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I completed my first Bike Winter!

April 10, 2012

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Granted this was a very mild winter in Chicago, it was still my first time biking with snow on the ground.  The coldest temperature I biked in was somewhere under 10 degrees, most days were between 20-30. If you visit my very first posts about biking in the winter, you’ll notice I was worried about what to wear.  I had a hard time regulating my temperature at first.  What I realized, is that surprisingly you need less clothing when on a bike.  The most wonderful fabric for keeping warm and containing moisture: Wool came to the rescue again and again.

Keeping with my vow not to buy new clothes (excluding socks, undies and swim wear) I investigated some DIY solutions to augmenting my wardrobe. The result: two pairs of wool leg warmers, enough neck warmers for my whole family, a pair of wool liners for my rain boots (all made from old sweaters from thrift shops), two vintage wool skirts and a redesign of an old wool skirt from a ankle-length straight skirt to a pleated A-line. Total investment: about $40  and four Saturdays of sewing. By adding a little bit of wool to augment my mostly cotton wardrobe I kept plenty warm.  The wool neck warmers can be pulled up over your face and ears, perfect for that cutting winter wind, snow flurries and even light hail. With my legwarmers worn over ordinary cotton tights and paired with wool boot liners and my super-dooper Kamik rain boots, my feet stayed toasty and dry. Check out these tutorial for making your boot liners.

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Here is most of my winter wardrobe:

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Here I am featured on Bike Fancy (*squeal of glee), Chicago’s answer to Copenhagen Chic wearing one of my vintage skirts, my awesome Cambridge Raincoat and my homemade legwarmers.

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Things I learned about biking in the winter:

  • It’s not as bad as you think
  • It cures seasonal depression (I ACTUALLY STAYED HAPPY ALL WINTER–A FIRST IN MY LIFE!!!)
  • Creative uses of wool allow you to dress for the occasion AND the weather
  • My bright colored, hi-vis, wind-cutting raincoat was all needed in lieu of a winter coat. All my wool and down coats were too warm for cycling.
  • I felt much safer in hi-vis on dark winter nights.
  • Ski goggles didn’t work for me because most of my riding was in the dark, my ski goggles are shaded to prevent snow glare.
  • My glasses get steamed up if I wear my neck warmer over my mouth and nose. If I kept my nose uncovered it was much better.
  • On the really cold days mittens were far superior to my wool gloves, also don’t wear gloves inside your mittens.  Mittens are designed to take advantage of your finger’s body heat.  This proved to be the ONLY thing to keep my fingers warm.
  • I brought my ski pants home from MA but I didn’t need them all winter.  My raincoat and wool kept me plenty dry.
  • A wool hat can keep you SO warm, even to the point of overheating.  I kept my wool hat with me all winter, but found I rarely needed it.  Once in a blue moon the weather changed for the colder, or I under dressed and all that was needed to keep me warm despite insufficient layers was that hat.  Practically magical if you ask me.
  • People think your bad-ass or crazy or bad-ass crazy
  • You feel bad-ass
  • I am in great shape, usually I feel a little slob-ish and overweight coming out of winter.  This year I lost weight and feel GREAT!
  • It seemed that the extremities (fingers and toes) were the coldest, again wool was my solution. For much of the winter all I wore was a pair of rather thin wool gloves.
  • I don’t like cold wind in my ears so I wear a pair of back of the head earmuffs. They fit easily under my helmet both with and without hats.
  • There is a sense of community with other bikers even stronger than usual (although all the vets keep reminding me, I had it easy this year…) On several occasions while biking home, after chatting at a stoplight I would make a friend and ride part ways with them.

Will I do it again?  Hell yeah. I am officially a year round cyclist!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 15, 2012 11:07 PM

    How fantastic! I need to try winter bike riding!! Thanks for the link 🙂

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