My Rides

Monday, March 14, 2011

(Pre)Spring Riding - Clothing

I've taken the training outside for the next couple of weeks leading up to the race.  I feel like I better get some experience riding in cold, wet weather, on cold, wet, muddy roads.  I think I commuted a couple of times in March in 2009, but that was last-decade (and more importantly, optional and only 5 miles, on the sidewalk)!  My goal is to sort out the following:
  • Clothing for extended cold rides.
  • Tires for muddy, sandy gravel roads
  • Tweaks to the bike
Installment 1:  Clothing

Wind / Rain Jacket:
I have a Marmot rain jacket that's a few years old, but it's a pretty "roomy" jacket.  It has pit vents, but the configuration of the pockets really make it catch a lot of head-wind.  It always ends dripping wet inside - that happens when fat guys wear spandex...  I hunted around for something cycling specific, reasonably priced, and in my size, and found this (that's not me, just the pic from the jacket site - nice bike though):

Ordered this one for $79.  Zip off sleeves, vented back, big pocket in back (to stuff sleeves, gloves, snacks, small road-kill in).   Sarah Palin would be proud!

I have a couple pairs of cycling shorts, and for casual rides, commuting, or riding on the trainer they're fine.  After a while they need a little adjusting.  In a focused ride, where I'm trying to compete that's not optimal - I'm trying to run a F1 operation not NASCAR.  Making adjustments on the bike means, at a minimum, sitting up, slowing down, and taking the hands off the bars.  So I've ordered a set of bibs from Aerotech Designs ( - these will also be awesome to wear while gardening (don't worry, no pics of me or other guys in spandex only). 

Arm / Leg Warmers:
I've been using a set of Novara arm-warmers and leg-warmers from REI.  I love the leg warmers - I can add them to whichever pair of shorts I like best, and they keep my legs toasty.  The arm warmers are tight on my massive biceps (and tend to slip down).  Both are a spandex / lycra type material (thinner than bike shorts) on the outside to block wind, and resist water, with a thin fleece-like material on the inside.  I initially thought I'd feel hot & sweaty after a while, but they're perfect at keeping me warm, but dry.  So, I love the material, but a whole shirt made from that would be better, at least until it's a little warmer...  So, I ordered a "fitted" Under Armor ColdGear (R) shirt made out of a similar material. 
Boys' ColdGear® Mock Tops by Under Armour 
Shoe Covers:
Also learned that my feet are freezing on a ride more than 30 minutes.  I haven't settled yet on toe covers, or some "over-sock" for my shoes.  I really like the  stuff from Sock Guy (, so when I make up my mind that's what I'll get - I highly recommend their cycling socks by the way.  REI sometimes carries them. 

Hat / Gloves:
I have a Marmot Polartec (R) hat that is perfect for keeping the head and ears warm and dry (these may have been discontinued - can't find a pic).  I find myself taking it off after 30 minutes, but I still don't think I'd start a ride without it.  The gloves I use are Giro Blaze cold weather gloves.  
Giro Blaze Cold-Weather Cycling Gloves, Black, Small 
I tried on a number of pairs (at REI) and these seemed the most flexible and best fitting.  They've got terry patches by the thumb for wiping sweat or snot (which the more I use them, the more I love this aspect), the palms are a thin suede leather, and the back a spandex / lycra.