Friday, December 6, 2013

Frosty Frolicking Fix

Sometimes I forget what it was like to live in a neighborhood that almost exclusively required me to use a car. I still rode my bike pretty frequently, but it was a chore to get most places. Even though we lived just outside city limits, I had to travel a busy highway to get into town (or anywhere). Most places we needed to go were at least 8-10 miles one way. It hardly makes for a pleasant bike ride when the time is spent praying I wouldn't be hit by a texting or otherwise distracted motorist. To provide a comparison, our old neighborhood had a "walk score" of 9. I'm surprised that the number was even that high to be honest, as the only places within walking distance were gas stations, a bank, and a few fast food establishments. Not to mention that one would have to walk down the same highway that I rode to get to any of these locations.
*Image from Walk Score
Our current neighborhood has a score of 72. Quite a difference from what we knew for so many years. Considering the city average has a score of 35, I feel quite fortunate to be where we are now. It's not equal to that of a large, condensed metropolis, but I think it's a nice combination to allow for ease of use in regard to both city and rural access.

Since we've been experiencing sub-zero temperatures in this region (which isn't what I expect for early-ish December, despite what the Colorado tourism board would have people believe), I have actually been walking many places (I will bike too, but I avoid doing so during peak traveling hours until local motorists get used to the icy conditions again).  After one of my first round attempts failed miserably and I ended up with painfully frozen fingers and toes, I decided that layers are my friend. It starts with a wool tank top, then a wool t-shirt, followed by a long-sleeved version of a lighter weight wool, then a heavier, mid-weight wool base layer, and a hooded layer and/or coat on top (depending). Sometimes, this is way over kill, but I think I have a system now based on levels of freezing in which I remove certain layers from the combination. I also wear a balaclava, a beanie, and the hood to my coat or other layer. For feet, I have either one extremely thick wool pair of socks on, or two lighter weight versions with lined, snow-type boots. My hands get snowboard/liner gloves, followed by very heavy weight snow mittens. For some reason, my legs tend to do better, even in negative temperatures, so one mid-weight wool base layer under whatever I'm donning for the day (skirt, jeans, etc) seems to do the trick. I will say, I must look ridiculous...but, I'm nice and toasty warm!

As much as I always dread the winter season and its cold temperatures (this year already seems to be particularly frigid), I've actually enjoyed being out in the elements. Maybe I'm adapting to my surroundings, or I've finally figured out (after more than a decade of being here) how to dress properly? Hard to say, but I'm hoping that the layering system will help keep me outside, even through the frosty weeks and months ahead. Do you have any winter-weather tricks that work particularly well for keeping you warm on the coldest days?


  1. I'm in the south, so it doesn't get terribly cold here, but we do have days in the mid-20s. I am a super cold-natured person, so I get chilled really easily. Here's what I do on those cold (for us) days: On top, I wear a long-sleeved wool base layer under a wool or silk turtleneck with a wool cardigan over the top. On bottom I wear a regular pair of tights under a pair of leggings (which I take off when I get to my destination) and then pull my pants or skirt on over that. I picked up that trick about the leggings from a video Dottie over at Lets Go Ride a Bike made about dressing for the cold.

    While I'm on the bike a windbreaker and wool scarf will usually keep me warm enough, but I have an insulated winter shell for really cold and windy days. I wear two layers of thin wool socks under my hiking shoes, wind-proof gloves, and either a hat under my helmet or ear muffs. That's it!

    I find that I warm up pretty quickly once I get under way, within the first couple of miles. The cold became easier for me to deal with psychologically when I realized that it would have taken me just as long to warm up waiting for the car heater!

    1. I think that's definitely true, Kendra. I sometimes overdo the layers and once I'm going it seems like way too much. I think that goes for a lot of us, regardless of how cold the cold is in our region. I also find that if the sun is out, even if it's physically colder, I can deal with it easier mentally. Even though it gets really cold here at times, I appreciate that there are more sunny winter days than cloudy ones (at least generally speaking). Like you, I get cold really easily, so finding good ways to keep insulated without overdoing it is key.


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