Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Two weeks ago it was t-shirt weather...well summer dresses for me. Then this weekend we had a cold snap where the overnight temperatures dipped down to 18 degrees or so. We live in a town of four distinct seasons with dozens of ski resorts nearby on Mt. Rose and Lake Tahoe. But even teen-digits is unusually cold for Reno and Sparks, NV.

Monday morning when I rode to work, I was well-layered to stay warm. I wore tights and leg warmers with boots, a long-sleeve base layer underneath my one piece knit dress, a down vest...and of course, a chunky scarf! With the ear flaps of my RockiNoggins' helmet cover buttoned underneath my chin, I rolled down the street towards the office. Not too far into my ride I felt the burn of the wind chill licking at the tips of fingers - even through the winter cycling gloves I was wearing. Eeeek!!  It was clear and sunny yet dry ice cold.
Stylishly layering pieces of clothing for winter cycling
Warm but stylish via Po Campo
I made it to work indeed and warmed up once I pried my stiff fingers off the handlebars of my bike. I know there are bar mitts that can help keep my hands warm by blocking the wind but, man they are oh-so not cute. Unless you have a lobster fetish because they kind of look like giant lobster claws at the end of your bike's handlebars. Bar mitts may look ridiculous but I've heard that they work. And it's probably better to be comfortable than miserable. Fortunately I don't think I need something like that...yet. 

Now, if only the bar mitts were more of a furry muff handwarmer similar to this, I'd probably wear it!

Faux Fur Muff Handwarmers
Faux Fur Muff Handwarmers via Etsy
The temperature digits have warmed up since then and I'm loving it! Just cool enough where I can dress wintery and not be too cold or be too hot during my ride. The trick is in layering:

  • A base layer made of natural fiber like wool (or synthetic  material is also okay) to wick away moisture and keep your skin dry is the key to not shivering when you've stopped pedaling .
  • A vest can block the wind from cooling down your core and is easy to take off without needing to pull it over the helmet. A vest works better for me than a jacket because my forearms tend to get too warm mid-ride and I like having ventilation through the arm holes :-D 
  • Sometimes I'll wear arm warmers for when I start cold that I can pull off as I get warmer. The sportier ones are worn under my sleeves while the cuter knit ones are worn over my sleeves.
  • I can easily take off my scarf mid-ride. There are many ways to tie a scarf so that it is secure and stays out of the way, yet is easy to undo and pull off.
  • Depending on how warm it is before I start my ride home, I may take off my leg warmers and/or tights. I learned from a fellow Cuter Commuter that upcycling the arms from old sweaters also works for leg warmers or arm warmers (and finish with a stretchy lace at the top, or not)! I'll have to try it.

Do what works for you and it may take trial and error. But don't be afraid to explore combinations of clothing pieces you already have in your wardrobe -- and have fun!! Stay warm out there!

Truckee River and bike trail during winter
Happy on my bike, in the moment watching ducks swim by on the Truckee River.

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