More on keeping warm during winter cycling

March 11, 2016

Toe warmers and thin wool socks.  I tried a variety of “winter wool” cycling socks and no joy.  I dropped $50 on neopreme – no joy (but you should have seen the sweat).  Toe warmers – perfect!


Now that it is Spring… things are easier… just need to stay hydrated during training as there are no rest stops.  At least during the MS 150 this April there are stops every 10-15 miles.

Training Update

January 13, 2016

I’ve committed to the MS 150 in 2016 and have a link below to my fund raising page.

I’m doing two rides a week. A 25 mi/15mph ride with AggieLand Cycling and another ride at least that long with my TAMU professor buddy. This last Sunday we did 37 miles at 14.5 mph. I was functional but tired after.

My big battle right now is keeping my toes from turning either blue (cold) or white (no circulation). I’ve tried Pearl Izumi toe covers, wool cycling socks, wool hiking socks, hiking liners and as of this morning – full blown neoprene shoe covers.

For 38 deg temps I wear leggings over my cycling shorts, a Merino wool base layer under a Gore jacket, a Gore head cover (under helmet), some Bontrager winter gloves w thinsulate. All of those body parts are FINE! But even with the Enduro covers – my feet froze.

Ok, maybe not quite as bad as usual but the toes were NOT happy. What is also interesting is that my socks were soaked top to bottom. For my first outing I put my leggings down to the shoe and put the covers over the shoes and thus over the leggings. My socks had no effective way to breathe. I’m going to try rolling up the leggings and unzipping the backs of the covers to see if keeping my foot dry will help. I doubt that will matter.

I’m thinking about electric socks next…..

Other updates include switching from my old Nike+ Sport watch to a Tom Tom MultiSport (returned) to a Garmin Forerunner 910XT .

The Tom Tom had all the right features but I had fits getting it setup w/o the awesome and prompt Tom Tom technical support. However, the handlebar retaining strap broke (just like the Amazon reviews said it would) and the cadence sensor shut down after but a few rides. Coupled with some problems with the backlight and problems transferring large data sets to my phone (via BlueTooth) and I received an RMA.

The Garmin is interesting. Yes, it is 3-4 yr old tech, but it is professional grade tech. The functionality is solid and I love the fact that the watch shows my heart rate after I suspend or stop a ride. The four customizatable screens are awesome! Ok, the annotations are a bit small for my eyes but I can memorize what I put where and get by w that. I’ll be adding the speed and cadence sensors to the bike shortly.

The website is pretty good and after a few minutes of prodding I did get the Strava connection to work.

Regarding my MS 150 link…. please consider a small donation!

Cycling with a Cause

December 11, 2015

BP MS 150 – Ride from Houston to Austin in 2 days. A challenge for anyone – especially a 53 yr old! Please support my ride by supporting the fight against MS!  Ride is April 16-17, 2016.  I will continue to post my progress on this blog.

Cycling – Update

December 10, 2015

I’m about to register for the MS 150 which means fund raising and lots of hours in the saddle.  Good thing I like cycling !

So far I’ve learned that a fitting is a must and so is proper clothing when you are out in 40 deg temps for 2-3 hours.  I’m trying out different foot wear in an attempt to keep my tootsies warm – so far “socks” from Gore coupled with toe covers and wool sock liners worked “ok” in 40 degrees. I have a better quality shoe “cover” that I’ll try with my winter grade Smart Wool socks soon.  My Brooks running tights work fine for cycling.  I also picked up a Gore jacket with removable sleeves.  it’s actually too warm in the upper 40’s – unless it is raining and in the 40’s… then it will get soaked after a while but you will stay warm.  I also love my Gore skull cap – goes over my head but under my helmet.  Absolutely works wet or dry.

I haven’t done anything interesting to the bike – just had adjustments made, replaced the stem, handlebars and seat.  That has eliminated all back, knee and neck pain.  Still working on the hands.

Endurance wise I can do 35 mi at 15mph which is a good starting point.

Cycling – Just getting warmed up

October 4, 2015

Last November I purchased a basic Specialized road bike from Aggieland Cyclingcycling and restarted my cycling hobby after a 18 yr break. While I still had my 1990 vintage Schwinn Criss Cross…. It was time to shed some weight and pick up my pace from 10mph.

