Socks are one of life’s essentials. They should be, anyway.
The right sock can minimize any number of foot issues including, but not limited to: hammer toes, ingrown toenails, toenail fungus, toe jam, bunions, corns, smelly feet, ugly feet, flat feet, duck feet, and smelly shoes. I submit my nearly pristine 50 year old foot that doesn’t look a day over 20 (see picture at left), as an example of what can happen when you purchase and wear decent socks.
Finding the right sock, however, is not as easy as one would think. Some sock makers put more love into their socks than others, and to further complicate matters – not every foot is the same.
And then there’s the price issue. $8 seems to be the norm for “quality” running/cycling socks. I consider $8 my upper threshold for a sock purchase. I borrowed a pair of $25 dollar socks (seriously) from a friend, and returned them two days later, with a hole in the toe, and a 10 dollar bill (and subsequently, 15 dollars more). In my experience, $25 dollar socks are no better than $8 socks, and $8 is a lot to spend on a pair of socks.
Similarly, a $1 sock is not nearly as good as an $8 sock. They don’t last more than a couple months, and they retain foot smell, which eventually stinks up your shoes. This said, there are decent options for less than $8, but as I mentioned earlier, they’re tough to find.
Lucky for you, I’ve spent the last 32 years searching the world for a worthy sock - one that’s both durable and reasonably priced. Along the way I’ve come across a few decent socks (obvious – based on my beautiful foot photo), but until recently, nothing that I’ve been willing to commit to.
Earlier this year, after hearing about my long and somewhat fruitless search for the perfect sock, Andrew Block, of Beaker Concepts, suggested I give his stockings a ride. Considering the depth of my search, I was understandably skeptical about his confident claims regarding the awesomeness of his socks. I’m happy to say, however, that Andrew’s confidence was justified.
Since April, I’ve been running these bad-boys through my rigorous quality control tests. Trust me, no sock wants any part of this process. Here’s a brief description of my protocol (Warning: graphic descriptions): First, I refrain from clipping my toenails for at least two months. Then I wear the same pair of socks all day and all night for one week straight. I don’t remove the socks for any reason (as an aside: it’s virtually impossible to wash your feet while wearing socks).
To make a long and gruesome story short – Andrew’s socks are the first ones to ever last longer than five days before my Raptor-like toenails burst through the front of the socks, or the stench became unbearable (whichever happened first).
Andrew’s socks received high marks in all areas including: toe-hole resiliency, stenchlessness (above and beyond normal foot funk), blister proofness, and comfortability.
Finally - a sock that has a good combination of durability and affordability. I’m so impressed with these socks that I bought quite a few pairs and literally put my name on them. To help you and your feet start the New Year off on the right foot (no pun intended), I’m offering a limited number of socks for $5.50 per pair (plus $2 for shipping), or three pair for $13.75 (plus $2 for shipping).
They come in two colors: grey or black, and two sizes: small/medium which will fit women, children, and men with small feet (just say they’re for your wife or kids), and large/extra-large which fit men with feet larger than size 10, and Sasquatch-like women (just say they’re for your husband).
If you’re interested, email me with color preference (you can mix and match), sizes, quantity and mailing address, and I’ll shoot you payment information and an invoice.
The “store” will close on Monday, December 21st, or when I’m out of socks - whichever happens first. Grab a pair while they last.
Your feet will thank you!
For the better part of 30 years, I exercised 20-40 hours per week. 45-60 minute runs were the norm, and I never rode my bike for less than 90 minutes. Like many of us, I became committed to a mindset that believed a 15-30 minute run or ride was a worthless endeavor.
In 2004, after transitioning into life with a real job (sort of) and a family, not only was it hard for me to accept that I only had time for 3-5, 30’ runs and 2-3 hours per week instead of 20-40 hours per week, but it was hard to fathom that 3-5, 30’ runs was even worth the effort.
Fortunately, my wise friends who had busy schedules yet realized the value in exercise, convinced me that when it comes to fitting a workout into our busy schedule - every little bit counts. It took a year or two, but I eventually embraced the “short and sweet” mentality with regard to working out. Fast forward 10 years, and I’m still fit, faster, relative to my former self, than I thought I’d be, and my love of exercise has continued to grow.
I like to repeat this message over the holidays because free-time is limited and stress levels are high. As a result, many athletes who are used to spending more than 5 hours per week training, throw in the towel for the months of November and December, convinced that a, relatively speaking, nickle and dime workout routine is not worth the effort.
Don’t do that this holiday season. Accept that a reduced (yet more intense) workout schedule is not only fine, but may even help to get you out of a training rut, and leave you recharged and in a better place when you do commence your event specific training plan during the New Year. Accept the notion that keeping exercise in your life will make you a better parent, partner, friend, more productive at work and at home, a better holiday shopper, and allow that short and sweet exercise bouts of physical activity count as exercise.
