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Winter Riding: Gloves

I stop in to say hello to Mike at the Bicycle Station around six.

“So you’re riding in the cold weather! How are you holding up?”

Fine, I say, only my hands are cold; I need to get better gloves. I show him my arrangement: a pair of glove liners stuffed inside leather gloves. Riding that morning, it had taken only 15 minutes for my fingers to go from numb to smarting, the second stage of frostbite.

“Wait a second,” Mike disappears into the back of the shop and comes back a minute later pulling the tags off a pair of gloves that would not look out of place in a jousting match between Martians. “Take these, they’re too small for me.”

gloves

The next morning my phone says it’s 23 degrees Fahrenheit when I leave the house, but the wind has died down so it doesn’t feel as cold as it had the day before. I pull on Mike’s gloves and start off. When I stop for the light six blocks later, my hands hurt just as much as they had with my previous four-glove arrangement. Waiting for the light to change I pass the time pounding my hands together to stimulate the circulation. I’m thinking that the new gloves, for all their appearance of high-tech invulnerability, provide a mostly cosmetic improvement

But as I turn onto  Flushing Avenue my fingers start to warm up inside the gloves. By the time I turn on to the Manhattan Bridge I’m wondering what similar arrangements there might be for my feet…

That night, on my way home, I stop in to thank Mike for the gloves, and I tell him about the strange getting cold and warming up again experience. He grins and says, “You have to make sure you stay warm, if you’re going to ride in winter. You don’t want to get frostbite. Racers use BenGay on their hands, on their legs, on their feet, to warm up their muscles.”

Dr Jules Bengué

” That last snowstorm, I rode in it. I had hybrid 700×38 tires which still gives you some stability, but even so I was concentrating on main streets that were plowed. When you hear of icy conditions, you shouldn’t ride. You could break your body up pretty badly. They make studded tires for mountain bikes, but even so.

“I’ve been to Bear Mountain on the 1st of January several times. The Century Club used to have an annual ride. “It went from a ride to a race!”

“We started at Central Park, 25 of us. By the time we got to the George Washington Bridge, only seven of us decided to continue.  We were dehydrated because the water bottles froze within 15 minutes. We spent like two hours in a diner, we were so frostbitten.”

NYC to Bear Mountain & BackShare your bike routes @ Bikely.com

I was curious about the way my hands had warmed up in Mike’s gloves, so I went to REI in Soho to ask them about it. A guy in the bicycle department, he sent me to the glove department. There I met Jay and Hotek, standing in the midst of more gloves I had ever imagined could exist, hanging on hooks on one wall from floor to ceiling and both sides of two aisles of chest-high racks.

What is the warmest glove?

Jay said, “People will argue this a lot. You need something with wind protection, and insulation. Lots of companies say their gloves are windproof, but they’re not.

She turns to the rack, scanning the gloves for a good example cialis with atenolol.

“Which part of your hand gets hit by the wind first, knuckles or fingers? A lot depends on how you ride. If your handlebars are drop-down or t-shaped, your hands are facing the wind in different positions.”

She takes a pair of gloves from the wall.

“See? Mittens like these are really insulated at the tips, but on the knuckles they’re pretty thin. So you have to think about that.

“Then, mittens or gloves? There’s a lot of discussion about which is better. People tend to prefer one or the other. Scientifically, it seems like it makes more sense that mittens would keep your hands warmer.”

She returns the gloves to the rack and takes down a pair of fleece mittens.

“One pouch to hold the combined heat of your fingers–and your whole hand– rather than isolated fingers trying to keep warm separately.

“Then, there are three kinds of insulation: Triplex, Primaloft and Comfortmax. Primaloft is considered the best because it has a higher warmth to weight ratio than down. ”

Hotek, who has been talking to another customer, comes over just in time to hear this.

“Well, that depends on what kind of down you’re talking about,” he says.

A rapid-fire. discussion ensues about fill power vs. quality of down, and whether “fill power” and “quality” mean the same thing.

A disagreement about feather weight turns into an argument about how fill power is determined and Hotek starts explaining something having to do with filling a tube with feathers and ratios of feathers to air in the tube.

Trying to drag the conversation back to the difference between fill power and down quality Jay says, “Some down is just chopped up feathers.”

Hotek shoots back “That would just be false advertising which is a separate problem.

“Now if you want to talk about what kind type of birds it comes from, that’s another question.”

I discreetly collect my lower jaw from the floor to say, Can we get back to mittens vs gloves?

A nearby customer overhears this and says, “You can’t wear mittens when you’re riding a bike; you need your fingers to be able to switch gears.”

