Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cold Weather Odds & Ends

I hope everyone had a good Hanukkah or Christmas, as is appropriate. Ours was pretty quiet. Sharon and Alex made it home on Christmas Eve from Tampa, where they disembarked off a Caribbean liner. They went with her folks and some others to Cayman and Cozumel. Having used all my vacation earlier in the year, I went to work instead. To be honest, a week surrounded by spectacular food and isolated from any bike riding did not sound good to one who has worked hard to drop 30 ish lbs since June and who lives for that next outing on 2 wheels. By all accounts, the seafarers enjoyed their trip, and were as glad to be home afterward as I was to have them back safe and sound.

I've been riding a fairly regular schedule. After work, with front and rear lights, I do laps of our block twice a week. Our block is a 1 mile loop with 59' of climb. So 15 laps takes a bit over an hour most days and yields 15 miles and 885' of climb. Boring yes, but way better in my book than the same length of time on rollers in the garage. Colder, but it is REAL. On Saturdays, one or two others will still join me for a "club" ride, even though most club members are off their bikes until Spring. Yesterday, 3 of us did approximately 40 miles in 32F temps. (I will mention here that the absence of pictures from these rides has more to do with trying to stay warm than anything else.) It was cloudy, but the air was calm, and we were generally pretty comfortable. We rode for a little over 2 hours, and after the first hour, my feet started to get cold. I have shoe covers, but always fail to bring them! Some new gloves which were an Xmas gift from Sharon's mom worked really well. They are lined with Thinsulate and have wool outer shells. That let's them stay warm, even when wet with sweat. Not cycling specific, but sold at Penney's. Here's a link:  They are extremely comfortable to wear and have a suede patch on the palm right where you grip the handlebar. Above 40F, I would wear my lighter weight Ibex wool gloves though: For the rest of the get-up: Top base layer was turtle neck long sleeve wool by Joneswares under a vintage Italian short sleeve wool jersey with a Sugoi wind proof jacket. The bottom was wool boxers (with the undershirt pulled down low enough to make a wind screen) under wool Joneswares shorts under Pearl Izumi winter tights. (No pad in the shorts or tights). Feet had Costco wool socks inside Nike Basketball High Top leather sports shoes. Needed shoe covers!

Last weekend I had the chance to try out the new crankset set up on the Rambouillet. It worked well, and will stay on a while longer. I'll try to get out this afternoon and do the loop around town which includes a short section of 20% grade. That will probably require standing to pedal with the new gear ratios. Previously, I could climb it seated while using the inner ring of a triple. I've been practicing climbs out of the saddle, which do not feel natural to me. They tire my quads quickly, so I've worked on foot position, balance, weight distribution and muscle use (using the back of my legs too) to make it more effective and less tiring. We have some surprise company coming through town today, and we'll meet by the interstate for lunch after church. An old friend of Sharon's is passing by with her family on their way home to FL from TN. It will be good to meet them and spend the time together, and there should still be opportunity following lunch to circumnavigate Prattville. It may even be above freezing by then!

My revised riding goals for the year were 3,000 miles and 100,000' of climbing. Both have been exceeded and I am happy about that. For 2010, I'd like to get back to 3,500 miles, 125,000' and ride in at least 3 new venues. One I hope will be the Reunion in Waynesboro, VA around Labor Day. Another will be next month in FL when we travel for a Suncoast Youth Ranch get together. (I'll pack a bike and slip out in the morning with the Suncoast Cycling Club in Palm Harbor or the St. Pete Club down by the Yacht Club.)  The 3rd may be "Biking Bleckley" near Cochran GA in late February. No new bikes in the forecast for 2010. None were added in '09 either. I really like the 4 that I have. Each is a pleasure in it's own way. It's a good bet though that bike parts will be shifted around and tried in different places. Bags in particular. I am always trying for the "best" bag set up. The thing is, it really doesn't matter. All of them hold what I need, and I can always make a change for a specific ride requirement. That doesn't deter me from moving them around though to see what shapes and colors work best together. It keeps me out of trouble, I suppose.


cyclofiend said...

Congrats on passing your goals! That's always a pleasant surprise.

On the standing climbing can be a funny balance. Don't be afraid to kick it up a notch or two higher than you think, gearwise. You can sometimes roll over a bigger gear with a lower cadence, and find that you aren't working quite so hard. Depends a bit on the hill, your condition, etc.

There's definitely a speed/gear combo that lets me use my body weight more when standing, shifting it over the pedal and letting my muscles rest a bit.

Here's to good miles in the coming year!

Fully Lugged said...

Jim! Thanks for coming by and for the climbing advice. I'll certainly give it a go.

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