Monday, February 11, 2008

Winter Warriors


Last Thursday's Oregonian had a piece I wrote on winter bike commuters. The photo above is of Ron Forrester who simply rides to work in spandex no matter what the weather. I think I'm going to adopt his system since I mostly started taking Tri-Met this year after my rain pants wore out.

The story also alludes to a blog by Chris Stockner on the subject of winter bike commuting at

This piece was accompanied by a box about the Worst Day of the Year ride. The ride was last Sunday (though I didn't go), and, as usual, it was especially nice and warm. Fooey.

Photo by Michael Lloyd/The Oregonian.


  1. Portland babies! Wahhhhhwahhhh. It rains here and stuff. It was 19 degrees when I rode to work this morning. Portland doesn't have winter!

  2. That's me :-) Thanks for doing the story Jason.

    Just to reiterate, it really is often easier (and definitely cheaper!) to forgo all the bulky winter gear and get as simple as possible. I do still wear a good rain jacket, as keeping your core dry and warm is important. But spandex dries quickly, and when taken care of lasts a very long time. Some other tips:

    1) Full fenders are a must -- I tried to get along without them for a while, but nothing keeps you drier from the waste down than the fenders.

    2) Arm and knee warmers -- these are just sleeves that you can easily slide on and off -- great for when you first start out chilled, and once you warm up you just slide them down.

    3) Merino wool base. It's expensive, but it lasts a long time when taken care of, dries fairly quickly, and keeps you warm even when it's wet. And best of all, you can wear it several times between washing, as it is naturally anti-microbial and will not get the funk. I use merino socks and a long sleeve shirt -- and my wonderful wife made me a great merino wool cap.

    4) Hands. I haven't found a perfect solution for hands. Below 32F my fingertips still get pretty cold when wearing my Specialized SubZero two piece gloves. But it is bearable on my short commutes. Some people swear by thick wool gloves, but breaking and shifting can be a challenge with these.

    Anyway, the winter weather in Portland is relatively mild compared to many other parts of the US, and we're really well set up for commuting, so no reason to initiate hibernation and lose all that cardio you worked so hard to get over the Summer :-)