Admittedly, the past couple of years have been pretty heavy on product reviews around here. Early on, I made the December 200 km audax redux my main priority, and so I’ve done the equivalent of throwing money at it to increase the odds of my preparation and its successful completion.

Life circumstances are going to change this pattern for 2023. Suffice it to say, in the coming year, I don’t expect to have the same capacity to keep purchasing and testing new things as before. Pretty much everything I’ve written about on this blog – apart from the very infrequent review sample that comes my way – is stuff I’ve paid for with my own money. It’s not the most sustainable thing to do in an age where written blogs like this are arguably a relic of the past, video publishing platforms like YouTube and TikTok are all the rage, and crowdfunding or sponsorships are the way forward for many a content creator.

Best year in cycling I’ve had in a while, only second to 2015

Admittedly, too, the whole cycle of purchasing and evaluating new product, no matter how good it is, can get repetitive and boring if you do it regularly enough.

As much as I would like to write more about outdoor rides…I don’t expect to have much spare time for those either. Circumstances will dictate I spend whatever spare time I have to ride be done indoors on the trainer.

That said, I will still be around. There remain stories to be told from my saddle, although they may change in the coming months. I simply hope you still find it worth your while to hold my befendered back wheel.

Happy holidays, everyone, and thank you for your patronage.

Vitamin D doping

It’s no secret that almost all my riding the past year or so has happened indoors. The COVID19 pandemic was a big reason for it, of course, but my current work shift has been a major co-conspirator as well. When your workday starts at 5 pm and ends at 2 am, there is simply no way you can sneak in a long Sunday morning ride and get sufficient sleep. These days, the time I fall asleep would have been the same time I’d wake up, had I had a planned prolonged weekend stint on the saddle.

So yeah, it’s not an ideal situation, most especially because I miss riding with my buddies at the Manila Coffee Cycling Club. It’s not as if I totally haven’t been riding outdoors though.

It sure hasn’t been without its own challenges. The community quarantine restrictions have restricted my riding to places not very far from my doorstep, which I can’t really escape from since I also work from home. This means both long flat sections and decent hills are off the menu, replaced by laps around two adjoining villages. If I wanted either a time trial effort or a long slogging climb, I’m actually better served by RGT Cycling.

Riding with a mask also hasn’t been the greatest. While the GreenBox nanofiber mask is decently breathable, I find I will eventually struggle with respiration through it as it slowly gets soaked with my sweat and loses all ease of breathing, especially after about three repeat wearings and cleanings.

The biggest issue though has to be the unbelievable summer heat. Given that I can ride only in the afternoons due to my current, unique circumstances, this time of day also tends to be the hottest. The heat these days is such that my insulated water bottles aren’t as effective if they don’t have any frozen water in them. Combine that with having to breathe through a mask while pushing 170 bpm, and it’s not something I enjoy for more than an hour.

That said, every time I get out and ride, for a brief slice of the day, I feel like flying. Perhaps that’s the Vitamin D talking.

Finally outdoors again

I finally did it. Armed with the right mask and a healthy dose of social distancing, I took Hyro and rode outdoors.

This brings to a close eleven months of membership in the shut-in cyclist club. Granted, it was a short ride, nothing more than an errand run, and I chose to do it underneath the hot noontime sun. That didn’t matter; I enjoyed every minute of it.

Maybe it was all those months on the indoor trainer, with the relatively “dead” feel of pedaling for hours on end, but riding Hyro out on the streets felt as if I had thrown fetters away from my ankles. What was once labored had now become relaxed. Simply being able to coast and freewheel transformed the experience of riding a bicycle into something akin to flying.

This ride marked a number of other firsts. It was the maiden outdoor ride of a number of new parts I had purchased the past year: Revelate Designs’ Mag Tank top tube bag; the custom Novatec x H Plus Son wheelset I got second-hand; and my second crack at LizardSkins’ DSP v2 bar tape, which was quite the disappointment the first time around. I was just too preoccupied with the fun of riding outdoors again, though. Collecting my thoughts on these items will have to wait until next time, perhaps after I’ve logged longer stints.

Hyro, our old dog Max, and our beloved governess Yaya Cora.