Leave It Alone One of the most important skills you can learn as…

Leave It Alone:

Thoreau once said, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”

Figuring out how clothes should fit is one thing; figuring out whether they suit your personality and character is something else entirely. That part requires a lot of self-discovery, honesty, and time.

[As it is with all—discovery, honesty, and time.]

Source: Put This On

Mallory Myths – Gear Timezone

Mallory Myths – Gear Timezone:

Their layers of wool, silk and cotton was lighter than modern clothing and extremely comfortable to wear
Mallory’s boot was the lightest ever used on Everest.

The 1924 Everesters were lightweight specialists who understood their clothing better than most modern climbers
The complete set of garments was field tested on Everest, by Graham Hoyland, the great nephew of Howard Somervell, in April 2006. He confirmed that the replicated garments indeed formed a sophisticated, effective and comfortable clothing system which ‘was perfectly adequate for a summit bid’. Graham Hoyland, Everest, April 2006

[Unsurprising considering that we’ve all “rediscovered” wool and silk in the last few years, and who doesn’t love cotton? You just have to be more careful about getting them wet. Cotton, because it takes a long time to dry, wool because it absorbs so much water that it weighs a ton until it dries, and loses it’s shape along the way. etc. But still, awesome.]

Smoked Out: Bill Strickland

Bill Strickland:

But the sport demands obsession – at least at the level in which I like to write about it. And that makes it impenetrable. And much of what we love about it stems from that impenetrability. You show up for a ride, and right away you get dropped, or you can’t figure out why everyone swings off to the right sometimes and the left sometimes, or how everyone knows to shift all at once without having to talk about it, or how they all just automatically swoop out wide at the same spot before a corner – a hundred thousand little impenetrable acts in a single ride. Maybe you stick through that, then you confront the true, profound impenetrability at the core: When the shit gets tough, all becomes inscrutable.

[Some of the best cycling writing comes from this dude. And some of the best bikes come from the folks that hang out here. It’s a place where magic is born.]

The Chronicles continue…

Rapidly changing weather makes for tough clothing choices. Layers as a concept is fine, but making that work in urban, suburban, on bike, off bike, in and out of stores kinda a deal can be harder. A few thoughts on that.

Being perfectly comfortable all the time with the range of weather we’ve been experiencing is difficult. If you want to simplify what you’re carrying, change your expectations. Be prepared to be cold or hot some of the time and it all gets easier. Do figure out how hot or cold you’re willing to be, and layer accordingly, but if you’re determined not to carry clothes, it’s hard to cover the range from 36F to 72F, both indoors and out, on bike and off, without some sort of compromise. If you can, please let me know what clothes allowed you to do that.

A great piece for me is a light sweater with a standing collar (1/4 zip). It keeps me warm, rarely gets too hot in an conditioned office or light breeze while keeping me from getting cold and clammy feeling. I have one from North Face (it has a nice fleece lining on the collar) I bought on clearance at EMS on club day (who doesn’t like a double discount) but any brand will do… just make sure it’s light.


But even as I play chess with the weather I try to simplify other aspects of my life through the continuing search for products that work in more than one setting (thus allowing me to have fewer or less, which in turns reduces my option anxiety). In the shoes that are comfortable in numerous settings category I’ve inducted Dansko clogs.

“It began with a uniquely designed and patented Danish clog, discovered by company founders Mandy Cabot and Peter Kjellerup, in a tiny shop in Denmark in the late 1980s. This husband and wife team, then professional horse trainers, flipped over their discovery of “the perfect barn shoe,” and, quite literally, put them through two years of “acid-testing.” Mandy and Peter found these shoes to be extraordinarily comfortable, virtually indestructible, and attractive enough to wear almost anywhere. They were the only shoes they ever wore. Mandy and Peter secured the exclusive rights to the stapled clog product line from Denmark, and “Dansko, Inc.” was up and running in 1991.”

Nice story eh? Anyway, they’re plenty comfortable and can easily fit into work, casual, and chores situations. Casual biking only please (atmo).

rapha boxers black

I have a couple of pieces like Chrome’s Shins that have a bit of padding to make biking more comfy without the “it works on the bike but not off” effect of regular bibs or shorts. But because it’s built into the clothes, if the look ain’t right (I can’t really wear knickers at work) then they’re not a choice. Providing more options, I’m really enjoying Rapha’s new merino boxers. Merino is a true wonder material, the Cyfac pad rapha cyfac boxer pad is useful on the bike but not overwhelming off, and for those trips to park where TheKid™ is on, then off the bike, in, then out of the trailer, playing on the bars and then onto the next thing, they’re a great option making the riding more comfy and hanging out off the bike more casual and less technical. Rapha warns to order down one size, I’d say for sure.

