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Old 02-02-05, 08:52 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: the green mountains of southern Vermont
Posts: 27

Bikes: Custom build commuter; Eisentraut Limited, Surly cross-check,Surly Pacer, Specialized Rockhopper Expert, Luis Ocana, C-dale Tandem & that's just today

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[QUOTE=Daily Commute]

So, northern commuters, what do you use on to keep your fingers warm when it is 0F (-18C) or less? How much do they cost and where can I find them?

I use CliMitts (any bike shop should be able to order them for you, SideTrak is the manufacturer and many parts distributors stock them, should be around $42) on the handlebars once the temperature drops into the low forties. If you are in a really urban area and signal turns a bunch they could be a nuisance, but they work on straight bars and drop bars. My Campy Mirage ergo shifters are all resin (much, much warmer than aluminum or steel). Check out my page: it was written two years ago, but nothing substantial has changed (the fenders are longer now, a two legged kickstand, a front rack and different taillights) Back to the hands, my problem has always been too cold or too sweaty, with heavy gloves my hands start out warm - get too warm and sweat and then freeze in the breeze. Using the climitts I can wear much thinner gloves and when I start to sweat too much can just stick them outside in the breeze to cool down. I wear my summer cycling gloves down to about 25F or if not windy to 20F, then I switch to a ragwool and thinsulate glove ($10 at Aubuchon hardware) down to about -17F so far. Last week when it was -17F I let my gloves get nicely moist and then put them out for a while, instead of freezing my hands the moisture froze on the surface of the gloves and actually added some windproofing to them. My commutes have always been hilly, some might say mountainous, with multiple climbs and descents. A flat commute, with some experimentation should be fairly simple to dress for, although really long lights/delays could be a problem. My current ride has a 3 mile gradual uphill (last half mile 6%) to a 1 mile descent (moderate) to a 2 mile moderate climb (sometimes with big wind in the face) to a 5.5 mile descent of about 8% (reverse it on the way home). I've experimented with a lot of different clothing, both synthetic and wool, and have found the wool to offer a much wider comfort range with less need to adjust layers. The only place I use synthetics is for blocking wind/rain and on my legs (although, someday I may get rich and buy some $120 Rivendell wool pants) where my normal winter garb is: Ibex wool shorts, Craft windblock briefs, Pace polypro kneewarmers, Pace polypro tights and/or SmartWool long johns or another Pace polypro tight. Because the legs are usually putting out a lot of heat if I get splashed with icy water, etc. the polypro dries while I ride. My upper body layers are thin wool, which dry quickly, plus a Craft windblock undershirt. At around 0F I can be toasty with just a thin wool top and a 3M Propore rain jacket, but the inside of the rain jacket will be hoar frost city by the time I get to work. On the head: Bell Influx, mirror on visor (visor is essential to block car high beams), 10 year old Performance Gore-Tex helmet cover, depending on temperature and wind, layered: illuminite headband/ear cover, Pace balaclava, Pearl Izumi balaclava, some polypro balaclava I got on sale, clear glasses (about $10 at Home Depot) or clear ski goggles (below 5F or if really windy) or sunglasses for that rare day in the winter. Feet: down to 40F Shimano spd sandals and wool sock, below 40F (Oct to April) Lake winter boot, single heavy wool sock, the toe section of an old wool sock (to put on the outside of the boot, under the booties), SideTrak neoprene bootie, an 8 to 10 year old Nashbar neoprene bootie. The wool sock between the boot and neoprene has eliminated condensation during long rides. If I am going to be out a long time (4+ hours) sometimes I'll put a vapor barrier (plastic bag) between the sock and boot. The key to being comfortable in the winter is in balancing your heat and moisture production with the amount of cooling due to wind and temperature that you experience along the ride. The way I found what works for me was by wearing way too much and stopping (allowing extra time) frequently to shed layers. Also, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes for your body mass to find it's balance in the outside conditions, so it's always a bit of a guess what will be comfortable 30 minutes down the road.
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