Hey all this is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while. It isn’t so much I haven’t had the time it’s more that the moment didn’t seem right. Well my friends the time has come. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this previously but I commute by bike nearly everyday. Well I imagine most of you noticed that lately it has been, to quote Outkast, cooler than a polar bear’s toenail. Not cold enough to stop me though! While I wish I could tell you it’s because I’m tougher than a $2 steak but that’s not the case. Simple fact of the matter is I dress for it. Clothes are key my friends and I’m here to share some tips. The trick to riding in frigid climes is staying warm (obviously) but more importantly dry. Before we get into the details here’s a fact I cannot stress enough…you don’t need to take out a second mortgage and outfit yourself with overpriced Bontrager stuff. You probably have most of what you need lying around the house.
Two things I can not recommend enough for arctic rides are a balaclava and ski goggles. A wool hat is nice as well but you might have trouble fitting one under your helmet. Also a balaclava covers your face and can be worn a number of ways making it a very versatile garment. The one I have is made out of windproof material and let me tell you my ears and face are happy for it. Ski goggles don’t do much to keep you warm but if you’re like me you’ll want to keep the wind out of your eyes. I’ve got wimpy sensitive peepers that tear up something fierce when it’s blustery leaving me nearly blind. Goggles are also pretty cheap. I think I picked my pair up for around $7. Now as far as the lower body is concerned long pants are a must. Sometimes I throw on a base layer such as long underwear or running tights. Personally, I’m not overly concerned with my legs because they are going to stay warm from pedaling. However, if it’s wet or especially cold I’ll double up and throw a pair of weather proof pants as well. Keeping your torso nice and toasty is pretty easy. Lately I’ve been wearing a sweatshirt or sweater under a light down jacket. I like the down jacket because its lightweight and pliable. However if its chilly but not brutal (around 30 degrees let’s say) you might be able to get away wearing a sweatshirt or sweater under a windbreaker. You might be surprised how warm you’ll be when you’re pedaling and the wind isn’t cutting through your top.
Last but not least the feet and hands. I’m a dweeb who likes to clip in and I have some fancy booties that cover the toes of my shoes. However on rare occasion I wear tennis shoes and a pair (or two) of wool socks. I know some people who wear boots which seems rather cumbersome but to each their own. Now I know earlier I said you can wear stuff you have lying around the house, and while that’s true I do have some fancy schmancy Pearl Izumi lobster mittens. They are super warm. My hands are usually melting if I wear them if the temperature is above freezing. Leather mittens work in a pinch (get it? Lobster. Pinch.) though. I recommend mittens over gloves because mittens pool the warmth of your fingers.
Follow my advice and you to can be a cold warrior. While I ride to work because I genuinely enjoy spending time on my bike (and because I’m too cheap to pay for parking everyday) the added perk of people in my office building thinking I possess grit and resolve is an added bonus.