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Tag Archive: cycling

Nor wind, nor rain, nor snow, nor sleet… (but I’m no hero)

… we continue to prove that bike commuters ride through it all. Just on the news this morning, I heard that over 2/3 of the U.S. is experiencing wintry weather (especially the Midwest).

Last night’s commute home offered me a full wintry mix of conditions. First, the wind gave me a nice push; the wind coming out of the southeast provided a welcome push and facilitated pedaling through the slush quite nicely. Then the wet slushy snow flakes completely soaked me – at least my legs (still seeking better waterproof rain/winter pants). And finally sleet pricked my exposed cheeks.

winter slush

Luckily the temps remained in the upper 30s and kept the temperatures mild and and roads wet (and just a bit slushy) but no ice.

Today as the winds pick up and bring the freezing weather, many of us can expect blowing snow and blustery (likely icy) conditions.

Yesterday when I rode in, my co-worker called me a hero for riding in the snow. I’m no hero and I know when the conditions are too dangerous. I don’t want to be a hero. I’m just out to safely enjoy the ride.

Winterizing – the Green Machine Rides Again

This morning I fully intended to ride my regular commuter bike – El Toro (as I’ve deemed her) – with new narrower bullhorn handlebars and a new stem for better reach/height (more about the commuter fitting I got coming soon). However, a few snafus during the part swap led to El Toro taking a few days off and me putting the Green Machine (last year’s winter bike) back into service. Perfect timing, too, since flurries danced through the air as I rode to work.


Lincoln Avenue on a wintry weather morning - flurries in the air.

I know it’s winter in Chicago when the extra layers get added to the wardrobe and I take time to consider the bike choice (since last year I’ve chosen to ride the mountain bike in winter) and tire choice (should I add studded tires this year?).

In fact, with my extra winter layers on, I’ve been told I’m not recognizable by folks who never see me sporting the helmet, jacket, balaclava, gloves, boots, etc. The layering process is a post for another day, but wisely selected layers are invaluable.

My choice to switch to the Green Machine came after a couple of winters on my old ten-speed and doing some research on how other riders battled the elements. Ideally, I’d love a Pugsley, especially after reading about it on the blog Up in Alaska; if she can ride in Alaska, I can certainly ride through Chicago’s winter!

What bike do you ride in the foul elements? Anyone got experience with the studded tires and their effectiveness on snow/ice? Each year and each season I continue add to my arsenal and my knowledge as a bike commuter.

Green Tuesday: Well, almost

If I can finish this post in 45 minutes or less, then technically it will still meet the deadline to legitimately be “Tuesday,” well at least here in Arizona.

I went to Nashville, Tenn., this past weekend and just got back home this evening. And while there is nothing “green” about flying across the country, allow me to share part of the weekend festivities.

My best bud and old college roommate, Will, met me in Nashville since I haven’t seen him since last September. I wanted to show him around Nashville, particularly downtown, so we decided to cruise the streets on our bikes. It was a great way to see the city at our own pace, enjoy the cold Tennessee air, and not have to set foot in a car.

Downtown Nashville is not a particularly large area, but there are tons of venues for live music. Nashville is proclaimed to be the country music capitol of the World, after all. The city is steeped in music culture, especially country and bluegrass. We stopped at the Gruhn guitar shop, which serves as THE go-to place for many of country music’s and Nashville’s finest musicians. The next time you are in need of a $15,000 Gibson banjo, check out Gruhn.

The city has lots of these guitars placed all over, but this is the only one we were able to find.

We climbed the steps of the State Capitol building and got a pretty sweet view of the downtown area.

The Ryman Auditorium is one of the top music venues in the country, especially for country music. The Temptations and the Four Tops are playing there soon apparently…

I love bluegrass music, which is popular in Nashville, but have never been a big fan of country. However, the feel of a downtown environment that is rich with the community of music is a really cool thing – you can hang out downtown any day of the week and hear free music from some really talented people just playing on the street.

For the observant ones amongst you, you might notice that Will was riding a Specialized Langster London. These bikes have been quite rejected by the cycling community because of their big-brand capitalization of a more independent style. In my eyes, if it gets someone on a bike and out of their car, then that is green enough for me.

