Wednesday, November 28, 2007

gearing up

We've been fielding lots of questions about what to wear at what temperatures. Having a good selection of thin components is key.

No arm-warmers? No big deal, I used my wicking, long-sleeved running tops for a long time; if it's below 40, you wouldn't be removing the arm-warmers anyway.

Same for knee-warmers; running tights over cycling shorts work fine if you're not entering a cycling beauty contest (which is really hard to win when you've got snot dripping out of your nose).
My rules of thumb:
2. Keep core, ears (head), hands and toes as warm as possible. When they get cold, misery quickly follows.

What's the right combo for which temperature? It's a recipe that's highly personal, but here's my very quick reference guide:

40-50 degrees:
Armwarmers OR longsleeve (LS) running shirt, jersey AND undershirt are good. The closer to 40 the temp is, you might want to add a wind vest. Kneewarmers or long tights. Two thin pair of wool socks, if it's not too tight in your shoes (preventing good circulation with tight shoes makes your feet cold faster!). Thin gloves, you can double up with a cheap pair from Walgreens and shed as needed. Ear coverage recommended.

30-40 degrees:
Same as above, definitely layer gloves, closer to 30 degrees, I highly recommend wind-proof outer gloves. Add toe or shoe covers. Duct tape over those shoe vents that are so "helpful" in the summer. Consider a thin hat that fits under the helmet; good for colder temps. Also, at 30 you'll want something covering your neck, too. Balaclavas are good all-in-one options. Layer socks again, we love these long wool socks from Defeet. Wind vest is a must and if you've got wool arm warmers, no sleeved jacket is necessary yet.

20-30 degrees:
Cover everything you can:
hat, balaclava/neck gaitor, layer gloves (yep, those dorky lobster gloves are critical), as many socks as you can handle to keep blood flow good. Multiple layers on your core: undershirt (I wear a tank and short-sleeved ones), one or two jerseys or LS running shirt, lightweight wind-jacket. Arm warmers, knee warmers. Add a layer of tights, too, if it's closer to 20. Glasses to protect your eyes/face from the wind are critical.

10-20 degrees: Hit the MTB trails or wear a ski mask. The wind in your face at 20mph is not fun or recommended. MTB riding is slower and usually requires more effort more often, trees shield the wind, etc. If it's this cold, I suggest using just about everything you've got and just pile it on (I'm a wimp!). Also, those packets for hand and toe warmers are invaluable at this temp.

It's a rough guide and a few degrees (when it gets in the 30's) can make a bigger difference than expected. Test yourself with shorter rides, or rides where you know you've got transportation alternatives if you need to bag it.

Whew, now I feel like I need some good ol' hot chocolate. I'm cold just thinking about it!

Monday, November 26, 2007

the journey continues

I just like the picture, not very relevant. So, here we are at the end of November and where are we? Personally, I'm in an underlit, cold abyss. I miss riding with other people regularly. I miss my Monday night ride that kicked my butt all season. I miss watching the Tuesday night crits, our Wednesday ride, and racing. I really miss racing. The whole reason I stay motivated. And, as far as I can tell, the next race for me is in March.

Carrie and I did a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. We both ran our personal best 5K times (woo hoo!) Maybe I'll start running to get my competitive fix. Or maybe I should have done some cyclocross. There's always next year and I have a feeling that will be our next big thing. And lord knows Syd loves it! Looks like pain and fun, torture and elation...all in an hour race. Cross clinic, anyone?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Weak sauce still counts

Brr. Twas cloudy, drizzly, cold, windy -- generally unpleasant and getting worse so over lunch I pointed my bike into the wind for 5 minute intervals. Figured I'd better get on it, because the way I was feeling, I knew if I even got close to a sofa and a warm blanket the likelihood of me getting my ride in might drop to slim to none. Some might say, "What's the harm in skipping now and again?"

I'll tell you... because skipping just gets easier. Every time you quit or skip, you get better at it. Just the same as when you stick it out, even when you're dead last, you get tougher. I don't mean physically so much as mentally, but the importance of your mental game cannot be overstated and boy o boy did I get some practice in today. The moment I rolled out of the building and into the wind, the following inner conversation commenced:

Whiner: Ewwww, I don't wanna...I don't feel good. waaaah."
Racer: Yeah, it's icky. You think those other women are sitting around? Just how hard do you want them to kick your butt? You a quitter?
Whiner: No, but I just don't feel like it. My legs hurt. I can't breath in this wind. My ankles are cold.
Racer: You know you'll warm up shortly and the wind will help get your numbers up.
Whiner: I'll do one.
Racer: That's the spirit. You want to do well for the team next season, you gotta do your training. One at a time, that's the way.
Whiner: Groan..... OK. Here goes.

This conversation went on for an hour with Whiner trying to quit and Racer trying everything in the book to keep Whiner on task. Eventually, five intervals were completed and both were enormously grateful to return to the warmth of the office.

Surprisingly, there was a sense of success upon completion despite lower than normal numbers. It was that bit of triumph over adversity feeling. That "when it gets tough I can hang, dammit," mindset, which is exactly what's required in this sport. So, although the numbers will say I was pretty weak sauce today, come Saturday, methinks it'll be warmin' right up and I might even have a can of whoop-@$$ to wash it down. ;)

In the meantime, however, I'm gonna treat Whiner to ginger cookies and cocoa while Racer reviews the "5 Core Skills of the Mentally Fit Athlete."

Other good reads from Pez Cycling News:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Re(volution) Re(cycles)

Hey, all! We're starting a recycling revolution! Before you run out to buy the new iPhone and ditch your old phones, toss them our way. We're now collecting used cell phones and ink cartridges to supplement our funds. It's not a huge money-maker, but it fits well with our vibe and it's a small gesture in keeping trash out of landfills.

Collect them from coworkers, moms, kids, friends and bring them to rides where Carrie and I will be. (Please don't steal them!).

Rev on!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

2008 Membership

Carrie and I were discussing the upcoming membership renewal that will happen for nearly a third of the club members (that's a rough estimate). Concurrently, I was struck by the announcement by Radiohead of their "pay what think" approach to selling their current album.

We constantly worry that we're not providing the value each member may attribute to our membership dues (currently $35/year). To some, that's a lot. To others, a drop in some bucket I'm not familiar with. So, we've decided for 2008, we'll implement the "Radiohead approach" for both memberships and clinics.

In case you're wondering what we DID do, you can check out our 2007 random statistics page. I know we were "race-heavy" but, 'tis to be expected as the two (now three) coordinators are RACERS.

As you consider our value, here's another reference for you to read on charitable giving. For more fund-raising incentive, we expect to be a 501c.3 (tax-deductable) organization in 2008. (Finally)

You know we're not out here for hand-outs! We expect the club to earn your respect, time and dollars. Now that our first year is nearly under our belt, we hope to only improve on what we've started. We've learned a TON! And the one thing we are consistently reminded of is that this community is a group effort and we need a lot of help to keep it rolling.

More than a handful of our club members have become part of what we identify as a core group. Thank you! Your commitment, consistency and enthusiasm is a constant source of inspiration. As we embark on 2008, we'll be putting our ears to the track and listening for suggestions. We're taking small steps, but I know we've got a ways to go.

Here's my quick list at what we're focusing on improving in 2008:
Century riding.
More Rides for Illinois residents.
Epic touring events.
MS 150 training and support.
Charitable events.
Community development.
Mountain Biking(!)
Entry level Rides.
Junior Race Development.
More Rides.
More Ride/Social events.
Cyclocross clinic(s)
More Rides.
Suggestions? Lemme hear 'em!