Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Winter Cycling Wardrobe: Transport and Sport

I get a lot of requests for a comprehensive winter wardrobe post. Since it snowed again today, this seemed like a good time. I won't call this a "guide" and I don't assume that what works for me will necessarily work for others. But in the midst of Winter 4.0, this is the stuff that keeps me comfortable cycling even on the coldest days in greater Boston. For reference, our temperatures are typically in the 20s-30s F range, although it does occasionally get colder.

A few quick disclaimers: I am dividing this into "transport" and "sport" sections, because for me the two rarely intersect, not because I think others must keep them separate. Also, you will find that some things here are female-biased, because, well I am female. Finally, I linked to some companies and products, because readers tend to ask for specifics. As always, none of the product mentions are endorsements or "monetised" in any way; they are just there for your info.

Winter 4.0 (Transport)
TRANSPORT
Pictured here is the sort of thing I normally wear when getting around by bike, either for work or errands. I will start from the inside out.

Underwear 
Worn closest to the body, underwear plays a crucial role in temperature regulation. So before I worry about bundling up, I make sure to get this part right. In my experience, underwear made of wool, silk, lycra/spandex and some technical polyester-based fabrics, is generally good at regulating body temperature and wicking moisture. Underwear made of cotton or acrylic is not. Out of the fabrics that work I prefer wool and most of my undergarments are from Ibex: I like their modern and stretchy wool/lycra blend. Icebreaker and Smartwool also offer some good options, as does Winter Silks if you're looking for budget-friendly silk.

Everyday Outfits
My everyday clothing ranges from casual to formal, but, especially in winter, it almost always involves skirts and dresses. This is because I find it easier to add warm layers under a skirt (wool leggings or legwarmers over tights), than to deal with layering under trousers or jeans. Also, if it rains or snows, tights with knee-high boots are a highly effective way to keep dry. After several winters of experimenting, most of my cold-weather outfits are now wool. I knit wool skirts myself in variety of styles. And I wear wool sweaters over wool or silk base layers. 100% merino is harder to find now in mainstream stores than it used to be, but J. Crew remains a good source and they have frequent sales (like right now). I also alternate between several wool dresses, mostly handmade. And I still own a few wool skirt-suits from my suit wearing days. If I want to wear an outfit that is made of a non-temperature regulating fabric, I will wear a wool or silk baselayer under it and it'll be fine. But to me, wooly stuff just feels overall warmer and cozier.

Tights
When buying cold-weather tights, I look for wool and nylon/ lycra/ spandex content, and I avoid cotton and acrylic content - because, as with baselayers and underwear, the latter does not wick moisture or regulate temperature well. Smartwool makes decent all-around winter tights (and socks). Falke is a European favourite, but expensive. Another option is to wear dense nylon tights (such as these), with wool leggings or legwarmers over them, which can be later removed indoors.

Footwear
Both on the bike and off, I am a fan of waterproof boots rated for freezing temperatures. For years, I have been wearing La Canadienne boots that are exactly that. I have a pair of their ankle boots and a pair of knee-high boots that look reasonably professional and feminine, while being absolutely winter-proof. The soles have excellent traction on snow and ice, which is also useful for when my bike pedals turn slippery. With the knee-high boots, the additional benefit is that they keep my legs extra warm, and protected from slushy splash-back.

Coats
On the bike, I favour wool 3/4 length coats with an A-line shape, so that the hem does not constrict pedaling. The coat should fit loosely enough to allow layering underneath, and should not in itself be too warm. When I am walking, I will sometimes wear a down-filled coat, but I find it too bulky when cycling. The down-filled coats can also be slippery on the bike saddle, whereas wool coats stay put. My current coat is about 6 years old and I no longer remember where I bought it.

Hats
Usually I wear a wool beret or hat that I knit myself. I take care that the stitching is dense enough to be wind-proof, and that the hat covers my ears.

Gloves
My favourite gloves for cycling are wool and grippy. They are perhaps not the most elegant choice, but their functionality has won me over.

Scarves
After some experimenting, I have taken to wearing a shawl-like wool scarf which I wrap around my neck once and then tuck the rest into the front of my coat for an extra layer of warmth over the chest. This really helps when cycling against an icy headwind. Beware of long, flowing scarves on the bike, for obvious reasons.

