Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Key to Cycling is Knowing How to Accessorize

We've seen some bizarre weather recently. The last week of March brought snow every day. The snow didn't last long, and was often just a quick shower, but still. Snow. Every. Day. This past Monday had a little bit of everything -- rain, shine, snow, hail, sleet, lighting, thunder.

There is a giant mass of cold air hanging over the area. The temperature at 17000 feet is about -36C, allegedly the coldest on record for this area. Bring on the CGI wolves.

I've think I've finally learned what I need to wear in order to bike comfortably in our [a]typical early Spring weather conditions. Here's what works for me:

I've finally found a fleece cap that fits my giant noggin and is reasonably comfortable under a helmet. It was $6 on the clearance rack at Joe's Sporting Goods.

I usually wear a long-sleeved base layer (the REI Lightweight MTS is my current favorite), then a short-sleeved Pearl Izumi jersey, then (optionally, depending on temperature) a North Face fleece jacket, then finally a Pearl Izumi outer shell.

My legs almost never get cold because a) they're doing all of the hard work, and b) I wear Foxwear Rain Pants over my Pearl Izumi biking shorts. I'm really impressed with the Foxwear Rain Pants. They keep the rain off, they're breathable enough that I don't sweat, and so far they seem indestructible. I was wearing Foxwear Power Shield Pants during my recent accident; they survived without even a scratch (I wish I could say the same for myself).

For my hands, I wear a thin Pearl Izumi glove liner, then a Pearl Izumi padded cycling glove over the liner. If it's really cold (or windy, or rainy, or all of the above) then I wear a Mountain Hardwear glove over the other two gloves. I think the Mountain Hardware glove is actually intended for snowboarding. It keeps the wind and rain off my hands, but makes them sweat like crazy.

My feet are the only area that still gets cold occasionally. My current setup is wear SmartWool Light Hiker socks, Specialized BG Sport MTB shoes with Superfeet insoles, and (optionally) SideTrak booties over the shoes. I've tried many things (except those chemical warmer packs -- I hate the idea of having something in my shoe other than my foot). I always feel like the heat is sucked out the bottom of my foot, as if the bicycle is acting like a giant heat sink.

Hopefully (crosses fingers) our weather will warm-up and this will become much less of an issue soon. By July I'll probably be fretting about the heat...

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