After a two day bike hiatus while waiting out the snow storm, I was back with Oma today for a perfectly energizing commute in the bright, crisp air. The best winter cycling is a full day after a snow storm, when the skies are blue, the snow is clean and the trails are plowed (at least in Chicago – thanks again Parks Department!). The temperature was 12 F, but as I’ve said before, I prefer a super freezing sunny day over a marginally freezing gray day.
As if the sunny morning could not get any better, I made a major breakthrough: Toasty! Warm! Fingers! Usually at 12 degrees my fingers would be burning; today they were toasty warm. The combo was mittens, glove liners and chemical warming packs. In the past I’ve tried and been disappointed by this combo. Today I wore better liners (Smartwool) and removed the warming packs from their package about 45 minutes before leaving. The packs get much warmer after being exposed to the air for a while. Finally, I put the warming packs inside the mitts, outside the glove liners, against the inside of my fingers. The result was TOASTY! I could feel the heat gently radiating the whole, long ride (1.5 hours this morning while I meandered along the Lakefront Trail enjoying the fresh air and taking pictures). Even on the ride home the packs were still warm.
I’m very excited by this development. I had resigned myself to a lifetime of freezing fingers. I think the complete lack of wind helped my fingers today, but I’m hopeful that even with wind this setup would work well. My biggest worry is that this could be an expensive and wasteful habit, as the packs last only one day each.
Does anyone else regularly use chemical warming packs? Or have any other tips and tricks to share for warm hands?
Also, I keep forgetting to post this video about Chicago’s Winter Bike to Work Day last month by Camille Doty, a student at Northwestern’s journalism school, which includes a short interview with me. Nice to meet you, Camille.