Jay looks at Hotek. He shrugs as if to say, that’s a good point. “A lobster claw would be probably be good.”

I show them the gloves Mike gave me.

“Oh, Thinsulate,” Hotek says. “Thinsulate was the first microfibre, built in 1979 by 3M. It has good things and bad things about it. ”

“The good thing,” says Jay, “is it’s incredibly warm. I have a Thinsulate hat that belonged to my grandmother. It’s so old, and it’s my warmest hat.”

“The problem with Thinsulate, ” Hotek goes on, “is it doesn’t breathe very well.”

“Then you get into sweat and wicking,” agrees Jay.

“The premier synthetic is Primaloft.”

So what’s the warmest glove?

“That would be these Black Diamond gloves over here,” says Hotek walking over to a pair of green nylon gloves with leather palms hanging in the center aisle.

 

black diamond

 

I try them on; they seem very warm, but they’re so thick I can hardly close my hand.

You could never a bike with these, I say.

He nods. “They’re made for skiing.”

“Wait a second.” He squints, looking at the ceiling. “There was a guy in here a while ago…” he walks around to the other side of the rack, “looking for warm biking gloves, and we gave him a Manzella windproof liner underneath a Pearl Izumi lobster for insulation.

ocean liner

 “That’s got to be the warmest, most windproof glove.”

 

lobster

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Brooklyn Bike Patrol in The Brooklyn Paper

“Coming home late? Take your hike with a guy on a bike.

“Brooklyn Bike Patrol, an all-volunteer organization that rides around the borough to accompany women home after dark, has been busy this week as women in Williamsburg is daily dose cialis on the tml formulary and Bushwick seek extra protection following reports of a scary attacks across North Brooklyn…”

A great article about Jay Ruiz and Brooklyn Bike Patrol by Danielle Furfaro in The Brooklyn Paper.

Read the whole article here

 

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A Wheel That is Not Round, Part One

As I pushed off for home the other evening upon the conclusion of a convivial gathering, from my rear wheel came a Strange Noise that had not accompanied me on my outbound journey.  A kind of shuddering rasping sound, as if something had become stuck to the tire and was rubbing against the fender with every revolution of the wheel.

I had been looking forward to a moment in the fresh air, the better to reminisce upon the party’s highlights, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that this wheel flopping around like a load of sneakers in a washing machine  made negotiating the distance between Tribeca and Brooklyn seem like a trip across the Darien Gap.  No mental effort, it seemed, no matter how concentrated, could turn my thoughts from dreadful musing.

“What the hell is that damn noise?”

Usually a noise like that is the announcement of a flat tire scheduled to arrive within seconds. But this time, inspection at a red light revealed nothing stuck on the tire, removal of which would have been followed by the dismal hissing sound of the air inside the tube returning to its natural home. By the time I vibrated to a stop,  mid-buzz, in front of my building, annoyance had been replaced by relief I’d been spared a flat tire repair in some murky region of of the Manhattan Bridge. An experience, even under the best of circumstances, of which the only good thing is a prolonged moment with the spectacular view.

 

When I got the bike into the light, I saw this:

This tire has a hernia.

“My tire has a hernia,” I said into the telephone the next morning.

“I have to see it,” Mike replied viagra or cialis, “but it sounds like a ruptured casing. If that’s what it is, you need a new tire.”

The tire casing, the mesh that makes an anonymous blob of rubber hold the shape of a bicycle tire, can rupture for different reasons. For example, prolonged friction, as in the case of some irregularity like a mal-adjusted brake or a bent wheel.  But because this hernia was right on the front of the tire, the cause was probably some sharp obstruction in the street, like riding hell-bent over the sharp edge of a metal plate, or a pothole.

A painful memory swam into consciousness.

Right in front of the Brooklyn Hospital, at the corner of Ashland Place and DeKalb, there is an evil little pothole in the very middle of the bike lane. There’s always a lot of action at that intersection; a couple of bus stops produce a constant supply of pedestrians crossing every which way, not to mention hospital inmates desperate for a cigarette rolling their wheelchairs right out into the street. This constant commotion, as entertaining as it is perilous, requires the survival-minded bicyclist’s full attention, so I’ve never actually seen this pothole.

Nonetheless, I know it’s there, having nearly lost a couple of back teeth from the violence of the introduction to its particular contours. It must be about a foot deep. The first few times I took that route I rode into it head on, causing the unfortunate region of my person at that moment reposing upon the bicycle seat to rise abruptly into the air like the puck in a carnival high striker game.

Like Shakespeare’s croaking raven, upon the $25.00 bicycle tire so doth the unseen pothole bellow for revenge.

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