Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bike Trip 2011 recap - Day 0 & Packing

We got into my parent's house late the night before the original start date, stayed up chatting even later, so an early start really wasn't in the agenda. Plus, I needed to get a bit of work done and ease into the "feels like 105" weather. We did a little mock run to make sure items were packed correctly and stopped at the Ambridge Bike Shop where the owner reconfirmed our worries about the route out of Beaver Valley- hilly and not that safe. We laid everything out again to ensure I didn't forget a key item in Columbus:

Top Row: Jeni's team shirt, favorite PI jacket with removable sleeves, Icebreakers wool zip hoodie, favorite Patagonia running skirt. Bike parts: 3 tubes, patch kit, stretchy net, multitool wrench, spokes. Mountainsmith cubes for everything to go into. PI running shoes (actually omitted, but really, really wish I would have taken)

2nd Row: IB Tech T, 2 sports bra-both also suitable as a bathingsuit top- bathingsuit bottoms, undies, Pearl Izumi Superstar Cycling Skirt, Danskin tri shorts, Granite Gear stuff sack, IB Halo short, black tank, Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite Liner, Thermorest NeoAir Pad, David Sedaris book, Big Anges inflatable pillow, Prana handkerchief, microfiber towel, Ultralite Spider Compression sac.
Row 3: light, breathable, and even (relatively) stylish Helly Hanson pants, tri shorts, favorite Patagonia Corrine dress, Sea to Summit blue dry sac for electronics, solar charger (didn't end up taking, doesn't work on iphone), 4 AA batteries, SD card, earphones, work Blackberry, large Pentax lens, iphone cable, J Crew pink skull flip flops, PI Enduro Mtb shoes, extra Crank Bros cleats, tolietries, wallet, small pink microfiber towel, Polar watch chestband, prescription sunnies, and large sunglasses, then stuff that when in my handlbar bag:
lens cleaning towels, Vega Sport powder, Nuun tabs, 2x caffinated Gu packs, Extreme Cherry Sports Beans & other fake foods, moleskin & iphone, Pentax macro lens, PI gloves, mini-Leatherman, Prana headband, hanker chief, minitri pod, Basil Handlebar bag.
Which all packed down into:

(there was an addition of tent poles & fake foods to my stuff, but I left the shoes)

I also carried "the Sixer" a small Mountainsmith cooler, which probably was the best decision to take. JG carried the dried foods/spices, Jetboil, cookingware and tent.
Test Ride:
Quick Gear Review:
We left in a heatwave ('feels like 105' on day 1), so the favorite PI jacket with removable sleeves and Prana headband were not put into use on the trip, but they are cycling staples. The jacket is light yet warm, and just the vest or just the sleeves work great for cool summer evenings. The headband too is very light, and when temps start to drop so it's a bit chilly in the early am or late pm, it's perfect.
The Patagonia Corrine dress is always my favorite piece of riding gear. I use a safety pin on my left to pin it to my shorts underneath. It's the perfect length- not so long that it gets caught but long enough to provide good coverage when standing. And the material dries really quickly. I actually ended up wearing my standard jersey more than anticipated. The black tank that I had was a spandex/nylon blend, but it felt pretty cotton-y when wearing and didn't dry out too quickly. Taking 2 sports bras with the ability to be swim tops worked out really well. We only did laundry once, so a dip in the hotel pools cleaned those right up!

2 days before leaving the Icebreaker Halo short arrived and I was so excited! I ordered a medium, but probably should have gone with the small. The pad was a bit wide in the back, but overall it had nice form, wasn't too thick in places it shouldn't be (as opposed to Pearl izumi women's cycling shorts) and the wool was soft. They were a bit longer than expected, but that was a welcome feature. They dried alright- I expect them to perform very well in temps under 85 degrees and think that they are riding short. One thing we realized on this trip is that the performance chamois definitely aren't necessary. And in the 95+ degree days were more of a hinderance. I'm glad that I took an old pair of tri shorts that still had a pad in them (the Danskin ones have just a little bit of fleece sewn into them - which is acutally the perfect weight needed, but the seems we not welded and were abrasive). We ran out of chamois cream on the 2nd day and were stressing about it through the 5th as we couldn't track any down. In retrospect, I'm really glad we didn't use it, the short just seem like they were much easier to clean. We just used a bit of Goldbond and Burt's Bees Diaper Ointment. I tend to get saddlesores pretty easily and didn't have one the whole trip. Next time, I would just take a pair of longer, seamless boy shorts to wear under my skirts in the heat. Patagonia used to make a longer pair similar to these boy shorts that would be ideal.
So I gave the Pearl Izumi Superstar Cycling Skirt another chance, though didn't use the shorts that came with it. I seriously have no idea why the front flap is separate from the side/back. A number of safety pins in each side made it into an actual 'skirt' instead of an advanced-loincloth. I will defintely be running this through my sewing machine to keep it as an actual 'skirt'. I had gotten a bottom from Swim Outlet a while ago made my Body Glove which had a few decent reviews for actually swimming in it. Although I originally liked the fit (my butt was filling it out a bit more by the end of the trip), the strings on the front were just decoration- I seemed to loose shape easily, so I could have really used a working drawsting on those.
I got a pair of Helly Hanson (I believe) from Everest Gear with a groupon I had, and I can't be more pleased with them. Each morning they were jammed into the bottom of my stuff sack, and after unpacking them and wearing for a few minutes, they were basically wrinkle-free. Plus, paired with the IB Tech T, which has a grey flower embroidered on the bottom, I felt like I was suitable to cruise around the cities.

The individual packets of Gatorade powder were really handy. We usually just take the yellow Gatorade powder & put it into ziploc bags for cycling, but after a use or 2 the powder gets in the ziploc and the outside of the bag gets sticky. Plus, we drink that stuff almost daily at home, so fruit punch was a nice flavor change. Nuun tablets are the awesomest. No other word can describe them. They are convenient since they are a drink powder in tablet form and aren't too sweet and just a tad fizzy. We had also taken Endurolytes Fizz Mango but they weren't as tasty. My riding nutrition plan consists of drink every 10 min (alternate water and electrolyted water), snack every 30 min. Ideally I would have 1/2 of a caffinated Gu pack or a bit of a hard roll (sometimes with mustard). Well, I quickly ran out of Gu packs, and there aren't many to be found in the hills of PA or winecountry of NY or Niagara region (esp when you always arrive into a town after the bikeshop is closed or on a Sunday). Just before Toronto we track down some of the Cherry-Lime Roctane line of the Gu gels. It was so delicious. The Roctane line is supposed to be gear toward endurance events, but I can't really say that it performed any differently than the regular Gu, (I actually didn't know what Roctane meant until just now) but it is seriously the best flavor. This might have to go in the section of the nutrition plan with Sports Beans: I can only guy a pack at a time because they are so tastey I have no self control over consuming them.
The biggest downer was the Vega Sport Performance Optimizer Powder. We got to a campsite & I threw it into my waterbottle to let set while we set up the tent. Since I am a follower of the Vega cult, I assume that it would be delicious! Took a big gulp and it was so terrible. Even after rinsing my bottle out, it left a grit in it, that off-gased a bit in the heat. Not even close to the Nature's Plus Spiru-tein powder, like I was expecting.
Continue onto DAY 1!!!!


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