Want more winter wardrobe advice from  genuine cycling fashionistas? Dottie of Let's Go Ride a Bike has excellent tips from snowy Chicago. Here is her latest post on the topic and a more general guide for winter dressing. Also, this excellent Bikeyface post will not disappoint.

Winter 4.0 (Sport)
SPORT
With roadcycling, I find getting dressed in the winter easier, simply because there is less creativity required. I can wear the same thing over and over! Here is my formula:

Base Layers
I like thin, long sleeve wool base layers. There are many options to choose from now. Rivendell has come out with a nice US-made one recently. I also wear a wool/lycra sportsbra underneath (see "Underwear" earlier).

Tights
In winter temperatures, I wear fleece-lined full length tights. I have tried bib tights, but ultimately I find them too fussy to get in and out of. I prefer the padded winter waist-high tights from Capo, and wear a model from a few seasons ago. In addition to being super warm, these are also somewhat water resistant. I have made do without rain or snow pants so far, and have not felt the need for them.

Socks
I love the simplicity and longevity of DeFeet wool socks. Of all the wool and wool-blend socks I've tried; they have been the most durable. When it gets particularly cold, I wear two pairs.

Mid Layers
My midlayer is a winter-weight long sleeve cycling jersey. As long as I wear a wool baselayer, it does not matter to me what the midlayer jersey is made of, as long as it insulates. I own a few now, but my favourites have become the wool/poly blends from Rapha and Shutt Velo Rapide. These are wool on the inside, with some high-tech poly coating on the outside. I do not like how they feel against the skin, but as midlayers I find that they offer the best temperature regulation.

Outer Layers
Winter outer layers are tricky. A windbreaker/shell type jacket is not enough. A jacket that's too warm can be even worse. Last winter I bought a Rapha winter jacket on the recommendation of some of the women I rode with, and it is just right, even for the coldest temps around these parts. This is a painfully expensive jacket, but it does go on sale occasionally and stalking it was worth it.

Gloves
DeFeet Duraglove. I have tried fancier and supposedly more weather-proof gloves, but prefer the DeFeets. Gosh, I hope they never discontinue these.

Neck Warmers
These are called various things, depending on the manufacturer, including neck gaiter and collar. I have a few and find them very useful. For extremely cold rides, I have tried a balaclava, but it is not my cup of tea; I prefer to wear a neck warmer and pull it over my mouth instead.

Hats, Etc.
I wear a tightly knit wool winter cycling caps with brims and ear flaps. I buy these instead of knitting them myself, because I can't get the weave tight enough by hand; it has to be machine-made. Several companies offer these hats now. I have one from Bicycle Fixation and another from Ibex. I usually wear a helmet on my roadbike, and find that this adds to the cap's warmth, while also helping to keep it firmly in place.

Shoes
I do not own winter cycling shoes at the moment, though I hear there are some wonder-boots from Lake that are pretty good and I might save up for those eventually. I have some overshoes on loan from the Ride Studio Cafe, but I have to admit they scare me, so I have yet to try them. Instead I just wear multiple pairs of socks for now. My toes have only frozen a couple of times so far...

Want winter wardrobe advice from more experienced roadies? The Blayleys have an excellent series of posts on this topic here, here and here. As they probably spend more time on the bike in the winter than off, they are the best source I know.

Keep warm and enjoy yourself on the bike this winter, whether in sport or transport!

57 comments:

  1. Hi there! Would you mind sharing what bag that is on your city bike? I have been looking for something just like it.

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    1. Of all the things, that is what you noticed : )

      That is a Po Campo Loop Pannier (reviewed here). I do not recommend using it on a front rack as shown in my picture, unless you plan to modify it; it is designed to hang off a rear rack.

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  2. If the roads are dry when you go out on the roadbike just pull a pair of old socks over the shoes. Cut a hole for the cleat. If the roads are wet (like in the photo!) the only good strategy is to be young and have good peripheral circulation. Or use the overshoes. They work and they are no fun.

    Those blessed with small feet can always find corsa hinverno vintage shoes at low prices on ebay. Small sizes are chronically overstocked. Get a size larger so you can add socks without cutting off circulation.

