Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Public service announcement

Well, I've been waiting for winter to post this, but with it being 45ºF today, I've pretty much given up on winter this year...

Winter bicycling: a short guide

1. You will probably overdress.
I've found that all you need until it gets to around 15ºF is a t-shirt under your jacket.
Once it gets below 15º and until it gets to around 0º, all you need is a collared shirt under your windbreaker.
Once it gets below 0º, you will probably need to wear tights/long underwear and a light jacket under your windbreaker. But, don't overdress! It is better to be a bit cool than to overheat and sweat. The sweat condenses and you get cold.
You might feel cold for the first mile, but if I do 40-50 pushups before going outside, I stay warm—I know some of you are saying you will need to go to the hospital if you do that! :)

2. Your hands will get cold—unless you wear mittens. I use leather outers and wool inners. We called them "choppers" when I was a kid. The two piece is nice because it allows you to pull the inners out and let them dry if they get wet.

3. Your head will probably be warm enough, but you should invest in a mask-type stocking cap. I usually end up pulling it back, but the neck part is handy for keeping cold air off your chest.

3a. Keep your chest warm. If you don't, you might end up with bronchitis, which is why I suggest a mask type stocking cap. They usually have a neck portion that goes down over part of the chest.

4. Studded snow tires aren't what they are cracked up to be—an exception might be the $200 ones, but I'm not going to find out! I've run studded snows for 3 years now, and they do grab on snow and somewhat on ice, but they slip on corners pretty badly when there is no ice or snow. And the studs come off over time. I won't be replacing them with studded tires when they wear out. Now, if some bicycle tire manufacturer is looking for somebody to test those nice $200 tires, contact me...I ride 11 miles per day, 5 days per week, year round...

5. It is a blast riding in the cold and snow! The most fun is when it is -20ºF and people's jaw drops as you go blasting through an intersection with your beard all frosty and your hat down because you are too warm.

Enjoy the winter—if it ever decides to arrive!


Jim Getz said...

I find that a good, thick wool scarf does me better than a ski mask or balaclava. I'm still trying to find the perfect hand protection. My wife bought me a pair of Capo cycling gloves for Christmas, but it's only been in the 30º's here, so I haven't been able to put them through their paces.

jps said...


My experience is that once it gets below about 35ºF, my hands get too cold in gloves—even good gloves. But, that might be because I froze my hands when I was a teenager. I was out skiing in a blizzard when it was -40ºF windchill. My hands have always been sensitive since then.

I use a balaclava—I couldn't remember the name. I ride in the country, so the wind can be pretty vicious and the extra protection is nice. I also ride no matter how cold it gets : )


Anonymous said...

Shall I post a similar guide for winter motorcycling? :-)

jps said...


Definitely! And be sure to post the picture of the cycle with the temperature below zero in the background : )