Friday, 30 November 2012

Sock Technology

Having bought some decent winter shoes I've been giving some thought to the best sort of socks to wear, and the number of pairs. My original sock philosophy with my ventilated "summer" shoes was to wear two pairs of cheap woolen or synthetic themal socks, which meant that my feet were packed into tight shoes and as a result ended up numb, even with overshoes on (although the overshoes helped with the cold). I put this down to poor blood circulation, but having read a few articles another factor might be the lack of air within the sock itself and between socks, feet and shoes. So wearing too many thick socks may just result in squeezing the air out or the socks and space around them. The thermal properties of wool, particularly from the merino sheep breed, are partly due to the amount of air trapped in the material, and silk then wool socks are considered a good combination.
I bought a £10 pair of Endura Baabaa Merino Winter socks, pictured, earlier this week and have found that wearing them with a thin silk sock underneath and my new shoes on top works well, with the shoes not too tight. I've only had 2 x 16 mile commutes this week to test them on though with temps just above freezing. Interestingly I found that wearing the Endura socks on their own and leaving plenty wriggle room for ones toes, worked the best, and having shoes tighter around the ankes to trap air in. So less may be more! Flexing toes regularly whilst cycling felt good and warm, compared with the numb feeling of cold lumps of meat I used to get using my old technique. Adding overshoes in really cold weather no doubt will provide extra warmth and rain protection.
There's quite a good article on keeping feet warm and types of socks on Page 50 of the Feb 1977 Backpacker - which is probably still relevant today Backpacker Page 50

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Shoe Trials

I went on a 24 mile bike ride this morning to Stewkley and back, and it rained apart from at the start and was quite cold, so a good test for my new shoes. I put the Altura overshoe / waterproof covers shown on, mainly to protect my ankles, then when the rain became heavier put my lightweight overtrousers on, so there was no way I'd get wet. My feet remained warm and dry throughout. The overshoes are much easier to get on and off than the warmer neoprene ones, as they have velcro at the back. There were straps under the sole but I removed them as they covered my clips. I think for maximum warmth you need 2 pairs of warm socks, and not have your shoes done up so tight it restricts circulation.
Week's mileage 64.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Winter Shoes

I was struggling to put on my tatty neoprene overshoes yesterday, over my old SPD shoes with chilly mesh sides, when I thought wouldn't it be good if you could get thermal waterproof winter shoes. Well of course you can, at a price. I don't know why I haven't considered this option before.
So I spent some time online at work deciding which to go for, then rang the local bike shop, who happened to have some Shimano MW80s in my size in a sale for £110 (reduced from £150). I bought them but was told they don't come with clips. Fortunately I managed to find a spare pair at home (the shop sells them for £17!).
I tried them out this morning in drizzle with 1 pair of ordinary wool blend socks and tights. My feet were a comfortable temp and seemed dry, until I took them off and I noticed some dampness around the ankle where the neoprene "gaitor" is. I'm not sure why they didn't use Goretex like in the shoe itself. On my return home it was raining steadily so I put on the thin hiking overtrousers I usually wear, plus 2 pairs of socks, and I'm pleased to report my feet were very warm and dry throughout my ride. Trevor you should get some! I've also got some other easy fitting overshoes I could add in really wet weather.
Besides the problem with the damp ankle, they are a bit heavy - but look as if they'll last. The Northwave GTX Celsius is Goretex thoughout and lighter so could be a good alternative. I'm pleased with these though. I'm planning a longer ride at the weekend to see if my feet stay warm.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Bradley in Black

The Guardian today had a picture of Bradley Wiggins today "back on the road" dressed completely in black, albeit with a yellow helmet (like pic below). You'd think he'd wear something a bit more visible, particularly as he's bound to cycle fast.
I've cycled to work 3 times this week and always wear a high-vis jacket and flashing lights if it's dim or misty. I normally amble along too, in no rush to get to work. Cycling after dark can be pretty scary, and I often take a longer route that avoids dangerous roads and junctions, or has more streetlights.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Ashridge Splash

I haven't been doing much cycling lately apart from commuting, but have done quite a bit of walking (Sussex coast last week). Nicky and I were planning a ride to Newbury and back a couple of weeks ago, but the forecast was for rain - which in the end never arrived! Then 2 Lejog friends were meant to go on a ride today, but one had an ankle injury. Anyway it was really wet this morning and didn't stop till about 2pm. I decided to venture out on my road bike with clip on mudguards and I wrapped up well. I cycled up over Ashridge and had to cycle through massive puddles that took up the whole width of the road. Fortunately I didn't get splashed by any cars, but I should have worn my neoprene overshoes. After an hour my feet were like ice, despite 2 pairs of wool socks - the temp being around 5C. I did wear my scullcap under my helmet so had nice warm ears though.
The sign in the picture seems to be permanently lit to warn you to slow down to avoid deer. From Ivinghoe Beacon I cycled through Ivinghoe Aston to Mentmore then back via Long Marston. A round trip of 23 miles. I only saw 2 other cyclists on the road - normally there are peletons of them!
I've pretty well given up on my diet, although am eating healthily and haven't put back on the half stone I've lost. Maybe I'll try to loose a bit more in the spring.