For My Mt. Pleasant Homies

Rumor has it my old college town got quite the dump of snow recently and I couldn’t help but think about how one year ago I was the crazy girl commuting on her bike in below zero temperatures. The crazy part being I actually enjoyed it. This is a repost from about a year ago (my first blog) describing how to survive biking to class or work during those nasty months.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It has been so incredibly cold the past few weeks, I’m experiencing permafrost.  The good news, arguably, is that my morning commutes have still been pretty lovely!  My, now not-so-new, bike has been proving to be a winner and handles slush/ice/packed snow like a champ.  I’m pretty proud of myself as well for not giving in and getting a parking permit.  It’s a workout, and I need an extra 10 minutes to get ready, but here is my simple guide to dressing for that am commute:

  • For goodness sake, please wear some undies.
  • Socks:  knee highs are my favorite, especially with boots, and I have to admit, I usually wear two pairs.  Like right now. The favorite pair of the moment: SmartWool knee high ski socks.
  • Long-underwear:  preferably soft on the inside and a tad “slippery” on the outside to help avoid scrunching and different weights help you adapt to different temperatures and conditions. Patagonia’s Capilene baselayer line is great.
  • Totally cute t-shirt/long-sleeve shirt/cardigan combo:  just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the looks go out the window – but this is where I’m lacking advice, I NEED the advice. I like to layer a long sleeve shirt with a contrasting cardigan, something colorful but sticking with earth tones (they’re so hot right now).  Be comfortable, confident.
  • Jeans:  I’m a jeans girl, so this is a must for me.
  • Boots:  I like to have a casual, all-purpose pair and a “nice” pair for “dressier” times.  I use these terms lightly because we’re talking about boots.
  • Down Jacket:  I’m still in love with my North Face Transit down coat; it really does provide some extra protection on really bitter days.
  • Headband:  if it’s below 20°F I need to cover my ears and I rely on another awesome product from SmartWool.  I bought it for a race in October (my ears are very sensitive to cold temperatures), and it’s been perfect for super cold mornings.
  • Wool Hat:  handmade, of course, and yes, I often wear the headband with the hat.
  • Mittens:  I got mine at Target for .39c, and a two-pack at that!
  • Scarf: can be oh-so-conviniently pulled over the nose for those really bitter days.  On the coldest mornings, I have had frost collect from my breath… now that’s cold.

It looks something like this:

(I was just testing it out, you know like a field test, for the readers or course)

Things to keep in mind (1) think about the materials you’re layering: cotton is soft but holds moisture close to the body, wool naturally wicks it away and keeps you cool/warm depending on the air (2) if you hop on your bike warm, you’re over dressed (3) make sure you’re clearly visible to other vehicles and abide by biking rules. I received a nice booklet from MDOT outlining everything, making commuting a little less scary. Confidence and consistency is key!

Happy biking and stay warm!

– Jes


6 responses to “For My Mt. Pleasant Homies

  1. If you really like snow & cold, this is not the winter for you.

    Northern Michigan is now listed as part of the banana belt.

    If you have a mailing address please E-Mail to me.

    Grandpa D.

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