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Last Minute Preparation for a Last Minute Ride

by on January 28, 2013

A week ago, I missed a group 200k because of illness.  I had an upper respiratory illness and stuffed sinuses.  That ride wouldn’t have been pretty.  I’m mostly well now, and I’ve yet to get a 200k in for January.  Tomorrow’s forecast is looking the best I can hope for, so I’m taking the day off work and riding.  This will be my 6th consecutive month on this R-12 attempt.  This is really a last minute ride.  I’m committed at work on Wednesday and Thursday.  Weather forecast for those two last days of the month are not good.  Who wants to ride in thunderstorms in January in Maryland?  Not me!

I had 3 others who initially indicated an interest in riding with me.  For one reason or another, they have all faded into the woodwork.  So, I’m off tomorrow morning for a 7 am start on the Eastern Shore, doing a 212k ride.  I had not unpacked my bike from last week, so I just made some clothing adjustments, added two more spare tubes, and will leave home around 6 am.

A solo ride in the winter takes some additional planning.  My route also has long stretches without services, so I can’t pass anything up.  I’ll have to ride this one smart.  There could be fog in the morning too, so here are a few of the extra precautions I’m taking.

  1. I’ll be riding with two rear blinking lights.  I have spare batteries for both.  The one on the road side is a 1 watt flashing light.  On the ditch side I have a 1/2 watt light.
  2. I’ve got an extra headlight battery with me.  I should be good for a flashing headlight for the whole trip with one battery, but colder temperatures degrade the battery’s longevity.  The spare battery will power me if I’m still riding after dark.
  3. I’ll be running my Garmin off of an external battery.  The internal battery will not power guidance for more than about 10-11 hours.  I don’t want to be left wanting as I ride into darkness at the end of the ride.
  4. As an added precaution, I’m putting a hand warmer in the front bag with my batteries.  It is supposed to be relatively warm tomorrow, but I don’t want to take any chances.  Besides, it will be a good test for a possible cold February ride.  I’ve heard stories about batteries giving up the ghost early in the winter.
  5. I have a change of dry clothing with me, including socks.  Wet gloves or garments do a poor job of keeping one warm even if it is over 40 degrees.  Two different pair of gloves plus wool glove liners will do me well.
  6. My temperature range should be 36 – 51 degrees, which is quite variable.  I’ve got clothing choices for that entire range and will be fine if the thermometer gets stuck.
  7. Four spare tubes and a repair kit and a pack of tire boots and duct tape should take care of most repairs of tires.  CO2 has been left out of the mix after Mike’s winter disaster.  It won’t be nearly as cold as it was when his tube froze, but I’m not taking chances.  Old school is fine.
  8. I’ve got enough calories on the bike to supplement what I can pick up along the way.
  9. I have a printed cue sheet plus the route on the Garmin.  It helps that I also know the route since I’m the route owner.
  10. Finally, I have Mike on speed dial.  He has the cue sheet and has agreed to be emergency back up.

So, I’m as ready as I can be.  The bike is on the brand new bike rack on the brand new car.  I have a pile of stuff in the Living Room and my note pad has the list of things I need to do in the morning before I depart.

I’ll see you on the flip side.

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