THE WINTER COMMUTE: ESSENTIAL GEAR

Today’s commute was a rainy one, Ladies. Fun fact: You can measure the moisture content in the air by how much my eye liner streaks post-commute (see below). But I arrived home refreshed and happy.

Top left - me and my bike. Bottom & top right - what should be a view of the OHSU skytram and surrounding vista from within the tram, respectively.

Top left – me and my bike.
Bottom & top right – what should be a view of the OHSU skytram and surrounding vista from within the tram, respectively.

On Making Smart Investments in Gear

I know a lot of Ladies are hesitant to ride because they don’t have the “right” gear for a Winter commute. Although I’d like to dismiss that as silly, I just recently made the switch from riding in frigid weather while wearing yoga pants (often calf-length) to more appropriate alternatives, and I would say there’s really something to investing in some “luxury” pieces (read: full-length pants) before subjecting yourself to the elements.

Had I known at the time that I’d soon begin blogging, I’d include here a Frametastic photo compilation of my splotchy, reddened calves and me frowning as a probably unnecessary bit of encouragement for some savvy cold-weather shopping – too late for that, though, because This Lady shelled out for stylish cycling-optimized pants and warm fortified leggings.

I prioritized my limited shopping budget towards gear purchases that were the most important for safety first, then comfort items; in hindsight, striking a balance between those priorities would have made for a far more pleasant transition into Winter riding. You don’t have to be totally decked out in Gore-tex, but you’ll be able to enjoy the ride without an iron will if you do something more than wear a garbage bag as a poncho.

Must-Haves

All Things Safety-Oriented on dark days and while riding on slick roads:

A bright front light, a blinky red back light, any add-on you like that’s reflective, and a helmet. I’ll assume that if you live in the Pacific Northwest you already have a good raincoat.

I have an ugly sporty helmet that I keep hoping will get stolen (so I can replace it without feeling wasteful). If that ever happens, I’ll replace it with this one in black:

Fabulous Sahn Helmet

Fabulous Sahn Helmet

Gloves: You may actually want two pairs to switch back and forth between while one is drying. Dry hands are a great way to start a cold, wet, ride, and wet gloves are miserable to put on. They can also help ensure a secure grip on handles.

 

Also Worth Buying

Fenders: Most Ladies prefer not having mud splattered across their backside.  Fenders are trusty add-ons that not only reduce the likelihood of that happening to you on a rainy-weather commute, but also help you avoid being a jerk by reducing the mud-splattering on cyclists riding behind you. I didn’t know that last bit until very recently…

Water-Proof Bag or Pannier (likely also a Rack to hook it to):  For work-commuting Ladies on a rainy day, a waterproof bag is the perfect vessel to bring a change of clothes and shoes in

I’ve been really pleased with the design of my Ortlieb Shopper Pannier, which has a reflective side patch for increased visibility as an added bonus.

A present from the best In-Laws ever

A present from the best In-Laws ever

Wool Clothes: Honestly, you’re probably going to get wet out there. Clothes made of wool are warm and dry really quickly.  There’s no need to spring for bike-specific clothes, although it’s nice when clothes have been designed with the Lady cyclist in mind.

Huge Scarf: Great for keeping your neck and face warm during the initial freezing leg of the commute.

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2 thoughts on “THE WINTER COMMUTE: ESSENTIAL GEAR

  1. Jessie says:

    I commute with a small Chrome Pawn and have ridden with it through a complete downpour in the other Portland (Maine) and it has kept the papers I had inside completely dry. If someone was looking for a commuting backpack (instead of panniers) , I would absolutely recommend it.

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