Sunday, January 31, 2010

Video Torture

Due to the impending arrival of my grandson Ayden, the wife and I decided to buy a video camera.

Of course, I had to test it. Not only that, but I had to attempt putting the horrendous results of my test on YouTube. Eek. After at least a dozen failed attempts, I finally figured out how to get my video in the right format and actually have YouTube accept it...the original video was 17 minutes. Much to my chagrin, YouTube "Regular" only accepts 10 minute videos, so my 3 1/2 hour download was rejected. This edited version (courtesy of iMovie) is much shorter. Thankfully.

So here it is, a tour of my combination bike shop and laundry room, and a tour of the 'bike basement'. Enjoy, or run away screaming.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ice, Ice Baby

Adding insult to injury, an ice storm hit here last night. Didn't we have enough precipitation?

Anyways, no driving to work today. Ironically, they had zero ice in Omaha last night, but once the storm passed over the river it froze like crazy. Must be all that husker hot air :>) Some places east of here got over an inch of ice accumulation.

I did not ride a bike today. The wife and I hunkered down here in the Dau compound, warm and toasty. Maybe I'll try tomorrow.

Several years ago, I purchased an Adidas cold weather cycling outfit, jacket and bibs. One of the best gear purchases I've made, and I wear the heck out of it during fall and winter. It still looks pretty decent, though the jacket is starting to show signs of wear. Works great, though. I bought the jacket a bit oversized so I can layer underneath. Usually, this consists of a base layer of a technical, long-sleeve mock tee neck then an Ibex wool top over that. It breathes, yet is plenty warm enough for most freezing and above cycling excursions. On my head, a Rivendell wool cap and wool balaclava. The pants have enough room to accomodate a base layer as well. Smartwool hunting socks and winter cycling shoes finish my winter gear-up.

Since this is the only set of winter cycling gear I have, I decided to supplement. I wandered into our local Trek store and discovered some nice Bontrager brand winter cycling bibs on deep discount. I tried on size L, a bit tight. The store owner explained most cycling clothing lines are designed for 'skinny Euro types', of which I am definitely not :>) It always seems that a good rule of thumb for cycling clothes is go up at least one size from what you would normally wear unless you want them to be form fitting. I also ordered a new jacket online...a Gore Tool. Since I couldn't try before buying, I had the wife measure me and it seems that the go up one size rule applies there as well. I liked the Gore Tool because it has a zip open underarm vent similar to my Adidas, a feature that has proved to be very handy. It was discounted as well, another great feature!

Looking forward to trying out the new gear, not looking forward to any more snow or ice!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

A foghorn would have made it perfect

After many weeks of non-biking, the drought has been broken.

Since the mercury climbed above freezing, and the QBF with Nokians was just itching to be ridden, I donned the gear and headed out into the fog. Pretty darn thick, too.

I lit up the QBF and attempted to make myself as visible as possible. I layered up and hit the road! How did they fare? Positives: they stick like glue in hard snowpack and even on ice. I rode around town up and down a few snowpacked streets and had no problems maintaining control. I even forced a couple of skid stops (at slow speed, of course) on some ice and even though the wheel skidded it was quite controllable. Very happy with winter performance.
Negatives? Well, I decided to ride out to my folks, about 10 miles. The county road out to their house is paved until the last mile or so, and was completely clear. Riding studded Nokians on pavement is like, well, riding in snow. The studs seem to stick to the pavement as well as snow and ice, to the detriment of rolling resistance. Riding up paved hills with fixed gear and heavy studded tires? Let's just say 20 miles today felt like a half-century in good weather.

I was sure happy to have them once I hit the gravel, though. The roads out in the country aren't well plowed, so I rode intermittently through snowpack, ice, gravel, and mud. The Nokians were in their element there. Turning into and riding up my folks snowpacked driveway should have been drama filled and nerve racking...instead it was no sweat at all.

My overall impression? Excellent winter tires...they weren't inexpensive but definitely worth not falling on my arse in the snow. I sure don't want to ride them any long distance on pavement, though...what a workout! Maybe I just need to get into better shape. The humming noise as I rode reminded me of driving with studded snow tires, for those of you who remember studded auto tires (they're illegal in Iowa).