So just because you are traveling doesn’t mean you have to stay out of the saddle. I was fortunate enough to stay with someone that had a bike I could ride – but many Local Bike Shops will rent out bikes for your touring pleasures. In larger cities, you can also find bike touring companies that will rent bikes for your touring pleasures. The car is not the only way…

First Impression: Sette Elite Carbon Road Shoe

I must have been a good boy this year because, after breaking a strap off of my cycling shoe, Santa Claus surprised me and brought a new pair of road shoes from Pricepoint.com: the Sette Elite Carbon shoe (MSRP: $210, PP.com: $89.98).

Here is what Pricepoint has to say about the shoe:

The new Sette Elite Carbon Road Shoes with their ultrastrong and ultralight carbon fiber sole providing excellent stiffness and torque transfer. Not to mention the four air vents in the toe and midsole combined with a breathable mesh upper to ensure your feet remain cool and comfortable all day. The Elite Carbon Road Shoes feature a premium fit and support that is provided by a molded heel cup and two hook and loop straps combined with a quality metal ratchet closed tab with quick release for easy adjustments.

I am young, and not rich, so this is a pretty fancy pair of shoes for me. My only other pair was bare-bones compared to the Sette Elite Carbon, so it might take me a while to get used to a better shoe.

The Sette Elite Carbon comes with a 2 strap and 1 ratcheting strap design, allowing for a nice, snug fit – as long as you are not in a hurry to get the shoe on as quickly as possible (it’s the triathlete in me…). The buckle is easy to manage with one hand, both for tightening and loosening, making it easy to get on and off. It also seems to be really sturdy and I am confident it would hold up to the stress of use as an everyday commuting shoe.

The shoe is incredibly comfortable – with no pokes or scratches on the inside – and good looking. There is a neoprene (or something like it) tongue that provides a really snug yet comfortable fit to the top of your foot. I bet this material makes the shoe extremely comfortable in the summer when your feet tend to get hot and sweaty. I could not get a feel for how functional the air vents are during my ride today because it was a “room temperature” kind of day: not hot or not cold. I am confident I will get to evaluate their cold-weather comfort in the weeks ahead and will report back with more detail!

The carbon sole provides a nice stiff “backbone” for a cycling shoe, which is good for optimum power transfer. I honestly don’t notice a HUGE difference in pedal-efficiency between my old, non-carbon shoes and the Sette Elite Carbon, but then again I have only used the shoes once on my flat commute. The winds were too strong today for me to have a desire to do a little sprinting or climbing…

A New Year Is New Excitement

2008 is here (I say that as if it were news) and I must say that I am excited about the year ahead. I have never really been one for setting resolutions but that is most likely attributed to my age. There is a certain instability of life that comes with being 24 years old – odds are I will be doing something completely different (career, personal hobbies, etc.) in 6 months from what I do now. However, I see a lot of exciting things ahead of me this year, and bike commuting is at the top of that list.

I have only been bike commuting since August 2007, but have biked an average 4 work days out of 5 for those past 5 months. I have been able to continue riding into winter since I live in Arizona – we’ve had a couple mornings in the upper 30s so far, but it could certainly be much worse.

After reading Jack’s post I set up an account at bikejournal.com; hopefully I can keep up with my mileage numbers. I don’t know the exact breakdown, but the cyclometer on my road bike has 3276 registered miles and it just turned 2 years old – meaning I am averaging ~1600 miles per year. In addition, my mountain bike shows 704 miles on the cyclometer (I have only had it since June), giving me a total of ~4000 miles biked in the past two years. I would say that I rode more miles this past year than the former, and assume the breakdown is more like 1800/2200. Based on how much I have been riding and what I predict to ride this year, I want to shoot for 2500 miles ridden in 2008 (this is a GOAL, not a resolution).

I head back to work tomorrow after being on vacation since Dec. 21. Our forecast for tomorrow shows sun with 46 degrees in the morning and 69 degrees by the afternoon. This has me so excited about getting on the saddle tomorrow morning as I head to the office. And what better way to spend New Years Day than getting my bike ready to go?! It is a bit chilly outside today but the winds are howling around 20 mph sustained, so it just feels right to stay inside, wearing my new fluffy slippers, and wrenching and scrubbing around on my aluminum steed.

After brewing a fresh pot of coffee, I got to work and scrubbed off all the dirt and grime from my wheels, frame, drive-train, etc. I made sure my shift- and brake-cables were properly tightened and adjusted; made sure the chain and derailleurs were grit-free and properly lubed; sipped on my java and rocked out to some Nickel Creek.

The Velorution is coming at you 2008 – I have a feeling it will be a good year! May all of you have a safe and Velo-rific year. Happy Riding!