Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter Clothing: Part 2

Yesterday was my first real day of winter riding, 25 degrees with a 16 degree windchill. I started piecing together the second part of my winter clothing guide post a couple weeks ago but have scraped it and will now head in a slightly different direction.

Over the past 20 years I haven't purchased much winter gear. Last winter I was still using my Cannondale bib tights and neoprene shoe covers from 1989, you know the ones so old they had Cannondales original train depot logo. My Sidi winter boots are from the mid 90's as are most of my jackets and vests. The newest winter pieces I had were long sleeve jerseys and baselayers but even some of them were from the late 90's, early 2000's. You could say I was due for some new winter cycling gear. Especially when you despise riding indoors as much as me. If it's above 20 degrees and ice free, I'll be outside.

Being a clothing buyer for 5 bike shops, I'm in a unique situation in that I get to see first hand what multiple brands are bringing to the table. After weighing the options I decided to go the Castelli route for most of my winter purchases.

My big blowout purchase was the Castelli Radiation 1-2-3 jacket. It has snap in reflective heat blanket radiation panels which reflect your body heat back at you as well as a zip off hood and zip off arms. It's a thermal hooded jacket, it's a vest, and everything in between.

I also picked up Castelli's Sorpasso bib tight, Pioggia winter glove, Risvolto winter cap, Esordio Jersey, Nano-Flex leg warmers and SG0.6 Wind Shirt baselayer. The only non-Castelli pieces I went with was Bontragers RXL thermal fleece lined booties and Race thermal bib shorts. When I pair all this stuff with my normal summer riding kit I can ride in just about any condition.

Which takes us back to today and my first real chance to test out my choices. Again, temps were hovering in the mid 20's with a 16 degree windchill. I felt like a Castelli poster child but this is what I wore...

Radiation jacket w/ hood and radiation inserts, short sleeve jersey, mesh sleeveless baselayer, Sorpasso bib tights, wool socks, Pioggia gloves and RXL thermal booties.

Not much really. In fact, this is by far the least amount of clothing I've ever ridden in for this kind of temperature range. I was warm, dry and comfortable. Could have used some form of windstopper below the waist and the arms were cool, perhaps I should of had a long sleeve baselayer on. but other than that it was perfect. I wasn't quite sure how I'd like the hood under my helmet, but it was awesome. My cheeks were a little chilly at first but the snug fitting collar along with the hood kept the cold air from sneaking down your neck. If I needed more warmth I could layer a long sleeve jersey underneath, if I needed less warmth I could open the zippered chest vents or un-snap the radiation inserts and stow them in one of the three pockets on the back.

I was super impressed with the RXL booties too. The shearling fleece lining kept my feet plenty warm. I was expecting my feet to be wet with sweat but the booties breath unbelievable well too. Spot on design and material.

Pretty amazing stuff, I'm actually excited to ride in the cold, go figure.

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