Ok, so I’m a big wimp! Especially when it comes to riding in the cold. Yes, I’m from New York originally but I’ve spent a 3 years in the Caribbean (St. Kitts) and 4 years in California so my blood has thinned. Plus there’s a reason why we left NY and it’s not in search of better pizza!
Well, now we live in a place that is colder than Alaska and winter just will NOT quit! 😂 We had 16″ of snow down here in Bloomington over the weekend of APRIL 14-15 (2018)!!!!!
A couple of weeks ago it was nice enough and almost all the snow was gone so I figured I’d go for a ride. 38°, a light breeze, cloudy skies and a few flurries. Seemed like as good a chance as I was going to get. I bundled up, light layers, insulated running pants over my shorts, 2 pairs of socks, long sleve tshirt, thermal shirt, sweatshirt, Home Depot work gloves and a 45North cycling cap under my helmet. Good to go?
I set out and seemed fine once a little body heat got built up. Then I hit a slight downhill headed into the wind. My face was FREEZING, especially my eyes! It had gotten painful to the point that I was about to stop and take my glasses off so I could put my bare hands over my eyes to warm them back up but I pictured all of the people fat biking on frozen lakes out here and decided to forge on. (Told you I’m a wimp in the cold!)
Once making it past the downhill headwind I was fine. Rode to Bush Lake and snapped a couple pics.
On the trip back, it was all tailwind, even the downhills were better but my face was still cold. When I got home I questioned how the hell I was going to make it here in Minneapolis and it dawned on me. You don’t have the right gear! “DUHHHHH!!!” all you northerners are saying.
I ordered ski goggles and a blacalava!
In this time I started a new job that’s only 3 miles from my house! So I put my new stuff to the test at 29°! I added a soft shell jacket, ski gloves and jeans over my insulated running pants. As soon as I set out on my new fraction of a commute I was AMAZED by how comfortable my face and especially my eyes were! Even the same downhill section was nothing! My head was a little chilly but I could always add my 45North hat to the blaclava. I was really happy with my purchases and the fact that I was able to ride below freezing!
I’ve commuted a few times in similar temps and I can say that I could probably ride at 20° with the same gear just fine.
The next test is the snow. Luckily we we’re dealt enough to give a snowy ride a whirl. I bundled up in the same commuting gear AND the 45North cap, aired the WTB Nanos down to 30psi and head out. We had about 4-6 inches by then. Pointed my ship to the nearest uphill in the neighborhood to test traction and was quite surprised. The Nanos dug down and pulled me uphill with ease. Then I tried a sidewalk with more like 8-10 inches on it and was totally stopped dead! Ha, so I guess I found my limit there!
By the way the temp was 25° and the goggles, hats and ski gloves we’re all working VERY well together! I rode myself over to a local highschool that had been recently plowed and the bike handled great in the roughly 2″ on the parking lot.
Just about then I saw lightning! Thunder rolled across the sky from North to south and I figured I’d better boogy on home. I was hoping for a longer ride but I also don’t like being struck by lightning. But as for comfort, I was just right! I am very confident I could commute down below 20° at this point and that really warms my soul!
My main takeaway from all of this is that you need to take measures to take care of yourself! I was at a job with a few toxic people that was too far from my family and home. So I waited and found a job where the people are welcoming, positive and appreciate the skills I bring to the company! An added bonus is that I can now commute to work by bike! Between these things they have already made a noticable effect on my mental and physical fitness. So don’t expect things to change. Get out there and do it yourself!
Have fun! Be safe!