Now I know what you’re thinking… Aren’t they a bit warm? I’ll have to keep you posted. So far? Nope. They do sport light mesh panels on the sides which helps them breath. They have flatlocked stitching so the seams won’t chafe, and they do have a fly if you find that helpful. And no… I’ll not be modeling them (count yourself lucky).

[Seriously? You need to ask me if something from Rapha is expensive? In this case, moderately so if you consider what you pay for cycling shorts, significantly so depending on what you pay for underwear.]

Not that it affects any improvement on the layering or performance issues, but a cool T is just that. Johan Bruyneel is branching out from his role as one of the most successful cycling team managers to a purveyor of shmatas. Pave is cool though, so I sport this in good fun. Watch out for the women’s sizing, they run small, order up one.




A long time ago in a boyhood far, far away my parents taught me to skate. The scene would have looked a bit like the one above, only somewhat less idyllic. We got together with a friend of my mother’s (the Fishman’s) and in that classic arms forward stance (to keep your weight on your toes), I’m sure I stumbled all over the ice. Maybe one of the advantages of learning to skate on a lake rather than a rink, is it eliminates that awful starters parade of kids hanging onto the sideboards for dear life, shuffling slowly around the perimeter of the rink. There was no choice out there… if you wanted to move you had to figure out the skating thing. The skates were no doubt a Chanuka gift from my parents, and must have been just good enough. And while I have no specific recollection, I’m sure the swoopy, flying, gliding effect—that effortless forward motion caught me. From my current vantage point, it is easy to see why biking caught and stuck as well.

Jump forward a few years to a family friend (Stacie!) who had studied figure skating. Since I enjoyed skating, a party was planned that included going skating some Saturday night. As is common, halfway through the session the ice is cleared and the infamous Zamboni reset the ice. All slick, smooth, and wet. This being the 70’s I’m dressed head to toe in light blue (just don’t, OK?). Just after the ice is reopened it’s “couples” time. Stacie grabs my hand and says “Let’s go!” and before I could say a thing, I’m out on the ice being pulled along by the hand. I knew it was a mistake, but I was afraid to start skating, and I couldn’t shake her loose. As our crowd of friends sees the two of us out there an “oooh” rises as a collective commentary on our holding hands, skating “together” (as if) and general tween teasing. Sure enough seconds later one of my blades catches on something, and I’ve now mopped up a nice swath of ice with the aforementioned light blue clothing that turned an instant navy blue… no hiding that error, either in that few of us were on the ice, or the darkened clinginess of my soaked clothing for quite some time after that. You’d think that would of have been it for me and skating… but the gliding speed always pulls me back.

In high school there was a small park and rink down the block. Skating sessions were one of the few nighttime activities that fit into the schedule, and where we could get permission to go. Combine that with the on again off again nature of the small ponds freezing and we had a winter’s delight. A touch of freedom from oversight, a touch of freedom from gravity, and the odd whack at a puck with a stick… kinda playin’ pick up hockey on the little ponds behind the rink. I can clearly remember hearing the booming cracks one January morning during the thaw.


After high school skating sessions became far and few between. I was busy learning to be a musician and going to school. And while there might have been the occasional Saturday night skating deal, it certainly had no regularity. Kind of like my skiing “career”, it all kinda went and died out with the focus on music and the lack of funds that went with that. But then… some friends were working at a bike shop and the winter keep busy deal there was hockey gear, skates, sharpening and the like. That winter they started playing pickup hockey over at Playland and before you know it they dragged me out, although I wasn’t in a hockey mood. It was quite a show though. Sadly, I learned that my skates no longer fit me (they *really* hurt that last time…) so I stuffed them away, and the next time my sister asked I gave her my skates (she asked for one of her growing kids). I’m sure they’re stored there somewhere (and worn on occasion I’d guess).

Since Noah been old enough we’ve tried to have him try all sorts of sports. He’s been swimming, karate classes, obviously has been around bikes, trikes, etc., and now ice skating. And he really wants me out on the ice. And, of course, it appeals to me as well… so I went and found me some skates. Skates have changed quite a bit with lots of new tech, and even some changes in how people seem to approach wearing skates (thin socks now, not so much back then). Skates are often made of moldable material and are “baked” (200 degrees F for 4 minutes in my case) to soften them so that they mold themselves to your foot. And they are of course, lighter as you go up in price (and man can you get stratospheric if you care to). now I’m looking forward to playing with him on the ice. His teacher suggested a couple more weeks, which is cool, because it gives me a chance to get to a rink and glide off some cobwebs before that moment. One of the cool things about his teacher is that she was one of Lisa’s babysitters and taught her how to skate as well. My chore will be getting her back out there. It would be nice to turn this into a family thing. Makes it far more fun…

A designer I’ve worked with in a couple of places plays hockey in a league. I wrote him note to see whether we can get together for some some getting started again tips, and help me clean up my technique a bit before I case harden some new bad habits. It would be fun just to hang with him… but skating would be really great.

