It’s only November. The summer floodwaters finally receded. I got rid of the sandbags in front of the basement windows and the side door. What next but our first accumulating snowfall? Temperatures have been below average all month. Windchills in single digits in the morning twice already. Pulling out winter gear, I was reminded that my jacket zipper doesn’t actually work. It is a double zipper and I have to zip both to the top, then zip one down, in order to get the jacket to stay closed. The zippers on both winter shoe covers have now failed completely. I remembered that one of them wasn’t working most of last winter. Oh yeah, the other one died late in the season. Since I bought the jacket 15-20 years ago and the booties were given to me used about ten years ago, I guess it was time to replace things. Oh – and the under-helmet hat was stretched out enough that it no longer really covers my ears. Time for shopping!
Brand name alert! I was picking up a hat at the bike shop the other day and, on the way out the door, stopped at the sale table. A pair of boots convinced me to check back on my day off. Bontrager Old Man Winter boots were ⅓ off. They came out with a “new and improved” model this year, so the old ones had to go. I checked back and they were comfy and warm; more expensive than booties but, if you ride a lot in winter, or need bike shoes anyway, they’re cheaper than buying shoes and covers. They run small (my road shoes are size 43.5 and my mountain shoes [bought generously-sized to fit thick socks in them, since I wear sandals to commute when it’s warm] are 44…I bought the boots in a 45) so try them on. Don’t try to buy online unless you like to return things.
They felt light on my feet so I weighed them tonight. A shoe and shoe cover weigh 775 grams on my scale. The boot weighs 625 grams. Double those weights for a pair. (Both weights include SPD cleat.) On the way to work this morning (temperature 16º F, wind chill 5º) my feet were toasty warm. On the way home at 28º they were almost too warm. They are a two-layer boot, with a soft inner liner and a shell that fits over them. You put them on as separate pieces – it seems to take no longer than putting on a shoe and then a shoe cover. The liners could be worn around a cabin like down booties in the old days; though the sole is not designed for that so I don’t know how durable they’d be. I don’t know about overall durability yet, since I’ve worn them once, but they seem to be a hit. We’ll see how they work when it gets below zero. (You can click on the pictures to see them bigger.)
I’d wondered about Windstopper™-type fabrics. I found a jacket also on sale (again, last year’s model). It was light and fleecy. Riding home last night after dark into a 15 mph headwind at 20º I stayed warm. Riding in today I stayed warm. I bought it big enough to fit a down vest and arm warmers under it when it gets really cold. I think I found two new items. If you live in Wisconsin and are a Bike Fed member, your member discount applies to the sale price!
For more on winter biking, see https://halffastcyclingclub.wordpress.com/2018/02/