The stories of the rides and runs make up the heart of this blog, but I do have some favorite things that help me through randonneuring, brevets, and bike tours. (UPDATED November 12, 2016)
Brooks Saddles. My preferred model is the B-17 “S” (slightly shorter and wider in the sitbones area than the standard B-17) on my single bikes and a Flyer “S,” which has springs, on the tandem.
Carradice. Affordable, waterproof, long-lasting, and work great with Brooks saddles.
Rickshaw makes these bags in San Francisco, California, and this little guy is just perfect for weekend century rides. It easily fits a point and shoot camera, which is easily accessed via this bag.
If you don’t want to take photos during your ride, you can stash your wallet and phone or some other item in the Pipsqueak. The bag attaches with two straps that snap securely on each side of your handlebars and the bag itself has a velcro closure. To top it all off, you can customize your color scheme.
Canon S-110. While not a waterproof tough camera, the Canon “S” series of cameras work well on automatic settings, are easily held and operated with one hand, and take great on-bike photos. I’m currently on camera quest so if you have recommendations for an on-the-bike camera, please let me know.
For commutes and even some bike touring, Felkerino and I use Light & Motion lights from their “Commute” collection. I have an Urban 400.
These lights shine brightly and attach easily to any of my bikes and are rechargeable by USB. While the lights have a good charge time, a USB-chargeable light is not always the best for brevets, as when your light fades you may need to just switch out the batteries and keep going go.
We have not yet found that they are completely waterproof, i.e., that have not withstood super duper downpours, but they can handle regular rain. Even so, that makes them of limited use on brevets where you may ride through anything for a long period of time. Light & Motion is an excellent company that stands by their products and any lights that have developed issues have been replaced at no cost by the company. They are worth trying.
I’m also currently using a Cygolite Dash, since many BikeDC recommended them for the price point, as well as the USB recharge, brightness, and varying settings for day and night use.
These days, garments carrying the label “EN1150” mean that they meet the European high visibility standard for activities like running and cycling. Randonneurs are starting to refer to that standard when purchasing high visibility/reflective gear.
My current reflectivewear of choice for brevets and commutes is a bright orange fabric vest with two big reflective horizontal stripes. Felkerino picked it up for me when he went to PBP in 2007. I’m not sure if it would be marked as EN1150, but it is plenty reflective.
The vest closes in front with two smallish velcro patches, making it easy on and easy off. I also have a similar vest from England that has a zipper in the front, rather than velcro.
The last couple of years I upgraded to another reflective vest, which you can see in the photo below. It is also EN1150 as well as full-zip, with three pockets in the rear. I don’t believe the company is in business anymore, but this gives you an idea of what I’m using.
Ibex jerseys. In the summer I like the Indie full-zip with three pockets. For fall days I like the Ibex Giro, also with three rear pockets. These jerseys fit me well, offer well-placed rear pockets, and I can wear them all day without the pockets sagging ridiculously or the jersey losing its shape. Ibex no longer makes these jerseys, which is a bummer so I’m gradually wearing out the ones I have until my next favorite jersey comes along.
Woolistic jerseys. While not as soft as Ibex wool, Woolistic jerseys are excellent for brevets and fall rides. Like Ibex,they tolerate a lot of wear and tear. I know of a few randonneuring clubs that have purchased jerseys through Woolistic, including our very own D.C. Randonneurs.
Icebreaker merino wool base layers. These wool base layers come in various thicknesses, with the 200 being my go-to weight for rides. I frequently pair my base layer with the Icebreaker 260 zippered turtleneck during winter rides. Both are extremely versatile pieces.
Ibex merino wool base layers. Wool and made in the USA, these base layers seem to hold their shape better than Icebreaker over time.
Smartwool armwarmers. Wool blend, good fit, ideal thickness for me, don’t fall down, and a little bit of style.
Wool Buff. I really do not like wearing balaclavas (although I will on the coldest of days) so I generally go with a wool earflap cap and a merino wool Buff on winter days. Buffs keep the neck warm and are not overly thick.
