Barefoot in the winter?

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I dabbled with “minimal” footwear about 3 years ago.  The Vibram 5 fingers were all the rage-that may be a bit of an overstatement- and I really liked them.  I enjoyed the feeling of being connected to the ground, and I did notice greater strength and flexibility in my feet.  But, let’s be honest, you can’t just wear those things everywhere……well I couldn’t.  After the first summer, they went on the shelf.

Fast forward to this last summer.  I got a pair of Bedrock Cairn sandals, and wore them nearly every day.  I rode my bike in them, I backpacked and hiked in them.  I would be wearing them right now if the temps hadn’t dipped below my comfort zone.

As the weather got cooler I went back to some “normal” shoes.  Not surprisingly, they didn’t feel right anymore.  There was too much heel lift, and not enough room for my little piggies.  So what’s a person to do?

Thankfully I’ve found two minimal shoes that I think will take me though the winter months.

First the Hana from Xero shoes.  The Hana is a simple canvas shoe that uses a lacing/heel tightening system similar to a huarache sandal.  The 5.5 mm sole provides enough protection and adequate grip.  These shoes are super light (stated weight for a mens size 9 is 8oz.).  You barely know you have them on.  The more I wear these shoes, the more I like them.

The Hana will keep my feet covered, but wont do much for really cold weather.  I started looking for a boot that would, hopefully, get me through some snowy conditions.  I recently bought a pair of boots from Vivobarefoot.

The Gobi II Winterproof has a seam-sealed, insulated, water resistant canvas upper and thermal insole.  I’ve been wearing these for about a week.  They do seem warmer, and we’ll see how they fare as I wear them through the winter.

Have any of you experimented with minimal foot ware?  Full time minimalist?  Let me know if you have any favorites.  I’m always on the lookout for new shoes!

Chris

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There’s no such thing as perfect

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There’s a thing that happens with bikes.  I’m sure it happens with other things too.  It’s a never ending quest for the perfect (fill in the blank).

If a bike comes out and it has feature X, it should have had feature Y.  Maybe it should have had X, and Y.  If it takes this size tire, it should have taken that size tire.  You get the idea.  It’s a constant second guessing and thinking that “if they had just done……this, it would be PERFECT“.

Well, I’ve got sour news.  There is no perfect.  It’s pretty hard for a thing, no matter what it is, to be perfect.  Things are designed by people, and people are imperfect.  Gloriously imperfect.  Expecting perfection can be a one way trip to disappointment.

What a thing, like a bicycle, can do is provide an experience. An experience, in my opinion, certainly can be perfect.  I love my bikes. I’ve tweaked them, changed them, sold some and bought others.  Each and every one, each incarnation has allowed me to have wonderful experiences.

When we focus on the thing, and not the experience, we run the risk of losing something quite special.

Ride on.

Chris

 

 

Social before social media

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Social media is a marvel.  I think saying “social” isn’t even relevant.  It’s just media.  There has never been so much information available, literally at the tip of your finger.  It’s provided a way to either reach out, or stay in touch.  In the blink of an eye it has changed the way we live our lives.  I’m using it to “talk” to you right now.

All of this hasn’t come without cost.  We are more disconnected, impatient, self involved and more likely to be just down right mean to people.  We seem to be at our worst with people we don’t even know.

I have no illusions that we will be magically transported back to a time when we were more civil.  A time when we said “good morning” to total strangers.  A time when you looked someone in the eye when you spoke, or shook hands.  My hope is that we can come back to some sort of balance.  I’m going to start by, sometimes, trying to have a conversation instead of just sending a text message (A friend did this to wish me a happy birthday.   It made me realize that I could take an extra minute or two for people that are important to me).

I spend a fair amount of time thinking about music.  How for a very long time playing, and sharing music was how we entertained ourselves.  It was how stories were passed down.  All of this happened on your front porch, not in your “news” feed.  These stories have survived because they are about people.  Real people that had real experiences.

Dan Carlin has two very successful podcasts.  He believes that we may be entering into a new “golden age” of storytelling.  I don’t disagree.  My concern is that if we stop talking to each other there won’t be any stories left to tell.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Simple is not maintenance free

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One of my most vivid memories growing up is of my Grandfather.  “Mr. Fix It” could fix anything.  I mean anything.  I didn’t seem to matter what was broken, grandpa showed up and fixed it.  These were the days before everything was disposable.

The bicycle is one of the most elegantly simple machines ever devised.  At least, in my mind, it should be.  That shouldn’t absolve the end user from knowing his, or her way around it’s workings.

It has never been easier to find books, tutorials and how-to information.  The internet is full of videos that will show you, step by step, how to fix most things on your bike.  It’s going to require some task specific tools, probably a work stand and some patience.

There are a handful of things that I think everyone should know how to do.

Fix a flat tire.  It’s super easy.  Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you will get.  Here’s an old video we shot at the store showing how it’s done.

Clean your bike.  It’s going to make your drive train last longer.  It’s going to make potential big problems easier to spot.  It’s going to make your bike quieter.  It’s going to make your mechanic (should you have need of one) happier.  A word of warning-Do NOT use the turbo setting on your garden hose and give it a direct blast.  Under no circumstances should you use a car wash.  That water will push right past the seals in your bottom bracket, hub and head set leaving you with a bigger problem than a dirty bike.  A bucket of water, a couple of brushes, and the shower setting on your hose works just fine.  Just make sure to get some lube on all those places where there is metal to metal contact after drying.

Lube your chain.  Wipe off the gunk with a rag.  If it’s really dirty, some degreaser may be required.  Find a place on the chain that you can find again, and put one drop of lube on every roller.  Work your way around until you get to where you started.  Too much lube is arguably worse than not enough.  Too much lube will just attract dirt, and increase wear on your drive train. *** I don’t care what lube you use as long as it’s meant for a bicycle.  That old can of WD-40 in the blue can is NOT a lube!***

Try wrapping your handlebar.  Handlebar tape is an inexpensive way to make your bike look different/better/newer.  It’s fun, and easy to do.  Give it a try.

If you’re thinking, “I’m not into the idea of fixing my bike” I get it.  Your LBS (local bike shop) is full of great mechanics-I’m proud to say that I’ve worked with some of the best.  They’ll be happy to help you out.  All that being said, knowing how your bike works will make explaining issues to your mechanic SO much easier.

While I don’t know that I totally agree with the sentiment that the bicycle will “save the world”, but I know it’s improved the quality of my life.  Just understanding how the bike works deepened the connection between me and my machine.  Hopefully the same will be true for you.

If you have any bicycle related questions, feel free to ask.  I will do my best to answer them.

Ride on!

Where does your food come from?

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I’m turning 52 in just a few days.  It’s understandable, I think, to spend more time thinking about your health as you get older (probably shouldn’t wait that long).  While many people focus on the need to exercise more, I’ve spent more time focusing on the food I eat.  I think mine may be the first generation raised on processed food.  I remember eating tv dinners, the emergence of diet soda etc.  These were all promoted with convenience, and health in mind.  Little did we know.

Just a little investigation tells you that for decades we’ve been sold a bill of goods when it comes to what we should eat.  I’m no doctor, nor am I’m not a nutritionist, but cutting processed foods out of my diet has had a positive impact on my health and well being.

I’ve recently become fascinated by the small farmer.  People that have devoted their lives to growing natural foods and raising animals without stuffing them in cages and pumping them full of unnecessary hormones.  These are the folks selling their goods at your local farmers market.

We have several of these small farmers here in Indiana.  I hope to speak to some of them soon, so I can share what I learn in this space.

Great.  Now I’m hungry.