Outfitted for the road

Outfitters Originally uploaded by Payton Chung

Steven listed out his winter kit, so I thought I’d share as well what I wore today, with riding temperatures around 15-20° F (-5° to -10° C). Two rules: first, block the wind with lots of windproof fuzzy stuff, especially around your toes, fingers, and ears. Second, hit up spring clearances: they’ve already started, people! Get moving!

Clockwise from upper left, into the spiral:
– Neos Overshoes, $29.95, Sierra Trading Post (online, clearance; Hanig’s sells them locally)
– MEC Urbane Composite windproof fleece jacket (Polartec Power Shield High Loft fabric), C$140, MEC
– Rudy Project Fobos prescription sunglasses, approximately $150 with lenses ($80 without)
– Patagonia fleece earflap hat, $12?, Patagonia clearance bin
– Kenneth Cole boots; the fey salesman on Michigan Ave probably remembers the price but I don’t
– Acorn fleece socks. $4, EMS clearance bin
– Orange Pryme BMX helmet. I wear a smaller, better vented, more expensive helmet in the summer. $25, Boulevard Bike Shop
– MEC fleece-lined gauntlet over-mitts, C$29, MEC
– Red fleece liner gloves, $3, Gap clearance bin
Hint: if you have ever gone skiing, chances are very good that you already own equipment comparable to anything in the right half of this photo.

Not shown, because I’m still wearing them (in addition to the usual trousers + shirt office garb):
– Long johns, $8, Target
– Grey sweater, $30, Club Monaco

Also not shown, since they’re on the bicycle, but which stay there year-round anyways:
– Zefal plastic fenders, C$9, MEC
– Planet Bike Blaze head light, C$20, MEC
– Filzer i-Beam LED tail light, C$7, MEC

Yesterday, when it hit single digits (-15° C), I kind of overdid it and ended up sweaty. In addition to the above, I wore:
– Anon kids’ ski goggles (REI clearance bin, $19.93) in place of the glasses
– Fleece mittens (MEC, C$6) over the gloves, as a hand midlayer
– Midweight fleece long johns instead of the basic ones
– Brooks Brothers wool sweater
– A fine wool scarf

I can’t say it’s any faster to bike to work in the winter: although traffic is thinner, it takes a good 10-15 minutes to suit up/down — doubling what’s usually a 25-minute ride that’s already time-competitive with my nearly door-to-door train service. I don’t have set rules about what weather I’ll rule out, but winds above 25 MPH (40 km/h), temperatures below 0° F (-20° C), or a 40%+ chance of precipitation will usually do it — even though I own a raincoat, rain pants, and a balaclava (face mask), I do have my limits.

6 thoughts on “Outfitted for the road

  1. I’m gonna go back and detail the tech behind each item.

    I totally forgot my jacket. It’s a GORE Bike Wear “Balance” with Windstopper. It really does stop the wind.

    I forgot my lights, and I want more of ’em.

  2. >it takes a good 10-15 minutes to suit up/down — doubling what’s usually a 25-minute ride that’s already time-competitive with my nearly door-to-door train service.<

    OK, but I think you’re forgetting to mention that even travelling by train in the winter takes more time than it does in the summer. You probably spend at least an extra 5 minutes suiting-up your walking-winter gear.

  3. Yeah, Steve, I was wondering how you got by with just a jersey. Lights are inexplicably silly-cheap at MEC, even if the whole “going to Canada” bit kind of cancels that out.

    Actually, Kevin, my walking gear is just the same coat and a hat; no need for three layers over head, feet, or hands. Plus, anecdotally the trains are marginally faster; no track construction and shorter dwell times since there are fewer passengers.

  4. I once looked at lobsters, but a dexterity test (can I fish keys out from my back pocket with these on?) showed that they were no better than basic mitts. Of course, I didn’t realize that I’d eventually switch (on one of my bikes) from Shimano rapid-fires to SRAM Attacks, which require a little more finger action, but it still works out fine — and much cheaper.

    I wear convertible mitts most of the time, though.

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