The weatherman says to expect record cold temperatures throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, with hard freezes expected for some inland areas.
I moved to California from Colorado and, before that, from Illinois, where I biked in temps down to 20 below zero F (-29° C), and I still own everything I need for cool weather cycling. I’ve listed a few things to keep in mind if you plan to ride in the cold this week.
- If you exert yourself while cycling and normally work up a sweat, don’t start out dressed too warmly. In other words, you want to start out feeling a little chilly. If you’re bundled against the cold, you’ll end up with sweat drenched clothes. Unlike a motorcycle rider, you generate a couple of hundred watts of effort to keep yourself moving.
- For slow cyclists, dress yourself for the weather. Your bike ride won’t be like a quick dash across the driveway to a warm car!
- It’s not supposed to rain after today, so avoid plastic waterproof gear unless it’s well ventilated. The windbreak is great, but before long that windbreaker turns into a personal sauna as sweat collects.
- Avoid cotton as an underlayer. You’re not going to die wearing cotton in urban areas, but cotton collects sweat and takes forever to dry.
- Below freezing you will want some kind of long finger gloves. For hand and foot comfort, your mileage will vary considerably from the next person. I’m comfortable with thin gloves and wool socks in my ventilated cycling shoes well into the teens Fahrenheit (-10° C). I’ve seen people bundled up with snow boots and lobster gloves when it drops below 50° F (10° C).
- If you use ventilated summer bike shoes, plastic sandwich baggies make effective and cheap wind blockers. Slip them on your toes over your socks and under the shoes.
- Hats work well to keep you warm and comfortable.
While cold temperatures are forecast, they will rise quickly after the sun comes out, and then drop dramatically again after sunset. You might have a ten degree drop from the time you leave work at sunset and the time you get home an hour later, so plan accordingly.
Wednesday, I’ll likely wear my normal office slacks but with a Patagonia “Silkweight” leggings underneath. I’ll wear a fleece shirt over a polyester T. My usual wool Bridgedale hiking socks under my bike shoes will keep my feet warm. Gloves will be the same Custom LeatherCraft Tradesmen gloves gloves I always wear. And old REI skullcap keeps my head warm.
What will you wear to keep warm this week?