Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bicycle Commuting & the "Polar Vortex" (in DC)

So, Tuesday January 7, the temperature when I would normally take off to work on a bicycle was around 8 Fahrenheit. (Apparently that is around -13 Celsius.) Also it was windy, although thankfully not too windy, and not directly from the north.

If I had any sense, I would use Metro. Apparently I don't have any sense. And I have all this biking stuff I have accumulated over the years - surely if I put it all on, I would be able to ride in this weather? In my mind, I had drawn a line at about 10-15 degrees F - below that, stop riding. But I have purchased still more stuff, so perhaps 8 was OK. This would be the coldest weather I have ridden to work in.

In front of work, having arrived - I don't look so good, as a matter of fact

I managed to get there, but I can't say I enjoyed it much. Neither my toes nor my fingers got cold, so the clothes worked OK (I guess). Here is what I wore, from head to toe:

* (Cheap) hiking boots - I have some low-rise boots that are not intended for cycling (at all) that are not "breathable" (due to their cheap design) and therefore are windproof. I swap my usual pedals for platform pedals so I can use these.
* Odd polypropylene "cycling" socks for cold weather - I bought these odd things from Performance some years ago and they do a good job of keeping heat in and cold out, but they don't breath (moisture) at all, so are only really useful when it is really cold.
* Two pairs of wool socks - not real heavy ones, but two pair.
* regular bicycle fitted shorts.
* Cycling cold weather windproof tights.
* Regular cycling tights on top of the other tights.
* A pair of shorts.
* Medium sleeve fitted bicycle wool base layer shirt thing.
* Long sleeve fitted bicycle wool base layer shirt thing on top of that.
* Long sleeve wool cycling jersey (old style).
* Long sleeve lycra cycling jersey with hood built in.
* Short sleeve lycra cycling jersey.
* Polyfill vest
* Cycling windbreaker that is truly windproof.
* Pair of full gloves with fingers.
* Pair of "lobster" gloves (thumb plus two compartments for fingers in pairs) over the other gloves.
* Polar fleece watch cap thing.
* Some other watch cap over that (and over the hood of one of the shirts)
* Wool scarf pulled tight over face, up to below eye level.

There you go!

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