Sunday, 28 November 2010

Striking a balance

Too much gear talk not enough walk. That's my view of the content on this blog recently. Time to tip the balance back in the favour of adventure. With the mercury taking a dive-bomb all over northern Europe at the moment it seems everybody has been out playing in the white stuff apart from me. I left my home, swathed in soft-shell and sunshine and struck out hoping to find a little more equilibrium.

Thermo-regulation. Another balancing act. Climbing steeply away from the city, in the lee of the hills, it was all zips open, headwear and gloves stowed. Balancing warmth against perspiration. Once I broke the tree-line it was into the teeth of an insidious wind. Fresh from the bitter east it tore at my clothes, trying to steal my heat. Zips and hoods up. Buff buried into. Numb digits stuffed into Pertex, pile and Primaloft. Thwarted by tightly woven fabrics the wind went back about it's business, carving the thin layer of snow into endless, repetitive forms.

Old and new. My battered old thermal mug and unsullied new mitts. My trusty spiky boots and untested new pants. Fresh out the packet socks and a backpack that gets dragged out the cupboard on a regular basis. This winter has me buying some new gear and fondly using gear I've come to love and trust.

Staying on two feet. The most basic balancing act of all? Nothing too technical today, mostly well worn trails and compacted snow but my Icebug's reached their limit on the hard water ice. Additional spiky contraptions are required. Weight v function. Cost against frequency of use. Aluminium up against steel. More points (excuse the pun...) to ponder.

It's a good job I'm Liberian.

12 comments:

Maz said...

Nice. I feel the same way but little Maz has spent yet more time in hospital over the last 5 days so my outdoors activated have given way to making sure he's on the mend. As usual Joe, great prose & superb pics. Your move to black & White has been a nice sojourn. I hope to engross myself in the White Stuff soon....

samh said...

Ha ha ha. Points!

Dave Hanlon said...

Resolute or extreme?

Joe Newton said...

Maz - thank you. I'm really enjoying using B&W at the moment, especially in the snow. Family & the outdoors is another balancing act but the family must come first. Always. I hope Little Maz gets well soon.

Sam - :-)

Dave - Vapour-rise! But I'd take a Resolute if I was offered one.

Mark Roberts said...

Great writing and photos as ever, Joe. I know you wanted to get away from teh gear talk, but I have to ask how the mitts were? I'm hunting for a better glove/mitt combination as I seem to be perpetually cold-fingered.

Joe Newton said...

Mark - thank you. The Montane Extreme Mitts are VERY warm. Too warm for me when climbing but then I run really hot. Once above the tree-line, in that cold, exposed landscape I pulled the mitts on and they kept my hands really warm all day. I wore thin Power Dry liner gloves underneath and this gave me a couple of options of regulating my hand temperature depending on the conditions and my exertion.

David Lintern said...

Concise, and very nice!

stick13 said...

Nice. I wish I had some white stuff to play in...

Joe Newton said...

David - takk!

Stick13 - we've only got a wee smattering of the white stuff here, all our winter snow seems to be in England!

Dave Hanlon said...

Crossed wire. Spotted the VR but was wondering about the mitts. Extreme they are then. I've asked santa for Resolute mitts for christmas - there's a winter outing brewing :-)

kate said...

Sorry to bring this back to gear but as you are the 'glove man', was just wondering if you've any recommendations for warm and toastie cycling ones?

Joe Newton said...

Dave - the Resolute Mitts look like winners too. I just wish they had put a hard-wearing palm covering on the liner. Using ski poles all day puts quite a strain on that part of the glove. I look forward to hearing how you get on with them.

Kate - sorry, I've not kept up with what's going on in the world of winter cycling gloves but I would strongly advise trying to find full or lobster mitts if you're worried about cold hands. Fingers stay warmer if they can share heat with their neighbour/s. The trade off is dexterity though. Something to consider on a gear bike but not so much on a single-speed.