Thursday, January 11, 2007

Degrees of separation

Date: Jan. 10
Mileage: 27.0
January mileage: 258.7
Temperature upon departure: 11

I think everyone has some type of clothing that no matter how many different ensembles they own, it will never be enough. Take shoes for example. Geoff owns several dozen different pairs of shoes. He used to own two pair of the exact same Montrails, for what reasons - I don't know. Maybe he carried them on runs as spares in case he was attacked by a shoe-eating pit bull. I, on the other hand, could care less about shoes. I own what is basically the minimum for the number of activities I do - about 10, including my cross-country ski and snowboarding boots. I do not own a cycling-specific pair of shoes. No one's ever managed to sell me on clipless pedals and I doubt they ever will.

I do, however, own a few jackets.

The number of those does approach the several dozen range. It may even be in the 40s, if you count sweaters and hoodies. Geoff will chastise me for stuffing the front closet with no less than five red fleece jackets. But they each have their specific place and purpose, which he just doesn't seem to understand.

I have thin fleece base layers and fluffy fleece outer layers and waterproof shells and cotton hoodies for going to the movies and dress coats to wear to work and more-stylish rain jackets that can double as dress coats and down vests to wear over my fleece pullovers and wool sweaters to wear beneath fleece vests which I can then cover with a plastic raincoat. I have orange fleece and black fleece and red fleece and blue fleece, which I can mix and match in anywhere from one to four layers, depending on the temperature and length of activity.

And the best part about all of my jackets: When I go out for a ride - which I seem to be doing daily, lately - I can come home and just throw the sweaty pile in the laundry basket. And I don't even have to think about it again for two weeks, in which time I gaze at the dozens of empty hangers in the closet and decide that the lone light orange fleece jacket and gold shell just won't match the brown pants I was planning to wear. Then it's time to do the laundry.

Empty hangers and a laundry basket full of jackets ... that's when I know I've had a good week.

19 comments:

  1. I do not own a cycling-specific pair of shoes. No one's ever managed to sell me on clipless pedals and I doubt they ever will.

    Wow, I would never have guessed that. Assuming you haven't already, the way to become "sold" is to try them yourself and marvel at the increase in pedaling efficiency. Tightly cinched toe straps can help, but they're no where near as efficient as clipless. Clipless pedals are a bit of a hassle in winter (gotta cut holes in the soles of your favorite over boots), but still, given the mileage you regularly do each year I can't believe you haven't become a believer!

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  2. Anonymous10:33 AM

    I second that. Have you ever tried them? Last year when I first got my Pugsley I had platform pedals. Then I switched to clipless and I couldn't stop smiling the entire ride. I just couldn't believe how much of a difference it made. Make the switch. You won't be disappointed.

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  3. Anonymous1:09 PM

    just stick with your regular boots and you'll be warmer. i know nebraska weather can't compare to alaska, but from what i've experienced clipped in cycling shoes seem to transfer the cold from the pedal to your foot. even the most expensive 'winter specific' cycling shoe can't come close to a good pair of hiking boots for warmth.

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  4. Anonymous1:10 PM

    just stick with your regular boots and you'll be warmer. i know nebraska weather can't compare to alaska, but from what i've experienced clipped in cycling shoes seem to transfer the cold from the pedal to your foot. even the most expensive 'winter specific' cycling shoe can't come close to a good pair of hiking boots for warmth.

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  5. Anonymous1:11 PM

    just stick with your regular boots and you'll be warmer. i know nebraska weather can't compare to alaska, but from what i've experienced clipped in cycling shoes seem to transfer the cold from the pedal to your foot. even the most expensive 'winter specific' cycling shoe can't come close to a good pair of hiking boots for warmth.

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  6. Anonymous2:03 PM

    oops... sorry for the multiple posts... blogger was having issues

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  7. Anonymous2:04 PM

    oops... sorry for the multiple posts... blogger was having issues

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  8. Anonymous6:58 PM

    Getting clipless to work in the real cold is an issue for sure but it's worth the effort. Time pedals, aerogel insoles, and really big shoes.

    If you're not wanting to be converted I won't try but I won't give up my Time pedals even when I'm trudging through the snow on the Pugs.

    P.S. Thanks for the mileage updates, you're really pushing me subconciously with them :D

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  9. Anonymous7:41 PM

    I am not a shoe person either! But I totally relate to having a stable of coats, jackets, all weights of fleece, AND lots of thick warm socks. There really is no magic to being out in cold weather - for me it is all about being warm!

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  10. The faster you pedal the the less you need:)

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  11. What I have are a lot of bags. One to carry regular shoes around in. one for this camera --one for this computer ...... and on and on and on.

    The clipless are so incredibly better for the power you gain from being able to really pull. You really must try them.

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  12. As for clothing, I'd sooner prefer some form of full-faring + UV protection from the delightful southern sun down here. Lots of frozen water? That's novel.

