Category Archives: Product Review

Padded Cycling Gloves

Ever since I started riding bike I’ve worn gloves. On occasion I find myself not wearing them while on the bike, for short rides, and it feels very odd to me. I compare it to not wearing your seat belt in the car – just a feeling that’s something is not right.

I’ve always been of the mindset that heavily padded gloves are better. I own three pairs of Body Geometry cycling gloves that I used to like wearing a lot. This season I’ve been wearing my Pearl Izumi Gel Lite gloves. My husband bought me 3 pairs of them last year and since they match the PVC Women’s kit so well those are the ones I wear most.

Recently I noticed that when I wear the heavily padded BG gloves, my hands become uncomfortable and the gloves tend to shift back so that they pinch in the webbing between my fingers. These gloves have always done this but I’ve noticed it much more recently after wearing the Pearl Izumi gloves.

I read reviews a few years back about the Pearl Izumi gloves and the gel padding breaking down quickly. I must say, I noticed this happened to these gloves too, but it didn’t matter because they continued to be comfortable.

I also read that the pros don’t wear heavily padded gloves. Not that I’m ever going to be a pro, but perhaps they know something I didn’t in that something less padded was actually more comfortable?

So my criteria for gloves have changed – heavy padding is not something that interests me any more.

Are there things you look for in gloves? What works for you? What doesn’t work for you?

Cycling Cap Review

I own several cycling caps. I own almost as many cycling caps as Fatty owns back packs.

I have a new wool Capo cap that has a section in the back that you can turn up in the back or pull down over the ears if it’s cold. Then I have two other cotton Capo caps – white and blue. I have an Embrocation cap, given to me by my friend, Chris LaFlamme. (I think technically it was for my husband but I confiscated it. Don’t tell him!) I also own two other basic caps that I purchased on Nashbar a few years ago, and rarely wear them.

It’s rare to see women wearing cycling caps. I’m not sure why that is. I really started wearing them consistently this past year and love them. I won’t always wear them in the summer, they tend to be too warm, especially with all the hair I have. But during the remainder parts of the year I wear them as I’d wear a pair of cycling gloves – they just become part of the process.

Cycling caps for me give me a little extra warmth when needed and are small enough to take off an slip in my jersey pocket. The brim is great for visibility when the sun is just right to blind you, and it also shields my face a bit when it’s raining.

Recently, my friend Julie has started making wool cycling caps to sell. She has been displaying at a few craft shows – sadly I’ve been unable to attend them. After the end of the PVC Women’s training clinic she presented me with it, saying she made it especially for me since it was “my color” (a nice magenta color). You might have seen my twitter on this Thursday evening. There is a lot to be said for a simple gift you receive from a friend made just for you – they mean so much!

This is Julie (right) sporting the cap:

So I couldn’t wait to wear my new cap on the bike, which I did Saturday. The cap was comfy, warm, with a perfect fit. But I must say it was the brim that impressed me the most. It was at just the right location and deep enough to shield the sun from my eyes. It was also a stiffer brim than what it offered on the new Capo wool cap. I have an idea I just found my new favorite cycling cap!

(Feel free to contact Julie if you would be interested in purchasing one of her caps!.)

Speedplay Pedals

Santa brought me Speedplay Zero pedals for my bike. Actually, a set for each bike.

First order of business was to put a set on the bike that’s on the trainer. This gives me the chance to get used to them before using them on the road.

The hardest part is always getting the old pedals off but I persevered. Once on, it was try them out.

My first observation was that my saddle was too high. Going from Look style pedals to Speedplays resulted in lowering my saddle roughly a quarter inch.

The release action seemed as easy as the Look pedals but the clip in part seems a bit more challenging. I remember my friend saying this same thing. Of course the action of clipping in is much different than the toe-heel entry action with Looks.

I like the fact that I can dial these in to have no float. I know there is a lot of talk about the positive aspects of float in pedals but there is also buzz about the lack of float. These pedals allow me to decided how much float to have in my pedals.

I’m still working on fine tuning my entry technique and would love to hear if anyone has any hints or tips. Do you have float in yours or none at all?

iPhone

I upgraded my phone about two months ago to the iPhone. I’ve loved the iPhone ever since they came out and I was so happy to finally have one.

Previous to my iPhone upgrade I was using a Palm Treo. It was really great for Twittering and texting, which made me think that I might want a Blackberry instead when it was time to upgrade. But alas, I went with the iPhone as originally planned.

My thoughtful husband had purchased an iTouch for me to use for a while to see if I’d like using it enough to go with the iPhone. I must say it was fun to use and pretty user friendly. For those of you who own an iPhone or iTouch, you can attest to how easy they are to use. Truly, if I can figure it out, anyone can!

And all the APPS! My goodness, there are a ton. I’m not much of a gamer so I don’t download those, with the exception of cribbage, and I must say I don’t play that much either.

I did download the upgraded version of MapMyRide for cycling. It’s taken a while to get used to using it. I’ve found it works really well if I’m on a solo ride with not many stops. Though I have had an issue on some rides where the route is not picked up on the GPS system so that’s thrown the calculations off a bit.

My next application will be to find the perfect altimeter function for cycling as well. Not that there’s much climbing in my area, but there are places where I cycle that I would indeed like to see the profile and see how much climbing I actually did.

