Monday, April 8, 2013

And God looked down on the world and saw that it was April and many thought it was Spring. And he looked upon Fairbanks and said "I don't think so." So he sent unto them more snow and -15F degree mornings. Thereupon there was much rejoicing and delight amongst the fatbikers and he saw that it was good.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Race Resurrection

New this year on the docket is the Tanana River Challenge.  A resurrected ultra ski race from Nenana to Fairbanks, it could theoretically be 100km (some year).  Realistically it will probably be closer to 75km most years since the ice on the lower Chena River isn't what it used to be (just talk to any old sourdough).  Endurance North put on yet another great race.  This one is a bit more special to me because it is shorter.  While 100 miler (and plus) winter races have their place, shorter day races like these are the way to grow a community.  I believe that the comment from one of the race directors was that it has the potentially to be "really nice, or a windy mess".  This year's event happened during what I personally consider perfect cycling weather.  Morning temperatures hovered near 0°F and peaked out at 15 to 20°F by the end for most of the racers.  All in all a beautiful day and a great ride.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mail Bag!

I received the following email from Robert:

I found your website – – and read about Poagies from Dogwood designs.  Do you think they will perform better then the IceBike mittens that Kevin from Empire Canvas Works made me?



I have heard great things about Empire Wool & Canvas and have seen some of their work and was impressed.  That being said, their mitts are not something I would use for my style of riding.  They are a bit heavier than the Dogwood Designs pogies (from what I recall), and the weight weenie in me weighs in heavily on a lot of gear decisions.  By far the big advantage is the dexterity component involved with the pogies; many riders use no gloves at all underneath (I choose to use a full fingered riding glove, partially for the padding).  This gives you full access to your controls without any sort of compromise (shifting and breaking in even the best mittens just isn't as good as in thin riding gloves).  Additionally, the pogies provide some level of protection for your riding controls.  Depending on your setup, it is also very easy to pull your hands out of your pogies, do whatever chore requires manual dexterity (opening your energy bar, zipping your frame bag back closed) and then shove them back in when you are done.  I could go on an on about how great these are, but it really comes down to the fact that they were developed and refined in Fairbanks, Alaska.  They were used and tested by riders who were out every day in temperatures down to -55F and regularly used at temps of -30F. They work well.

I can see several restrictions on a rider that would make the mittens an attractive option, the main one would be finances.  It can be hard justifying spending $100+ dollars on something you will put on your bike and not be useful the rest of the time you own it.  There is certainly more utility to be had with the mittens.  Another difference is probably longevity.  Many of us have had Dogwood Designs pogies for years, and they are still in great shape.  However, they are a bit harder to clean, and should not be washed/dried because the insulation can get packed down.  Joni (the Dogwood Designs lady herself) was nice enough to restuff a pair I made the mistake of washing several times.  The EWCC stuff looks like it is less likely to require maintenance after a decade (maybe after two).  However, both companies seem like they will be around for quite some time and both seem willing to do repairs, so that may be a wash.

I guess my final answer is that, yes, for cycling, Dogwood Designs pogies should perform better than any set of mittens (even a set of very nice, really well made mittens).  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Commuting with Angry Words

There are innumerable things about bicycle commuting that annoy me.  However, I find it is most often other cyclists (or sometimes just people on bikes) that tend to drive me over the edge.  This morning was one such instance.  I happened to be Cat 6 racing with a guy I have seen on a few other mornings as well.  This particular individual is one of those riders that doesn't think traffic laws and common courtesy apply to him.  I passed him again after he ran through a stop sign I was stopped at and mention this to him.  He dropped some stuff trying to get his headphones out, so I simply nodded and rode off.  He caught up to me again at a light I was waiting at and I decided to engage him again with "You should really think about learning to obey the traffic control devices."  He fired back with "OK, whatever you say mom."  I decided to really turn the screws and pointed out "You should also get some lights so you don't look like such a douche."  At this point he just started screaming the f word and the light changed, so I rode off.

I realized later that I am really probably doing the same thing he is.  Just so much as he is riding like a total moron and in a completely stealth fashion (stealth is bad on public roadways, by the way) I see him as presenting a danger to me because his idiocy negatively influences the opinions of local driver toward cyclists.  By calling him out on his questionable techniques in such a harsh manner I am probably steeling his resolve against ever riding responsibly.  Thus, the circle of stupid is complete.