    If your feet scream in pain for an hour or more when the ride is over you've overdone it. If the pain is over in less than two hours you won't need medical attention. One moderate case of frostnip is enough to make most riders get serious.

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  3. toe covers yeah.

    those gloves yeah.

    double arm warmers yup.

    wool hat roadie or not uh huh.

    When in doubt double up. Wool.

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    1. Binding. Problem area. Think about it.

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  4. your mention of the expense of the rapha softshell got my attention.
    I have been riding all winter here in Stockholm (so far as low as -20 celcius) wearing a Gore phantom softshell jacket, with otherwise the same base and midlayers as you suggest. It's less than half the price of rapha and looks pretty good.

    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/gore-bike-wear-phantom-soft-shell-convertible-jacket-2012/

    There is a womens version of the jacket as well.

    I also wear a torm t5 jersey as a midlayer, it is a cheaper, stylish sportwool jersey alternative to raphas long sleeve, which i find a bit too expensive to hide under a jacket ;) http://torm.cc
    The male version of the jersey works fine for my girlfriend, but it might not be a good fit for all women.

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  5. In regards to wool tights, if you have a want/need for more, there's a little shop in Harvard Square that sells almost all tights. It's called Penti, and it's between the Urban Outfitters and the eyeglasses store. I believe it's a Turkish brand, and they have many varieties of tights, including some really fantastic wool ones that I wear all winter long :) About $30, but they're pretty indestructible and can even go through the washing machine!

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    1. Oh, interesting. I have seen that store and been in a couple of times, but never saw $30 wool tights; will check again. There is a shop in Porter Sq, Cambridge Clogs, that sells all sorts of wool socks and tights, for women and men. On the high end side, but lots of variety.

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  6. I am impressed and envious that you knit your own clothes! How much does it cost in materials, if you do not mind my asking? I imagine you save quite a bit of money over store bought wool.

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    1. It's hard to calculate material costs. I already own a variety of knitting needles, know exactly what yarn to use, hardly ever mess up and ruin supplies, and have a good source for quality yarn. So the cost for me is probably no more than $15 in new yarn for a skirt in my size. For others it could be considerably more.

      But supply cost alone is not a good way to measure savings. The time it takes me to make this stuff must be factored in. And once it is, the savings are slim if any. I mostly do it because I can, and because it allows me to wear the colours and designs I like.

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    2. Do you knit from a published pattern, or do you make your own patterns? I've been toying with the idea of knitting skirts for a while now...

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    3. Do you use your own patterns or do you get them from somewhere? I have been wanting to knit a skirt but am concerned that it will come out clingy and non-flattering unless the pattern is very good.

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    4. I crochet and am always sort of jealous - our stitches look totally different!

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    5. I don't use a pattern, I just make it up. Skirts are among the easiest things to make freestyle, with some circular needles.

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    6. I have no idea how to knit or crochet, but I can sew and scrounge second hand stores and the like for good quality wool. It's harder and harder to find, depends where you go. Salvation Army thrift stores have figured out things have value and charge more for good quality, but you can go to a true charity shop run by nice elderly ladies and get amazing stuff. I have accumulated piles of wonderful tweed, just not sure what to do with it yet. All large jackets, some shrunken and warped. I have some beautiful wool pants that are ridiculously pleated, wide legged etc, but will convert them to slim fit pants or skinnies better for cycling. Oversized sweaters can be taken in easily, and silk is a great score to turn into base layer shirts, scarves and to line wool pants and jackets.

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  7. For winter riding with clipless pedals, I would normally take my old pair of mountain bike shoes and put duct tape over all the mesh panels and ventilation holes, then just wear warm socks.

    It worked well for me in single-digit temps, and saved me money and the hassle of trying to find winter shoes in my size (sasquatch). I recommend doing it with old or cheap shoes though, because the tape leaves residue when you try to peel it off. Use colored duct tape for style points.

    These days I usually just don't bother with clipless as much in the winter, going for big BMX-style pedals instead.

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    1. If you are riding platform or toe clips, the Showers Pass tour rain boot over regular shoes and a decent pair of socks works well.

      It is being discountinued with remaining stock on sale for steep discount.

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  8. Chicago has not been snowy the last couple of years anyway. Unless there is a drastic change in conditions it is beginning to appear as though Chicago will set a record for low snow count. Great for my commute but spring corn and soy plantings may be compromised. Expect higher food prices this fall.

