Excess Baggage

Even though today's windchill temperature of minus 35C represents a warming trend, 2 new bags were tested in what is now known as BOFFOC (Bags On Feet For Outdoor Cycling). If you have been following this highly scientific study you know the drill. Today pitted a Home Despot bag against a Dollar Rama bag. The two bags are similar in that vital indicator, crinkle factor. Perhaps the HD bag is slightly thinner with a marginally higher crinkle factor. All in all it was a contest between equals which resulted in a tie.
Since pure science could not settle this, I turn to aesthetics and other factors as the final arbitrators in this dour battle for bag supremacy.
The HD bag's beige colour complemented my brown jeans and highlighted my ensemble. However, one must purchase these HD bags. Free plastic bags are still available so this factor may be the straw that stirs the camel's drink. Dollar Rama bags are free and purchases to fill these bags are inexpensive. If that isn't a good enough reason then the fact that word "Rama" (Hindu god of virtue and self control) is printed on every bag clinching Dollar Rama's win today.


Bag Man Rideth

This morning the thermostat read minus 26 C. I was elated because I knew that this was an excellent temperature for the third round of plastic bag comparisons. Featured today, the battle of the drugstores -- Rexall and London Drugs (LD).
Similar in weight, the Rexall is spun from a more brittle plastic. LD's representative has a more plastic bag feel. After suiting up for battle against the elements with Rexall on the left and LD on the right, I stepped into the exterior and into the teeth of one stiff breeze. The air movement reportedly made the temperature feel like minus 37. I was comforted and warmed by my plastic preparation.
Bicycles and their movement don't enjoy the challenges of frozen grease so progress was slow and methodical. I am pleased to say that I arrived at HL88 HQ with all bits intact on both bike and person.
The results of the bag test are thus. Rexall has lived up to the reputation of its sister company, the Oilers, losing miserably. LD triumphs, keeping my right foot at the toasty setting. LD now moves on to the round of Sweet Sixteen. The draw will be posted soon.


Personal Baggage

Today i rose to find the temperature and wind chill at minus 30 degrees C. This was perfect weather for the second phase of foot in bag testing. I put my left foot in last week's winner, a Safeway (SW) bag and right foot into the challenger bag, Save on Foods (SoF). SoF bags are a similar weight as the SW bags but with fewer holes. On the surface this test would be a contest between equals.
The stiff wind proved cutting and most uncharitable. The bags crinkled in my boots. Arriving truimphantly at HL88 HQ I sensed a temperature difference between my feet. I am pleased to announce that today's winner of the foot bag challenge, by the slimmest of margins, is the new comer bag, SoF. Scientists at Happy Lucky 88 Manufactory are studying the results with an eye to incorporating plastic technology into their plywood products. Stay tuned for that.
Meanwhile other plastic bag challenges are planned weather permitting.


Studs on Bikes - Timing is Everything

This winter has been a roller coaster of temperature fluctuations. With unpredictable regularity, we celebrate thaws of plus 6 degrees C followed by short periods of minus 20. The highways and byways of this fair city have been caked in rutted ice or water depending on the day of the week and the hour of the day.
This is the time when studs on bikes really come into their own. Studs feel in control, secure and at one with the road. The studded tyres really assist with this self delusion. Whether encountering sheets of newly frozen puddles or cruising over vast lengths of rutted ice terrain, the stupid cyclist has no fear when equipped with studs. Studded tyres are heavier than regular rubber by 2 or 3 times. They are noisy and generate excessive friction when travelling across bare pavement. I am constantly assessing the road conditions, each day I wondering when it might be best to remove my most excellent NOKIAN ice tyres. What is the optimal percentage of dry road to ice-covered frozen hell of the north that will allow me to go back to regular rubber?
Some say that studs are an insurance policy against hitting the floor. I know I feel a tiny thrill when my front or back wheel slips - and then everything starts coming up roses when a stud grabs the ice. I know all is right in my choice of equipment at that moment. But as I agonize about whether to change my tyres, I realize how trivial it all is. I really should be worrying about how I look, my koolness factor if you will, rather than my safety.

All you doubters eat my ice chips.


