Inspecting Armor

A few days ago I wrote about the D30 armor in my Klim gear and how I reached out to them about replacing it or not.  I recently washed my jacket and pants and of course, took all the armor out first.  I placed everything on the table and didn’t give it another thought.  Until today, that is, when I went to replace it all.

Imagine my surprise when I looked at my back armor and thought something looked wrong.  I looked at it more closely and here’s what I found – a big tear!

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D30 back pad is damaged!

Of course, this has to be replaced.  This armor did its job in my recent accident and saved me from more serious injuries.  I am still walking and talking today thanks to this gear.  So I was a little surprised to find this, but I’m glad I looked everything over again before wearing it. Replacing it is easy and a mere $50 for this piece.  Worth much more and hopefully I never have to replace it again.

Don’t take chances, check your gear often!  I admit that my previous inspections of my armor had been perhaps a little too quick.  I won’t make that mistake again!  Really glad I found this now, so I have time to replace it before I need to wear the jacket again.  Whew!

D30 Armor Lessons

D what you may be asking?  D30 armor – the armor that is in my Klim jacket and pants.  It’s probably in other brands of gear too, but since I am no expert, I don’t want to assume or lead anyone astray.

After my accident in Alaska I had to think about my gear and what needed to be replaced.  My helmet was obviously destroyed, but my jacket and pants are just dirty and grass stained  I have not found any holes or tears in either piece.  Then a friend asked me about the armor in the gear – are we supposed to replace it after a crash?

I looked online and found various opinions.  I finally went straight to Klim and asked them, since they are the experts on their gear  What I learned is that the D30 armor is designed to withstand multiple impacts.  Unlike the padding in helmets, which takes one impact and must be replaced, D30 armor bounces back.  Now I know and can go on wearing my Klim gear with full confidence that it will protect me should this happen again.  Obviously I hope this never happens again, but I don’t believe in tempting fate and taking a chance with my life.

Speaking of gear – I had looked at my helmet a few days after the accident and while obviously damaged, I didn’t think it was terrible.  Last weekend my riding partner asked to see it and I took it out of the bag again.  As I did, I noticed that the chin bar piece of the helmet no longer closed.  In fact, it is now far out of alignment.  I was shocked!  Of course, I have already replaced the helmet and wouldn’t consider wearing it, but I didn’t fully realize initially just how damaged it is.  That was a reality check!

I hope that everyone wears ATGATT (all the gear, all the time) when they ride.  Please check your armor and ask the manufacturer about it’s safety if you have had an impact.  Make sure it’s in good repair so that if you should need it,  it can do it’s very best to protect you!

I am still on the road to recovery, and it’s longer than I’d like, but I am learning.  Last week I gained the ability to look over my right shoulder again.  Hopefully turning my head over my left shoulder will follow soon.

The new helmet is slowly breaking in and my bluetooth communication device is installed on it.  I also have replaced the RAM mount that holds my phone when I’m on the bike.  I never take calls or texts, but I do use my phone for navigation and especially for music.

Be safe out there!

New Helmet!

Isn’t it funny how life works out sometimes?  I’ve had my black Shoei helmet since I started riding again in 2014 or 2015, whatever it was.  I remember going to figure out which brand was going to work best for my head shape.  The color was not something I thought a lot about.  I remember before my accident saying that when I decided to replace my helmet, I was going with either a white one or high viz to give better visibility   to drivers.

Obviously I wasn’t expecting the accident and I would have gladly just paid for a replacement helmet and avoided all the other stuff.  But here I am nearly 4 weeks later and finally able to do some helmet shopping.  I tried earlier but as soon as I put one on my head,  my neck was screaming in pain!  At least I had the chance to discuss the different options with the sales people at my favorite gear store.  So much has changed since I bought my last helmet.

Yesterday I was finally feeling pretty good and very little pain.  I do feel a little stiffness but nothing compared to even a few days ago.  All the work I have been doing to recover is paying off.  So I made a trip to the gear store to see how my head and neck would feel about wearing a helmet now.  I also wanted some expert assistance in sizing to ensure I am in the appropriate size!

This time I went with a full face instead of a modular style helmet.  I liked the convenience of a modular, but after my accident, I am obsessed with safety!  The Shoei models seem to fit my head well, so I stayed with them again.  I also noticed that the ventilation system has changed and while I haven’t ridden in this one yet, I am hopeful it will be a little cooler.  Maybe the coolest feature I found is that since there is no built in sun visor, another option is needed in sunny Colorado.  The sales people showed me a visor with the transitions technology that adjusts to the light and darkens in bright sunlight.  We took it outside to test it and I was impressed!

This afternoon I am wearing my new helmet around the house for extended periods to make sure it doesn’t have any pressure points on my head.  So far, so good!  I’m excited to be making progress towards being back on my bike.  I had grand ideas of maybe taking the bike for a short ride over this holiday weekend, but my recovery so far has been a series one step forward and one or two steps back.  I woke up this morning feeling stiff so have decided I’m not going to rush things.  As hard as it is to wait, I want to be sure my body is ready for riding so I don’t set my recovery back by pushing too hard.

