I did it! I biked to work 10 miles roundtrip with temperatures as low as -4F and a windchill as low as -20F. As far as I’m concerned, any of you could do the same – and I know some of you have already. All it takes is a positive attitude, an adventurous spirit and a few extra accessories. If you put the time into preparation and hype yourself up enough to pull your bike out, everything else should be a piece of cake.
My ride felt similar to any other cold winter ride I’ve experienced this winter. The biggest difference was that the air was very cold on my face, which I usually leave uncovered. I ended up pulling my scarf up to my nose and then pulling it down intermittently to breath comfortably.
Important extra accessories:
- Warming packs in my mittens and boots. I never would have made it without these because my fingers and toes get extremely cold.
- Safety glasses, a cheap pair I swiped from my husband’s work pile. I need these to cover my eyes, which are very sensitive and water easily.
- A scarf wrapped around my face.
With those extra accessories in place, my usual winter wardrobe would have worked fine. However, I got so paranoid by the local news, I ignored my own experience and common sense and layered like crazy. I wore capeline leggings under flannel-lined khakis, a slim wool shirt under a wool sweater under a long down parka, earmuffs under a wool hat under a helmet. Too much, Dottie! No part of me was cold, which is good, but I was so hot and itchy. When I arrived at the office, sweat was rolling down my back and my hair was damp. The parka was way overkill. Lesson learned.
Overall, I consider the experience a success. I’ll never be afraid of Chicago arctic blasts again.
Thanks so much to everyone for your helpful and encouraging comments! I don’t think I would have done it without your support and priceless advice.