One of the cycling blogs I look at on a regular basis is chasing mailboxes dc. I think I found it while looking for information on randonneuring. The author is hosting a winter cycling challenge to encourage running errands by bicycle. The basic premise is that participants commute, shop and tend to other mundane chores while getting some miles on the legs during the winter and having fun. Full details are here. Since I achieved an epic fail on the Rapha Festive 500 (didn’t even start), and since I already commute by bike a few times a month, I thought I’d give this a try.
And so herewith is my first installment.
I commuted 20.3 miles round trip to work. I set out a few minutes after 6am, before sunrise, with the thermometer registering about 32 degrees. Since it was still dark, I relied on the very excellent Dinotte bar light, head lamp and tail light to keep me visible to motorists. I snapped this before turning onto the main road.
Those are Conti winter tires providing the substantial reflections. Those are my “beater” rims, the ones that originally came with the bike. I upgraded the wheels and tires last month but keep these for sloppy conditions and when I need rugged tires. Which brings me to the thing I learned on this ride: shaving a few grams of rotational weight from the bike–in the form of lighter wheels–makes you feel like a super star. Putting the old, heavy wheels back on makes you feel supremely unfit and slow! I can’t wait for the snow to melt so I can put the new wheels back on.
My second errand today was an after-dark ride to the supermarket to get provisions for dinner. 3.03 miles total in darkness, using the same lighting scheme. Here’s the bike with an oven roaster perched on the rack bag.
What I learned on this ride is that switching wheels requires some attention to the brakes. Although I adjusted the brakes for the different wheels, I did not do a good job. Actually I did a crappy job. On the return route home, I chose a a steep backroad rather than a congested main road. Coming down the back side of the hill, I realized my rear brakes were not making any contact with the rim. Definitely not cool, so as soon as I finish this post I’m off to the garage to do a better job with the brakes.
And so ends my first installment of the Errandonnee Winter Challenge. Two errands and 23 of 30 miles out of the way.