In 1997 when I was fixing to move to Northern New Brunswick, I knew I wasn’t properly outfitted for winters there. So I headed down to the Hudson Trail Outfitters at Fairfax Circle and picked myself up a Columbia Double Whammy 3-in-1 Jacket and matching pants. For those of you as bad at math as I am, that makes these here items over 20 years old, and apparently, bombproof.
They’ve seen -40C winter temps, snow to the waist, fall and spring torrential rain, gas and grease from snowblowers and cars, and just about anything else you could imagine. Other than a nice ‘patina’ and some frayed edges that actually add character, they are no worse for wear. Full disclosure, I did have a new zipper put on the jacket in/around 2002 or so, but other than tossing them in the washer and dryer occasionally, that’s it – no rips or tears or anything else.
I probably could have hit them with a coat of fresh waterproofer once in awhile, but I never bothered. They are no longer their sexy, shiny brand new selves, but they are the go-to foul weather ‘gotta get out in the cold and the dark and the nasty to fix something’ kit that I reach for. The durability and the versatility of the removable liner (in essence, it’s 3 jackets – shell, liner and combined), copious pockets, arm pit vents, removable hood and velcro cuffs has made it a joy to wear all these years.
I think, other than maybe a Swiss Army Knife I got as a kid, it’s the oldest piece of ‘outdoor gear’ I have and it shows no signs of quitting.
From fixing busted shear pins in finger numbing temps to solitary snowshoe expeditions into the heart of winter – this bad boy has seen it’s fair share of both swear words and transcendent moments and is as welcoming as an old friend every time I put it on.
Rode my first cyclocross race today and it was a blast. A quick recap.
I missed out on the holeshot at the start due to a huge group of riders in front of me at the start. I decided to start way at the back to make things more interesting. I enjoy the challenge of fighting up through the ranks and it makes things much more engaging for the fans at home watching on tv. ‘He came from the back of the pack’ has such a great ring to it and looks fabulous in print.
I stayed WELL back of the lead riders – in an attempt to lull them into a false sense of security. I kept a good pace and managed to stay just back enough that the people handing out Lebuckskis (handups of pieces of paper to be collected to win a prize at the end) took serious pity on me and were waving them at me at every turn. I even managed to pick up a few off the ground that I’m sure those speed demons up front had blown right over. Heh, their loss.
After the 2nd or 3rd lap (I’m not sure, it was getting hard to keep count there in my Pain Cave) I had to fight off the urge the next time we hit the paved downhill passing the parking lot to not just coast right over to the truck and curl into a ball on the floor in the backseat and rock/mumble myself to sleep. Instead, I was spurred on by the desire not to disappoint the legions of spectators that had shown up and were furiously ringing cowbells in my favor. I am – after all – all about the fans.
My fire reignited, I decided to attack the race leaders, which was convenient as they were just coming up behind me around that time. They passed me, and as I stared deep into their eyes (or maybe it was more the side of their helmets ’cause they were going so fast, but no matter) I could sense – one high-performance rider to another – that they were almost at their breaking point. I decided to wait for the most opportune moment to finish them. My first impulse was to taunt them to break their morale, but then, I spied several Lebuckskis on the ground and stopped to pick them up. There would be time to toy with their minds later.
Finally the bell rang. Last lap. I had them right where I wanted them.
Several came up behind me again, which is odd, because I don’t remember seeing them drop back from the front – I must have been too focused on the Lebuckskis – and as they came by this time – oh vile misfortune! The knibbler pin snapped in my cranks and I had to pull off to make repairs right there. I was able to fashion a new pin quickly out of a pine branch with my Swiss Army Knife, but by the time I got back on course I could see they’d managed to sieze the day. I took it easy the rest of the way, plucking a few more Lebuckskis and even stopped to sign an autograph for one fan who’d travelled all the way from Minto.
The day was not lost though, as I’d managed to accrue enough Lebuckskis (including some that I hustled in the parking lot during the BBQ – the rules seem to be a bit fuzzy on this) to land myself an nice wool jersey. I got a nice parting gift and the other 55 or so riders get to rest with the feeling of having bested me this day. So, win-win really.
What can I say, I’m a giver.
Things I learned today
Carbon fiber knibbler pins aren’t worth the marginal weight savings for the strength to weight ratio. I’m going back to titanium.
You don’t need to be able to actually feel your feet to use them.
The floor on the backseat of my truck is really quite comfortable if you’re in a fatigue and cold-induced daze.
Things I’m Proud Of
Didn’t suffer any cardiac episodes or a schizoid embolism.
Didn’t dab or take a spill at all. For reals.
See #’s 1 and 2.
Finished, without vomiting.
HUGE thanks to all the volunteers and peeps who donated, time, money or materials to make today happen. What a great crew. Except for the one kid who pretended to hand me a Lebuckski and then wouldn’t let go, forcing me to ride on without it. Wrong, just wrong.
Thanks to all the riders who offered encouraging words as you passed (sometimes rather frenetically). Why so rushed? Next time, do stop to chat a bit so we can get to know each other. I feel like you may have cheated yourselves out of what really was some lovely flora and fauna to be taken in out there today, simply because you were in too much of a hurry to notice. It’s these simple pleasures that make life – and cross racing – enjoyable. I myself spotted several birds to add to my species journal.