Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Mercury Was In Retrograde


The mercury in the thermometer claimed it to be a balmy 4 degrees yesterday morning but Garmin's electronic mercury had us only pegged at 3.2 degrees, whichever one you chose to believe one thing was certain; it wasn't going to be a warm ride.



11 of us set off from Cycle Works and we picked up Dillon, our 12th man, somewhere along the way, he just sort of sneaks in along the way and then all of a sudden he's there. We also had a new rider, Jason, come down from Omaha and join us... I couldn't tell you which one he was as we all looked the same all mummified like we were, with not an inch of skin showing you just had to guess based on clothing colors.




The plan was to head down to Wilderness and hide out in the trees, there wasn't much for wind yesterday but when the temps are in the single digits it doesn't take much of a breeze to make it feel significantly colder on exposed skin. Brisker breezes and you even feel it start to creep into the warmest of layers after a bit so it was nice that it was just a mild wind.



I know there are people who think riding in single digits is crazy but you really do warm up pretty quickly and layers start to get adjusted to allow more of the chill in. I think the key is to not over dress, a heavy sweat is your worst enemy in cold temperatures so if you're sweating profusely you need to wear less. I know that sounds like the opposite of what you want to do since sweat means your body is too hot but that sweat can quickly become frozen and rob your core of much needed heat. A little sweat isn't necessarily a bad thing but more is not a good thing in this case, the goal is to try to get to a pace where you are at the edge of sweating without going too far over that edge.



Speaking of keeping warm, if you tend to have a colder head and are looking for a warm helmet you can't go wrong with the Giro Discord. I've owned mine for about 2 years now and it's kept my head warm even on the coldest of days. It's sold as a snowboard helmet but works just fine for cycling and it's a "soft shell" design which mean unlike cycling helmets, it's intended to be able to take multiple strikes to it and still provide protection.







Wilderness Park is in great shape right now, maybe a little better on the west side where horses and runners haven't made holes in the snow so it's less bumpy, but both sides are a winter wonderland. Didn't get much for pictures in the Park, everything has it's limits and when the temps dipped down to 2.8 degrees the camera decided that was more cold that it wanted to handle and refused to power on for the most part. Once back in the warmth it came alive again but it got rather cranky there for a bit, can't say I really blame it I suppose.

Photo Dec 30, 11 17 34 AM

45NRTH's Lung Cookie is an excellent Balaclava but it tends to make these upside down frozen Unicorn horns when the condensation from your breath runs down the back side of the wind proof layer. Doesn't really affect the effectiveness of the headgear as there is a wool layer that is actually touching your skins and then this windproof layer that floats just above the wool, two guys were using them on Saturday and both of them ended up with horns.

Photo Dec 30, 11 17 34 AM

How did you get that picture if the camera wasn't working you might ask, well as you can see I had to break out the handy dandy iPhone for this one. The iPhone, as is an Android, is also pretty susceptible to extreme cold but I have found that if you put the phone in a waterproof bag of some sort, Ziploc freezer bag is my go to,  and then tuck in in your jersey pocket underneath your outer layers it will stay nice and toasty and still work after you've been riding for hours. Leave it in an outer pocket or bag and it usually shuts down also, which can be dangerous if you need to make a rescue call.

Photo Dec 30, 11 47 59 AM


We decided to hit up Blue Blood after the ride for a little warmth, food and beverage, we were not disappointed in any category.


Todd is a good friend and a man of many great qualities, decision making isn't one of those however and so it's not too unusual to see Todd with more than one beverage. Can't decide, just get them all.



Blue Bloods was the end of the official ride but several of us made the cold ride up to Method after for more warmth, drink and company. Bar Mitts was making a mint off us on in free advertising Saturday but I suppose a bit of free ad space is better than freezing hands.


The smokers from the Old Pub next door had their own ideas on how to stay warm by attempting to ignite the cigarette butt container, luckily it didn't catch fire but talk about a awful smell. Extinguish your butts people, this little blue boxes life might depend on it.

No ride next Saturday due to prior engagements but it's supposed to warm up over the next week, into the 20s, so it might not be a bad day to get out and ride if you can. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year celebration tonight and we will see you all next year.

Sunday, December 24, 2017




Saturday was a cold one with temps hovering around 16° for the start of the Saturday Morning No Drop Fat Bike Ride and it didn't get much warmer it at all from there, yet 10 brave or moronic, you pick, souls set off for a an almost 30 mile ride through the country side.




There wasn't much for wind, single digits, but not having it in your face definitely still helped to keep you a little warmer; it cut right through you if you weren't warmed up and riding into it, even with being properly warmed up you could definitely tell when you turned into it. Bombing down the hills was an eye watering experience to say the least, Garmin at one point showed temps getting down into the 13° range on some of the longer downhills; guess Garmin is affected by wind chill as well.


