Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tips on Cold Weather Riding: Part 2

Wow. I had a lot of good response to the article I posted last weekend. So much, in fact, that I decided to post a follow-up featuring various tips I've gotten in response to the article, along with any commentary I might have to add. For responses I got from the Total Ruckus forum, I'm going to use the screen name of the submitter. Let's jump right in.

  • "Use Gore-Tex" from Habits1979. Great point. The more windproofing your gear has, the better, and in that same vein...

  • "Use snowboarding or hunting gear" On the Facebook page, Stitches and JB pointed out that hunting gear and snowboarding gear would both be very effective in blocking wind and providing insulation, Stitches went on to point out that snowboarding gear has a certain degree of abrasion resistance in the event of a crash. 

  • "Wear a full face helmet" Total Ruckus member ruckva pointed out that I neglected to mention a full face helmet is almost a requirement for cold weather riding. He also mentioned that there are options for those riding with an open face. But really, just get a full face helmet if you don't already have one.

  • "Get some $60 Wal-Mart coveralls" Pyrogen on Total Ruckus bought this suit and swears by it. Any type of full coverage, such as a motorcycle suit, jumpsuit, coveralls, etc are a great choice, because they trap all of your body heat. I highly recommend this option. I just switched over to an insulated work bib this week and it works great.
While we're on the topic of cold weather riding, I think it's necessary to address a suggestion I keep hearing. I don't know who came up with this originally, but a few people have suggested wearing latex gloves underneath the riding gloves as an added layer of insulation. Don't Do This! The latex will make your hands sweat. This will make frostbite more likely, and will increase tissue damage if frostbite does occur. Here's a good little testimonial from Total Ruckus user ranwanimator.

"I would actually recommend against the latex gloves. They end up trapping the sweat/moisture against your skin which can accelerate frostbite damage if it gets exposed to the cold. I have actual experience with this particular scenario after wearing a pair of nitrile gloves under knit gloves on the recommendation of a co-worker. The daily temp had dropped much farther than I was prepared for and I had to make do to get home. My hands ended up far colder and pretty painful by the time my 30 minute ride was over. Temps were in the high 40's. 

Moisture is your enemy in the cold."

And with that, I'm going to go watch me some football. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and I hope to see you riding out there. Stay tuned for a writeup on Rucksgiving 2012 this weekend, and don't forget to like my page on Facebook!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tips on Cold Weather Riding

With a post-Thanksgiving scooter cruise coming up next week. (Rucksgiving 2012!) I figured I'd share some of my limited experience riding in cold weather for anyone who hasn't really attempted a serious cold weather ride before. What I'm looking to do is give some advice on how you can dress warmly without having to buy a bunch of expensive gear. I can't show up to work and stomp around in motorcycle boots and leathers all day, so I came up with some ways to keep warm while riding while still being able to dress like a normal person.

Personally, I haven't ridden on a longer cruise in cold weather before. That said, I have a fair amount of experience camping in cold weather (used to be in Boy Scouts,we camped every month no matter what.) and I still daily drive my Ruckus on about a 40 minute commute, at temperatures that vary from 30-40 degrees. If you have any knowledge or tips to share that you feel should be mentioned, please post in the comments section. I'm always looking to learn, and I'd be happy to make some edits to add new info. All the information I'm posting here is assuming that you're riding in a temperature of between 20 and 40 degrees fahrenheit. If you're looking to ride in colder weather, good luck to you.

Let's start by discussing the potential dangers of cold weather, especially when riding. There are two things to be concerned with when riding in the cold; hypothermia, and frostbite.

Hypothermia occurs when the human body's internal temperature drops. This can happen even at temperatures above freezing. The best way to prevent hypothermia is simple. Layers of insulation, especially around your core.

Frostbite is perhaps more dangerous, if only because it can sneak up on you. Frostbite occurs when the cells in a localized area of your body actually freeze and die, causing permanent tissue damage. Frostbite is nasty, and not to be taken lightly. Do a Google image search for frostbite if you're curious. It's not pretty. Because of the windchill that occurs when when riding, it is also possible to get frostbite at temperatures above freezing. The best way to prevent frostbite is to make sure that all your extremities are covered, especially your ears and fingers.

Now I know some of you guys are thinking 40 degrees is nothing, but take this into account. If you're riding at 35mph, which is the average speed you're going to be hitting if you're on a stock Ruckus like I am, the wind chill will drop that 40 degrees fahrenheit down to 28, which is cold enough to easily get frostbite and/or hypothermia, especially when riding for a while. If you're taking a 15 minute ride over to your buddy's place, wear whatever you want, you'll probably be fine. But on an extended ride, such as the 3 hour-plus cruise I'm riding next weekend, your body temperature will start to drop, and it will keep dropping.