    I see Dottie on the commute sometimes (don't know her but she is hard to miss on her blue Rivendell). She always looks great yet warm.

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  9. I've found cowls a really great alternative to scarves this winter- all my scarves like to start to come unwound after a couple of miles, but it's never a problem with a cowl. This pattern from Purl Bee (http://www.purlbee.com/bandana-cowl/) is particularly good as the point of the "bandana" covers the gap at the top of my coat too.

    Also I highly recommend learning to knit for anyone who cycles for transport- while the cost might end up the same as something shop-bought, you can customise anything and everything and also be sure you're wearing pure wool instead of a crummy acrylic blend.

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  10. Thanks for this post. I love cycling in cold weather. Ditto to all your comments about indispensable wool (Ibex underwear! made in the US; Icebreaker thin baselayers!), and thanks to Icebreaker, Ibex, etc, the weave is so fine and soft. I tried the Icebreaker knickers, which are a wool blend, but many have complained that the chamois is too large and stiff. I find I prefer the Smartwool neck gaiter, as it has no edge. I have a couple of questions, just wondering:

    For good winter cycling gloves - I haven't found lobster gloves that are not clumsy, made for small female hands. My hands get very cold, I don't know that the gloves you suggest would break the wind. Am I wrong?

    Do the toe warmers work? The big neoprene covers are a pain, and seem only needful for really cold weather.

    I wear a double-layer Icebreaker hat under the helmet. Why do many cyclists wear hats with the little brim? does it help with visibility?

    Last, I highly recommend another great wool company: Darn Tough, for socks. Especially the micro crew (http://www.darntough.com/run-bike-1703.html) or a heavier crew for colder weather. Made in Vermont, not itchy, and a real lifetime guarantee - they replaced a pair of mine that developed a hole. PEH

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    1. The beanie with the small brim is an Italian cycling fashion that's been around at least since the 70s. Probably longer. As fashion goes it's pretty functional.

      Small end-of-shoe-only warmers do work until you lose them. The big covers are absolutely a pain and they work very well.

      Old socks and duct tape as noted in other comments work too. Sean Kelly endeared himself to all us cheapskates by clinging to the old socks deep into the total team kit era. Use what works.

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  11. As I've learned the hard way in the last couple of days: make sure your gloves are not too short! I’ve been told that manufacturers of cheaper gloves sometimes skimp on finger length. My two pairs of Nashbar gloves, lined 5-finger and lobster claw, have short fingers, and the thumb and ring fingers in particular freeze. Much lighter gloves are warmer if their fingers are long enough thanks to the insulating air gaps at the fingers’ ends. The warmest hand covers I've worn were Winter Research heavy ragg mittens under nylon sheaths, but the sheaths were too slippery and I've switched to lobster claws with liners underneath.

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  12. Thank you, lovely Velouria.

    I find I tend toward skirts and dresses through out the year, because it's easy to layer legwarmers which I can remove when I arrive, and also because it's easier to dry a pair of stockings than a pair of trousers.

    For winter riding on my go-fast bike I wear toe covers on my Sidi's, silk and wool socks and leg warmers.

    ps-I like your boots!

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  13. Gotta say - Love the Pearl Izumi witner Mountain Bike shoes. I happened across them on a really good sale and have yet to be sorry for buying them. They fit me fine in a Euro 42 or women's 9-9.5. The are also insulated and waterfproof. No - not getting paid by PI - just absolutely love these boots!!!

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  14. RE: wool tights, I've been reasonably happy with the B.ella wool tights I got from Sock Dreams (and which are now available at Cambridge Clogs). They have the highest wool content I've seen (85%). I have had problems with them shrinking (even though hand washed cold). They did stretch back out again, but it was tough.

    Wool tights cost a lot compared to regular opaque nylon tights, but I find them to be much more durable- they last much longer without runs or holes, and small holes can be darned unobtrusively. They are not as "finished looking" but that can be alleviated by layering a pair of normal nylon tights on top.

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  15. My full answer here: http://bostonbybike.blogspot.com/2013/01/winter-clothing-do-you-really-need-wool.html

    In general, I wonder - do you really need wool underwear in winter? I survived many winters without it and never felt like I needed one.