The only drawback is that it’s rather hard to answer the phone on the bike, unlike my old flip phone. I know, I shouldn’t be answering the phone on the bike. Still, it happens. So the iPhone thought of that too, and created headphones where you can answer the phone and speak normally by using a little button on the cord, which is also the microphone. This “button” also controls the volume for the iPod function of the phone. I must say it’s hard to use with lobster gloves this time of year with it due to its small size, but any other time of year it’s easy – the music will simply stop playing and you’ll hear the phone ring; then push the “button” on the headphones and you are instantly taking to your caller. I must say, the first time I used it, it worked really slick. I’m not sure what they did with the microphone but the person on the other end of the call couldn’t even tell I’m on the bike by detecting wind noise while I’m traveling.

These ear buds have also come in handy on several occasions when I’ve needed to be on the phone and working in the kitchen preparing dinner. No more placing the phone in the crook of your neck, only to have it fall out and drop on the floor.

I love my iPhone. I’m so glad I made the upgrade. It was SO worth it!

Lesson Learned

I’ve posted before about my issue with cramping. I’ve tried electrolytes such as Nuun Tabs and Accelerade. Sometimes I don’t cramp with these products and sometimes I do.

Recently I’ve gotten so I digest a Cliff Shot Gel or Cliff Shot Bloks prior to a ride. That habit has served me well to give me the boost of energy I need for the ride. And surprisingly I haven’t had an issue with cramps.

Tonight I went out on a local group ride with no gel or bloks. Upon the first significant climb I started cramping. First it was in my right calf, then the left. Sheesh! Then I realized I missed taking in a gel before the ride because I was rushing to make the ride, which is starting earlier these days due to fading daylight.

It’s funny that I haven’t given much thought to my cramping issue lately because it hasn’t happened. However, tonight when it did happen, I could almost pinpoint the reason. Or at least what I think is the reason. Next time I’ll take the time to grab a gel before I leave for the ride.

Recommended Reading

A while ago I posted a couple books I purchased: The Paleo Diet for Athletes and Base Building for Cyclists.

I started reading Base Building while on the trainer last season. But why read a book about something you are in the middle of? It was like putting the cart before the horse, or beside it. So I stopped reading it.

My goal was to get through the Paleo Diet book this summer so I could get going  on the Base Building book before base building starts up at the beginning of the year. My problem is that I just don’t seem to have the time to read. I like to read at bedtime but by the time I’m in bed I’m so exhausted and after a couple pages I can’t keep my eyes open any more.

I am happy to report I have finally finished the Paleo Diet. It was very good, though not a stretch from my normal eating habits, since I’ve been eating according to my blood type for several years now, and I’m a Type O. However, the book was a reminder that I need to be eating better. So I’m on a misson to do just that.

I still need to make some notes on the Paleo Diet book to keep them handy and accessible for reference going forward. (Yup, I’m a bit anal that way.)

Now on to the Base Buidling book. It’s interesting that this book references good eating habits as well, reinforcing what I just read. It was as if they go hand in hand and I’m glad I am reading them in this order. Of course the off season training is a ways off so this will give me plenty of time to digest the information and make the appropriate notes before I begin working on next season.

Bike Racks

A couple years ago my husband bought the Swagman 4-bike rack. You can purchase this rack to mount to a 1 1/4 or a 2-inch receiver for the rear of a vehicle.

Swagman Bike Rack

This bike rack has served us very well. However, there have been a few issues with the use of this rack. That’s not to say that the rack is inferior because it’s not. It’s very well constructed and we have no complaints about the product itself. Sometimes you just find out that an item is a bit cumbersome to use when you start really using it a lot. Such was the case with this rack.

For example, because the bikes are right up next to one another on the rack we found it best to wrap any parts that touch another bike with pipe insulation. Wrapped items would include pedals, forks, chain stays, quick release levers, and an other item that might have an opportunity to rub against another bike. This method prevented any unnecessary rubbing to cause scratches, wear, or damage. It wasn’t hard to do, just required a little extra time and thought to mounthing the bikes.

Another example is the time it takes to turn down the nobs on the top that secure the top place and thus secures the bikes. It would require a lot of twisting of three nobs to get the plate completely secure or completely off. That’s not an issue when you are putting on or taking off all the bikes at once. Occassionally we would find that we would drop off one or more passengers at their home upon returning from an event. This meant going through the twisting process multiple times. It just wasn’t a quick process.

When we were looking at bike racks initially we had toyed with the idea of buying roof racks. We decided against it because of the fact that I know I would go through something like a garage that didn’t have enough clearance when I had bikes on the top. I’ve heard horror stories such as these and that was my big fear. Also at the time we did not have a vehicle that had a roof rack for this purpose and decided not to have one installed for this purpose.

However, we finally decided it was time to look into the roof mounted racks. We ended up purchasing the Inno fork lock rack because they would work with our current roof racks without having to purchase another system.

Inno Rack

Not only are these racks easy to assemble and install, it will also be much faster for me to get the bikes on and off the vehicle. We purchased three because that’s all that we’d have room for on the top of the car.

The only issue with this system and our car is that the back hatch will not open with the trays on the top if it’s positioned in such a way that the forks are mounted facing the front of the car. But that’s an easy fix – just turn them around so that they are facing the back of the car. (This isn’t the same with all cars. It depends on the spacing of the racks on the individual car.)

The roof rack bike mounts won’t replace our Swagman rack completely. We’ll still have reasons to use it, especially since it works on both vehicles and the roof racks will only work on one. It’s just nice to have a couple options.