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Helmet selfie! 🙂

I used to balk at the price of helmets and all the safety gear, but since my accident, I gladly just hand over the money.  My life is worth way more than what this stuff costs and I’ll never complain again.  Instead, I am grateful to be here to replace my helmet and ride another day!

 

 

SW Colorado – Day 1

Denver, CO to Montrose, CO – 274 miles

The first day of our planned five day trip started off slowly, but well.  We both had a full work day the previous day plus events to attend in the evening.  We planned for a mid morning start so that we could avoid rush hour traffic and not feel rushed and stressed to start the trip.

I had thought I was ready to leave my house a bit early and then realized oops, I had a few items that needed to be taken care of first.  Wet laundry in the washer for one thing.  I don’t want to know what that would have been like after sitting for five days.  Ewwww! That was one of a few indicators that I was a little anxious about starting this journey.  This was my first overnight trip with my bike, Sassy and my first multi day trip with my riding partner.  While I trust both of them, and myself, there were a few unknowns that were giving me butterflies.

During the planning of this trip (and after British Columbia), I realized that a dry bag would be a good addition to my gear inventory.  It turned out to be a great choice and I’m glad that I invested my dollars in one.  I have decent sized Vario cases on Sassy but adding the dry bag allowed me to keep bike stuff in one case and my laptop and DSLR camera, water and personal stuff in the other.  It was so easy to take the dry bag off when we arrived at our destination and have all my clothes right there, contained.  It makes getting on and off the bike a bit more challenging, but it’s worth the effort.

Ok, back to the trip!  I head out from my house toward my riding partner’s place around 8:30 AM.  Traffic wasn’t too bad and after he finished loading his bike, we headed south to Highway 285.   It has been years since I went over Guanella Pass and as we came down the other side toward Fairplay, my jaw dropped at the beautiful sights of the mountains before me.  If there was a theme to this trip, it would have been how many times did I saw “WOW!” as I came around a corner, or across a mountain pass.  We had a quick gas stop in Fairplay and then went on to Buena Vista for lunch.

The afternoon brought more mountain passes and many more wows.  We crossed Monarch Pass on our way toward Gunnison and again, I was stunned into silence at the beauty.  Despite a bit of traffic, it felt very peaceful to be riding along with my thoughts and enjoying the cooler temperatures at the higher elevations.  We stopped in Gunnison for what we intended to be the last gas and restroom stop before arriving in Montrose.  However, the temperature rose, the day got long and we ended up stopping one more time around the Cerro Summit to have some water and a snack before pushing on.  I’m not sure which of us was more relieved to arrived at the hotel parking lot in Montrose!  I felt as though I had been fully roasted and wanted nothing more than to be off the bike and out of my gear.

It was a relief to have arrived and took the last of my energy to unpack the bike.  At that point I wanted nothing more than a cool shower, some “regular” clothes and dinner.  Yes, in that order.  Thankfully we located a restaurant within walking distance because I don’t think I could have made myself get back on the bike for more miles!

My lesson for Day 1: soak your cooling vest even if you don’t anticipate needing it!

New Gloves!

I was taught about ATTGATT (all the gear, all the time) even before I had my own bike.  I learned this from my former rally partner who got me back into motorcycling.  He was insistent that even as a pillion, I have gear that would protect me in the event of an accident.

However, it didn’t occur to me until earlier this year to take a good look at the gloves I was trusting my hands to.  It was a blog post about gear for newbies that made me think – what am I doing to protect my hands?  In my case the answer was a resounding not enough!  Also, since I work in an office and use a computer for a living, being without the use of my hands will seriously impact my ability to work and therefore my paycheck.

So, that made me start doing research and I found some great glove options over at RevZilla.  As you might imagine, they are not cheap (but what are my hands worth?) and I was hesitant to buy without seeing them.  Last month I went on a business trip that had me flying in and out of Philadelphia and as any RevZilla fan knows, the mother ship is right there!  I knew that for me, no trip to Philly could be complete without a chance to geek out at the RevZilla store.

I also had a wonderful employee at the store help me out and I told her that I was interested in the Held Air N Dry women’s gloves and any others she might suggest that are waterproof.  She pointed out to me that the Held gloves actually have two wearing options – the inside liner is the waterproof and warmer option.  The outside liner is not waterproof but is ventilated.  No more having to pack multiple pairs of gloves and dig them out of the cases when my hands get cold or too hot!  These gloves also have some protection at the knuckles and I like that the longer length gives additional protection to my wrists.

I have worn these gloves since the riding season began and I will say, they have taken a little time to break in and feel truly comfortable.  I believe they are made of kangaroo skin, so the material that makes them durable also makes them need some wear time.  So far, I am very happy with my purchase and look forward to many more years of protection from these gloves!

