Commuting in the Cold

Ok, people. It’s officially cold out. Like, below 40 degrees cold. I’m not sure how to ride a bike in this. Gloves made a huge difference on my ride home, but the scarf made me too hot. And the fleece was good, but then it was too hot. And my toes got cold in my bike shoes. Please, fellow riders, do advise.

7 thoughts on “Commuting in the Cold

  1. It is a tough problem because it is really cold in the morning (mid 30s) and much warmer in the afternoon (50). I recommend shoe covers for your bike shoes, gloves and a hat that covers your ears (under your helmet, of course). Keeping those all warm usually is sufficient to keep me going in the cold. Not that I rode today.

  2. Layers. It doesn’t get that cold here in Vancouver, BC (just damp), but I find that if I go with whatever I’d normally wear in the fall, plus a light top layer I’m fine.

    For example, this time of year I practically live in skirts/dresses and knee-high boots. Denim shirt dresses are great if you don’t work in a super-dressy office, as are denim skirts. Wool gabardine works if you work someplace dressier.

    If it’s around 40f, I’ll top that with a denim or lightweight leather jacket, tie a jersey or cotton scarf around my neck, making sure I tuck it into the jacket, and wear leather gloves. I’m a little cold to start, but I warm up a few blocks later and open the jacket.

    If you don’t want to do the skirt thing, leggings and long tops are another great alternative. When I’m not wearing skirts/dresses, I’m wearing leggings and tunics with the leggings tucked into my boots.

    I have an LLBean soft shell jacket that is fleece on the inside, and I only bring that out when it gets below freezing, say around the 28-30 degree mark or colder.

    Any colder and I’ll add a thicker knit or wool scarf, mittens on top of glove liners, and a fleece or knit cap under my helmet, or just a fleece headband to keep my forehead and ears warm. The jacket is rated down to 15F, and I can attest that it did keep me warm during our recent cold snap.

    Some people swear by wool tights, but I’ve never been able to find any to fit me.

    I hope this helps!

  3. I should also add that when I’m wearing skirts/dresses, tights are mandatory because they help keep my legs warm, plus my boots are lined, which also helps hold heat in.

  4. Windstopper fleece is great for these temps. It’s light, but really does keep the wind out, and it breathes. I like a scarf, but not so much on a bicycle out of concern of entanglement, so I go with one of those neck warmer things instead, which can also be pulled up to warm your ears, or easily removed and stored when it warms up.

  5. 1) overlapping layers
    2) gloves
    3) don’t wear bike socks (which are designed to wick heat away)
    4) goggles, even ( I haven’t had to do this in new orleans)
    5) avoid bodies of water (river, lake, bayou st john)
    6) avoid routes with large fetch / no trees or houses to block wind

    Contrary to #5, I actually like biking broad st / jeff davis bridges in the morning, because you get the first and last glimpses of the sun on top of the overpasses, when the rest of the route has passed into shadow.

  6. Some of the more versatile items that I use during the winter include a light windstopper vest, a Goretex hat with hidden ear flaps, clear glasses, and a light wind-resistant coat. Everything must have zippers! If it’s really cold, an extra pair of thin socks, windstopper shell gloves over my regular gloves, chap-stick on nose and cheekbones. I have also been known to add knee-warmers underneath slacks (easy to pull off once at the office).

  7. Ok, cold is very relative and unique to each one of us. And so is heat. Some people run “hot” and others run ‘cold. I always run hot. Today in Minneapolis its 16 degrees. New Orleans might be 40. So while I have two light layers of fleece, a stocking hat, leather gloves and insulated socks, you that run cold in New Orleans might need this same clothing to stay warm. Simply rule to remember is to know how you run so to regulate your temperature and stay dry. When temperatures are changing from morning to night always have extra cloths and a place to store them you if have to shed them.

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