Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter riding- part 1 Clothing

Hey Ross here folks

As it gets colder and the grey mess that is winter approches, many people ask themselves one thing:

"how do i make it through this?...again"

Where im from, a harsh winter full of un-plowed streets and ice covered trees is the norm and because i grew up in that kind of climate, im well prepared for what that winter brings. Now, there are many things i do to prepare for what this weather brings whether it be prepping for my bikes or my home but by far the most important preparation of all is that of dressing accordingly. Sure i love my bikes, as im sure you do, but what good is the bike if the engine fails because it froze up? (that engine is you by the way). We'll talk about bikes later but first and foremost is Clothing...

lets start from the head down:

Its a known fact that you loose a great deal of heat through your head and its even more true during exercise. Thats why its extremely important to cover up your skull during the winter. You need warmth of course but also something that will be comfortable under a helmet and wick sweat away from your melon. I cant stress that enough. Excess sweat gets really cold and if theres enough of it, can lead to hypothermia if you happen to stop running or cycling. I know. Ive experienced it.
Something that covers these areas perfectly is the merino 6-panel beanie by swobo (top) and the Descente Coldout Balaclava (bottom).

Swobo's cycling beanie is great. Plain and simple. Its made of merino wool which is light, itch-free, and wicks away sweat but by far its best property is that it keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer (Theres a reason theyve been making cycling gear out of this stuff for ages). It covers up your ears perfectly and the short cycling bill keeps falling snow out of your eyes.

For slightly harsher conditions (and general purpose use) Descentes Coldout Balaclava is a great grab. made of water/wind resistant material and lined with a light fleece, it not only wicks away sweat, it keeps your nose, mouth, cheeks, ears and head warm. Double up on them for added warm (yes i said double). I personally love balaclavas for their multi-funtional use. If you want a demonstration on how many macgyver-like ways it can be used, stop by the shop.

Next, for the torso, my preferred shell of choice, the Endura Gridlock. Its a mid-weight waterproof and totally breathable jacket that really lasts you through the miles out in the cold winter air. Even if you chose to ride fender-less (people do) youd still be golden. Did i mention they come in super visible colors?
Lets not forget gloves now. For me, id be done with a ride in january after about 15 feet without a pair of gloves on. As would any of us. My weapon of choice here is the Pearl Izumi Cyclone

Its got everything a cyclist needs. Rubberized finger grips for no-miss flicking those brake or shifter levers, strategically placed padding in the palm (which i am especially fond of) and super warm material. Padding is so important. Have you ever fallen from a bike while riding on ice? No brainer. Get some or prepare to have icicles for fingers.

Next we need pants. Its the law. Otherwise you'd not only be freezing but youd be in jail. Not so much fun. So in order to get out of the cells and onto the streets, you need not only a lawyer but some Craft Bullet Pants.
Anyone can make an argument here. It usual goes something like "Cant i just ride with snow pants?" or perhaps "bah i already have some winter running pants. that'll be good enough on the bike".
True, you could wear other gear but it wouldnt be as comfortable, windproof, waterproof and lightweight. Even if they had all of those properties, they still wouldnt have articulated knees and 3M relfective striping. Perfect attributes for this city full of wind-tunnel effects and unknown puddles.

Lastly before i get, in the words of Henry Carter, 'thirsty mouth', we're going to get on with the only affordable, comfortable and durable option for protecting your toes from that creepy old man winter-
Booties and toe covers by our pals descente
The major difference between the two is that booties cover your whole foot and ankle, providing total weather protection whereas toe covers do just what they are: cover your toe.

the Element Shoe Cover or bootie (top), is made of neoprene, is kevlar enforced to enhance durability in walking areas, is wind-blocking and water repellent. It also features openings on the bottom for clipless pedals and the shoe's heel. The Element toe cover (right) is made from the same great neoprene and is wind-blocking and water repellent. Easier to deal with and convenient to slip on.

Ok folks i hope that helps you on your quest for winter survival and like always, if you have any questions, stop by the shop any time or shoot us a line. I'll be back Friday to talk about prepping your bike for the winter and how to handle your bike in adverse conditions. See ya then!

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