Monday, December 30, 2013

A Little Snow in my Tires - Winter Riding Lessons Learned

I've gone for 3 winter rides - one at 30°, one at 40°, and today's ride at 20°.  Low and behold, it turns out that I LOVE winter riding, which is quite a surprise to me!  And I've learned a few things in a short amount of time.

Winter Lesson 1 - If you are wearing a scarf around your neck and over your nose, your glasses get totally fogged up immediately.  I had to ride without my glasses on.  Luckily I can see well enough without them to make this okay.

Winter Lesson 2 - My knit gloves and short boots with regular socks on are fine in 30° and 40° weather, but not in 20° weather!  Going shopping tomorrow for better winter riding gloves and definitely planning to wear 2 pairs of socks next ride.

Winter Lesson 3 - People who recommended fenders for winter riding around here were correct!  Also going shopping for fenders to help keep me and my drive train a little cleaner and less slushy.

Winter Lesson 4 - Sights like those below and the quiet peacefulness of winter riding in my small village and just outside of it on country roads make all of the above so worth it!

Friday, December 27, 2013

I'm Baaaacckkk! And so, SO happy about it!

Well, it sure has been a while since I have posted here.  Shoulder surgery at the end of October, put me on a bike riding hiatus for a bit.  And of course the holidays also consumed a bit of time.  While I was restricted from outdoor bike riding, I did put my bike on a trainer and "rode" inside.  Not nearly as much as I had planned, or should have, though.  Again, the holidays got in the way.

I bought a CycleOps Mag Bike Trainer from REI online.  Because my bike spits black something when I ride, and I'm not sure why or how to stop it, I also bought a mat to go under it.  I added a CycleOps Climbing Riser Block as well, to stabilize the front wheel and make the bike more level.  This set up has worked pretty well for me.  It's fairly quiet and I can adjust some of the tension by shifting.

My grandson wanted to get into the act too, although he didn't quite understand why I couldn't move across the room with him!

Well, time passed and Christmas came and my son and his wife gave me a new bike for Christmas and my upcoming birthday!  Yippee!  It's a Salsa Vaya 2.  My son customized it just a little bit for me, but in general it is described as
"a touring and road adventure bike, designed to handle any 'road' surface, from pavement, to gravel, to dirt." 
I LOVE it!  It's lighter than my old bike, and is a bit more responsive.  I have much different handle bars as well that give me a variety of positions to use.  It also has disk brakes.  So, my new bike and I have to get to know each other a bit.

Today I went on my first outdoor ride since my surgery!  And it was also my first ever winter ride!

 I had guessed back at the end of the summer what type and weight of clothing I might need for winter riding so that I could take advantage of closeout sales online at REI to purchase last year's models of winter wear.  I guessed pretty well, I think.  Today's ride was in about 30 degree weather.  I wore my chamois and some biking pants that had a very thin fleece lining and were waterproof/windproof in the front.  On top I layered a turtleneck, a long sleeve bike jersey, and a lightweight quilted jacket.  I bought a thin fleece skull cap to fit under my helmet and that along with a scarf kept my head and neck warm.  I wore ankle high boots instead of sneakers, which is what I usually wear to ride, and a pair of knit gloves.  I was warm and comfortable for the whole ride!

It was a mostly cloudy day with no wind.  I rode 9.34 miles.  I didn't go very fast, but I did take some mild hills and continue to learn how to shift and what gears to use on my new bike.  My old bike only had 7 gears, and my new bike has many more.  It wasn't my fastest ride, only about 10 mph, but since I haven't been on the road riding in 2 months, I thought it was pretty good.

 My goal is to ride outside now as much as time and the weather will allow me to for the rest of the winter.  When I can't ride outside, I need to force myself to ride that old friend on the trainer in the family room.  That way, hopefully, by spring I will be in good condition, will maybe have lost a little weight again, and will be really ready to roll!