Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Winter Cycling

Winter is just around the corner, and the cold weather is no excuse to stop riding your bike! Hopefully I can offer some advice that will keep you pedaling year round through all but the nastiest of conditions. Safety is a consideration, and ice and snow can make things quite tricky, but still manageable often times! I've commuted through heavy snow, and when the bike path was covered in 4" of hard packed snow with a sheet of ice covering it. Yeah, I slipped around a bunch, and wrecked a few times, but it usually doesn't hurt too much since I don't go super fast and more often than not I fell in to softer snow. I find it fun!

I hate the cold. I get cold very easy, notably in my hands and feet, especially when cycling. Until three or four winters ago, I pretty much gave up with winter riding once the temperature dipped to around 40F. I started commuting year round by bike and gradually became comfortable with the shorter rides at very cold temperatures. I then decided I was ready to brave the elements, and go for longer rides. Now, I think I'm capable of riding in any temperature the Northeast can throw my way. This year I did a 200km brevet where the temperature never went above freezing - far from it, and at the 7am start time it was 5F not considering the very cold wind.

How well do you handle the cold?

Everybody is different, and you’ll have to find what gear works at what temperatures. I’ve always preferred being overdressed since I abhor being cold, and over the winters I've gradually slimmed down and fine tuned my gear to what I truly need for each particular condition.

The following is a list of what I own and when and why I use it.

From the top down!


Everyone should have a balaclava for winter riding. They are relatively cheap for what they achieve - a happy, warm head, neck and face, and are one of the most important pieces of gear to help keep you warm. The balaclava should be form-fitting and go all the way down over your neck. A balaclava transitions nicely to nearly every other outdoor winter sport. I often use it for cross country and downhill skiing. The particular version I use is thin but blocks the wind. Pay attention to the thickness. To fit under a helmet comfortably you will need it to be reasonably thin. Mine has a very light fleece lining which does a nice job of retaining body heat, and it also breathes very well so I’m not dumping buckets of sweat in below freezing temperatures. Mine is all black, with no bells or whistles, and I removed the tag, but I think I bought it at Performance Bike online. They don’t have the exact same version I own anymore otherwise I’d provide a link.


On less cold days, you can get away with a headband that covers the ears. There are a few different types that I’ve seen ranging from thick and fleecy to very thin and windproof. Mines sort of in between and seems to work quite well although I must admit I don’t particularly like wearing it. It does keep the ears warm which can make the difference from a miserable to a happy, comfortable ride. The brand I have is Pearl Izumi, and this brand is generally readily available at most bike shops across the country.


On days that don’t call for the balaclava a simple hat suffices. Mine is a Power Stretch fleece hat I picked up on sale at EMS. It works wonderfully, is super comfortable, and breathes very well. It’s also pretty warm. It does not block any wind. On really cold days I double up with the balaclava underneath the hat. Both fit under the helmet with a strap adjustment. Again, you can’t use grandma’s knit wool hat and still wear a helmet, so pay attention to thickness. Also, make sure the hat covers your ears! Some bicycling brand ones are pretty minimalist, and at least with my head, did not go down low enough to fully cover the ears.

Eye Protection

Cold weather and eyes don’t see, uh, eye to eye. You need some sort of full coverage sunglasses for those bright, sunny days and hopefully a pair which you can change the lenses out for when it’s gloomy or dark. Most cyclists have too many pairs of sunglasses. I’m definitely guilty. I have around 6 or 7 pairs, but one pair shines above the rest, but also looks the lamest. Oakley M Frames. They cost a lot, they look ridiculous on most people, but they perform very well. The lens is big and wraps around, meaning even when in the drops you will not have a plastic bar obstructing your line of site, or worse, have no coverage at all. It’s easy to change the lenses, and they have a very wide variety to choose from. I have the persimmon, clear, and gold iridium lenses. I use persimmon for the gray days, clear for night, and gold iridium for the sunny days. There are numerous alternative brands that might cost a whole heck of a lot less, and might work just as well, I just have not used them so can’t offer any recommendations. I recently got some Oakley Radar sunglasses, and they are advertised as being superior to the M Frames, and essentially their replacement. They have a tiny bit more style to them. The lenses have a coating that is supposed to shed away water and sweat, and it does seem to work somewhat, but not amazingly well. The lens is not as big so there is a tiny bit of obstruction when in the drops. I’m not impressed and regret the purchase and would recommend the M Frames over them still.

