Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't hate Embrocate

One thing that is OK to hate is cold weather.  I love the cool fall and spring riding, to start out a ride with arm warmers and a vest.  I've said it before and I will continue to say it, this has to be the best time of year to ride.  That being said, it can also be the most clothing confusing time of the year.  Too much  and you are uncomfortable, too little and you are done.  Just remember that you can always take it off, but if you don't have it, you can't put it on.  You hear it everywhere...layer, layer, layer.  I did a post on base layers a few days ago, check it out.

Arm warmers have to be one of the best cool/cold weather pieces of clothing that you can own.  It is a must have.  Arm warmers are the most versatile element of a kit.  They are easy to take off while riding and stuff neatly into a rear pocket or in a bib strap at the waistline.  Not all arm warmers are lined, so make sure when you are buying a pair that you know what you are getting, also check to see what type of materials they are made of.  Cotton is a "NO, NO".  Fit is a big issue with arm warmers, well it is for me due to the fact that I am bicep-challenged.  12 oz curls just don't get the job done in this area.  I guess you could have the opposite problem if you are all Hans and Fransed out -most cycling specific kit is tailored to the lithe frame.

To cover or not to cover?   That is the question.  I'm talking about knees.  What do you do with your knees, is a great question?  They are horribly constructed for warmth, especially if you are bony, it's like the blood just passes through the joint on its way somewhere else.  No stopping no standing around, no protection from the elements.  So what to do?  Knee warmers, tights?  Yes and yes depending on the temperature and how well you handle being cold.  I use embrocation on the cool to cold days.  "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?"  Embrocation is a liniment that you massage onto your legs to anger them into feeling warm.  It will have some kind of essential oil in it that will heat up the skin and make your legs feel warm.  It will also have a wax for wind and water protection.  I'm a huge fan of Mad Alchemy. (shamless plug)

Knickers are also awesome for the cold weather, and tights are great for when it is freezing out there.  Of course, this is all depending on how well your body handles the cold weather.  Wind stopping fabric is always great for cutting the cold out, check to see if your tights or knickers have it built in for that extra layer of protection and warmth.  Hope this keeps you warm and doesn't get you all hot and bothered.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Base, how low can you go

What do I know about base, bass, Basso, base layers? Not much. I know what I like and what I use for the next-to-the-skin layer. There are some considerations that you should use when thinking about wearing and purchasing a base layer.

Fit, trust me on this one. You can have the most technologically advanced fabric known to man and if it does not fit you right, you might as well wear a plastic sack under your jersey. It might do a better job -I've done this for disposable warmth. Don't laugh it freaking works, why do you think the Pros put newspaper under their jerseys on a descent? Wind. Make sure that, whatever you are considering putting on first, make sure it fits. You don't want the sleeves to bunch under your jersey, you don't want the layer to be too long so that it bunches in your bibs. Base layers should fit tight, but not restrictive or constrictive.

Season, warm in the cold, cool in hot. I don't wear a base layer in the summer, some people do, Pros do-Pros don't. It is like any choice, it all comes down to personal preference. The good stuff is season specific and the premium brands have premium price tags, but they do their job. With style I might add. Not all base layers are created equal, so be sure to do your homework before buying; especially if you are going to shell out some serious cash. There is an economical route: Compression gear from any local department store or discount athletic store.

Materials, after fit is the next most important quality of your base layer. Cotton is a great renewable resource, but makes for a horrible base layer. Stay away from cotton, even if it is a very small percentage of the layer. Don't do it. Anything synthetic, but look for blends 50-50, 60-40, ect-ect. If you hate the fact that petroleum was harmed in the construction of your base layer, you can always look for manufactures that use recycled goods in their base layers. You may also want to look in to Wool. Yes, Wool. Not the itchy Christmas sweater with the bears on it, but the new skin-friendly wool and wool blends. These rock, they are a little pricey, but work, and work like a Copperfield magic trick.

There you have it. Base layers in 1,000 words or less. If you already knew all of this, then good on ya' pal. If I missed something drop me a comment -help a brother out.

"Excuse me stewardess, I speak jive" -the late Barbra Billingsley from Airplane

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Words cannot begin to explain  how good it feels to get back on the bike after being absent for so long (9 days).  And yes, it is just like riding a bike.  The body had no problem remembering what to do, it was automatic; a body function like breathing.  One leg over the top tube and the instant connection was made, plug and play.

I thought after the days of debauchery, working crazy hours, eating bad, and smoke friendly establishments, that I would suffer.  I thought that I would suffer more so than normal; we all know that riding bikes is all about suffering.  To be honest I felt pretty good and the body was not too far off target even with an extra 7lbs of beer weight.

I really missed the pain and suffering that one goes through on the bike.  Today is the first time I really "felt" my legs in a long time.  You take that burn and the soreness that follows for granted.  You have to hurt to really feel.  Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails said it in his song Hurt: 
I hurt myself today

To see if I still feel

I focus on the pain

The only thing that's real
I'm sure that he had a different meaning for those lyrics, but for a cyclist once you are off the bike for a while these lyrics actually will mean something for you.  How good does it feel after a ride when you have "stretched the elastic"?  I missed that feeling.

The best part about getting back is the family, the family that I have been away from for a short time that seemed like forever.  I did not realize how much I missed talking shop with everyone about racing, the off season, CX races, other teammates, and not having to act interested in football is a plus.  It is so good to be among like minded people.  I missed my family, I don't know if they missed me, but they made me feel like I had been gone forever and they seemed to be glad to see me as much as I was to see them.  Thanks guys for making coming back feel like coming home.  It's good to be...

Sunday, October 24, 2010


October is breast cancer awareness month.  Support the Find a Cure by donating or buying products that give money to foundations that donate or are involved in awareness.  The statistic that is thrown around is 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.  That is a staggering number to wrap your head around.  Think of eight women that you know, and pick one at random.  -That is breast cancer, except for the seriousness associated with actually getting cancer.  Chances are that you know someone who has breast cancer or you know someone who survived breast cancer.

If you do any surfing on the internet you might have come across Fat Cyclist.  This blog started out as a way for one man to loose weight and comically chronicled his journey.  It turned out to be much more than that.  His wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and he chronicled her five year fight.  Eldon's post on her passing was one of the hardest things I have ever read.  All of this from someone I have never met, and definitely something that I would never want to deal with personally with someone that I know. 

Breast cancer is something that with the statistics out there, it will probably touch our lives.  So, to all the guys out there do your part in awareness and wear some pink (not because it is fashionable), but in support of the women in your life.  Everyone has them.  To all the women out there, please get screened.  Learn about your chances, and fight.