|Trace The Mitten|
Getting outside to ride
The situation does not need to be perfect to go out and ride in the winter.
What is perfect for me probably does not hold true for you and vise versa. What do I define are outside riding conditions for me? What do you consider when making the decision to ride out in the winter?
The most important thing for me during the winter is to maintain my level of conditioning. I think of it as my base. I do not want to fall back. I want to be ready when the weather breaks. I try to ride the same number of days in the winter as I do the rest of the year. It is cold, snowy and the days are shorter. I use my trainers on most days. My mileage now is a third or half of what it will be in the summer. Inside cycle training does not hold my interest as long as when I am riding outside.
I look for a warmer day. I dress to be sure that I am comfortable. This is a good challenge to determine the right outfit.
I look for no slippery road surfaces
I determine areas that will keep me safe with traffic. No one expects to see a bike rider in the winter around my house.
I look to have enough time to work of a good heart rate.
I consider what I want to accomplish from the ride.
I consider the negative effects on my equipment.
I had not heard of this term until I saw it in a web journal about bike touring. I could easily understand the concept when I read the description of making the way through sand or up a steep single track. I have done both of those and you know there will be other times that you are unable to pedal needing to walk you way.
When you learn to ride you think that you will never need to walk your bike. I needed to swallow some pride when I needed to walk up some steep hills. I have come to just accept that I may need to walk the bike. In doing a tour you do what you need to do to make progress. I guess this like a portage in canoeing where they will carry the canoe over shallow
Take a moment a moment to ease your frustration and clearly think through some options. A snap decision to a plan may not be the best. If you are with others you may talk out the problem. You may need the take off panniers and move the bike and your load . You may decide to take the mechanical advantage of the wheels and walk the bike through the stream. When I struggle up the hill I decide to dismount and walk up the hill. I will travel almost as fast, but it is easier for me to breathe. While walking in this manner I will be able to enjoy the scenery. Sometimes the road and traffic conditions lead me to walk for safety reasons.
We ride bike because we love the feel to be in the saddle. If you are planning your own route you may consider alternate routes to avoid possible walking areas. You may adjust your day to stop early so that the difficult section ahead you will be fresh in the morning. I also read several times where riders took advantage of generous offer for a lift. It is your trip and you make your rules. Have fun.
On my two winter rides I have used the ski goggles that I bought before it was cold. My previous goggles were mainly used during skiing and snowshoeing. This year I thought that I would use the goggles more, but my pair broke. I got a new pair which also fitted over my glasses. In the photo gallery you will find a recent picture.
Why wear goggles? The first thing I noticed was the tinting the makes for comfortable eyes. I could get that from my sunglasses, but the goggles also block the air from irritating the eyes. The goggles also protect the skin around of the eyes. When I added the muffler for my lower face I can stretch it up enough that I can completely cover my face.
I think one of the things about riding my bike is that I dress for my comfort and not for the appreciation of people that I pass. If you have goggles try it for yourself. I felt so good with these that I could wear my swim goggles on rainy days. I have my prescription and I think it will work. I will tell you next spring.
I just read an article chronicling a cycle tour across the state of Washington using the John Wayne Pioneer Trail and it reminded me of some of my rail trails.
If you have ridden rail trails you know there are several surfaces: cement, asphalt, chip rock ( or whatever you call it), crushed limestone, clay or whatever. The popular frequently used routes will be in the best shape. I am lucky with high quality trail in my community and when I traveled to new areas I found that not all trails are equal.
I remember taking the Polly Ann Trail and rode to the end in one county and across the road the trail was a single track. There was a clear track for several miles until a washout caused me to push the bike up the gully. Municipalities, states and non-profits. Just because the trail is marked on a map it does meet it is maintained. Do your research and don't be surprised.
On my second trace the mitten tour I found two rough trail areas. On the second day I planned to continue south on Interstate 275 path that shadows the expressway. On the first day the path was mowed shoulders, mile markers and smooth pavement. This new section did not have funding to keep up maintenance. My second day had enough good pavement and the bridges were nice concrete to make it very passable. I bet not many have done that feat.
About week later in TTM2 I wanted a change from the sandy roads through National Forest sandy roads and saw a rail trail on the map
A heat advisory got me out the door early for a ride. I decided to explore an area that was new and happen upon a hidden parking lot and a labyrinth of connecting roads. The area was hidden by weed and shrub growth. It looked like the developer did the roads and curbs then ran out of money.
Later in my ride I happened upon a tree which had fallen last night during the storm. I love an exploration rides because I always can discover something.
During today's ride I learned something and I remembered some previous lessons.
Today I rode the Polly Ann Trail, a rail trail topped mainly with crushed limestone. and some areas are dirt . Our recent severe rains may have some areas slippery or loose grave/sand.l I had not rode this path since last summer and I remembered that the mountain bike would be the best. The wider tires proved effective . I had forgotten about the horse riders that often use the trail and luckily I was able to avoid horse piles.
When I ride 25 miles on dirt and rocks it takes more effort than riding thin tires on pavement. Today took more effort than I expected.
