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NE bike-cycling

So, there's one bike shop in town that runs year-round rides. Everybody else packs up for the winter, and you know, I can't blame them. So I rode down to that one shop (Joyride Bicycles) last night to see what this winter Chit-Chat ride is all about.

Firstly. People here are super-proud of Lincoln's in-town trail system, and they're right to be proud. I rode five miles to the shop on a bike path that had wonderful bridge crossings over and under the major roadways. If I hadn't been concerned about making it to the ride on time, I would have paused to photograph some of the sights, like a schoolbus with the top part of a Volkswagen bus on top of it. Riding along the bike path just made me grin.

It sounds like a lot of people out here do what they call "gravel rides," which are basically rides out in the countryside on dirt roads. Four other brave souls showed up for this Monday chit-chat ride, and we set out just as the sun was setting. I should have realized that that would make things get even more COLD, but I wasn't paying careful attention at the beginning. Lesson learned. Vividly. There were some decent hills on the 20-mile loop we rode, and things got a bit dicey for me between the cold and realizing that the granola bar I ate before the ride wasn't providing a sufficient amount of fuel. As soon as we got back to the shop, I purchased and downed another granola bar, a Clif bar, and a Budweiser that one of the other riders bought. Normally I won't touch the stuff, but calories are calories, and I felt WAY better after working my way back out of that bonk. It was embarrassing to show up as a newbie and then bonk like that, although the other riders were extremely gracious about it.

The riders were great. First of all, each person was on a different style of bike, from the 29er to a cross bike to a road bike to me on the Jolly Roger. Second, they were gracious about me being a slowpoke - at different points, two of the different riders hung back and talked at me as I worked my way up the hills. It was so nice to be able to just show up and feel welcome like that. One of the two, a woman, J, regaled me with all kinds of hilarious and interesting stories about her bicycling adventures. She was also the best about giving me more details on other rides that will start up as the weather warms up, including an all-women ride called the Gravel Girls, and a Tuesday night taco-and-beer ride. People who speak my language! She also knows the low-down on other long-distance events happening across Nebraska, and wants to do a century ride every month, so I think I may have a riding buddy already. That was fast. It sounds like she's had a lot of riding experiences like mine - she's often the only woman who shows up for the Monday ride and is the slowpoke chasing after the guys, who are all, "ATTACK THE HILLS!!" and then she rides with the Gravel Girls and the ride is more, "How are you doing? I'm doing all right. How are you doing? We're doing well!" Basically the same sports-psychology I've seen played out over and over again across rowing and bicycling settings.

I don't know if I'll make it back for the ride next Monday. My sinuses got really unhappy after I got home last night, which suggests that the cold weather may have pushed the limits of my immune system. I also need to figure out and get better gloves. My fifteen-year-old Pearl Izumi gloves have been sufficient, so far, for the 1.5-mile ride in to campus, but they're inadequate for 2-plus hours of riding around in the dark in the wintertime. If I can get these factors sorted out, I'll try and go back again soon.


( 22 remarks — Remark )
Feb. 24th, 2015 03:06 pm (UTC)
If you don't have them yet, bar mitts. Best thing ever. I held of until last winter, when I was stopping twice on every commute to rub my hands warm because they hurt so much from the cold.. . and suddenly, everything was better. This winter I'm mostly biking with a light pair of glove.ly gloves (even in -20C weather) because bar mitts are just that awesome.
Feb. 24th, 2015 03:22 pm (UTC)
That's what my IA friends have been telling me, too! And someone recently pointed out that the ones marketed to motorcyclists are about half the price of ones marketed to bicyclists...time to go shopping... :-)
Feb. 24th, 2015 05:48 pm (UTC)
There's gear you can reuse between motorcycling and bicycling? YESSSS. [giggling] Though I use my super expensive bicycling jacket all the time now; it has a million other uses too. I really appreciate things that can do more than one job.
Feb. 24th, 2015 06:34 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! I appreciate that characteristic in both clothing AND kitchenware. :-)

scrottie has an entertaining shared-use arrangement for motorcycling and skiing - he wears leather jackets for both activities.
Feb. 24th, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC)
Hahaha! That's one of the things I've been thinking about with Project Motorcycle... what do I do with my portable suit of armor once I'm there? I mean, I would like to motorcycle out to Redmond, where I go running with canyonwren. So I can get there, have my running tights and shirt under my riding leathers, shoes in a backpack, and then.... leave a propped up empty person shell astride the bike in its parking space? I'm certainly not running in motorcycling gear! (Motorcyclists tell me the answer is "leave your leathers in your friend's car", but that's vexingly not self-supporting!) I have gotten somewhat used to carrying all my stuff with me by being majority-bicycle, but armor-suit and other athletics didn't see to go well together. It must be because I'm not a skier! [giggling]
Feb. 24th, 2015 07:24 pm (UTC)
Don't they make locking compartments that can be attached to the motorcycle? I believe there's only one in existence that's being commercially produced for bicycles, and it only works with solid axle wheels (see here).

