#2: Roundtop Loop

1.14.18

Bike: Masi CXR

In my ears: We the People Live; The Rich Roll Podcast

Sunday morning, bright and clear. Eleven degrees when I left the apartment. The roads were perfectly fine, and it was one of those rides where a couple miles in I was so glad I’d fought the temptation to stay indoors. The streets were quiet as I passed through Lemoyne, and from there they just got quieter. Lisburn, then smaller roads, all rollers weaving through threadbare farmland and hollowed-out forest, past big country houses set back on a few acres. Early on my legs felt okay, but I was moving pretty slowly–combination of heavy bike, wide tires, and maybe the temperature or maybe just a lack of fitness from all my zone 1 and 2 trainer sessions.

I cut in front of Roundtop and the parking lots were full of weekend skiiers. The slopes looked steeper than when I’d last seen them in summer, and covered in snow the mountain actually looks somewhat like a ski resort. The snow was swirling in big clouds from the snow-making machines lined up along the runs, carried off by the wind. The descent from there was fun. I wrapped back around, then headed north into the headwind. At the 20-mile mark my Garmin was about dead, strange for such a short ride. I’m not sure what’s going on with it. I switched over to my Vivoactive GPS watch for the rest of the ride and navigated home via Chestnut Grove Road (which was super nice; not sure how I hadn’t discovered it before) from a combi

I was riding fasted and the lack of glycogen started to hit on the drag back from Mechanicsburg. Made it home just in time. My legs felt like jello and my arms were weirdly numb. Only forty miles, but almost three hours on the bike.

Overall, a fun ride. I’m getting better at just dealing with headwinds and the generally slog-like feeling of winter rides on a ‘cross bike. Not having the Garmin to stare at helped. Hopefully I’ll be visiting Roundtop soon with my snowboard in tow.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1357177347

https://www.strava.com/activities/1357197135

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Rides of 2018

As I’ve said before, all but a few standout rides end up blurring in my memory. I can recall snippets, snapshots, and feelings from the rest, but they aren’t anchored anywhere. I’ve found myself thinking back to routes I’ve done, new roads discovered, fun hours with friends–and not remembering much about them.

I want 2018 to be different. So, this year I’m going to write a recap of every ride here, with a link to the Strava file and photos, if available. They won’t all be long; some will only be a few sentences. Indoor rides don’t count because indoor rides aren’t worth remembering. Commutes, generally speaking, don’t count either. What’s qualifies as a commute? Like Justice Potter, I know it when I see it.

I’ll still aim for other content on the blog, but realistically, this will make up the bulk of the content. There might be some product reviews here and there, maybe a recipe or two, perhaps some random musings. For the most part, though, this is a blog about riding bikes. And I’ll be writing about riding bikes.

Think of it as a year-long journal of my cycling life.

Ride #1 is already in the can. #2 coming up tomorrow.

Winter Cycling Essentials (plus overrated stuff too)

Thankfully, things have thawed out a bit after a couple weeks of soul-crushingly frigid temperatures. But Siri tells me that another cold front is approaching. Such is winter.

Some people are happy (well, not happy, but okay with) spending hunkering down on their trainer after the holidays and not emerging until mid-March, racking up base miles and a base level of pale skin in preparation for the upcoming season when races and tan lines ensue. But, maybe because I lack both a trainer that can simulate hills and access to the magical world of Zwift, I’m not cool with it. I have to get outside. Just have to.

Fortunately, I’ve pretty much dialed in dressing for the cold. I rode this past weekend in 10-degree weather and was perfectly warm (except for my toes…I’ll get to that later). Here are some essentials for staying toasty, and some things that people say you need but you maybe don’t actually need.

Not Overrated

Balaclava (the face/neck garment, not the dessert)
Keeps the cold air from getting down your collar while protecting your face and neck, especially in wind that would otherwise be biting. Can be worn in all sorts of different ways. My favorite style is the train-robber look.

Lobster Gloves
I wrote a review about my Sugoi gloves. They’ve been a revelation. So far, my hands have never come close to getting cold while wearing them. In fact, I’ve felt the urge to take them off because my mitts are too warm.

Thermal Layers

My go-to outer layer in the cold is my Twin Six Standard long-sleeve jersey. It’s sleeker than a jacket but loose-fitting enough for multiple layers underneath. (Plus, it has roomy pockets, and the all-black color means you don’t have to put it in the washer first thing after a wet ride.) By itself it’s good for temps into the low 50s; lower than that, I start adding layers.

Moving inward, my next layer is a secondhand Patagonia long-sleeve shirt my uncle gave me that is neither cycling-specific, made of wool, or worth $200. Somehow, contrary to what you’d believe after reading marketing hype about base layers, it works fantastically.

In the cold I also wear arm warmers and, for the layer closest to my skin, a cotton tee-shirt. There’s no scientific data behind that. I just don’t really have anything else that would go underneath the pretty tight-fitting Patagonia.

With this setup, my chest, core, and arms have never been cold.

Tights

This one’s obvious, at least for anyone north of the Mason-Dixon line. You can’t leave any leg exposed. I don’t own full-length bib tights; instead, I wear my Twin Six knickers over leg warmers. Nobody is the wiser.

Slightly Overrated

Wind Vest

This is my first winter with a wind vest, and I think it makes a marginal difference. Probably helps prevent some air from sneaking through the fibers of my other clothes. Still, I rode without one last winter and my chest didn’t get cold.

Oversocks

Let me be clear: they look amazing, and I haven’t left the house without them since November. That being said, I don’t know how well they work. Foot warmth is probably better achieved with warm socks and/or overshoes, which are like oversocks for the 21st century.

I Wouldn’t Know

I can’t explain why, but I still haven’t really tried to fix my chronic foot coldness. It’s the only part of my winter setup not dialed in. I still just wear two pairs of very average cotton socks, fashionable but ineffective oversocks, and hope for the best. Part of this is due to the fact that most really warm socks are made of wool, which I don’t want to wear. Part of it is due to the fact that I’m used to my feet feeling like numb bricks attached to my pedals. Part of it is frugality (AKA cheapness). Part of it is laziness (online shopping is so difficult, right?). Bottom line: you’re on your own when it comes to feet.

#1: Numb Toes > Numb Mind

This post is part of the Rides of 2018 series

1.6.18

Masi CXR

Had to get outside after the bitter cold has kept me hunkering down on the trainer since returning from warm, beautiful, tropical, totally not Pennsylvania-like Colombia. It was sunny and the roads were clear, so there was no excuse really–other than the temperature gauge hovering around 12 degrees. But I was actually plenty warm, except for my toes towards the end of the ride and the exposed skin on my face while coming home into a sharp headwind.

I kept it pretty short, only 22 miles, but a decent amount of climbing up Big Spring Road, which was surprisingly clear of snow and ice, and the shorter, gentler climb up through the rich neighborhood to the radio towers where the view of the valley would be nice if not for trees and McMansions. My plan was to loop around and come back over Old York, but the headwind discouraged me and I opted to stay in the trees and retrace my route back up over Big Spring, then home through New Cumberland. Bridge Street is always uphill going that direction, and there’s always a headwind.

Felt great to get outside. Only after did I realize it was my first ride of the new year. Welcome, 2018.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1344032696