Rivendell Triple Tube. When I’m not sporting a Buff I use a merino wool “triple tube” I purchased from Rivendell. It’s slightly thicker than the Buff and sits nice and cozy around my neck.
Sugoi RS shorts. They got me through PBP and the High Country 1200K. True tests for any shorts. The chamois thickness is just right, and so is the compression. I use Sugoi RS exclusively for both touring and rando rides.
Gore Power Lady rain jacket. Not designed to be warm, but specifically to keep the rain from soaking you through during a ride, this jacket has been an essential randonneuring and touring piece.
I don’t worry about overheating in it (unless it’s a hot summer day and in that case I just deal with getting wet and don’t wear a jacket), it’s Gore Tex so it is waterproof, but yet not overly technical and has one rear zip pocket.
The jacket is made of Gore’s Paclite material, which means it is thin enough to pack down into its own small zippered pouch, a feature I like for touring purposes. Because it is cycling specific the rear of the jacket extends lower than to front so that your back is not exposed as you bend over the handlebars.
I love caps. Socks and caps are probably my two biggest weaknesses when it comes to cycling gear.
Little Package Caps. My cap of choice is Little Package, a woman-owned and operated business out of Oregon. Little Package caps are stylish and unique and she makes the best earflap caps around. Unfortunately, these are no longer made.
Walz Caps. I also frequently wear Walz caps, particularly in the summer as I like their wicking fabric. They will customize the bill length for you as well, which I like because I prefer a bill shorter than what is generally the standard.
Rothera. Since Little Package is no longer making caps, I turned to Rothera Cycling Caps out of Texas. Their standard bill is slightly longer than I prefer, but the variety of fabrics and overall quality (as well as the occasional sale) put these caps among my favorites.
Smartwool. A wool and polyester blend, Smartwool socks come in a variety of thicknesses and lengths to meet my randonneuring and touring needs for any time of year.
Sidi Dominators. I love ’em. They are stiff, but not too stiff, fit my foot perfectly, don’t slip anywhere, and wear like iron. I just retired the Sidis I purchased in 2011 from randonneuring and touring, and am currently using them for commutes.
Winter Riding Wardrobe Rundown
D.C. does not get winter weather like some places so I won’t cover it in depth on this page. However, the quick rundown of my winter faves is as follows:
Ibex Breakaway jacket. Windproof front and wool throughout make this a great jacket for winter rides. If you’re doing a lot of standing around on a cold day, this is not the jacket to wear, but if you are riding with some vigor and not stopping too frequently, this jacket is great for cold days in the 30s when combined with wool layers.
Ibex Shak jersey. The Ibex Shak is a close-knit heavy wool weave that offers plenty of warmth given its weight. Basically, I think every commuter should own a Shak jersey if he or she plans to ride through cold months. They are pricey, but totally worth it (and you can often find them on sale), and they last forever.
Sugoi Subzero winter-weight tights. Another item in my coldest days winter wardrobe that goes the distance, and is warm given its weight. I wore these running in Iowa when temperatures were in the ‘teens and winds were blowing 10-15 mph, and these guys tights kept my legs comfortably warm.
Lobster gloves. For temps in the 20s, I have been using my Louis Garneau lobsters, which are less heavy duty and bulky than the Pearl Izumi lobster gloves that I only wear in the most sever of temperatures. These Garneau gloves would be way too light for Midwest winters, but they are ideal for most cold East Coast days. I also purchased a pair of lighter Pearl Izumi lobsters last year, which are comparable to the Louis Garneaus in their temperature range.
Rivendell balaclava. If the temperatures are not going to rise above freezing I will (sigh) go with a balaclava as I’ve found it does a better job of keeping the area between my neck and through my ears warm and cozy.
Toe warmers! These little chemical heaters are must-haves for cold winter centuries.
Kiehls Cross-Terrain UV Face Protector SPF 50. Beeswax for your face!
A bit about booties. I also wear booties when temperatures drop into the 30s, but I have not found a brand or type that I particularly favor. I’m open to any suggestions or recommendations for booties that work well with mountain shoes and keep the feet temperature tolerable for days in the 20s.