A Freezing Start to 2013

Welcome, 2013!  As I followed my ritual this morning of pouring a cup of coffee and popping open my macbook to check the weather, I was greeted by this sight:


12 degrees fahrenheit – yeesh.  (That’s -11 celsius.)  Normal for Chicago winter, but by far the coldest day of this season so far.  At least most of last week’s snow has disappeared.

With very little traffic lately due to people being off work for the holidays, I’ve been enjoying my bike commutes along otherwise highly trafficked streets.  I certainly did not want to miss out on cycling today.  Here I am preparing to set off:


I wore a wool dress with tights.  To this I added the following for non-bulky but highly effective layering: wool leggings and wool leg warmers, wool socks and winter boots with warmers, a light windbreaker and trench coat, cashmere scarf, glove liners and ski mittens with warmers, earmuffs and winter helmet, and sunglasses (safety glasses after dark to protect my eyes from cold wind).  This is very similar to what I wore in my how-to video for winter cycling.

This worked perfectly.  I was like a little moving furnace.  My only problem was forgetting to fill my pockets with tissue to blow my nose, which runs like crazy in the extreme cold.

When I left work in the evening, the weather had warmed up to a relatively toasty 22 degrees and I was sweating under my layers by the time I got home.

How has your 2013 started?

P.S. For more info on dressing for winter bicycling, see The LGRAB Guide to Winter Bicycling, How To: Cycle Sleek Winter Wear, and How To: Dress For Winter Bike Commuting.

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28 thoughts on “A Freezing Start to 2013

  1. Yes the wool works wonders, doesn’t it!

  2. Cupcake Ride says:

    Oh man, I’m jealous (even with the sweaty part)! I’m in between bikes and haven’t ridden for about a week now!!

    Happy New Year!!

  3. anniebikes says:

    -7F here in Burlington. I walked with my husband to his bus stop and was amazed that I kept warm. Were I pedaling a bike, well, I have no illusions of maintaining any heat, especially my feet. My bikes are stored for the winter.

    Happy winter riding, Dottie!

  4. Adam Herstein says:

    What’s a winter helmet?

    • LGRAB says:

      Mine is a Bern Berkley. There is a thick liner with built-in ear coverings. There’s also a clip in the back to hold on goggles, but I’ve never gone that far with my winter gear. :)

    • Lisa Curcio says:

      I have one of the Berns as well, and I used my goggles yesterday! Not a square millimeter of skin was exposed to the wind.
      I do find that the Bern with the liner is too hot for anything over about 25 degrees. Then I switch back to the regular helmet with a lightweight balaclava or a silk scarf over my ears.

    • Dennis Hindman says:

      I’ve got a Bell Metropolis bicycle helmet that is no longer made which I bought with their optional liner accessory which plugs the vent holes, and if it gets really cold (I live in LA, so close to freezing late at night is the low point) I attach the optional ear protectors to the helmet. These accessories do not stap in place, so I have to double check to make sure everything is in the right place before I place the helmet on my head.

      I noticed on the Bern helmet website that they have a line of ski helmets that do not have vent holes and they come with a liner that goes over your ears. They look like the same shape as the bike helmets, only without the venting holes.

  5. KatieC says:

    Happy New Year Dottie! I’m so glad to see you back on your bike. I must admit that I’ve been letting the cold weather keep me off mine. But reading your blog and watching the how-to videos had encouraged me to put on my wool layers and brave the cold air.

  6. Shawn W. says:

    I rode to work Weds. (30 degrees) and today (40 degrees – this felt downright balmy!). I’ve been loving the lack of traffic as well. I received a wool scarf as a random gift this Christmas and it is amazing! Wool is fantastic. That, and a good windbreaker. I have a thin wool neck gaiter that I pull over my ears and nose that works great, as well, with my helmet. This is my first winter riding my bike and I have to admit there is nothing like it. The sunrises have been amazing.

  7. Accordion says:

    Yesterday was 41C here in Melbourne, Australia. That’s 105.8 Fahrenheit. I did my grocery shopping by car not cargo bike.
    We’re having a warm summer

    • Dottie says:

      Wow, that is waaaay too hot for me! Easy to forget that people on the other side of the world are having summer right now. :)

  8. MK2 says:

    Hey Dottie–
    Thanks for the excellent tips. I would never have thought of so light an outer layer. I have an unrelated question for you: can you give me the name of your rearview mirror? I need one for my Pashley Princess and have been unable to find one.

  9. mike w says:

    i live in muncie,ind and ride all the time. never owned a car!

  10. mike w says:

    where can i get a cargo bike in the uSA??

    • Dottie says:

      You can start by checking out J.C. Lind in Chicago. There are other stores around the country. The best way to find stores is to look up the dealers for a few different bike brands that interest you.

  11. Ha! The first year I haven’t had to seek inspiration from your winter riding tips. So far the winter lows in Phoenix have been in the 30’s and the highs in the 60’s. Right now, my biggest concern is remembering to leave the house with a set of gloves.

  12. Lissie says:

    I was wondering how you deal with errands when it’s this cold. Or going out to dinner/a concert/movie. Do you just suck it up and wear regular clothes and your coat, or do layers and change in the bathroom/put them back on before you leave? This is my one hangup with winter cycling! I know if I layered up like you do for my several-mile trek to the grocery store, I’d be burning up inside, but I also don’t want to fumble around getting partially undressed and putting the layers back on for such errands. Perhaps I am just missing the obvious answer. (I know you’ve said you walk to the grocery store, so you probably don’t have this particular issue, but I’d appreciate any adivce!)

  13. L. says:

    Wow. Living in Stockholm, Sweden, I’m used to riding in the cold, but it honestly never occurred to me that you could look so good while doing it! I always dress as I do when I go out cross-country skiing… Practical, yes. Stylish? No way.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. I’ve been a big ol’ cold weather wuss so far and not venturing out if the temp is under 40. I got spoiled by last year’s mild winter. :)

    Speaking of the runny nose, I don’t go ANYWHERE without a cloth handkerchief. They make all of my rides so pleasant.

  15. Mark says:

    Just put on a set of thick tires for commuting along the KATY trail in Columbia, MO. It’s cold here, too. But, the trail is soggy. Hopefully the new tires will help out.

  16. […] can also read about what to wear on Let’s Go Ride a Bike. Dottie commutes by bike in Chicago and it gets freakin’ cold […]

  17. […] I ride my bike on super cold days, there are some key pieces I rely on, as I’ve mentioned […]

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