Friday Group Ride #25

Now that we’ve been given the gift of mechanical doping, I am thinking about all of the little bits of gear that help me along my way every day, the gloves, the helmet, the shorts and jerseys and gloves. The socks! Don’t forget the socks.

Are gloves manual doping? Does anyone ever actually read the manual? IKEA could stand to dope their manuals a little. I bought a couch from them, but could only manage to manufacture a chaise longue from the kit they gave me. Now who’s the dope?

Is Gatorade electrolyte doping? What is an electrolyte? Who was in the Electrolyte Orchestra other than Jeff Lynne? What is the future of symphonic rock? I hope it’s not these guys, cause they’re six kinds of awful.

If a motor is mechanical doping, is having a high VO2 Max or high lactacid metabolism, talent doping? Should Greg LeMond give back his three yellow jerseys because damn it, his natural capacity for processing oxygen is just way beyond anything I can compete with? My answer: yes. Perhaps cycling could develop a biological handicapping system so that schlubs like me could compete in Grand Tours and have our times adjusted (from days down to hours) to keep us competitive with the extraterrestrials who actually win those things. Who’s in? Where’s the petition?

Rather than getting into a long, tortured discussion of seat tube motors, torque, battery life and the dark side of the human spirit this week, I’d like this Group Ride to focus the stuff that helps us enjoy the ride. The question is: What is your favorite piece of gear/kit and why? Don’t start waxing rhapsodic about your new carbon fiber frame or a wheel set. Like the Lance’s autobiography, this is not about the bike.

It’s about not-the-bike. What not-the-bike do you like best … while you’re on the bike?

Image courtesy Robert Wise Productions

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  1. eatiusbirdius

    Garmin 305 w/ HRM. I’m fat and out of shape and it helps me know where my driveway is and also helps me avoid going into cardiac arrest by getting to close to my max HR. 🙂

    In all sincerity (although the above is slightly true), I do love it. It helps me target my workouts more effectively and gives me good feedback on how I’m progressing.

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  3. Adam

    My lovely girlfriend bought me two Rapha jerseys. They are so nice, so comfortable and so cool that they help me get out the door some days.

  4. Doug P

    My advice is to buy the bike accessories you’re thinking of 80 miles out on a 90 mile ride, not the ones you’re drooling over as you drink a beer at home. And for me that’s my trusty ‘ol Turbomatic 4 saddle!

  5. wvcycling

    My favorite piece of equipment is not even on my bike or self; it is a newly paved road. Went over a three mile stretch of new asphalt at the end of a 50 mile ride and was pedaling in a gear smaller than I usually do. It was magical… as if I was performing 5-8% better than I would have without that wonderful stretch of newly layed gravel and tar…

    Imagine if everything you rode over was as smooth as glass, but as grippy as the top of a skateboard while your friends were slogging over potholes.

    The department of transportation is /helping me dope/ o:)

  6. G

    nothing beats pulling on a fresh new helmet that fits like it was made from a mold of your head. the only thing better than that is being the only guy/girl on any of your local rides that has the unobtanium. for me, it has to be the white catlike whisper plus that i paid an arm and a leg for online last summer since they won’t be available in the states until next summer. love the looks i get from people that say i look like thor hushovd, or a titleist golf ball…

  7. Andrew

    New pair of speedplay-specific DMT radial shoes.

    They are so comfortable, and the carbon soles shaves off chip-and-seal rattles. 50 miles out, if my feet are comfortable, then so am I.

  8. SinglespeedJarv

    When I was racing, years ago, it used to be the team kit, the whole of it. These days I don’t have anything much kit-wise that I can’t do with out, or that makes the ride special. A new pair of socks is always a luxury and maybe one jersey fits slightly better than another. But my kit draw isn’t special, I generally make do with what I have.

    I guess I’m not really a kit person.

  9. sophrosune

    In the winter, it’s my Rapha Winter Jersey. Makes me look good and feels great. But day in day out it’s my SIDI shoes. Like slippers. Love ’em.

  10. Big Mikey

    Love the comment about new asphalt. No question.

    For me, it’s my chrome-colored Sidi’s. Everybody should own something that’s faster than they are.

  11. randomactsofcycling

    I have a pair of silver Track shoes by Nalini that I wear only on days when I’m feeling fast. They are lace up, totally old school (not sure about the silver but…) and I always get comments about them. All positive. I love lacing them up with the whitest of white socks on and getting out on a bunch ride knowing they are unique to my group.
    They came with track cleats but I’ve never ridden track in my life. I suppose I should give it a go sometime. They’d look pretty cool with some old school straps across the top.

