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Daily Archives: October 8, 2014

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Knee Warmers Vs, Leg Warmers and Vests Vs. Jackets – Cool Weather Cycling

With fall here, cycling comfortably in the cold becomes a most important topic to contemplate…  For the last couple of years I’ve stuck with leg warmers when the temps dropped below 60 (15.5 C) but until the temps dipped another ten degrees, I’ve had trouble with overheating. I could live with it but I was often shy of comfortable.

My buddy Phil has been rocking knee warmers for quite a while so I finally decided to bite the bullet and pick up a pair. What a difference! With temps stuck in the mid-50’s (12.8 C), I am absolutely perfect. Just warm enough to be happy and not dumping sweat all over my bike.

Another big change was the addition of a light windbreaker vest. Unlike many jackets, my vest has a mesh back and three deep pockets (good for carrying arm warmers and knee warmers if the temp rises). The miracle of the vest is that it blocks the frontal assault cold while letting excess heat and moisture out the back. It’s absolutely perfect for a fall day down to the low 50’s. I have an excellent cold weather jacket that’s great all the way down to freezing but I had the same problem with overheating when temps rose over 50.

So, if you’re struggling to stay comfortably cool when the temperature doesn’t warrant a full jacket and leg warmers, try the knee warmers and a decent vest. Their addition to my wardrobe has made cycling in cool weather much more enjoyable.

Temperature: 45-60
Knee warmers, arm warmers, jersey, vest (head sweats and full finger gloves under 55 for me).

Temperature: 30-49
Fleece lined cycling jacket, leg warmers, arm warmers, jersey, “head sweats”, full finger gloves.

I purposely left out the feet for this post, they’re too complex from person to person.  My feet tend to run cold so I go for the wool socks and toe covers a little faster than most, but I hate having cold feet on the bike.

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How far will you go for your fitness?

Last night for the club ride rain was expected but late, around the time we would finish. Funny thing was, looking outside it was beautiful. Windy, sure but the sun was shining and the temp was a perfect 64… I suited up, packed the bike in the car and headed to the meeting spot. Two miles from my house I understood the weather report.  The incoming clouds had been blocked by the landscape to the west…

One way or another, I was ridin’ baby.  The warmup was short as the storm clouds blanketed the sky above us. We turned north with a tailwind… Into the storm. 30 mph. 30!  Even on the uphill sections we were 28 or better…  And that’s when I saw the second lightning bolt strike the ground a few miles to our west, directly where we were headed in about two miles.  Now, my first thought was to stay with it but keep close to the two or three guys who ride aluminum bikes (close, but not too close).  Good sense got the best of me.  I pulled out of the line and turned around along with a couple of others.  We were about five or six miles out and I had hopes that we’d be able to make it back before the rain hit – I checked the radar before we left and it looked to me like the storm would miss us to the north.  Almost immediately after forming into our pace line, heading dead into the wind, the sky opened up.  We were riding into the wind at just under 20 mph but we couldn’t catch a break because if we single-filed it the spray off of the guy in front’s tire hit us right in the face so we stuck with more of a staggered line.

I was thinking, after I’d gotten home and started tearing my bike down to clean it up, about how nuts I actually am about getting my rides in every day.  I should have turned around, first sight of those clouds, no?  I’m not perfect by any stretch but there is one constant in my life:  I hate fat.  When it comes to me, there’s simply no excuse for it.

Oh, people use excuses of course.  I’m too busy, or I like food too much or I didn’t have the time (most ridiculous excuse of all time)…  I’ve heard them all and even used quite a few myself long ago, but I have an advantage over most.

When I quit drinking 21 years ago, I made a decision to go to any length to get sober and straighten up my life.  I was so far down the scale, I had no choice.  Ten years into sobriety, when my metabolism finally slowed down, I was faced with the reality that I was going to get fat if I didn’t turn my life around.  I just went with what I knew, I chose to go to any length to keep from getting fat.  It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of trial and error, but I’m finally free.  I’ve gotten to the place where I don’t have to get my daily exercise in, I want to.  I don’t have to refrain from overeating, I want to refrain.  Free is a subjective term though.  Technically, if I wanted to look at it from a different perspective, I’m just a chained to cycling as I would be to my inordinately large ass should I choose a different path.  I am chained to my bike bill just the same as I would a hospital bill.  As with all things in life, there is an easier, softer way.  It just so happens that the easiest, softest way in this case involves me pedaling my ass off on a bike six days a week because I’d rather be chained to a bike than locked in a dungeon (or in a pine box).

So, this is the question:  How far are you willing to go for your fitness?

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