Riding In December

I’m still learning; hopefully I will continue learning for the rest of my riding days.  I don’t want to become complacent and think I know all there is to know.  The most recent lesson is about base layers for winter.  While I have ridden year round in the last two years, I typically stayed in the city.  Not this time!

Yesterday my riding partner and I rode from my house in the Denver metro area  to Estes Park, Colorado which is a beautiful town on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park.  The elevation is about 7500 feet, so a bit cooler than the Denver suburbs.  The weather forecast said mid 50s but that definitely dropped as we went higher.  Also, there was a pretty heavy cloud cover which dropped the temperature.  Lastly, I keep forgetting that in the winter (or near winter) 50 degrees feels cooler than the spring/summer 50 degrees!

Fortunately I have a nice and toasty lower base layer and decided to wear it yesterday.  I have not had the chance to use it since finding it on clearance a couple years ago, but I was very grateful for it by last night.  My upper base layer is not as toasty, so I decided that adding a fleece layer would be enough.  Wrong!  The first issue I noticed is the fleece is bulky, so it made my outer jacket uncomfortably snug.  Good thing I didn’t have to move around much.  The next issue was that the fleece layer’s sleeves got stuck mid way up the arm of my jacket.  That made for an uncomfortable situation and ended with my riding partner helping me grab those sleeves and pull them down further in my jacket.  At least we had some good laughs over it.  The final lesson was something I had not realized before.  Fleece lets air in.  Cold air!  AAAHHH!

With the shorter days, we keep finding ourselves riding home in the dark.  Not a big deal as we’re pretty comfortable doing that, but the temperature kept dropping.  At one point  the temperature reading on my GS was a  balmy 28 degrees!  Thankfully that wasn’t typical and most of our route home was in the 35-40 degree range, but still.  We were pretty cold by the time we reached my house.  I went in search of a new top base layer and hope that I found one that is similar to the bottom base layer I have.  It should be here in a few days, so I will test it out and report back.

My quest to ride all year will be so much nicer when I sort out what gear I need to stay warm and comfortable as the temperature drops.  If you have any ideas that you’ve found work well, leave me a comment; I’d love to hear them!

Time For New Gear

When I started riding as pillion a few years ago, my riding partner was clear that I would not be allowed on the bike until I had proper riding gear – pants, jacket, helmet and gloves.  Designed to keep me safe in the event things went south.  I grumbled at first due to the cost, but soon was a firm believer in ATTGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) too.  I’ve known enough people who have had both serious and no so serious mishaps that walked away unscathed due to their gear.  I understand now.

At that time since I was not sure I would stay in this sport and the relationship was new, I was not willing to invest a several hundred dollars each in a jacket and a pair of pants.  The cost of a good helmet alone gave my budget a good smack as it was.  So, I bought what I would consider entry level gear – my jacket was probably in the $350 range and my pants were about the same.  They are functional and have saved me from road rash when I have put my bike down.  Good investment and one I do not regret.  In case you are wondering, that relationship did crash and burn pretty quickly and I have stayed in the sport. 🙂

Over the past few months, I have been thinking it may be time to invest in some new gear.  Something that has more features and is better quality (hello, vents!).  I tend to analyze every option and possibility before I spend money.  Especially when we’re talking over $500 for each piece!  I don’t want to make this about brands, but I have heard good things recently about some women designed gear that has made quite a splash in the market.  I started reading and reviewing features.  The jacket I was considering has nine (!!) vents.  My current one has four!  Wow!

Initially I was going to wait until later in the summer.  I recently paid the balance of my upcoming pacific northwest tour, and the balance of the motorcycle rental and my budget was starting to whimper a bit!  Then I realized hey, we are going to be on bikes for something like eight days.  Wouldn’t it make sense to upgrade my gear BEFORE the trip?  How much of a difference would it make to have new gear that I feel comfortable in and that keeps me cooler?  Well, duh!

I like to support local businesses, so I called my favorite shop yesterday to see if they have this specific brand and style of women’s gear in stock.  They are about a 45 minute ride from my house and I didn’t want to head there for nothing.  Turns out they had the jackets in all the sizes, but not the pants.  But, they offered, they could order anything I wanted.  Hey, sweet!  I set out to determine what size pants I need so that the store could order them.  Should be an easy task, right?  Find a size chart and a tape measure and have at it.  But here’s where it got interesting . . . an online retailer had one size chart.  The brand’s own website had a very different size chart.  Well, how crazy is that?  I eventually went with the brand website size chart, assuming it would be most accurate and up to date.

I went to my favorite bike shop this morning and tried on the jacket.  I fell in love immediately and could clearly feel the difference in this jacket that cost about 2x as much as the one I own now.  I was hooked!  The sales person is ordering the pants that I *think* will fit me and they will arrive at my house in a few days.  Worst case scenario, they don’t fit and I return them.  I still have my current pants which will work ok for my trip.

I am excited to receive this gear and test ride it on the bike next weekend.  I want to figure out all the features and how they work for me.  I’ll keep you posted . . .