Saturday, December 29, 2007

Training - HTFU***

One night the missus and I were driving somewhere and I brought up the topic of training in the somewhat yucky weather we'd been having around here. I said that one of the things I need to do is (***) "Harden The F Up" and actually get out there and train. It's not like I have to go to work or anything so I have time during the warmest part of the day.

The next day I set off on my mountain bike, determined to do a HTFU ride, and at the same time get some shopping done. Of course the only place that would understand a guy walking in in bike clothes covered in salty sand would be a bike shop. So I set off to the shop.

I timed it such that I'd be caught out after dark, and I equipped my bike accordingly. I don't know how much it weighed but when I first went to life the bars, the front wheel felt like it was stuck to the ground and I literally couldn't lift it. With three batteries, one big headlight, one little headlight, and the two Down Low Glow tubes, the bike felt pretty heavy. To prep such a bike I actually made a little "charging" station as pictured below (the fourth power cord is to the laptop on which I'm typing):

Note the surge protector protecting anything being charged. Batteries are located under the stem and top tube (headlight) and at the seat tube - top tube junction (Down Low Glow). Tandem behind is for summer use, but it doesn't fit in the basement so it lives upstairs in the winter.

The seat close up shows the seat bag, useful only for its tools, the blinkie, and the rear fender mount. As will be apparent, this was a post-ride shot.

Note the blinkie angled too far up - the fender worked loose on the ride home and I quickly reset things (improperly) since I was a mile from the apartment.

The front details, with the 10w NiteRider light and the two AA battery powered blinkie front. The latter is an emergency backup as well as a "not dark enough for the headlight" light. I used up the batteries before the sun set. Since I use rechargeables, they'll be at full strength for the next ride. I used both NiteRider batteries too, although I used the second for less than the full charge.

I habitually cut my mountain bike bars down to the minimum so I shoved everything to the middle, figured out how wide my hands were on the grips and slice the rest off with a knife, then slid the bar ends on the end. The outside of the bar ends gets cut off and voila! I have a nice compact mountain bike bar setup.

It's quite comfy, sort of like riding a road bike with no drops, just the tops and the "brake hoods" (i.e. the bar ends). With a 15 cm stem, the top is nice and stretched out, very comfy, relatively aero.

I took the pictures of the bike after I took it out for about 2.5 hours on a wet and sloggy day. With snow from our first major storm still on a lot of secondary roads, I rode in the tire tracks when I had to, the shoulder when I could. I purchased the fenders about an hour into the ride, ditto the blinkie. The fact that the local bike shop was still clearing their entryway of snow indicated just how much snow still remained.

The rear fender was a great boon, my butt not so cold without the constant stream of cold water splashing onto my tights. I missed a front fender though, and nothing I saw at the shop appealed to me - they only had matching front fenders and from previous experience, I knew that only a full front fender with a splash guard would be acceptable.

The blinkie stayed on for the duration of the ride and I think it helps keep drivers from passing you with only millimeters to spare.

When I returned to the same shop in street clothes, warm and dry, some full 26" fenders magically appeared in my view. I guess when I'm cold and wet I don't look around very much because I was standing right next to the full fenders and never saw them. The bike will lose the clip on fender and look a little more utilitarian, a little less motocross-y.

If you look carefully at the rear cassette you'll notice I don't use the two biggest cogs (they're still silver). And although you can't tell from the picture, the middle ring is bent so badly the chain stays on for less than a revolution at a time. So my winter bike is effectively a 7 speed bike. Works for me.

In the theme of HTFU, I went out yesterday even though I was a bit fatigued from a relatively long ride two days prior. I happened to chose roads which don't get a lot of sun so the temps were low, the water/salt/sand everywhere, and I fatigued so quickly I simply did my loop and went home. This was on my precious road bike so I washed off the bike and decided that wet roads means mountain bike, dry roads means the road bike.

I hope to finish up the mountain bike fenders today (I have to make up a few pieces for it to fit on the non-standard frame fittings) and take it out for a ride in the wet but warmer conditions today (mid 40s). And in the near future I'll have some reviews on the blinkie, the Down Low Glow, and the fenders (not that they're special but I hope they work out okay).

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