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This is only my second year in bicycling through winter in Chicago and I finally found the key to motivation on those cold, dark mornings: I pretend I’m cross-country skiing.

Prior to winter of 2011-2012, I stopped biking at about 40˚F. I don’t know why, I just thought it seemed cold and that the biking season was over. Then I saw Dottie’s (of Let’s Go Ride a Bike) video of how she dressing for biking through winter and I became inspired.

I realized the reasons why I didn’t bike through winter where the same reasons I heard from people who are afraid to try biking in Chicago in any season, namely: “I don’t know what to wear” and “It seems so dangerous”. But, intrigued by Dottie’s video, and her gorgeous winter lakefront photos (I felt like I was missing out on something!), I decided to give winter biking a try.

Outfitted with my new winter bicycling Christmas presents (Smartwool balaclava, Nutcase snow helmet, Ibex wool tights, Uniqlo Heattech tights, Pearl Izumi gloves) I hit the roads on a frigid January 2012 morning for one of my maiden voyages. I even bumped into Dottie on my morning commute, where she snapped this photo of me (post here):

Me in my winter biking outfit, Year 1

Newsflash: Biking in winter isn’t so bad! In fact, I kind of love it. Sure, the first mile is bitterly cold and painful, but I’m through that stage in less than 5 minutes (which is half the time I’d be waiting for the train, anyway). After that, I’m pretty good to go. My toes start to get cold at the end of my 7ish mile commute, but I’m almost home by then so it is no biggie.

I LOVE my helmet with its built-in earmuffs because not only is it very warm but it gives the world a peaceful, hushed feeling. It helps me appreciate the stillness of winter and reminds me of why I like cross-country skiing; your body is toasty warm but the world around you is frozen and quiet.

I wish winter biking was portrayed more with the beauty of cross-country skiing rather than hardcore harshness that you usually see because I think it would encourage a lot more people to try it. I am doing my part this year and adopting some cross-country ski fashion into my wardrobe.

New for Winter 2012-2013 are cross-country ski goggles (I am convinced that they make my nose run less, though I don’t know why) and new Toko ski gloves (I lost one of the Pearl Izumi gloves in fall when my hands got too hot and I put them in my pocket).

I also started a Pinterest board with vintage cross-country fashion for inspiration. It makes the idea of winter bicycling a lot more appealing!

What are some of your tips for dressing for the winter weather?

2 responses to “Surprising Inspiration for Winter Biking Style”

  1. Jen says:

    Love the helmet Maria! You are much braver than me, its my fingers that can’t take it.

  2. Maria says:

    Yes, I’m fortunate that my fingers are usually okay with warm gloves. I know people who swear by Glove warmers, like these: https://www.littlehottieswarmers.com/product/hand-warmers

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