Friday, October 31, 2008

Quick reminder

Just a quick entry, but an important reminder:

Check your bolts!

I didn't ride in yesterday because after I got all my bike clothes on and started to wheel my bike out the door, I saw everything on the rack wobbling.

Upon investigation, it was missing the rack bolt on the top right.

Upon further investigation it was also missing the bolt on the bottom left.

I should have checked everything when I noticed the water bottle cage was coming loose, but alas, I did not.

So just a reminder: Check the tension on all the bolts periodically!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Another chilly/wet ride

Another ride in conditions most people would hate today.

This morning the temp was about 37 with a chance of rain. The forecast originally called for rain/snow showers, but they took the snow out until 10pm and lowered the chance of rain in the morning to <30%. There was a higher risk of rain in the afternoon though, so I had a good set of clothes with me. Here was my morning wardrobe:

Terramar Merino Wool Long Sleeve Crew
Sugoi jersey--don't see it on their site, but it's long sleeve, lightweight merino wool, half zipper front, single pocket in the back
Woll semi-tights from Rivendell - Unfortunately their rather annoying web design won't let me link directly to them, but this is the best I can do
Defeet wool socks
Showers Pass touring jacket with hood (did not use hood in the morning)
Manzella Cascade Gloves
And a pair of Velowear lycra shorts, since the tights don't have padding

The morning ride was great, the legs were just a tiny bit cool at first, but warmed up pretty quickly. I was surprised how warm I was when I got to the office, I think I might have worn a little too much on my torso--should have just had one jersey. Could have also done with some lighter gloves, but I wanted the waterproof ones in case of rain. I only saw two people on the morning, neither on bikes.

The ride home was in total darkness, with rain, at about 39 degrees. I threw on the set of rain pants I always keep in the trunk bag (they are good for rain and as an extra windproof layer in case I underdress), attached the hood to my jersey, and set off. I also threw on a pair of Visorgogs (scroll to the bottom of the page) to keep the water and cold air out of my eyes.

This ride was also surprisingly comfortable. Except for discomfort around the neck from the rain hood, I was prety good the whole way. The neck discomfort is pro bably just a personal thing, I really don't like things on my neck too much, and anything that passes between my chin and the strap of my helmet causes similar annoyance. I was definintely warm enough the whole way home--once again, I could have lost a layer from my torso and not gotten cold.

The only part of me that got wet from anything other than sweat were my cheeks, toes, and a small bit of my wrists between the gloves and the sleeves of my jacket--it would be nice if the gloves had longer cuffs, but I can deal with them as they are.

About 2.5 miles into the ride, it began to sleet pretty hard. It stung my face pretty good where the hood didn't cover, but the visorgogs kept my eyes clear. They are not as good as I had hoped for fog prevention though, they kept fogging up even in the moderately warm 39 degree air. Moving them around to get airflow cleared them out fairly quickly though.

I would recommend all the clothing I had, it's all of good quality and everything seems to do the job it's advertised to do--I expect the gloves will be good for at least another 10 degrees, and after that I might be able to fit liners in them. Unfortunately Performance only had the large and not the XLs though, those would be a better fit.

Performance has a matching set of wool tights to go with the jersey, but don't buy them to use as an outer layer. They have a fly in them (made just like the one in a set of briefs). Maybe no one would notice, but it's not the kin The Rivendell ones are nicer beause they have a higher percentage of wool, a looser fit, and are a bit more casual looking. They do cost more, though.

I might ride tomorrow and I might not...depends on whether the night ride is still on. Looks like I might be doing two nighttime trail rides this week. Is this great or what?

Monday, October 20, 2008


My last few rides have seen a sharp decrease in speed. I don't know if I have trouble pushing myself when it's cooler, if the layers of clothes get in the way, or if it's just the very lackadaisical attitude I have toward maintaining tire pressure.

I had thought that I was wearing myself out with other strengthening exercises I've been doing, but I did nothing but relax over the weekend and today saw my slowest commute yet. I don't have additional pain, it just seems like I'm going 5mph slower than usual with the same effort. I don't mind slowing down when I am taking it easy, but going slow for unknown reasons is starting to get old.

