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Tuesday, September 2, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 68.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily
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Citizen Dave: Idea of the week... dressing to bike in winter
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What I'm going for here is flexibility to adjust to changing conditions, as well as visibility in the top layer.
Credit:Bridget Maniaci

Last week, I wrote about my new (old) winter bike, and my determination to use it through rain, snow, sleet and darkness of night. So far it's performing flawlessly, and I'm enjoying getting out in the December chill and dark. Really. I am.

So, let's talk about winter biking fashion this week. Like my winter bike itself, the emphasis is on cheap. My goal in dressing to ride in the cold was to do it for free. My intention was to buy nothing, and by raiding my closet and basement, I pretty much succeeded.

The photo at right is of me modeling my biking gear (shot by professional photographer and alder, but not winter biker so far as I know, Bridget Maniaci). It starts with layers. I wear four thin jackets that I had lying around the house. The top layer is a yellow rain slicker, which gives me some visibility and keeps the rain, snow and wind from penetrating. When I'm wearing all four, I'm comfortable down to at least 25 F. I often take a layer or two off for the return trip if I leave in the morning and come home during a warm afternoon. What I'm going for here is flexibility to adjust to changing conditions, as well as visibility in the top layer.

I wear a thin knit hat under my helmet, and that's been all I've needed there so far. I also have a gator that fits over my neck, and a breathable mask that velcros in the back. Neither are pictured here, because even on this windy 27 F day, I didn't need them. By the way, the mask can also be used when holding up banks. It's the only thing I did buy new for this adventure. It was about $20 at Sears.

For pants, I've been comfortable in blue jeans or wool trousers for business events. Sometimes I even wear full suits. A suit jacket fits easily into one pannier. But for the colder weather to come, I do have an old pair of rainproof pants that should help block the wind.

I wear whatever shoes I'm going to wear for that day's meetings, but I'm always sure to pull on a pair of thick wool socks.

To keep my hands warm, I carry a couple pairs of gloves. One is an old pair of cross-country skiing gloves and the other is a thicker pair from Eddie Bauer. You can spend a fortune on gloves at a bike shop, and they're nice, but unnecessary. Any thick pair of gloves with some grip works just fine.

About the only thing I'd like to have is a more visible, reflective lime green jacket.

To learn more about dressing for success as a winter biker you can attend the second annual winter biking fashion show at Machinery Row Bike Works this Sunday, December 11.

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