Updates, as I get back to it… I wonder if Chris still skates?

This year’s favorite things

In the tech category, Rails 2.3, Redis, and the Engine Yard Cloud. offerings have got to top the list of things that improved our ability to deliver products and simplified solutions for us. Github also tops my list of services that have become a way of life. The tech world spins quickly though. Curious to see what’s next. In all cases though, it’s not the tech or the code but the people. All these projects or companies have seriously dedicated people working on them. *That* is what makes these things go. Rock on people.

Quoc Pham fixed shoes
Rapha scarf, Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover
Outlier Black Empire Tee
Stormy Kromer shirt
Rapha Lightweight Softshell
Panache Cycling Houndtooth socks
Outlier hoodie
dogfishhead 90 minute IPA
jeff jones silver headbadge
hed ardennes
king cages ti water bottle cages
harriman local loop
Chris King ISO Hubs
Starting line with Team Fatty at the Livestrong Challenge Philly
Fall riding rocks
Mad Alchemy Mango Love
Taza Chocolate Mexicana helping the dev team persevere
Laying down some fresh tracks in the snow

There might be a few more… time will tell.

Quoc Pham, Patagonia Nano Puff, and the Rapha scarf


You keep asking. I keep answering. No, It’s not like me to discuss this stuff publicly, it’s just clothes and stuff… I do enjoy the search for beautiful things that work (hmmm, sounds like a tag line) and I am happy to share. In the end, find stuff you love and wear it down to a nubbin.

I don’t know where I first learned about Quoc Pham‘s shoes, but I loved the simple bike friendly design. And without going over the top, they fit into the office wear easily. (In case it hasn’t become clear, that is a persistent theme “clothes and products that work on and off the bike”.)


They were not sold through any “stockists,” as the Brits say, here in the US, and I decided that working through a 3rd party internationally was going to be a bad idea for shoes, but not too long after Quoc wrote saying he’d updated his website and I could order shoes directly from him. One of the joys of working with small companies and individuals—essentially “direct trade”, is that there’s a person there and they give a darn. Strange that personal attention from someone selling a product is of note.

The shoes are elegant looking and functioning. You can’t see the pedal ready support or the just enough flexibility for comfortable walking. The sole’s slim profile hides the mechanics of the shoe and supports the sensual lines of the last. The stitching and finishing work is excellent. The heel cup is right on. There is a slash of reflective material on the back of the heel, but it doesn’t intrude or scream bike shoe as much as some. The tongue is attached on one side and Quoc reviews lacing on his website. He makes other colors and styles, go get yourself a pair.


Recently I mentioned the Patagonia Nano Puff. This piece’s purpose is simple. It fits beneath virtually everything I wear as outerwear, it can be worn by itself since it has a DWR coating, is very warm for its weight, and can be packed into its own chest pocket, which has a loop so that you can hang off any handy clip (or a ‘biner). Plus, it’s orange! You can’t go wrong with orange.

A word about the warmth. I used to be “the warm guy” requesting the seat under the air conditioner vent at work. I used to walk about with nothing more than windbreaker for most of the winter. But since I started cholesterol meds and aspirin I’ve been cold a lot of the time. I wear sweaters in air conditioned spaces all summer. Clothing that is warm and lightweight has become very important to my ability to focus on anything other than “I’m cold.” So when I say warm for its weight, it’s important to me that it has a slim profile, doesn’t weigh much and is warm. Warm and bulky is easy. Warm and light is not.

Now you’re going to have forgive the picture, as I grabbed this snap in a mirror on my way out the door at 6 o’dark this morning with phone camera… and I was also trying to display the Rapha scarf I got as a gift form my wife a year or so ago. I can sometimes pull off wearing it in an “of course” sort of way. Other times I rip it from my neck as I realize with horror that I look like a popinjay. This picture leans in that direction, but not when I actually zipped up the jacket to go out, only in my attempt to display it. It does a great job of filling the space between collars and neck, and quiets the drafts wonderfully well. But it is well executed, in terms of size (not too large, not too small) and the simple gear pattern that form the background. BTW, I’m not alone in my appreciation of the scarf.

As always, you’d know none of this if you saw me walking down the street. And for my sense of comfort and style, that is also key.