I can't find it right now, but somewhere there's a photograph of scrottie transporting his bicycle by motorcycle, to a bike ride in northern Arizona.
Feb. 24th, 2015 08:48 pm (UTC)
They do, but I'm told that motorcycle compartments are generally pretty small, and suits of armor both very big and not very flexible. (Which makes sense, but sucks.) There are helmet containing compartments you can get, but that doesn't address pants and a jacket. My current strategy is "find motorcycle gear that fits and is going to be good armor, then worry about the rest of this". Safety first! (Definitely when I'm a relative newbie, anyway! I reserve the option to be more risk-analysis later, but I'm going to start in Nerf mode. [grin])
Feb. 25th, 2015 03:46 am (UTC)
I'm thinking a cable lock through the arm of the jacket, then through the front wheel and frame.
Feb. 25th, 2015 02:31 pm (UTC)
Not a bad thought!
Feb. 24th, 2015 09:57 pm (UTC)
Those sound like pogies!
Feb. 25th, 2015 12:44 am (UTC)
Yes! Pogies for bicycles! :-)
Feb. 24th, 2015 03:45 pm (UTC)
YAY! Love these biking posts! The Gravel Girls do indeed sound right up your alley.

Sinuses: two tips.

1) Coat the inside of your nostrils with vaseline. Sounds gross but it really protects the mucus membranes from the dry air.
2) Fleece neck/face gaiter worn up around the mouth and nose. Warms the air up around the face and really helps mitigate the frozen nose feeling.

Immune System:

I of course have a zillion suggestions for keeping the body humming happily in cold weather...let me know if you want an informative email. ;)

Edited at 2015-02-24 03:49 pm (UTC)
Feb. 24th, 2015 04:21 pm (UTC)
I am totally going to try the vaseline trick. I'm doing better this season (last year I got a really wretched sinus infection fairly early on) but damn but my sinuses want to be back in a temperate coastal city. (Someone recommended trying one of the saline sprays that contains glycerine as well, and I really should do that.)

On the neck gaiter - I ride with a semi-fancy hiking balaclava, but so far have found that it really doesn't get along well with any goggle or safety glasses I've tried, and I end up with it pulled down to my chin just to ensure visibility. But I love my biking glasses, so I live with it. Clues?
Feb. 24th, 2015 05:04 pm (UTC)
I don't know the solution, I have a similar problem because I have to wear safety glasses/sunglasses when I'm out for work. My way of dealing is to kind of perch the gaiter on my nose, so that my glasses are neither over nor under it. That leaves a small gap that's exposed to the cold air, but I put up with it since foggy glasses are worse.
Feb. 24th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC)
Mine actually works okay for ordinary cold - this is where the motorcycle safety glasses to me a lot better than the glasses I used to wear - but tends to stop working around -15C. And if I stop by the coffeehouse I pretty much have to reconcile myself to taking off all glasses for the first several minutes and asking a lot of stupid questions.
Feb. 24th, 2015 05:40 pm (UTC)
So, scrottie told me to track down some vented ski goggles, but they haven't arrived yet so I have no feedback on that front. So far, riding with a scarf over my nose (see here), I'm fogging over whenever I stop. My short-term solution has been to pull down the scarf at stops, then pull it back up again when I start riding again. A friend in Boston recommended a particular balaclava, but it's in the same package as the ski goggles, so I have no idea how it's all going to work out.

The one other thing that I think my dad used to use, with some success, is an anti-fog cream applied to his glasses. As you might know, foggy glasses can be a major problem in Seattle, even without a balaclava!
Feb. 24th, 2015 07:03 pm (UTC)
Oooo! That sounds like something to try. I had some anti-fog cream that came in an army surplus binocular bag I bought, um, thirty years ago, but I used it all up some time back... (Gods I loved that bag. Major relic of middle school.)
Feb. 25th, 2015 03:48 am (UTC)
Yeah, ski goggles were my first thought as well.

Note that I've had issues with scarves or other fabric in the region of my mouth, because when it's cold enough to need that, my exhalations freeze in the fabric and cause it to ice up.
Feb. 25th, 2015 06:43 am (UTC)
Yeah, the Seattle marathon Darth Vader mask was shockingly great for fixing that problem... if only it hadn't given me a two week long nose bruise. I wish they made it in a variety of nose sizes.
Feb. 25th, 2015 06:54 am (UTC)
This is exactly why 3d printing was invented!
Feb. 26th, 2015 10:17 am (UTC)
Hee, probably. If I ever seriously/regularly need such a mask again, I will consider it!
Feb. 24th, 2015 05:34 pm (UTC)
I ordered a balaclava over a week ago, and UPS finally left a package slip for it yesterday. So hopefully it will show up today!

I may have to try that vaseline trick. I kind of hope that I don't need to, but on the other hand, desperate times call for desperate measures.

For the moment, I'm emphasizing plenty of rest, multivitamins, tea (hydration), and good food. :-)
( 22 remarks — Remark )

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