A Bike Video From Turkey

Earlier this year, I posted some bike-related videos. Here’s another one — called “On the Wheels” — from Ozan Yildirim in Turkey.  Just click the link and enjoy.


On the Wheels from ozan yildirim on Vimeo.

From time to time, I’ll be happy to feature cycling-related videos on this blog, so let me know about the ones you’ve been making.

Adjusting to Cool Weather Riding

As I write this, the wind is whipping around my home office window. I left work this evening with 74 degrees showing on my car thermometer. When I got home, it had fallen to 63. I just got back from walking the dog, and it’s now 53. We’ll be in the 40s overnight, and it looks like the weekend will be a cool one.

Riders elsewhere in the country and other parts of the globe are probably snickering. They’ve already gone through bigger temperature drops than this — and are already feeling the onset of winter temperatures.

But what happens to your bike riding when the weather changes like that?

My natural reaction is to throw on a sweater and cozy up to the TV — or maybe snuggle up with a book. I should be figuring out how I’m going to adapt my bike riding to colder conditions.

The answer is simple: Keep riding.

Some riders handle cool temps better than others. The guy left front has a windbreaker vest over a long-sleeved jersey, the woman has a cool weather jacket. The guy in black is wearing warmer winter gear, but the guy in center background still thinks it’s summer.

The daily temperature drop isn’t that drastic, to begin with. So if you ride one day in summer kit, maybe all you have to do when the weather turns chilly is put on a long-sleeved jersey and a base layer. That’s not a big change.

“If you keep on riding each day as the temperatures slowly decrease, you’ll be more acclimated to the weather each day,” says Emilia Crotty, the Education Manager of Bike New York. She says you kind of trick yourself into believing that there’s not that much difference from day to day.

“Personally,” she adds, “when I’m feeling lazy or am in the middle of a good book, getting back on my bike on a cold winter morning is difficult!  The more frequently I ride in the colder months, though, the less dramatic the temperatures feel.”

There’s an added benefit to continued riding. “The more frequently I ride in the fall and winter,” says Crotty, “the better I am at gauging how many layers I’ll need, what type of gloves will do the trick, if I need a balaclava, etc. each morning (when I check the morning temperature and wind chill, that is).”

So resist the urge to roll over and pull up the covers when the fall mornings are cool. Get out there and ride. You know it’s good for you on several levels — but you’ll also build up your tolerance for cold weather.


Bicycle Touring

After reading an article by a New York Times reporter who had just finished a bike tour across the United States, I started daydreaming. Traveling cross-country on a bike has an undeniable appeal. While I had read the occasional article about bike touring, and had pored through catalogs some years ago that featured touring bikes, I never seriously considered doing a multi-day two-wheeled trip myself.

But it’s something worth considering. You don’t have to go from the Pacific to the Atlantic — a bike tour can be in your immediate area. Maybe target a town you’d like to ride to, or a body of water, or a state park. In my neck of the woods, a nice starter tour could be a trip from Austin to the Gulf Coast.

One thing I’ve learned from all my reading: You don’t need a special bike to tour. Oh sure, most bicycle companies make a touring model, and I’m sure they make travel a lot easier. But you could just as easily throw some gear on the bike you’re already riding and just go.

But if you want a bike tricked out for touring, you could try something like a Trek 520. That’s their touring bike, and it’s been available for years. At first blush, it looks like a road bike, but it’s got a steel frame, and braze-ons for racks and fenders. A particularly popular touring bike is the Surly Long Haul Trucker, which can handle wide tires. Some reviewers say it’s sluggish and heavy when unloaded, but a touring load gives it stability. Other tourists prefer lighter bikes, and suggest a cyclocross bike is a good choice for touring.

Lots of bike tourists camp overnight. Some have perfected the art of “stealth” camping — which involved pitching your tent on private property, but lying low to avoid discovery. The prospect of camping is one aspect of bike touring that doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve done plenty of camping over the years, and I just never fell in love with it.

But there is a form of bike touring that’s geared to guys like me, too. It’s called “credit card touring,” and it’s pretty much what it sounds like. You pack a change of clothes or two, hop on your bike, and ride until you reach your destination for the night. Then, instead of finding a campsite, you check into a motel. Instead of firing up the camp stove for an evening meal, you go out to a restaurant. I could do that — if I’ve budgeted for it over the year.

As far as routes go, the options are unlimited. Just get on the road and pedal. Of course, you might want to research your trip first, and see if any other touring cyclists have ridden it before you. The Adventure Cycling Association is a great resource for researching your rides, and the website crazyguyonabike.com is chock full of accounts from hard core and newbie tourists about routes and what works. One option for newer tourers is to find a dedicated bike trail that will keep you out of traffic. The Katy Trail in Missouri crosses the entire state. It’s crushed stone, so you might want to leave that road bike at home and bring something with wider tires. The Great Allegheny Passage, or GAP, trail runs from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, and if you’re more adventurous, you can continue on the C & O Canal trail all the way to Washington, DC.

I won’t be bike touring anytime soon. But I expect to have several weeks of vacation next summer. Hmm…that will give me plenty of time to research some touring ideas.