Cold Weather Strategies
In early February we had a cold snap with two days of sub-zero temperatures. Riding becomes more complicated when it gets that cold. It takes me a long time to get ready for each mini-adventure. My rides are strictly utilitarian, getting from point A to point B. When it is that cold the biggest challenge is making sure that my hands and feet are warm as I begin the ride. When I am leaving my house, that is not a problem, but when leaving City Market or the YMCA to head home, it can be more difficult. There are heating vents in the vestibule of City Market. I park my shopping cart near the vents and warm my glove liners in front of them. Then I put on my mittens and do as much as I can with them on. I have to take off the mittens to unlock my bike, put on my helmet and turn on my lights. I can snap my panniers shut with my gloves on.
At the YMCA I park my bike outside the lobby. When I am ready to leave I unlock my bike, turn on the lights and put my swim gear into my panniers. I go back inside where I can see my bike and put on my neck warmer, balaclava with plastic breathing device and hat. I turn on my helmet lights and put on my helmet. Finally I put on my glove liners and heat them at the fireplace in the lobby. I put on my electric gloves and I am ready to go.
Now that it is finally May I can ride with far less equipment but I still have to be careful to keep my hands and feet warm, especially when it is raining and cool.
I got a pair of down shorts at the beginning of the winter. My plan was to wear them over a pair of pants for an extra layer. They are an unusual item and more than one person has asked where I bought them. The answer is Mountain Hardware. I have a down jacket that is almost the same color as the shorts and when I wear them together it looks like I am wearing some kind of onesie. The shorts don’t have a drawstring or loops for a belt so I use a pair of suspenders to keep them up.
On February 8th I took a ride before going to the YMCA. I went up Riverside Avenue and then to North Avenue. I took Leddy Park Road to the Burlington Bike Path and then rode on the Bike Path to the bottom of College Street. I left around six and when I got to the Bike Path the sky was just starting to get light. I was glad to have my bike lights. I saw only one other person on the path, who was also on a bike.
I was riding my fat bike with studded tires which was just right for the Bike Path. The path is plowed but not salted, so there was some ice and snow. My fat bike is designed for that kind of riding surface. I wore my heated gloves and socks. It was around 35 degrees.
I have a good sense of how long my rides take on my commuter bike, but not with my fat bike, which is slower. I had a swim lesson to teach at eight that morning so I left plenty of time for the ride.