January 20, 2011

Negative Temps: Dressing for Success

If you're in the process of riding through a midwest winter it's pretty much unavoidable that you'll end up discussing the weather on a regular basis. We are currently experiencing the annual January deep freeze, this morning's temp was -8 and the afternoon's was zero. Tomorrow it will be colder, and on Friday it's slated to be -23 air temp (before factoring in the wind chill). -23 is pretty much ludicrously cold to ride your bike, and it's at about the point that it starts to actually get a little dangerous out there. (I can't believe the entire interior of Canada has even shittier weather than us and people choose to live there)

Because people always seem to get jazzed to discuss cool weather cycling apparel and because the choices we (cyclists) make every morning directly impact our enjoyment of riding I figured I'd share with you all of the shit that I piled onto my person for my evening commute home tonight.

glasses, jacket, bandanna, hat, helmet

Much of this gear has been discussed before but I'll briefly run through it again for the purposes of this post.

Lazer Genesis helmet w/ snap on time trial cover
The cover blocks the vents and keeps your head much warmer, because of it I have yet to need to wear a balaclava over my hat this year.

Smith changeable lens glasses
You need eye protection, otherwise your eyeballs will freeze.

Chuey Brand cap w/ earflap
Best winter cap going

A friend once gave me some advice that stated that the key to staying warm in the winter is regulating the neck and jacket opening. Truer words have not been spoken.

Grandoe down winter gloves
Good till about -5

Patagonia Krushell jacket
More breathable than waterproof which is just the way I like it. It's thin but it blocks the wind and I don't overheat. Overheating while somewhat counterintuitive is a huge problem for winter riding, if you sweat you're going to end up much colder in your wet clothes.

Nike Wool Jersey
I have five of these because the shop I was working at years ago was selling them to employees for $13. They often acquire holes because they are so thin and perhaps poorly made, but they are easily some of the best money I have ever spent.

Mended many times which I think makes them much more badass. I love things that show their age and use.

Second wool jersey underneath

Levi's 514 Jeans
When it's warmer I like to wear Dickies because I have no emotional attachment to them but when it's this cold you want something thicker. The emotional attachment bit is because I like my shit to last and I wear out all my pants from my saddle. It's one thing to wear them out riding around town and living life, but commuting is just miles and not "jean worthy." I'm weird about things.

Sidetrack booties
Over my winter riding boots.

Lake winter boots
While I dislike wearing them because they don't pedal as snappily as my summer riding shoes these boots have been trusty companions for four winters now and they still look to be in really good shape. They just won't die. They are good by themselves down to about 10 degrees and with the booties can go down to about -5 or so for my hour fifteen commute.

Medium weight wool hiking socks

Long underwear, the thickest pair I have.

Suck on that winter!


TJ said...

Check out skydiving goggles. They're low profile and add some insulation, but you do need to be attentive with the anti-fog.

antihero1972 said...

you really need to get a better pant system going. try the specialized deflect pants paired with the aqua veto rain pants and your all set. I swear by them and I commute all winter long in SLC. Other than that i like what you use..

Anonymous said...

Here in Houston a lot of riders wont go out when it's below 40, it's hilarious. I am not talking commuters either, just hobby rider weekend-warriors.

They wig out over me riding to work(11 miles one way)when it's 32.You would be treated like a Gladiator here, consider a move.

Anonymous said...

Haha 40?! I live in Winnipeg, six hours north of Minneapolis. This week it's been -40 in the morning, -30 in the afternoon, still a suprising number of cyclists on the road. As they say, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.

Luc said...

wierd, i ride all winter in winnipeg too, and it seems i wear less clothes than you, but my focus is all wind proof... sugoi merino wool base top/bottom, salomon ski jacket/pants, fleece tube, normal toque, the biggest mits i own, and shitty specialized winter shoes w/ booties...