There's been road construction along my favored route for the past week. They are running some culverts under the street, but I have never seen it done like this before--it is running along the road as opposed to across it. For over half a mile the road is cut right down the middle of one lane, and they are gradually digging that up, putting in the pipe, and patching the asphalt. It keeps the road closed in the morning, and in the afternoon I get a nice coating of dust from where the work has been going on. On the bright side the construction hasn't affected the road where I ride down the hill, so I don't have to be careful at speed. It will just be a bit annoying to ride up the rough pavement once they're finished. I would get pictures, but it is quite dark by the time I get to that area now.

The cooler weather.darkness is definitely affecting the traffic on the trail now. Today I saw one walker and two cyclists, one of whom had no lights (but at least there were reflectors. I also saw three deer. I am totally ready for the sun to come back now. That happens when, some time in March?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Temperature declining

It's definitely getting cooler out, though nothing I would call cold yet.

The morning commute was in the standard long sleeve jersey and shorts, but when I left to ride home I stopped before I even got into the parking lot to put on the wind shell. There's a definite difference in low 50s with sun and low 50s at night.

I have recently been turning off my headlight when I get away from the roads and riding as much as I can on night vision. It's definitely an interesting experience--being able to see the edges of the path, but not the surface itself. I can make sure I don't run off into the grass, but there is no assurance at all of not hitting a tree branch.

While doing this today, another rider came up behind me. I saw that he was coming because his light caused my shadow to stand out in front of me. He pulled up next to me and informed me that there were a few people ahead, in case I couldn't see them (I could). I responded by turning my own light on full and completely drowning out his 1 watt LED. What can I say, I spent a long time building that light and I can be a bit of a showoff sometimes.

He then scored extra points by noticing I was riding a Long Haul Trucker, and mentioning that people kept asking him for bike advice so much that he wrote a 6 page article on it, and recommended the LHT most highly. I was starting to like this guy.

We talked for a bit as we rode--he is in the unfortunate situation of working in a location that is not safe to get to by bike, as well as living somewhere where he can't safely get to the trails, so he has to load up the bike after work, drive to an access point, then do all his riding after dark. That's dedication, I don't think that I would be doing very many rides at night if I wasn't commuting--except some occasional mountain biking, perhaps.

Soeaking of mountain biking, I might be able to do a night ride this weekend. I have decided that the trials are close enough to my apartment that I should be able to go when I'm on call, because I can get out of the woods and back to my apartment within an hour if something goes bad at work. I'm seeing a STOMP show that might interfere with this particular ride, though. Hopefully I'll be able to do both, but I guess if I miss this one ride I can survive. I'll just have to post at the Ohio Mountain Bike Association forums and see if I can get something together. It will read something like "Anyone up for a slow night ride this weekend? I break my collarbone on 50% of my nocturnal trail excursions."

Tomorrow's ride should be the chilliest yet, temps will be well below 50 in the morning. Not sure if I want to break out the tights yet or if I'll wear some loose pants that are comfortable enough to ride in. Decisions decisions... Normally I leave the tights for below 45, at least.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Hey, I never followed up on my 60-degrees-and-raining commute post.

Conclusion: Long sleeve jersey (thin merino wool), rain jacket, and baggy shorts are fine, bordering on too warm.

The next day was a 50 degree ride through dense fog. I had forgotten one little aspect of fog: It makes you wet. I frequently had to wipe the front of my glasses down with my gloves, and it was chilly--right at the point where I was pondering to pull out my jacket, but not quite enough to motivate me to do it. Plus I was running late and didn't want to stop.

One of the things about riding in the cold--you can feel fine while on the bike because your core remains warm, but when you change at work, notice that your skin feels quite cold to the touch. After a few minutes at work, the chill starts sinking in deeper....I'm generally much colder 20 minutes after a ride than during. I may start leaving a jacket at work (where I am normally quite warm).

Did some mountain biking again yesterday, I was finally able to coordinate with my rother and get him on the trails again. We hit John Bryan State Park and did 8.5 miles or so, at roughly half the speed I commute to work. That's a pretty simple trail, and I am quite slow on it. I have concluded that it's hard to actually be bad at road biking, but it's pretty easy to be bad at mountain biking. It's still fun, though. Oh, and there were some very attractive women hiking. Maybe I should take up hiking.

