Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring is Here, finally...

It's been a slow progression. First I switched to the lighter booties. Then I switched to thinner full-finger gloves. And, today, I switched to cycling sandals and left my rain jacket at home, leaving only my windbreaker.

On the way to work there are two different places where a male robin always flies low across my path.'s always the same place. Sigh. As a cerebral predator, I know what that means!

Today is sunny, high is already in the low sixties. "Today is a good day to ride!" (Visualize the voice, inflection, and emphasis of Whorf in Star Trek: The Next Generation.)

Seriously, I wonder if a lot of people don't ride because they're...well, afraid of the weather. Reality check: it was 50 degrees when I left the house this morning, and I was perfectly comfortable.

Even in the worst weather, I am never really uncomfortable. Yes, my face may get wet, but the rest of my body remains dry. Yes, it feels a bit chilly for the first few minutes when I start out, but after that I'm perfectly fine. (I found out the hard way that if I'm warm when I start out, I'm roasting before I've even finished warming up.)

On insanely long rides, I can have trouble with my feet. Some of this is just me: I just have cold feet. I wear socks when I sleep at night, so that should be a clue. Also, if it's raining, after a while, your feet will get wet. My friend has invested a tremendous amount of effort (and gear) trying to get around this, but I believe her current solution is simply to change socks periodically during a long ride.

If you're considering getting into riding, I would recommend starting as a fair weather rider, and then budget some money to try to slightly extend your riding season as the weather shuts down. Next year you can start riding a little earlier, and then invest a little more so you can ride a little later. After a while, the theory is perhaps you won't have to stop riding.

What should you plan on getting? Wow, that's a tough one. I could give you advice, but it would be highly tailored for riding in the northern Willamette Valley, tempered for the fact that I tend to ride warmer than most of my friends.

I think most of us have acquired a lot of our gear through simple trial and error. You can bypass some of that if you can find riding friends and get some advice from them about what works. I'm hedging like this, because it depends so much on your riding environment. If you live in Phoenix, Arizona, the Showers Pass jacket is probably overkill. I know that the Pearl Izumi Amphib gloves are too warm for anything except perhaps snow riding, which doesn't happen very darn often here. And so forth. Trust me, though, that cyclist you see several mornings a week on your commute has it figured out: next time, examine what she's wearing closely, and if you aren't clear, just ask. Cyclists are a friendly bunch.

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