For the brave ones out there that will never back down against any snow or obscenely low temperature, you need a pair of ski goggles. I wear mine whenever it’s snowing. I don’t really like wearing them, but they definitely work and will keep the bitter cold and snow away from the eyes.

Upper Body

The upper body gear market is ridiculously large, and many, many items will work equally as well with a huge variance in cost. Since I’m a gear head I tend to look for the companies that obsess over the smallest details to distinguish themselves from the multitudes of mass manufacturing outdoor brands. I’ll offer the exact brands I use and a description of them and why I think they are good, but, like I said before, there are plenty of other brands that offer very similar products, and in most cases they will be cheaper since I tend to go for the top end.

One thing I’ve learned through experience is you really don’t need that much insulation for the upper body even on the coldest of days as long as you have a proper shell. This, of course, is assuming you are actually riding hard to maintain adequate body heat. If you are tooling around town you should probably just wear what you would if you were going on a stroll.

For the coldest of days when no precipitation is likely I wear an Arc’Teryx soft shell for my outer shell. The model is Gamma SV. This is not a bike specific product. Retail cost is roughly around $350.

It has a nice hood which is easily large enough to put over a helmet if I really need it. The front zips up over the chin up to my mouth, and has a nice, soft patch sewn in to keep the zipper and abrasive seams off of the face. The bottom rear side of the jacket is cut lower than the front so riding up and exposing skin or thinner layers is never an issue and it protects from the occasional road spray. The front is cut even with my waist so it does not bunch up when leaning over on the bars. I can tighten the waist easily with one hand using a cinch cord so it’s nice and snug which offers a few benefits: It keeps the jacket from flapping around, eliminates drafts, and it helps hold warm air in. The jacket has two large chest pockets and one internal pocket so I can usually carry what I would typically carry in a bike jersey’s three rear pockets. I now also have the option of wearing a jersey underneath and having three more pockets to use. Another great feature are the pit zips. They are very long on this particular jacket offering excellent ventilation.

The soft shell is windproof and highly water resistant. It also breathes a bit better, in my opinion, than a fully waterproof hard shell – something with Gore-Tex XCR, for example.

I use the above jacket almost exclusively for my cold weather riding roughly 50F and below. To compensate for temperature variances I simply wear different layers underneath.

For really cold temperatures, below freezing, I usually wear a mid-weight long sleeved non-cotton long underwear shirt, and then over it a cycling specific long sleeved form fitting jersey that is half zip in the front made by Sugoi. The entire front of the jersey, including the front facing part of the sleeves, is windproof and fleece lined similar to the soft shell of the Arc’Teryx jacket. The rear of the jersey is a thin, fleece-like material which is stretchy, wicking, and highly breathable. It has no pockets. Being windproof and a half zip the jersey allows me to modulate my body temperature better in combination with the jacket than if I only had the windproof jacket.

The above mentioned jersey, alone, or with a jersey underneath so you have pockets, works fantastic in temperatures in the 40s and 50s.

With temps above freezing, I leave the Sugoi jersey at home, and just wear the long underwear shirt with the Arc-Teryx soft shell. If the temps are nearing 40F, or slightly over I’ll simply wear a jersey or a non-cotton shirt.

For jaunts where rain or other types of precipitation are likely I substitute the Arc’Teryx soft shell with its brother, the Arc’Teryx Theta AR hard shell. I have to admit it is total overkill for cycling. This jacket is the bees knee, in my opinion, and the price shows it at ~ $450 retail. It is amazingly crafted, very light, extremely durable, and it does its job better than any other waterproof jacket I’ve worn. Gore-Tex XCR (now they use gore-tex pro I think) keeps you dry, and it has the same pockets as the soft shell minus the inner pocket. The hood goes over the helmet, and it’s also cut the same as the soft shell in the front and rear. I find it gets warmer than the soft shell especially if I wear any sort of insulation beyond the long sleeved underwear shirt.

For days when the weather starts off cool, and I know I will not need a jacket later on, I wear a regular cycling jersey with a windproof vest over it. This vest is made by Bellweather and is basically a nylon shell in the front and mesh in the rear. Pretty much every cycling company makes a vest like I just described. It’s very light, and highly packable. It also zips up to protect the neck. On my arms I wear arm warmers which go a bit under the jersey sleeve and all the way down to the wrist. These should be snug, and there are numerous weights of fabric to pick from. I have Pearl Izumi’s warmest model and think they are perfect.