This ride was going to be the longest ride on the mountain bike and I would not use my touring seats. I decided to take my slip on gel seat for added comfort. After about 4 miles I stopped to take the gel cover off and kept it in my pack for the rest of the ride. That gel cover mad the seat too wide and shifted frequently and made my effort less efficient. I will leave the gel seat cover at home next time.
When I took off the seat cover I also moved the seat forward. I was sitting too far back and I was stretching too far to the handlebar. Both adjustments made the ride more comfortable.
My riding posture on a mountain bike is different than my tour bike. When I ride my mountain bike I get out of the saddle more than my rides on the touring bike. By the end of ride my back ached from staying in one position. It would have helped today if I stood up occasionally.
The first time I rode this trail years ago I needed to stop and use the vault toilets at one of the parking areas and the toilet paper was gone. Since that trip I have always packed some TP. Good thing today because they were out again.
I did not bring enough snacks. I ate my snacks on the drive over. My Nunn hydration drink is sugarless and I was running out of gas. Three miles from the end I stopped for an ice cream cone. I felt the immediate boost.
Be ready to be schooled anytime you ride.
Today's lessons: 1. bring enough snacks 2. bring toilet paper 3. know your bike 4. be prepared for the possible road conditions.
During the first 11 days of April the weather was cold , rainy and snowy. and I did many rides in my basement on the trainers. To pass the time I watched You Tube bike riding segments. I stuck me after watching a few that some scenes were very similar to where I ride. You can tell by my pictures that I am not on those rocky single tracks at high elevations. I would not be able to handle the elevation and inclines on a bike. I probably could hike.
The point for me with this revelation is that I should and do enjoy my current ride and locale. I just love riding.If I am not then I should look for another place to ride. I would love to go cycle Europe, but that is not the cards right now. I will keep the dream and work toward it in the coming years Most people feel that riding is best in the quiet nature settings. I travel through woods, parks, along farm fields, along quiet roads and into nice little towns. I saw some woods, parks, fields, quiet roads, and town in these You tube clips . I am content where I am at. I will dream and work toward those dream rides.
I love the commercial currently running on TV for Quaker Oats . The little boy is having in Quaker Oats and dad says, "You'll get it this time." The next scene is on the sidewalk with Mom balancing the boy on his bike. The boy turns to the mom and says, "Don't let me go until I say so." Then off he pedals. ( I was so happy to see that he was wearing a helmet.) What a joy it is to learn to ride a bike. What a great feeling of power and independence.
Two days was beautiful. It was sunny, breezy, but warm at about 70 degrees. The weather reported that it was the warmest day since early November. In early March we yearn for spring days and getting outside. On a day like this I expect to see many outside and there sure were. Besides just the kids in yards and climbing the playscapes, I was passed by many with the shiny new bike with training wheels. What excitement I could see on the faces. They had a smile as big as mine.
Enjoy your ride today.
One of the things that I enjoy about cycling is the time away from many distractions. I do not listen to music or podcasts. I also like riding in areas where traffic concerns are minimal. This winter there has not been much snow and i live in an area with many subdivisions. These subs have nice smooth sidewalks that have almost no use during school and work time. This may not sound exciting to you, but I love it. Well, it is good for now., but I want to get into those long rides where I do not have to handle the cold. When you are inside during winter, any time that I can get outside for exercise is great. Cycling is always fun for me.
I was riding between one and two hours a session and that is a lot of time to think about whatever is on my mind. When else do I find that amount of time? I solved a seat problem with the bike. I organized a schedule issue. I figured out dinner. In between I enjoyed the Sun.
Reduce stress just by reducing the amount of noise. Our environment can have so much noise: TV, music, furnace/AC, people, and many other possibilities. Who was it who said, "Silence is golden"?
On my inside rides I do not have this quiet. I need stimuli to keep going. Heading outside is a good ride.
Recently I happened to see a small piece in June 2015 edition Real Simple magazine which somewhat relates to this topic. They stated, "60 % The amount you can boost your creativity by taking a walk while brainstorming instead of sitting at a desk as noted by a study published in Journal of Experimental Psychology last year." I have a feeling that there have been studies supporting benefits of this behavior.
This week I had three clear days where I could rides without slippery spots. I was ready to go out on the bike. I hopped on the cruiser and just road the clear paved areas by my house.
I was also anxious to check how the clothes layering worked. i know that my rain jacket is effective protecting me from rain and wind when layering is added . At CVS I picked up a $9 neon green hooded basic windbreaker. The color is perfect for warmer days when my rain jacket is overkill, but days were 35° with gusty 10-18 mph. Being close to home allowed me a comfort safety net.
I was very pleased with my comfort on these days. The second day was a little windier and I added another base layer. I did not get any chill from the perspiration.
I have found that the neon windbreaker will be an effective high-visibility layer. Later I could add waterproofing to provide some more moisture repellent.
I added another ride today at 46 degrees. The wind is brisk 12-17 mph. The three rides give me a wide temperature range of to get the right layer mixture.
I hate to stop while I ride to change layers. I procrastinate through discomfort. I do not want to be too cold or catch a chill with sweaty gear.