A Tale of 2 Bags - Dog Owners Rejoice

Winter riding presents multiple challenges including cold, wind, ice, driving snow, drivel, freezing rain, and cold. My large feet are the most vulnerable to cold, as they faithfully pound the pedals, moving up and down but not really generating heat. Sizing of the fancy pants winter cycling boots as reviewed on redbike do not approach the requirements of my mammoth hooves.
One old wife tells a tale of putting sock clad appendages into plastic bags before shoving them into boots. Yesterday's commute started at minus 24 degrees C with an uncharitable windchill of minus 33. I reasoned that if ever there was a morning to prove the plastic bag theory, it would be that day. My right foot was encased in an Italian Centre bag and my left foot was placed in a Safeway bag. Dog owners around the world know that Safeway plastic bags are vastly inferior. They often have holes, tear easily, and are prone to epic catastrophic failure. Italian Centre bags, on the other hand, are made of a more robust plastic making them stronger, more durable and highly prized by canine cleanup crews.
I set off in my multiple foot layering system, bombing over vast stretches of ice left by the rain/snow/deep freeze mix of the past weekend. Curiously I began to sense that my right foot (Italian bag) was colder than my left foot (Safeway bag). Indeed upon arrival at Happy Lucky 88 Manufactory headquarters, I became convinced that Italian bags were inferior in heat retention-deflection to the Safeway version. I can only conclude that I have stumbled upon a solution to employ those otherwise useless Safeway plastic bags. Go forth with bags on your feet and enjoy the warm sweet sweat between your warmish toes while you pick up dog stuff with your Ital bags.

Mollie Moonbeam Passes

It is with great sadness that the cycling world mourns one of its inspirational canines. Mollie Moonbeam, faithful friend and 4 legged companion of Pointy Elbow 5 Grinder Wife for 14.5 years, left her duties as one of Team Vitesse's mascots yesterday after a short illness.

Mollie Moonbeam was a Shetlands sheep dog. Her strong herding instincts were always on display whenever the routine afternoon walk was imminent. Mollie's demeanor was one befitting a Princess. Never a fan of baths or combing, Mollie would invariably prance for all to behold after any grooming by her human.
She held the post as Queen of the local chapter of the DWDC "Dogs Who Detest Cats" for a number of years, an honour bestowed on canines who display excessive vigour in feline chases. Mollie kept an invading cat in a tree for 2 days just to prove a point. Her speed and agility was legendary. She was an excellent traveller, never complaining on road trips. Considering herself royalty, Mollie was particularly insistent that protocol and routine be followed whether it was for dinner, treats or eye drops followed by treats. She braved any weather and would quietly suffer the indignity of booties her human thought she needed in cold weather. After retiring from public office, Mollie passed enjoyable days sleeping in soft sunshine on the grounds of the cosmodrome. Thank you Mollie for your calm and loyal presence.


Brave new Posting

The illustrious history of this blog is riven with wonderful third party depictions of life as a member of Team Vitesse. Henceforth and forthwith, the reporter behind the hilarity has decided to step out from under the crash helmet. I and h2o (hammer of holland) are actually the same person. Just today as I rode to Happy Lucky 88 Manufactory HQ to assume my duties in accounting, I noted 2 wascally wabbits cavorting by the path. They were developing brown spots on their backs. This must be a sure sign that our cold labours near a melting conclusion.


Meteorologists Vex Vitesse

The first day of February in the frozen north was a very cool day. Weather oracles are always consulted in order to establish an overall "feel" for what the day will bring. Experience tells us that no one weather forecaster is ever 50% correct.
Minus 25 Centigrade was the general consensus and happens to be the threshold of pain for h2o. The steady 25 kmph south wind didn't sound like a big problem. Having dressed in layer after layer of multi-coloured flammable material topped with an old pair of wool dress pants, h2o entered the frigid fray. The words of Augustus, Emperor of Rome 63 to 19 AD, appeared in a cold induced vision as h2o forced his steed forward. "FESTINA LENTE" or "Make Haste Slowly" floated in the frozen mist lit by h2o's quickly dying battery powered lighting system. Easy words to follow since haste was impossible to make with frozen grease and toes. Praise and make offerings to the God Moderator who has blessed us with temps closer to zero.


Vitesse Reaction to "el Pistolero" Ban

News of Alberto's possible 1 year ban from professional cycling hit Johan and Team Vitesse like a side of warm beef in an unrefrigerated meat locker. Johan was first to react musing "how can a rider complete a grand tour as a vegetarian? To be a man one must eat animal flesh. This was obvious even caveman cyclists such as Mario Cippolini".
Dr. K2 has begun working with scientists at Happy Lucky 88 Manufactory to study how wild ungulates, who eat only plant life, manage to run long distances seemingly at will. "There must be something in our verdant terrestrial covering that can be harnessed for cycling!", enthused Vitesse's climbing talent. Between spoonfuls, Lampo Bianco managed to blub, "mashed peas taste yummy with little or no aftertaste." h2o was more strident in his view of developments bellowing, "I will eat no more liver than I currently consume no matter what Johan says." As always the last word goes to Johan who proclaimed "Team Vitesse will continue to influence the outcome of UCI blood tests by whatever means possible. Of course El Pistolero is welcome to pay me to ride on Team Vitesse."