let me try to bring this BLOG back to the BIKE!
The seasons have started to change (finally.)
We had a wonderfully prolonged INDIAN SUMMER, nothing shy of epic. The warm days carried us all the way into November, who knows, there may be a few more warm days to come. Then comes the cold damp freezing, just above freezing cold; Rain, Sleet, and Hail.....with very little snow always bordering on snow but giving us icy cold rain!
When the weather is in that awkward in between stage where it is not hot and not cold it is not always clear what is the best gear to wear. Especially for the bicycle commuter, where the early morning ride may have a very different temperature than the late afternoon/evening ride. One of the best investments that I have made in the years past has to be the ARM WARMER and LEG WARMER purchase. Sure this is ROADIE GEAR, but....it makes sense! So lets all drop our hang ups and borrow ideas from any and all subcultures, whether they be friend or foe.
The Arm Warmers and Leg Warmers are great!
Your basic Arm Warmer expands the practicality of wearing a short sleeved jersey longer into the year, up until a jacket is mandatory. When gearing up, less is more. It is best to get on the bike with a tad bit of chill rather than all toasty and warm. Because once the movement starts, the body heat increases, the sweating starts, and if the rider is over dressed...they will be wet and uncomfortable with sweat. The leg warmers do the same thing for shorts that the arm warmers do for jerseys, the great thing about this gear....it out on a ride and the sun starts to warm the day...then all of this stuff can be peeled off or down. As unattractive as it may be to have arm warmers or leg warmers rolled down and bunched up at the end of each appandage in an 80's FLASHDANCE sort of way....it is highly practical if you do not want to slow down the pack by having to stop and entirely remove the gear.
Now go out and get yourself some arm and leg warmers....I even have knee warmers; these turn any shorts into KNICKERS!
(BTW: Knickers Rock!)
An old college friend who went from being a fringe skate boarder with a passion for anything Ian (Ian McKaye of Minor Threat onto Fugazi with many quality bands in between and after) to being a conventional lawyer dad with a love for the road bike (who knows what is on his iPOD now or why he chose the road over dirt) has been telling me about various gels that can be applied to the outer surface of the arms and legs as an option to tights or leg warmers. I personally have never tried such gels, but would be curious to give them a shot. The price on these are a bit of a deterant, not to mention that once the gel is applied it has to run its course, nothing by a milk bath will neutralize this heating power (okay, I made that up, never used the stuff, so I am embellishing all the way.) The college friend who asks not to be named had a story of such a gel warming his legs during the cold morning, but when the sun started to bake the days his legs got FRIED!
In addition to the mid weather gear there is also the need for colder weather gear as well as RAIN GEAR.
For raingear nothing tops GORTEX! Also from our friend from the north, MEC, there are some great outer shells that can make the winter riding experience not just endurable, but pleasureable. I have a GORTEX jacket and a GORTEX pair of pants that are tailored specifically for cycling that I purchased from MEC. The style that I have may not be carried this year, but these products may be an improvement on the previous designs. MEC is a co-operative (just like REI) The US to CANADIAN exchange is also in our favor.
Ontop of all that...it is cool to buy Canadian! (hope no Union friends read that statement)
When riding at night there is one simple rule....LIGHTS EQUAL LIFE!
GET A LIGHT!
GET A LIFE!
Everyone needs a light, reflectors are great, but they do not take the place of lights. Everyone needs to have a few of the inexpensive battery operated blinking lights and also a rechargeable headlamp system. For the blinking light most anything will do....I have had good experiences with VISTA LIGHTS and BIKE PLANET, but for the more expensive (not expensive over time...as you save so much without having to buy batteries or an ICU bill!) headlamp I would recommend some comparitive shopping as well as some advice from some sources that you trust. Personally I have gone with the NITERIDER SYSTEMS for years, faithfulness has taken me down that path, but in recent years I have not been satisfied with QUALITY CONTROL. Too many brand new systems were glitchy out of the box....for the high price you would think that things would work. Sure they have a great return policy, everything came back fast, but...I would prefer for everything to just work.
Sure you may look like a Christmas tree with all of these lights, but it may help keep you alive to see the next holiday!
Yes, the light systems are expensive with the initial investment....but over time the per use cost is actually pretty low. Once a rider has used a decent light system they will ask themselves how they ever rode at night without a decent light.
I have some GORTEX Socks....
tend not to use them as often as I should.
I need a better system.
Cold feet lead to short unpleasant rides.
I need a better system.
Share in the comments section.
Here is the last and final commuter "must have," FENDERS. The fender comes in as many design options as the bicycle itself. It is a matter of preference and taste. For some riders the "clip on" style is preferred, while others choose to have a set of fenders that are sturdily mounted on the bike in a permanant fashion. To each their own. But to those without the fenders....be prepared to become more wet from what sprays up from the road than from what falls from the sky. I have never known a time when a long spray of mud on a person's backside is fashionable.
Even after a rain, the rider can still get soaked without fenders.
So if you are a commuter and you use your bike strictly for commuting....do yourself a favor and get some fenders!
more in a bit
gotta do that work thing