Congratulations to Cheryl Young, winner of a signed copy of On Bicycles. Velo-elves may have already delivered your prize! They were wearing lots of layers when they started pedaling away from On Bicycles HQ because it’s chilly! And winter has only just started. Now that we’re in the cold, wet, dark season I feel a lot more resistance to getting out the door and riding where I need to go. Overcoming the psychological obstacle is always the hardest though, as I have learned how to stay dry and warm in all kinds of weather.
First and foremost I have some puffy ski mitts that keep my hands toasty and warm. After using these for the last year I am convinced that keeping all the fingers together in a mitt is the most comfortable hand covering for riding. I don’t find myself needing to do any fine motor actions (requiring individual fingers) and the mitts themselves are like big white paddles – great for signalling!
I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold so I keep my ears, cheeks and neck well swaddled. A couple years ago I started making something called the “Little Rad Riding Hood” for friends and relatives and since I just recently acquired a serger (thanks Graham!!!) I can make them to order. It is a thin hood with long ends which can be wrapped around the neck as a scarf Primarily a functional item, it can appear medieval or hijab-like but it is supposed to keep the ears warm with a little more style (and less menace) than a balaclava. If you’d like to try one I can offer them for $30 plus shipping. Leave a comment or email me at amy(AT)onbicycles.com for details. So far I have made them in red, purple and maroon velveteen, purple lace velveteen and blue bamboo rayon.
I also love wearing several layers on the inside: a tank top & t-shirt, preferably long-sleeved and made of wool (or silk in my fantasy clothing dreamland) plus a pair of arm warmers to keep the draft from whistling up my arms. I’ve seen a few women wear a stretchy knit “belly warmer” that bridges the gap between the shirt and pants /skirt, but I’ve never worn one.
Socks! Long socks, thick socks, two pairs of socks. Keep those feet toasty and you’ll be a happy rider. I haven’t worn booties (waterproof shoe covers) the last year or so, preferring to simply wear boots, though I do have a pair of booties (and a nice pair of bicycling spats from Fabric Horse). I think my commutes have been short enough that I haven’t needed ‘em… but they are at the ready if I have to take a long ride in the rain.
I do not spend much money on clothing – and especially not on specific bicycle clothing – but buying the highest quality rain gear you can afford seems like a smart investment. I’ve had my $300 rain gear for about 10 years now and it’s almost time for a replacement set. I’d estimate that I’ve worn my pants and jacket at least a thousand times, putting the cost at about 30 cents per wear.
Stay warm and toasty out there! Sending you my best wishes for the holiday season & 2013!