Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Windy & Sunless Fall : Gear Reviewed

I've been complaining, more often than not, about the lack of sun during this time of year: it prevents before and/or after-work rides. Cycling lights don't cut it and Sacramento lacks regular street lighting, added to the dilemma is a surplus of trees that blot out the moon and stars. Today I had enough and set out at 5:30 AM. I chose the day that proved the coldest and windiest it has been in weeks; a day which ended summer weather and rolled in fall. I also learned that it is truly darkest before the dawn. Despite the atmosphere that surrounded the ride I was prepared. Two layers of merino wool, killer Hincapie socks, and Pearl Izumi thermafleece bib ensured cold and wind were kept at bay.

The first layer of merino I was lucky to have owned for ages. It was a lightweight long-sleeve zip up sweater from the gap. I know, not exactly premium made for cycling gear but this thing really worked. The ol' gap sweater was well worn in and flexible. I had it over a swobo merino jersey. The swobo jersey needs to be broken in and proved, initially, a bit itchy. Once I was on the road I didn't notice it at all and was plenty warm. All the hype surrounding merino is hardly hype.

The Izumi bib was great and my lower half was never a concern, neither too warm nor too cool. The chamois wasn't overly bulky or thin, in short it complimented my saddle (albeit an old saddle). Anxious to test out the gear further I went for two rides today and was comfortable both early early morning and early evening.

And my ride.

I've owned this '83 Peugeot for a couple of years. It is mostly stock, minus the Shimano handlebars, SRAM chain, and of course the handlebar tape. It must have been housed for most of it's life as the rims, tires, chainsets, and crank are original. The original chain only met it's maker just a few weeks ago. The water-bottle comes from non-other than one of the most amazing cycling performance-wear companies Rapha. The water-bottle actually belongs to Cristina but she's gone for the week and I'll be damned if I give my girlfriend a lemon for a water-bottle; thus obligating my testing it out in the rigors of fall cycling.

Having established that an old merino sweater works incredibly well I am happy to not have to retire my Rapha jersey for the cold months. Worrying about your gear, to be blunt, sucks- and Rapha ensures not only that you will be comfortable and traveling with less worry but you'll be looking slick as well. With any luck I'll pick up some Rapha merino base-layers and remain comfortable and warm as the temperatures continue to drop.

Here's to the fall/winter- stay warm!

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