Monday, November 15, 2010

The Next Level

As I may have mentioned before, I've been going on Monday Night Rides with whomever is available, going 25-30 miles in and around town. They've really been boosting my aerobic endurance, as I have given up my hatred for hills and and am coming to accept (if not enjoy) them. At 54 degrees, tonight marked the first chilly ride. It also offered some new lessons. I layered up with an Under Armour polyester base shirt, an American Apparel (55% cotton, 50% polyester), a jersey knit scarf, and my Marmot windshirt (100% polyester). Bottoms consisted of cheapo long black cotton leggings from Forever 21, AA poplin shorts on top for modesty, and SOS North Carolina cycling socks. No wool yet, as I am not too eager to provide more luxurious munchies for our resident moths. I might try wool blends first. The scarf was a lifesaver, as I flipped it over my mouth and nose because the cold air was reviving my cough. I ended up only unzipping my jacket a few inches after heart-pounding climbs, never overheating.

Here's the route Tyler, Stephen, and I took. 15 minutes in, I noticed that my handlebars were noticeably tilted to the left. My bike fell over while I was waiting for my ride partners at Quacks, and apparently the stem was not bolted on tight enough. It was folly to not bring my newly acquired (and effing awesome) Leyzne multi-tool, as I was running out of space in my bento box. Always pack the multi-tool! And I gotta get a handlebar bag or remember to wear my jersey. I wasn't able to bring a pair of gloves and my keys, phone, wallet and Clif bar in the bento box made a ruckus on bumpy surfaces.

In hindsight, I am happy that I got rid of my large, wide English saddlebag. Only the smallest seat bag (the one I found off Craigslist is Banjo Brothers Mini) won't get in the way of my thighs. To me, the balance of carrying just enough stuff is a challenge to figure out in the beginning. I want to have a rear rack for strapping on a jacket or extra layers that I get rid of during the course of riding, but if I rarely use it, that's 1 or 2 lbs of extra weight I'm hauling up a hill.
Other additions that would have helped: seamless undies (!), not wearing the shorts on top (extra fabric and seams really rub after 10 miles), a warm cap to put under my helmet, plastic toe-clips that actually fit, bar-end shifters. Articles of clothing that did not reek afterwards: thermal shirt, leggings, jacket, scarf. Not bad at all. The Under Armour shirt was pretty cold on my skin when I stopped- it's definitely part of their "heat gear" collection. It's pretty neat to put my setup to the test and figure out better ways of dressing. I'm trying to "deserve" my gear, which will help me decide what is truly useful and what is vanity. Ah, I'm gonna be sore tomorrow for workout...

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