Saturday, January 25, 2014

Who Was That Masked Idiot?

Here's photographic evidence that I've lost my mind and continue to ride through a winter that can only be described as ridiculous. Though I guess the fact that you're looking at a garage ceiling behind me rather than a frigid hellscape could be taken to mean that I'm a big faker. Nice work there, Oliver Stone.

I share because there might be others out there with mildly deranged tendencies, and I have some layers that are working quite nicely despite the miserable conditions. On the hands, I'm rocking some cheap stretchy liner gloves (not shown, but the sort you can buy for a couple bucks just about everywhere) underneath massive Fox River wool mittens (an Iowa company! go Iowa!) The mitts are way too bulky for STI, but any shifter that can be operated with a thumb is fine. The cheap liner gloves just give me a little protection when I have to pop off a mitten to get some dexterity for locking up the bike.

I've talked about the jacket before -- it's a fairly light softshell with thin waffle-pattern fleece on the inside. The thing is amazing. Super versatile through several seasons, and way warmer than its weight would suggest. Sadly, it was made by the people with the swoosh, for golf (GOLF, of all things). I found it deeply discounted somewhere, probably because it was from a prior season and was thus way too out of date to wear at the country club.

Finally, the noggin: Thin wool stocking hat up top, and the new addition for this season: A merino wool Buff over the face. Long-time readers will remember that I was using a couple snazzy custom-made helmet liners crafted for my large melon by my wonderful wife. As nice as those are, they don't play well with a hemet chinstrap (ironic, considering that the pattern was designed to go under a helmet, albeit a military one rather than bicycle) -- the strap causes the bottom of the liner to gap at the neck. The Buff mitigates this by going over the straps rather than under. It does collect a lot of condensation from my breath, but it still holds warmth when wet as wool is wont to do.

If there's a moral/point to all this, I think it's that you can find perfectly serviceable things for biking at places other than the bike shop. In my winter kit, the only thing that could be considered vaguely specialized (the friggin' WORD, not the registered trademark -- call off the lawyers, Sinyard!) is the Buff. The rest of it is either just regular winter wear or something I cherry-picked from other sports. I didn't mention the feet, but down there, I get by just fine with wool socks, hiking boots, and flat pedals. Sure, you can spend a lot more on stuff with bike company logos on it, but you don't have to. People have been dressing for winter long before the bicycle was invented, after all.

(Full disclosure, as always: The links to the mittens and Buff go to Amazon, and if you use those links to buy something, I'll get a tiny kickback. However, I wasn't bribed by The Great Wool Cabal to write any of this.)

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