Winter bicycling is more than temperatures and forecasts and wool layers and hand warmers. Winter bicycling is when the world brightens as the wind whips and my mind clears as my cheeks flush.
My fingers and toes may be numb, my nose may be running, my eyes may be watering – but I am the happiest and calmest version of myself, bicycling on a crystal clear winter day.
Today I experienced a rare winter treat: leaving the office early enough to catch the sun before setting. The late afternoon light painted the sky with an ombre splash of color, inspiring me to record a video that I hope conveys some of the joy of the ride.
Here I am Saturday night after biking home in rain and sleet with Mr. Dottie. The streets were not slippery yet, so the ride was not so bad. :-)
My Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket continues to perform well. Being able to put the hood under my helmet is a great help. Today the weather is super cold, dry and sunny, which I generally prefer, but sometimes a ride in the freezing rain can be invigorating.
P.S. Who watched the Golden Globes last night? Love Tina and Amy!
Winter is my favorite time to ride a bike in Chicago. The paths are relatively empty and there are many sunny mornings, when the blues and whites and sands shine brilliantly.
There has been a little ice and snow this winter. Just enough to add a bit of sparkle to the city, not enough to disrupt my routine or put challenges in my path.
I cannot imagine Chicago winter without bicycling. I think life would be pretty grim this time of year, if I did not have a reason to frolic outside with regularity. And I would miss out on so much beauty!
Welcome, 2013! As I followed my ritual this morning of pouring a cup of coffee and popping open my macbook to check the weather, I was greeted by this sight:
12 degrees fahrenheit – yeesh. (That’s -11 celsius.) Normal for Chicago winter, but by far the coldest day of this season so far. At least most of last week’s snow has disappeared.
With very little traffic lately due to people being off work for the holidays, I’ve been enjoying my bike commutes along otherwise highly trafficked streets. I certainly did not want to miss out on cycling today. Here I am preparing to set off:
I wore a wool dress with tights. To this I added the following for non-bulky but highly effective layering: wool leggings and wool leg warmers, wool socks and winter boots with warmers, a light windbreaker and trench coat, cashmere scarf, glove liners and ski mittens with warmers, earmuffs and winter helmet, and sunglasses (safety glasses after dark to protect my eyes from cold wind). This is very similar to what I wore in my how-to video for winter cycling.
This worked perfectly. I was like a little moving furnace. My only problem was forgetting to fill my pockets with tissue to blow my nose, which runs like crazy in the extreme cold.
When I left work in the evening, the weather had warmed up to a relatively toasty 22 degrees and I was sweating under my layers by the time I got home.
I got back on my bike last Friday. The morning was beautiful.
I felt great during the whole ride, including the bits on the street. Thank goodness for the Lakefront Trail, where I don’t have to worry about cars. I’ll be taking this route much more from now on, since my peaceful side-street route turned out to be not so peaceful.
Last night I took city streets home – a similar route as usual but avoiding the intersection – but it was too soon. I was fearful and started crying a bit for no reason as I went along. Typing that out is embarrassing, but there you have it. I’ve always been super defensive and cautious, but now I feel like I cannot trust any intersection situation no matter what. Plus, I think the night and everything felt too similar. I’m back on the Lakefront Trail today.
For anyone who’s gone through something like this, how did you feel getting back on the bike?
“Heels on Wheels” is a phrase that makes me cringe when used in the media to describe women riding bikes. Since, you know, women should not be defined by a shoe type. Yet here I go, using the phrase. In my defense, this is only one post in a blog filled with varied topics about women and bicycling. Also, the rhyming is irresistible. :-)
Moving along to the point, a couple of Sundays ago the weather was unseasonably warm and as I headed out the door to a baby shower, I threw on an old pair of heels instead of my usual flats. I rarely wear heals, preferring to tromp around the city with the steadiness of a mountain goat. But I’m going through a wardrobe purge/overhaul of sorts and figured I should give these heels one more chance before throwing them in the ebay pile.
Turns out they are actually quite comfortable, provided I don’t stand for a long time. And biking in them felt pretty bad ass. The shoes created no logistical problems; as you can see in the photo below, there is plenty of contact between the pedal and the sole. So these survive the purge, even though I probably won’t wear them often.
Now I’m drawn to the idea of stiletto heels in theory and what better way to play with this idea – sans wasted money and sore paw pads – than incorporating it into my Fashion Friday collage of imaginary outfits. :-) Now that the weather is straight-up cold, I winterized the concept.
I like this outfit because of the overall librarian feel (carried through to the Bowery Lane bike with its leather, cork, and wood), but with a kick of awesomeness from the heeled suede boots. (Manolos are supposed to be the most comfortable heels, right? Anyone have $600 I can borrow? No? Jerks.) Of course, the stylish leather gloves would have to serve merely as the lining under my ski mittens with warmers.
So what say you: are you a heels on wheels type of person?
p.s. I really want that Everlane tote, made in Texas of Illinois canvas, priced at only $35! (Everlane is my new style love, borne of a very cool concept.)
I love warm woolen mittens. They are cozy and perfect for crisp fall weather.
(and whiskers on kittens! because why not.)
But woolen mittens are not cutting it any longer, as December approaches. My fingers and toes are extremely sensitive. While other cyclists seem to get by fine with a regular pair of gloves, my fingers and toes start to freeze/burn after ten minutes in 30 degree temps, even wearing wool glove liners with down-filled ski mittens (fingers) and wool socks with leather snow boots (toes).
The only solution for me – I’ve tried everything over the years – is warmers. I buy Grabber brand (made in the USA and non-toxic) by the caseload from Amazon, making them 50 cents a pair. A fair price to avoid daily misery and still much less expensive than the L train.
A pair lasts long enough to use for the morning and evening commutes, if stored in a ziplock bag during the day. Grabber also makes toe warmers, but they are pricier and not as warm, so I save them for my regular shoes and stuff hand warmers in my roomy snow boots.
Now if only I could get Amazon to deliver them in brown paper packages tied up with string…
How do you keep your fingers and toes warm during winter?
Friday: red trench, cashmere sweater, Burberry skirt, tights, flats.
(Most everything I bought used, some on clearance.)
The photos reveal a consistency in my fall dressing: cashmere, wool, tights, and leather boots. I know I’ve said this many times before, but these materials are excellent for cold-weather cycling. There is no reason for me to wear technical clothing.