Monday, March 2, 2009

It’s the little things that make the difference….
This is a trying time of year when it comes to dressing for the ride. In a couple of months, the only apparel decision that we’ll have to make is which jersey to throw on. It will be hot and there are few wardrobe choices that make any difference. Hell, the choice of “nekkid” would bring little relief from the heat and would more likely result in derision and sun burn, neither of which has particular appeal. Those days will be here soon enough, but March means that it might be 36 degrees when you roll out and 70 as you’re pushing up that last hill to the house.
The key is to dress in what I call “bits”, otherwise known as layering.
The criteria for selecting your bits is they appreciably extend your comfort range and, in most cases, can be easily removed and stashed in your pockets. I have known a few thrifty (and the thrifty are few among my gearhead friends) cyclists who resist spending hard earned cash for wispy, seemingly pricey little accessories.

My advice: Spend the money. Now. How much is a missed ride worth to you? How much would you have paid to have had warm feet on your last poorly conceived outing? This stuff lasts forever, so start enjoying it now. Go see the bike shop boys (and girls) and get anything you need. Permission granted.

Basic bits that every cyclist should own:
Arm warmers: I have the basic Pearl Izumi thermafleece models and a nice pair of wool arm warmers. Take your pick of brands. I think the top lines are all comparable and good

Knee warmers: Same drill here on PI. I also have some Giordanas that extend to the bottom of the calf and can be met with crew socks.

Toe covers: I like my PI Calientoes.

Ear Band: I seem to be stuck on PI, but their ear band is just right. Little bulk, easily stashed, and plenty warm when worn with a cap. I have several helmet liners/skull caps,etc., and all are too hot almost always.
I'm not carried away with Pearl Izumi, but I find their accessories are well-designed, priced fairly and hold up well. I’m sure the same can be said of LG and other fine brands.

The cap: Not just ‘A’ cap, ‘THE’ CAP, the cat’s ass of cycling caps. People who know me know might notice that I always wear a cycling cap under my helmet. When I started riding, it seemed that the afternoon sun always just peeked over my sunglasses and below my helmet, so I started wearing caps. Frankly, I’m surprised that everybody doesn’t. Anyway, I had a number of traditional cotton cycling caps. They worked OK, but they were always soaked in sweat and allowed sweat to pour into my eyes in the summer and chill me in winter.
Then I discovered the Headsweats SpinCycle cap. This bad boy soaks up sweat better than any headband I’ve tried and evaporates it to help cool your head in summer and keep you dry in winter. With an ear band, you don’t anything else for all but the coldest days.

SpinCycle (above)
All the nostalgia of a classic cycling cap right out of ‘Breaking Away’ with 2007 high-wicking CoolMax® technology to keep you cool under that aero helmet. Traditional styling of a cycle cap with a soft flexible bill coupled with a fitted cap construction. Spincycle can be worn alone or under a helmet.

Product Details
· CoolMax® fabric shell to keep you dry & comfortable
· CoolMax® terry headband quickly wicks moisture away
· Soft bill flips up or down for that traditional cycling look

Killer socks: I really like socks, and have a lot of them. I have three sock drawers, in fact, sorted by purpose, of course. Cold feet suck and the warmest socks I’ve found are DeFeet Blaze . They’re wool, so they’re dry and comfortable in wide range of temperatures, but the thick, dense knit of the toe box and bottom really make a difference on cool days. The thinner material elsewhere allows an uncrowded fit in cycling shoes. I’m warmer in these and toe covers than I had been with other socks and full shoe covers, yet they are still comfy when things warm up a bit.
Gather your bits and go!
PS: It helps if you can keep your bits organized. They're almost all black and fleecey, so they get lost among themselves.

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