Riding in the Dark, Staying Warm and Coming Home to a Jumping Dog

Wow…it’s been a while since we’ve posted anything. We’re still in Santa Fe, NM and still riding our bikes as often as we can. At this point we’re mostly commuting to and from work and learning to deal with the relentless winds of Santa Fe as well as cold weather. While the sun shines endlessly here (which was one of the reasons we settled here) it is easy to look out the window in the morning and make the assumption that it is also warm. Nuh uh…not warm. Sitting on the patio in my backyard having tea in the sunshine with temps in the upper 30’s feels awesome. Once I leave the fenced in yard and house that was blocking the wind (usually between 15 and 25 mph) and head out the door and start riding it’s a whole ‘nother story!

So, we’re trying to figure out what assortment of clothing works best and I think we’re going to have to make a few purchases before the end of the winter if we want to keep riding. Our bicycle tour this spring had us riding in temps as low as 25 degs. F but there were only a few days of that and those temps only happened in the morning for a few hours.

I’ve been wearing my El Fito cycling tights by Ibex.

Ibex leggings

They were fantastic on the bike tour and I have been pretty darn comfortable in them down to the upper 30’s here. I actually feel that I could ride at lower temps in them if the wind chill factor was removed…but it isn’t. I’ll be looking for a layer to put over them. I’ve tried my Marmot Scree pants, a light soft shell with a tapered leg, but they proved to be a bit too much material in the crotch area, thus resulting in an unhappy sweat. They do perform well on other parts of the legs though especially since they are not meant for cycling but for hiking.

For me hands and feet suffer the most, often due to my Reynaud’s Syndrome. I am currently trying out the Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier lobster style mitts. So far, so good. Hands are cold for the first mile or so but heat up and stay warm after that. They offer amazing dexterity for having some of the fingers bundled together and the Pittard’s leather palms are smooth and supple on the handle bars. Review to come once I’ve had more time to try them out.

Feet are still cold and I am working on a solution that most likely involves toe covers. One of the nice things about riding here in winter is that precipitation rarely enters into the picture when one is getting dressed for the daily commute.

My ride is short (somewhere between 5 and 7 miles one way, depending on which route I take which is based on the time of day and traffic flow) and most of it looks like this.

My route conveniently goes by my bank. They think I’m nuts since I either show up on the bicycle or the scooter although they now know who I am (dork in some sort of helmet) and have stopped asking me for my ID.

The ride home is dark at this point. This equals colder and windier. The largest road (by which I mean scariest) I ride on is Cerrillos (three lanes) which has a lot of fast moving traffic on it but also has a shoulder/bike lane AND a wide sidewalk that no one ever walks on. I may resort to riding on the sidewalk once it starts snowing…if it is clear. The rest of the roads I ride have slower speed limits and do have marked bike lanes and speed tables to help keep traffic speeds down. Bumpy on the bike but VERY fun on the scooter!

I am considering adding some more lights to the bike since one of them has been acting up. I’m currently using the Serfas True 250 on the front and the Princeton Tec Swerve and NiteIze BugLit on the rear. All have worked well so far but I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder to see if the rear lights are still working. I guess I’m paranoid they will run out of juice on me at some point and I’ll get hit. Thus I’ve started wearing a Nathan reflective vest as well! I might be turning into the type of rider that Bike Snob enjoys writing about…

Anyway, my ride home last night saw me safe and sound to my door and here’s some shots of me and the dog, Ally, who is supposed to be learning not to jump….unsuccessfully.


3 thoughts on “Riding in the Dark, Staying Warm and Coming Home to a Jumping Dog

  1. Another option for your hands could be Bar-Mitts, which affix directly to your handlebar hoods. I know some who have used them during colder weather instead of lobsters and really like them.

    • YES! Thank you for reminding me about these. I actually have some for my bike with flat bars. I have been looking at the ones for drop bars and noted that because I have bar end shifters they are a bit more complicated (and expensive) than I thought they would be. However, probably the best option in the end. I used to white water paddle and had pogies for my paddle…they were a game changer for me as far as being able to stay on the water at temps below 35F. Do you have any suggestions for which brand of models I should look at?

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