Rugging Up for Winter Cycling

The fever that has gripped the maritime Northwest since February has finally broken, ending the latest in a long line of "hottest summers on record" and givenway, at long last, to the cool, grey days that feel like home.

Remembering last winter's storms, the first I bike-commuted through, I have been searching the Net, cycling magazines and other resources, for tips on dressing for winter cycling. Without exception, they say --in essence-- pack up your credit cards and head to the Mall for a couple hundrad dollars in specialty cycling gear.

That might, in fact, be the best approach, they all have very reasoned arguments for why the specalty gear is the way to go. However, The fix-it guy tells me that I am about to have the 6 million dollar bathroom, The Boy and I both need back-to-school what-not, and if we are very lucky indeed the budget will stretch far enough for all that. So I have been getting innovative in my efforts to rugg up for winter cycling

Topping my wish list of pricy insulation from the specialty cycling catalogs were these lovely wool "arm warmers", that are doubtless worth their $50 price tag. Instead, I hit the thrift stores, where, among other things, I found this really nice sweater made from Merlino wool. My ex-mother in law --who really knows her wool-- raves about Merlino. The only problem with the sweater was that it appeared to have gone through a dryer cycle. When you shrink a garmet made from Merlino wool, it gets even warmer, more water resistant, and softer. Which is great if you can still wear it in it's smaller form. I noticed the sleaves were attached with seams, rather than the seater being all one piece, and thinking of those over-priced arm warmers, I paid the $5 for the swater, brought it home, and cut the sleaves off just past the seam (so they wont unravel). I am now the proud owner of the lovliest arm-warmers, soft as kittens and they fit perfectly. Pretty good for $5. I have a pattern for making a winter hat out of the remaining wool, so then I will have a stylin hat to match my swanky arm warmers.

I also found non-shrunken wool sweaters, and a really good rain coat, the entire shopping spree cost less than those arm warmers from the catalog. Pretty cool, just intime for the return of cooler weather. Proof that you could pay more, but why?

The MinusCar Project has some great posts about winter cycling, he has been doin this longer than me, and has a far more developed system than I, so check it out.

1 comment:

dr.alistair said...

i have biked through many canadian winters and frankly i don`t know how i do it, but each year i keep pedalling. the heavy snow will stop anyone anytime, but the cold is no deterrent. the trick is to layer and to vent. th right balance between hot and dry is the key. cold and damp are killers. my marmot gortex shell with under-arm vents was a godsend (e-bay actually.) and all my other goretex kit too. warm and dry.
and the fact that we only had one snow storm all winter last year helped.