Monday, January 28, 2013

Rapha's Festive 500: And the Winners Are?

The folks at Rapha Central have again selected a fine collection of winners for this year's Festive 500 competition. The short film (above) is my favorite and makes me want to either run out and buy a GoPro camera or get on my bike and ride (or both).

The other submissions collected on the Rapha site are also entertaining and, taken together, reflect the vast global diversity that made up this year's contest. Take a look, you'll see what I mean.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Three Tweaks in One Week

There's nothing quite like a new drive train. After thousands of miles beneath the wheels of my Bianchi commuter, the chain started slipping under power on every climb. While it's always painful to spend money replacing parts, a new drive train makes an old bike feel brand new again and it sure costs less than a new transmission!

When I was forced to use duct tape to secure BOTH of my winter shoe covers after the left zipper failed me, I realized it was time to shop for a new way to keep my toes warm in these harsh temperatures. My research suggested that winter boots like these amazing offerings from 45NRTH or these from Lake would be the best option, but my budget (and global warming) led me to these simple Pearl Izumi shoe covers. The sleek form and velcro closures indicate an improvement over my previous Performance covers, but time (and long, long rides in cold, cold weather) will tell.

The bike and my wardrobe were not the only things that got tuned up this week. While being fitted for a pair of new glasses with (gulp) progressive bifocal lenses, my doctor asked if I ever wore contacts.

"Why yes," I explained, "it's common for me to wear contacts during my long bicycle adventures."

"Do you ever need to read anything at close range?" he continued.

"Only at night, in the rain, after 2 hours of sleep, and by the light of a dim headlamp," I replied.

Luckily, he had just the thing. Apparently, as a result of some fairly complex brain wiring, humans can wear contact lenses of different strengths in each eye to see both close and far at the same time. The brain simply makes adjustments. The doctor determined that I should wear one of my typical long distance contacts on my dominant right eye and a less powerful contact on my non-dominant left eye for up-close reading at 2 or 3 feet. This arrangement theoretically allows me to see both the road up ahead and the directions at handlebar height that will enable me to get there. Today was my trial run and I'm pleased to report that all systems seem to be GO.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

LEL Sells Out in 11 hours 45 minutes!

I cannot believe it! After receiving an email from London-Edinburgh-London organizers this week indicating that registration for the 2013 edition was now open, I discovered this morning that despite increasing capacity from 600 to 950 riders, the event sold out in less than twelve hours! While the event website indicates that additional places may become available in the future, I would not place my eggs in that basket.

Having just finished reading Barring Mechanicals, a very enjoyable book-length ride report on LEL 2009 written by a British recumbent rider and first-timer Andy Allsopp this morning, I have been feeling particularly nostalgic about the event. Barring Mechanicals is available as an e-book on Kindle for merely $3.25 and is worth the time it will take you to read it whether or not you're planning to ride in 2013.

If you are one of the lucky ones to have secured a spot on LEL 2013, a great source information for planning is YACF (Yet Another Cycling Forum). Filled with chatter about everything from weather to gear and clothing choices, first-time participants will find a wealth of helpful advice from this group. Posts often reflect a typically dry British humor which is an added bonus. As I've written before, this really is a must-ride event for all sensible randonneurs. If transportation from the US weren't so expensive, I'd be registered for a second go at it myself already.

If you were hoping to ride LEL, but were not lucky enough to register in time, there are still spaces left in several of the domestic 1200s, such as the Gold Rush Randonnee where you'll find me in June 2013. Don't hesitate, though, these spots won't last forever . . .

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Festive 500: New Year's Eve Edition (Stage 6)

500 kilometers in 8 days. To a seasoned randonneur, it barely sounds like a challenge. Believe me, though, the riding was the easiest part of the Rapha Festive 500. Despite sick children, family commitments and snowstorms, I made it: just under the wire. 500 kilometers, done and dusted. 

The best part of today's ride? I began with a plan to ride a 200km permanent route, but after 70 miles or so, I decided to change tack, cross the River at a different location and weave together a bunch of familiar roads into a 190 kilometer ride. As much as I like having a plan, the looseness of today's ride was liberating and connected me to the joy that cycling brings to my life. Good to switch things up from time to time, to keep the sense of adventure fresh.

Today's ride: 190 kms. 
Festive 50 total: 501 kms.