Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tip #3 -Boy Scouty and Girl Scouty Stuff

Part of the original blog request was that I comment on "boy scouty" types of tip.  Just as good "girl scouty" tips too.  So here goes.

What worked for me:
1. The number #1 thing that makes riding in the rain more pleasant is fenders.

2. Never pass up water.  Especially when an RBA is standing by the side of the road passing out water.

3. Travel as heavily loaded as you need to.  I never was truly sorry for carrying something.  I have been truly sorry for not having things.

4. Metal fenders are the work of the devil.  Not only are they heavy, but I blew out a sidewall on my first 300 km from fender rub.  Plastic fenders cause fewer problems for me.

5.  What have I promised myself to always carry (at times when I didn't have them)?
          - Shoe covers
          - Lightweight coated nylon emergency mittens
          - Lights.  I had a really bad experience once on a club rally scouting ride getting stuck after dark without lights.
          - Rainlegs if slightest chance of under 40 and rainy.   See separate note below.

6. What's the most important lesson from Antarctica that I use on brevets:  How important the top of the head, the hands, and the feet are in regulating body temperature.  Balaclava, liner gloves, shoe covers.  Both in putting them on and taking them off to regulate body temperature.

7. What else do I always carry on long brevets:
          - A flask of Hammer Gel.  In the early years, it was my food last resort when I couldn't stomach anything else.  Now it is a bit of treat.  I only carry Apple Cinnamon flavor.
          - A balaclava, liner gloves, arm warmers.  Probably  knee or leg warmers too.
          - In the past, I always carried one more piece of clothing than I think I needed.  I cut it closer now.   After 20 hours on a bike, 60 deg at night feels a lot colder than when you are fresh in the morning.  If there is a heavy dew at sunset, you can get drenched even without rain.  A dry jersey sometimes feels good.

          - Perhaps 3-4 tubes and two ways to inflate them - pump plus CO2
          - Two supplements - electrolytes and short chain amino acid pills.  Though salt packets from fast food or convenience stores will work just as well as the former.
          - Enough food to get to the next control.  I use solid Hammer Perpetuum for times I can't get other types of food.  Often, I will stick to Perpetuum for perhaps the first 6 hours of a ride, then I shift to good sports nutrition from convenience stores. 
          - Equivalent of 4-5 bottles of fluids.  Water in a camelbak.  Over 80F, I put ice in my camelbak so it is an ice sock.  I use Hammer Heed to start.  At controls, I generally fill my two frame bottles with the higher calorie Gatorade.
          - At least two tail-lights.  Usually 3 or 4.

          - A backup for my headlight.  With modern lights, this is sometimes my headlamp.  However, if your main headlight is out and you need to change headlamp batteries, you need a light to see that.  Perhaps a tail light in worst case.

8. I prefer a rear rack and an "unbag" rather than something like Carradice handlebar or seat bag.  By unbag I mean a lightweight mesh bag and cargo net I use on a rear rack.  I can put wet stuff on the offside and keep dry stuff in plastic bags on the inside.   If I want to carry more stuff I put at least one small pannier on. I just took off my expensive titanium rear rack and replaced it with in inexpensive aluminum one with a much better platform.  I use a small inner triangle bag to carry snacks, supplements, butt cream, batteries, sun-tan lotion.

9.  What butt cream do I use for butt sores? Calmoseptine "A Multi-purpose Moisture Barrier Oinment Which Protects, Sooths, and Helps Promote Healing of Skin Irritations From:  urine, diarrhea, perspiration, wound or fistula drainage, diaper rash, minor burns, cuts, scrapes, chaffing, and itching." That is what the single use packets say.  At nursing home conventions (when I worked at AccuNurse), the supplier always gave away envelopes of samples.  Stings when it goes on on chaffing.  Works for me.  Once every 12 hours or so  I don't know what I'll do when my supply of samples run out.  I don't use it as much as I used too.  The leaner I am, the less butt issues I have.

10. What is one the thing I wished I started using years earlier?  Aerobars.  Not so much for the aero part (though they are good for that too), but to give another point of contact and position to take the weight off of the feet, butt, and arms.  I didn't think aerobars would be a net gain in hilly Pennsylvania.  But they are.  I get low both starting on hills, as well as on shallow descents.  And on flats of course.  Aerobars are illegal in France.  I guess they never forgave Greg Lamond. 

