Friday, April 9, 2010

Old Winter Bike Gets New Look For Spring

Those big brown tires are Fat Franks from Schwalbe Tire.

I've had this Gary Fischer for almost 15 years and had been using it for just Winter riding the last few years, until my Dutch bike came along. This Spring, I decided that I wanted a larger stable of bikes to ride. I rode the Dutchman for 4 straight months, last fall. I don't regret it. When I finally hoped on another bike, it was a shock. I felt like I was going to fall over the front end of the bike. I thought maybe I should wear a helmet, just to guard against that posibility. I knew then for sure that the upright posture of Dutch style bikes really is safer.

After a long hard Winter, my Dutch bike needed some work, I began to ride my other bikes more regularly. Now I'm liking the variety. Three really is better than one(sometimes Four).

So, I started shopping around for some nice sturdy tires with the Fat Franks getting my attention. Fat! At 2.35, they barely fit on my mountain bike. Sturdy. The talk is they don't get flats. Styling. Might as well cut a pleasant trail.

I also bought the pannier from Hiawatha Cyclery. They are becoming my favorite bikeshop. Kind of a Sheldon Brown/ Rivendell/ neighborhoody shop down by Minnehaha Falls. The panniers are from Banjo Brothers, which happens to be a local company, which makes it even better! They were also nice enough to loan me the saddle to try out. I've put 50 miles on it and can't complain of any pains. I do think I should look into getting a brown seat though, whether that's a Brooks or not. Maybe I'll put this one on my aluminum Gary Fischer? It's seat had busted and I've been trading seats with this Gary ever since. That poor bike has been the odd bike out. Maybe I should sell it?

Well, unless it snows again, I'll be over at thechaicyclist. Hopefully, next year I won't poop out on blogging in the middle of the iciclebicycle season.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Friday!

It's Critical Mass.

"Over the head" shot.

"Down under me" shot of Schwinn.

"Me with my Winter fur" shot.

It was a little nippy out there today, but still a good turnout(60+), I thought, for a March Critical Mass ride. One guy did get taken down right in front of me, when one of the peddle cops decided to stop and shove his bike into they guy when he strayed over the yellow line. Seemed kind of excessive. Like the cop just snapped and decided somebody's going down. But for the most part things seem to be pretty good with the police. They send some bike cops along with us and have a few squad cars in the back. We ride around the city yelling "Happy Friday!".

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What I Wear to Stay Warm: A Warm Heart Doesn't Require Cold Hands: Keeping Hands Toasty in Subzero Weather

These Smartwool liner gloves are a must. By themselves, they're good for me down into the high 20's on a bike. Plus, you can do things that require some dexterity. The Smartwool gloves are perfect for when you want add some warmth to heavier gloves or these mitten gloves. And if the big ones get too hot, the liner gloves will keep the chill off your hands.

Mitten Gloves

Warm arms are important too. I use these Pearl iZumi arm warmers. They're nice because you can pull them off, when you get to your destination or you can bring them with you just in case you need some extra layers on the ride home.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What's in a Windchill?

Windchill is a very popular word these days. 20F, 30F, and 40F below windchill temperatures are all over the airwaves. But are these windchill temps really accurate and more importantly, useful?

Daniel Engber says no in He says windchill's popularity has more to do with big headlines and bravado, than useful science. I would tend to agree with him. Windchill is an estimate of how cold it may feel to you. Kinda subjective. -30F and -30 windchill aren't the same thing. Having been outside once a long time ago when it was -26F, I can say that -26 windchill doesn't feel nearly as cold. Windchill varies greatly because the wind doesn't blow consistently.

What I look at when I check the temp before hopping on my bike, is temp and windspeed. That tells me what to expect. I know what 5F and 10 miles an hour winds feels like, so make sure I have a little more protection from the wind. Two numbers and experiential learning.

Fact: The coldest temperature recorded Minnesota was -60F, in Tower back in 1996. The coldest estimated windchill temp was an estimated -71F in 1982 in northern Minnesota.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

-14F in the Shade

When I awoke this morning a saw that the temp was a negative 14F, I was exited. "Woo hoo! I've never rode a bike when it's that cold". I put on all my gear, which takes awhile and threw some extra's in my pack in case I was underdressing. The air was crisp. My nose burned when I inhaled. When I pulled Frankie out of the unheated garage and pushed off, the front brakes started squealing. They didn't stop until it got up to -5 in the early afternoon. My ride over to meet with some friends was nice, except for the squealing, I suppose. I was sweating mildly by the time I got there. I was a little disappointed that nobody said "what are doing? are you crazy?". But they know me well enough to not be surprised about what conditions I ride in.

Later, I got a chai and ran some errands. Before arriving home, I stopped at a grocery in my neighborhood to buy some ice cream. When I got back on the bike, I decided not to put my Pearl izumi ski mask(pictures coming in future post) back on because I was only 5 blocks from home. On that short ride I realized how valuable that mask is to my comfort, because my face was really cold when I got home. I went inside and wasn't feel too cold except for my face and the back of my feet. But I figured a hot shower would be smart because sometimes the chill won't go away and I don't like getting sick. That was a good move. My feet and chest were tingly with mild frostbite. After a long hot shower, some lotion and some warm clothing they are back to normal.

Besides the squealing drum brakes and cold feet, I really enjoyed being out there in the elements. Next time I will take steps to make sure my feet and chest are better protected. I only saw two other cyclists on my travels, but figure there will be more when they get tired of being inside all the time. They don't know what they are missing out on.