Friday, October 9, 2009

Falling Over

Despite having been in North America for over ten years, I still haven't got round to calling autumn "fall". Some of it is oldworldly curmudgeonlyness, in the same way I've retained my British accent. Well allegedly retained. Some of my British friends swear I have acquired a North American drawl but seeing even after all this time I still have to repeat myself in coffee shops (and that's in Anglophone Canada, don't start me on la quebecoise), I don't think so. But then again, in the interests of streamlined communication I do use many Americanisms; grocery store, intersection, gas and sidewalk (although I do draw the line at fanny pack, that is just so wrong). Autumn however, remains autumn, and I think it is because I love autumn.

In some ways, I've fallen in love with autumn all over again in recent years, because after a summer of working hard on the tri circuit the autumn has given me the opportunity to race again. I've recently added cyclocross (where I flatter myself to think I'm a bit of a stalwart on the local scene now, albeit stalwartly bringing up the rear) to add to the close of season fun.

Off the back again. At least I'm warm

My love of autumn has less to do with sweating one's bollocks off in the mud and crashing into trees than it does the trees themselves. The cliches are of crisp mornings and walking arm in arm through the colours wrapped up in sweaters and coats and hats and scarves (like the promo shot for When Harry Met Sally). and for once, they may be true. Many of my significant memories are tied to the autumn; every bright blue sky, every puff of exhaled condensation, every firework, every red and yellow tree, every crunchy footfall in a pile of leaves, every whiff of woodsmoke recalls precious times.

I rather suspect we'll be seeing these two again

As well as getting wrapped up for walks through the leaves, it is also time to start getting rugged up for rides. This is the time for long sleeves, long gloves, knee-warmers and a little cap under your helmet.

All those layers have been needed here as it's been a wet week. It started as it meant to carry on at Riverport, which was wet in epic proportions, and the early trend has seemingly carried on all week. Tantalisingly, there nearly always seems to be a patch of blue sky somewhere but it's never over me. I'm starting to feel like Douglas Adams' truck driver cum rain-God in So Long And Thanks For All The Fish. The bikes are starting to feel it too; check out this vaguely pornographic bottom bracket/crotch shot of the Carrot and you'll see what I mean.

An intensely private and personal view of The Carrot. Not everyone sees her like this!

This week has left a thin, or in some cases not so thin, layer of grime, grass and leaves all over, and permeating into, everything. Including me. It's not an epic post-'cross layer, just a never-ending spray of guck! This week's Sock Of The Week honours this low-level grime-fest. Not sure if this is even a sock, it's more a negative sock impression, perhaps we could call it an anti-sock. Also we're not quite sure what to call this SOTW either, perhaps the Roubaix? Actually this SOTW is really two socks. Remember the really short socks, the ones that don't even cover the talus? We can still see the tan-lines they left. Above that is the Roubaix-defining grime-line from this morning's ride.

The Roubaix anti-sock

The Roubaix should be worn with pride, not shame. We all know "cyclists" who won't ride in the rain. If you've just shelled out $4K on a new bike I can understand not wanting to take your new squeeze on wet roads in the first month or so, but as a generalised rule? Give me 60 soggy minutes in the lanes over 60 soul-destroying minutes on a dreadmill any day. The Roubaix says you rode in less than ideal conditions and what's more you did it willingly and with a smile. because you love to ride. Riding is a means unto itself, not just a way of getting from T1 to T2. Nothing bolsters your hard-man (or woman) credentials like the Roubaix.

A morbid horror of the Roubaix shouldn't be a reason not to ride, in three months after all we won't be able to ride outside at all. I say rug up well and keep riding, a spin in the rain on quiet roads can be quite enjoyable, and even invigorating, as long as you're dressed for it and expect a bit of distal discomfort!

No sun, so what? Chilly fingers and chilly toes but still smiling!

A word on overshoes. Don't! Maybe it's just bad luck but I've never had a pair that even remotely worked. If the water doesn't spray up through the large holes in the sole for your cleats then it runs down your shin and wicks through your socks. Either way the end result is cold, wet feet. Which you would have got if you weren't wearing them. Plus there's the a bonus-hole you get in the heel pretty quickly after walking in them! Perhaps I'm missing the point entirely (it wouldn't be the first time) but why spend $50 or more on something that can't work and that will only make you feel let down? If you need a bit of toe protection, get some toe-covers instead; they'll keep the chill off your toes without pretending to be waterproof. Either that or wear a large plastic bag under your socks! It works but it sure ain't pretty; just don't let me see you do it!

Stay warm, try and keep dry and even if you don't, keep smiling regardless...


1 comment:

  1. You're right that many shoe covers aren't even remotely waterproof, but I have had fantastic results with these shoe covers from MEC:

    Good for keeping arctic wind out on sunny days, put rain pants over the top on the rainy days. Works a treat!