Monday, July 23, 2007

Helmets & Gloves

It just occurred to me that in my description of clothing in earlier posts I never got around to talking about helmets or gloves. I consider both necessary safety equipment. I'm especially a helmet advocate as back in college I had a good friend who was a Cat III road rider, a truly gifted athlete who on his way to visit a friend hit a patch of sand and went down hard, hitting his head on the pavement. He wound up in the hospital for weeks with right side paralysis and had to go through years of therapy. He never rode a bike again. So naturally, I'm never without my "brain bucket." when out in traffic or when the risk of falling is high. My one exception is whenI'm very very close to home (I.E. test riding immediately in front of the house) or I know the roads I'll be on very very well and there is absolutely no traffic at all (think residential street).

The main criteria is to make sure the helmet is SNELL certified other than that let you budget and conscenice be your guide. As of late I've been partial to Specialized helmets. The current one I've had since '98 (Yeah, I know it's over the 4 year rule) is an "Air Cut" in black. Which raises the next subject.. Color. Black is good in foggy conditions, but lousy in the dark. It's also lousy in bright sunlight as it absorbs heat directly from the sun. White is pretty good at night and in bright sunlight, but is terrible in foggy or snowy conditions. Red depending on the shade is okay in fog, but not terrific. Heatwise it's a little better than black. If you do most of you commuting at night or before the sun comes up my vote is for either white, Neon Yellow, or Red. (I'd include blaze/hunter's orange, but my experiences with this color have not been happy ones)

Road helmets are good, if you primarily a racer, but I've found mountian bike, sport or "enthusiast" helmets to be more practical. The usually have a clip on visor
. I've found that the visor is very helpful for holding on a head lamp or battery powered miners lamp.

Gloves.. I'm old school. By far I've found Performances' crochet gloves are the best, but in times past when I could get them I'd also wear Rhode gear gloves; however, I believe Rhode Gear is out of the glove buisness . These are also a matter of taste, but you definately want a pair of you go down. Lacerated palms are pretty painful while they are healing.

Got in another run and Discovered I'm not alone!

The monsoons again have paused which allowed me another commuter run. So far this is the wettest summer I've ever seen here in Houston. As a consequence I'm slowly seeing a roll back on my belt line as my love of good food remains unabated and I have no good way of burning off the calories.

This morning as I was making my turn from Antione east onto Memorial Drive I was surprised and greeted by a fellow bicycle commuter. His name was Brian and he's a hortaculturalist who works in Memorial Park. We rode along together until he had to go his way and I had to go mine. He told me he's been doing this now for about a year and a half and 40 pounds ago. He even told me that.. Dare I say it?? There are women Bicycle commuters! He said he's met one. Unfortunately, there were no pictures of this or our encounter. I'm unbelievably jazzed to have met another of my kind. I even made a respectable time to the office, an hour and 21 minutes which is only a minute off of record time. I probably could have bettered this; however, before starting out it was apparent that the slow-leak-gremlin had made his rounds of my garage as my rear tire of my MTB was super soft. As I rode along I'd periodically hop off and finger check my tire pressure. Plus I feel I didn't do half bad as I had ridden a 14 mile road bike training ride the day before, and that the last flurry of training prior to this was almost a week and a half ago. My legs ache a little, but definitely not like a year and a half ago, before I had gotten some semblance of shape back .