The legs are a bit easier to take care of than the upper body. I’ve three different setups depending on the temperatures which have worked very well for me.

For the coldest days, I wear Descente’s warmest full length tights. They are totally wind proof in the front and have a heavy fleece lining under the windproof front. The backside of the tight is thinner and breathable. I wear the tights over my normal cycling bibs. I also own a pair of Pearl Izumi’s heaviest weight tights called AmFib, but think they are not as nice as the Descente’s. They don’t fit as well and feel stiff when pedaling. They are, however, very warm and waterproof on the front and butt. I use them mostly for commuting, and save the Descentes for the long rides.

For cooler days I wear a pair of mid-weight cycling tights. Sugoi happen to be ones I use. They are reasonably warm and comfortable to around 45F. They are not windproof. They are far more comfortable to ride in all day compared to the Descentes or PI’s. Underneath the tights are my normal cycling bibs.

For those cool starts, just like I mentioned with the upper body, there are leg warmers available that go under the cycling shorts about mid-thigh and cover all the way down over the calf. They work fantastic. They help keep the knees warm.


The precious feet…Nothing ruins a ride faster than numb, cold feet. Luckily, there are solutions out there which should keep even the coldest of feet happy in all but the most miserable temperatures. My feet get cold easy so you may find some of this is a bit too much!

I wear Northwave Aerator 3 cycling shoes for my long rides. They have more room in the toe box than other shoes I’ve owned in the past. The extra toe room allows me to have more wiggle room, and to wear thicker wool socks. I also have room for toe warmers – the chemical bags - for the coldest days. They work fantastic and keep my feet happy. I’ve discovered the hand warmers are actually warmer than the toe warmers, and recommend trying them instead even though the toe warmers have a sticky side to help keep them in place.

On those coldest days, over the cycling shoes I wear a bootie that goes up and over the ankle. I use Sugoi’s second warmest model. They are supposedly waterproof (they aren’t) and windproof (they are) and they have a heavy fleece lining underneath. They work excellent in conjunction with the hand warmers inside the shoe. I’ve been quite comfortable down to 5F with this setup.

On cooler days, most companies make half-booties that cover only the end of the shoe to keep the cool wind off the toes. They work very well, and are a lot more comfortable than the full booties to wear all day.


And, finally, the last part to worry about, the hands. The hands fall in to the category of misery when cold, just like the feet. I hate cold hands, and mine tend to get colder, faster, than the average person.

For the coldest temperatures, I simply wear ski gloves. I always bring hand warmers with me in case they still decide to go numb on me. I rarely have to use them though. The ski gloves are gore-tex and have prima loft insulation and are quite warm. I don’t wear these unless it’s near freezing the entire ride.

For most all other cold weather riding I have some soft shell gloves similar to the Arc-Teryx shell made by Gore BikeWear. They have mid-weight fleece insulation and are windproof. Again, I always bring hand warmers if I’m flirting with cold temperatures. I’ve ridden with them in extremely cold conditions (5F to 15F all day) with hand warmers and survived, but I would’ve been much happier with the ski gloves.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Big Bib Battle

The vast majority of riders I see in the NYC area wear Pearl Izumi cycling shorts. I've nothing against the brand, but I want this post to make it out there, and hopefully show a few people the light. PI stinks compared to many of the other brands out there. They are like Bose speakers in the audio industry - they sound good to most consumers because they've never heard better, and dominate the big box market due to an aggressive advertising campaign, BUT they are not worthy compared to many alternatives that are far less money - overall, an insult to music. Sorry about that little rant. If you own Blose, again, I'm sorry.:) A buddy of mine who worked at a bike shop for years and is an avid cyclist last year said PI was the 'king of shorts.' Shortly before that comment was heard, I was ignorant too, and probably would've agreed. Even then, I only had sampled one other brand and knew the Hammer bibs were better, but didn't have much to argue with.

So here I offer a review of all the bibs I've ridden with and they've all seen a LOT of miles.

Before I get started, bibs vs shorts. Bibs rule. End of story:) They do cost a bit more than the same level short, but they are worth it. Go out of your way to find good bibs if you ride for more than an hour or two. It's really worth it.

