Thursday, December 30, 2010

Utah Winter 2010 Adventures

You can see how the pioneers could survive the winter when they could grow these!

I didn't quite get the riding I had planned in down in southern Utah over Christmas break.  Between the flooding that washed out a bridge along my favorite road loop near Gunlock and the excessively wet ground there wasn't much riding to be had.  I did get out for a little spin to enjoy the views of the red rock and did some running.   One of the highlights as per usual was visiting the "Dry Farm" near Zion and getting gifted a 19 pound squash grown on the farm.  I think we'll be eating squash soup, cookies, pies, etc. for months.

Right wing nutjob bumper stickers are soooo hilarious!
The "Dry Farm" not looking so dry after all of the snow and rain!
Another view of a field at the dry farm.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's All Downhill From Here!

A snippet of the descent from my school down to 4th street on my commute home.  Video never seems to capture the speed of this descent but the cyclocomputer says parts of it are over 40 mph.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Anatomy of a Bike

A former student sent me this.   Maybe every bike shop should have a big poster of this on their walls so that customers will not what to call the various parts of the bike.  No more, "I need new wheels" when they really mean they need a new tire.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Doused! Or, which bike to take to Utah?

The ongoing rains hitting southern California have also pummeled southwestern Utah and my xmas destination.  My big plan was to enjoy some family time and good riding for a few days but it's looking like it will be too muddy for offroad riding and the pavement will be a bit sketchy due to the spill over some of the roads are experiencing on the loops I usually do when I'm in the St. George area.  Perhaps splitting the difference and taking the cyclocross bike is the best option?

See below for some flooding footage:

And near where my extended family owns some land close to Zion.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bikes and Music...My Kind of Store!

This photo has been making the rounds and I can't help but post it.  Make sure to click on the image to see a larger size.  It's worth it to see all those details about the bike shop circa 1912.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Ok, not really that cold.  We've mostly been blessed with a fairly mild fall this last month.  But recently someone asked me about extending their cold weather riding season and wanted some tips.  I haven't been great about riding in the cold this year but I'm still keeping up on my mileage goals so that's ok.  Having ridden in 5 degree weather and inches of snow during my tenure in the midwest I do have a pretty good sense of what works and what doesn't in the colder times of year.

As I've gotten older I find that I am more sensitive to cooler temperatures and would far rather overdress and be a little sweatier than to deal with numb face, hands and feet during a ride.  Give me a hot day and I can deal with the sweat over a slog through mind-numbingly cold ride any day.  Although, that being said, there's something quite adventurous and fun about riding in a fresh snow or rain.  I think as much as anything it is that the sound of the streets is so different that it feels like a whole different world.  Hard to put into words but the rides you remember for years are not every single commute but the ones where you got something interesting thrown at you by mother nature.  I'll never forget riding home for the last time from Damonte Ranch High School in the rain with a coworker.  I needed that last ride to make my mileage goal for the year.  The entire 12 mile ride was a perpetual downpour with lightning in places.  I still have a few pictures from the end of that ride when I was soaked through.  An epic way to end my bike commute tenure at that school.

But enough reminiscing.  Here are a few tips for riding in colder weather that I've picked up over 20+ years of commuting.  Another good place to start might be the class that Dan Ruby is teaching over at the Reno Bike Project.  I think there is still time to sign up!

The first, and most obvious advice I can give is something everyone knows from other activities during this time of year: layer, layer, layer!  It's what you layer that counts.  Top to bottom here is a list of my cold weather apparel options:

1. Underneath that helmet I have tow options for a head covering.  Both of them are wool.  One is a thin wool skullcap and it works down to 25ish degrees.  Anything colder and I go with a full wool Walz Cap that has a bill and ear coverings but still fits under the helmet.

2. Around 30 degrees I start using a basic wool balaclava on my neck that can be pulled up around my mouth and nose if the cold air starts bugging my lungs or the windchill gets to my face.

3. Torso.  Your core needs smart layering because if it isn't warm it will effect profoundly your extremities and how cold they get.  I always start with a long-sleeve wool undergarment.  I have two options, one lighter than the other.  The added benefit here is that when you sweat the wool isn't prone to getting stinky.  I can get away with 3-5 days of commuting without washing the base layer.  

Over that I have several jerseys of varying weights that I wear depending on temperature levels.  Most of them are wool of varying thicknesses.  

Over everything is a windproof shell from Pearl Izumi that has lasted me 8 years.  It's thin but it makes all the difference in cutting the wind.  In the afternoons on the way home from school I may not wear it depending on how windy it is.

I also also keep a strange little thin jacket made by Assos in my commute bag.  It is a water resistant jacket with fibers that expand when hit with water.  As the fibers expand the jacket gets more water repellant.  Eventually of course, enough water coming down is going to get you but this isn't a bad emergency rain jacket.

4.  Bottoms.  Always start with a good bike short (that must be washed every day to avoid some nasty bacterial me on this).   The single best piece of cold weather cycling clothing I've discovered in recent years are these wool tights sold through Rivendell Bicycles.  They are pretty thick and not necessarily specifically for cycling.  They are not super tight which is nice.  Due to the strange thermal  qualities of wool I can wear these in severe cold all the way up to 60 degrees and be comfortable.  The added benefit of wool is that in all but the cold torrential downpours these tights will keep you pretty comfortable.  I do have rain pants with velcro at the ankles but they are rarely used.

5.  My feet and fingers are the first thing to get numb and make a ride miserable if I don't take care (see keeping your torso warm for help with this).  Down to about 45 degrees I only use full thin wool gloves. Anything below that I've invested in a pair of semi-lobster gloves from Pearl Izumi.  They are worth their weight in gold.  Index and middle fingers are individual but the ring finger and pinky are together in a thick layer of warmth.  

Thick wool socks are a must for the feet.  A good shoe around it will keep my feet warm for about an hour in 30 degree weather.  Anything longer or lower than that it is time for some sort of foot/ankle bootie over the shoe.

Etc.:  Don't forget good lights and reflective gear with less light, hydration in the cold (so important!) and tires/tubes/liners, that will make you less prone to flats.  Who wants to be fixing a flat in the cold?!

Warm Rainy Ride!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Seeing Leonard Cohen Tonight!

One of those artists I wanted to scratch off my bucket list.  There's even a chance that I'll get to meet him backstage but I'm not really sure what I'd say.  I'm not particularly the star struck type but what could I possibly say to someone who has lived Leonard Cohen's life?

Bike Down!

In case you haven't seen this:

A Washoe County Sheriff’s deputy who struck a bicyclist on Lemmon Drive in July, causing injuries that led to the 21-year-old’s death, was charged with three misdemeanor counts, including vehicular manslaughter.
Matthew Durham, a deputy for five years, also faces charges of failing to maintain a lane and failure to use due care, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Nevada Attorney General’s office on Monday.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

All I Want For Christmas...A Spirograph Made For a Bicycle!

I remember getting a spirograph as a kid for Christmas and now this might be at the top of any bicyclists wish list for the holiday season.  The problem might be how much trouble I'd get into if I did this to all of  my limited wall space in the house.  Hmmm, it might be worth it cuz this thing is pretty awesome!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sunday Morning Music - Neil Finn

A simply stunning version of this song from Neil Finn's set supporting the Try Whistling This album (one of the best albums of the '90s, IMHO).  Of course, this song is a much earlier Crowded House track...