Friday, January 23, 2009

Packing for the Frosty Bottom

I am so disorganized when it comes to winter bike riding. I have no idea what really works when it comes to winter riding gear. I haven't really done that many long rides in the winter. It's totally different than standing around and climbing. And I'm not the kind of person who thinks about these things ahead of time. You know, planning for what might happen and what not. I definitely do not buy a bunch of gear that I don't know if I'm going to use, before I really need it.

For this very reason I frost nipped my toes ice climbing a few months ago. I got out of the car at Caribou Creek and Kari, one of the girls I was climbing with, took one look at my boots and said, "You're not wearing any super gaiters? Or overboots? It's minus 5 out!" "Yeah well, my feet don't really get cold. I just haven't needed any of those things yet." I say. That day I came home with two big frost nipped toes. I immediately went online and purchased a pair of supergaiters.

When I pack for Ice climbing it's like a science. Actually, my ice climbing bag is always packed. When I bring it home from a day out, I lay everything out on two towels across the living room to dry it out. This acts as a playground for my cats for 24 hours. (I have no idea why a cat would want to lay on a pair of upside down crampons, but my kitten is a bit sadistic) Then the next day I pack everything up in my ice climbing pack until I climb again. All of my layers are the same every time. I tweak gloves and socks a bit, but mostly I know what I'm doing when it comes to ice climbing gear.

Winter bike riding is a different story. I tend to sweat a lot when I ride a bike. So I have to be really careful with my layers. As far as tools go, I always pack the same tools for every ride. Even in the summer. And guess what? Not once have I had to make a repair on the trail. (Well except for last month when I accidentally let all of the air out of Brian's giant snow bike tire and could not get it back in.) But other than that I have never had a problem with my bike. Knock on wood.

Really. Never a flat tire. Ever. I have practiced changing tires and fixing chains and other various easy repairs, but never needed any of these tools out on the trail. My point is that I don't really know if any of the tools actually work well out there. Except for what people have told me, but to be honest I don't really trust that what other people tell me to use will necessarily work for me.

So it's a challenge when packing and dressing for a winter race. I've really only done winter races that have been up to 2 hours, so this one should be a good test of what works and what doesn't. I'm guessing it will take me over 3 hours.