We did manage a few stops for regroups and barley pops but they were markedly shorter than usual or else the cold started to creep in, besides after about 45 minutes even the water in the insulated bottles had mostly frozen enough to make drinking near impossible so stopping didn't do anything more than extend the suffering.




It hadn't done much snowing yet, that would come later Saturday night, so the gravel was in near perfect shape although the washboards were a little more jarring than normal with everything being frozen. I probably should have lowered the pressure on the tires a few PSI compared to what I would run on a warmer day because there was little to no give in the frozen rubber.


Even met a new fur friend out there, he wasn't exactly friendly but not exactly unfriendly, talked a lot but wasn't aggressive, mostly just wanted to come say hi and make sure you didn't get too close or he'd go galloping away. I find that's the case with most dogs you'll encounter on gravel, if you stop and talk to them they are either super friendly or don't want anything to do with you anymore. Chasing is natural, you ride faster they want to give chase and try to catch you; unfortunately they don't have hands so their grab is a bit more painful but I've found slowing or stopping and talking to them gets them to stop chasing whichever type of  dog they are or at least that has been my experience. Someday I'm sure I'll find one that's truly a mean dog but I always keep the bike between me and fido until I find out if he's friendly or just wants to be left alone.



Never been so glad to be back in town and the nearness of warmth, cold weather gear has come a long way in the last decade or so but even it has it's limitations and we might have gotten a bit over confident in it's ability to keep us warm. Several of us were a bit chilly even with good cold weather gear, I was grateful I'd brought a second set of gloves because one had to live in my shorts for a bit when things started getting a little too chilly for comfort. Even the vaunted and quite good Wolvhammers let in a little chill now and again on some of the longer, faster downhills sections of the gravel. The equipment did what it was supposed to do though and kept all the fingers and toes in tact, I think maybe we just got over confident in it's ability and didn't layer up properly thinking we were good to go. To be honest it's be a few years since it's been that cold on a Saturday, it was a good reminder that layering is important when riding in the cold, an extra set of socks or a heavier pair of gloves as backup would have been nice.



A short ride down the Jamaica Trail and we found that warmth at the Cottonwood Cafe, food and coffee was good and the warmth was certainly welcomed. It's kind of a shame that Saturday was it's last day being opened, doors closed permanently at 8 pm that night. I can't complain too much though, to be honest Saturday was the first day I'd stopped by in the two years they were opened. It is the second small business in Lincoln to announce that they were closing before the end of the year or at least two I had heard of and knew about, still sad to see it go.

Next weeks forecast for Saturday has it being even colder with the high only getting up to 8 degrees, we will have to keep an eye on that and plan accordingly. If temps stay that cold then Wilderness or a shorter in town ride will be the plan so that we aren't ever too far away from warmth if we need it. Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holiday Lights Ride


Our third annual Holiday Lights ride was Saturday evening but with temps in the upper 40° range at the start, you might not have guessed it was December. Light jackets and medium layer gloves were all that was needed for the ride this year.




This ride is so much fun, it's always such a festive group that shows up  and they really go above and beyond in decorating themselves and their bikes in the holiday spirit.


Two lovely ladies from the Nebraska Lottery were out giving away scratch tickets and T-shirts if you entered their drawing. Sorry fellas, Rick already won the lottery when he married the third lovely lady.


Even Kris Kringle was getting in on the action, while he is good at delivering bikes to good boys and girl, he is not a very good at finding a bicycle for himself that fits properly. Both wheels on the ground Santa!





After some hot cider and cookies it was time for a short ride down to the Sheridan neighborhood to view the lights on Stratford Avenue. If you've never been down Stratford you should go, it's one of the few streets in Lincoln where almost every house on the two blocks all participate in putting up holiday lights. It always seems more like Christmas after viewing the lights on Stratford, even if the temps are more spring like than late fall.








Believe me the photos do not do the lights the proper justice that they deserve, you really need to go look for yourself to enjoy them as they should be viewed. Two laps around the two blocks and a short jaunt down Sheridan and it was time to head towards Yia Yias Pizza for food and beverages.


I tell you what, riding down N Street with a parade of bicycles lit up with lights is something to see. We got more than a few honks during the ride, now it's impossible to judge inflection from a car horn but I think they were honks of approval. One lady near the shop even ran back into her house to call her kids out to watch as we passed by.





For those who wanted to participate the festivities continued on for a bit more with Pizza, beverages and great company.

Thanks to everyone who came out and joined us for our third annual Holiday Lights Ride, look for it to return next year as it really is a lot of fun to see all of you get in the holiday spirit with your bicycles, sweaters and other festive wear. Maybe we will even look into exploring more neighborhoods that also participate in decorating with holiday lights if we can figure out a way to link them up without making the ride too long.