Snapshots of Winter Riding

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[My first work commute on the Triumph, early January. It was sprinkling rain.]

People always wonder how it’s even possible to ride and be comfortable/warm/safe during the winter. The truth is, it doesn’t rain as much in Seattle as you think. And it’s not that cold. In fact, you don’t need to dress much differently than you would if you were walking to your destination or waiting out at the bus stop.

I’ve previously written about riding in the rain and some of the things I learned early on. Seattle has a pretty mild climate, so winter riding tips and attire don’t really differ much from the rest of the year. I really only have two tips (and, I apologize for the crappy iPhone photos).

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[going out on a Saturday night in January, the night before it snowed: two pairs of leggings, boots, skirt, wool cardigan, scarf. jacket and gloves appeared later.]

First, check the temperature. The trick is that if you are standing outside and slightly cold you’ve got it just right. Once you start moving you will heat up; so if you are hot just standing there you are going to be too warm once you start riding. I’ve found that for the winter mornings when it dips below 35 degrees I need my warmest winter jacket, thick waterproof gloves, and something to cover my ears and sometimes face if necessary. Wool leggings or tights under your pants or normal pair of leggings/tights is also helpful. In Seattle it warms up for the commute home; sometimes I find that the thick winter jacket is overkill and have to remove it halfway home.

Secondly, and most importantly, dress as yourself. You don’t have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of bike-specific clothing and gear. If you like that look and are comfortable with it, go ahead. For me, since I’m most often biking to get to a place where I’m not going to be doing anything bikey or active I wear my normal clothes. If I had to shower and change after every ride, it wouldn’t be the same convienent, time-saving activity I enjoy so much.

So, wear your skirts on your bike. It’s not a problem, I promise you. Besides, tights are warmer than pants every time.

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