Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Moose Mitts Cometh.

The Moose Mitts showed up on Wednesday. Lucky for me the mail was running early, and my lunch hour ended up running late, which meant I was able to get the road mitts on the Bianchi and take them out for a test ride.

Getting them on the bike was easy. They included a sheet with pictures/instructions, so it wasn't like I had to do any guessing. As you can see from the pictures, these things are pretty big. Despite the semi-conical shape, I don't think they're increasing my aerodynamics or anything like that. Really though, all I ask of them is that they keep my hands warm.

It was a pretty great day for a test ride. Temps were somewhere near 28°, and the winds were between 10-15mph. On a day like that, my fingers would be pretty numb after a short time, regardless of whether I was wearing my OR Grippers with liners or the Endura lobster mittens I picked up on Chainlove over the summer. Especially on the downhill stretches.

With this in mind, I grabbed the Grippers and threw the liners in the pocket of the jacket, just in case the mitts weren't as awesome as they were supposed to be, or even if it was just too cold and windy to expect them to do all of the work.

The mitts themselves are pretty unobstrusive. They don't get in the way of normal hand postioning, whether on the hoods or in the drops. There's plenty of room to move around in there, which also explains why they look so massive. I feel like my bike looks like some sort of old Battlestar Galactica spacecraft (the old series, not the new one).

The first real test was a nice downhill stretch about a mile from my house. I usually get up to around 42mph on the way down, and with temps in the upper 20s, that would mean some pretty frigid hands. Not today. I didn't feel a thing on the way down the hill.

Or any other hills. Or on any flats. My hands stayed toasty warm. In fact, by the time I got home, they were sweating. I could have just worn the liners (which stayed in my pocket) and left the gloves at home. That's probably what I'll end up doing from now on.

To sum up, these were worth every penny. Super-warm; warmer than I could ever have imagined. Easy to move around in; switching hand positions didn't require any extra effort, and the mitts weren't a distraction. Did I mention that these things are super-warm?

Still have to try out the MTB version. I was supposed to get out this afternoon, but neither Brian or I could get it together to make it to Frick. Soon enough.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dancing with myself.

Sitting in a coffee shop, supposedly working on some freelance. All by myself with the laptop and headphones. It feels like I haven't done this in roughly ten years or so. Heather really wanted to come with me, and I'd have been happy to have her here, but she can't stay up as late as me, and I really needed to get out of the house.

Working from home is great, but after awhile I just need to get away. Especially if I still have to sit and do some work in the evening. If I'm going to keep staring at a computer screen, it's nice to at least switch up the surroundings a little bit.

Riding at lunch isn't the same thing as getting away from the house, either. That's getting away, but it's a different thing. That's getting away and clearing the head of work, but it's not like I'm thinking about how I'm away from the house while I'm riding. I'm thinking about riding. I wish I was riding right now, actually.

December hasn't been much of a month so far, in regards to riding the bike. I think I've been out maybe five times. In fifteen days! What's up with that? Sure, one of those days was the Punk Bike Enduro, but I'm really, seriously itching to get out on the roads and go for a really nice long ride.

It'd be nice if I could do that on Saturday, but Verizon's coming to install FIOS, and they're supposed to show up anywhere between 8:00 and 12:00, and they say installation can take up to four hours.

With our luck, they'll show up at 12:30, while I've been sitting around waiting all morning for them. And then the day will be shot. At least in terms of riding.

If the weather's nice on Sunday, Brian and I are supposed to head over to Frick in the afternoon. Really looking forward to that. The Combi is so sparkly clean right now, but I'd love to get back out on some trails that I know. And hope that Brian doesn't insist on going up Iron Grate. That is craziness. Seriously.

With any luck my moose mitts will show up in the next few days and I can try them out on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to having a good solution for cold hands, but I do worry a little bit about feeling claustrophobic, or that my hands are locked to the handlebars. Full review will be posted once they've been tested.

Okay. Back to work. I think this place is only open for another forty minutes or so.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Dirty Duo and the PBE

It was a pretty good weekend on the cycling front.

Saturday morning, I met Jon Conley down at the bike rental place on the jail trail. The idea was for us to head out and hit all of the Dirty Dozen hills, since neither of us were able to make it last weekend.

The weather yesterday was definitely not as favorable as it was the day of the actual event. We headed through town with cloudy skies, temps in the low 30s, and light snowfall. A far cry from mid-40s and sunny.

For whatever reason, there was tons of traffic heading through town. A taxi pulled out right in front of me on Smallman in the Strip District. My knee-jerk reaction to flip off the driver was foiled by the fact that I was wearing my lobster gloves.

When you only have three fingers on the entire glove, the whole middle finger thing loses some of its effect. Probably for the best. Flipping people off isn't very nice, even if they did see you coming and decided to pull out in front of you anyway.

The ride up Center was no problem, and Ravine wasn't too bad, either, but by the time we got to the top, the snow was coming down a little bit harder and the roads were getting pretty wet. I felt my rear wheel start to slip in a few places as I neared the top of Ravine.

Jon's feet were freezing, too. With those things in consideration, and taking into account that Berryhill would be cold, wet, and mossy, we decided to call it a day. We head back down Ravine and back into town. So much for completing the Dirty Dozen.

I probably wouldn't have made it through all thirteen hills anyway. Aside from the cold and wet, my left knee was giving me considerable grief by the time I made it home. Most likely because I has basically taken a week and a half off from riding while waiting for my finger to heal. I really should have at least been riding on the trainer in the basement.

Today, Robbie Sedgewick and I headed out for the Twentieth Annual Dirt Rag Punk Bike Enduro, held in Emmerling Park, over in Indianola. It's an eleven stage race/event, with most stages punctuated by beer breaks. Alas, I forgot to bring an extra vessel and was unable to partake.

The riding portions of the day were pretty good. Muddy. Extremely muddy. With huge puddles all over the place. Still, it was fun riding, and I'm sure the bikes enjoy getting caked with mud, even as the derailleurs became so clogged that they were simply no longer able to function (Robbie's single-speed didn't have that issue).

I'd never been to Emmerling before, but apparently lots of motocross racing happens on those trails, so there were some pretty deeply rutted sections that were fairly ridiculous to try to ride through.

There were a number of sections where I had to walk the bike through an area like that, try to get back on and clipped in (with pedals and cleats also enrobed in mud), pedal a few strokes and then run into another rutted section. Either that, or there'd be a big log in the way, and I'd have no momentum to even consider trying to ride over it.

A good time, though. I'm glad I went, and I'm glad that Robbie was able to go, since there weren't too many other people who were there that either of us knew. I'd have to say that I'd have rather done more riding that standing around at beer breaks, but that's a big part of the whole thing, so I'm not asking for any changes or anything like that. If I go next year, I'll have to remember a vessel.