Thursday, December 15, 2016

Becoming a Winter Biker

I haven't owned a car since February of 2015, when I sold my Audi A4 and started sharing my boyfriend's Saturn wagon. That arrangement worked well until we broke up in June of 2016, and I took my odd stable of motorcycles and went on my way.

My intention was to buy a cheap shitbox of a car when the weather got too cold to ride. Then Rogue and I decided to leave town, and the purchase of a car became an unnecessary burden, especially once I moved in with Rogue and started sharing her car. That was short-lived, ending the night the car left me in the middle of no-cell-ville New Hampshire and I hitch-hiked to my office and borrowed a work truck to get home. Gypsy, the itsy-bitsy blue convertible, came back to life just long enough for the mechanic to tell us she worked (and was clearly possessed), then promptly stranded Rogue in downtown Northampton. Thus we became a no-car household in November in Massachusetts, hearing predictions for a particularly cold and snowy winter.

The business of being a winter biker has been a one-day-at-a-time lifestyle, culling unnecessary commitments from our schedules and accepting that our plans will change with the weather. All of my plans now have a snow clause: if it snows, the plans are cancelled.

I hate the cold, which is a large part of the reason I'm heading south for the winter, but I've surprised myself with my ability to withstand it so far. I have a heated vest, a TourMaster Synergy 2.0 that I purchased used on eBay, with a matching set of heated glove liners that work when they feel like it. (I heard a rumor I'm getting heat grips for Christmas...stay tuned.)

My layering system has stratified by temperature.
70° and up Cotton leggings, tank top, Scorpion armored suit, boots, light gloves, helmet
60°-70° Add the wind liners to the armored suit, replace the leggings with jeans
50°-60° Add a light-weight wool sweater or zip-up hoodie under the jacket
40°-50° Add fleece-lined leggings under the jeans, a vest over the sweater, and get out the heavy gloves
30°-40° Add the heated vest, wool ski socks, and a scarf, face fleece, or balaclava
15°-30° Add the rain suit on top of the above, and the heated glove liners if I'm going more than 20 miles
15° and down Find a cage or cancel plans.

What's the coldest weather you're willing to ride in? Have you ever gotten caught in something too cool for school? What are your favorite tricks for staying warm?

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