, so have never really seen my own facial expressions when clearly exerting energy, but I guess that my mouth will contribute to the overall effort. After all, that’s where the air is going in and out of my body to a large degree. If I do some extreme hill climbing facial expressions, I’ll be back at the dentist and he’s going to be pissed off with me. So, how do I keep cycling and make sure all of the stitches remain where they should be?

Do I tape my mouth up? Ride with gritted teeth? Just use the ebike and avoid hills (hills and mountains aren’t easy to avoid in Switzerland)? Not do any cycling? Even sucking water out of my bike bottle will require some lip-pursing, and turning of my head to look backwards for traffic etc is likely to stress the stitches as well. In ‘hindsight’, my teeth cleaning history could’ve been both different and better.

No smiling or I’ll pull out those stitches??

The word ‘hindsight’ has cropped up in another part of my cycling life. Last year, I supported an idea on the crowd funding site, Kickstarter. It was for a pair of cycling glasses which allow riders to have a view of what is going on behind them on the road due to the small mirrors on the outer edge of the lenses. This means less looking behind and more watching in the direction that a rider is cycling. The glasses, aptly named HINDSIGHT, finally arrived after many months of lens and frame technology development and testing. 

This post isn’t meant to be a product test. However, now I’ve mentioned these new glasses, you may be as intrigued as I was when I pitched in with everyone else that supported the cause, to find out what they are like. Firstly, I don’t live in a city or do much city riding, so there is less going on around me on my local Swiss rural roads. This is except when there is traffic like a tractor, motorcycle or car that has a pilot who is happy to pass a cyclist on a blind corner. I don’t know if this is a ‘Swiss thing’, but I’ve never, ever come across drivers who choose to pass a cyclist just at the moment of ultimate blind spot danger as in the area that I live in. Madness!

Anyway, these glasses are very effective and do give a great rear-view-mirror image of what is going on, or about to go on, behind me. The lens colour is nice and not too dark, and would probably be fine when riding at night, although I would need to validate this last statement. As a seasoned wearer of Oakley glasses, the grip of the HINDSIGHTS on my ears and head isn’t quite as secure, although the model I bought is not the sport version, so it’s clearly not aimed at Tour de France, enduro or downhill riders. It is good to see images equally on the left and the right sides of the glasses, whilst they are not distracting either. On a fast downhill road run, the wind noise is a little bit higher than more aero Oakley glasses, but it isn’t intrusive.

In case you were wondering, I chose the frame which is made from laminated hemp, which is cool as well. Anyway, the word ‘hindsight’ is about the ability to look back, so that’s exactly what my new glasses allow me to do on the bike. Maybe the next generation of these glasses will allow me to look into the future and then back again. If I would have had these types of glasses as a kid, I probably wouldn’t have needed that skin graft on my gums??.

If your gums are receding, you can obviously see your dentist AND if you’re interested in this eyewear innovation, here’s the link to HINDSIGHT https://hindsight.store

All photos by the Author