Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is It Time to Ride My Bike Yet?

As I await the drying of our trails...and the melting of the snow that will need to happen first - I thought I would share some of my favorite gear for mountain bike season. Here's three pieces I tried last year that I am now quite sure I cannot live without. And my favorite trail foods!

Ibex Indie Jersey
I freaking love this thing! I have never felt more pretty while riding my bike. I went with the purple from last season, which is gorgeous, and the light wool is heavenly against the skin. And, if you think summer and wool don't mix, as I did, I can tell you that they do. They mix wonderfully, in fact. My only complaint about this jersey is the road-style pocket (elastics) which are unreliable for holding stuff on rugged, bouncy trails, and pretty uncomfortable under a camelbak. I've actually had sore vertebrae after longer rides. Ibex does also make a mountain jersey, with a more comfortable and more reliable zippered pocket, but I like the cut and styling of the indie jersey better.

Osprey Raptor 10 Pack
I was immediately drawn to this pack for the bright yellow color (I love bright colors, and yellow in particular), but stayed for a longer look because of the many features. Nothing is inherently girly about this pack, and I know many men that ride with one, but it suits women well because it has lots of pockets, rings, and divided storage spaces to keep us organized. And, my most important feature: it's large enough to hold a sandwich. Or a light layer. And all of your tools. Which is certainly not girly.

The two best features of this pack: the Lidlock system snugly holds your helmet on your pack when you're packing your car, or throwing your gear in your friends car (read: no misplaced helmets!). And the hydration system is the best one I've ever used, including an easy on-off lid and a magnet to hold your mouthpiece at the ready on your shoulder.

Night Rider MiNewt 250 Cordless Light
This light is the most awesome thing I own, and riding at night is probably the most awesome thing I have ever done! Its maiden voyage was on the infamous Joe's Trail in Waterbury, Vt, and I only fell once! I wore it this time lashed to the top of my helmet (it comes with attachments), and actually found my neck was sore from focusing so much on directing my light beam. The next time I rode with it went much more smoothly, and I tried it on my handlebar this time. That was okay, but I found I like to be able to re-direct the beam in the direction I was looking. So, the light now lives on my helmet. And lived there for the entire fall riding season. We had some great night rides! My personal recommendation would be to strap this light onto your helmet, and then double up with a smaller version on the handlebar. With this two-light system, you can focus a steady stream out ahead on the trail, and be free to also re-direct your lighting to where you are looking. This purchase will extend your riding season well into the fall, and the darkness! It might be the most important piece of gear I own.

Food In My Pack
I am a proponent of real food, and will rarely be seen sucking down a gu (though I do like clif blocks for electrolytes). My top favorite foods, guaranteed to be in my pack are:

  • Halleljuah Yes! bar by Red Door Bakery in Marshfield, Vermont. It's a cookie crumb base, layered with chocolate chips, walnuts, and coconut. Fat contains something like 9x more energy than carbohydrates, and these bars are loaded with fat I'm sure, plus the sugar in these bars hits your system fast, while the nuts offer sustained energy. It's the perfect one-two combo: A fast pick me up combined with longer-term energy stores. Don't live in Vermont? You can make your own: Google recipes for the Magic Cookie Bar or Seven Layer Cookie Bar, and feel free to substitute with healthier ingredients. I'm sure they freeze well, too, so you can make a batch and then store bars individually.
  • EmergenC - you can put this in your water bottle or Camelbak during or after the ride. Look for the varieties with electrolytes included. Also, the wrapper can patch a blown sidewall just long enough to get you out of the woods.

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