FYI, I will mention the sizes I wear in each bib so here are my stats: 6' tall, 165 pounds, 32" waist in pant sizes although they all fall off unless I use a belt:)

The brands I used extensively this summer were Giordana, Assos, Hammer Nutrition made by Voler, Performance bike, and Gore BikeWear.

Specific models and price estimates with links to sites I have no interest with:

Giordana Forma - $230
Assos Fi.UNO S5 - $165
Voler (hammer) - $50
Performance Ultra - $75
Gore Xenon - $200

I'll start with my least favorite, but still good, bib short.

Performance Ultra Bibs

Description: Performance's top of the line bib, nearly always on sale, is made of a different fabric from the rest of the bunch called Eschler. It's appearance is textured on the outside but looks similar to other lycra on the inside. It's claimed that it transfers moisture better than most, is slightly more aerodynamic, and is also very light but offers good compression. The chamois is made by Cytech and is very soft, but quite thin and less dense compared to all the other bibs I own.

Regarding the fabric, I'll agree with everything other than the aerodynamics as I've no way to test this claim. I find the material to be very comfortable. The 10 panels are held together with flatlock seams, and do a nice job, for the most part, of anatomically fitting the body. However, I do think they have the poorest fit of all the shorts in this review. I think the leg grippers are too tacky making it difficult to position the shorts properly, initially, and the grippers are also tight on my legs but quite tolerable even for all day adventures in the saddle. If you have hairy legs the grippers might cause some pretty painful pulling.

Fit: The fit is not ideal for my body. I own a size medium. I have gaps on both sides of the groin area where I can not get the bibs to match my body. I've noticed over the hours they tend to settle in, but they never become one with my body like all the other bibs I own. I don't think the compression is as good as the other bibs in this review. The material seems to be too stretchy, and this is very noticeable if you take them off and put them back on again the same day (I commute in them from time to time.)

The shoulder straps are not elastic enough. They are way too stretchy, and seem pretty worthless. The reason for a bib strap is to help keep them pulled up nicely against your butt. They don't do this for me. I've noticed when I commute to work in them, when I put them on for the ride home, they are so stretched out they actually hang a bit. None of the other bibs have this problem.

Chamois: The Italian made chamois is very flimsy feeling to the touch. It is narrower than most the other bibs I own, but not too narrow. It has almost no density. It's stretchy though, and conforms nicely. If you are in to a thin pad with low density these bibs may be just what you are looking for. I can't say it's uncomfortable at all, but do notice a stiff seat more than some of the other bibs. The jury is still out on thick vs thin vs dense vs soft pads. I need another year or two:)

Overall, for the price, these are pretty good bibs. My longest ride in them so far is 192 miles and I lived to tell about it. At the time, I was on a Brooks Professional saddle and the two matched up very nicely. I think the Hammer bibs are slightly better and cost a bit less. But, they are worth considering if you like a thin chamois, and they have an unbeatable return policy - if you don't like them after using them, send them back. Easy.

Hammer Nutrition Bibs by Voler

Description: The Hammer bibs are the cheapest bibs I own, significantly less than the Forma, Gore or Assos bibs, and about 20 dollars less than the Performance. It's hard to fault them for much considering they are far better than most shorts in their price range, and compare favorably to bibs more in the $100+ range. The Voler bibs have 8 panels and a few different kinds of fabric. Stronger lycra makes up most of the body while on the sides the fabric is slightly thinner offering better ventilation. The bib portion has another fancy name, as did the lycra, but I will call it "mesh." There are no silicone or tacky leg grippers present on these bibs. When I first received them I wondered how they would stay in place, but this never turned out to be a concern. They simply do. The chamois is Voler's top of the line model called the Ion SL.

Fit: I wear size medium in the Voler bibs. These shorts fit very nicely on my legs. The fabric feels great to the touch. It feels durable, and like it will last quite a long time. Compression is excellent. The bib straps are not as strong as the more expensive models I own, but are better than the Performance Ultras. The upper mesh breathes very nicely and disappears after putting them on. However, all is not rosy with these $50 bibs. Some people may call my butt skinny, but I have a little excess fabric in the rear and don't have this problem with any of the other bibs I own. It causes discomfort due to friction over the miles, and is even noticeable on shorter rides when I ride my fixed gear and can't shift around much. For this reason alone, the Voler bibs have been relegated to commuting duty, exclusively. They are the only bibs that shift around when I stand up and pedal. I can feel them sliding back and forth as the strokes go up and down.

