Winter Ready

Winter Ready

By Christi

January 2017

Hello Compel fans!

If you’re reading this, I hope it’s because despite the snow and cold (here in Denver at least, finally!) you’re still looking for ways to keep riding this winter. That’s where I’ll start this 2017 blog series this month: a bit about winter riding.

(And feel free to mark your browsers and calendars now, as I’ll be sharing one entry per month in 2017, right here on the Compel site - and so thrilled to be able to! Expect a bit of fun and snarkiness, along with what I hope will be helpful beta to keep you happily pedaling throughout the year, whether you’re in Denver, in Colorado or elsewhere in the bike-iverse.)

One thing I’ve learned in my few years of road riding in and around my hometown of Denver: being able to ride year-round, especially here in the Colorado Front Range, takes planning. And dare I say a bit of grit?  :) Yeah, it makes you feel a tad hardcore, out there in the frigid temps, before dawn, pedaling like a crazy person. And it takes - full disclosure - a bit of investment.

When it comes to wintertime rides, I decided, after a bit of trial and error, to sink my biggest gear investment into good gloves. It was difficult at first, mainly because I’m still hanging onto a bit of anti-gear angst and I already owned four pairs of gloves. I own spring/summer fingered gloves, spring/summer fingerless gloves with worn out velcro but I don’t want to get rid of them, cozy microfleece fall gloves, and neoprene waterproof gloves for rain - and this would officially make FIVE pairs. Ugh. Too many pairs. But as the 2016-17 winter temperatures dropped to the teens and the windchill even lower, and yet snow and ice hadn’t yet blocked up the trails and roadsides, I kept riding. My hat and earwarmers (yes, both, layered one atop the other), fleece-lined leggings and winter jacket atop a long-sleeve jersey atop base layer kept my body warm, not to mention the all-too-reasonably-priced toe covers or shoe covers effectively deflecting the freeze from my feet (do NOT not invest in a pair). All good.

But my hands got me every time. I found myself spending several miles of the 11-mile return of our morning out-and-back cupping and clapping my hands together, blowing on them, sometimes even putting my own fingered gloves inside my mouth to breathe hot breath on them (yep - gross). My hands would get so damn cold that sometimes I’d have to really dig deep just to stem the rising panic in my brain that I wouldn’t be able to brake if I needed to. They were frigid, numb, dead. Way to start the morning, right?

It was time to buy AWESOME winter riding gloves. Not just a fairly warm, ill-fitting pair - I’d been down that road. (And discovered that lack of total hand mobility, for someone like me, created another reason to worry about not being able to brake effectively, on treacherous descents especially.) Finally, I went for what more experienced cold-handed riders had been telling me to go for all along: some full-on lobster-claws. I went with a pair with a nice long cuff, making it extremely easy to get it on top of my jacket cuff and keep the chill from seeping in. They’re lightweight, breathable, waterproof and warm-when-wet. They have inserts, and the inserts even have a touchscreen-compatible fingertip, enabling you to check a Google map or take an iPhone shot without completely exposing your hands to the winter air.

And this is perhaps most important: I found a good fit. As a woman with un-feminine-sized hands, that’s tough for me. Even women’s XL can be too tight and I’ve been known to leave bike shops feeling very sorry for myself (I’m not proud of it) after trying some on. This time, I went straight to the men’s sizes, and a medium is perfect. Total range of motion, total warmth. I won’t go so far as to say which pair I went with - that’s up to you. But if you find yourself in the market for good winter gloves, definitely look for:

Real, lasting warmth (probably lobster-claw style glove design)

Long cuff
(Maybe even touchscreen-ready fingertips?)
Definitely a perfect fit (full range of motion)

So bring on the winter riding, until my nose freezes shut.

Until next time!

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