Oh, on the way back I had to purchase gas. I was on the same tank from Aug 28 to Oct 11, so the driving less seems to be working for me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More saddle problems

Well, the lacing of the Brooks seemed to be successful at first...but now it's too soft toward the back, where there are no laces. Not wanting to destroy the saddle by less-than-judicious twisting of the tension bolt, I have posted to Bikeforums for advise.

In other news, the commute tomorrow morning will be cool and rainy. Not sure how I'll handle the clothing will be (according to 59 degrees and raining, so I will have a thin wool jersey with my rain shell over it, but for the lower body I'm not sure. Baggy shorts by themselves might make me a bit cold, but if I wear rain pants over them I have a feeling I will be sitting in a mobile sweatbox for the entire ride. I could try lycra shorts and wool tights I guess, but I have a feeling that would be the worst of both worlds-too warm from the insulation and soaking wet from the rain (though given the choice, I think I would rather be soaked by rain than trapped in my own sweat (as long as the rain isn't too cold)).

This is a difficult time of year to dress for, I always have to choose between being being pretty sweaty in the morning or being uncomfortably cold on the whole ride in.

Maybe or some of the dry rides I should wear two layers of jerseys and forsake the wind shell.

Update: The plan is to wear the baggies and pack the rain pants. If it gets chilly, I can pull the pants on, so the wind will be blocked and I'll be a bit insulated. If not....well, they aren't very heavy and they take up little room in my trunk bag.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Winter's coming...

Well, the time that I can leave work without lights on has officially passed.  Before leaving, I always set my Planet Bike Superflash and home built LED headlamp to flash--the headlamp must be dimmed from max brightness before setting it to flash, otherwise it could blind oncoming cars.  It's is really bright.

I turn off the headlight when I get to the rail trail now, but I turn it back on before I get home--it just gets too dark for me to feel good about biking without it.  It's doubtful I would see a fallen branch that would end my fun pretty quickly.

Night rides are definitely exciting every now and then, but I have a feeling that lonely rides down a deserted trail will begin to wear on me before too long.  Maybe I should look into alternate routes that are slightly more urban--though between 7:00 and 8:00 when I'm on the road, it's likely they would be travelled a little too well for my tastes.

Temperatures have been as low as 50 when I've left for work in the morning, and I've been fine with baggy MTB shorts, light long sleeve jersey, a wind shell, and some thin long-fingered MTB gloves.  Another 5 degrees and I'll have to add some lower body covering though.  I'm thinking of carrying a pair of rain pants in my trunk bag all the time in case I get chilled on a ride--they are made to fit over regular clothing so I wouldn't have any problems there.  Until it dips below 40 I'm not too worried about being chilled though.  We'll see what my coworkers think when I come in wearing tights.

I was tryingto figure out what to do about foot warmth this year, and decided I'd just swap out my Eggbeater Candy SLs with some cheap MKS rat trap pedals from Rivendell.  Then I'll just wear my hiking boots with some wool socks (I bet they'll look awesome with tights).

I've been pretty successful at biking recently, I have over a hundred miles more logged on the bike than in the truck for last month--I'll have to figure up the exact total later.  But at the current rate of gas consumption, I would only have to fill up 6 times a year.  Not quite car free, but definitely moving in that direction.

One thing I experienced for the first time on Monday:  Commuting home in a nighttime thunderstorm.  It started to rain right as I got to an underpass on the bike trail, so I stopped and dug out my rain jacket/wind shell.  It works pretty well, and it was still in the 60s so I didn't regret my lack of rainproof pants.  It wasn't too windy, but the rain did come down for a while--enough to make it exciting, with some flashes of lighting in the distance.

Interestingly, when the rain ended I discovered that I could see the paved surface of the trail exactly as well with my headlight on as with it off.  The headlight did illuminate the sides of the trail, but that wasnt' really necessary.  It should be noted though that nighttime rides in rain while wearing glasses aren't great if tehre's traffic about--I need to wear some sort of goggles in that case so I can wipe the water off.

I suppose that's all I have for now, more to come next week.