Thursday, October 11, 2012


Many people relish the thought of fall as it brings relief from the heat of summer, along with football, cool nights and slipping into your favorite jeans and flannel shirt. And then it gets cold. And dark. I'm good with most of that, and I'll ride all winter. My main argument with winter is that it just gets dark way too early, but winter isn't going to listen to my side of the story, so I'm getting ready. I had a couple of seasonal firsts on Monday- I rode my mountain bike and I put on knee warmers and a long sleeve base. It was 60 degrees and that attire was just about right, though the fact that I had laid around on the beach in Florida for the previous several days may have impacted my perspective slightly.

What to wear, what to wear?

This can be a damn difficult question to the rider striving for maximum comfort, so it is helpful for the serious cyclist to develop a system. It's easy to throw on a pair of tights and a jacket and be warm enough on a cold morning, but the range of temperatures and of effort that is typical of a fall ride in Arkansas calls out for adaptability in the fly. And that calls out for what I refer to as my collection "winter bits", which includes arm warmers, knee warmers, long finger gloves, caps, ear bands, toe covers, and a variety of base layers. Arm warmers can be pulled down or removed,  knee warmers and an ear band can be stashed in a jersey pocket as the day warms, and a base layer can be selected to meet the expected range of conditions.

Black-on-black: a common problem for many of us it that all of our warm fuzzy stuff is black. Within this pile are knee warmers, arm warmers, toe covers, a base layer and tights.

Who among us has not cursed the missing arm warmer as we prepared for the cold dark start of a winter ride? Even if you have all of your cycling gear in a single location, the fact that so much of this stuff is similar in color and texture calls out for a  little more organization.

These 3-drawer bins take up little room and pay off in frustration avoidance.
I solved most of my "missing bits" problem for under $10.00 and the cost of trip to Lowe's to buy a couple of 3-drawer plastic bins. In the open drawers on the right, I keep caps and headgear in the top drawer, warmers (arm, knee, leg, and toe covers) in the center, and gloves in the bottom. Tights are stuffed in a vertical file divider above. The second bin to the left is home to seasonal overflow (long finger gloves live there for the summer) and a variety of parts and supplies. This compact arrangement is close to the laundry room and to where I get dressed, so it is easy to put everything back in its place and I don't have to search around to find my kit for the day.

I think that most of my readers are well-equipped, but now is a good time to take inventory and find any holes in your quiver of gear. It's a good idea to have two of most things, and I know that I need to replace my ragged toe covers. Visit your local bike shop and buy what you need now, rather than wait until you've suffered a few uncomfortable rides. Selection should be good and you'll get a full season of use from your new gear.

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