Chamois: The Ion SL pad, judging by appearance, looks like a great chamois. In practice, though, I think it's the worst of the bunch for my rear end. It has slightly more density than the Performance bib under the sit bones, and is reasonably thick, too. It feels like cheap foam underneath, though, and I don't think it does a whole lot for comfort. The fabric is not as soft as the other bibs I have, and I find it to actually be abrasive due to the fact the rear does not fit me so well. It creates hot spots, especially when riding my fixed gear and pedaling fast. Disappointing.

Summary: The Hammer Voler bibs are definitely worth trying out especially since you can get 15% off your first order if you've never purchased from Hammer before (the referral link is on the top left corner of my blog.) Buy one pair, and if they work, you just found yourself a screaming deal and can get 4 pairs of these for the price of one pair of Giordana Forma bibs. If it weren't for the slightly imperfect fit in the rear I would probably be using these shorts exclusively.

Giordana Forma Bibs

Description: These bibs are the most expensive pair I own at $230 retail. The attention to detail is impeccable. They have only a few panels, very similar to the Assos, and are proof that you don't need a gazillion panels to make a high end short functional and comfortable. The lycra is excellent, but is slightly lighter weight than what I would like. I would compare it to the sides of the Hammer bibs. It's a bit stretchy and not as compressing as the other bibs. The leg grippers are excellent. They are razor thin, quite wide, more than double the other leg grippers, and made of a material that is tacky, yet not sticky like silicone, and simply works. I think these are the best grippers of all the shorts I own. Their jerseys have the same on the sleeves and I think kick butt! The chamois is narrow, and is similar to the Performance bib. The upper portion of these bibs are what really impress me. They offer a fantastic fit with really wide shoulder straps made of a very thin neoprene-like material that do an excellent job dispersing the pressure over a wide area creating a great overall fit which I think reduces fatigue over a prolonged period of time. They dip down very low in the front and have a lot of mesh in the rear offering a cool fit in the summer time. I wish all bibs had this top!

Fit: I wear a size medium in these bibs. These bibs fit me perfectly. They become one with my body, which basically means I don't even notice or feel them after I put them on and start riding. What more can you ask for? Well, it turns out a little bit more. The compression is not as good as my favorites, but if you are used to bad shorts or crummy bibs I think you would find these to be excellent. Assos corrupts. The Forma's have 4 panels. I would consider them stealth in appearance. They don't have the crazy flatlock seams all over the place like the Performance bibs, and obviously don't need them. The bottoms are all black besides some reflective brand labeling and a tab of reflective material sewn in on the sides. I have to comment on the leg gripper material again. It's awesome. All bibs should use this method! No grabby, sticky stuff, no dimples in the legs for hours after use, and no pressure due to the wide band.

Chamois: The chamois is a nice, soft, blue colored slightly narrow chamois with various densities throughout. Under the sit bones it is the thickest, and might even contain a gel-like substance or some sort of memory foam. When I get up and mash up a hill on the fixed gear I feel absolutely no movement. A perfect fit. An excellent chamois. Thicker than the above bibs, but not as thick as the Assos.

Summary: Were it not for those darned Assos bibs, these would be my "go to" shorts for long events. They are excellent. A very expensive experiment, but if you have the $, they are worth trying and I highly doubt you will come away disappointed.

Gore Xenon Bibs

Description: These bibs have a lot of seams like the Performance bibs. There ends the similarities. The lycra fabric all around is excellent. It has different degrees of thickness offering a custom fit that seems to really work. The leg grippers are similar to the Assos, and are a stretchy fabric with a bunch of little silicone dots to help hold them in place. The Gore bibs have a very fancy looking chamois - skeletal in appearance, with high density sit bone padding and custom padding all around. The uppers are mostly mesh. The straps are reasonably elastic, and do the job, but seem like they will not last as long as the Forma or Assos bibs. The front is cut very low like the Forma bibs.

