… Wherein I Buy More Stuff

For those of you playing along at home, you know I am not a fan of freezing my toes into fish sticks when I ride in sub-freezing temperatures.

This past weekend we rolled out at quarter-to-9 in the morning under cloudy skies and 28*F with winds around 15mph, gusting to 25+. In an attempt to keep my toes from freezing, I covered them into two pairs of wool socks and then stuffed my toebox with plastic bags in an effort to keep out the cold under my toe covers. By our first bathroom break a mere 10 miles in, my toes were gone. Fortunately the bathrooms were inside so I was able to warm them a bit.

In all, we rode about 35 miles (I shut off my Strava after 32mi and enjoyed the short ride home) – Great ride with great company!- but I had the worst re-warming pain yet this season.

Thank G-d spring is around the corner. I don’t know how much more I can take of wearing a million layers and still freezing my toes off.

 

So last night I broke down and bought Shimano MW81 winter cycling shoes. They were on sale, which means they cost as much as my road shoes and commuter shoes combined. I also bought some thermal insoles and thermal sock liners.

This sounds like overkill but I will not accept that I am unable to ride in the cold.

this needs to be me. but with toasty toes. and brakes.

I also did a bit more research and came across this helpful page with Tips for Keeping Feet Warm. A couple of gems stood out, such as keeping your core warm and being mindful if you have steel cleats (like I do). When I am out in sub-freezing, I wear four layers on my core:

  • long-sleeve base
  • wool jersey (men’s cut so it’s looser)
  • fleece-lined softshell jacket
  • lightweight windbreaker

It occurred to me that perhaps I should invest in a high-quality fleece-lined hardshell jacket. Three of my riding friends this weekend had hardshell jackets on over varying layers. They certainly did not look like an overstuffed sausage like I’m sure I did.

(Recommendations anyone? Please comment – I’d love your thoughts!)

 

I also have steel cleats … and it makes perfect sense that the metal plate is literally sucking my toes’ will to live.

 

Happily this weekend won’t be prime for testing my new gear as it’s going to be something ridiculously awesome like 50*F and sunny.

 

* * * * *

In other news, I also picked up a Garmin 510 so I can track my rides and Even More Data (like cadence!) without killing my phone battery or carrying a portable charger. Hooray!

In saddle news, I’ve now put 135 miles on the Specialized Ruby and am still not convinced I need to just keep riding on it to make it better. So back to the shop this week to hopefully swap it out for something that doesn’t make me feel each individual sit bone move with every pedal stroke. Seriously – that just feels weird.

seriously  - look how think it is!
seriously – look how thin it is!

 

 

Oh hey there …

Oh hey. It’s been a while hasn’t it. Gosh. Sorry about that. Been busy with life and such, being elected to the board for Philly Bike Club. I’m really thrilled to be able to give back to the club that has been so instrumental in keeping me on the road, making new friends, and learning as much as I can about cycling.

 

sometimes I let my bikes stay inside
sometimes I let my bikes stay inside

The bikes are back home. This makes me incredibly happy.

The weather has been difficult to say the least. We didn’t get much snow since the Nor’easter pretty much stayed to the Nor’east. But it’s been colder than I care to venture lately (sub-32*F).

 

But venture I did this past weekend – I wanted to ride my new bike (Lady Rainicorn – you may recall her as the sexy ’88 Peugeot you see in the image above) and the weather outlets were predicting upper-thirties/low-forties and sun. My Always Up For A Bike Ride commuter buddy agreed to join me on an inaugural ride to meet up with some friends for brunch downtown. I warned him we were not going to be breaking any speed records.

Every ride is a learning opportunity:

1. Toe clips SUCK. There is a reason we attach our feet to pedals on the soles of our feet instead of shoving our shoes into a tiny metal cage that mocks you as you attempt to pedal from a stand-still.

there is no love in my heart for these pedals
there is no love in my heart for these pedals

2. Toe covers do not cut it below 40*F. Not even with sock liners and my thickest, warmest wool socks. Riding with fish sticks for toes is also the worst.

not good for spinning efficiency
not good for spinning efficiency

3. I needed one more layer in the morning, one fewer in the afternoon. It was 23*F when we left; 39*F when I got home.

it felt something like this
it felt something like this

4. Winter cycling gloves are BOMB DIGGITY.

something like that, yeah
something like that, yeah

5. The new bike will be excellent for the commute. I will get stronger because she’s not a compact – just a double – but she’s stable and nimble. Zippy.  My lowest gear is nowhere close to my lowest gear on my Felt. But the hills mostly flew under me – only the steep(-er/-est) of hills got painful.

 

So of course my Wish List of cycling crap got longer: insulated cycling jacket, winter cycling shoes, getting a second pair of thermal tights. And new pedals. Even if I just get some platforms for the time being – anything is better than the current weighted toe-clip pedals I have now.

 

When I picked up my bikes I also bought a new seat – a Specialized Ruby Expert. The local shop has a 90 day return-for-store-credit policy so I need to get out on my Felt a few times to give it a go. Hopefully the weather will co-operate – currently this weekend looks terrible for outdoor cycling (snow and sub-freezing temperatures).

 

So more to come, dear reader. Looking forward to warmer weather, longer sunshine, and commuting by bike again in the near future.

 

See you on the road!