Thursday, December 1, 2016

Winter Riding is Here

"Bridges freeze before roads," something that becomes very evident once we experience the season's first snowfall. The pathway was snow free except for the two bridges on my commuting route.

Like signs of autumn commuting there comes a time when, unmistakably, winter commuting requires a different mindset. Now that snow has fallen and the thermometer hovers around 30F, it is not easy to get out the door, on time, and properly clothed. The transition, however, is only another hurdle, one that I will adjust to, with a few changes.

Consult the weather station
What are the daily highs and lows? Is it too slippery to safely ride or do I need to change my mode of transport?

Thicker tights are mandatory
I was using double layers, but once I mentioned that I wanted  my own pair of Performance's Triflex Tights for Christmas my husband gave me his. After borrowing his pair last winter, I swear by the warmth, windproof capabilities, and freedom of movement, especially in the knee area. Eventually, I will add another layer once the temps slip below 30F.

Headband is not quite adequate
Now where did I store my balaclava?

Add a scarf for extra neck warmth
A simple scarf bridges the transition from headband to balaclava.

I need to find alternative eye protection
My hardware store clear glasses don't fit well beneath my current helmet, especially with a helmet mounted light adding weight to the brim. I've unearthed a 25-year-old pair of amber snow goggles that I once used on Northwestern slopes that may work in colder temps.

Wearing boots is just around the corner
I'm glad I switched to platform pedals that will accommodate any type of footwear.

Allow extra time to navigate dicey paths and roadways
An obvious consideration, yet I often cut my commute times too close for comfort.
Windproof mittens are my go-to hand wear
I seldom use gloves any more. If it's below 40F, mittens are required. 

A down coat will keep me toasty
I haven't resorted to my down jacket quite yet, but I know it's available for instant warmth - the best kind of winter riding insurance.

A change of helmet?
For the first time ever, I've contemplated the switch to owning two helmets, one with less ventilation to keep my head warmer in colder temps. Helmets are discounted in late fall, easy justification to buy two helmets to replace my current, aging leopard print-covered Bell helmet. So I went for it. I now own two different Giro commuter helmets - both styles I had admired for nearly a year.

After managing to commute through much of last winter, I have the confidence, experience, and desire to continue riding on days when it's cold and trails are snow and ice free. I know my limits, but I long for those dry path days and crisp, cold and quiet night rides home that provide me with a sense of peace.


  1. As for goggles, have you tried the Kroops? I have a set, but never got to test them in snow, since it rarely snows in these parts!

    1. Well thanks for that suggestion! My girlfriend is arriving today from OR. And to think I almost had free shipping...I will keep these in mind. I wouldn't know which style to choose, but the Oregon Cycling style comes in a variety of colors.

  2. Motorcycle goggles a little more trim. I wear them in Spring pollen season or very windy cold weather. Bobster Phoenix Fit On Sunglasses,Black Frame/3 Lenses (Smoked, Amber and Clear),one size [Amazon] is one style. Neck warmers, and soft synthetic earflap caps under my helmet, are also a must in winter.

  3. When I was commuting to a regular 9-5 gig, 7 miles each way, winter mornings were brutal. It was often in the teens when I'd roll out. While I rarely wear a helmet, I took to wearing one with the front and top holes covered in packing tape to keep the air off my head. Made a world of difference.

  4. Looks like fun! Except for ice - I get pretty nervous when I turn the corner or roll up onto a bridge deck and find glare ice. I agree with your advice on cold weather clothing. We follow a similar formula.

    Regarding the eye protection issue. We have a lot of big hills and long fast descents - and need good eye protection. You will think this is crazy, but we went to the Giro Air Attack helmet with face shield. It's an "aero" helmet, which we don't care about. It's the face shield that we like for winter riding - either cold air or rain. You face is protected by the shield and it makes winter riding much more enjoyable when the weather gets really inclement. Plus, the face shield fogs a lot less than my Oakleys when it is cool and damp.

    1. I'm petrified of ice! If the surface conditions are slippery, I won't ride to work. If I'm out and I see a patch of ice, I walk my bike, especially over bridges. I rode my bike slowly over the bridge in the photo, but only because it was packed snow, very doable for a short stretch.

    2. I have my eye out for a used ski helmet, something with a face shield, but now I'm less inclined to add a third helmet, but who knows?

  5. Thanks for the recommendations - I shall look into those tights. I am trying this year to keep up cycling in the winter. My last Coffeeneuring ride was only 21 miles or so but it seemed twice as long as other rides of similar length, and I'm sure the reason was at least partly the trousers I was wearing. Craghoppers winter lined - lovely and warm but I think it was much harder work moving my legs than it is in warmer weather when I wear something much lighter in weight.

    My jacket, a Vulpine Primaloft one, is wonderfully warm and light.

    1. I commend you for going such long distances in winter wear. What is your commute distance? I ride only 5 miles to the office so I find I'm making it up as I go, but certainly shorter distances are manageable whereas I don't think I could stay quite as warm riding for one hour. Those Craghopper winter pants are interesting. They look like they'd make nice walking pants.


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