Fit: I wear a size medium. The fit of the Xenon is incredible. They were my first 'second skin' experience. The compression from the lycra is tied with the best in the group. It feels like it massages the muscles during long rides. The legs are slightly shorter than the other bibs I own - something I've noticed with the other Gore shorts as well. The Power model shorts I own are almost like tri-shorts. It's getting difficult now to distinguish the high end models from each other since they all seem nearly perfect in fit. The leg grippers work very well, too well, in fact, and you will have dimples on your legs for the rest of the day or night after you wear these for a few hours. They nearly embed themselves in the skin, and upon removal after a long duration, it feels like you are peeling them off the skin. A few times it even hurt. These shorts offer excellent ventilation making them a perfect choice for those hot summer rides.

Chamois: The hyper-designed chamois is very nice. It looks pretty neat, too. It has what i think is a perfect thickness and density in all the right places. Under the sit bones is a gel-like padding which does an excellent job absorbing vibrations and padding the bones from jolting impacts. It is soft and causes no discomfort over long periods of time. It simply disappears which is what everyone should want!

Summary: It's a tough call between these, the Formas, and the Assos. The Xenon's just barely edge out the Formas since they have better compression. The leg grippers could be improved, but, for me, are not a deal breaker. A very nearly perfect bib short and may, over time, become my go to short.

Assos Fi.UNO S5 Bibs

The ferrari of bib shorts. Those who know about Assos are a lucky class of cyclists, or perhaps unlucky, if you view it monetarily. I bought three pairs of these when they were on sale at my local sporting goods shop a few months ago and do not regret the $400 spent one bit. The shorts are simple in appearance, like the Formas, and have only 4 panels. Again, it's proof you don't need a billion panels to make a high end short. The lycra fabric used throughout is very high quality and is exactly what's needed. The material label is sewn on the outside instead of inside like every other bib - smart since it's one less thing to feel and cause friction. The label says there is carbon fiber in the shorts. This alone should make them the best:) It has reflective tabs on both legs in the front and rear. A nice touch. The chamois is big and goes up higher than the other bibs in the front. The rear is mesh and the straps are very elastic and strong.

Fit: The fit of these bibs is perfect. I wear a size LARGE. You will probably need to order one size up with Assos. They offer great compression which, like the Xenon's, massage the leg muscles and reduce fatigue. The leg grippers are similar to the Xenon's, but function far better. They don't rip your skin off and the dimples don't last very long. Again, perfect. The straps are tight. They even make me hunch over a bit when I first put them on. But, when you start riding, it all makes sense and you forget they are even there. The Uno's are Assos, uh, low end model. I fear the high end. Some day, maybe...

Chamois: The Uno's chamois is the thickest of the group. The fabric is very soft. It is dimpled throughout, and has varying densities. The front seems to cup the boys amazingly well. It's like a pocket. The best chamois in the group, and this is why they edge out the Xenon bibs for first place. If you don't like a thick chamois stay very far away from the Assos bibs.

Summary: My current favorite. Everything seems perfect. I can't imagine needing anything else thus one of the reasons I've abstained from their two higher end models. If you ride for more than 2 or 3 hours straight regularly, do yourself a favor, and try these shorts. They really make a difference as far as comfort goes for me over the long haul. The only short I've worn more than once before washing (not recommended:)) that felt exactly the same the second time.

Round Two

So the quest for RAAM was a big wash out. This year, anyways. I've taken quite a break from posting here for a number of reasons.

1) The IT department at work decided blogs are social sites so I'm blocked. Unfortunately, this is where I did nearly all of my writing and posting. It actually got busier at work, too, so I'm forced to work!

2) I got a bit discouraged in early July when I realized I was probably not going to be able to swing the time, team support, and mileage needed to compete against a guy named Jay - he won it and qualified for RAAM, congrats to him. This wasn't going to make me quit all together, but it was certainly a blow to the ol' moral.

3) My road bike died.

4) I had still decided to go even after the road bike went kaput using my fixed gear Redline instead. I had plans on just doing a tourist version of the ADK 540. What the heck is a tourist version? Well, I just made that up, but I had the idea of just taking it easy and riding the entire race unsupported with the goal of just finishing. But then on Monday, the week of the race, I was hit by a car commuting home. I'm alive and kickin' but the ribs are seriously unhappy and I would've suffered miserably had I decided to go for the 544 miles.

So there's my sob story. Now, back to the regularly scheduled program.

O yeah, round two. I have A LOT more time and a heck of a base to work with and I'll be seen next year.