It snowed in Minneapolis last week. Maybe a hint that it’s time to pack away the summer riding clothes? Granted, this time of the year isn’t the most appealing time to ride. It’s cold. Dark. The cars can’t see you. Extra layers can feel bulky and trap sweat.
All these are time-honored, socially-approved excuses not to ride! Pearl Izumi just made it harder for whiners like me to stash the bike for the winter.
I’m kidding. I love fall and winter riding, both commuting and mountain biking. I’m always on the prowl for clothing that keeps me warm sans the bulk and doesn’t restrict movement. What I’m seeing thus far from Pearl Izumi’s 2012 fall line are three items that make me forget about the cold and the dark.
Sugar thermal tights ($85)
PI has two types of Sugar tights: One with an integrated chamois ($100) and one without ($85). My personal preference is with without. Allow me to explain. Separate liner shorts are inexpensive. I’ve never seen a pair for more than $35. Wearing them separate means you can wash the liner shorts only, thus extending the life of the more expensive tights. Plus, since they don’t have the chamois, I can use them for running.
When I first put these on, I knew I was in trouble. The ultrasoft Select thermal fleece that lines the insides is luxuriously soft, warm, comfy, moisture-wicking and stretchy. All the requirements of winter cycling tights. Silicone grippers on the legs hold them in place and reflective elements on the legs make you (somewhat) visible to cars. I say “somewhat” because I can be illuminated with Christmas lights and flashing neon and I will still have close calls with cars. Seven-inch ankle zippers finish the legs.
One super nice feature on these tights is the waist band. It is super comfortable and the backside rises to mid back to give you great coverage when sitting in the saddle.
As far as actual warmth goes, the temperatures in the mornings have fluctuated between 35 degrees and 55 degrees. At the coldest, 35 degrees, the Sugar’s are warm.
Symphony thermal jersey ($100)
Jersey or lightweight jacket, you decide. I’ve worn it as both. It is shockingly well made with PI’s Elite thermal fleece. The fabric feels amazing and transfers moisture away from the body to retain warmth. It even has contoured sleeve hems with little zipper pockets on the sleeves to stash a key or iPod. This helps prevent cold air from flying up the sleeve. You also have a 3-in-2 zippered back pocket with hidden center. I stash my ID badge and keys here.
What I love about this jersey/jacket, aside from the warmth, feel of the fabric and contoured arms, is the flattering cut. The back is longer than all my other jerseys. The combination of the Symphony’s back length with the height of the Sugar’s waistband is like an insurance policy against skin exposure and butt crack.
I have worn this jersey on its own, with no jacket and a Polarmax lightweight tech silk baselayer, at 40 degrees and was comfortable.
Cyclone gel gloves ($40)
A good pair of full-fingered gloves is the only way to protect your paws. The fit is very dead-on so do try them on before you buy. The Cyclone gel gloves are rated to about 45 degrees for comfort. Anything below that and you’ll need warmer gloves, like the Pro Barrier WXB glove.
The Cyclone’s are a nice fall riding glove for the money. They retail at $40 and have enough padding in the palm for the mountain bike trails. They provide good protection from wind and sleet, padding over the ulnar and median nerves, allows plenty of finger freedom for brakes and shifters and a long gauntlet to keep your wrists warm.
Reflective elements are there, too, along with the comfort factor.
For zero pollution, low-cost transportation that is good for your physical and mental health, you cannot beat the bicycle. Nor can you beat Minneapolis as a city that is committed to bicycle transportation.
We’ve been ranked as the best biking city in the country by Bicycling magazine. We have eighty-one miles (and counting) of on-street bikeways and eighty-five miles (and counting) of off-street bikeways. We have been awarded with the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community Award. We’re home to Nice Ride Minnesota, the Bike Walk Ambassadors, and the Midtown Bike Center.
You live in Minneapolis. Why limit yourself to just riding part of the year?