    Also, I assume it's either the way different people feel "cold" or maybe even difference between men and women. I believe that all items on your list work very well for winter bike riding but by listing so much wool there some newcomers to winter riding may be a bit discouraged. It almost looks like you have to arm yourself with wool (more expensive, harder to find) starting from undies and finishing with your fingers. Otherwise - don't even try to ride your bike out there. I believe this is not the message you wanted to share.

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    1. This is simply a list of clothing that I wear in the winter with explanations as to why I like it. As explained in the first paragraph it is not intended as a guide for others. I do get cold very easily, and I spend a lot of time on the bike. Also, I am just generally a little weird, or maybe more than a little. To each their own.

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    2. As a Florida girl recently moved to Colorado with snow and other real winter phenomenons, I have to say that my new wool tights ($22 and free shipping at SockDreams! I must get more) are the best things ever.

      Sure, you can survive without wool. I was layering every microfiber tight I own (3) with cotton leggings over them under my jeans. It worked, although I felt restricted due to all that extra stuff under my jeans.

      With my new wool tights, I can have just one layer. I've worn them two days so far with temperatures down to 14F (my bike computer goes no lower) and as high as 52. I can honestly say that at least one pair of these should be considered essential simply because they are so darned comfortable! Sure, you can get by with cotton underwear and other underlayers- but you won't be as happy as if you get just one pair of wool tights. I've had issues with seams so I wear mine without underwear.

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    3. I'm generally not impressed by the need for special cycling kit, but wool is a must. It is certainly expensive, but the extra cost of wool underwear is easily recovered in lower heating costs by wearing it at home and turning down the thermostat.

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    4. I posted above, a thank you, and agreeing with Velouria on some of her personal choices -- no, wool underwear may be unnecessary, and they are costly, but they feel wonderful, and they wick, and they are durable, and thus a good investment. Having begun cycling on a real budget, I would say that for each pair of socks worn out, each baselayer or beanie thrown out for the stench, even for summer jerseys, that in many cases (perhaps not all), wool has been a worthy investment simply for longevity and quality, thus saving money in the end. That's an argument, but it is also personal. PEH

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    5. Until you try wool underwear, you have no idea what you are missing! My icebreaker long underwear has holes and totally done, but cannot afford more at the moment, dug out my silks, but will cut up the icebreaker leggings and make underwear.
      They are expensive, I bought a few damaged pairs on discount, and it may seem crazy to spend so much. I only have a few pairs, but appreciate when I am wearing them. Icebreaker are the softest, my ibex panties are a bit rough, but stretchy which is a bonus.

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  16. There is no way in hell those gloves are going to be warm enough in sub-freezing weather.

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    1. They do surprisingly well for me. Last time I needed to wear warmer gloves it was 17F.

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    2. You must be blessed with hot hands. More power to you.

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    3. No-no, I have cold hands and poor circulation. For some reason these gloves work for me. Others that are rated as warmer work less well.

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  17. Northern Minnesota. I've been working my way down to riding in the single digit range, and may try a teens-below ride this weekend. Still de-bugging the clothing, but generally:
    - Layers and wool: Oh yes. For very cold, an outer shell layer is actually nice; can be added or shed as conditions warrant.
    - An odd trick a fellow Brrrrmidji rider shared: For super cold, put plastic bags over bare feet (or over a liner sock), then thick wool socks, then your insulated boots. The plastic bag acts as a vapor barrier and keeps sweat from getting into your socks and shoes; even wool loses insulating power when damp. This seems to give me about 5-10 degrees more comfort range.
    - Mid-low teens and below: really need to cover all exposed skin. Above that, skin gets cold but doesn't seem to get frost bitten.
    - Hands: Still trying to figure that one out. The best solution so far is just some thick lined mittens with a wind-breaking shell.

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  18. Has anyone used Stormy Kromer wool hats or the wool vests for winter riding? The hat was invented in 1903 by adding flaps to a baseball cap so it wouldn't blow off railroad engineers' heads. Looks like they would fit under a helmet. Their vests are tailored from coat cloth with four large pockets in zip or button versions. Might be perfect for under a soft shell. People swear by them for outdoor work. Made in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

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    1. The Kromer caps are really nice. But not so much for cycling. Maybe for moderate commutes. I could not fit mine under the helmet. Work outdoors hard enough in them they get sweat-soaked, felt and shrink. They can't be washed w/o major shrinkage and few dry cleaners will take hats. So they do a good job blocking wind and they're warm and look pretty good on most people but they have limitations.