The fog...the fog was giving me fits. I decided to wear my glasses today, a mistake. They immediately fogged up and stayed fogged during the entire ride, totally covered with moisture. I ended up riding with them on my nose, looking over the tops. Yes, that gray blur in front of me must have been the road :>) Just keep it between the ditches. Every time I heard a car behind me, I pulled off the road and waited for it to pass. Most cars on that road were driving without lights on and I didn't want to risk getting rear ended. I did have my reflective vest on and a taillight. Unfortunately, the battery in my taillight was draining and it was getting pretty dim, so I was afraid vehicles would have a hard time seeing it especially in the fog. I should have taken my Planet Bike strobe taillight with me..that thing is impossibly bright for a battery powered light and I'm sure it would have been visible.

With all that, I still made it home in one piece which made it a GREAT ride anyway. Nothing more invigorating than a nice, chilly winter ride!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Cabin Fever

It's been weeks since I've been on a bike.

I've been running on the treadmill and using the weight machines at the employer's fitness center to keep myself in some semblance of fitness and relatively sane. But it's just been way too long, I don't own a trainer and I need to get a bike out. I'm hoping this weekend, since the weather may get up to a balmy 37 degrees.

I see my blogging buddy Gravelo has been out and about...and that's a good indication that it may be time to get some good winter riding in. I may even get a chance to try out my Nokians.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Frozen Tires

You know it's cold when your car is frozen to the garage floor.

I'm not kidding. I went to take the car out the garage after it sat for a week (while we were in Tempe), and it was literally frozen to the floor.

Opened the garage door, got in it, started and put in reverse. No go. Pushed on the gas a bit. It wouldn't move. Checked the parking brake, it wasn't set. Hit the gas again...engine strains, grunts. Still stuck...what the heck?? Now I punch it. Engine revs, car doesn't move. Remember when you were a teenager and you power braked Dad's car? It was exactly like my foot was mashed down on the brakes and I was smashing the gas to the floor simultaneously. One more time. I mashed the gas and the car popped loose, lurching backward. Success!

And it was 21 below zero this morning! Are you freaking kidding me?


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Warmer Climes are My-T-Fine, Go Cyclones, and Happy New Year...not in any particular order

First things first! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone! My best wishes for a joyous and most prosperous 201o.

A brief note about the current weather in Minden, Iowa...right now according to my somewhat questionable Accurite weather station it is 10.6 degrees, which seems absolutely balmy compared to this morning as it was -7 when we traveled to Council Bluffs to meet a friend for lunch and buy groceries. My trusty Droid phone and the Weather Channel tell me it's -1, which seems more believable.

We've just returned from a trip to Tempe, Arizona. It averaged mid sixties there, and sunny most of the trip. It was not all pleasure...our business was to cheer the Cyclones on to victory in the Insight Bowl :>) ISU - 14, Minnesota - 13. The win was the frosting on the sweet cake of an extremely enjoyable trip. We had a great time at the Arizona Grand Resort! Spent some time in the hot tub, pool, and the bar (0f course), explored the hills and trails adjacent to the golf course, and spent time celebrating with our fellow Cyclone fans. ISU played a great game and although the score was a bit closer than I would care for the Clones held strong and capitalized on a late Minnesota turnover to secure the win. Great times!

The shocker was stepping off the plane in Des Moines to single-digit weather and huge piles of snow. Brrr. Dreams of Phoenix condos and 'snowbirding' are dancing through my head right now. I would certainly be putting in more cycling miles if I could spend the winters in Phoenix. As I walked/jogged the hills, surrounded by rocks, cacti, and the occasional Palo Verde tree, I jealously watched several mountain bikers bombing down the trails. I really wished I had my 29'er and cycling gear in Phoenix ...the Quickie Blue Fixie is shod with the appropriate tires for Iowa winter trips but I'm not super motivated to take it out in sub-zero weather. I want to keep my fingers, toes, nose, ears, and other appendages intact and frostbite-free! Think I'll hang out in my living room, watch bowl games, and dread going back to work on Monday :>)