A Hitch in the Plan

March 23rd, 2012

So my plan after leaving my office job was to be able to maintain my “weather and clothing” posts. The flaw in that logic is twofold: I’m riding for transportation less, and I’m able to wear casual clothing while doing it. The concept that started this blog (two months ago, so long ago!) was to help novice commuters with less generic advice than is normally offered. So, I will continue to offer advice based on the weather conditions, but chances are I won’t be exercising that exact advice.


The last few days have seen some downright summertime weather, with morning temperatures in the 60s and highs up to 80. As I’ve mentioned before, in those situations, I recommend one of two approaches. If you have a gym membership or don’t mind braving the filth of a Planet Fitness locker room, ride in whatever you feel like and shower or change when you arrive at your destination. I did this when I first started working downtown, and while I tried it in both summer (hot!) and winter (dirty), I found that it made riding to work downright cumbersome.

My preferred strategy is to ride more slowly, and maximize airflow over the body to keep the skin cool. Since I used to work in a “business casual” office, that meant riding in a T-shirt and then putting my collared shirt on when I got to my destination. Wearing lighter shoes, such as sneakers or loafers without socks, made a huge difference versus the waterproof walking shoes I wore all winter. I just wore my regular office pants, rolled up to avoid grease. As always, I recommend using a bag that attaches to the bike as this is both cooler for you and also neater for your clothes.

I always found it difficult to avoid sweating when the temperature exceeded 70 degrees on my ride in. For that, it’s all about mitigation, namely, ride slower.

Although today is a springlike day, I thought I would reflect on the EVO Drone gloves I’ve been wearing. The exact product name escapes me (and google is no use), so I’ll have to fill that in later. They’re made of thin Nylon fabric, which is pretty good about not sucking up rain. They have the “hunter” thumbs and index fingers, which are good for checking your phone without taking the gloves off. What makes them truly useful is the attached outer mitten – I’ve found this allows you to stay warm and extra 10-15 degrees of outside temperature by defeating the wind and holding in heat. It’s an air impermeable synthetic that is sewn into the wrist of the glove and folds into the top when you’re not using them. (If you’re neat, they don’t look bulbous, either!) Although the seam on these covers has a bad habit of ripping under normal use, this hasn’t compromised the performance of the glove. You can see in the attached picture how I can get a few fingers through that cover after a few months of riding. They’re not too expensive (around $30?), and Hub Bicycle Company in Cambridge carries them. Of course, now that it’s just about spring, you’ll have no occasion to use them…

EVO Gloves

The gloves do a great job of keeping your hands warm, despite the covering sprouting some holes.

I suppose now that I’m overtly recommending products, I should announce that I’m moving from my current, non-bike related job to start working at Hub Bicycle Company. I’ve been going there as a customer since a few months after the shop opened two years ago, and as I became disenchanted work in the soul-stealing financial industry, I also discovered that I’m cuckoo for bikes. I can safely say – as a customer – that it’s an awesome bike shop, but don’t believe me, believe Yelp. I’m going to be working there full time starting later this month, which means I’ll be reporting more second hand on bike commuting (on customer attire, as the shop is walking distance), but there will still be plenty of errand running and general transportation riding.


Temperature: 57 degrees

Road condition: Dry

Clothing: Light spring jacket, timberland shoes, light Pearl Izumi gloves, messenger bag

Comfort: I was definitely too warm. Every time the weather changes I relearn the lesson: slow down, wear less. Today would have been OK without a jacket.

It was windy today, and should be more so later, according to the forecast. There were tons of bikers out, and I expect many, many more next week.

More about me

January 15th, 2012

Following are some more data points you might want to know about me when comparing your own routine to mine.

Age: 26

Gender: Male

Years getting around on the bike: 3

Uses for the bike: Getting around, mountain biking, road touring, just going for rides

Commute distance (each way): 3 mi

Total miles per day (avg): 8 mi (add in those errands)

Basic commute attire: I work in an office, so business casual. Shoes get a lot of abuse, so I leave a pair at the office. Roll up the pant leg. 55-70 degrees

Summer attire: Pack the dress shirt, add it when I get there. 70+ degrees

Summer mid-day attire: Nothing you can do: just embrace the sweat and ride slow.

Winter attire: Heavy Eddie Bauer jacket, wool gloves. Scarf around the face when it’s 20 or below. You can break a sweat at any temperature. 30 degrees and below.

Rain attire: Whatever I would wear otherwise plus rain pants, waterproof shoes, hooded waterproof jacket.

Any other temperature: Mix and match with lighter jackets and gloves.

Any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.

What is this about?

January 12th, 2012

I like biking in all weather, and I thought others might benefit to hear what one other biker is actually wearing and riding in different conditions. So, I’ll try to post here regularly, especially in the bad weather, what I’m wearing and how it’s working.

Like most, I have a few standard setups, depending on conditions.

Bikes: I have a Surly Crosscheck as my regular commuter. I’ve got a back rack and front rack, 16 speeds, and fenders. Battery lights that I’m working to switch for a dynamo hub. It may weight 40 pounds, but I can carry a good 80 pounds of cargo (2 panniers+front rack) comfortably. For the winter, I have Nokian studded tires. The rest of the year, Michelin road 28mm road tires.

I also have a Surly (I know, I love them) Steamroller fixed gear for the nice weather. The last two winters I rode only fixed, but this year I’ve relied on the Crosscheck a lot more. No fenders, no racks. I might throw some race blades and 35mm dirt tires on if the weather’s bad and the mood suits me (that setup worked very well in the past.)

Clothing: I have three modes for commuting. For the cold and snowy I break out my heavy duty Eddie Bauer down jacket: it’s worth its weight in gold. Once they start salting the roads I wear rain pants almost every day in the winter to keep the crap off me. For warmer and rainy, I wear a jacket or sweater with a breathable rain jacket on top, and the rain pants. If it’s hot out, I ride with my shirt untucked (I’m an office worker, folks) or just in my undershirt (and add the button-down at my destination). Yeah, sometimes I break a sweat: that’s life.