Sunday, February 10, 2008

How to ride below zero and stay warm

Ride this bike from the comfort of your keyboard!

© Akiyoshi Kitaoka

Um, it's a static image...

Found at this site along with some other interesting things...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lake Winter Boots; Failure to Perfect

This year I swore would be the year I would complete my conversion to full time bike commuter. I had put Nokian Mount & Ground studded tires on Ice Bike last year but only rode to work a few times when it was below freezing though I did get a fair amount of pleasure riding in on them. In preparation for this year's commute, I built up a Surly Karate Monkey with two tire options. Schwalbe Big Apples for pre-freezing temps and Schwalbe Snow Studs for the black ice potential season. I actually liked the Nokian Mount & Ground studded tires a little better as they are a bit wider and give a more steady ride but they don't make this tire for 29er's. However, that's not the point of this post.

The Monkey has been a great ride but I needed one more thing to really be ready. I don't have any circulation in my feet as far as I can tell since they can go numb futzing around the house if it's below 70 degrees. I have drooled over the Lake Winter Boots for quite a while and decided to take the plunge last fall. They have been one of the best investments I have ever made. I still need heater packs when it's below 10 degrees but have been out well below zero and not even had chilly toes.

I got about 15 miles in last evening, a nearly perfect ride with the sweetie, also sporting Lake Winter Boots (Santa wanted to make it as easy as possible for her to join me for chilly rides...). It's funny how a cold weather ride can feel like three times the mileage and we left before dinner so when we got home, we were HUNGRY and started grazing almost before we got the back door closed. So, left over pancake smeared with peanut butter in hand, I popped off my wonderful Lake Winter Boots since now that I was back inside, my feet were starting to cook.

Then I saw it...

One of the heels had come unstitched! But then on closer inspection, they both had come undone. Damn, these are only two months old I'm thinking, two months and I paid full price (that doesn't happen very often...) and as whole boots, they are worth every penny. Heck, even falling apart they kept my feet perfectly warm for a couple hours riding at around 12 degrees. But it was like finding out there's no Santa Claus, these boots failing on me.

So I'm still willing to give them a chance but am a little pissed off and call Lake and start to say "Hi, I have these Lake Cycling shoes that the stitching has come out of, ..." and when I take a breath the guy on the other end of the phone says "Sounds like you have the 2008 Winter Boot right?" My first thought is, yup they are crap and the run around starts here but quite the opposite happens. He first tells me they will take care of it either by me sending them the boots for repair or I can take them to my local cobbler and have them fixed and send them the bill which they will happily pay and with many apologies as well.

He then explains that they had been using nylon thread for the heel but were having about a 1% failure rate which they weren't happy with and wanted to fix. So they changed to Kevlar thread, you know the bullet-proof material, in hopes of reducing the failure rate. Unfortunately, this change resulted in around a 25% failure rate that seems to occur after a month or two of use. They don't yet understand why this is happening but are properly aghast and ready to make it right. Too bad that their attempt to make the boot perfect resulted in such a failure.

My advice, if you happen to have the 2008 model, check the stitching around the heel very carefully and get ready to have them fixed before something bad happens. Also get ready for some great customer service, quite refreshing these days!