Well, after some trials and tribulations I went to Bike Barn and paid for Joe Treanor to do a formal fitting. Yes, it cost some money, yes I replaced my seat and bars, YES IT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

My ultimate goal is to complete a MS 150 – perhaps even the 2016 ride. I’m going slow and steady in my training as someone over 50 yrs old should.

Right now I’m up to 15 mph on a 32 mile ride but I’m not much good for part of the day after… Which is an improvement from the last time I did a 32 mile ride – I was wiped for a day and half. The difference is the fitting and new seat. My heart rate is down, my neck and “sitting parts” are sore but not like they used to be.

This weekend was magnificent weather so I did notice my toes getting a bit cold again. Last winter I experimented with wool liners and shoe covers. Those helped but didn’t quite do the trick. I now have SmartWool cycling socks which for the summer are magnificent (I also love their hiking socks). Some research led me to this blog entry:

Good stuff.

My next post will be some polite observations on the (lack of) social interactions on group rides.

Tin foil isn’t likely to help protect your credit card.

May 24, 2015

>>DISCLAIMER: the following is based on my reading/research and is not offered in any professional capacity. Readers should always do their own research and talk to their credit card companies. <<

The new cards (issued in the last year) with the visible “chip” on them are “Chip and Pin” or “Chip and Signature” cards. That visible chip is not an RFID chip, it is actually a form of computer that improves the security of your card. This is not readable from a distance. There were cards issues a few years ago that did have RFID chips that allowed you to wave a card at a scanner and conduct a purchase. Those cards that still offer that feature have (generally) had encryption added to the cards to make it harder to use any information picked up remotely .

By October of this year all retail merchants are supposed to upgrade their scanners to only accept the “Chip and Signature/Pin” technology. In Europe, you insert your card into a slot (vs swipe) and have to enter a secret 4 digit code (like you use with your ATM). However, the American credit card companies did some “market research” and concluded that we Americans would be upset if we had to do TWO new things to make credit card purchases. Examples of these terminals are in place at Walmart, Lowes, Target and Home Depot. Note that the Target and Home Depot were where many MILLIONS of us had our credit card information stolen because those firms were hacked. Walmart, love them or hate them, have actually turned their readers on so you have to insert a Chip card vs swipe it.

That last point is vital, until most retailers turn on their Chip readers, any card can be read by a pocket skimmer and duplicated. I have a Marriott Signature card, very fancy, carbon fiber, and has a Chip. Well, one of the local restaurants has a bad apple and the card got skimmed, duplicated and used at a convenience store and then at a gas station. Visa figured it out, texted me and we killed the card. Last year the card was compromised at Lowe’s.

Now, using a card ONLINE is another can of worms. There are several vulnerabilities between you and the actual credit card payment processing company. First, always make sure you see https:// in the address bar of your browser (and the little green lock) before using a credit card online (this site has that feature so go look right now on your address bar). The rest of the vulnerabilities are, as far as I can tell, out of your hands. The larger the vendor the better the odds that they have taken additional steps in compliance with a mandatory standard called PCI DSS 3.1 however…. not all of those protections will be in place for another year or so…..

So what else can you do? Personally, I’ve opted for several credit cards designated for different purposes. We use one card for online purchases, one for auto pay (some utilities are happy to bill my credit card), one for retail and one for travel, Some may say having four cards in play makes me four times as vulnerable but oddly enough the card that has been replaced the most often is the card I use for retail purposes!

Now if someone out there is more involved in the PCI world, they are welcome to (politely) correct any misstatements or provide additional fact based evidence.

WebEx and Surface Pro 3 (SP3) external speakers.

March 3, 2015

Just a note for those searching for issues related to using an external speaker with an SP3. Don’t bother as of March 2015. Seems that this combination is not tested so it is not explicitly supported… and I can tell you doesn’t work.

We’ve tried using the headphone jack and we’ve tried a USB speaker – none work with the remote party. I have not (yet) tried a Yeti microphone… will try that today.

I have talked to WebEx support (as in my ticket generated a human tech who called me) and they didn’t spin it – they don’t’ know when explicit support will be added. They did suggest talking to my account rep as “another channel”. I understand this as we work with our account reps and sales team all the time in our development and support efforts.

While I didn’t like what I was told – I appreciate the call and I appreciate the honest sharing of the few facts they have.