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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Brr: Tips for cold-weather cycling

Image of bicyclists on cold ride in Iowa
From the Des Moines Register, 01.29.08:

BRR: Braving the cold on a bike
A biker can easily spend a grand to stay warm for a short commute, a training ride or an outfit for Saturday's BRR trip from Perry to Rippey. "For a thousand bucks," said Donny Quixote of Rasmussen Bike Shop in West Des Moines, "you're on the road."

Scott Sumpter, creator of, bought a pair of biking boots that clip into his pedals for $270. So-called lobster mittens with two finger sleeves ($50 or more) have also helped. Extremities tend to get colder on a bike than running in the cold, he said.

Mark Wyatt of the Iowa Bicycle Association bikes the five miles into Coralville from North Liberty to work. "Layering is the secret," he said. "It's going to be much colder in the morning than at 5 p.m."

The key to body warmth is keeping the sweat away from your skin. That's why sweatshirts and other cotton garments that get wet eventually make you cold. A better option is workout clothing that wicks away sweat. It's available on many levels of spending. (Read more.)
Some people might cringe at the article's rather casual suggestion that spending $1,000 on technical cold-weather apparel is necessary to continue bicycling during winter. But some perspective. A grand is what, three car payments? This helpful article offers some--not all--the options for maintaining warmth during cold-weather bike commuting.

Another consideration: Clothing is durable. Sure, spending $300 for a waterproof, breathable, technical jacket might seem shocking. But imagine using that garment for, say, the next five years. Most of my technical bad weather clothing has lasted for many seasons.

If you love your bike commute, invest in serviceable clothing. It's worth it.

Image: Des Moines Register.
Visit: Twelve tips for cool weather bicycling, Marion Star
Visit: Cold doesn't deter tough cyclists, Des Moines Register, 02.01.08
Visit: Iowa City shop owner bicycles to work even in dead of winter, Iowa City Gazette, 03.03.08
Visit: Safety first, on the road, The Vanguard, Portland State University
Visit: Bike-it-Yourself: Bike Through Winter,, Wisconsin
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
Friendly bell ring to Bike Commute Tips Blog reader Dan Kopatich for article link.


Yokota Fritz said...

I think you know I used to live in the Midwest -- in Illinois, the next state over from Iowa. After that I moved my way west to Colorado, so I did my share of cold weather winter cycling for over a decade. Here's a list of my cold weather riding gear. For heavy snow I ditched the cycling shoes and usually wore boots of some kind.

dr2chase said...

I've got those boots, too, and they're nice, but if I had the same circulation in my toes that I seem to have in my other parts (fingers, ears, nose) I don't think I'd need them (my toes are also quick to chill when skiing, compared to other people).

On the advice of the wool enthusiasts at Rivendell, I tried that a wool undershirt as a base layer, and it worked exceptionally well -- in particular, it does not get as nasty-smelling as some of the synthetic base layers that have tried.

SiouxGeonz said...

It can be done for lots and lots and lots less than a grand. Barfola at the "It's all about spending!" theme ... a person can gradually acquire the good stuff and do reasonably well without in the meantime... post-season sales, surplus stores... some of my buddies on the Illini Chill ride Saturday had ski goggles they got for $1.99.

Unknown said...

find some good advice for doing it on the cheap at...

Anonymous said...

Best and unique variety of cold weather clothings are available at at Wickers Sportswear...

Jay said...

You can do it for less and, especially if you do any skiing or snowboarding, some of the articles can be pretty versatile.