Last week I had my first taste of just how chilly the fall months can be and although I wasn’t prepared for this early of an unset the first lick of cold has helped me realize exactly what I will need for the erratically varying fall weather.
The first thing I learned when hoping on my bike in the cold morning hours, I typically leave my house before 7a.m., is that I really need a pair of light gloves! It takes about 5 or 6 minutes to really warm up your core and after that the warmth will spread to your hands, but before that occurs the chill can be pretty brutal. Because it is still warm enough out and my hands do get warm before my commute is over I plan on getting some simple gloves that are easy to remove during my ride. This past Spring I had several pairs of basic cotton gloves that worked okay, but I plan on checking into some light running gloves that are also easy to slip off. You can also get fingerless gloves or gloves specifically designed to provide a better grip on the bicycle, but knowing that I will have to get a thicker pair for winter later I think that the very basic runner’s glove would be best suited for how I ride in fall and fit all my needs.
My ears had a tinge of coldness to them too so I am debating waiting it out for a while, but I know I will need some sort of ear protection very quickly and perhaps even before the end of October. Any ear covering combined with helmets seems a bit awkward to me and I am not really ready for full head covering, because that would just be too much heat this early in the season. That is why once again for my ear gear I am planning on using a head-warmer or headband. I think that this would be most convenient with a helmet because if it gets too warm I will always be able to slip it off my ears and leave it around my neck. Once again I am aware that I will need something different later in the season so I am keeping my first level of headgear rather basic.
The other obvious difference was my need for sleeves and quarter length ‘thicker’ socks (my legs always tend to be a bit warmer, but you may also need longer pants if your legs also get chilled easily). For sleeves I am a huge fan of fabric that keeps the sweat of off you and was lucky enough to already have a MidZero Zip from Sugoi’s last season which is a polyester spandex mix with an incredibly warm inside that you would not expect considering how light it is and I plan on getting a few more sleeved items with that blend for Fall. When I am ready to cover up the legs a bit more I will lean toward tights with lined material for added warmth. I am personally not a huge fan of bibs but those are also a great option for winter. As for the socks, right now I am quite content with basic socks, but I know in the coming months my feet are going to be an area where I will want to contain heat and will have to look into that as the winter approaches.
Two other concerns crossed my mind when I thought about the approaching winter.
The first was the reduction of light both in the morning and at night. I have a feeling this will sneak up on me rather quickly and want to be prepared sooner than later. A set of front and back lights are great, but recently when I was in a car one night I realized how little visibility these actually offer. That is why I am looking in to clothing with reflective material and lighter colors. Sugoi has recently come out with this new material that is highly reflective. Under daylight conditions the jacket looks, well normal; however when you shine a light on it the entire jacket becomes reflective. This jacket is definitely on my wish list going into winter and I know it would make my mom feel just a bit better about my biking escapades. (Check out this video below to see what I mean).
The second and more socially embarrassing thing I am already nervous about is what will happen when I am super bundled up, perhaps with a balaclava, and my nose starts to run. (I have sinus issues ALL THE TIME so this is not a matter of if…). In the warmer months I admit my socks are often the go to, but in winter when I am all bundled up I think I need to find a cleaner solution and one that doesn’t require my face turning into an icicle. Perhaps a hanky is in order? At least that would be a classy addition to my commute.
I would love to hear some solutions to these concerns and more tips and tricks you might have in the comments below!
And as always,
Get Out and Ride!
– Samantha C.