Drive My Bike


And Now For Something Completely Different…
November 17, 2009, 4:29 pm
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Here’s something you don’t see every day… a peloton of sumo wrestlers!

SumoPeloton1

My daughter and I were driving around on Halloween day and came upon one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen when it comes to cyclists. There was a whole group of riders dressed in funny sumo suits. We were actually going the other way when we passed them the first time, but it was so cool that I had to get pictures, so we turned around and passed them again, grabbing some pictures out the window as we went by.

SumoPeloton2

There were probably at least twenty riders, and they were creating quite a stir. Folks were honking and cheering, but they seemed oblivious. I have no idea who the group was, and if the traffic hadn’t been so crazy around them I probably would have tried to make conversation out the window to find out.

SumoPeloton3

It made our day!

In other news…  We’ve had some unseasonably cold temperatures the last few days, which means it was 16-18 degrees (F)  when I left the house in the morning, making for a brisk commute! The temperature has climbed to the mid 30s for the ride home in the evening, and that has felt almost tropical compared to the morning.

The bike commuting herd gets pretty thin when it gets this cold, but I’ve seen more riders still out than I saw last year, which is pretty cool. (No pun intended)

I’ve got my cold weather commuting wear figured out pretty well these days, so I was comfortable. Layering and coverage is everything. Maybe I’ll do a post in the near future to review my current outfit choices.

Thanks for stopping by. Ride Safe!

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Need More Space Than A Backpack Or Panniers?

Does it always seem like you need just a little more cargo space on your commute? Well maybe something like this is the answer…

CamperBike

A friend sent me this link to Kevin Cyr’s site, and at first I laughed, but then I realized how serious he is. Go to his site and take a look around. This guy has some interesting ideas on mobility and habitats. He’s also got some nice paintings.

This summer I’ve been using a backpack for my cargo since I’ve been riding Jake’s speedy road bike. The temperatures are starting to drop though, and that means packing a lot more clothing to stay warm, so soon I’ll be going back to my trusty Trek with a rack and panniers.

Yes, the Trek is a lot heavier than Jake’s road bike, and the fully loaded panniers make it even heavier… but I bet it is a lot lighter than Kevin’s camper bike! 🙂



Some Days Are Fast, Some Days Are Slow
February 23, 2009, 3:13 pm
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This morning I believe I had the fastest ride to the office that I’ve ever done, and it wasn’t like I set out to break any speed records…

j0438890

I had a very active weekend. I did a full day of snowboarding on Saturday, and played an hour of racquetball yesterday. I was really tired yesterday, and I was still feeling a bit tired and stiff this morning.

But someone forgot to tell my legs they were tired when I started my ride this morning.

Lately, after a half mile or so of warming up at a medium pace, I settle into a “slightly above medium” pace, and that is where I stay. There are only a few spots where I can get to my highest gear without overly straining, and even then I can only keep that up for a block or so before I have to downshift a couple of gears to find the normal pace.

But today the bike just wanted to go fast.

Same rider, same payload, same bike. The only difference was that it was about ten degrees warmer this morning… in the upper forties (F) when I left. I got to the place where I usually have to downshift, and decided that I didn’t need to yet, so I kept going. I kept telling myself “hold this pace until you get to the next corner”. I kept doing that, until the next corner, and the next corner, and the next. Then came the biggest hill that I face, where I always have to drop a gear or two to maintain my cadence. Today I got a little crazy and decided to try to do the whole hill in my top gear, and it worked. I maintained my highest gear, and dropped my cadence a good bit by the time I reached to top, but picked up the pace again right away on the downhill side. I don’t have a cycle computer on my “winter” bike (the Trek Antelope 830 that I rebuilt in the fall), so I have no idea how fast this ride really was. I had to stop for a couple of red lights, so I’m not even sure about my overall time. However, I’m sure that I’ve never been able to maintain that pace for the majority of the distance.

The funny thing is that I have no idea why it was like this today. It was great to feel strong for a change, because ever since my Christmas break I have felt like I was crawling back to the fitness level I had in early December. My strength and stamina seem to ebb and flow very unpredictably, and I’m not interested in charting things out… so I’ll just enjoy days like this and celebrate the small victories.

