Tuesday, November 17, 2015

About Reinventing The Wheel

A somewhat heated debate took place yesterday about rain gear. One side argued that the old equipment was good enough, the other side argued against.

I biked a bit 10 years ago, and when I started out biking this time around I was amazed at how much fuss there seemed to be around bike gear - not to mention the bike itself. I don't recall having so much trouble in the past. What I recall is going into a bike sho where I bought a bike that served its purpose well. I even biked to Portland with it. I don't recall buying even a single item of clothing made of spandex and I biked through Thanksgiving in what I'm sure was pouring rain. Last time my commute was even longer than this time by 10 miles.

Granted, I was 10 years younger, not that I'm an old bag now but I might have been a little sturdier then. Or naive. Or weatherproof. I didn't get special bike pants, nor did I have shoes with cleats and rain cover. If I recall correctly, I had goretex ski shoes because they had really hard soles that would withstand the metal pedals that had grips. I had a regular rain jacket and regular rain pants that I think were my ski pants. So, nothing special - no special purchases. I think the only thing I bought were mittens that were made of old school waterproof material - you know that oily, thick material like those wax tablecloths.

I stopped biking because I got hit by a car and thrown over a traffic circle, which wasn't very pleasant. I wasn't seriously injured. In fact, I fared surprisingly well. Apart from a trip to Harborview with a non-detectable blood pressure, I had zero real injuries not counting a scraped up elbow, a dinged leg that got pinched between the car and my bike pre catapulting through the air, and a crushed helmet. In hindsight it could have gone so much worse. After being scolded by an ER nurse for being dehydrated, I was sent on my merry way. But I retired biking, and took the bus from then on. Until now.

I have no idea what's changed since then - as I'm sure spandex was invented 10 years ago. I just didn't own any. Actually, I'm lying. I did buy one outfit prior to biking to Portland but they were just bike shorts for spinning - on sale, and a runners top because I figured I'd be warm. But man, this time I have gone a little nutso in the gear department. What's different? Well, for one there's eBay, and I also bike a lot more. The longest I rode last time was to Portland. Apart from that I did some training prior to it by biking around Lake Washington three times in a row. But all of that took place less than a month prior to the STP. I did commute 30 miles daily, but that was it.

The thing is, I agree a little with both sides of the gear argument. While people (me included) fared well in the good old days pre spandex, I'm sure spandex has its benefits. With spandex I am including all things new in the bike equipment department. Spandex is just short hand for cleats, bike shoes, bike shorts, etc. I think the key is, no matter what one chooses to wear, is to be comfortable and happy. If wearing rain boots is what works for you, then great. If wearing cleats, shoe covers, and spandex make you happy, then good for you. The wheel might not need reinventing, but perhaps some modifications.

One thing I have noticed whilst navigating all things bikes is that people feel very strongly no matter what camp they subscribe to - it being steel frames versus carbon, shoes with cleats versus no cleats. Why? I don't know. Or rather, I haven't figured it out yet. I'm sure there's a reason. Maybe that reason is simply that people are being true to nature - if there's something one can disagree about, then why not. All I know when it comes to biking and spandex or not, is that I am trying to find what works for me - and sometimes it's cleats and other times not. I'm not going to preach we all smoke a peace pipe and gang up against cars because that's just silly, and I encourage feeling strongly about ones convictions - which makes for great entertainment as long as the argument is just verbal.

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