11. What rituals do I have? 
         - I stop at night when I need to read cue sheets.  I usually enjoy the break, and peripheral vision doesn't work with a headlamp on.  (I rode off the road on my first 300 km into a ditch).
         - Since I used to be the slowest rider, I learned to be the fastest to control through.  In the early years I ate on my bike.  I'm more lax than I used to be.
         - Consistent nutrition, I take an electrolyte and short-chain amino acid pill every 30 minutes (after first hour after a meal).  When running on Perpetuum tablets, I eat one every 20 minutes.  That gives me so something to 5 times and hour.  At some point I knock it off and eat what my body wants.
        - Put on suntan lotion on the bike.  It gives me something to do.
        - Always eat breakfast.   Although sometimes I eat main breakfast before I go to sleep.  If I don't eat breakfast, I bonk sooner and harder somewhere between hours 6 and 12.  I try to eat at least two hours before the start so I have a better chance my bowels move.  (also good for digestion not interfering with riding).
        - When I get them, I only eat breakfast sandwiches as meals.  Sometimes I'll get them made at Sheetz, but I'll usually grab an egg salad sandwich from the grab section. Eggs, bread, and mayonnaise are easy to digest.
        - Drink chocolate milk at controls.  Until I want caffeine and then I drink Coke. I start to crave orange juice if my electrolytes are low.
        - After 15 to 20 hours on the bike, I eat whatever amuses me the most.  Sometimes ice cream.  Al's Corner carries chocolate pudding.
        - Always ride assuming I am impaired by lack of sleep.  Cause when you are impaired, you don't know.   So I ride by one set of rules.  I descend slowly and carefully. I never trust shadows to be just shadows.  I never descend faster than I can see a safe stopping distance.
        - When possible, keep another ride in sight.  Two riders are less likely to go off course IF they are both navigating.  Either ahead or behind you.
        - Don't pedal downhill!  Recover.
        - Ride at the start of the day the way you will be riding at the end of the day.   Don't go into deficit early.  Ride your own pace.
        - Taper before big rides.   My tapering is unsophisticated.  I take 1-2 weeks off.  Let your body fully heal and recover.

   12. What piece of clothing do I love the most?  My Kucharik wool bibs (when it is less than 70 deg).  To be clear, I found Kucharik wool clothes not to be always long lasting or well fitting.  But their bibs fit me magically well, and they are comfortable riding in cold and rain. They never feel like a wet diaper to me when wet.   (In warm weather I wear Santini bibs).

 13. What is my geekiest piece of bicycle clothing?  My rainlegs.  They are coated nylon rain chaps that role up into a belt.  Key to comfort for me in downpours under 45F.  

 13. My raincoat is too warm until it is down to nearly 50F.  So I wear or carry wool clothes instead.  A spare wool jersey if I am not wearing one.  Wool arm warmers.

14.  I don't tolerate heat well.   Over 80F degrees I have to take my cycling cap off and socks off.  Both bicycling helmets and shoes are meant to vent (if you don't block the vents with clothing).  I'll go from two bottles of Gatorade to one, and use one bottle dowse myself occasionally.  Note that having some fresh water on the bike is always good either if you get road rash or something gets gunked up.

15. Why do my handlebars look so fat?    Early on, I had lots of hand pain (as well as pain everywhere else).  My bars have two layers of gel tape over gel bar cushions.

16. Walkable shoes make like easier.   My first randonneuring year, I rode all rides including PBP with Speedplay road cleats.   They make walking more difficult and they could be fouled in mud easily.  I washed them out with Gatorade more than once.  I switched to Speedplay Frog walkable cleats for both randonneuring and club riding.  I don't really notice the difference in performance, and walkable, non-fouling cleats are great.

17. Feet swell.  My feet swell on grand-randonnees.  In my first two years, I lost 2 big toenails dying from compression in too small shoes on grand-randonnees.  For me Specialized mountain biking shoes have extra space around the toes.  Having shoes sized for swelling also leaves room for cold weather socks when needd.

This is a continuing list of tips in what I explain what works for me.  What I did may or may not apply to you.  However, it should inform your decisions of what can work for you.  I am writing this series because one of Pittsburgh's riders asked me to do it.

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