As to what I’ve been up to while I’ve been so quiet the last few weeks…

  • I’ve continued to ride to work on a regular basis. We’ve had quite a few “snow days” lately where my team has decided to work from home, so riding to the office hasn’t been as consistent, but I’ve ridden my bike every time I’ve gone into the office.
  • To make up for the lack of rides to the office I’ve supplemented with riding for other errands when possible. Some of the nicest rides I’ve had recently have been when I’ve taken a break mid-day and met friends for lunch.
  • I’ve had some cold rides, around 9 degrees a couple of times. I’ve got a pretty good cold weather outfit now. From the top down: Helmet, Novara beanie, 360s ear warmers, Fleece facemask, Cheap gloves of a wool/thinsulate blend, Glove liners, Pullover windbreaker, Fleece pullover, Novara water/wind proof pants, Fleece sweats, Wicking base layer top and bottom, Neos Overshoes, Running shoes, Wool blend socks. This mix works pretty well. On the coldest days I start chilled but by mile three I am unzipping a bit to get some ventilation due to overheating.
  • I’ve had some beautiful rides on several days when the temps have climbed into the upper 40’s and lower 50’s. Nice to put away the colder weather gear and relax the dress code a bit.
  • I’ve had up days and down days. On one of the bad days my wife asked me “So are you still enjoying this?” I answered “No, but I’m going to keep going because I kind of made a commitment to myself to do this.” On the good days I remember why I made that commitment.

Keep riding, enjoy the fast days when you can ride like the wind, and stay safe.



Cold Wet Bike Commuter Feet? Not Any More!
December 13, 2008, 12:15 am
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I wrote last month about how miserable I was when I had to ride in a heavy rainstorm and my feet ended up soaking wet. That put me on a mission to find a workable solution to keep my feet dry in the rain, and warm in the winter wind and snow. I found that solution… Neos Overshoes!

Here’s a quick video that shows what they look like and how easy they are to put on…

I ordered these based on the picture and information on the website, and I was afraid that when I got them they would be too big and bulky to use while riding. I’m happy to say that is not a problem at all! I took some more pictures to give you an idea of what these look like and their size relative to the running shoes I usually wear while commuting.

Here’s a front view, one overshoe unbuckled and open, the other one buckled up…

NeosFront

You can see the internal waterproof coating, and the inner liner behind the velcro seam. This makes them completely waterproof. You could probably submerge your foot in a 4-6 inch deep puddle and still remain completely dry. The quick release buckle makes for a snug fit, and they do not move around at all once you have them on. They really feel just like part of your shoes.

Here’s a back view…

NeosBackjpg

The logo on the back is reflective, which is a nice touch.

Here is a size comparison with my shoe…

NeosSizeCompare

This picture makes the size difference seem more than it is. Again, when I have them on I really don’t feel a difference from my shoes, and they don’t feel any bulkier. I could easily forget I have them on, except that they are a lot noisier when moving around due to the rustling of the waterproof fabric. When I wear them, I also wear my Novara rain pants, and I put the pant legs over the Neos, and then zip the pants down and velcro the cuff around my ankle. This means that my foot is completely sealed so that any water runs down my pant leg and onto the Neos, and then off.

Here is a picture showing how much they will compact down for storage…

NeosCompact

That is both of them folded down with a rubber band so that I can put them in my pannier. You can also see the tread on the sole. The tread pattern is not very aggressive, but it will give you a bit of traction on normal surfaces.

In addition to wet protection, I have been wearing them for very cold rides to keep the wind off my feet. They are completely wind and waterproof, and the company claims that even though these don’t have any internal insulation they will still add ten degrees of warmth to your shoes.

The only negative thing I can come up with is that they are so waterproof that they don’t breathe at all. This means that when I get to my destination there is a lot of condensation on the inside of the overshoe, enough that there are visible droplets. This hasn’t been a real problem, but if it gets too bad I’ll probably just carry a spare pair of socks. If it is not raining and I’m just wearing them for cold wind protection, then I still velcro the cuff of my rain pants around the Neos, but I unzip the legs of my rain pants up to the top of the Neos to try to vent some of the perspiration. I’m not sure how much this really helps, but I figure it can’t hurt, and I’m still plenty warm.

You can find out more about these from the Neos company website. I purchased the Villager ultra light model from CampMor. For those that are in extreme cold and want really warm feet, they make models that have internal insulation, but I imagine those are a bit bulkier. I wear a size 11 shoe, and I got the XL size Neos, which is just perfect.