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  19. How many years have you had your La Canadienne tall boots? I just got a pair a few months ago, and they are absolutely amazing, but they were the most expensive footwear purchase I have ever made. So I'm hoping you will tell me that they last for years and years and years...

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    1. It depends how often you wear them, etc. Mine do last for years. I wear the heels out and get them reheeled though. Also: They go on sale in the summer, sometimes as much as 50% off.

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    2. So good to know! I'm drooling over the boots but they aren't factored into my budget this month. However...I'll be sure to budget for them this summer!

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  20. I have nearly sworn off Duct Tape for cycling, I know it's magic and all that but it begs to be used for so much that it's difficult to know when to stop. And when you do, well, it's sometimes too late.

    One winter I was working in a shop in Leola Pa. when I got pranked by my boss and the Eddie Van Halen impersonator we paid to ruin our tools. I was using Duct Tape to seal the toes of my riding shoes, the vents on my gloves and helmet, the cuffs and collar of my old Cannondale jacket,tights,whatever. I used up my own pretty quick and then started grabbing the rolls we kept around the shop for packing stuff, sealing around the windows etc.

    It was great, there was always the end of some random roll of Zebra, neon pink or green, skull, checkerboard or whatever laying on the bench when I needed a strip.

    Pretty soon I looked like a carnival had vomited on me. But I merrily kept sticking another bit here and there as needed till about the middle of Feb. when I realized I was using handmade "Kissylips" tape and figured it out. Ah, self awareness. How wonderful.

    I still use it to get all the Border Collie swarf off my clothes but I don't actually do any accessorizing with it anymore.

    Spindizzy

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  21. Nice, it's heartening to see so much support for wool - the artificial stuff just doesn't measure up.

    I can really recommend Falke socks. A pair I got about 5 years ago now are still going strong after regular wear for walking. And a new pair of knee length winter trekking socks... heaven.

    Thanks for all the links - is that a record for one post?!

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  22. For winter socks you might try Darn Tough Vermont. Very well made and super durable. Made just north of you.

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  23. Agree with anything which includes thin and wool. It's not hard to ride during the winter-- unless ice and snow clog roads--mostly it's about being smart with regard to clothes. Wool has always been the go to fabric for a reason. Wind is also a factor and a good wind breaking fabric is worth it b/c there's nothing worse than bone chilling breezes. Also, good sunglasses. The sun is low and glare is in play. They help with tearing up and, of course, offer protection. I might also mention helmets. I fell on the ice yesterday -- didn't see it coming even though it was on the shady side of the street -- and in a split second was bouncing my head on the pavement. No one saw, not so embarrassing, but grateful for no concussions. I hit hard!.

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  24. Thanks, everyone is doing winter dress postings! Ditto for wool and silk, it's the best. It's getting harder to find in second hand stores, and my sewing pile gets bigger and bigger with beautiful wool pants I have found that need to be retrofitted and the like. I really like leather gloves that are wool lined. They are grippy and block the wind. Unfortunately when it is too cold the ones I have are not warm enough.
    I do not ride clipless because I know it would be impossible to find cycling shoes that fit, and in the winter it would be extra disastrous. As it is, I have trouble keeping my feet warm even if the rest of me is toasty. Wearing some ill fitting tight stiff shoe on would do me in.
    When it is raining in the PNW in the winter it can be hard to decide what to wear, none of my winter boots are waterproof so have to resort to the plastic bag method, and if not too bad I will wear rubber boots. It is usually not so cold that extra socks don't do the trick. But when it gets colder it gets sunnier. This is nice, and can wear ridiculously poofy winter boots, even ugg type sheepskin lined things that help keep my feet warm.

    As for socks, I am looking for something nearly 100% wool. The high lycra or stretchy material makes the socks very tight and actually cut my circulation and my feet get very cold despite thick socks. I'm also looking for high quality tights with high wool content.

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  25. What bag are you using on the sport bike?

