Sunday, December 02, 2007

Winter biking (now with more winter!)

It actually snowed here. In December. In appreciable amounts.

As a winter guy, I'm floored. The past winters have been cold but without snow. Dustings here and there, but we'd have nothing but frozen ground well past December. Snowshoeing was, ah, dull. Ten below zero Fahrenheit with no snow sucks wet, hairy moose rocks from a winter sports perspective. But now we have snow and it looks like it may hang around (knocks on wood).

As Minnesotans, one of the peculiarities is to go driving around when there are snow storms, so during Saturday's snowfall, the Mrs and I drove around. We ended up picking up a couple of biking-related things: warm things for hands and heads and a bike. I'm glad Mrs is open-minded and cheap. I've been looking for winter biking mitts or gloves or something, but after the disaster that the Novara Headwind gloves turned out to be, I figured I'd think out of the box and find better for a whole lot less. Bikers need to use their fingers or at least more of their hand than a mitten would allow, but gloves leave the fingers exposed. Lobster claws are a typical answer, but they're expensive. Sure, windproof, waterproof, lets the skin breathe, yadda, yadda, yadda, but to they really live up to the hype? Generally, no.

Enter the fond memories of childhood and my trips to the army surplus store downtown with my friends. I love the smell of old canvas and the weird and wonderful things that are there. Especially Trigger Finger Mittens. Ten bucks a pair, built like iron and have room enough to wear gloves underneath. Got a pair for me and the Mrs. She also found a Balaclava and I found some wool gloves. No more cold hands and faces.

Winter footwear seems to be a discussion topic among a lot of bikers, and I'm not joining in as I haven't really biked all that much in the snow. But I do have something that I'm gonna wear -- Mukluks. Moose hide and wool felt liners. I've snowshoed in these things for years and I've never had cold feet, so I figger that I'll try them on the bike.

Oh, the bike. Mrs' younger brother has been away from home living in Alaska and now San Diego, so he said take his bike. Early 90's Schwinn hybrid. It's a mess, but so what. It's a winter bike. I need to get it into working condition, but that's an easy evening of tinkering. I'll probably dig around to find a rack for it and some tires (if these aren't any good) and we'll take 'er from there. I can't really ride the Bleriot in these conditions, now can I? Much too nice for the slop, snow and salt of the next couple of months.

Besides, it's cheaper than getting new tires for the Honda, which handles like a penguin in molasses in snow.


rigtenzin said...

I'm with you on the trigger finger gloves. I don't have surplus ones. Mine are made of fleece and I wear a thin glove underneath.

It's amazing to see all the different styles of winter bike clothing. I like non-bike industry stuff mostly.

Pete said...

I lost my Craft gloves last spring, so I picked up a set of surplus trigger finger gloves this fall at Fleet Farm. They were only $8, so I figured what the hell!