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   I lost a strap on my pannier some time ago and ordered what I thought were the same size clips to replace them.  Turns out while the size was correct, the plastic pattern didn't line up.  However, since it was cheaper to order a set with straps I simply replace the entire pannier strap on that bag.  Hopefully that will work out.

December 29, 2017

Last ride of the year

Zach

Zach

   My ride home from breakfast this morning is the last ride for the year.  It completed the 500th mile for December bringing the monthly finial to 505.9 miles.  This closes the year out at 4,625.4 miles which surpasses last year's 3,505.9 miles by a comfortable 1,119.5 miles.  I've ridden 2,117 miles in the last 4 months alone (46%) and 2,588.5 (56%) in the last 5 months (my heaviest riding months of the year).  Over the past two years I have ridden 8,131 miles, and the last 4 years 10,311.  In 2017 I set several new personal records: number of miles in a month, highest climb in altitude, and coldest ride lasting over an hour.
   The cold rides over the last few days required for me to complete my monthly goal have been rough though.  It can take 35 minutes for me to prepare my departure from work, and over an hour and 15 minutes to ride home.  While I can ride at these cold temperatures it is slow and difficult.  So I don't expect I will be logging the same number of miles for January.
   I've been stabling the iron horse inside.  Not because it needs to stay warm, but because the few minutes needed to load the bike in the morning cool me off too much.  Loading the bike inside and then setting out without delay helps.  The down side is I bring in the snow with me.  I've found a couple of drops cloths on the floor and a box fan does the trick.

December 27, 2017

Record cold ride into work

I did it again, -9°F

I did it again, -9°F

   This morning when I depart it was -9°F (-23°C).  This time I altered my dress a little bit.  I used simple fitted leggings under my thermal pants, and my moisture wicking shirt under my jacket.  That did reduce sweat and made for a slightly more comfortable ride.
   I enjoy the looks and comments I get from my coworkers.  The most common remark is an incredulous "you biked in this?!"  Something I noticed with my setup is that frost forms on the inside of my jacket.  This has to be from the trapped moisture from my torso collecting on the inner jacket walls.  The walls of the jacket are clearly below freezing.  I've never seen this type of thing before.   It is interesting because my torso has places were I'm too warm, and other places were it is clearly quite cool.  Sadly, my cycling jacket doesn't breath.  Decent wind break and quite warm, but all the moisture stays trapped.  My thermal pants are worse with moisture.  Taking them off is like putting ice on your legs as they hold a huge amount of heat.  Once gone, however, the cooler indoor air hits the built up sweat.  It'll wake you up for sure.
   The ride into work at -9°F is my record, and the forecast calls from slightly warmer weather in the days to come.  When I worked in Cedar Rapids I did cycle in at -23°F (-31°C), but that ride was only 1.5 miles vs the 14.5 I ride now.  Breaking that record will be difficult just because it rarely gets that cold.  Nonetheless I am calling today a record for coldest ride into work.  The season is still young so I might be able to break the record, but I think -9°F is fairly a fairly respectable cold ride.  And I doubt anyone else at my work is going to try and take that record from me.

December 26, 2017

14.5 miles at -6°F

Frosty the Que man, -6°F

Frosty the Que man, -6°F

   I was so excited about the ride to work this morning I didn't sleep much.  There was a good reason for my anxiety.  The forecast called for temperature several degrees below zero.  My previous record for coldest ride into work was 11°F (-12°C).  This morning the temperature was a solid -6°F (-21°C).  That, to me, is cold.  Winds were 5 MPH (8 kph).  At this temperature my 14.5 mile ride to work isn't just challenging it is potentially dangerous.  According to the windchill chart exposed skin can become frostbitten in 30 minutes at these winds and temperatures. 
   This temperature is 17°F colder than anything I have ridden long distance before, so there were a lot of questions about how many layers were needed.  I settled on the following:
  • Fleece shirt.
  • Cycling jacket.
  • Wool socks.
  • Fleece fitted pants.
  • Thermal pants.
  • Neoprene cycling shoe covers.
  • Nylon balaclava.
  • Neoprene face mask.
  • Eye muffs.
  • Fleece neck warmer.
  • Leather mittens.
  • Goggles.
  • Chemical heaters on toes and in mittens.
   I loaded my bicycle inside the house as every second not peddling outside is lost heat, and I need it all.  Once I started out the door I was in genuine cold.  My goggles fogged up almost immediately, and my neck warmer was too much.  So after about a mile I got ride of both of those items.  Because I had tailwind there was not enough air movement across my goggles to keep them from fogging up, and they were quickly becoming more of a hazard than a help.  After I took them off I had to fight the frost growing off my eyelashes caused by my heavy breath.  The frost would accumulate at the corners of my eyes and weld the upper and lower eyelashes together.  The only way to fix this is to hold them against my face and let my body heat melt the ice.  Kind of a pain but functional.
   The double pants were a bit too much and I could tell I was sweating heavily in them.  The fleece shirt was a bit much as well as my cycling jacket was really all I needed to keep the cold off my torturous.  The face mask worked well but the balaclava was causing my neck to retain a lot of heat.  A little over halfway though the ride I decided to pull out my insulated water bottle for a drink.  When I shook it I could hear liquid water inside.  However, the top was frozen shut and I was unable to get any of the liquid out.  The sides of the water bottle are insulated, but clearly not the top.
   My ride to work took an hour and 18 minutes.  Most days this ride is one hour, so 30% longer than usual.  When I arrived at work my face mask and eye muffs were covered in frost.  Something about the way my face masks vents breathing causes this accumulation.  It looked interesting but didn't cause any discomfort. 
   In all the ride was a success.  My toes did start to get cold near the end of the ride, but not terribly so.  With the hand warmers my hands felt alright during the ride.  I made it to work without issues or concerns.
   This was also the first day I rode on snow accumulation.  The roads had a packed covering of hard snow a some ice.  My spiked tires made this completely navigable and I didn't feel the bike slide from me once on the entire ride.  So I am please with their performance thus far.  I haven't run into black ice yet, but I'm hopeful these tires can handle it.
   On the ride home the temperature had come above zero to 5°F (-15°C).  I ditched the inner fitted thermals and wore a very light shirt under my jacket.  Since I had a steady headwind I put the goggles on.  They had some success.  I had to stop once to straighten something out.  That caused them to fog up and then the fog turned to ice.  After the ice formed they didn't recover and I had to defrost them with my hands.  I am going to have to look for better goggles because they are helpful for keeping my eyes from freezing, fogging up is no help at all.
   With the success of today I feel confident about riding again tomorrow.  It is forecast to be slightly colder.
   I have a four day weekend and have decided to use it to catch up on all the house work that needs to be done.  About every 6 months I have a reminder to check the trap in the washer.  Here it is, full of, well, everything.  Getting rid of that should help things drain out a little faster.
Glued and Clamped

Glued and Clamped

   I had the day off work today but we all decided to meet up for breakfast in the morning anyway.  Pokie, Tyson, Zach and I got together an hour latter than usual.
   This evening I finished taking apart a stool that needs to be re-glued, sanded the joints a bit, glued and clamped it back together.  I have used tie straps as clamps in the past for large spans.  This time I used them because my normal clamps would not deal with the angles.  They seem to be applying a good amount of pressure so in 24 hours this stool should be ready to return to service.