Take a look below at my current commuting outfit. This is what I wear when I ride to work in the morning:

This setup is what I use for dry weather between 30 and 40 degrees. On the high end of that range, it's a little warm. At the low end, once the temperature is below freezing, it's just barely enough. Ride in the cold for a while, and you'll quickly notice that the difference between above and below freezing is pretty big.

Starting at the head, I wear a thick hoodie, and tuck the hood under my helmet. While this definitely works, I recommend a ski mask. It's a lot more effective and can fit under tighter-fitting helmets. Underneath that I wrap a scarf. The scarf is important. Without it, I get a blast of cold air right on my throat. Not fun.

Over that hoodie, I wear two warm jackets. For me, one jacket is not enough, especially since both jackets are kind of loose-fitting. You can experiment to see how much you need around your core, but remember, if you let your core get cold, you're one step away from hypothermia.

On my hands, I wear a pair of leather riding gloves, with a pair of thin felt gloves over them just for a little added insulation. You can easily just wear a pair of ski gloves, although if the temperature is below 30, you'll want to add a pair of stretchy knit gloves underneath, which you can easily find at Target, WalMart, or even the dollar store.

On my legs, I usually just wear jeans and thick socks. This works well enough for a 40 minute ride to work, but it gets pretty damn cold on my legs towards the end of it, and can take half an hour or more to warm my legs back up once I arrive. I do not recommend just wearing jeans for a 3 hour ride. Seriously. My balls get pretty damn cold, and I don't want to lose them. You have two easy options. Either wear thermal pants underneath your jeans, or wear ski pants over the top. Either way, your future family remains intact.

That's about it. Please let me know what you think in the comments and on the Facebook, and look forward to a full account of Rucksgiving 2012 next week!


Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm Back -An apology

I'm going to go ahead and say this right away.

I'm Sorry.

It feels weird to say it. I don't even know if anyone's gonna care. I'm sure no one even feels it's necessary, but I felt like it was the right thing to do. Here's why.

When I started this blog, I had big plans for it. It wasn't just a place to feature cars. It was a place to promote my artwork, and hopefully a way to eventually monetize it. It was a bit far fetched, but I wanted to give it a shot. I also wanted a place to write about one of my loves in life, namely cars.

Over time, like most of my grand ideas, it petered out and I lost interest. The creative demands of drawing and writing began to be overshadowed by the more mundane demands of emailing people over and over again in order to secure interviews, spec sheets, and photos of their cars. Also, to my surprise, I found that I needed more variety in my writing. The weekly features were a lot of fun at first, but writing only features grew tiresome after a while.

I never actually "gave up." I chose to take a break from writing the blog over a summer a couple years ago, and just never really got back to it. It was always one concern or another that kept me from going back. The main problem, of course, is just that I am inherently lazy when lacking the means to motivate myself.

There is one thing I didn't consider, though.

The Fans. You guys.

I am actually pretty insecure about my abilities when it comes to writing, or really, anything that requires a subjective assessment of my abilities. I had a hard time believing that anyone was reading what I was writing. You guys proved me wrong.

I don't even know how many times in the past couple years I've had people asking me when Clean was coming back. It was a post on the Facebook page just the other day that finally drove me over the edge. The urge to write was becoming overwhelming, but there was something else. I realized that over time, I had actually begun to accumulate fans. People who actually read my work, enjoyed it, and looked forward to more. After making that realization, I felt pretty bad. I let you guys all down. On some level, you guys made enough of a personal investment to remember my writing existed, and actually check back for more from time to time. It doesn't sound like a lot, but with the amount of distractions at our fingertips everyday, it means a lot. And I intend to repay that investment from now on.

Clean is going to differ a bit from it's old format. For one thing, cars are not going to be the only subject matter anymore. Over the past year, I've bought a Honda Ruckus that I've fallen in love with. To reflect this, daily-driven custom scooters and bikes are going to be a big part of the subject matter here. Also, while I'm looking forward to writing new features, I'm going to be writing a lot of non-feature articles. Just random pieces on the highs, lows, joys, upsets, and technical nitty-gritty of riding and driving. Look forward to my upcoming piece on dressing for cold-weather riding.

That's all I have to say for now. To those of you who've stuck it out all this time, thank you.

And welcome back.