It's snowing in Calgary! In fact, it has been for the last two days! I recently got back from the SF BIKE EXPO. Thanks to the stellar crew that put that show together. My goods have been picked up by Mission Bicycle Company. ( not there yet, still making the goods - but soon! will post it;)) They are an awesome local store that build beautiful custom bikes in a sleek yet comfortable enviro. I'm very-very stoked to have my goods in their shop.
Previous to that was Interbike 2010! Thanks to Urbana bikes for lending the riyoko team rides for the duration of the show! What a fantastic experience. I'll definitely be showing there again next year. LV and Interbike 2011, here we come;)!
Next up is a local Holiday Sale with my textile collective gang, The Thread Collective. We recently just formed and this will be the first show!
So speaking of that, it's off to the studio... I march. *sigh. I haven't been proactive enough to winterize/ tune up my winter bike as of yet. Next week;) It's tough not being able to bike in the snow! Especially the first snow - it's all crunchy and white - no black ice yet and it's serene. That is the best part of biking in the winter, the landscape is completely different and the pathways are serene. There aren't as many cyclists that bear the impending -20 weather. However, this year, I've seen more than years past in this city. And that is awesome!
I saw a tonne of people out yesterday - I can't wait to get back on my bike! High Fives and Awesomeness to all you winter cyclists! <3!!!
This brings me to my main topic, WINTER BIKE ATTIRE ~ <3
Make sure to layer. What's most important is layering. A few things I find most helpful during the winter season are:
BASE LAYER: Make sure your base layers are wickaway , comfortable, breathable and thin. When you get to your destination and peel your layers off, you don't want to continue sweating under thick layers. When I look for base layers the materials I look for are anywhere from bamboo to cotton to breathable wickaway polyesters. Stay away from vintage polyester, acrylics and nylons. As they do none of what you need during the cold snaps. They don't wickaway or breathe. These two combined make you cold and uncomfortable, not a good thing to be when you're outside in -20 weather. I usually have a camisole, the Cover Me Cami - of course;)! - and a long sleeve shirt or a short dress on at the base. The camisole catches the sweat so the shirt on top doesn't look messy when I finally peel the layers off. And it acts as another base layer for warmth. On muddy days, I also wear the Cover Me Cami to catch the dirt spray around the butt area, Since, it's stain resistant, I don't worry too much about dirt. If I am concerned about the dirt though, for example, if the cami is part of an outfit that needs to be kept sparkly clean, I layer a shirtband on top and take it off at the destination. Printed thermal T's are also great. They're comfy, warm, wickaway and casual stylie.
For pants, I always wear thermal tights. I wear them under jeans, pants and under other fashion tights.
MID LAYERS: The next layer should be a breathable, yet insulating sweater of sorts, a 'softshell' if you will. I usually have a thin sweater shirt layered with a thicker insulating sweater layered over top. This way, if I get too hot while riding, I can peel off one of the two and still be toasty. A lot of the time, I wear a long sleeve base layer with the Shanaz sweater over top. It makes for a lightweight , comfy, warm and wickaway layer -- and a cute outfit;)
An important feature of an insulating sweater is a zipper! Zippers make for a quick, clean change. In cold weather, I hate peeling off over-the-head sweaters. They're very labor intensive. You have to take off you helmet, mess up your hair ( and make-up if you're wearing any) and be exposed to the cold longer as you fuss with the process of taking everything off. Zippers save you time and warmth....and they're fun to do up and undo;) Lastly, if you can find a water resistant/ wind resistant yet breathable sweater for this layer, you are set. On the warmer days when you want to peel off your outer layer, you'll still have protection against the outside elements.
OUTER LAYER: Your final outer layer should be a windshell. The mid and base layers keep your warmth in. The outer layer keeps the wind and wet out. It should be waterproof, windproof, breathable, durable and lightweight, unobstructing to your movement--- and zippered! Once again, zippers are easy to do up and undo. It should also have velcro cuffs so you can tighten your cuffs around your gloves to keep the wind out. It should have a fit that allows you to move on your bike, keeps you covered, yet doesn't get caught on your handlebars etc. If it has a hood, that is great - but make sure you can see side to side while it's up for shoulder checks. Lastly, high collars are always great on any layer - but especially this one. The wind can be your nemesis in the winter. A high collar will be one of your bestfriends.
For pants: Sorry girls, no stylie pants exist yet for wind and water protection. Spring 2011, there are stylie rainpants coming from riyoko - but for now. Windshell pants of any sort will do that you can whip off when you get to your destination. I like inside elastic gaiters at the cuff on mine to keep the wet out. Also make sure that the waistband doesn't cut into you while your riding. When you try them on lean over at the hips and get a feel for what they'll be like once your on your bike.
ACCESSORIES: A good pair of gloves or mitts that are insulating and waterproof are key for keeping your hands warm. I like gloves better for mobility. When I'm locking up my bike or taking off layers, mittens can be hindering. Sometimes, you even have to take them off, defeating their function. Although they are not waterproof, I wear the thinsulate* mitt/gloves a lot. They're the ones that have fingerless gloves with a mitten on top that you can pull back when needed.They have the warmth and cuteness of mitts but you can flip back the mitt to the half glove when you need your digits for tasks. They come in an array of colours and they're affordable. You can get them all over the place at drugstores and departments stores alike.
For your neck, any old scarf will do but a half balaclava is amazing to have. You'll find your face will get frostbitten easily - so a half balaclava will keep your small bits toasty and when it's not covering your face you can pull it down as a neckwarmer. I love the ones that are velcro at the back as well because I can tighten them to fit my face and rip them off easily when I get where I'm going.
They're also affordable. Anywhere from $15 to $30 at your local outdoor retailer.
Also make sure you are VISIBLE!!! Get REFLECTIVE arm and leg bands -riyoko makes custom ones $10 each. Email meif you're interested. Po Campo also has a reflective bird pin for $18 US. If these are too pricey for you - you can get the neon yellow and orange ones at any outdoor or bike shop for $3 or less.
And LIGHTS! Make sure you have a front and rear light. Especially here in Canada - it gets dark way earlier, make sure the cars can see you! Stylie lights that I like but I loathe are knog lights. They are bright and functional but they use batteries and always turn on in my bag. You can get a USB chargeable knog light but it's expensive. I like trek lights the best overall. They are bright, easy to install and durable. They don't turn on in my bag but they do use batteries.You can also get all sorts of lighting options at your local outdoor/ bike shop. Go visit one, check out the swag and maybe you'll even meet a cute bike boy:) <3 That is always a plus.
Vive le Velo!
p.s- for info on kitting out your bike also - you can check out this blog post by BikeBike, a store in Calgary.
p.p.s- if you have any suggestions to add to winter bike attire, email me and I'll post 'em!