View Full Version : New Rider to PDX

10-12-2009, 05:03 AM
I just moved to Vancouver,Washington from Dallas/Fort Worth, what a difference, one of the reasons is I love bicycling, seems to be abundant amount of it here.

I think the best way for me to get used to riding here is a change of clothes, so what do I wear to stay dry, to stay warm?

Good local sources?

10-12-2009, 07:51 AM
River City has a pretty good selection of winter clothes, but I would like to hear opinions from some other folks that may know of other places because RC is pretty much full retail MSRP so its expensive. They carry Showers Pass jackets which are among the best available. To stay warm nothing beats good old fashioned wool. You can pick up some Icebreaker merino at the store near Henry's on Burnside, or some from the local Goodwill... depending on budget. I also like bike-specific pants. I have some Craft Storm tights that work nicely, but lots of people make them. Look for a water resistant & windproof top/front and breathable back. Also, wool socks and booties or winter shoes are nice for keeping the feet warm & dry.

IMO dressing properly for winter riding makes the difference between it being do-able and not. I also wear wool gloves, socks & shirts and would really like a nice wool cap to keep my ears & head warm.

10-12-2009, 08:03 AM
How do you keep your ears warm while wearing a cycle helmet?

Bent Bloke
10-12-2009, 08:46 AM
I wore a thin skullcap under my helmet this morning. When it's raining or the temps are in the 30's or lower, I use a windproof/rainproof skull cap from Performance. Flaps cover my ears. Some people prefer over-the-helmet covers, but I use a helmet-mounted light, so that's out for me.

I second the mention of Showers Pass rain gear. I have the Elite II jacket, and it's great. I also have what they used to call their 'Club Pant' which is also breathable/waterproof. Under the rain gear I wear tights (if it's cold), and usually a base layer plus jersey. Wool socks (I like the SmartWool line), neoprene booties to cover the shoes, and waterproof/windproof gloves.

I ride all year with the above. Just remember: the rain doesn't suck, but the wind blows!

10-12-2009, 09:39 AM
For my twenty minute commute, I just go with Lawn King gloves from Fred Meyers. About $5.

I've a Helly Hansen Helly Tech shell (from Copelands, which are all gone now, I think but Helly should be around elsewhere), and just apply whatever layers I deem necessary underneath it. Just a longsleeve shirt is fine down to around 40 for me.

I have a slightly large helmet with all pads removed and I fit it over a toasty beanie when it gets really cold.

Nashbar tights are also employed when it gets below 40.

Here's a pic from Dec 23rd, 2008. I have a union suit and an 8.5oz hoodie on underneath, I guess I don't mind the Lawn Kings down to freezing temps. I remember the hoodie being a bit much. A longsleeve tee over the union suit would have been better to reduce sweating.:


10-12-2009, 10:06 AM
Assuming you will work up some of your own heat while cycing:
The "180s Urban Soft-Shell Ear-Warmers (http://www.rei.com/product/790099)" fit below, not inside, the fit of a helmet and are quite suitable until temps get to below freezing. This seems to happen every year but in the valley we don't seem to remain below freezing for long. Months that is.
From 32F to about 10F I manage with something like a Descente Coldout Balaclava (http://www.rei.com/product/788841)
. There is not a lot of difference in feel from 33F to 31F but that difference can cause frostbite that your don't feel once you are used to the cold.

For the wet Showers Pass also has a Rain Hood (http://www.rei.com/product/793730).

For very extensive cold weather clothing tips, and riding tips check out IceBike (http://icebike.org/Clothing/clothing.htm). The site hasn't updated in a while but they have suggestions for even our local climate.

10-12-2009, 11:37 AM
The cheap way is to get wool or poly clothes from andy & bax or next adventure. They're both in Portland on SE Grand near Stark. Waterproof jackets for less than $30, wool socks and you're ready to go. Don't worry so much about staying dry as staying warm. Avoid cotton clothing after October.

10-12-2009, 11:13 PM
I'm mostly out for short hops rather than hours where it might be raining a lot of the time(I used to do, and am familiar with the latter though).

