Despite the excessive heat warning, it's feeling like Christmas in July over here in St. Louis! Our new bike gear arrived in the mail yesterday - LOVE free 2-day shipping! Tabb and I Facetimed so that we could open all of it "together". Everything was exactly as advertised, so we are extremely happy campers (bikers?). Tabb will need to try on his shoes when he comes home, but other than that, we should be good to go!
The only thing that hasn't been opened yet is the bike rack (bottom box). I had an appointment scheduled for yesterday at U-Haul to get a hitch installed on my 2008 Kia Sportage. Unfortunately, one of the employees broke his foot, so they had to call and move my appointment to Saturday morning. Hopefully everything goes smoothly on Saturday, and the next time Tabb is in town (early August) we will install the bike rack!
Our equipment has yet to overrun the space I carved out in the closet for our bikes. I was able to put our shoes and helmets on top of our camping gear box, tucked under the slant of the ceiling. The bike rack is pretty large... I'm hoping that it folds up nicely once it's installed on Meatball (my car) so we won't have to worry about taking it off when it is not in use, or hitting cars when I parallel park (which I now do most mornings).
We've got the bikes, now we need the gear! Let the shopping begin!!
There are quite a lot of things you need to get off the ground with mountain biking. We are trying to focus on the essentials first: helmets, shoes, pedals, gloves, bike rack. I'll focus on the personal gear for now, and talk about our new bike rack in a later post!
When looking for gear, Tabb and I have found that we like searching Backcountry.com and Amazon Prime. We've also saved a lot of money by buying colors and styles from past seasons, without having to sacrifice on the quality of the gear.
A helmet is the quintessential aspect of mountain bike safety. Nowadays, a MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) certified helmet is a must-have. Tabb and I tried to find "good deals" on MIPS helmets, but the sales we did find were not actually MIPS (thanks Amazon reviewers for the heads up!). In the end, we settled on Giro's Montaro (men) and Montara (women) helmets.
Check them out! I found a color from last season (read: discounted!) called "Black Galaxy". Cute, not too girly, not too galaxy-y, and perfect for a space nerd like me! Tabb got a "Matte Olive" one... unfortunately not on sale, but his brain is worth it! He said he is going to put decals on it to make it look like a Boba Fett helmet... more space nerdiness.
Biking shoes are not a true essential, but Robb suggested that we start off with them right away. I have SPD shoes already (for my indoor cycling classes), but don't think that they would hold up to a true mountain biking experience - especially not their pristine white color! I set out looking for more hike-worthy cycling shoes. I found the Giro's Terradura in last season's "Glacier Gray/Milspec" color (again: discounted!!). The bottoms have Vibram, which will make them perfect to hike around in. Tabb found Giro's Carbide R in "Dark Shadow/Flame" slightly discounted too. Starting to see a trend???
Here's our cycling shoe stock. Left to right: my indoor shoes, my outdoor shoes, Tabb's shoes.
You don't need gloves to have an enjoyable mountain bike ride. However, gloves will make your rides more comfortable if you decide to go on long and frequent rides, or if you have a death grip on your handlebars like a rookie (me!). I decided I wanted fingerless "mitts", and Tabb is going with the full gloves. I'm not sure which is best yet, but I like the idea of having a little bit of freedom and less warmth. Years of wearing softball batting gloves makes the finger-less gloves more exciting to me too!
Deals on gloves are pretty easy to find, and even at full-price they are relatively cheap compared to all other MTB expenses. I found a good deal on Giro's Tessa gloves - last season's "Black/Dynasty Green" matches my helmet perfectly! Tabb found some blue-accented gloves by Pearl Izumi that he liked the best! (What? Not Giro brand?!?) Tabb's are on the left, mine are on the right!
Which brand is best?
There are many brands for MTB gear. Tabb has taken a liking to Pearl Izumi and Troy Lee Designs (despite buying Giro stuff). I can't say I have a preference yet, but it is clear that I really like Giro's style. This brings me to something that has really been bugging me the last few days. How do you pronounce Giro?!? Tabb and I have had multiple phone conversations about this... wondering if it likens to the sandwich "Gyro", or if it is more of a "Gear-O". And it seems like this issue is far from settled. Maybe one day we will meet someone who works for the company and get the inside scoop. But for now, I'll leave you with this as my best guess: