Monday, November 17, 2014

Winter is coming . . .

Hell, it's here. This is the view out my window as I type:

It's been fun watching the conversation online as winter comes in: do you get studded tires? When? One or two? Why are the bike racks on the 4-season Laurier lane taken out in winter?

And who's still riding? Defiantly?

Somehow, it feels like a switch was thrown about a week ago. Round about the first day the cyclists started warning each other via Twitter about black ice on the morning commute.  I had a conversation about winter gear with a friend in Ann Arbor over Facebook, reminded myself, reluctantly, of the location of my splash pants, and climbed on a chair to dig in the upper shelf of my front closet and look for a matching pair of gloves or mittens (a failed search: time to go shopping again) and my Toque of Sending +2, which also serves as my early-winter under-helmet hat.

Last night, I biked home from the Mayfair in blattery, sloppy big snowflakes, in the dark, at 6:00 pm, and remembered the way your bike gets quieter in the slush. Here we go!

One win of the season: I can't believe I didn't get one of these before, but I was at the moving sale at Tommy & Lefebvre on Saturday and they had North Face down mid-layers for 40% off. There was one left - and it just happened to be in my size.

Review time!

Vamping a little on a hike.
A hardcore back country backpacker I know raved about his a year ago or so, but I never really thought much about getting one. I'm a makeshift kind of person. I'm notoriously slow to adopt specialized gear. But then one of my climbing buddies got cold while at the base of the crag on belay, late in the season, and she borrowed one from another of my friends. The next weekend, she had gone out and bought one. Instant convert. And I was at the T&L sale with another friend who had also borrowed the jacket and had decided she needed one. And it was 40% off. . . so I got one. And wow. Why didn't I have one before? It's like when I discovered merino.

So far, I've worn it on its own, rather than under a shell, in temperatures around freezing, on a hike and a couple of bike rides. And I love it.

The thing about the down insulation is that it warms up fast with body heat, and it holds heat really well, but it also breathes and dries out really fast. So I'm warm, but I can stop moving, and not have that sweat-cooling chilling effect. I also wore it on the above-mentioned blattery, snowy ride home, and it's waterproof enough to shake off wet snow. Plus it's light and it packs down, so the idea is, I can put it under another jacket or a shell when it gets colder. With the merino underneath I kinda get the feeling I'll feel invincible once the thermometer plunges.

So, bring it, winter.  I got my big tires, I got my Toque of Sending, I got my thermal jacket.

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