Gear glance

Generally speaking, I'm not much of a "gear head" when it comes to bike parts and other cycling accessories — I just enjoy riding. But every so often if there's an item or two I really like, I'll pass it along — plain and simple.

Specialized Element 2.0 winter gloves

The last two days I was able to do my first road rides of the season — with TWO flashing red lights to let motorists know a cyclist was back out amongst them. The pavement was clear of any ice and sand, but the temperature was 27-28 degrees with a chilly wind of nearly 10 mph.

The key for me is keeping my head, hands and feet comfortable. If not, it's better to stay indoors and crank out miles on my stationary bike.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a pair of Specialized Element 2.0 gloves at Mathieu's Cycle & Fitness and, literally, they get a thumbs up from me because my fingers stayed warm and toasty, mostly because of the Windstopper material. Here's what I also liked:

* Good, clean finger separation for easy shifting of gears and the ability to remove items from pockets without taking off the gloves

* Thinking safety, a reflective color that stands out

* Thin and light

* Soft area on backside of thumbs for wiping nose drips

You can find these gloves online, but the price was way better at Mathieu's — worth the drive (or pedal) if you live near Farmingdale, Maine.

The other item that makes rides doable this time of year is my Showers Pass Elite 2.1 jacket, from a company out of Portland, Oregon. Hands down, when it comes to wind, cold and/or rain, this is the best jacket I've ever had — period. The feature I like the most is the breathability; when you get done with a ride, you're not soaking wet on the inside, not even a little.

There you have it. Two pieces of clothing that make my rides fun and enjoyable if one has to go out in nasty conditions. Nothing scientific — I just like them.

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