And suddenly, it is November! Is anyone else horrified by how close the holidays and end of the year now seem?!
Thinking ahead to the holidays, the time change, darker evening bike rides home, and cooling temperatures means that I’m also thinking about cold. And snow. And I’m *really* not happy about that. If this coming winter is anything like last winter, I need a better cold hands strategy. Apparently I have Raynaud’s Disease (or Syndrome or Condition), which means that, in response to cold or stress, smaller blood vessels shrink more dramatically, causing loss of blood flow to fingers, toes, lips, ears, etc. Last winter, my hands would get so cold even on my short, 3-mile bike ride, that some of my fingers would turn white, then hurt a lot as they warmed up. I wasn’t sure if that was normal or not, so I finally texted a photo to my mom and aunt; my aunt replied, “That’s Raynaud’s – welcome to the club.”
I asked on Facebook for suggestions from others who might have similar experiences, and several suggested bar mitts. I was a little afraid of this. The Mechanic has encouraged them for a while now, but I find them pretty unattractive, so yes, I have been avoiding them. However, this year, I might need to suck it up and buy some.
Bar mitts are pretty much what the name suggestions – mitts that go over bars. Any kind of handle bars – scooters, motorcycles, snowmobiles, all styles of bicycles, baby jogging strollers…. Made of durable black neoprene, the design varies only based on the shape of the handlebars. As far as I can tell, the only company out there that makes them is called Bar Mitts. Right on the homepage, it says the bar mitts are good for anyone suffering Raynaud’s.
The neoprene is obviously a good choice for being in the elements. Basil, the Dutch bicycle accessories company, makes faux sheepskin ones, which I quite like. I don’t know how well these would hold up in the rain – would the fabric get soggy, and not dry out in the cold?
I am tempted to order them from Dutch Bike Bits anyway, but if they are hard to swap out, I don’t know that it would be worth using them some time, but replacing them with the neoprene option when it’s really needed.
I briefly considered making my own. The Mechanic made some for his scooter a few winters back, when he was riding a scooter out to Fairfax County (a not really bike-friendly commute). He used some old materials from his military days, but found that when they got wet, they didn’t dry out for days. I’m pretty sure I would be miserable, in that case. I’ll probably wait until after Christmas to order Bar Mitts, but I think they will be on my winter biking prep list, no matter what I think of the look. I guess keeping my fingers healthier is worth it <grits teeth>. After all, I did eventually succumb to the warmth of down coats, over my preferred wool coats.
Have you experienced anything like this whilst biking in the cold? What was your solution? What has been your best cold weather solution?