I love these things, and I am now completely confident that I’ll stay dry in rain and snow. If you are trying to figure out a solution for cold, wet feet, then I would encourage you to try a pair of Neos.



Snow Yesterday, 18 Degrees And Ice This Morning
December 9, 2008, 4:53 pm
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I didn’t check the weather report before I road in yesterday, so I didn’t know there was a nice snow storm in the forecast until a local reader commented that he chose not to ride that morning because of the storm. Maybe that was a good thing since I didn’t know what was coming…

SnowOnBushes

Actually, as snow storms go around here, this storm was fairly mild, mainly because the ground was warm enough that there wasn’t much accumulation on the roads. Even though it snowed for several hours, the roads were fairly clear when I got ready to head home. Here’s a picture in front of the office before I left…

SnowAtOffice

By now I’ve done enough tweaking in my riding gear that it seems I’ve got an outfit for every occasion, so the ride home in the snow and wet was actually fun. The roads were very wet and the snow was melting quickly, so the spray off the roads was a lot like a good rain storm. I was actually excited about this, because it gave me a chance to try my Neos Overshoes that I bought last month when I had my miserable ride in the rain with soaking wet feet. I have one word to describe these overshoes… AWESOME! I’m planning to do a special post on these overshoes because they work so well, and I think they are pretty much the ultimate solution for keeping your feet dry on a rainy or snowy ride. My feet stayed completely dry, and since they also block the wind, my feet stayed nice and warm. The only downside to these overshoes is that they don’t breathe at all, so when I get to my destination there is a lot of condensation on the inside of the shoe. I’ll take some warm condensation over soaking wet and cold anytime.

Things stayed cold through the night so I was expecting that the ride in this morning might be extra chilly, and I was right. It was 18 degrees when I left the house, and the remnants of the snow had frozen, so there was plenty of ice all over the place. Not only was that the coldest temperature I’ve commuted in, but I’ve also never had to really worry about icy roads before. I have thought about getting some studded snow tires, but I haven’t yet, so it was just my normal nobby tires and the icy road. I couldn’t see my knuckles because of my gloves, but I’m sure they were white, and I was probably more focused on the road than I have ever been. I took things slowly, especially trying to slow down early at stop lights and corners. I’m happy to say that everything was fine, and it added a new bit of adventure to my commute today. The most dangerous part of the ride was probably the parking lot at the office, which was basically just a sheet of ice. Thankfully they had salted the ramp at the door, so I had a place to stop and get off my bike without crashing.

When you get your outfit figured out so that you are ready for the elements this winter commuting thing actually ends up being a lot of fun. The looks you get are priceless. I would encourage you to give it a shot.



24 Miles and 22 Degrees
December 6, 2008, 10:34 pm
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This morning I was scheduled to have breakfast with some guys from church, and I got this crazy idea that I should ride my bike there. What made this seem a bit crazy was that the pancake place was about 12 miles from home, and it was supposed to be in the upper 20’s this morning.

MorningFrost

The farthest I had ever ridden before today was to meet a friend for dinner about 10 miles from home, so a 20 mile round trip. The coldest weather I had ever ridden in before today was a morning commute to work in 28 degrees.

I beat both of those today. It was 22 degrees this morning at 6:30 when I hit the road in the dark. I did the 12 miles to the restaurant in a little less than an hour, which I was happy with since I was trying to take it at a reasonable pace, and there are a few hills on the way.

I found it to be a real psychological challenge, as much as anything. Just past the six mile mark I hit “new territory”, where I had driven many times, but had never been there on a bike. The last mile or so I was counting down the blocks remaining. I was pretty tired when I got to the restaurant.

Breakfast and the time with friends was great, and I had several offers of a ride home, but I thanked them and told them I preferred to ride.

The ride home seemed a lot faster and a lot shorter. I guess that just goes to show how much of a mental game this all is. I was tired when I got home, but not nearly as tired as I was on the way there.

What made me decide to do this? Aside from just wanting to ride my bike somewhere, I think the biggest reason was just to test myself to see if I could really do it. I know that 24 miles is not that far for a lot of the bike commuters I read about, but it was a milestone for me. Combine that with the cold weather, and it was a real mental battle. Last night, and this morning, I kept coming up with all kinds of reasons why it was a bad idea and I shouldn’t try it. I’m glad I did.

So that was my morning… 24 miles and 22 degrees.



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)