Sunday, January 31, 2021

My Favorite Winter (Cycling) Boot - The Storm Chaser

I've found the best easy slip-on winter boot that's perfect for walking, driving, and has brought my winter cycling to a new level: LL Bean's Storm Chaser Boot. 

With a thick sock the footwear is loose enough to trap heat - indeed I can wiggle my toes - yet with a stiff sole and heavily insulated interior, plus a waterproof exterior, is perfect for whatever a Vermont winter throws our way.

This is the first time that my feet are warm and dry while riding a bike. I'm amazed that I generate heat - if you're a cyclist you know how difficult it is to keep extremities warm. Yesterday, I cycled for 1.5 hours in 10F weather and was pleasantly warm, even while struggling homeward against a biting wind. Now that's a good boot!

Decent, grippy tread plus a removable inner sole that provides arch support.
Comes in a variety of styles and colors.

I'm thrilled when I discover new gear that aids in my outdoor enjoyment. What have you found that helps you appreciate winter?

Sunday, January 24, 2021

DIY Purple Do-it-all Tote Bag


Drawstring fabric is leftover satin lining from a coat.
I'm pleased with my current project: a tote bag with added features. When I purchased the tropical-print purple fabric, I anticipated using most of it on the Dahon's custom handlebar bag, but because the purple colors clashed, I used the floral fabric as accent pieces. 

I was inspired by the Eddie Bauer Stowaway Packable Cinch Tote. With a side pocket, handles, and webbing along the upper edge, the style plus construction meant I could incorporate my own design features to accommodate an active bike and travel life. I have numerous tote bags, but I didn't own a bag that doubles as a simple backpack and pannier.

I purposely created a narrow bag to adapt well as makeshift pannier/backpack, suspended by two webbing straps that can be adjusted to various places along the top edge. The straps are also long enough to hook both sides of the bag to the rack, if needed, for extra stability. When not in use the straps can be removed and tucked into main compartment or in the external pocket. 

I like the drawstring style closure to hold odd-shaped items inside. When the string is fully opened, the interior fabric falls inward and becomes virtually hidden, creating an open top tote bag. I like this feature on my Blackburn Central Shopper Pannier.

Tuck it away in an office drawer and use as a way to carry home unexpected items, or as a travel go-to bag. There are so many uses for this wonderful, purple (of course) tote bag!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Head Over Wheels with Excel


Recently I completed an online Excel class to learn the basics. I've used and referenced spreadsheets, but had never learned how to create one from scratch - that you can style them, tickled me to no end!

I have collected daily mileage on paper calendars for many years, just because it's fun to see where I'm at from year to year, and easy to tally mileage with a calculator. Generally, I hover between 2700-3000 miles. I don't use a bike computer (and don't want one) - If I cannot reasonably guess mileage then I reference Google Timeline for a ball park figure, then tack on a mile because of it's less than perfect tracking. I also ride 5 different bicycles, so this system works fine for me.

I thought it would be fun to analyze a few metrics: day of week totals, monthly totals, and cumulative annual mileage - that's all I really care about. I required my data on one spreadsheet for simplicity, and in a reusable format. I adapted my own design after inspecting very detailed options on the Internet - and there were many! I have two sheets: one for data, one for charts. In future years, I will adjust each monthly data column so they align with correct day of the week. 

2020 wasn't a normal year (that's an understatement) as I only commuted to work January - March, but managed decent mileage overall. It's interesting that Fridays were the highest mileage days; I have no clue why. I suspect that in future Monday-Friday workday life, mid-week mileage will even out. Also, I expect an uptick in winter mileage due to using studded bike tires. I plan to continue documenting riding miles the old fashioned way in 2021, then transferring those miles periodically to the spreadsheet.

Do you use a spreadsheet to track your cycling miles? If so, what stats interest you?