For Winter Weather, It’s ALL In the Gear
My bikes were both purchased used, my Trek 3700 Mountain Bike from a good friend in our running club, my 1990 Cannondale Criterium SR400 Road Bike from Craigslist. Everything else that I own for biking came from Assenmacher’s Cycling Center, and with the exception of my pedals, I look a little like Frankenstein on my bikes. For my mountain bike I’ve got Shimano PD-M324 dual purpose pedals – they’re clip-less on one side and have a cage on the other so I don’t have to worry about being caught shoeless. For my road bike, I’ve got the PD-M520 two-sided clip-less pedals. Both work as they should.
My jacket, gloves, helmet and shoes are all from Specialized. In fact, I’ll probably just buy a Specialized road bike when I upgrade just so I can have everything match for once. Whatever I end up deciding on, I can guarantee you that I’ll be buying it from Assenmacher’s, and will gladly let Matt, the owner, size me up. To label him a guru would be to do him an injustice. Strangely enough, as much as he does know about bikes, that’s not exactly the reason I shop at his stores. I shop there for the enthusiasm in service. In short, he doesn’t try to sell me stuff that I don’t need but he’ll let me know if I need to shoot a little higher on the important items.
When it came to apparel, however, I divorced myself from my tendency to buy good but cheap equipment. I hate winter for exercise, if I had my way I’d move to a warmer clime or sit it out for a couple of months (in fact I did sit it out for the most part last winter), so I didn’t mess around when it came to my jacket, gloves, hat and shirts. I did go cheap for my sweet pants – my wife picked them up at Old Navy or something for less than $20 a pair. They’re perfect for temps down to about 40 and for foul weather I’ve got a pair of fleece long johns that fit under them perfectly, that combo is good down to about 10 degrees, and I can promise you, if it’s that cold outside, I’m spinning in my office.
For the jacket, I’ve got the Specialized Element jacket. This is the perfect cold weather jacket. It’s got plenty of pockets and I haven’t met a temperature that I haven’t been comfortable in yet. In fact, I’m such a fan of this jacket that I run in it too… I don’t have to bother with three or four layers any more when I’m running in the snow. In fact, it was 26 degrees with a 15 mph wind the other day, I wore this jacket and one of those long sleeve under armor shirts and a light long sleeve under the jacket and was actually a little too warm. Yesterday I went for a ride with the wife with just a long sleeve running shirt and the jacket and it was perfect (34 degrees). I can’t say enough good about this jacket. It is truly awesome.
For my gloves, I stuck with Specialized and got the BG Deflect. Again, these are great to wear running too, although they aren’t as thick as the material in the jacket (and no liner) so they’re just a touch cool. I’ve thought of wearing a cheap yarn running glove under them but haven’t found that necessary yet… The padding on the palm is great for road bike riding, but leaves a little to be desired on a mountain bike. Of course, this is mainly because I don’t have any natural padding on my hands. So take that little critique with a grain of salt.
For my shoes, I had a tough choice to make… Go with the standard road pedals and a second set of shoes (and another $100-$150) or just go with the clip-less pedals on my road bike and use my MTB shoes. I opted for the latter. I bought the budget line Specialized Sport MTB shoes but they work just fine, though I will say this: I need the Shoe Covers that go over my shoes (and I haven’t picked them up yet)… The shoes are so adept at letting air in to circulate that wool socks aren’t enough to keep my feet warm.