Thursday, December 23

An Experiment and a Philosophy

I had been trying to, and had been thinking about dropping the cycling "costume" and just go back to wearing regular human being clothes like I did pre-2007. Seeing the Yehuda Moon strip about the leg band made me resolve to try a whole lot harder. The past two days I've worn pants. Yesterday I wore a long sleeve poly undershirt, a t-shirt and a button up wool shirt over all that. That worked ok, but with the poly shirt seemed too outdoorsey.

Today I wore the pants, a long sleeve cotton t-shirt and the wool shirt over it.

I've misplaced my smaller fleece hat, so both days I wore my thick wool and fleece hat in lieu of a helmet (because the hat's too thick!) and I worried that it would be too warm.

Both days I've started out cold, but within a couple of miles warmed up enough to be comfortable without sweating. Yesterday the temps were in the 20s and low 30s as I rode in and the same today. Last night as I rode home I think it may have been just above freezing.

What made me especially happy today was that once I got into work I took off my hat and I was as comfortable inside the building as I had been pedaling along. Same clothes, two different environments...

The problem is that the required attire for work isn't very appropriate for riding. And I do sweat if its not below freezing so I can't really wear a work shirt on my ride in, though I've worn my work clothes home a few times.

I'm really not to the point where I can shower and get dressed at home and then just ride in and go straight to work. Maybe that will be my goal this year...

So much of the gear cyclist think is mandatory really isn't. I rode the Cannonball around for years wearing just street clothes and shoes in good weather and bad. In Dayton when I was going to photography school I typically wore running pants a t-shirt and an anorak type thing. Then I had a big fleece head piece I wore on my head (no helmet) and some hiking boots.

I've always hated the "shop mentality" that there are certain things you have to have. I'm baffled that more people don't see through the sales pitches.

Ages ago when I decided I was going to get a kayak I was first exposed to the whole myth of the "package deal" of outdoor shops. My first whitewater experience had inspired me. A friend and I paddled a particularly remote and rough section of the local river. Due to his inexperience in a canoe I realized I would enjoy paddling a whole lot more with a boat of my own. Enter the kayak.

I went into Phillip Gall's in Lexington and told the guy what I wanted. And basically what I was looking for was a flatwater boat. I was more interested in Class I & II stuff and flatwater, but the saleman in the shop ended up selling me a creek boat with all the regalia.

Needless to say, the first time I got into flatwater I was miserable, and cursing retail salesmen all.

Then when I got into climbing it started all over again. The worst thing in climbing is the incessant push to put every climber in shoes that are three sizes too small and so tight they kill brain cells every time you wear them.

There is absolutely no reason a 5.8 climber needs slippers that bend his foot in half. If you can't enjoy the climb because of the self-imposed pain in your feet then something is wrong. I've argued with so many salespeople about the size of my shoes and actually had one guy (a real jerk) refuse to sell me the shoes I wanted.

Cycling is no different, except that you can walk out of a shop with just a bike. Unless the bike doesn't come with standard flat platform pedals.

When I bought my Giant I had no intention of going with clipless pedals. I don't race bikes. I don't need maximum efficiency to go as fast as I possibly can. The speed I can pedal while pushing on flat pedals and wearing my Columbia hiking boots is plenty fast enough for me.

The day I bought the Giant it was buy pedals or buy shoes. I gave in and decided to give the shoes a try. Then I suffered with them for a couple of years. I've since taken the SPD pedals off the bike and have gone to flats. I've been much happier since. My feet don't get numb or cold like they did in the stupid SPD shoes. I just can't see the usefulness of them. If I were racing maybe...maybe.

I've read that clipless pedals or toe straps keep your feet from slipping off the pedals. I can tell you from years of experience that the discomfort and off balance falling does not offset the inconvenience of the few times I've had a foot slip off a pedal. It just doesn't make sense.

And yet sales people continue to push gear that just doesn't make sense for the average cyclist. Bicyclist.

I'm a firm believer that the key to enjoying the outdoors is dressing smartly. But that doesn't mean you have to have layers of expensive armor that you don't need.

By all mean, support your local bike shop (LBS), but don't buy things you don't need that will ultimately complicate your life and take the enjoyment out of riding.

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