Take advantage of any opportunity to move or get the heart rate up for a minute or five. Furthermore, if your exercise bouts are short and sweet - and it doesn’t matter how old you are or how slow you are - put some umph into it! Run back to the car after dropping the kids at school or extracurricular activity. Walk with a purpose when holiday shopping. RUN up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Walk around your office while talking on the phone. Run 1 mile instead of 4, when you don’t have 30-40 minutes to spare - don’t even waste time putting running clothes on. Just step into a pair of running shoes and go!
Here’s some additional reading on the subject.
The bottom line: Just because circumstances prevent you from training as much as you’d like, doesn’t mean you should abandon exercise entirely. Be creative with your exercise, and remember that every little bit counts.
France Camp, first and foremost, is about cycling. Food and friendship, however, are a close runner up.
Cycling up and down the mountains of the French alpes inspires tales of heroism and woe (the good kind), fosters comradery and a sense of community, and whets the appetite.
The France Camp dinner table provides both the remedy for ravenousness and the pulpit for tales. The kitchen, of course, is the source of its delicious delectables.
At the heart of the kitchen are Chefs Michael and Alex who enthusiastically combine their love of all things food and wine, to expertly prepare what I like to call, France Camp cuisine – mostly French dishes with an English flare.
Their daily interplay, occasional debates about the source or origin of the night’s creation, and their knowledge of food, wine, and local history, are a big part of the France Camp culinary experience.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the France Camp kitchen and hope that it entices you to come and ride, eat, and tell stories with us next July (click here for France Camp details).
If you’re in need of some new stylish and functional cycling and/or triathlon apparel, I’ve got you covered.
I’ve been using Squadra Cycling apparel for as long as I can remember. It’s durable, functional, fashionable and comfortable - all of the things I demand from my workout clothing, and it’s why I chose Squadra.
The tabs at the top of the store provide plenty of information about the fit and technology of the clothing, but I’ve included a few general comments of my own below:
The short sleeve jersey is very comfortable whether its 45F or 105F outside. For temperatures between 45F and 60F, I typically pair the short sleeve jersey with a base layer, arm warmers, and a wind vest. If you live in an area prone to cold weather (below 45F), in September I will offer a long sleeved wind jacket and a thermal vest and jacket which will provide significant added warm versus the wind vest, as well as protection from the wind and rain.
The triathlon apparel is comfortable, form fitting, quick drying, yet provides coverage from the elements. The fabric has a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 50+ and shields both UVA and UVB rays.
Click on this link to take you to the store: Riccitello Coaching Cycling and Triathlon Apparel. Apparel will be shipped to the address you provide. Do not select the “Will Call” option unless you want to personally pick up the clothing at Squadra in Carlsbad, CA. If you’re a France Camper, remember that I am providing you with a cycling jersey and shorts (but grab a functional and fashionable wind vest and arm warmers for the chilly descents!).
Should you choose to wear my clothing - I’m honored beyond words and look forward to seeing it on the roads and trails.
I know you’ll enjoy it and thanks!
We start each day Riccitello’s France Cycling Camp with coffee from a French press and a wholesome breakfast (except for the Nutella - which is not that wholesome but tastes very good) of fruits, mueslix, cereals, yogurts, breads, eggs. This is usually washed down with more coffee (when in France ... ).
Then we chamois up (French for shammy) and ride the famous climbs and descents of the Oisans valley in the French alps. To try and describe the quality of riding would be insulting.
Lunch is eaten on the bike (thank you Clif for your tasty Clif Bars and the sweet and savory Mojo Bars and your Shot Bloks and gels).
Most rides are followed with a snack and a nap.
Upon waking up to a view that never ceases to amaze, most campers will soak up some sun while lounging on the porch with a good book (or electronic version of a book). There may be a midday glass of wine or three.
Then come hors d’oeuvres - usually local sausages, cheeses, olives, cakes, tea, and such.
Appetizers are often followed by a hike along rugged sheep, goat, and cattle trails with views of Pic Blanc and the ever enticing 21 turns of l’alpe d’huez.
Then dinner - salad from your host’s garden, some kind of animal that was probably hiking on the same trail you hiked early in the day or pulled from the pure and crystal clear waters that rage down from the mountain tops (fear not, vegetarians - there are meatless options), pasta or rice, wine - and then desert - and more wine.
After finishing desert many campers gather at the village bar for a digestif (night-cap) and to watch the day’s Tour de France stage on the big screen (thankfully, there are big screens in the alps). Some play boules (bocce ball) with the locals. Others gather on the chalet porch for wine and to talk story.
Then we sleep, and dream of the next day in cycling paradise.
(I have a couple double occupancy rooms open this year - look here if you’re interested).