    Water? Rain? Like when is the bloody drought going to break.

    cheers,

    Slightly Frazzled,
    Southern Hemisphere


    PS. Go clipless, you'll never look back.

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  13. Anonymous12:50 PM

    Lake Winter Boots!

    Once you have these you will never have to slip on another bootie again.

    You MUST look into them!

    My first winter with them and just cant say enough about them.

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  14. Anonymous6:35 PM

    if your main goal is to keep it simple, warm, and cheap nothing beats a pair or platform pedals that you can slap any old pair of footwear down on and pedal away. on the other hand if you're looking for a really simple way to increase your pedal efficiency by 5+% then clipless is certainly the way to go.

    however, if you are biking in the snow in alaska this efficiency increase may more often than not be offset by the problems that can arise in trying to use clipless systems in cold, sloppy, icy conditions. nowadays there are great clipless systems that will work flawless in "all" conditions, but snow biking in alaska is something beyond "all" conditions and will often be more than even the best clipless system can handle.

    if you've ever been biking at 20 below and had to push your bike through overflow on a lake/river crossing you do not want to be sporting a clipless system... trust me.

    suddenly the more efficient pedaling up to that point won't seem so worth it. in these conditions you need footwear that keeps your feet 100% dry even if you have to step into water 12+ inches deep. not to mention that after walking through water at 20 below you won't be clipping your shoe to any pedal until you get home and thaw the ice that will have completely covered your cleat.

    the other thing worth considering is that snow biking often creates situations in which you are on and off the bike dozens of times per mile. eventually, no matter how brainless it seems under typically conditions, clipping in and out just becomes annoying once you have to do it hundreds of times in one ride. it only takes a split second to clip in/out but if you add up enough split seconds you eventually have a noticeable amount of time. and once again the more efficient pedal stroke suddenly doesn't seem to be worth it.

    however jill, it seems that you do at least a portion of your riding on roads in "normal" conditions. get yourself a clipless system that you use for these types of rides. as others before me have said, you'll appreciate the differene. you will feel a connection with your bike that i think you'll enjoy.

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  15. Thanks everyone for the input.

    Anonymous pretty much hit my reasons on the nose. I still have no interest in clipless pedals on a mountain bike. I am a fairly clumsy rider and I use my feet often. What little efficiency I would gain would surely be lost in the inevitable, eventual breaking of one of my arms.

    However, I will admit that for road biking, of which I also do a fair amount of, there's no good reason not to ride with clipless pedals except for the fact that I have tried them, and haven't had much luck getting out of them. I've taken a spill or two at intersections. I realize this is part of learning, but it's downright embarrassing. I'd rather just be happy and slow.

    Not to mention that my cold weather cycling usually involves hiking boots that are two sizes to big for me, which enables me to wear a couple of pairs of socks. I don't find neoprene booties to be all that warm, because I can only wear them with a normal-sized pair of running shoes and one pair of socks. I imagine cycling shoes would have similar warmth capabilities. Minus the aforementioned metal on metal heat-sucking tendancy. But I'm also a bit of a wimp about my feet.

    Maybe someday, though. I shouldn't rule it out completely.

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  16. I won't try to convince you about clipless pedals, but I'm also surprised you don't use them. I love them, personally, but then again, I'm not riding in such extreme conditions.

    I don't have a lot of biking clothing, so I don't have it accumulating -- but there's no better way to motivate me to do laundry than needing clean biking clothes -- especially since some are line dry only.

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  17. Anonymous7:20 AM

    I also get along fine without them. I understand they are more efficient; they also complicate an otherwise simple activity.
    I don't mind being embarrassed, and who knows, someday I might get the things, but at this point it's in the same category as a Computrainer. It woudl be a lot of fun, but when I get tempted I drop forty bucks into the get-food-for-the-kids basket.

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  18. Anonymous8:56 AM

    I never wear clipless on my commuting/everyday bike - I've never felt full control with clipless, and I prefer the platform pedals with quite loose toe straps. Why would I want an extra pair of shoes to carry around all the time?

    On my road bike, I just discovered loosening the tension on the pedals, and suddenly I can clip out without having to wrench my knees around! Yay!

    But I hate the "you MUST have clipless pedals" thing!

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  19. I'm also not a clipless user. I have used them, but I don't anymore. I still have them on my "fast bike", but I barely ride that bike because of the Herculean effort required to change shoes. My other bike with platform pedals is sitting right there, and I can ride in my street shoes. I only ride the fast bike and wear the shoes when I am going on long road rides. But also, the shoes are ugly.

    One note about the commonplace advice to "try clipless and be converted". In my experience, many people try clipless for the first time at roughly the same time that they get their first nice bike. So the positive clipless experience coincides with a better quality bike experience. Is it the pedal system, or the better bike? Confounding factors to be sure.

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