New Gear

I’m always on the lookout for gear that makes my bike riding easier!

Based on the recommendations of MG and Mike W., I got the Camelbak Aurora to help keep me hydrated throughout my ride.

This Camelbak holds 2 liters (~70 ounces) of water. It also has two zippered pouches in which I put my wallet and keys. I was a little concerned about the weight on my back, but I hardly even notice that it’s there, even when it’s filled to capacity. I think it has something to do with the fact that I typically carry ten times the weight with my backpack when I do my short commute!
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Making Adjustments

I’m not the only one who’s changing my look around here.

My Tricross bike has gotten some new gear as well.* I’ve added Civia Brownie fenders and changed my tires to 700 x 28s. I’m also borrowing J’s Brooks B17 S saddle.

It all looks great, but these adjustments have drawbacks to them. I don’t know how well the fenders work, as it hasn’t yet rained when I’ve been commuting. I can tell you that what was a slight toe overlap issue has become more problematic. I’m more cautious when making slower turns, but it’s a little jarring when I hit the front fender.

More disappointing has been the saddle. I read enough posts on forums and blogs to know that Brooks’s leather saddle has a long break-in time. The problem for me is not the material– my tough old butt can deal with hard surfaces just fine, apparently– my problem is with the shape. No matter how I adjust it, the saddle rubs against my tender lady parts really badly. The short rails underneath don’t give me enough leeway to move the saddle laterally. I was in so much pain last week that I went to a shop and asked them what I needed to do to make it more comfortable for me, and I think the upshot of it was that the short women’s touring style of the B17 S doesn’t suit how I sit. If I were to buy my own Brooks saddle, I would try the men’s styles– but I’m going to look at other brands as well.

The one thing that has worked out well have been the narrower tires. My ride has gotten smoother and lighter because of them, and I’m happy about that.

I’m starting to get the nagging feeling that this bike really isn’t quite right for me. I’m still working on more adjustments, and hoping I’m wrong.

*Not new, but snazzy looking is the Timbuk2 handlebar bag that is mounted to the rack. And it’s a little hard to tell from this photo, but that’s a limited edition TFTS button attached to it. yeah!


Lack of fashion sense aside, I’ve been mildly obsessed with finding casual clothing that is comfortable to wear on the bike. Here’s one thing I’ve found: Vanya knickers from Chrome. I like the cut of the legs so that it doesn’t get caught in the gears. The light padding and seamless crotch minimize chafing. For me, the sizes ran large; I ended up with an extra-small.

I find I agree with this article about looking for fit, style, and functionality in biking clothing. While I own the requisite spandex shorts and tights for recreational rides, I’d like to wear more casual clothing while commuting to work, without sacrificing comfort. Ladies, have you found any to recommend?

Bags I Have Known

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the best accessorizer. I don’t own many shoes, and I only own one handbag. Yet, in the space of a year, I obsessively tried out several bags for the bike. It was a process of trial and error, sometimes pretty frustrating. Here are some of the bags I’ve looked at, with commentary.
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Winter Riding Gear

Temperature: 35 F
Winds: 10-20 mph
Partly sunny.
Ride: to and from downtown in the morning, approximately 18 miles round-trip.

What I wore this morning:
Midweight synthetic baselayer
Long-sleeved jersey
Synthetic down jacket
Lobster gloves
Thermal tights
Wool socks

Result: My core stayed toasty warm– absolutely satisfied there. My fingers felt cold at the start of the ride, but warmed up considerably by the time I got home. My legs and feet felt warm while I was riding, but felt ice-cold to the touch. My ears were slightly cold, but not uncomfortable.

Conclusion: Keep the upper-body layers as is. Add another layer to my legs (long underwear, or pants?) and toe covers for my feet.

Being Visible

I’ve caught whatever bug is going around and doing my best to get better. I’m staying off the bike until I recover.

If I were on the bike, though, here are some things I would have for my commute, which has become dark both going to work and returning home. Head light, tail light, reflective belt, reflective ankle bands. It may not be obvious that the lights were turned on for this photo, but see how much the flash reflects off the belt and ankle bands– pretty blindingly bright.

In these shorter days, I like seeing the holiday lights. I also like being visible on the roads. Be safe and happy holidays, everyone.

Keeping Warm

This time last year, I decided to take time off biking. It was too cold and dark for me to continue, I thought, so it was time to spend off the bike.

This year, I’m pushing my limits a little. I’ve decided to bike until December or until the first snowfall sticks, whichever comes later. Last night’s snow didn’t stick here, so I decided to go on a solo ride this morning. It was sunny, around 46F when I headed out.

This is what I wore: a silk baselayer, a long-sleeved jersey, a thermal jersey, thermal tights, a balaclava, a pair of wool socks, and gloves. As long as I kept moving, I felt perfectly comfortable. If I stopped, I was cold. So, I kept pedaling.

It’s only going to get colder, so I’m planning on buying a wool baselayer and a thermal jacket. But so far, it’s good to know that I’m feeling comfortable with what I have to wear.

Some good advice also at Bike Commuters and Bike Winter.