Drive My Bike


Winter Sunset
November 18, 2008, 12:49 pm
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There was a beautiful sunset while I was riding home yesterday…

Wasatch Sunset

Since the days are shorter this time of year it means that I often end up riding when the daylight is either coming or going. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s been a slow process, but I’m learning to take more time to stop and smell the roses (enjoy the sunsets?). I hope you enjoy your ride today.

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But What About My Feet?
November 15, 2008, 10:27 pm
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Last Monday I learned that, even though I covered the rest of me, if my feet are hanging out in the rain they will definitely get wet… and I mean really wet!

j0410082

I have been preparing to ride in the cold and snow lately, so when I woke up to rain on Monday morning it threw me off a little bit. I was still determined to ride, so I donned my water resistant windbreaker for the top half, and in a pinch decided to use my snowboarding pants to keep the bottom half dry. I thought my feet might get a little wet, so I grabbed an extra pair of socks… and then off I went.

The ride was uneventful, except for the fact that is was a good steady rain the entire trip. The road was completely soaked, and that meant that, even though I have fenders, there was water spraying everywhere. My snow pants actually kept my legs completely dry, but the flair legs meant for snowboard boots constantly flapped around and threatened to get stuck in the chain. I found out that my “water resistant” pullover windbreaker is not water proof, and my top half was not soaked, but I was quite damp.

The worst of it all was my feet. I had on a pair of running shoes with cotton socks, and about halfway through the ride I realized that was a very bad idea. I could feel the cold water on my feet, and I looked down to see that my shoes were completely soaked through, almost as if I had just stepped in a puddle. When I got to the office I immediately took my wet shoes and socks off, but then realized that even if I put on my other pair of socks, I didn’t have any dry shoes to put on. I actually put my dry socks on and tried to work that way, without shoes, for a couple of hours, hoping that my shoes would dry out, but it takes a long time for shoes to dry. When it came time for lunch, and it was still raining, I decided to put my wet socks and shoes back on as I went to lunch with the other guys.  I made it through the rest of the day in my wet shoes, and by the end of the day they were actually almost dry, but it sure wasn’t very pleasant.

After Monday’s experience I realized that I needed to be more prepared to ride in the rain, since that is also a possibility this time of year. I headed out to REI again, and, after trying on pretty much every piece of rain gear on the rack, I settled on their Novara Stratos pants and Novara Express jacket. I also looked at all of their options for foot protection, and I couldn’t find any of their shoe covers that would fit over my shoes. I came home and Googled a bit, and eventually found some boots that are made to go over normal shoes, and they claim to keep out water, as well as adding a layer of insulation. I ordered a pair of these NEOS Overshoes, and I should be getting them sometime next week.

I haven’t had to ride in the rain since Monday, but I’ll let you know how this new gear works out.

UPDATE: Those Neos Overshoes are AWESOME! Read my complete review here.



And Then There Was Snow
November 5, 2008, 2:41 pm
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It has been snowing almost non-stop for the last eight hours.

Trek 830 In Snow

I’m working from home today, so I didn’t ride my bike in this, but I wanted to give you a perspective on how deep the snow is getting. I probably have 8-10” of snow outside my house right now, and I have heard rumors that there are 3 feet or more up in the mountains… and it is still going strong.

It would seem that the first snow storm of the year has come to Utah in a big way. This is great for my snowboarding, but not so great for my bike riding. Maybe later this afternoon I’ll put my gear on and try riding around the neighborhood a bit to get a feel for riding in the snow. It will give the neighbors something to talk about while they are out shoveling their driveways. 🙂

UPDATE: Snowbird just announced that they have enough snow that they will be open this Friday! That is the second earliest opening in the resort’s 38 year history. Yes! (And no, I will not be riding my bike up Little Cottonwood Canyon to get there)



A Day Of Firsts
November 4, 2008, 10:04 pm
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The weather forecast was predicting snow sometime today, and I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated at the thought of possibly having to ride in snow for the first time. Little did I know that I was going to have two different kinds of “firsts” today.

RainyWindow 

I voted before work this morning, so I got started on my commute about an hour later than usual, and by then the sky was darkening and the winds were shifting. When I finally hit the road the temperature was about 45 (F) and dropping quickly. I had a strong headwind for the first mile or so. I passed another biker on the other side of the road heading in the opposite direction. We waved at each other, two obvious members of the brotherhood of the slightly crazy bike commuters. The headwind got stronger, and then the rain started. That was the first of the “firsts”.

I know that some of you have to ride in the rain a lot, but until today I had only ridden in a couple of light showers that really didn’t even count. However, this morning certainly made up for things! About two miles into my five mile commute things started to get pretty exciting. The rain got heavy, and the headwinds started mixing with crosswind gusts so strong that they actually blew me around the road, and I had to be careful to not get blown over. I had my cold weather gear on, so I was warm, and my windbreaker is fairly waterproof, so my top half was dry… but I only had shorts and thermals on my lower half, so by the time I got to work my legs were pretty soaked.

In spite of all of this craziness I have to admit that there was a bit of fun and adventure to be had. Somewhere inside I sensed that little bit of rebellion that you get when you are a kid and you just keep playing as the rain pours down, and you think to yourself “Ha, I really shouldn’t be out here… but I am!” The other thing that kept my mind busy was watching the looks of the faces of the drivers I encountered, and wondering what they were thinking as the crazy guy in the bright yellow windbreaker came pedaling by on this blustery day.

The other “first” happened on the way home. Thankfully the weather had cleared a good bit, and although it did actually snow for about an hour mid-day, the roads were clear and the sun even showed up. It was in the low 40s, so I bundled up and set out for home a bit early to take advantage of the break in the weather. I had to wait for a stop light at the two mile mark, and when the light turned green and I started to pedal something popped while I was right in the middle of the intersection. I looked down and thought my chain had just derailed, but to my surprise the chain was actually broken and dragging on the street! I had never broken a chain before.

I quickly hopped off, ran the bike through the intersection, and found a grassy spot in front of the corner 7-11 to assess the damages. I was riding the Trek that I rebuilt, and I did replace the chain as part of the rebuild, but I don’t think the link that broke was the one the I fastened. Anyway, I was glad that I had my Crank Brothers multi-tool with the chain breaker tool, and I was glad for the rebuild experience since that was when I learned how to fasten a link. After a few minutes I had the chain fixed and was able to resume my commute.

A big wet storm… a broken chain…wow… what a crazy day!