As winter glides along, I continue to enjoy the beauty of the snow and the invigorating freshness of the cold air. One thing that begins to feel oppressive about the season, however, is the heft of my usual winter wear. As I wrap the same wool scarf around my neck, pull the same clomping snow boots on, and zip the same puffy vest up for the hundredth time, I heave a bitter sigh. That’s when I know it’s time to get creative.
If you’re getting tired of all the bulky accessories that go with winter cycling and are biking less because of it, please read on. A sleek and streamlined winter cycling outfit is possible, it only requires a bit more thought and care.
- Legs: The trick here is simple: two pairs of tights, a thick wool pair underneath a regular opaque pair. No one will know and it’s way warmer than a pair of jeans. Then you can simply wear whatever skirt or dress you want to wear.
- Feet: On top of the tights, a pair of thick wool socks. However, this alone is not enough for me, personally. Even with snow boots, my sensitive toes freeze quickly. The only solution I’ve found are toe warmers. With toe warmers, I’m free from both snow boots and freezing toes. I can wear fashionable boots for the first time since October! I get a lot of questions about the ones I’m wearing here – they’re from Nine West 5 years ago, not expensive at all.
- Torso: Once again, wool saves the day. A long-sleeved thin merino wool shirt, topped with a super thick wool cowl neck sweater. Add a wool caplet and done. No coat needed. But the trick here is a seriously thick wool sweater. Invest in a good one, by which I mean dig around in thrift shops for hours until you hit the jackpot. I bought the sweater pictured a decade ago and it’s still like new. I bought the hand-knit caplet from an Etsy crafter.
- Neck: Now you can leave the scarf at home – the cowl neck on the sweater can be pulled all the way up to cover the nose, if necessary. If you don’t have a cowl neck sweater, use your happiest and least itchy scarf.
- Ears: A wool winter hat takes care of the ears. Earmuffs would also be a good choice.
- Hands: Okay, I’m still stumped on this one, forced to wear ginormous ski mittens. I just took them off for the pictures. Like my toes, my fingers are susceptible to freezing.
The great thing about cycling is that you can actually get away with a bit less clothing, since your body will create its own heat. This get-up might not keep me warm if I were standing at a bus stop, where it always seems like I’m waiting for an eternity, but it’s perfect for my bike ride.
Of course, a lot about how I dress for winter cycling depends on how I’m feeling on a particular day. Sometimes I don’t give a care and end up in long johns and a puffy down coat. No shame in that! But when I feel the need to take it up a notch and escape the winter doldrums, I like to know that it’s possible, without leaving my bike at home.
If anyone would like to pull together a sleek winter look of their own based on this advice or show others how they’re already doing it, please send a picture and description to LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike [dot] com. I’d love to create a group round-up, similar to my recent post on winter footwear. (Hint: If you do this, you’ll be one step ahead in the LGRAB Winter Games. More details soon.)
Any questions or tips of your own? Please leave them in the comments!