I went out on the bike this afternoon for a utility ride. That’s my term for riding with a purpose beyond just being on the bike for leisure or fitness. Commuting is a form of utility riding, as is running errands. The weather has been pretty grey lately; in fact, it snowed a fair amount yesterday although whatever hit the ground melted overnight. Nonetheless, the weather hasn’t been very inspiring or motivating and I’ve been finding convenient excuses to stay indoors the past few weeks. I haven’t commuted to work in over a month, due in part to the weather and other factors.
I had hoped that the Rapha Festive 500 would provide motivation to get out more. The basic concept is to ride 500 kilometers between Christmas Eve and New Year’s. Unfortunately, I cannot see myself logging that amount of mileage with three full days of family entertainment obligations in that week.
What ultimately got me out the door today was tire lust. This guy’s blog is partly to blame. In all the years I’ve been cycling, the one equipment-related aspect of the sport that I never explored was wheel and tires; specifically, having extra wheels and trying different tires. I have the same wheels on my bike today that were on it when it was delivered nearly 12 years ago. I think I’ve changed tires three times, and one of those only involved changing to a different width tire. Different tires have different ride qualities. Some are known to be harsh while others have a reputation as supple and pleasurable to ride. I want to know what “supple and pleasurable” feel like. I also want to get some tires suitable for winter (snow and ice) riding.
Having different tires for different ride qualities is all well and good but it poses another problem: changing tires on a regular basis is a drag. To mitigate this problem, some folks keep a spare set of wheels prepared with whatever tires they want to ride next. And so my utility ride objective was to ride to the not-so-local bike shop to talk wheels and then onto the Apple store for a laptop battery. Total mileage 30.5 miles.
I set out around 1pm and, as I stepped out of my garage, I suddenly had the urge to climb into bed and forget the entire plan. Those first few minutes of any winter ride are brutal. Your body is protesting the cold, and your mind is telling you to take the car. The protest lasted about 15 to 20 minutes until I was warmed up and had blood circulating to the right places. Although it was about 32 degrees, I was toasty-once warmed up- in a polypro long sleeve base layer, Rapha long sleeve jersey, tights, skull cap and neoprene booties. My commute out to the not-so-local bike shop was pleasant. I snapped these photos of the remnants of Super Storm Sandy.
In camera black and white seemed consistent with the overcast skies.
I prefer the color version, which more accurately depicts the colors of the once majestic trees that lined this road.
The return trip was rougher. I rode into a biting wind the entire way and never completely re-warmed after stopping at the Apple Store. Funny how ten minutes of cool down inside a store can disrupt one’s ability to stay warm once back outside.
Tire envy got me out the door but the fun of riding and a little bit of pride (being one of a small group in my area that ride in the winter) allowed me to overcome those first few minutes.
Happy New Year