Sunday, November 21, 2010

winter essentials #1: balaclava

Balaclava, not to be confused with baklava, which is a Greet delicacy and absolutely delicious. I'm talking about the winter headwear that can function as a cap, full on face protection or something in-between. I picked up a nice fleece-number, made by turtle fur at the sportsman wearhouse for $9.99. What's nice about this, is that it easily fits underneath my helmet and can vary in its level of protection, on the fly.

Below is an artistic creation of what I may look like with a balaclava on:

So far, it's been a very nice piece of equipment.   Other things to discuss in upcoming posts:  helmet choice, goggles, bikes.  Stay tuned, and ride safe.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

winter commuting

Winter commuting is finally here. So far, it really hasn't been that different from my California days.  Sure, I've made a few gear/clothing alterations - but the excitement and adventure is why many of us bike commute.  For those of you who are new to or are considering winter commuting, here are some of my tips thus far.

Ear/hand protection are key.   So far I've ridden in low 20's weather in nothing more than a long sleeved shirt and a light windbreaker and have been more than comfortable.  You really don't need a lot of torso protection, you generate a lot of heat while biking.   I use some snowboarding gloves that go high up on the wrist, that way I don't lose any heat.

Deflate your tires about 5-10 psi.  I got this trick from Urban Velo - if you are like me and ride your tires at about max psi, the thinking is by slightly decreasing the air pressure in your tires, you allow more of the tire to be in contact with the road.

Light it up.  Just like winter driving, any time you have to use your windshield wipers, you should have your lights on. I have four front lights on my winter bike, and three rear lights.  It probably wouldn't hurt to upgrade to a reflective vest as well.  People are going to need as much time as possible to see you, so give them that opportunity.

Low Ride.  Take it easy.  I got this tip from my co-worker, who's been commuting in Montana for four years.  He recommends lowering your seat post a little so you can put your feet solidly on the ground at a moment's notice.  Any slipping starts and your feet go down.

That's it for now, I'm still experimenting with snow pants, thermal underwear, wool socks, boots, goggles (which seem like a necessity because the snow STINGS when it hits your eyes), and other things.  Stay tuned for more tips and tricks in the winter months.  We also have to figure out to get our little man out on the bike, and I'm thinking it will come with some serious winterization of our burley bee.

Stay tune for more. Until then, ride safe and often.