Sunday, 18 December 2011

Ride with the fast girls

I saw a tweet from a random girl I'd never met about a ladies' ride she was organising, open to all, described as "easy paced". Despite being very aware that I'm woefully unfit at the moment, I decided to give it a try. I've been muchly lamenting of late a lack of fun, comparably-paced ride buddies, (the Boyf being too fast, the female friends mostly wanting to just cycle to the pub) and here was a great chance to change that. And if my legs protested too much at the unaccustomed effort I could always find the nearest station.

It was set to be a freezing (1-4 oC day) but crisp and clear and so I piled on the layers and set off, feeling keen and eager.

The turnout was surprisingly good for such a freezing December day - 14 ladies - with a wide range of riders with 8 different passports between us, with standards varying from the insanely good to the very good. Oh, and me. Ah.

No matter. The route was flat (phew) scenic (many sighs with happiness at the sight of sunshine on the Thames) and there was much interesting and varied chatter to distract me from the soreness of legs and the rasping lungs. A brief coffee stop to warm us on our way to the pub at an absolutely glorious spot complete with good bike storage. Genius.

By the time we got back to Richmond Park, 65 miles in (by far the longest distance I've ridden since the Marmotte in July) I was feeling the soreness and the tiredness and found myself dropped on the first hill. The girls waited, gently chivvied me back onto the group and then towed me all the way home. Who knew that I'd one day find myself getting a tow from a Dutch pro rider eh?

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Beyond the flim flam

Finally we're beyond the Autumnal flim flam. The weather isn't cheating any more. It looks cold out. It is cold out. It's long tights and winter boots and proper gloves. All the way through until Spring. No more getting caught out with chilly digits as you chanced fingerless gloves, no more slow cooking in a winter jersey on a wrongfully hot November day. Wrap up. Ride.


Monday, 5 December 2011

Cold feet

It's getting cold now. And because cyclists' feet are stuck in a fixed position, they get cold in a way that runners' feet never do. To add to the fun, most cycling shoes are designed with vents, to allow a refreshing breeze on a summer's day to cool the foot. Cooling the foot is not, however, what most people would wish for at this time of year.

To counter Freezing Feet syndrome, most cyclists use a combination of
  • multiple pairs of socks
  • toe warmers / overshoes (neoprene boots that go over the shoes)
  • oversocks (socks that go over the shoes)
But if you have rubbish circulation, despite all of the above, you'll probably get cold feet anyway. Properly cold feet that send spikes of pain through your feet when you press on the pedals. Not fun. So I've looked into the various new bits of technology that promise increased warmth, even when it's wet.

Re-chargeable heated insoles, either with clunky ankle battery which make it look like you're out on parole (about £25) or cleverly-hidden-battery-in-insole (£100)

One-use chemical heat pads look like tea bags you stick to your socks. Cheapish (about a pound a go if you buy in bulk) but no friend of the environment and not that realistic an option for the to/from work scenario.

This winter, due to a bargain in the sales, I'm trying winter boots. Behold (right) their clunky selves. I grant you, they're not objects of beauty, but despite their lack of visual appeal, they do make up for it in the warmth factor. I haven't yet tested their (advertised) waterproof ability. I suspect, that as with all keeping-feet-dry gear, there is the main unavoidable issue of the big hole for a leg, which then lets water into the foot. But if they're warm-er and dry-er than usual, that's enough for me. AND I won't spend 10 minutes in the morning running up and down stairs looking for extra pairs of socks / overshoes and muttering about being late.