Thursday, December 22, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

A question

In my last post "A Change"  a reader named Vannevar asked:

"what clothing combos are you using to stay comfortable? I'm on an EverLastingQuest for the optimal winter riding kit."

I was going to just post a comment to reply but as i typed, and typed I realized it would be better to answer it this way.  so this is my answer to that question.

My gear is pretty simple I have a pair of fleece lined pants that I wear when it is cold. I have a balaclava that I Got at REI and pair of thin arm warmers. My biggest change is I used to wear a hoodie - flannel combo but the wind went right thru it. I have a fake leather jacket that cuts the wind completely. I have riding gloves that have some kind of wind breaker material on the backs of them and a thicker pair of gloves for when it is really cold. on my feet I wear a simple pair of leather sneakers.

The only thing I haven't manged to get yet is something for my eyes. I wear glasses but don't need them to ride. so I'm looking at getting some ski goggles or something like them. the wind when I'm flying down liberty is just a bit much.

Most of my keeping warm has to do with the Fat Guy part of being a fat guy on an orange bike. as it is when i get done with a ride I have to turn my jacket inside out to let my sleeves dry out. since while they block the wind and I'll bet provide some protection from when (not if) I slide on the ice later, they also don't allow any moisture out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Change

Winter is here and I am still riding. This is the latest in the year I have ever ridden. I want to boast but I know that part of the truth is that the weather so far has been rather mild. It is also true that this year I prepared myself with the proper gear that helps me stay warm while the air is cold. I have also noticed that I have changed as well. Temperatures that I would of once thought of as to cold to ride in are now just numbers that don't seem to mean much to me anymore.

This became a little more real to me over the past few days I headed down to visit a friend, actually I was going to Dog-sit for her while she attended a funeral. Without much thought I threw some clothes into my backpack, grabbed my gear, and hopped on my bike. It was snowing. I ride down to her house in the snow and loved every second of it.

“You're effing crazy. You know that?” she said when I knocked on her door, still damp from the wet snow and still smiling.  “I could of come and got you.” she said. Her face told me she really thought she was making sense

“What and miss out on ride like that.” I said, thinking that I was making sense as well. It was then that I began to realize that the way I was thinking was changing. Thinking back now I see how I think now and think of it as normal but I can also remember how I used to think and how that was normal as well. I don't pretend to understand how such opposite thoughts can both be considered normal.

On Monday I headed to town to volunteer my services as head towel boy and servant at Bike-Pgh as I left my house I remember thinking “What a nice day for a ride.” I agreed with my thoughts as I rode through East Liberty and headed toward the South-Side. I had already decided to take the long way around and enjoy the fine day. I was struck again with how much I had changed when I passed several puddles near the trail that were frozen. Now to be honest the trail is in a hollow (the Panther hollow trail) so it gets less sunshine than most places I ride. Wondering, I stopped and checked the puddles. A half an inch of ice on top of the puddle. As I crossed the Hot-Metal bridge I stopped. I always stopped on the bridge and looked down into town. You see I really enjoy that particular view into town. The wind was blowing up the river and it felt great. Two girls were walking across the bridge from the South-Side. I waited standing on my bike till they passed me. (I try to never miss a chance to smile as a pretty girl) I noticed they were bundled up like Nanook of the north.

Like I said, I guess I'm changing. Even now as I sit here and type this I can feel the dryness of my face. I can feel the beginnings of chapped lips.

        I'm thinking this kind of change is a good thing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Toe Clips

These are the toe clips I picked up today at Thick bikes, which is without a doubt my favorite bike shop. The price for these bad boys was really good to, about 23 bucks installed (Bazinga!!) Still I had a feeling that these clips would be trouble.

I remember my last foray into something similar Shimano Clipless Pedals and road shoes. Yeah I was riding with geek warp factor of 10+ (at least in my own mind) as this was before I got to know the great people that make up the cycling community here in Pittsburgh. I also remember how after a month of "Getting Used" to the clipless pedals and trying to learn to walk in those freaky shoes, I still managed to fall over at stop signs about once every two days.

Not Pretty

So it was with great foreboding I tried out these pedals. I found that things weren't as bad as I thought they would be. I ended up taking the straps off for now as I am wearing my giant leather shoes to keep the cold out and they kept catching on the strap. without the strap they worked just as I hoped they would and I found that I was able to slip my boat like feet (size 13 wide) in and out with only a little trouble.  I am sure it will get better with practice.

One thing I noticed almost at once was the difference having my feet even nominally attached to the pedals made. Even now as I sit and type this I feel a tightness in the backs of my thighs that I do not normally get from riding my bike. I take this to mean that I am also pulling on the up stroke now as well.

All in all my first impression of these pedals is a good one. I give them a solid BUY if you are looking to move from platform pedals to something a little more functional and either don't want to go all in and go Clipless or like myself you simply lack some interior wiring that allows you to use clipless pedals with comfort.