Monday, December 10, 2012

First Cold Ride of the Season

This morning, I awoke to the sound of Sam informing me he was leaving early to get into work. I'm not one to be terribly functional when first coming out of my sleep stupor, but I'm sure I managed to eek out something close to drive-safely-and-I'll-see-you-later. The last thing I remember hearing him say was, "It's about 10 degrees out."
Image here
Yikes! Really? Ten? For the non-Fahrenheit using population, that's about negative 12 degrees Celsius, or in other words, cold. Not as cold as it can get, but colder than it has been here for quite awhile. As I sat in bed, deciding whether or not I really wanted to get out of bed (but knowing I really don't have a choice), I made the choice to attempt a ride to my kickboxing class this morning. "I'll just put on layers and I'll be fine," I told myself as I scooped out the dogs' food this morning. Some part of me was insistent that it really wasn't going to be okay, but I carried on with my little charade.

Four layers of wool later (at least on the top half), I was out the door. I wish I'd been alert enough to take a photo of the ridiculousness as I headed out, but I will assure you it was quite absurd. I looked as though I was wearing everything I own (or close to it), including three pairs of gloves, an extremely thick scarf/hat, and wool socks.  With all these layers, how could one possibly be cold?

The problem became (very quickly) my face and fingers. Yes, I have a balaclava... but goodness only knows where it is, and I couldn't find my wool gloves, so I went with what I could find (which wasn't great). I stepped out the door only to discover that my bike odometer wasn't working at all (even electronics think it's too cold to be outside), but I was going to do this ride, regardless. I was leaving about 40 minutes early, so I thought I'd get in a short exercise ride before the class. That didn't happen. By the time I reached the door of the kickboxing studio, I was done. Unfortunately, no one was there yet to let me in to the building, but it wasn't long before the warmth of indoors was available once again.

I very quickly realized that I am not at all prepared to ride in winter at the moment. We've been incredibly blessed to have a fairly warm autumn and the shock of this morning was a definite wake up call. I also believe I need to invest in some thicker wool layers instead of having to layer up all of the base layers to get decent protection from the elements. Is anyone else having a bit of weather shock about now? Any tips or advice on ways to keep the extremities warm are welcome.


  1. I picture you looking like Ralphie's little brother from "A Christmas Story": "I can't put my arms down!"


    Hands: wool liners and ski gloves. Sweaty wool liners dry a lot faster than sweaty ski gloves, I've found.

    Feet: thin SmartWool ankle socks covered with SmartWool ski or snowboard socks covered with snow boots. It looks like overkill but my feet stay toasty warm. (Obviously, I am not riding with clipless pedals.)

    Ears: Helmuffs. Love 'em so very much. At 10 degrees, I'd go with a wool cap, but above 20 I get overheated with anything between my head and the vented helmet. Helmuffs are a cozy compromise.

    Face: To be honest, I've yet to wear a balaclava. I wear my heavier scarves to keep cheeks, nose, and chin from falling off in frigid temps.

    I've yet to find anything to keep my eyes from streaming in the cold, unfortunately.

    1. Hmm... I replied to this the other day, but it seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.

      I feel as though I definitely had that look of Ralphie's brother... definitely a lot of layers happening. :O)

      I haven't tried the helmuffs... perhaps I need to look into these. I always wear scarves and hats, but somehow, my face still seems to get cold. The skin must be more sensitive, I'm guessing?

  2. Sometimes it's just too cold, I remember commuting a couple of years ago, in 17 degree weather, hands frozen, snotsicles, I think mid 20's and up is tolerable, and below that, only if you "have to", otherwise, it's probably dangerous to go outside at all!

    1. Indeed. I suppose almost any temperature is tolerable if one is properly prepared, but I feel as though I never am. One of these days. :O)

  3. I really need a wind breaking jacket on top. I find wind flows right thru wool, no matter how many layers I'm wearing. And I have Thinsulate shoes.

    Nothing keeps my eyes from watering in the cold.

    1. The eyes... that's a tough area to protect and not have fog up. Even my glasses don't seem to help that situation.

  4. There are knitting patterns for "helmuff" type thingies, too.

    Went to a cycling club party held at our local bike shop, & the bike shop mgr gave a little presentation on winter wear for cycling. What struck me was that his spiel was geared entirely toward the road riders, and seemed to ignore commuters entirely. I find I can dress more warmly for my 2-to-4 mile commute than I would do for a cold weather road ride, because I am not on the bike as long to start sweating (and I DO sweat!). Anyway, I've been doing well with a Columbia Bugaboo jacket (fleece jacket zippered into waterproof shell), wool knee socks with Smartwool liners, the Thinsulate shoes, merino skull cap, double thickness fleece gloves. I find my Duofold undershirt wicks a little better than my numerous merino shirts. And if the day warms up, I can remove the fleece jacket & just ride with the outer shell.

    1. Funny that you brought up the Columbia brand. I was just trying on one of their jackets that I found on sale recently. I liked the idea that it would breathe, but still keep me warm down to about 4 degrees F (I believe that was the temperature anyway). I also completely agree that a short commute is easier to tolerate than a much longer road ride. I think that many of the shops can sometimes forget that not everyone is going out for distance riding this time of year, and sometimes it is purely for transportation purposes.

      Thanks for taking the time to share what has been working for you. :O)


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