a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

by Tao Oliveto, Carroboro, NC

The first of our cool, windy, sometimes damp Winter weather has descended upon us. My commitment to ‘ride or stay home’ is normally in danger. Not this year! I’ve pulled out the right gear from storage and made a small investment in some additions.

Arm warmers are my latest discovery – they are great for changing temperatures in the Fall, when you ride into town in 50 degrees, but return when it’s a balmy 73. Easy to pack and you can keep the chill out of your arms and shoulders without overheating your core. They are also inexplicably stylish, in a weird, gothic way.

Under helmet hat – something snug to hug the ears but fit comfortably under a helmet and doesn’t itch – ahhh!

Scarf – okay, this isn’t a traditional cycling accessory, but I love lightweight, colorful scarves wrapped around my neck in cool temps, on or off my bike. Again – easily chilled areas stay cozy, but you don’t have too much sweat in your middle.

Did I mention gloves? Well, it’s a must have investment that can make or break your daily cold-weather ride. Even high-end sport gloves won’t keep my fingers completely comfortable so I opted for mitten-style. Yes, they do make them for cycling and I found they leave me warmer but nimble enough to shift and brake safely.

I wear big ‘ol hiking boots most of the year, so my feet are happy, even while pedaling. But if you prefer cycling shoes or sneakers, consider shoe covers – warm toes will keep you in the saddle like nothing else.

Wind is the biggest issue for me, so I have a good jacket that can be worn on average days or over warmer gear. Long johns help when temps drop more – you can peel them off when you arrive to your destination.

I don’t like looking through dark lenses during dim Winter days, so I finally splurged on those lightweight sensor specs that block the wind (and bugs) nicely, but get dark only when the sun comes out.

There’s a lot of gear out there – my collection is a mish-mash from years of riding, all from different local bike shops, depending on where I’ve lived. There’s not much available yet that meets sustainable standards, so I make local buying my priority and make sure I go for quality stuff that will last all of my riding days.

Ride with me this Winter! Tao

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8 Responses to “”

  1. marc s Says:

    My friend Sean (a 365 cyclist in Seattle) swears by these – reflective gloves – popular with the police too.

  2. chelsea bay wills Says:

    i biked this monring in 40 degrees to the bioneers conference- whew was that cold- not expecting that yet!!! but fun and woke me up:)
    i am a HUGE advocate for arm warmers/half mitts – they work for any activity wear you need your fingers- yet still want extra warmth on the extremities…. old socks, shirts, sweater make for great half mitts. never leave home without em.
    bring it on, cold!!

  3. Kelley Says:

    I am working with actor and environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. next month to bicycle through a few of the coldest cities in the country to get the word out about an easy way to save energy this winter! Check it out – anyone in the area is welcome to come out and bike with us! We will be in Chicago, Cleveland, D.C., Philadelphia and New York Nov. 26-30. Ed is an avid cyclist and a great guy – should be fun!

  4. tao Says:

    How exciting, Ed being, of course, one of my eco-heroes of all time! I love this idea so much. Winter riding is exhilarating and not as painful as we think – especially when you are commuting those daily short distances. I’ll be watching! Thanks for finding us Kelley.

  5. tao Says:

    YAY CHELSEA! THE HALF GLOVE QUEEN RIDES when it matters! Namaste!

  6. tao Says:

    THanks for the glove vote, Marc. I actually am coming around to the idea of giving up mittens.
    Namaste Sean for riding all year – impressive!

  7. Vitor Says:

    I too like using scarves when I´m pedaling, and just recently discovered arm warmers (fun name, isn´t it?). But living in Brazil we do have some trouble finding gears, because even thought a lot of people bike to work, they´re mainly poor workers that don´t buy any gear. This way, we can only find sport stuff – and I do believe that it´s style over speed (

    The thing I miss the most is proper rain gear. Getting my shoes and pants wet is pretty bad and is the only thing that might make me from biking to work – then I use public transit.

  8. tao Says:

    Rain gear is great, but both expensive and cumbersome. I opt for public transit most of the time myself.
    I did just get easy on/off plastic fenders for my bike – mud streaks are a nuisance even after the rain has stopped. They were inexpensive, too.

    Namaste to your riding bikes and buses!

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