Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In search of the Holy Grail . . . of cycling jackets

I'm an avid cyclist, doing long Saturday recreational rides, and often commuting to work. Living in the beautiful, cycling-friendly Pacific Northwest also means I need some rain and cold protection while riding. I've been on a long quest to find the optimum cycling jacket, which would have the following characteristics:

1. Rainproof
2. Wind protection
3. Breathes well, so you don't overheat and sweat too much underneath
4. Light/bright color for visibility (but not too wild)
5. Reasonably priced, or at least available at deep discount somehow

The most difficult item for me has been #3. There have been a number of nice jackets I have tried that just leave me soaked inside after moderate exercise, including expensive GoreTex models. I have an old, low-tech jacket that is perfect for #3, but provides no rain protection and very little wind protection. Still, on a cool, dry day it works well.

But for those wet or cold days the best I've been able to do is use a fairly expensive, hi-tech jacket with pit zips. I recently bought a Mountain Hardware jacket at the Columbia employee store which is probably the best so far of all the jackets I have tried ($185 cost was half of retail!!). Yesterday I picked up another Mountain Hardware jacket at that store which is a very lightweight shell, but since it has no pit zips I was pretty skeptical about adequate breathability. I tried it today on my wet commute to work and I was actually pretty pleased with it. I may have found a good jacket for cool, wet days, or days with risk of wet and I can just stuff this little jacket into my back jersey pocket. I'll have Suzanne put it under the Christmas tree for me (along with several other "toys" I have procured for myself, but that is worthy of another blog post).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Riding in the cold

Last month I wrote a post about riding my bike home from work in the dark. My current adventure is commuting on my bike in cold weather. We are having a cold spell this week. My car reported 18 degrees this evening--I'm sure the lowest it has ever registered (in the 2+ years I have owned it).

I was up for the challenge and decided to ride every day this week (no snow in the forecast). Yesterday there was a cold east wind, which provided a fun tailwind on the ride to work, so it went just fine. But I knew the ride home would be a bit grim. It was in the 20's, and who knows what the wind chill factor was. My face froze pretty quickly. My hands took a while, through two layers of gloves, but they got pretty cold. And my toes. With the headwind my ride was about 40 minutes. But I made it!

Today may have been a bit colder, but not so much wind. Tomorrow should be colder still. What fun!

I know--those of you who live in colder climes are thinking I'm a wuss!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Busy day

Well, I shouldn't have gloated about how well tithing settlement went last week. Today was hectic, beginning with Sunday School time, when I was bombarded with people who needed something from me, plus three interviews. I had hoped to go into the Primary for a bishopric message to the children, but just didn't make it (at least to the Junior Primary--I did for the Senior Primary).

Then I mistakenly allowed a PPI to go 15 minutes over, forgetting I had another appointment before starting tithing settlement sessions at 2:00, so right off the bat I was 20 minutes behind. There were no breaks in the schedule so I just plowed away, and was only five minutes behind towards the end.

But, once again, I felt sustained and energetic, even on fast Sunday (someone brought me food but I had to set it aside). After coming home around 4:30 I helped Daniel fix dinner, then I was able to rest a bit.

So cold and windy today, but no snow. But it still reminds me of our magical snow week (or two) last year this month.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What a difference a month makes

Here is the picture I posted at the beginning of November showing the fabulous fall colors looking out the window at my work.

And here is the same view yesterday.

Colors are pretty much gone. And there is a fog about to settle in. It is that time of year. Of course, we do get nice sunny days from time to time. But I confess I kind of enjoy the fog. Just gives a cozy, quiet feeling. I even rode my bike home in it yesterday. I have a new bike light that shines very brightly, so riding at night is markedly improved for me.

By the way, I was successful posting to my blog every day in November (thank you, Bridget, for the challenge). I'm not sure how regular I will be in December, we'll see.