    Oh, and I have to keep underlining the oft-repeated mantra of wool is magic (100% merino especially). Layering it is just amazing, too.

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  26. Wow !
    I have to say "What a great place"! I am pretty much a commuter and bike nut with my head down and doing my thing. I started messing about with French 650B goodies and a few searches for stuff here and there and here is this place! Nice. Have to stop reading so I can get some work done!

    My winter stuff - I have no experience with skirts (not that there's anything wrong with that!). I do 11 miles each way from Bay Ridge Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan. I have a nice route (Maybe I'm just used to the madness).

    For 40 degrees and above I use a bike specific long sleeve thin jersey, regular bike socks and black Dickies work pants (cheap and work fine, not too shocking for the banker crowd!) and medium / light full fingered Pearl Izumi gloves and ear band ear covers.

    30 - 40 degrees I use light tights under the pants and a little heavier sock. I use a fleece lined large fitting jersey as an extra layer.

    20 - 30 I put fleece tights under and carry a neck covering in case. Woolie Boolie heavy socks. I use cycling shoes with toe clips and straps (scared to start using the new stuff!).

    10 - 20 I have Descente heavy gloves, I use this partial fleece hoodie thing that also is a neck covering. I can put up the hood or leave it as a thick neck covering only.

    Below 10 degrees I use lined rain covers on the shoes and rain jacket on top of the 3rd layer. God I hate changing flats on the bridge in 10 or less!

    I always use glasses. Oakley polarized Wayfarer looking things and Home Depot ($3.00) protective clear glasses for dark. Helps with road stuff and tears. I use a 3rd Eye eyeglass mounted mirror. I have become so dependent on this I won't ride without it. I keep a couple at home and work. I use a Manhattan Portage messenger bag to carry my big lock and chain and the day's clothes (casual office). The bag keeps me warm as well (Only place guaranteed to sweat).

    I love wool too for "fun" rides, when the bike is not used for utility. I love my jerseys and don't want to subject them to the daily grind!

    More off topic, I am 235 pounds carrying 20 - 25 pounds in the surface of the moon Manhattan. I use Bontrager Select Aero wheels and can say they're really great for the abuse, even with my 700 x 23 tires.

    Now I have to go back to pouring through all the stuff here!!

    Victor K. Brooklyn, NY

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  27. Not knowing that you knit, I was thinking of recommending you visit Ravelry.com, but maybe you know all about them. It would be amazing if you would grow your blog into the center of the (I'm-not-sure-what-you-call-this-kind-of-biking) biking world. You should talk to Jess and Casey; they truly are the center of knitting. They're in or near Boston.

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  28. Good Lord! I rode in 42 degree weather the other day and was so cold I could barely move when I got home! I literally couldn't talk because my face was so frozen. This was with a skull cap, 2 layers of insulated tights, 2 layers of winter underarmor, a winter jersey and 2 jackets. OY! I think I'll check out wool...

    But my real question is... do you worry about wearing such dark colors to ride in? I've been hit once and had several near misses - I have to cross numerous 4-6 lane thoroughfares on a typical ride, plus lots of smaller side streets, and I'm scared to death not to be visible.

    Unfortunately the warmest things I have are also not the most brightly colored, so I've taken to wearing a neon yellow/green vest over whatever I'm wearing. CatMan calls it my "crossing guard uniform." I look like a total dork but at least I'm alive.

    Any suggestions?

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    Replies
    1. I just keep a "crossing guard vest" along with my helmet, and it goes on me night or day. But then, I don't mind looking like a dork - why hide it?

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  29. Love this post. Will you do a springtime rendition for rainy weather?

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  30. Costco has a great selection of wool socks in different weights and most are made in the US. I wear them all year round. The only problem is they only seem to stock them in fall and usually sell out early. By far the best price.

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  31. Thank you for taking the time to publish such a terrific blog. Your combination of thoughtful and well written articles like this one on winter cycling clothing is what keeps me checking in every day!

    Kind regards,

    Jeff

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  32. They're not sexy, but the best waterproof winter boots I've ever found are "Muck Boot" brand neoprene boots. Slightly clunky, of course, but they are warm, protect your lower legs, and are absolutely waterproof yet don't make feet sweaty like rubber boots. They do well walking on ice, too.

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