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Tales of Winter Riding in the Desert

I got to ride in the rain yesterday. To some, this might not seem like a big deal, or may even be a daily nuisance; but to me, it IS a big deal. I live in Phoenix. We never get rain. The past two weekends have ushered in some rain as this massive storm system moves across the mid-west and Rockies. When I woke up yesterday morning, I was rather surprised to see moisture on the ground as I stepped outside to check how cold (read: brisk) it was.

At first I had to run through my alternate options of transport, but then I remembered that I have been waiting for this day since I started bike commuting in August. Granted, I yearned for that day in August for completely different reasons, but I still wanted to get some experience riding on wet roads – if for nothing more than my own cycling “continuing education.”

I dressed the same as I have been lately, wearing a compression shirt, half-zip lightweight pullover and my bright yellow windbreaker, which naturally doubles as a rain jacket. It was not actually raining when I left, but the roads were wet, and I got some drizzles along the way.

Rains came and went throughout the day, and I saw a little bit of a heavier downpour on the ride home – but still nothing too crazy. A good introduction to inclimate-weather riding.

The highlight of the day was the surprised look on my co-workers faces when they saw that I rode my bike to work, even though it was raining. Due to the lack of rain in this city, people in Phoenix seem to get thrown off enough by the thought of driving a car in the rain – let alone riding a bike.

In my continuing efforts to make bike commuting look as easy as it really is, I simply commented that riding in this poor weather was not much different than other days. I didn’t dress any differently than I do on a cold day. Naturally, you want to be more aware of your surroundings and more attentive to drivers who might do something stupid, but a little rain is no reason to leave the bike at home.

That’s right, the Velorution is waterproof!

I also broke my shoe yesterday. Bummer.

As I was walking down the steps of my apartment with my bike, the heel of my cycling shoe got stuck on the lip of the previous step. As I continued moving forward, my shoe stayed in place and I ripped the top velcro strap right off of the shoe. Thankfully, my shoes have 3 straps, so even though I ripped off the most important strap, the shoe is still functional. It was looser than normal (obviously) but I was able to ride to and from work without incident. I will reluctantly begin a quest to replace the shoes – but I guess in the grand scheme of things, getting more than 2 years out of a pair of cycling shoes is pretty decent…well at least in the age of the “replace your gear each season” mentality.

While it is not ultimately the shoe manufacturers fault that the velcro strap ripped off my shoe, I am still disappointed that I have to replace the shoes. There is still one perfectly good shoe remaining that will become useless. I will continue to ride with these shoes until I honestly feel that they threaten my safety or ability to ride.

On the bright side, had the strap not ripped off, I most likely would have fallen down the 2 or 3 remaining steps as my heel got jammed in between steps, and would have landed (painfully) on the cement with a bike on top of me, or worse, me on top of the bike.

Every cloud has a silver lining it seems…

BikeCommuters Christmas Party

We had a Christmas Party this past Saturday and we invited some of our best buddies from the bike business. Folks like Russ Roca, Dominic Dougherty from Bike Station, Vince Calvillo of KHS Bicycles, Bryan and Greg from Evomo were all in attendance. And of course the rest of the California Edition of the Bicycle Bloggers staff.

You can see the video at MtnBikeRidersTV.com

Make your own Studded Ice tires

So now that you know how to make your own tire chains, now you can learn how to do your own studded ice tires. Noah from KC Bike Commuting posted a great DIY on his blog.

Doing it is easy, but time consuming. I spent about an hour per wheel.

Before you get started, you’ll need a pair of Mr. Tuffy (or equivalent) tire liners. I went with one size up from what’s recommended because I wanted to make sure the liner would cover the screw heads.

Click here to read Noah’s great DIY.

Learn how to make your own tire chains for your bike!

Over on MtnBikeRiders.com, I resurrected an article that my brother, Randy wrote a while back. Before getting station to Yuma, Az, Randy was stationed in New Cumberland, PA. It would snow there all the time and even parts of the might Susquehana River would freeze. So when he was there, he decided to try his hand in making some chains for his bike.

Check out the How To right HERE.
tire chains for bicycle

Kids and Christmas

Yesterday I was listening to a radio show and the host was Jilian, the trainer from Big Fat Loser. She was talking about a study she recently read that stated the best presents for kids this season would be fitness equipment such as dumbells and treadmills. She went on about how she disagrees with it and thinks that giving a kid dumbells for Christmas is not only cruel, but it will make them resentful towards fitness in general.

I do agree with her and I wish I could find the study she was talking about to read more about it. What sucks to me is the fact that bicycles are not being marketed enough as “this season’s hottest gift!” Usually it’s the Wii or a new laptop or anything technology related.

Here’s the deal, if you have kids and are dead set on getting a Wii, well first of all, good luck! Those things are harder to find than a Leprechaun. If you still can’t find the Wii by next week, consider going to your LBS. What kid wouldn’t want a brand new bicycle for Christmas? That has to be one of the best presents any kid could get! Sure the Wii or any tech gadget would be cool, but a bike can literally change a child’s life. You know all the health benefits as well as the confidence they get from riding a bike. But think about grooming the next generation of riders that will eventually be the people that will be leading our current bicycle companies.

Take for example gOrk Barette, He works for Seattle Bicycle Supply, the parent company of Redline Bicycles, Torker and La Pierre. Gork got into bikes as a kid. He raced BMX most of his life, and look at him now, he’s the Marketing Director for SBS. Talk about cultivating kids to take over!

So what’s my point? Well, it’s simple really: rather than getting something that is technology related as a present, get something that will be more rewarding than going to the next level of a video game….get your kid on a bicycle!