And Lo! It was Winter.
That is certainly what it felt like – so gradual slide into below freezing temperatures, just Bam! Freezing! Of course, the DC Metro region isn’t the only place prepared to shiver, as most of the US is dealing with snow, ice, and these super cold numbers. Yes, I know many places regularly see numbers much lower than ours have been, but this is still unusual for here, and I’m experiencing some, I don’t know, PTSD? from last winter’s Polar Vortex.
Last week I wrote a guest post for Bike Pretty about winter gear, and although I have been thinking about what I’d like to get for this winter, I wasn’t fast enough and had to dig out my old stuff.
I layered up and had four trips back and forth to work to unscientifically determine what needed the most help. Tuesday I wore my one set of poly thermals (byJockey, but it doesn’t seem like they make the same ones anymore); dress/work pants; my cool new Boden shirt; a cotton V-neck sweater; added the winter layers, and changed shoes at work. I was pretty comfortable wearing the thermals all day, since our office isn’t overly heated at the moment. Wednesday I wore my thermals again (don’t judge!); corduroy pants; my reflective sweatshirt; the winter layers, and changed shoes and scarves at work (for a cuter cotton one). Since the high on both days hovered around 32*F, with the mornings and evenings about 10* cooler, I had a good chance to test everything.
Here is what I determined:
- Fingers first! By the time I got home last night, my fingers were bright red and going numb. They hurt as they warmed up! I was a bit worried. And I was wearing the “winter” gloves I bought last year. I promptly ordered new gloves, and hope they do better. I went partial-lobster; not ready to fully commit.
- Toes survived. I have been worried about my toes, and honestly, they managed fine, so I will continue to look for nice warm boots, wear these, and drag work shoes back and forth with me.
- Neck might be tricky. My neck is the first thing to get cold or overheat. I am very happy that turtlenecks are so “in” this winter, because I love them, but I think that wearing them whilst biking makes me overheat. What’s a delicate girl to do?! I think I may trade in my big fun scarves for something a bit more, well, machine-washable. I’m currently lusting after these “Bandit” neck warmers by Choucas. I need to be able to pull it over my nose, then pull it down mid-ride, adjust as needed, so I prefer this option over the traditional bike balaclava.
- Thermal underwear. I want to stock up on thermals, but they need to be cute, they need to be sleek, and they need to be NOT wool. I know, I know – everyone loves wool. Not me. I cannot stand it on my body, it is too scratchy and itchy and I simply can’t have it on me. And before you start asking, yes, I have tried everything, and yes, it all still bothers me. No SmartWool tights for me! This means silk or some sort of poly fabric, and I am obsessed with the Land’s End Thermaskins collection. (I’m sort of a Land’s End fan, in case you couldn’t guess!) The cute prints mean that I can let them show in the office, and not feel dorky. Or wear the bottoms under skirts. With those super warm boots I’ll eventually buy.
The bike-related Facebook groups I belong to have been full of people looking for advice on what to wear in the cold, and basically it boils down to – whatever you would wear to take a walk in the winter! For some people this means super technical gear: I’ve seen crazy lists of Pearl Izumi tights this and that, with many layers of wool thrown in. For others it means ski gloves and goggles! Glad I don’t live where they live. Not everyone wants specialized gear, even for winter, and I totally agree with that. I still want to look professional, or at least not “bikey.” Because I try not to have to change clothes when I get to work, I want to find ways to layer under and over, but even I give up being cute at some point. Usually around 15*F.