Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shower's Pass: Touring Jacket reviewed

  I've finally managed to drag my girlfriend out of bed in time to get some feedback out of her about her new jacket.  This is the Shower's Pass Men's Touring Jacket in size Medium.  She decided to get the men's jacket because she if fairly tall for a women (5'11") so women's jacket's usually aren't long enough for her, especially the sleeves.

This jacket is designed to be worn over other clothing so for a Medium it's quite large all over.  But this is a good thing, remember dressing properly for the weather is all about layering.

This jacket has a lot of cool features to keep you warm, dry and safe wile riding in the inclement weather this time of year.  For starters it comes in yellow, blue, and black so the light color people and dark color people can be happy.  However it has lots of reflective piping and strips all over it so you can easily be seen no matter what color you choose.

Shower's pass uses water tight YKK zippers all over this jacket except on the pit zips, and they put silicon strips on the pull tabs to make them easier to grab with gloves on.
Instead of a water tight zipper they do a YKK double zipper on the pits so you can zip from the top or the bottom.  Who really needs water tight pits anyway, most of the time your arms are down and the arm pits are covered anyway, and when they're not you probably want the vents open and airing out your sweaty pits.

Don't forget the ever popular zippered chest audio port pocket as well.  Everyone likes having their own soundtrack.
Venting where you want it...
And neoprene gusseted cinch cuffs where you don't.  This allows the cuff to stretch when you cinch it tight around a glove, but still keeps wind and water out.

This might be my favorite feature, a removable velcro hood(sold separately).  I like this because most of the time I actually don't want a hood wile I'm riding.  They tend to not fit over or under a helmet well and they obstruct your peripheral vision.  That being said it's nice to have the option.  Carolyn's one complaint was that her hair sometimes get's stuck in the velcro.  I'm not sure how this happens because they put the soft side of the velcro on the neck, but maybe showers pass should think about using snaps instead.

The tail on this jacket is already pretty long, but they added an extra long one with elastic on the bottom that snaps up when you don't want it keeping you butt from getting soggy no matter what. This feature is particularly nice on their Portland Jacket, allowing the Portland to look like an normal jacket when your in the bar but converting to a cycling jacket when you ride home.
...And here's what it looks like in action!
I highly recommend this product.  Some slight issues with the velcro on the neck cowl where the hood attaches.  But all in all a great jacket whether your commuting to work in the rain or running the muddiest of cyclocross races you'll be dry and warm.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Winter Bike Type Dilema

  Today was a beautiful day to ride to work.  45 degrees and sunny, with a slight headwind going West but I didn't mind.  I was down to my longsleeve base layer and no gloves by half way through the ride.  If you can get out and ride during all the holiday craziness  this weekend, DO IT.  It's supposed to be in the 50s and beautiful for the next two days and then rain starting Saturday.  We probably won't see weather like this again for months.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  If your still riding your road bike or at least a "nice" bike, and your thinking about riding through the winter it's time to start thinking about how your going to deal with the slush and salt.

I generally don't recommend riding an expensive bike through the winter.  No matter what you will need to find a way to clean your bike on a regular basis.  Unless your cleaning your bike every night, your going to start to see some rust on some parts thanks to all the salt that WI puts in the roads.  So I recommend getting yourself a less expensive bike to commute on in the winter because the parts will be less expensive to replace at the end of the season.

That being said, spend the money winterizing the inexpensive bike by doing things like replacing the cables with Teflon coated stainless steal cables and a stainless steal chain.  And if your going to be riding a steal frame bike I recommend getting some  Framesaver.  Make sure you coat the inside of all the tubes.  Look for drain holes in the seat and chain-stay tubes to accomplish this.

I recommend Jagwire cables and housing.  They make Teflon coated cables and housing in pre-cut packages with ferrules and tips and they come in assorted colors.  As for Stainless chains, KMC makes stainless and corrosion resistant chains for all different widths.

I realize not everyone can justify buying another bike just to ride in the winter, so if your going to ride your everyday bike, take care of it.  Clean it regularly, replace parts with corrosion resistant ones, store it inside if you can or under an overhang, etc.  Otherwise your bike might look like this by the end of the winter.
  Next post I'll be talking about the debate over tire width and studded vs. non, so stay tuned.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter Cycling Clinic at Wheel & Sprocket Brookfield 2011

It's official!  I'll be doing the Winter Cycling Clinic at Brookfield Wheel & Sprocket again this year.  Please come participate, learn and contribute to the body of knowledge for a growing minority on the streets.

I 'll be talking about how to dress properly for varying conditions; accessories and components to outfit your bike and how to maintain them; and ways to improve your safety.

There will be free drinks and special pricing for attendees.  Whether your a novice or a veteran come join me for a warm night of talking about riding in the cold.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sunny = Cold, Warm = Moisture

The weather patterns have changed for the season, take note. From now on Sunny and clear means cold and warm means moisture and precipitation in the weather The temp has dropped today so pay attention and dress accordingly. If your coming home after dark like I will be, you may want to bring an extra layer for the return trip. Also be careful around bridges and overpasses. Because the don't have ground under them they tend to fluctuate in temperature more than the rest of the roadway. So watch out for freezing on bridges and overpasses.

I'm going to be riding my single speed to keep the salt maintenance down. I'm wearing a thermal windproof jacket with a t-shirt, flannel lined jeans(check Good Will), my fold-over lobster claw gloves and a cycling cap with earflaps under my helmet. I'm also bringing a long sleeve base layer and balaclava for the ride home tonight. Good luck everybody, stay warm.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Check out this post I found via the Milwaukee Bike Collective's Blog.

