Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dog Days of Winter

Salmon fishing the American River. Taken from the Watt Ave Bridge while scouting a new ride.
For cyclists, it's not the summer, but the winter when we have those dog days with nothing to do, and too little time to do it. I can't believe it's been 10 days since my last post, but for me, there has been a LOT going on. On tap for Techie Tuesday is everything you'll  ever need to know to replace (or re-grease) your headset. Sometime soon a very detailed special on optimal bicycle lighting for seeing and being seen.

I'm sitting here, right now, waiting for my riding clothes to dry, and that reminded me that there is a better, and much more energy efficient way to dry clothes than crank up the heat and turn up the ceiling fan. Centrifugal dryers, like this one, sold by Amazon for $179, may be the perfect Christmas gift for an athletic family.

These leave no minerals, nor detergents behind, and require only a few minutes of finish drying to get completely dry. They also make your clothes last a LOT longer because they don't cook, stretch, tear, chafe, cut, or infuse them with  residual dryer sheet oils.

Rain is on the way, and it has been getting cold, especially on the night rides I have been doing, so the volume of clothing has really spiked. I almost NEVER wash my cycling clothes in a washer, preferring to take them into the shower with me and wash them in anti-bacterial soap in the tub with the help of a strong shower spray.

When I get home from a ride, I don't always want to jump right in the shower, but don't want the clothes to mildew either. I either hang them to dry, or a great trick, and one that will leave your clothes sterile, is to run 4-5 inches of cold water in the tub, and then add a shot glass of bleach.

If it's hot, or you're tired, this allows you to shower and not have to deal with laundry right away. It's also very effective at removing salt from a chamois after a long summer ride.
OXO 1/4 cup measuring cup. Super-accurate angled scales in ounces, tablespoons, and cups. A nice conversation piece for a bartender too
I checked, and the shot glass I use to measure bleach holds the standard 1.5 oz, or 3 tblspns. The standard fabric sensitivity test is 2 tblspns in a quarter cup of water applied to an inside seam for 1 minute and blotted dry. The usual laundry doze is 16 oz in a standard load, which is about 10 gallons of water. I think 4-5" in a tub is 10-12 gallons, so I'm using less than 10% of the usual laundry dose.

BE CAREFUL. You're trying to make swimming pool water, not kill Anthrax. You can leave your clothes to soak this way for days if you want to, but I usually want them done the next morning when I shower.  This treatment is especially great for a thick chamois, which can start to host some nasty bacteria after awhile.

High tech shells have very fragile coatings which shouldn't even see harsh detergents, should never, ever see the inside of a commercial washing machine or dryer, and should not be wrung in any way, shape or form as it will form creases which will displace the coating.

Short of a centrifugal dryer, laying synthetic clothes out flat on a thick towel, rolling the towel up, and twisting it to wring a little, works pretty well. Then just hang under a ceiling fan, or furnace vent, and let air dry.

My long sleeve PI jersey is circa fall 2007, and except for the tear over my shoulder from when I crashed and broke my collarbone, it's only showing wear at the sleeve ends. I like my clothes being available, clean, sterile, durable, and not ruined by someone else's dryer sheet residue.

UPDATE: 7/12/2012
My Voler Vertice bib short has gone very baggy, and the cloth is seriously degraded where the chamios is stitched to the short. This may be due to excessive exposure to bleach. My best guess is it got a couple of "hot shots" while I was searching for the minimum dose that would sanitize my clothes.

One ounce of bleach in 6" min bath water, BEFORE the clothes get into the water, NO overnight soakings, AND a thorough rinsing are recommended. Soaking in 6" of rinse water overnight is just fine. Squishing the water out of the chamois by giving it a "back massage" with your feet is recommended. You want ALL of the bleach out of the thickness of the chamois.

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