Bike Friendly Richardson

Winter is Coming, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cold

Posted in BFR Misc by jennyrilling on November 26, 2011

By Jenny Rilling

Y’all, I am that person who’s always cold, brings a sweater to the movies during the summer, and hates to feel cold. This can present a problem for biking during the winter months, even in Texas. Last year, I made it down to about 30 degrees by wearing a bulky parka, but on days the temps dipped below 30, I just couldn’t do it.

However, this year, my goal is to commute all winter, every day, to the greatest extent possible. I’d like to share my winter clothing strategy in case it’s helpful to anyone else.

Read more…

As Ft. Worth blogger Doohickie has mentioned, layering is key. He’s a fan of Canari windbreakers – coincidentally, I had just ordered one before I found his post on winter layering. When layering, I recommend wool or technical synthetic pieces that will keep you warm even if you sweat or get rained on. It’s also helpful to keep in mind what areas of your body get coldest or feel most uncomfortable in the cold. For me, it’s my torso, my neck / throat, and my hands. So, to summarize:

1. Layers

2. Wool and technical fabrics (Not cotton!)

3. Strategically address the areas that get coldest.

My typical layers right now, for 40 – 49 degree temps are:

  • Windbreaker (Bonus: the retina-searing color helps drivers see you even when it’s pitch dark at 4 PM.)
  • Thin wool sweater or cardigan
  • Knit top or button down
  • Jeans or wool slacks (because my legs don’t feel as cold as my torso, for you it may be different.)
  • Or a wool skirt, tights, and boots.
  • Regular socks (for now)
  • Closed toe work flats or converse sneakers.
  • Winter cycling gloves (Mine are neoprene and have a grippy palm surface and velcro wrist closures.)
  • Cashmere beanie
  • Wool scarf

Now, if you’re cycling along in all these layers and you start feeling uncomfortably warm, you can take off some of the layers, like the beanie, scarf, or sweater. But don’t take off the windbreaker. That’s what holds all your body heat in and keeps the wind from going right through you.

For 30 degrees and below, I’ll probably add a heavier wool or cashmere sweater instead of the thin sweater, long johns under the pants, wool socks, and boots. I may get a balaclava. If we have an ice storm like last year, it’s a ski bib all the way.

So far, commuting on the relatively few cold days we’ve had in November has been a much more pleasant experience than last year. It’s also easier to get motivated to take a pleasure ride or do some errands by bike when you know you’ll be toasty warm the whole time!

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cold
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cold
by jril featuring a cashmere shawl

LORD TAYLOR v neck cardigan
$35 –

Cashmere shawl
$25 –

Sugoi glove

Cashmere hat
$20 –

3 Responses

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  1. howardmaher said, on November 26, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Might want to try more of the athletic underwear like Under Armour or other brands as a base layer…REI have their brands on sale right now. Ones that wick as much moisture away from your body as possible… Also, a long sleeve biking jersey and long legged biking pants usually help minimize the awkwardness of other non-athletic wear (jeans) and also help wick moisture away. I’ve also found that a winter biking jacket usually helps as well. I wear a SmartWool beanie under my helmet, and a balaclava on my neck and lower face as well. Lobster gloves with liners in cold weather below 40 keep my hands toasty. And a pair of Sugoi booties over my biking shoes help keep my feet warm and still allow my soles to grab my mountain bike pedals. Of course, if you don’t go far, these may not be considerations… I ride 15 miles each way to work so I have to make sure I’m good and warm for a long haul… Also, be sure to get as much clothing with reflective material as possible, and have blinking lights backward (red) and forward (white) in addition to your powerful lights to see by. I ride in the dark now both ways (5:30 and 5:30) and my biggest problem with some riders/runners/walkers is not seeing them on dimly-lit paths and roads. Stay warm and ride on!

  2. jennyrilling said, on November 26, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    A large portion of my commute is by train, so that’s a great point for folks who have farther to go.

  3. […] solutions during the darker days of winter. We thought it would be great to share it on the site: Jenny’s cold-weather-clothing post got me thinking about another season-related topic: lighting, especially on these […]

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