The Driver’s Privilege Checklist was created after a woman, 5 months pregnant, was killed by a car while on her bicycle. These are the privileges that a driver often takes for granted, and can easily be taken away.

The Driver Privilege Checklist

1.If I am hurt or killed while driving, unless I am intoxicated or grossly negligent, I will not be blamed for my decision to drive.

2.If I live in North America, my driving is subsidized by my local, regional, and federal government, who provide roads and infrastructure. This subsidy is far beyond that given to any other form of daily transportation.

3.Learning to drive is a rite of passage, seen as a normal and necessary step towards adulthood, whereas other forms of transport are seen as childish or impractical.

4.If I choose to transport my children in a car, I will not be called a bad parent or berated for doing so.

5.If my child is injured or killed while in my car, I will not be blamed for their death unless I was intoxicated or otherwise grossly negligent.

6.If while driving I injure or kill another person, whether they are another driver, a passenger, a pedestrian, or a cyclist, unless I am intoxicated or otherwise grossly negligent this will be seen nothing more than a regrettable accident.

7.Large areas of the city, suburb, or rural area I live in are built and laid out with driving in mind to the exclusion of other forms of transportation, and may be totally inaccessible to non-drivers.

8.While travelling I do not have to experience cold, heat, rain, or snow for more than a few moments unless I choose to.

9.I can complain to friends, family, and aquaintances about minor accidents and other annoyances without being told that I should stop driving.

10.It is easier for me than it is for non-drivers to buy many staple goods, such as groceries, as they are often sold in car-centric locations which are difficult to access by other means of transport. I also have the advantage of more easily buying in bulk.

11.Unless I am very extravagant, the money I spend on purchasing and running my car is not seen as wasted, as a car is seen as a necessity. And the most obvious:

12.While in transit, I am protected by a 2-tonne metal machine which is faster, stronger, and more durable than anything else I encounter on the road besides larger cars and trucks. If I am in a collision with a pedestrian or a cyclist, even if I am not at fault, I am much more likely to escape without serious injury or death.

13.If I make a mistake while driving, am in an accident, or cause injury to myself or others, this will not be held against all drivers or considered proof that driving is inherently dangerous or irresponsible.




Saturday, November 12, 2011

Low Tech Winter Biking Tip

A quick low tech tip to keep your feet warm.

If you don't have show covers you can put on thick socks and plastic bags to help trap the heat in. I prefer bread bags myself because their long and skinny so they won't be as bulky in the shoe, and you can tuck the tops under the cuff of your tights.

Caution: The plastic traps in heat but it also traps moisture. For this reason I don't recommend this method for long rides. But it will get you by as long as your not going to be on and off the bike all day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

First Snow

That's right folks those little specs in the picture are now flakes. Nothing to really worry about though, the ground temp is still above freezing so nothing is sticking, just remember to dress a little warmer. I'm going with tights over shorts; a thermal jacket over normal jersey; and tall wool socks to overlap with my tights. If I had toe covers I would wear those too.

Also I'm wearing a cycling cap with earflaps. For those of you with earrings remember that they can conduct a lot of heat away from your head if exposed and sometimes give you a headache.

I like to flip mine up and tuck them in my ear under the flap.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Welcome to Rain Riding

Now we're getting a good taste of what early winter has to offer in Wisconsin. Obviously today will be a day for full rain gear. If you don't have any yet hopefully this post can shed some light on what to look for.
Let's start with gloves, These are made by a company called Seal Skinz. This is the pair that I have, I found them in the kayaking section. However when I checked out their website I found out they make much more.
Check out these waterproof, insulated, winter MTB gloves.
I already spoke about what I wear for a rain jacket and pants so I'll skip over that. This is the Shower's Pass Men's Touring jacket, my girlfriend just picked this up so hopefully I can drag a review of it out of her later this week. Instead I want to talk about how to keep your feet dry and warm.
I lot of people forget about waterproofing their feet and ankles, but this is where water, and later snow, can get in most easily. A lot of good hiking shoes have gore-tex linings in them these days and they really work well as this photo testifies. I really like Merrell shoes myself but I know several other companies offer gore-tex lined shoes as well, such as Salomon, Columbia, Patagonia, North Face, etc. You don't want a high ankle hiking boot though because you still want good flexibility in the ankle for pedaling. This is why I use cross country skiing gaiters to keep water and snow from coming in over the top of my shoes. This becomes especially important in winter because I do a fair amount of jumping through snow banks to get to the road or get to a place to park my bike.
Remember riding in the rain can still be a lot of fun you just need to dress appropriately. Ride safe everyone!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Silly me, I left my cycling clothes on the line the night before last and they got soaked all day yesterday. So today I'm going with my rain gear as an outer shell. Good active rain wear is multi-use. It's waterproof but also windproof, which is often more important especially in spring and fall.
My rain suit happens to be the REI brand Taku jacket and pants. It works well, but here are a few other small companies making some really great commuter apparel.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Beautiful Day to Ride

Today is a beautiful day to commute to work! 46 degrees on the way to a high of 61 with a light south wind. Everyone should have an easy commute today. I'm scaling back my winter garb a bit. I'll be wearing a thermal long-sleeve over over a sleeveless jersey with regular bib shorts and leg warmers. This should allow me to vent as it gets warmer along my ride. Go out and enjoy the weather!