  12. Kuzu

    Race day embrocation. Which so happens to be Mad Alchemy’s Mango Love (plug). There is nothing like pulling up to the starting line with the smoothest, shiniest legs around, knowing that while you can smell the fear coming from your opponents all they can smell is the wonderful scent of your legs.

  13. Souleur

    Whats to like not-the-bike…..
    -the summer sun rising off the east horizon
    -the effortless spin in summer, as the bitterness of winter is all gone
    -the dogs that chase me, that are smiling, and we race to the corner each morning
    -how the k’s just roll over and over and over, instead of slowly ticking one by one
    -sounds of nothing
    -long and late evening rides where the wind dies down, kids are playing, and life is abundant around as you spin through a neighborhood
    -the salt on the bibs and feel of the unzipped jersey
    -girls that yell out the window, then mention ‘its an ole man’
    -everyone not-the-bike asking if your gonna ride in ‘the tour’

  14. Mike

    A comment first: Maybe cycling should follow the lead of thoroughbred racing and handicap the top riders with weights. Seems only fair!

    I’ll have to go with a nicely fitting saddle … for me it is my Selle San Marco SKN Pro. I’ll also have to agree with many of the things reported by others.

  15. James

    I’m dating myself… I love clipless pedals! After years of riding, touring and racing with clips and straps I love clipless pedals! I bought a pair of the original white Look pedals the moment they were available to mere mortals. When I saw those on the weekend CBS Tour highlights for the first time I was instantly in love. No more numb toes, having to ride around without cleats on your shoes to set the cleat point, laces getting caught between the chain and chainring! Clipless pedals are the next thing to nirvana.

  16. dvgmacdonald

    There are 4 things I can think of that keep me comfortable even when I’m trying to make myself hurt:

    Selle An-Atomica Titanico saddle. Keeps the backside happy.
    Easton EC90SLX Anatomical bend bar. It’s really just the carbon damping the vibration that keeps my right hand from going all pins & needles every 5 minutes or so.
    Sidi Genius 5.5’s. These were a huge step up from the low end shimano road shoes I started with. Feet are in good shape.
    DZ Nuts. Stopped getting saddle sores when I switched to this from the Assos.

    There’s plenty of blingy stuff I’d like to own or ride, but the stuff I find myself appreciating is the stuff that keeps me from feeling the pain that I’m not looking for.

  17. Alex Torres

    My latest not-the-bike stuff is not a kit or piece of equipment, but made me feel so comfortable, so one-with-the-bike, so fast that feels like I´ve added the motorized gizmo to my SL3: a 3 hour, meticulous and detailed BIKE FIT done by a professional friend. The day after I was looking forward to the training ride to “test” my new fit just like I would with a new deep carbon wheelset, PM or racing shoes. My training and racing has improved dramatically, and I feel more motivated.

  18. cthulhu

    What I love about cycling that is-not-the-bike is the fatigue of the legs and the lightness of being after a long and hard ride. All my everyday worries and problems are gone for that moment. What else there is to like? Kids cheering at the roadside and and bad Belgian roads. Really the worse they get the more pai…fun it is.

  19. Erik

    Clarity. After a certain amount of miles the head clears and non-bike world again becomes manageable. Work (the work that pays the bills) is a reasonable task instead of a chore. Miles on the bike give me the best accessory, a life.

  20. MattS

    For me the bits of technology that I really appreciate are those I connect to. I’m most picky about bars and saddles, but while I love my San Marco Regal, there are other saddles I have that feel great too. However, there is only one handlebar that is ‘just right’: 3T Rotundo Pro, 42cm. The bars on all my other road bike just don’t feel right, and those bikes won’t be ‘right’ until they have Rotundos on them. Its all about the sensations.

    Speaking of sensations, my favourite ‘gear’ for the ol’ bod is Mad Alchemy embro, specifically, the secret Coffee flavour. Today was a 100k road/trail ride in 10 degrees celcius steady rain. I opted for the Cold weather formula, as I reserve the Coffee for special days. My legs felt much better than my freezing hands, as usual!

  21. DanielS

    I can’t believe nobody has mentioned power meters! My favourite piece of equipment, hands downs, is my Powertap. Nothing else compares as a training tool.

  22. Burns

    One piece of not-the-bike kit that I don’t have but drool for, Power Meters. One day I’ll have one, that’s what I dream about.

  23. Dan O

    Mmmm….okay, I have two pieces of gear to mention:

    The original Flite saddle. The most comfortable saddle ever made – for me anyway. I have one on almost my bikes. I need nothing else.

    Arm and knee warmers. Here in the Pacific Northwest, an almost year round piece of kit.

    My arm warmers are 20+ year old Performance brand models. They’ve been worn and washed hundreds and hundreds of times and still survive, outlasting multiple pairs of knee warmers. At this point, its now become a personal torture test to see just how long they last.

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