Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dogma va Reality

This morning was the first time this season that temperatures in Nova Scotia were below 0C, with the (virtual) mercury in Truro at around -3. That said, the sun was shining and the wind had completely died. It was a great morning for a ride, even if it was a short "extended commute" rather than anything more serious.

It felt like a winter's day in the UK and no matter how much a Brit will whinge about their weather, it rarely gets colder than it was this morning in Blighty. Buy yourself some peace and remind any and all expats you know in NS about this today. After the initial surprise stepping out into minus temperatures, it really was a great day to ride. There was still some warmth to the sun and the way it shone off the frost and ice was nothing but magical. Plus, sleeping in and leaving later than usual meant what traffic there usually is (and this is Truro remember) was already at work whining about having to scrape their windshield in October, leaving the lanes all for me.

It was definitely a fixie morning. The tribars are off the Lemond now, as much as to coordinate with the uber-traditional woolen Flemish cycling cap under my helmet as it was that the things are a genuine pain in the arse(and ugly too).

The Lemond looks a lot more relaxed after Riverport

There is a definite relationship between cold and discomfort in my hands and feet and interestingly, they are opposites. I wonder if I've inherited my mother's northern European hands and my father's south-east Asian feet. My hands (solid line, -), though initially cold, acclimatise pretty quickly to a cold day of ice-age foraging whilst my feet (dashed line, ---) are initially macho "Cold? Meh!" but after 30 minutes are whining like a child on a road-trip "are we nearly there yet?". The relationship looks something like this;

If 0 is "sitting on couch comfort" and 1.0 is "OMG!" then the "discomfort" in my hands is almost asymptotic for the first ten minutes or so, to the extent that if someone offered to amputate my fingers in this time my only question would be should the prosthetics should be steel, titanium or crabon? This feeling of acute "arghh" soon abates as, unfortunately, my feet slowly freeze! The intersection between the two lines, where both hands and feet are equally tolerable, is temperature dependant. On a morning like this, and dressed as I was, it was about 40 minutes, which as luck would have it was as long as I was out for.

Now, here at Socksnob we aren't dogmatically rigid. We recognise that in the real world the ideal cannot always be maintained. Ideology may require, for instance, white, ankle-length socks but this image shouldn't be maintained at the cost of losing a toe. On days like this morning we are quite comfortable to break the taboo in the interest of keeping a full complement of digits. Which explains this morning's dress-code; yes, that is a whack-load of grey and black!

The nice thing about long tights is that they cover a multitude of sins, or in our case lengths and colours, but this doesn't mean you can completely let go. So we offer this morning's sock, the Balega Trail, as this week's Sock Of The Week. These are pretty much the comfiest socks I have. A bit longer than talus high means they can be both worn with shorts for running (and I ran all last winter in Balega Trails) and they're high enough to wear with tights. Plus they are woolly and warm! Plus there is the mud caveat, which we'll investigate in more detail later but suffice to say a nice pair of white socks can be irretrievably ruined by the end of the driveway and unless your sponsor keeps you in socks then darker colours can be worn (and even embraced) as long as approached and worn with caution.
Here's hoping Aerobics First gets a new stock of Balegas

This segues nicely into the first reader question (and I'm surprised as you to find there are actual readers apart from myself obsessively proof-reading entries). "Should I match my outfit to my bike?" asks x of Canada. Well x, obviously colour coordination should always be your first choice but unless you are a sponsored pro where all your kit, from your track-mits to your frame-decals are matched, this is going to be impossible. It's one thing to have a couple of helmets so you can sorta match with reddish, blueish and black n' whitish jerseys (none of your jerseys are yellow, right? Good!) but to have a stack of bikes to do the same? Plus, do you really want to be constrained to only wearing this jersey on this bike and only this one on that one. Then what do you do with the '09 Heartland Tour jersey, seemingly and unerringly chosen to clash with everyones bike?

That green '09 Heartland Tour jersey on an orange bike? Smile and the world smiles
with you (and hopefully doesn't notice the orange bike and/or are deuteranopic)

As long as the kit internally matches itself and at the same time keeps you warm (or dry or whatever the day requires/demands) then an e.g. blue jersey on an e.g. yellow bike is acceptable. Take your care over the jersey/jacket/gloves/socks/cap (your tights and shorts are all black so there are no problems there, right?) and don't worry that your bike was only offered in fluorescent-orange-fades-to-neon-pink that year. Whatever you are wearing, wear it with a certain insouciance, a certain "just a little something I threw on this morning", wear it with confidence, wear it with a spring in your step (although that may only be your cleats, perhaps we should say "wear it spinning at 100 rpm instead") and wear it with a smile and only your style will be noticed, and not the lime-green bike you're sitting on.

Happy colour-matching.


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