This is a fun and fast-paced film highlighting the Dutch cycling culture from days gone by. If you pay attention, there's a velo-petrol transport vehicle that appears around 2 minutes 43 seconds. How ironic. And check out the sidesaddle child carrier at 1:45. One thing's for sure, the Dutch like their panniers big!
It’s been hot again this past week. Well, not as hot as RAGBRAI week, but still pretty hot. Temperatures have gotten into the mid-90s.
One big difference between this week and the July heat wave is the humidity. The dew point has been particularly low. In case you're wondering, the dew point temperature is the point at which the air must be cooled in order for the air mass to become saturated. I learned that in seventh grade science class where we would wet a wick on the end of a thermometer to get the dew point reading. The drier the air the greater the evaporative cooling and the lower the dew point. Conversely, when the air temperature is close to the dew point, the relative humidity is high - or something like that. I’m not Dr. Science but he does live in Iowa City, or at least he used to.
Anyway, by now you’re probably wondering where this is going. Well, many years ago while riding in the Utah desert, another cycling tourer showed me a clever way to keep your water bottle cool. Just put a sock on it. More specifically, put a wet sock on it.
While this technique is usually limited to very dry climates, this past week it worked in the typically humid Midwest. I won’t suggest the best sock material for this application. It does require you have a second water bottle to keep the sock wet. Currently, I have a mostly wool sock on my stainless steel bottle. The sock, I might add, also keeps the stainless bottle from clanging around in the cage.
I'm sure this is old news to a many riders, but if you've never tried it and the temperatures are high and the dew points low, give it a whirl.
Adventure Cycling and America ByCycle have created this fun and useful video on packing your panniers for a tour. I do have one contribution to the content of this video. After a few tours spent rummaging through panniers looking for that pair of cozy socks or that clean t-shirt, I came up with a simple method to help me find clothing quickly. I keep clothes that go above the waist in one pannier (the right rear pannier to be precise) and clothes that go below the waist in another. Of course, using multiple stuff sacks as shown in the video may render this technique unnecessary.
It hasn’t rained much this summer. That may be an understatement given this is the driest and hottest summer on record for the Midwest. Nonetheless, I sometimes ride in the rain or on wet streets.
I’ve spent hours riding in rain of all sorts: heavy rain, sprinkles, thunderstorms (not recommended), icy rain. Sometimes I have rain gear, sometimes not. Sometimes I use an umbrella (yes, I do this for short distances). Consequently, there is one accessory that is on every bicycle I ride… fenders, or as they are known across the pond, mudguards.
Granted, when it is raining fenders do little to keep you completely dry, but they do help. Mostly, they keep things clean – like you and your bike and your cargo. If you ride in the winter on slushy roads, fenders keep your bike and your backside cleaner. Winter is hard on bicycles and ruinous to bicycles without fenders.
In addition to being a practical accessory, they also can dress up your ride. Thankfully, over the past 7 or 8 years, we’ve seen plenty of new choices. I use Gilles Berthoud fenders on my Mercian, Planet Bike Cascadias on my commuter and Velo Orange stainless on some of my other bicycles. But there are plenty of other fine fenders out there.
The one thing all of the fenders I use and recommend have in common: they are full coverage. There is nothing worse than riding on wet streets with a front fender that is too short to keep the front tire from spitting a rooster tail on your feet, and thus arriving at your destination with sodden shoes and socks.