Upper body: Showers Pass rain jackets would be fine...(I'd like to try out a jacket with underarm zippers)....if it weren't for SP's $100.+ price. I've got several moisture resistant jackets I use; A couple Nike design, an Adidas design, and just a couple weeks ago, an Eddie Bauer design. The Bauer is the lightest and most compactable of them all...great for stowing in the bike pack between downpours. Adidas and the Bauer were on sale/cheap at $20. . Champion makes good, cheap stuff, available at target. None of these jackets are cycling specific...they're made for either running or backpacking...so they lack some of the function and chic of cycling specific gear. Worth the sacrifice for those on a budget.

Though I don't personally like it for riding, the other commenters advice to go for the insulating while wet properties that wool offers, is good. Wear enough layers with a little breatheable wind protection on top and you might be able to get by without a raincoat. Unless you really have to, not wearing a rain jacket, is best.

Legs: I've never worn waterproof tights. What worked for me...50 degrees and below, was three layers: poly long johns, long nylon cycling tights, sweater type poly tights. My legs would stay warm with that combo regardless how cold it was.

Feets: Booties are essential in cold and rain. I wore out an old pair made by Rivat...no longer available it seems. Either one of two models out there I'd like to get: Louis Guarneau Club at Performance for $34. Sugoi at Bike Gallery for $49. Both are of similar design: mostly open sole. Sugoi allows you to put the bootie on with your shoes on. LG requires you to put the bootie on first, then pull it over your shoe. Both fit about the same, and nice. About a month ago, BG had their Sugoi booties on sale for $25. At the time, unfortunately, I wasn't too sure about the open sole design, so I missed the savings. Still don't have booties either.

Head: Stocking caps particularly, but other close fitting headgear have never felt good to me, so I figured out how to use a simple bandanna. It just takes one knot in back to make it work. Works very well for me. When the fabric gets wet, it tightens up and blocks the wind. With the styrofoam hat, my head seems to do quite well. In 40 and below degree weather, I wear two bandannas layered.

Hands: Been using these bright yellow fuzzy poly shell worker gloves...Boss Tom Cat model. It sucks because I can't seem to find them in any nearby store now. They fit loose, but were fairly light, allowing good dexterity. Even though lightweight, they worked great for temps even into the 30's; comfortable, warm...butt ugly from a cycle-chic point of view. I'm kind of replacing them with some Glacier's Edge brand fuzzy poly winter gloves that Fred's now has in stock. Great thing, is that they're available in neon orange (other colors too). A little heavy, but I think they'll be usable...$8.50 on sale. .

10-27-2009, 03:41 AM
Great Information, thanks guys, I've installed fenders on my TREK SU100, now nobody will know I'm not a veteran local, well maybe that lost look in my eyes might give it away.

I've been to Bad Monkey bicycles in Vancouver a few times now, I like that shop.

It's great being in a new area now, I'm always lost it seems, but the iPhone is a great help.

Tried Bax & Andy's and Next Adventures, interesting stores, and lot's of stuff, I actually ended up in the Columbia Store in Portland, and found some great prices and gear there.

10-27-2009, 10:11 AM
I have a couple (just scored a second one at a flea market) military-issue wool sweaters that are awesome for cold weather. They are snug and thin with a loose weave that makes them warm, but not a sweat factory. I can wear one of these over a long-sleeve poly tee and be good down to freezing and below. These sweaters are brown (technically "olive drab") pull-overs, with a ribbed waist and cuffs, and a reinforced front collar area that has five buttons down the center from the neck to mid-chest. The buttonholes are horizontal. The tag says "Jack Young Associates" and has the description "sweater, wool, men's, OD", or something similar to that. The cuffs are extra long to keep your wrists covered even while leaning forward to ride. The collar comes up in the back to keep your neck warm, but you can turn it down if you get too warm. These are my number one favorite piece of freezing weather gear.

Only two issues:

1. Good luck finding any, since they don't make them anymore. Used is the only way to get them; there are a couple of places online (search for "5-button wool sweater", or "jeep sweater") that sell them for about $20. I have seen them at Andy & Bax, but they are hit-and-miss; they go about as fast as they come in. Other military surplus stores might have some. Beware of the acrylic lookalikes, always check the tag.

2. If you find one, you will only want to wear it over something else as they are scratchy.

10-28-2009, 08:09 AM
Dunno about you guys, but it was freakin' cold this morning. I had my wool out in force & I was still cold.