By John Marsh, Editor & Publisher
Your Feedback on Recent Questions of the Week
One of the hardest parts about putting together this Newsletter each week is coming up with a new, fresh Question of the Week that ties into at least one of that week’s articles or themes. (Which is why I always encourage you to send in any idea you have. Just use the Question of the Week Ideas link: https://www.roadbikerider.com/question-of-the-week-ideas.)
On the flip side, looking at your collective responses is an endless source of fascination. I always try to figure out which answer will get the most votes – and I’m almost always wrong!
Here’s a rundown of a few of our recent QoW’s, how you responded, and the response I thought most likely to win (but didn’t).
Have you ever had a bike noise that drove you crazy trying to figure out?
The winner, with 34.5 percent of the vote was: “Definitely. I always try to sleuth them and am usually successful.”
Coming in a distant second, with 25.5 percent, was: “Sure. It’s inevitable, and annoying. There are a million ways a bike can make noises.”
And just behind, in third, with 23 percent, was: “Yes! A number of times. Really maddening. I hate a noisy bike!”
That last one was the one I had pegged as the probable winner. At least it seems that the overwhelming majority of you – like me – very much dislikes noises and wants to get rid of them ASAP when they crop up.
Do You Have a Winter Temperature Above Which You Ride, No Matter What?
Nearly 30 percent of you went with: “Yes. 40F degrees (4.4C)”
Taking second, with 26 percent, was: “Not really. I usually ride no matter what the temp is.”
Another 20 percent chose: “Yes. 50F degrees (10C)”
I guess this one really depends on where you live and the weather you’re used to dealing with in the winter. I’ll be the first to admit that my Midwestern hardiness (I grew up in K.C.) long ago deserted me after moving to Atlanta, where I’ve lived for nearly 30 years. Our “brutal cold” her in the South is a “fine day for riding” in the snowbelt. Even with that in mind, I figured 50 was the temp that would entice most of you outside for a ride (dropping everything to get your ride in). But I underestimated your collective hardiness! More power to you!
What Do You Hate Most About Rain Rides?
Just under 40 percent of you chose: “I hate just about every aspect and try to avoid rain rides completely.”
Coming in a distant second, with 25 percent, was: “I hate having to wash/clean my mucked-up bike after the ride.”
Farther back in third, with 11 percent, was: “I hate the feeling of being less safe riding in the rain.”
This one, I have to admit, surprised me a bit more than the temperature question. I had no idea so many riders utterly despised rain rides, and avoided them at all costs.
I figured more of you would side with me on the bike-cleaning selection; my wife has heard me whine about it so many times that I can’t even bring it up in front of her anymore! To me, there’s nothing worse in cycling than rolling back to the house soaked to the bone and with a bike covered front to back in wet brake dust, road grit and grime, and with moisture inside your shifters, pooled in recessed bolts, etc. Ugh! It bothers me just writing this!
Don’t forget, though, that this last question sprang forth from Jim Langley’s Tech Talk of a couple weeks ago titled, Top Tips for Before, During and After Rainy Rides. It was chock full of great advice about how to prepare for wet rides and deal with them during and afterward.
Additional Tips for Dealing with Wet Rides
Reader Abe Primack added another solid tip to Jim’s list. Abe wrote: “Wear a waterfroof helmet cover. You will be able to see better.”
To which I can offer few more tips to consider:
- Wear a bright-colored and/or reflective jersey or rain jacket. (I’m not one who thinks you always need to wear super bright clothing – as I believe full-time flashers are more effective – but I definitely think a rain jacket should be bright, not black, as many are. It’s by definition darker during a rain ride. Lighten up!
- Even though I always ride with full-time front and rear flashers, I might even add lights if I know it’s going to be a rainy day.
- If there’s lightning in the area, seek shelter. It’s just not worth trying to outrun some weather. And lightning can be especially dangerous.
- I use Stuffits Sport Inserts (click to see our Review) after every ride, dry or wet. They keep your shoes fresh smelling between rides, and they dry your shoes out after wet rides. (I’ve also had good success putting my shoes on a rack in the dryer on extremely low heat if they’re totally soaked through; however, many modern shoes have glued-on carbon soles, etc., so be very, very careful about this option.)
- One last shoe-drying tip: using either Stuffits or newspaper, I also set my shoes directly in front of an air return register, which facilititates the drying with “passive” air.
It’s All About That Base
When I was enjoying the quietude and long views of winter on a recent ride, my mind wandered to a popular song from last year that captured the spirit and intent of my riding this time of year: “All About that Base,” by Meghan Trainor (who just won a Best New Artist Grammy last week).
OK, so any of you who might have heard that song on the radio knows that it’s actually waxing (unpoetically) about a certain attribute of the female anatomy. But I’m stealing it for the purposes of cycling anyway.
For the past couple of months, my riding has, indeed, been “all about that base.” Because of a super-busy holiday schedule to end the year, combined with a nasty illness and some equally nasty weather, I’ve found myself off the bike, and working out indoors, more than I would have liked. So my winter riding has been even more focused on base-building than it normally is.
But I’ve actually enjoyed it quite a lot, by really focusing on a few aspects that get lost (or are simply not there) during the harder rides in-season.
If you’re slogging through your winter base rides, take a moment to try to focus on the positives that this time of year can deliver.
Revel in the Solitude and Quietude
On solo rides, especially, if you’re lucky enough to ride somewhere with little or no traffic, you’ll notice just how much quiter it can seem in the winter. For one thing, if you happen to ride where people (and cars) flock in warmer weather, chances are good there will be far fewer folks around in the winter months. Focusing on that quiet, and on enjoying the solitude of rolling through time with only your thoughts and senses free to take it all in can make for a really unique riding experience.
Enjoy the Winter Scenery
Part of the special sensory experience for me, living in a very forested area, is what I call the “long views” of winter. By that I mean the unique ability to “see through” and deep into the woods. The lack of foliage affords a completely different view of the surroundings. At Stone Mountain Park, for instance, you can see the granite monolith through the trees in numerous spots where you’ll only see green spring thorugh fall. And wide open spaces seem to be even more expansive in winter. I love the different feel and look of the season.
Leave Your Devices at Home
Because you’re working on building your base miles – just riding for the sake of riding, in effect – focus on the pure enjoyment of being out on your bike. Now is not the time to be concerned about any metrics other than “It’s great to be out today.” If the weather has allowed you to commune with your bike and get your ride on, well, do just that! Don’t bother with your heart rate strap. Consider leaving your computer at home (unless you really must record your exact mileage). The time for ramping things up is just around the corner. But base building is a more relaxed time, with no real need to measure or pay attention to minute detail. Just ride. Enjoy. Repeat.
Catch Up on the Chit-chat with Your Buddies
This is a great time of year to have more expansive conversations with your riding buddies. Think about it, you’re not busting a hump to keep up with anybody or put down a pace to try to dust anyone. You’re perfectly happy just turning the pedals and enjoying all that great scenery. And you should be doing it at a “conversation pace” anyway. You’ll surely have less opportunity to chit-chat when things get more serious on faster group rides and such later in the season. So take the opportunity to catch up on things and maybe engage in some deep discussion now while you can.
Stop for a Coffee or Lunch
Another thing you may be less inclined to do, or have less time for, in season is stopping for coffee or lunch during a ride. In addition to socializing and enjoying some nourishment, a hot beverage and the chance to get warmed up inside may be just the ticket to helping extend your ride vs. beating it home because of the cold. Many roadies, of course, make coffee stops and lunch part of their regular routine. But if you don’t, treat yourself during base-building time. You may like it so much that it does become a regular part of your riding.
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