My bike ride to work this morning was officially my coldest ever. I left home at 7:00am, rode approximately 12 miles (my phone battery died about 9 miles in, so I don’t have the exact figure), and arrived at work a little after 8. Official air temperature at BWI was 7°F at 6:54, and at 7:54, it had dropped to 5°F. I’ll average the two and call it 6°. There was no wind to speak of, so I didn’t break my wind chill record of 2°F, set back in 2009 (air temperature that morning was 14°). Based on the forecast, that record may fall on Friday, assuming I ride that day.

I rode my 1993 Specialized Rockhopper, which I’ve owned since it was new. I have it outfitted for winter, with Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires, Pedaling Innovations “Catalyst” flat pedals, and “Bar Mitts” handlebar mittens.

Clothing I wore:

  • Head: fleece balaclava, cycling helmet, glasses
  • Torso: merino wool t-shirt, polyester long-sleeve athletic pullover, polyester/nylon/spandex fleece pullover, hi-vis bike jacket/windbreaker
  • Legs: fleece-lined cycling pants (Performance “Triflex” brand)
  • Hands: Gore-Tex cycling gloves with inner liner
  • Feet: Wool socks, Altra “Superior” athletic shoes, Performance “toesties” toe covers, Planet Bike neoprene shoe covers

Overall, this setup was pretty comfortable, as long as I stayed under 20mph, at which point I would start to feel the wind underneath the balaclava. My fingers started off a little cold, and warmed up as I rode (can’t say enough good things about the Bar Mitts). My toes got slightly chilly about 30 minutes into the ride, as they always seem to, but not overly so. I’m a recent convert from clipless back to flat pedals, and I must say my feet stay a lot warmer in the winter than they used to with cleats. As always, the studded tires did their job keeping me upright through icy patches.

The only real issue I had this morning was one that has plagued me in the past: my glasses fog up really easily in this kind of cold, particularly when the balaclava is covering my nose and mouth. I haven’t found a really good fix for this. They clear up on their own, as long as I keep moving, but it’s still a pain, and potentially dangerous, when they fog up and obscure my vision. On climbs, I sometimes have to pull the glasses down so I can see. I may try out a product called “VisorGogs”, as they are cheap, and I have heard that they make good winter cycling glasses. If I do, I will report back here.

The ride home this afternoon looks like it’s going to be about 20°F warmer than this morning. It’s going to feel like summer!