Summer bike commuting is pretty easy to figure out – as is winter commuting – when we don’t try to convolute it. If it’s hot, pack deodorant. If it’s cold, slap some extra layers on. It’s the transition period from hot to cold (and vice versa) that can be tricky.
When you leave the house with air cold enough to show your breath and you return eight hours later in balmy, flip-flop worthy temps, it’s important to keep your commuting kit versatile. Here are five tips to keep you comfy and on two-wheels even when the weather is conspiring against both.
1. Wool is your friend. We’re not going to be humble and bury this tip. It’s too important. Merino wool is breathable for warm temps and highly insulating in cold temps. If you perspire or the skies open up, wool will keep you warm even when it’s wet – a health and safety issue in cold weather. Plus, wool bodes well for your semi-annual performance review at work. Even if you sweat on your ride to work, wool’s natural antibacterial properties will ensure you’re not offensive to your co-workers olfactory sensibilities.
2. Seams are your enemy. For short to moderate commutes, most of us don’t want to fully “kit up” in cycling gear. No problem. Just beware the seams, especially as more layers of clothing pile up to combat the chill in the air. Line ‘em up or better yet, opt for as few seams in delicate areas as possible.
3. Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. Diamonds may have been a girl’s best friend in years past, but today’s woman loves herself some warmers: Arm Warmers, Knee Warmers, and Leg Warmers. No need to alter your work outfit, as they can be slipped on just for the ride. Don’t worry, gentlemen, these easy on/easy off comfort-ensuring accessories are unisex.
4. Light it up. That darn sun drops quickly this time of year. Remember to mount your bike light and pack a headlamp for late night creative sessions or post-work happy hours. Speaking of safety measures, don’t skimp on good tires for variable conditions and a helmet for always. Initially, you may be averse to sporting a helmet on your town cruiser, but the ice won’t be judging you when it takes you down.
5. Eat more food. No kidding! Cycling in cold weather is scientifically proven to be more difficult. That’s before factoring in the mental workout of motivating to ride to work when the winds are blowing directly from the Arctic. We learned from Velo News and aerodynamicist Dr. Len Brownlee that drag force on a cyclist is a factor of air density, the frontal area of that cyclist and a dimensionless drag coefficient. Air density is higher on cold days as compared to warm days. Plus, more clothes tend to increase a body’s frontal area. Voila! Higher drag force = harder workout. Enjoy that water cooler donut with the laws of physics on your side.
Be safe out there. Happy trails.